Seattle mulls a rezone of all residential neighborhoods

Jul 14, 2022, 1:53 PM
Seattle neighborhood...
Aerial view of Laurelhurst. An upper class residential neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
(Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Seattle City Council is considering upzoning all residential neighborhoods to comply with a federal housing mandate.

The consideration of a more comprehensive residential upzone was among several options that Seattle’s Office of Planning & Community Development (OPCD) considered in a presentation Wednesday. The City has an October deadline to finalize growth management strategies under the Growth Management Act with its Comprehensive Plan.

“This is a process that happens about once a decade,” said Michael Hubner, the Program Manager and Senior Policy Analyst for OPCD. “The last update process happened in the middle of the last decade. And each time we update a comprehensive plan, we’re looking out to a new 20-year planning period and anticipating the kind of growth that we expect over that time.”

Puget Sound area housing market cools with slowdown in sales, sharp increase in active listings

Beyond comprehensive upzoning, OPCD considered several other options, labeled “No Action,” “Focused,” “Broad,” and “Corridors.”

“Broad” would potentially allow a more comprehensive range of low-scale housing options, like triplexes and fourplexes, in all neighborhood residential zones.

“This envisions new types of housing and somewhat more growth at a very dispersed and lower level than you would see certainly in an urban village,” Hubner said. “But with housing types like triplexes, and fourplexes, townhomes, that sort of thing in all areas of the city and trying that emphasize what that would look like. It’s not tossing out the centers and villages, it’s a new feature.”

This plan would expand housing choices, particularly homeownership, in all neighborhoods while addressing the exclusionary nature of current zoning. It would also allow more housing options near existing parks and other neighborhood amenities with a slight increase in at-home and commercial businesses, spread throughout the city.

Another option, No Action, maintains the status quo of focusing most housing and jobs within the existing urban centers and villages. This would mean no change to land use patterns.

“This has been the city’s growth strategy for almost 30 years since the original comprehensive plan was adopted,” Hubner said. “The intent has been to concentrate new housing and jobs in compact, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods that are linked by transit. It also focuses on industrial development and manufacturing centers. We’re also aware from community comment from our own data, that they’re growing concerns about this strategy with respect to equity, housing, supply and diversity, and affordability and displacement.”

Under the current plan, new housing is primarily rental apartments concentrated in existing mixed-use areas. Most land outside urban villages remains limited to high-cost detached houses.

The goal is to create 80,000 new homes and 132,000 new jobs over 20 years, which is the minimum requirement for Seattle under the regional framework.

The third strategy, Focused, creates additional areas of growth, including new and expanded urban villages and potentially new smaller nodes.

“Essentially, [Focused] is taking over the current strategy and growing it with new or expanded urban villages in appropriate locations, smaller places, we’re calling them nodes for now, but think of those as mini-urban villages with businesses, services, and new housing opportunities around largely some of our existing neighborhood commercial centers across the city,” Hubner said. “And the idea here is to bring that walkable, complete 15-minute experience opportunity to more people across the city.”

Smaller nodes are defined as places with diverse housing and mixed uses to support complete neighborhoods.

Focused was designed to increase opportunities to grow “complete neighborhoods,” where more people can walk to everyday needs alongside a greater range of housing options, primarily rental apartments near amenities and services. There would be a slight increase in at-home and commercial businesses due to a larger number of people living in Seattle.

The final proposal, Corridors, would allow a wider range of low-scale housing options only in areas near frequent transit and amenities. These areas would allow options like triplexes and fourplexes, but might also enable other types of housing such as townhouses or small apartments.

Redfin settles lawsuit alleging housing discrimination

“Essentially, this is the same kind of concept as in the last alternative where more areas of the city allow what some people refer to as missing middle housing, but along our major transit corridors and around some of our major amenities in the city,” Hubner said. “Some of these large parks, community centers, or existing commercial retail areas, would be an area those places would allow not only triplexes and fourplexes, but also sixplexes, or small apartment buildings and new forms of townhomes.”

Hubner described the Corridors option as essentially the same amount of housing spread across the city the Broad plan would provide, but with more concentration and a greater array of housing types.

An additional pitch, called Combined, would use a combination of plans 2, 3, and 4, resulting in more areas identified as appropriate for more housing and mixed-use development.

Under the Growth Management Act, Seattle has to adopt an updated plan by the end of 2024.

Local News

(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Julia Dallas, KIRO 7 News and Bridget Chavez, KIRO 7 News

Redmond police using vehicle-mounted GPS tracking system to track down fleeing suspects

The Redmond Police Department started using StarChase Pursuit in January to safely pursue fleeing suspects.
1 day ago
Deedee Sun, KIRO 7 News

Murder of Kent teacher calls attention to mental health crisis in Washington

A Tacoma mom stabbed and killed on Wednesday has been identified as 66-year-old Gail Gese, a teacher at Cedar Heights Middle School in Kent.
1 day ago
In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer reac...
Associated Press

Man rescued by Coast Guard wanted in ‘Goonies’ fish incident

A man who was saved by a Coast Guard rescue swimmer at the mouth of the Columbia River as a massive wave rolled the yacht he was piloting Friday was wanted for a bizarre incident in which police said he left a dead fish at the Astoria, Oregon, home featured in the classic 1985 film, "The Goonies."
1 day ago
FILE - An Amazon company logo on the company's building in Schoenefeld near Berlin, Germany, March ...
Associated Press

Amazon violated labor law with delivery app

A Spanish court has ruled that Amazon broke labor laws by forcing more than 2,000 delivery drivers to use an app that the company controlled for scheduling work and payments and requiring them to use their own cars and cellphones on the job.
1 day ago
(KIRO 7)...
Shawn Garrett, KIRO 7 News

Deputies seize nearly 100 pounds of drugs during Tacoma arrest

Deputies with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department seized nearly 100 pounds of drugs while arresting a man with a felony warrant in Tacoma
2 days ago
police pursuit...
Matt Markovich

Source of pursuit deaths updates controversial data

Stats used by legislators to consider changing police pursuit laws may be in question.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Seattle mulls a rezone of all residential neighborhoods