City’s plan to upzone areas for affordable housing takes a step forward

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.

 


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Evan B
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Evan B

Also significant changes to the East Ballard/West woodland neighborhoods as shown on the map.

Jack a** commenter
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Jack a** commenter

Seattle Times just came out with a report that housing prices are falling? What does this mean for real-estate investors and the greed that has surrounded this city?

Eric
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Eric

It means that housing prices are still double what they were in 2010, instead of more than double. There’s a long way that prices still need to fall before all the folks who have been priced out in the past decade can afford to move back in. The only way that can happen is if there’s enough homes for everyone who wants to live here.

Hopefully even at a slightly lower price point there’s still incentive to keep building, especially if these zoning changes pass and open up a bit more land to a bit denser development.

Ballard Parking Enforcement
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Ballard Parking Enforcement

Just make the whole city into New York already dammit, I’m tired of waiting! Seattle needs skyscrapers from Downtown to North Seattle, let’s make Shoreline a dense skyscraper filled neighborhood of Seattle now!

As a rule of thumb, for every person that moves to Ballard a new skyscraper shall be erected, as I sit here rewriting Ballard’s constitution to a sterile condo tech city neighborhood, rejoice that In the fact that Ballard’s constitution is rewritten! “Uff da!” As they used to say it, we are now but a town of rampent unaffordablility for everyone but the rich! “Uff da one out!”

(Uff da in reference to Bill Nye the scientific guy)

Lampchop
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Lampchop

I love NYC.

Seattle Logic
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Seattle Logic

Whether one loves NYC or not, Seattle never had and never will have the 24hr nightlife and culture of NYC or other larger, truly “world class” cities. Zoning the charm out of Seattle makes absolutely no sense. There is no reason to move to a hypercrowded suburban strip mall and pay whopping prices.

BAM
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BAM

It should bring a lot more attractive housing units to 15th Ave NW.

john
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john

Well, it will bring more housing to 15th ave NW…

Lordy me
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Lordy me

Exactly. Like what’s there now is nice? Please.

Eric
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Eric

Agreed. Whether the Hardie-box style of apartments and townhomes fit with your aesthetic preferences or not (they certainly don’t win any awards from me for beauty), they’re a good sight better than the falling-down shacks that are all too common along 15th.

Uff da
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Uff da

So, will it do anything to relieve the number of street campers and substance abusers around the Commons and elsewhere in this City? Didn’t think so. They are just as likely to trash or burn down newly constructed low income housing as they did the last place they stayed before being kicked out because they spent the rent on smack, booze, MJ or smokes, or just wrecked the place. Just what we need. More places for people who want others to take care of them while they pursue their selfish interests.

Truth
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Truth

Your outlook on the world is quite delusional and I suggest you seek immediate help.

XOXO,
Truth

Wallbanger
Guest
Wallbanger

Sorry truth. It is you who is delusional and I encourage you to seek help.

Uff da
Guest
Uff da

Na, Truth, just points out how screwed up Mike O’Brien’s housing priorities are. This guy needs to be gone next election. Maybe some developer buddy of his will hire him, or he can go to work for sLimeBike, picking up the ones trashed or requisitioned by his druggie constituents.

Jeff Bezos
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Jeff Bezos

Hi, Ballard!

I’m the richest man in the world, but my European workers enjoy unsafe working conditions and low pay! I’m sure everyone in Seattle is enjoying all the exciting new changes I’ve brought to their city. Thanks for turning your city into a giant campus for my programmers. It was really something and I must say, other than Councilmember Sawant’s (her and us have a deal worked out, she’s fine, don’t worry your curry about it) deeply flawed – and therefore doomed – attempt to slow down our march you guys really went ALL OUT to let us ALL IN. Big thanks!

Happy Holidays, Ballard, and remember we’re all committed to social justice!

Ballard Parking Enforcement
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Ballard Parking Enforcement

Uff da 1

NPC Seattle Liberal Dog Mommy
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NPC Seattle Liberal Dog Mommy

This is a very smart plan and I’m sure the whole area will be vastly improved.

guesty
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guesty

can someone please, please, please tell me the exact cost of “affordable”? this tired buzzword seems to have no real meaning…

Lazy myballard.com people
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Lazy myballard.com people

I mean it’s pretty well laid out in the HALA plan. But you’d have to read it…

Toad (of Toad Hall)
Member
Toad (of Toad Hall)

I want all of you chill folks out there in my ‘hood to just sit back and enjoy all the new changes coming your way.
It’s simple: higher density means more tax revenue for me! Now for you in your existing single family homes, well, you can expect higher taxes too! Why not? It means more tax revenue for me…duh.
Oh, none of this will be happening in MY immediate part of Greenwood/Fremont. No. I like it just the way it is. And my immediate neighbors do too.
So, digest that tofu turkey and plan yourself a nice little non-patriarchal winter break!

