Seattle Mayor Backs Off Proposal For Denser Single-Family Zones | KUOW News and Information

Seattle Mayor Backs Off Proposal For Denser Single-Family Zones

Jul 30, 2015

Mayor Ed Murray’s decision to step back from proposal to increase density in Seattle’s single-family neighborhoods is a disappointment, says a woman who played a big role in developing the plan.

Faith Pettis, co-chair of Murray's Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda committee, told KUOW’s Ross Reynolds that some people misunderstood that part of a much larger plan.

“We’re not proposing eliminating single-family neighborhoods at all,” said Pettis. “What we’re doing is suggesting different types of housing in single-family family neighborhoods, housing that already exists in many, many neighborhoods in the city. There are duplexes and triplexes and cottage houses and all sorts of small-format housing already scattered and grandfathered throughout single-family neighborhoods.

“It would not have changed things dramatically. We’re not talking about bulldozing homes.”

In addition to the proposal for denser neighborhoods, the proposals unveiled earlier this month include an upzone allowing developers to build taller buildings in about 16 percent of the city – including downtown, in urban villages, and along arterial streets (see map). In return, residential developers would be required to build affordable housing within their projects or else pay the city to build them.

In fact, Pettis says, that’s the part of the 65 proposals in the HALA report that she thought would be among the most controversial: mandatory inclusionary housing.

“That’s the piece that I was expecting people to focus on because that will have the most impact on our city, actually planting affordable rental housing all over our city,” Pettis said.

She said a leak of the single-family upzoning well ahead of the report’s release was partly responsible for the opposition. But she said her committee realized that the overall plan would face intense scrutiny from the public.   

“It’s not surprising that some things will fall out, but I still would encourage folk to read and take the plan as a whole,” she said. “If we pick it apart piece by piece we’ll lose the power of the whole.”

Produced for the Web by Gil Aegerter.