City Council Candidate HALA Statements During 2015 Election

Seattle residents and city council candidates have taken an interest in Mayor Murray's HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) recommendations.  The Phinney Ridge Community Council sent a letter to candidates for positions in District 6 and the at-large position with some questions.  Our letter is posted below.  Replies that we have received from candidates are posted further below.  

Dear city council candidates:

 I (a board member) am writing on behalf of the Phinney Ridge Community Council. We are currently reviewing the mayor’s proposed “Roadmap to an Affordable and Livable City,” and would like to know the council candidates’ positions on several of the mayor’s proposals. We intend to distribute your answers to our members and post a link to them on our Facebook page.  Please feel free to provide an explanation for your answers as you see fit. Thanks in advance for taking the time to respond.

Here are our questions:

1.   Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to allow “small lot dwellings, cottages or courtyard housing, rowhouses, duplexes, triplexes and stacked flats” in single-family zones?

2.   Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to expand the boundaries of some urban villages, such as in Ballard, and to eliminate single-family zoning within those areas?

3.   Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to reduce parking requirements in transit-served areas and in multi-family zones outside urban centers and urban villages, to ensure that parking requirements are not re-introduced in urban villages and urban centers, and eliminate parking requirements for so-called “small-scale” housing types in single-family neighborhoods?

4.   Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to increase allowable height and density in multi-family, neighborhood-commercial and commercial zones? Do you believe that such an increase is necessary to create affordable housing?

5.   Do you believe that the mayor’s proposal does enough to require developers to help provide affordable housing and mitigate the impact of development?  Would you support other measures, such as a tougher inclusionary-housing requirement, or broader linkage and impact fees?

    Thank you in advance for your responses.


Reply from Candidate Lorena Gonzales

posted Jul 31, 2015, 9:10 AM by PRCC Webmaster   [ updated Jul 31, 2015, 9:10 AM ]

1. Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to allow “small lot dwellings, cottages or courtyard housing, rowhouses, duplexes, triplexes and stacked flats” in single-family zones?

  The growth that is happening in our city is undeniable but I would seek to focus policy solutions to the affordability crises where growth is currently being experienced, primarily in urban villages and centers.  The urban village and center model is a solution that allows us to increase density and affordability without losing the neighborhood feel that so many of us cherish. However, I do agree with the HALA recommendation that would encourage the construction of backyard cottages and mother-in-law units within singly-family zones.  These are units that are already being built within single-family zones and provide affordability options both for distressed homeowners and renters.   

2. Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to expand the boundaries of some urban villages, such as in Ballard?   

  Yes. I think expanding the boundaries of urban villages and centers will be an essential tool to handling the current and future growth of our city’s population. Moving forward with this plan would affect only 6% of areas currently zoned as single-family, so I think this recommendation is a reasonable place to start and strikes an appropriate balance between the need to accommodate density and neighborhood concerns. 

3.  Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to reduce parking requirements in transit-served areas and in multi-family zones outside urban centers and urban villages, to ensure that parking requirements are not re-introduced in urban villages and urban centers, and eliminate parking requirements for “small-scale” housing types in single-family neighborhoods?

The amount of parking and the requirements around urban villages, centers and frequent transit service areas will continue to be a challenge given our current density.  That problem will be exacerbated if we do not complement parking reform with integrated transit options, including bus service, pedestrian ways and bike lanes.  I recognize that transportation infrastructure has not kept pace with the projected growth in certain neighborhoods (e.g., Ballard) but I do see the benefit in relaxing some parking requirements, especially in transit rich zones and urban villages and centers.  That said, I am not in support of a blanket approach to lifting parking requirements within single-family zones.  But I am supportive of lifting parking requirements applicable to backyard cottages and mother-in-law units that are creating a barrier to production of that type of affordable housing within single-family zones.

4.  Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to increase allowable height and density in multi-family, neighborhood-commercial and commercial zones? Do you believe that such an increase is necessary to create affordable housing?

  Yes. Again, we must utilize multiple tools to address the growing affordability crisis in the city.  We are undeniably growing and I don’t want to find ourselves in a situation where we are pricing longtime residents out of the city they call home.  This is particularly true when it comes to seniors and other low to moderate income families.  I believe that relaxing some height requirements will be an essential part of creating more affordable housing under a mandatory inclusionary zoning program, which will trade additional height for on-site construction of affordable housing.