Lindsey Clibborn
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Lindsey Clibborn

Does everyone understand that this won’t even actually provide “affordable” housing in our neighborhoods? The developers are given an incentive to make a certain percentage of the housing “affordable” but it’s likely developers will pay the laughable penalty and build market rate housing which leaves our neighborhoods with more density at fewer affordable numbers while the charm and character of our neighborhoods are demolished. This isn’t going to even touch the homeless problem. It’s false advertising and misrepresentation. We may not have a choice but please at least educate yourself to know what this really means for our neighborhoods. Sad.

Builder
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Builder

Why is the penalty laughable? Why is there a penalty? Without builders would you live in a home? Or in a tent?

The Nesttun is in my Backyard
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The Nesttun is in my Backyard

True. As an example the Nesttun building planned out for 15th and 70th is paying the penalty. And they make it sound negligible in their FAQs to investors, that they’ll even make the money back.

Crown Hill homeowner
Guest
Crown Hill homeowner

Yup. Here is the Nesttun investor FAQ where they gloat about paying the MHA penalty to avoid having to provide affordable housing:
https://truelinecapital.com/multi-family-building-in-seattle/

Hayduke
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Hayduke

Thank you, that is an excellent find! Of course, those of us who already understand Ed Murray’s “Grand Bargain” and MHA to be the scam that is already knew this. But having evidence that smacks down the city’s argument that HALA/MHA will somehow create “equitability” in our most expensive desirable neighborhood is nice.

Hmmmm
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Hmmmm

Says the guy that can’t locate a road on Google maps

Hayduke
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Hayduke

LOL, llChron7:14, is that you? I know where the damn road is, I just didn’t read the article carefully.

Hmmmm
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Hmmmm

It’s called reading. Top to bottom, left to right. Group words together into sentences. Take Tylenol for any headaches. Midol for any cramps.

Mike O'Brine
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Mike O'Brine

Shh…Lindsey, don’t tell anyone! Why, for years now, we’ve been shouting about ‘more affordable housing’ while simultaneously offering each and every builder a ‘back door’ (not Ed Murray’s type of back door, mind you) to avoid offering any ‘low-income’ units. That’s right, penalty fees paid directly to me and the rest of the City Clowncil! So what if that means no homeless get housed, or if even more end up on the streets. It’s the circle of life, as they say in the Lion King. Big Hobo? Oh, Big Hobo turns a blind eye to kickbacks. After all, Big Hobo is the biggest grift there is! And Remember, Vote Salty, Vote O’Brine 2019!

Builder
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Builder

If builders should pay for housing should doctors pay for healthcare?

Pedestrian
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Pedestrian

Builders don’t pay, developers do. A developer actually purchases and owns the property that they’re developing. A builder just builds.

Doctors don’t own the patients. So no. Doctors don’t pay for healthcare.

Builder
Guest
Builder

Builder/developer same thing. Ok so why should developers pay for someone else’s housing? Just because they are in the same building industry?

Bolide
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Bolide

What they are paying for is the right to increase density on their property.

Cyclone Daniel
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Cyclone Daniel

And it looks like my house escaped the zoning by a third of a block. Can’t say the same for others I’m friends with though.

Ballard is awful
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Ballard is awful

@Cyclone. Might be time to sell before you’re surrounded by anarchists that are disguised as the homeless.

Lampchop
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Lampchop

Think of all the free money you just made.

amaar ali1
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amaar ali1

increase the height limit to allow denser mixed..
https://47biz.com

Dr.Clipper
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Dr.Clipper

Affordable housing already been taken by refugees and the mentally I’ll….and more are waiting . Veterans have to move out of the Seattle area to live and that’s hard too ! Fedway , Renton got the ballardize fever too !

Uff da
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Uff da

Could be if Seattle wasn’t a “sanctuary city” it might free up some housing for those who are here legally? It would also free up some funding to use for other purposes too. And, there are SOME “legal” refugees who have entitlements under federal programs, while at the same time sending money back to their country of origin. How about drug dealers and their mules, too – sanctuary city residents, some of them, while they hand out the stuff that addicts and kills some of our newcomers. Yes, sanctuary city, another of CM O’Brien’s wrongheaded priorities.

Seattle, The World Class City
Guest
Seattle, The World Class City

Careful Uff da.

There are things we aren’t supposed to talk about here in Democrat Utopia such as how we can afford multilingual classes in “underfunded schools” (are they striking again this week I can’t follow anymore), the impact of large numbers of immigrants/refugees competing for dwindling affordable housing/service jobs, and of course, the fact that the heroin that currently plagues us comes from Mexico. Not to mention the medical care for the MUCH LARGER THAN NATIVE USA families and the justice system costs for the ones that are criminals. Can’t bring it up or you’re an evil racist nazi who “clearly doesn’t earn six figures so move to Ellensburg now” etc as they will reply.

And the kicker is, no matter how MUCH WE PAY THEY STILL HAVE PROTESTS CALLING US EVIL RACISTS when we suggest that maybe this whole sanctuary city mess is way out of control. Even funnier, they demand to speak only Spanish, which is the ORIGINAL COLONIAL LANGUAGE in this hemisphere. COMEDY!
Get woke!

