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Abel Pacheco
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Seattle council member hopes to cut through red tape with new measure

Interim Seattle Councilmember Abel Pacheco. (Seattle City Council)

Earlier in September, Seattle City Councilmember Abel Pacheco introduced legislation that would speed up the process for approving what he views as crucial projects for housing, climate change, and more.

The State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) often institutes lengthy environmental reviews for key projects, something that’s saw massive delays for projects like Mandatory Housing Affordability, the Burke-Gilman Trail, and Fort Lawton low-income housing.

Pacheco hopes that his proposed legislation — co-sponsored with Councilmember Mike O’Brien — will cut through some of that red tape.

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“What we had seen and experienced over the last few years, whether that’s through MHA, issues with the Burke-Gilman, Fort Lawton, or with the accessory dwelling unit backyard cottage legislation … some residents use the process — which was meant to protect the environment — to delay projects that quite frankly our city needs to be implementing in terms of addressing our affordable housing crisis,” Pacheco told KTTH’s Jason Rantz.

Most recently, Seattle City Council faced almost three-and-a-half years of delays for its backyard cottage legislation, a measure that was widely supported both by the council and the city.

Under Pacheco’s proposal, that timeline for future projects would be limited to 120 days, and up to 30 additional days if agreed upon by all parties involved. In turn, the goal is to address some of Seattle’s biggest problems without unnecessary delays.

“We’re just cutting some of the red tape through the bureaucratic process that sometimes people use to delay a project,” he described. “We’re hoping to be able to streamline that process in the way that’s most impactful for the growth that’s happening in our city.”

Opponents have voiced concern that the measure would cut out the ability of communities to provide crucial feedback on large-scale projects.

Should it pass, it could be implemented as early as October.

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