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You know that old brain teaser where perplexed security guards watch a guy take a wheelbarrow of dirt and rocks from a large construction project every night?

At the end, you find out that the guy is stealing wheelbarrows.

Look beyond the emotionally charged language on both sides of Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda debate regarding neighborhood development (racism! unsustainable density!) to see what the city gets out of the deal: an end to those pesky Environmental Impact Statements (EIS).

You see, it’s not just neighborhoods and developers with skin in the game. Passage of HALA’s Mandatory Housing Affordability Plan, as written, means that the city no longer has to consider development impacts to neighborhoods and the environment. The blanket — and vague — EIS can be used to green light all kinds of projects.

Bottom line, neighborhoods like Ballard that wanted affordable family housing will see a reduction in affordable housing and more, and denser, market-rate units built without even a cursory study of the mid- and long-term impacts to the environment, transportation, pedestrian safety, sewer capacity, small business, etc.

It’s not what is in the Seattle City Council’s wheelbarrow, it’s what the wheelbarrow is made of.

Tricia McMillan, Seattle