Gail Force
Guest
Gail Force

We have to pass this stuff, so we can all find out what’s really in it! Taking surveys today is much like making plans as we go. It’s basically stacking the deck and THEN telling you how it’s now going to be. This entire thing is a gigantic joke being foisted upon area residents. These fees will simply be passed on, just like government always brings. Fred Meyer doesn’t pay taxes. It’s customers do though. The root word of density is DENSE.

matt
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matt

This is such a deceptive headline. There is nothing in the up zone that guarantees affordable housing. Most developers will pay into a fund and build market rate units.

Toad (of Toad Hall)
Member
Toad (of Toad Hall)

Matt, how right you are! (no pun intended)
But we would ask you to observe a strict ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy when it comes time to speak of the fund.
We see it more as a little slush fund that we can use to do good here in Seattle! There are plenty of good causes that can use a little ‘donation’ to lube the wheels of commerce as the Capitalists like to phrase it.
For instance, there is a nice little family-owned business right here in CD 6 that sells tasty kraut and kimchee products (probiotic and deliciously raw!) that has seen a severe drop off in business since the opening of the Nordic Heritage museum. They could probably use a little cash infusion this time of year. Plenty of other places to spend the money too. Nice Krismus stockings packed full of gifts like needles, lighters and big garbage bags for the vulnerable and less fortunate unhoused folks here in Seattle would be very supportive!

Ann S.
Guest
Ann S.

Thanks for bringing this to the attention of the larger community MyBallard. Please note that it is not Crown Hill proper that is being upzoned, but Crown Hill Urban Village which is technically different. Your reference of 85th to 95th is only a portion of the proposed expansion. The rezone maps extend South to 77th St, West to 22nd and as far East as 8th.

Done
Guest
Done

If the city thinks “affordable” housing is going to help the homeless, they are sadly mistaken.

The people living in tents will not be helped by an “affordable” housing unit. They are nowhere near positioned to take advantage of that.

This will help affordability for young professionals, and that’s great, but please stop telling us it’s for the homeless crisis.

Done
Guest
Done

My area is already up zoned, including a fancy new townhouse complex across from a private grade school whose units recently sold for $736/sq ft. The units are about 10 feet wide. They’re quite compact but nice.

But I’m thinking they are talking apartments here.

Josie
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Josie

The saddest part is that blocks adjoining 15th will have all the single family homes torn down for Duplex/Triplex. Read this article carefully. And they probably would allow one in the frontyard and one in the backyard. And what about parking?

Jon Lisbin
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Jon Lisbin

Unfortunately the cost of “affordable housing” is the displacement of our most vulnerable neighbors as naturally affordable multi family units are bulldozed to build market rate units. Did you know that low income housing that is razed is not counted towards the city’s goal of 6000 affordable units? If it was the “net” affordable units could be a “net loss.” Did you know that the payments that developers make toward affordable housing are not required to be spent in the neighborhoods being impacted by the development? Did you know we are one of the few city’s in the region that have not taken advantage of developer impact fees to help growth pay for schools, roads and fire? Now you do.

We have given the keys of our Ballard and our city away to large developers in the name of affordability. http://Www.SCALEseattle.org (The Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability, and Equity) may have lost an administrative appeal but the political battle has just begun. We need sweeping changes in local governance to stop the madness and focus on effective solutions to housing affordability. Jon

Hayduke
Guest
Hayduke

Thanks Jon. Credit for the link I’ve included below goes to another commenter here but you might find it interesting and useful. Check the investor FAQs where they basically gloat about how they’ll make more of a ROI by paying the MHA fee instead if building affordable units. Of course, those of us who already understand Ed Murray’s “Grand Bargain” and MHA to be the scam that is already understand your point. But this link is an example of it in action, and it smacks down the city’s argument that HALA/MHA will somehow create “equitability” in our most expensive desirable neighborhood.

https://truelinecapital.com/multi-family-building-in-seattle/

On Point
Guest
On Point

Your post and Jon’s are what I wish we had more of here…thoughtful, fact-based discussions. I may not even agree with everything you’ve written here but I appreciate the POV presented without the elenchos-esque rabid froth.

Hayduke
Guest
Hayduke

Thanks. Ever so often I slip up and become thoughtful. ;-)

Hmmmm
Guest
Hmmmm

“Thoughtful, fact-based discussions”

Yeah, with a guy that doesn’t even read the articles then starts ranting about how it’s incorrect.

Hobo Paradox
Guest
Hobo Paradox

If my apartment complex is torn down during the upzone frenzy, can I qualify for benefits as a homeless person?

ballard1919
Guest
ballard1919

Every upzone makes housing more expensive by raising property values. More lies from OBrien.
These gimmicky schemes repeatedly destroy affordable, historic buildings to make way for expensive, speculative new development.