Upzone in lower Queen Anne expected to produce 600 affordable homes | KUOW News and Information

Upzone in lower Queen Anne expected to produce 600 affordable homes

Oct 4, 2017

Taller developments will now be allowed in Seattle's lower Queen Anne neighborhood. The City Council unanimously passed a rezone measure on Monday.

It’s the last of five neighborhood rezones expected this year, after legislation was already approved for the University District, Chinatown-International District, parts of the Central Area, and downtown/South Lake Union.

The legislation sets the maximum building height as 85 feet for most of lower Queen Anne (also known as Uptown). That's twice as tall as the existing buildings near Seattle Center.

Some people worry that 85-foot buildings could block daylight. The Bayview retirement home on Aloha St. and Queen Anne Ave. is in the heart of the neighborhood, and some residents worry they won’t have any daylight if taller building pop up next door.

Residents weighed in, for and against the legislation, at a public meeting in lower Queen Anne in September.

Alexandra Moore-Wulsin: “In fact, what it is doing is gentrifying this neighborhood, and it’s being replaced by shadowy, corrugated steel and brick canyons. Please don’t do this to our city.”

Some residents cheered on the zoning changes, though, as a way to move the city forward.

Patrick Taylor: “We need more housing, and we need to build it now. This upzone will unlock affordable housing, it will let more people experience the good things of this city.”

The rezone is part of the broader HALA plan to encourage urban density. City Councilmember Rob Johnson has led the effort. The city’s goal is to create 50,000 new housing units in 10 years, including 20,000 for lower income households.

The lower Queen Anne rezone is expected to result in at least 600 more affordable homes within 20 years. That's because the legislation requires 7-10 percent of units in residential buildings to be priced for lower income households.

The same "performance requirement" for commercial developments is 5-10 percent. Developers who don’t want to offer that amount of affordable housing in their building can instead pay into a city affordable housing fund.

In 2018 the City Council will shift its attention to a citywide rezone package. That proposal is expected to increase building heights and affordable housing requirements for each urban center in Seattle.

The legislation could concentrate new growth in neighborhoods such as Rainier Beach, Othello, upper Queen Anne, Crown Hill, and Wallingford.