Seattle council asks public to weigh in on plan to do away with single-family zoning label

Jul 26, 2021, 2:36 PM | Updated: 2:55 pm
Seattle single-family zoning...
An apartment complex in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. (MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

A Seattle City Council committee will be holding the first public hearing for a proposal to do away with the “single-family zoning” label on Wednesday.

Seattle and Tacoma weigh changes to single-family zoning

The bill comes from Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and Dan Strauss, the latter of whom chairs the council’s land use committee. In practice, it would effectively do away with the single-family zoning moniker altogether, and change it to “neighborhood residential zoning” instead.

That would potentially affect several elements of a 20-year roadmap for building new housing infrastructure, improving transportation, and investing in “big-picture decision” to improve neighborhoods, known more simply as the city’s “Comprehensive Plan.” In the case of this most recent proposal, it would necessitate edits to the Future Land Use Map, Land Use, Housing, and Parks and Open Space elements, 17 neighborhood plans, and the Housing appendix.

Mosqueda has also previously noted that the bill won’t actually change the makeup of Seattle’s housing density, operating only as a means to relabel existing zones, and do away with a term she says has been used to further exclusionary practices and discriminatory policies.

Next, the council will gather feedback from the public on the initial draft during Wednesday’s 9:30 a.m. meeting of the council’s land use committee, and then weigh that feedback for potential changes ahead of the final bill’s official introduction in early August.

How to ‘sympathetically’ upzone single-family neighborhoods

The council then plans to begin work on another update to the Comprehensive Plan, which would “include alternatives that consider allowing a broader range of housing types in single-family areas.” That process would play out over an estimated six months while the council engages with local communities and conducts necessary environmental reviews.

Mosqueda and Councilmember Tammy Morales also hosted a panel last week, bringing in leaders from a variety of local community groups to weigh in on the city’s plans for reimagining its approach to single-family zoning.

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Seattle council asks public to weigh in on plan to do away with single-family zoning label