Downtown Seattle high-rise residents who were blocking a key part of Mayor Ed Murray’s affordable-housing plan have dropped their challenge.
Downtown Seattle high-rise residents have dropped their legal challenge against a key part of Mayor Ed Murray’s affordable-housing plan.
Murray’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program would change zoning to let developers build larger and taller in certain parts of the city, such as downtown.
In return, the developers would be required to include some rent-restricted housing units in their projects or pay fees to help the city build those units elsewhere.
The City Council has approved framework legislation but the program won’t take effect until the council also approves the zoning changes. That’s still to come.
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In May, Seattle’s planning department issued a State Environmental Policy Act ruling that the zoning changes would have no significant adverse impact on the environment.
The high-rise dwellers — including residents of the Escala luxury condominium tower where the movie “50 Shades of Grey” was filmed — appealed that ruling, arguing the changes could worsen traffic jams and rob their homes of sunlight and privacy.
Their main goal was to hold Murray’s plan hostage so officials would extend tower-spacing requirements and other protections to their slice of downtown. That earned them the ire of some affordable-housing advocates, who accused them of selfishness.
“After long and careful consideration, we decided to drop our appeal,” the Downtown Residents Alliance said in a statement. “While we believe that the mayor’s failure to address downtown livability in his proposed legislation is purely political and will harm the city, we are even more concerned about the less fortunate in our community.”
The alliance has succeeded “in getting the mayor to abandon his push for even fatter new residential construction in parts of downtown … and opt for taller instead. Now we will turn our attention to convincing the City Council,” the statement said.