Initially proposed years ago, the plan would bring larger buildings and affordable-housing requirements to 27 neighborhood nodes, plus commercial corridors and a small percentage of lots now zoned exclusively for detached, single-family houses.
The Seattle City Council will at last on Monday take up and start debating a plan that would allow larger buildings and impose affordable-housing requirements in more than two dozen neighborhood nodes.
Initially proposed years ago, the plan would upzone 27 urban villages, plus commercial corridors and about 6 percent of lots now zoned exclusively for detached houses.
It would allow developers in those areas to build one or several stories higher while triggering Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability policy, which requires developers to include some low-income apartments in their projects or pay fees to fund the construction of such units elsewhere.
Neighborhoods all over the city would be affected, from Bitter Lake, Wallingford and Rainier Beach to Magnolia, South Park and West Seattle Junction.
Some activists likely will push the council to ratchet up the housing requirements, some developers likely will lobby the council to lower them and Councilmember Rob Johnson, who’s championing the plan, will try maintain the requirements mostly unchanged.
At the moment, the plan would require developers to devote 5 to 11 percent of their projects to low-income apartments or pay $5 to $32.75 per square foot in fees.
Skeptics worry that too many developers would choose to pay fees rather than include low-income units in desirable areas. But supporters say the options are important.
Some critics say the upzones would worsen the look of neighborhoods and could exacerbate gentrification, while proponents say more market-rate and low-income apartments are needed to combat that very problem.
Residents likely will ask the council to alter the plan on certain blocks, Johnson said.
Monday’s meeting will be the first of five on the plan by a special committee, Johnson said. A public hearing has been set for Feb. 25 and a final vote by the full council has been set for March 18.
A coalition of neighborhood groups blocked the plan for a year by challenging an environmental review. But an administrative judge sided with the city in November, declaring the review almost entirely adequate.
The judge asked for more analysis only on how the plan would affect historic sites, and a consultant is working on that. There’s a chance the extra analysis won’t be complete in time for the council to vote in March, but Johnson expects it to be done soon, he said.
Mandatory Housing Affordability upzones already have occurred in the University District, downtown and South Lake Union, Lower Queen Anne, the Chinatown International District and parts of the Central Area.