It’s always a good idea for the city to gather more feedback before going through with a major zoning change, especially in the case of major Mandatory Housing Affordability zoning changes across Seattle.
We’re happy the Office of Planning and Community Development has extended its schedule for the draft Environmental Impact Statement — which details the impacts of the proposed zoning changes — and people will have two more months to provide input, as reported by Councilmember Lisa Herbold.
What we don’t appreciate is how the Department of Neighborhoods plans to solicit this feedback by door knocking on single-family homes that could be affected by these potential upzones.
It doesn’t appear that this level of special attention will be applied to residents living in apartments and other multi-family residences, yet these are the people who would benefit most from upzoning and a denser Seattle.
The whole point of the MHA program and upzones is to provide more affordable housing in Seattle, and that’s not going to be through single-family homes.
Seattle homeowners receiving more attention isn’t surprising. They’re the ones that will oppose this program the most, and have in a number of neighborhoods across the city where affluent residents fear how their property values will be affected by letting in apartment buildings that cater to the low and middle class.
Yes, Seattle’s Central Area was treated to an MHA open house at Optimism Brewing last month — on a Tuesday — but that really isn’t enough. It’s unfortunate, but there is a younger swath of residents here that can’t always make a meeting in the middle of the work week; they’re busy working their butts off to afford to live in places like Capitol Hill.
There are no more events or council-hosted meetings planned for the area, unless you count a Madison-Miller Urban Village Community Design Workshop later this month. We predict this meeting will be attended by many single-family residents opposed to their neighborhood becoming taller and denser. We also predict the councilmember representing this area will be too busy fighting the Trump administration and big bank to come hear people complain about where low-income people get to live.
With little else to look forward to in terms of a good-faith effort to inform those of us who have to rent the opportunity to live here in Seattle, is it so unreasonable to expect a knock at the door from a city representative?
Don’t tell us it’s harder than approaching a single-family home. We’ve read the police reports, and we know just how secure these apartment buildings are, and how easily accessible they are to people with ill intent.
With little more attention expected from the city to these renters, many of whom might like to see better affordable housing options than what they’re dealing with now in older developments, the best advice we can give is to remain informed and seek to provide more comments through the seattle.gov/hala website and at hala.consider.it, though the latter site is no cake walk to navigate.