My message to the activist corps:
Congratulations and thank you to everyone who attended the public hearing on Mandatory Housing Affordability at the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning (PLUZ) committee on Tuesday morning!
We had 31 people who spoke, balancing the effort of our adversaries, who fielded 36. We made a thoroughly credible showing, which was the important goal for the day.
We also presented a literate and coherent policy of opposition, discrediting our adversaries’ smears of us as greedy racists. The main issues presented by various speakers on our side were:
- Displacement: Upzones and redevelopment may destroy more existing affordable housing than the MHA program will create.
- Infrastructure: First things first! Existing infrastructure can’t support the present population. Increasing density without concurrent investment in infrastructure will only make things worse.
- In-lieu payment option: The option for developers to pay a fee instead of building affordable units will result in economic (and racial) segregation. We want affordable housing in our neighborhoods!
- Developer giveaways: Why is Seattle’s inclusion percentage (2.8-7%) so low compared to other cities’ (10-30%)? Why doesn’t Seattle collect impact fees from developers to pay for infrastructure, as do 80 other cities in Washington?
- Upzones are not the answer: The city has plenty of development capacity to accommodate projected growth within existing zoning. The City ignores alternative plans to provide affordable housing, particularly the Community Housing Caucus report.
- Neighborhood-specific planning: The HALA process is a sales job, not a real method to gather neighborhood input. We want a say in how our communities grow.
Councilmember Johnson specifically acknowledged most of these issues when he said, at the end, that the committee’s next meeting – Friday, July 8, 9:30 AM – will address them. (He notably did not mention the issue of getting input from affected communities.) Whether the Committee’s response will be honest or manipulative remains to be seen.
This was a tremendous success! The debate over HALA is no longer a monologue. Good job, all!
For the Seattle Times report on the hearing, see:
Seattle housing hearing: ‘Harder for normal people to live in my neighborhood’
by Daniel Beekman at the Seattle Times – June 21, 2016