The Seattle City Council approved legislation Monday related to what officials are calling a “grand bargain” between developers and affordable-housing advocates.

Share story

The Seattle City Council approved an ordinance Monday requiring developers of commercial projects to help create and preserve affordable housing through fees.

The council also adopted a resolution stating its intent to create a program requiring developers of residential projects to set aside a percentage of their units as affordable.

The new requirements for commercial and residential projects alike will be contingent on zoning changes that the council plans to pass in the next few years. Those changes, if approved, will allow larger and taller developments across the city.

The requirements coupled with zoning changes make up the compromise reached in July between developers and affordable-housing advocates who were members of Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory (HALA) Committee.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

The developers and their allies agreed not to sue the city over the housing fees and set asides — in return for the upzones. Murray and Councilmember Mike O’Brien, now championing the legislative package, have taken to calling it Seattle’s “grand bargain.”

They say the package will over the next 10 years yield 6,000 housing units affordable to households making no more than 60 percent of the area median income.

With the package and other policies recommended by the HALA Committee, Seattle can add 50,000 units total, 20,000 of them affordable, Murray and O’Brien say.

They hailed the council’s unanimous endorsement of the grand-bargain components Monday as historic first steps. For the first time in Seattle, developers will fund or build affordable housing with every new apartment-building or office building they construct.

The upzones, if approved, will occur in the city’s commercial and multifamily areas and in select single-family areas near dense neighborhoods and along transit corridors.

Developers of commercial projects will pay $8 to $16 per square foot in fees, depending on location. They’ll also have the option of building affordable housing.