The city’s plan to increase density in 27 different neighborhoods will likely go ahead, which would increase affordable housing in Ballard’s downtown and Crown Hill.
The plan is part of the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) policy, which in order to work requires zoning changes which will add development capacity. According to a report in the Seattle Times, hearing examiner Ryan Vancil ruled last week that the environmental review of the plan was nearly adequate — a historic-site analysis must first be carried out before the city council votes on the legislation.
A closer look at the areas slated for changes in Ballard shows that the biggest change would be in Crown Hill — 15th Ave and Holman between NW 85th St and NW 95th St would see an increase of one-to-two density levels, according to the below map of the city’s upzoning plans.
Here’s a list of changes expected for Crown Hill under the MHA:
- Increase the height limit to allow denser mixed use commercial development in the 15th Ave. corridor
- Convert blocks of Single Family zoning that are close to the 15th Ave. corridor to Lowrise 2 multifamily zoning, which would allow small apartment structures and townhouses.
- Convert blocks of existing Single Family further from the 15th Ave. corridor to Lowrise 1 multifamily zoning, which allows multi-family development with a scale similar to a Single Family zone.
- Convert blocks at the edges of the urban village from Single Family to Residential to the Residential Small Lot (RSL) zone. The RSL zone would allow development of small to moderately sized single family homes and cottages that complement the character of existing single family zoned areas.
Because the plan is aimed at increasing affordable housing development, it would require developers with projects in the upzoned areas to build or pay for some apartments for low-income households, and is meant to produce thousands of new affordable homes over the next decade, according to the Times.
The MHA requires that between 5 and 11 percent of homes in new multifamily residential buildings be reserved for low-income households. Developers can opt out, but it will cost them between $5 and $32.75 per square foot if they choose not to include affordable housing in new builds. That money would then go into a fund to help build affordable housing elsewhere in the city.
Because Crown Hill will likely experience some big changes as a result of the upzoning, the Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development has created an online survey to learn what residents would like to see in the future. They’ve also developed an interactive story and map to educate residents about the community planning process.