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Affordable housing, Zillow, single-family zoning
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Group details plans for creating more affordable housing in Seattle

A row of houses in Seattle.(Kaizer Rangwala, Flickr Creative Commons)

Seattle is among the toughest cities to build housing in when it comes to zoning laws, something city officials hope to remedy with a series of proposed measures to encourage new construction of affordable housing.

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“Seattle has become too expensive for most working families. We need more affordable housing if we want to remain a just, welcoming, and equitable city,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan.

Among the almost 40 proposals from the city’s Affordable Middle Income Housing Advisory Council (AMIHAC) include a measure to reduce costs of building housings, the extension of a crucial tax exemption, and reforming permitting practices.

“The Advisory Council applied our collective expertise in housing development and investment to elevate strategies to help close the growing gap between housing produced and what middle-income families can afford,” said the Advisory Council’s Co-chair Ada Healey in a Wednesday news release.

According to a recent report from MarketWatch, the Seattle area has the fourth most onerous regulations on land-use and building, behind the Bay Area in California, New York/New Jersey, and Providence-Warwick.

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That’s largely due to “a more intense level of involvement in the regulatory process,” as well as steep fees imposed on builders.

Seattle’s Advisory Council will look to provide some relief through private sector partnerships, as well as “addressing permitting chokepoints and reducing conflicting direction from departments given to developers that drives up housing costs.”

The AMIHAC is composed of experts on housing development, labor, financing, and the legal community, assembled by Mayor Durkan in January 2019. You can read its full report on policy recommendations for affordable housing here.

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