Friday’s meeting of the Planning, Land Use, & Zoning committee will begin with an incantation to open a Hellmouth under City Hall. Thenceforth,
High Priest Committee Chair Rob Johnson will preside over three legislative evils.
1. Living Building Pilot Program
Sharp-eyed activist Lee Raaen noticed the City planning to shovel yet more benefits into the gaping maw of profit-seeking developers, via an environmental program called the Living Building Pilot Program. Revisions to this program will be introduced at Friday’s meeting. Lee lays out the devious scheme:
The proposed changes to the Living Building Pilot Program are a bigger giveaway to the development industry than HALA in many ways, but are going unnoticed. They allow increased height and FAR [Floor Area Ratio, a measure of size] everywhere, not just in urban villages. Where HALA applies, they reduce the amount of affordable housing and/or in lieu payments that would be required. … The penalties for non-compliance with the Pilot Program are cut in half and the minimum penalty is eliminated. … Height and FAR increases will be a matter of right granted by the director and no longer appealable to the Hearing Examiner, etc.
Read the complete catalog of evil from Lee Raaen (PDF). A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sep. 20.
2. Comp Plan amendments
The City Neighborhood Council (Neighborhood Planning and Land Use Committee) has issued their final comments on the Mayor’s proposed Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan, which is replete with evil, as we have previously noted. The CNC lays out the specifics, starting with:
The Mayor’s Plan significantly diminishes the value of local, citizen planning and thus the value of citizen engagement in fundamental areas of land use planning, growth management and capital investment. The policies in the Mayor’s Plan should be amended to clarify that Neighborhood Plans, Goals and Policies take priority over general Comprehensive Plan goals when decisions such as rezones, development standards and design guidelines changes are proposed.
The CNC delivers comprehensive criticism and remedies in their complete letter. The PLUZ committee will begin discussion of possible amendments at Friday’s meeting, hold a public hearing Sep. 15, and potentially send the Comp Plan to the full Council on Sep. 20.
3. U-District Upzone
The PLUZ committee will host a briefing on the U District Urban Design project (a.k.a. “the upzones”), prior to legislation being introduced next week. Evilly, Chairman Johnson invited business boosters of the plan to brief the committee (which may violate the law, because the boosters get City money), but excluded community organizers, who were not even informed that the briefing would be taking place.
Ironically, the purpose of the briefing is for the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) to tell the committee how well they have performed “community engagement” on the project. John Fox of the Seattle Displacement Coalition extensively repudiates these claims.
The Livable U-District coalition is calling for massive community support at Friday’s meeting, and at a planned Mayoral appearance on Monday, Sep. 12 in the U-District: See this email to supporters. For a complete, substantive comment on the U-District upzones, see the Livable U-District comment letter of July 15.
If you plan to attend the PLUZ committee meeting, Friday, Sep. 9 at 9:30 AM in Council chambers, we suggest you bring garlic, holy water, and sacred herbs.