More than 100 people spoke at a sometimes-contentious public hearing on Seattle's plan to allow denser construction in more than two dozen neighborhoods while requiring developers to create affordable housing. Here are excerpts from some of their statements.
It was a divided room Thursday night as more than 100 people spoke at a public hearing about Seattle’s plan for taller buildings and denser construction in the urban cores of 27 neighborhoods.
The plan would upzone blocks where apartments and commercial buildings already are permitted and allow denser housing on 6 percent of Seattle’s single-family lots. It would also require developers in those areas to create affordable housing.
Dozens of residents urged the council to quickly adopt the upzones, and dozens of others said aspects of the plan could change their neighborhoods for the worse.
“I’m going to run a tight ship here. I’m not going to tolerate any heckling,” Seattle City Councilmember M. Lorena González said as she opened the packed and sometimes-contentious hearing, which wound up lasting more than four hours.
Here’s what some members of the public said:
“A lot of people aren’t here because regular people have jobs.”
— Capitol Hill resident Jacinta Fitzgerald, who left work early Thursday afternoon to stand in line with others who signed up to speak.
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“There are 150,000 workers moving to King County every year.”
— labor leader Nicole Grant, arguing the upzones plan would produce housing for those newcomers, including thousands of affordable apartments.
“We’re a neighborhood, not a housing-production zone.”
— Wallingford resident Frank Fay, predicting that development goosed by the plan would “do away with yards, trees and sunlight.”
“Before 1923, multifamily homes were allowed anywhere in Seattle.”
— Jeff Dubrule, another Wallingford resident, saying apartments were banned on many blocks decades ago to keep people of color out of desirable neighborhoods.
“If you think we’re going to turn over our property to some rich fat cat who wants to own all of Seattle so that some high-income workers who have never struggled a day in their lives … can live in our place, wrong answer.”
— Central District resident Ruby Holland, warning that upzones would contribute to displacement in the city’s historic black neighborhood.
“The laws of supply and demand apply to housing.”
— Matthew Mauer, a lobbyist for the real-estate company Vulcan, Inc., saying the city’s plan would ease pressure in the housing market because developers would build more market-rate and low-income apartments.
“They can buy out, so it’s not really a requirement. It’s a suggestion.”
— West Seattle resident Natalie Williams, noting the plan would allow developers to pay fees of $5 to $32.75 per square foot in lieu of including affordable apartments in their projects.
“Once the architectural integrity of a neighborhood is destroyed, it can never be reclaimed.”
— John Stewart, a resident of the Ravenna-Cowen North Historic District, arguing against zoning changes in his neighborhood.
“Without making changes to our zoning, much of Seattle will become a de facto gated community.”
— University District resident Brooke Brod, saying more options are needed for people who can’t buy $1 million houses.
“The wealthier neighborhoods of Laurelhurst, Madison Park and Leschi are not impacted by this legislation.”
— Madison-Miller resident Anne-Marie Lowe, suggesting the upzones could carry unintended consequences for renters sharing old houses in her neighborhood.
“The status quo is causing displacement … Pass this legislation and go as big as you can.”
— Fremont resident Tom Allen, opposing proposals by some council members to scale back the upzones on some blocks.
“Please approve the O’Brien amendments.”
— Crown Hill resident Ann Selznick, backing a proposal by Councilmember Mike O’Brien to reduce upzones on some blocks in her neighborhood while boosting them along 15th Avenue Northwest.
“I also support Councilmember Herbold’s proposal.”
— Morgan Junction resident Deb Barker, praising legislation championed by Councilmember Lisa Herbold that would require developers who raze relatively inexpensive apartments to engage in mitigation.
“It’s incredibly difficult to do my job … because there’s not enough housing.”
— Downtown Emergency Service Center case manager David Helde, who tries to secure apartments for homeless people.
“We have shovel-ready projects.”
— Bellwether Housing’s Allison Bolgiano, saying the developer fees from the plan would provide nonprofits with funding to build more low-income housing.
“Yes, we need housing. But we also need to reduce asthma risk and keep our trees.”
— climate activist Carolyn Rodenberg, urging the council to include tree-canopy protections in the plan.
“We believe that being pro-environment means that you’re also pro-density.”
— Sierra Club activist Becca Monteleone, telling the council the upzones would help combat sprawl.
“You cannot have band practice in micro apartments.”
— Broadview resident Iskra Johnson, saying single-family houses should be preserved because artists use them.
“I’ve been there 65 years, and the idea of 30 to 40 people replacing my wife and I sort of delights me … We’ve got to react to the hundreds of thousands of people that are moving here.”
— West Seattle resident Randy Riedl, arguing his house probably should be razed for apartments.
“We believe in density, but we’re here to implore you to take a more surgical approach.”
— Stephanie Bowman, a Port of Seattle commissioner, sharing concerns about traffic on Beacon Hill.
“We’ve brewed a special brew, Save the Ave Ale. Come and take a taste.”
— University District advocate Cory Crocker, inviting the crowd to a brewery on University Way Northeast for an anti-upzones rally. (Small-business owners and their supporters have been pleading with the council to remove the quirky street known as “The Ave” from the plan, saying it would lead to displacement there.)
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