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caption: Where affordable housing could go in Seattle's Chinatown-International District
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Where affordable housing could go in Seattle's Chinatown-International District
City of Seattle

International District rezone delayed until non-English speakers are heard

Big changes for Seattle's Chinatown-International District are just one vote away. A Seattle City Council committee Tuesday passed zoning legislation to increase density in the historic neighborhood.

Based on requests from residents, though, the council is delaying its final vote on the matter.

The Chinatown-ID rezone mirrors what's being implemented in other Seattle neighborhoods. Developers will be allowed to design taller building, and in exchange will be required to set aside affordable units.

Joseph Shoji Lachman of the Japanese American Citizens League was one of many who testified Tuesday that the Seattle City Council should delay its vote.

"The people who are most affected by this legislation are the ones who cannot be here right now: It’s the ones whose first language is not English. And we want more time to be able to have this meaningful engagement with them," he said.

Another speaker, Ada Lin of the CID Coalition, said non-English speakers have not yet been included in the city's discussions.

The City Council says it will wait to vote until sometime in July, after it has had more interaction with members of the Chinatown-ID community.

The rezone proposal would require about 10 percent of units to be priced for lower income households. That’s higher than what’s required in downtown Seattle and on par with the requirements in the University District.

Still, many people have called for a higher affordable housing percentage in the Chinatown-ID neighborhood to prevent displacement of longtime residents.

Now some council members, including Rob Johnson, say they'll look for ways to do that. A higher mandatory affordable housing (MHA) requirement could mean less revenue for developers.

Johnson said he's committed to hearing what else people from Chinatown-ID have to say.

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