Don’t Upzone Seattle Neighborhoods

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

By The Seattle Times editorial board - June 29, 2018 - shared by volunteer Perry T - and wow does this sound familiar!

Seattle must preserve single-family neighborhoods, one of its most precious assets. Mayor Jenny Durkan should suspend an ill-conceived proposal to triple density in neighborhoods, especially since a city study says that will have little effect on affordability.

Seattle must preserve single-family neighborhoods that are essential to its livability, character and economic success.

City Hall is aggressively pushing legislation to allow nearly every single-family lot to become a multifamily apartment site.

Under the guise of allowing backyard cottages, this is one of several broad zoning changes now being considered by the city. Affordability is a concern but Seattle can’t destroy one of its greatest assets, single-family neighborhoods.

The proposal would allow single-family houses to be replaced by up to three units, irreversibly changing the city’s character.

This is billed as a way to create affordable homes but it’s a false promise. It would do little for affordability — a city study expects “marginal” effects.

But it would create tremendous uncertainty for 300,000 mostly middle-class residents supporting the city through homeownership, removing certainty about the neighborhood and city they bought into.

Tripling residential density with upzones will also reduce the number of starter houses to buy as they’re snapped up by developers. This shrinks opportunities to achieve true, long-term affordability with ownership.

Justification for radically altering Seattle neighborhoods is evaporating. A surge of housing construction in recent years created a rental glut, with about 5,000 new units vacant regionally and 26 percent of downtown Seattle apartments empty.

This comes as Washington’s population growth rate slows, according to new state data. Seattle’s comp plan says it already has plenty of capacity under current zoning to accommodate forecast growth through 2035.

Seattle must think bigger in responding to affordability and homeless challenges. Regional approaches are needed, encompassing greater variety of housing options accessible via investments in transit and ferries.

See full article here.

Tags: #gentrification, #seattle

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