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Upzoning Seattle
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Seattle City Council opens up discussion on upzoning measure


Seattle City Council isn’t voting on a controversial upzoning measure until March, but the debate began in full on Monday, as it hosted the first of a handful of meetings to discuss amendments and impacts, and take public comments.

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The legislation, known as Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA), would enact requirements for building affordable housing, and taller residence buildings in select neighborhoods throughout Seattle. The goal: To provide at least 6,000 new rent and income-restricted homes for low-income residents.

For Monday, the city’s Office of Planning and Community Development came forward with a presentation covering environmental analysis on historic resources, followed by a lengthy summary from the council running through each provision of the MHA. Things closed out with public comments, ranging from full support for the measure, to proposing specific amendments to the legislation.

“MHA reduces sprawl, and allows for more homes to be built,” one public commenter claimed. “By approving MHA, we are also increasing Seattle’s affordable housing stock.”

While little was decided on today, it was an opportunity to see the legislation laid out in full, as councilmembers weigh the pros and cons of the MHA ahead of the full vote in March.

If it was enacted, it would impose a requirement on developers to dedicate between 5 and 11 percent of projects to low-income housing, or be subject to substantial fines. Additionally, approximately 6 percent of single-family areas would be rezoned under this legislation.

The MHA has already been enacted in the University District, South Lake Union, downtown, Lower Queen Anne, the International District, and the Central Area. The eventual hope is to get it up and running across the entire city of Seattle.

The next meeting on the MHA will take place Monday, Jan. 14, and will go over various amendments to the legislation. A full public hearing will be held on Feb. 20, followed by a full vote on March 18.

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