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Emergency legislation from Sawant to stop mobile park sale passes

(KIRO Radio/Matt Pitman)

A group of seniors facing eviction from a low-income mobile home park in the Bitter Lake neighborhood got a reprieve Monday afternoon, after a bill sponsored by Seattle City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Mike O’Brien placed a moratorium on construction and development in areas currently used by mobile home parks.

RELATED: Sawant calls for emergency stop to sale of mobile home park

The legislation passed by an 8-0 margin. It declared an emergency, and relates to any filing, acceptance, processing, and approval for development applications regarding mobile home parks.

The temporary moratorium enacted by the bill will allow the city to put together a “work plan to develop alternative development regulations encouraging preservation of affordable housing.”

“Our enemy is not each other — our enemy is a corporate developer-dominated city,” Councilmember Sawant said during Monday’s proceedings.

Nearly 80 low-income seniors call the Halcyon Mobile Home Park home, some who have lived there for years. The tight-knit senior community own their mobile homes, but not the land they sit on.

The previous owner promised the land would never be sold, but that owner recently died, and a developer stepped in with plans to build on the property, which would have effectively evicted the current tenants.

The property is tied to the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability and upzoning, where developers are allowed to build higher up as long as they dedicate a certain amount of the units toward low-income housing, or pay into a fund for them to be built elsewhere.

RELATED: Sawant files for re-election to Seattle City Council

When Sawant previously proposed removing the mobile home park from the upzone list, Councilmember Rob Johnson suggested it may do more harm than good.

“Leaving out parcels from the Mandatory Housing Affordability program, I think that puts a greater emphasis on those areas for likely redevelopment, because again, a developer wouldn’t be required to pay or perform under the city affordable housing program, so I get concerned about leaving out pockets of the city,” Johnson said following that proposal.

Johnson ultimately voted in favor of Monday’s legislation, following the approval of an amendment he co-sponsored with Councilmember Debora Juarez that established a timeline for to “address mobile home park displacement issues,” and require a report on solutions by April.

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