5. Do you believe that the mayor’s proposal does enough to require developers to help provide affordable housing and mitigate the impact of development?  Would you support other measures, such as a tougher inclusionary-housing requirement, or broader linkage and impact fees?

It is anticipated that the recommendations listed above will produce 20,000 units of affordable housing in the next 10 years.  Based on those projections, I am supportive of these strategies to address the current affordability crises.  The commercial linkage fee represent a balanced policy that will force commercial developers to help with contributing towards affordable housing while avoiding the trickle-down effect of imposing a linkage fee on residential construction the cost of which would be passed onto residents.  I am, and have always been, supportive of mandatory inclusionary zoning as a mechanism to compel developers to construct affordable housing throughout the city.  There are details to be worked out to ensure that mandatory inclusionary zoning is truly mandatory and that the projection of 5-7% will address the current housing need gap that exists in our city.  Lastly, if elected, I will focus on exploring mandatory inclusionary zoning, commercial linkage fee, multi-family tax exemption, increased tenant protections/support and promotion of homeownership.  Combined, I believe that these policy proposals will create much needed affordable housing.  



Reply from Candidate Bill Bradburd

posted Jul 28, 2015, 11:28 PM by PRCC Webmaster   [ updated Jul 28, 2015, 11:28 PM ]

1.   Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to allow “small lot dwellings, cottages or courtyard housing, rowhouses, duplexes, triplexes and stacked flats” in single-family zones?

I do not.  While I personally have long supported the idea of mother-in-law units and backyard cottages in existing SF zones as way to create truly affordable housing units, the row/town house and duplex/triplex recommendation will only further gentrify many neighborhoods that are home to lower income and working class families.  As was pointed out in Danny Westneat's article, the infill development in SF zones would result in "juicing [that] would likely cause widespread redevelopment of lower-priced single family home stock over time. The wealthier single family areas would be more likely to remain unchanged."  All contrary to the objectives of creating affordable housing.  But right to the priorities of the Master Builders and developers that want more places to build expensive housing.

2.      Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to expand the boundaries of some urban villages, such as in Ballard?

Only if it is the result of a robust, community-driven neighborhood planning process.

3.      Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to reduce parking requirements in transit-served areas and in multi-family zones outside urban centers and urban villages, to ensure that parking requirements are not re-introduced in urban villages and urban centers, and eliminate parking requirements for “small-scale” housing types in single-family neighborhoods?

These types of zoning changes work very well in externalizing developer's cost of housing production, and have done little to provide affordability they promised.  Additionally, this has wrecked havoc on neighborhoods in terms of parking shortages and loss of parking for small neighborhood businesses.  Rather than using one-size-fits-all parking rules, we need to be more project specific in analysis of required parking.  Clearly if an area is extremely well served by transit, parking requirements can be relaxed.  These areas however are in the denser parts of the city where the need for car ownership is lessened. As development sites move away from these dense urban centers, parking becomes more necessary because personal vehicles are more necessary.  We need to begin more careful neighborhood planning and engagement with residents to find ways to lessen the need for personal automobile ownership and use.  As parts of the city evolve to the point where personal auto usage is less necessary, project parking requirements can be relaxed.

4.      Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to increase allowable height and density in multi-family, neighborhood-commercial and commercial zones? Do you believe that such an increase is necessary to create affordable housing?

The reason why this additional development potential is being sought is that it allows the application of State law to mandate affordable units in a project (Inclusionary zoning).   Sadly, the City has not taken advantage of this capability in the past and has given away development potential throughout the city without demanding the affordability.  So now, we are finally going to do this but at the cost of giving even more development capacity.  Nonetheless, any such increases need to be done under a neighborhood planning process to ensure that adequate amenities and infrastructure is there to support the additional housing - both affordable and market-rate - that would result.

5.      Do you believe that the mayor’s proposal does enough to require developers to help provide affordable housing and mitigate the impact of development?  Would you support other measures, such as a tougher inclusionary-housing requirement, or broader linkage and impact fees?

It's clear that HALA focused on protecting the developers' bottom line and fostered market rate housing development.  The HALA inclusionary requirement of 5-7% is too low.  It should be at least 10%.  Development impact fees to pay for roads, schools, parks and the fire department have been available to us since 1990, and we have never implemented them and we need to (HALA does not address this).  The linkage fee needs to be larger, and O'Brien's "grand bargain" to give up a residential linkage fee was a mistake.

Reply from Council Member and Candidate Mike O'Brien

posted Jul 25, 2015, 11:40 AM by CBF   [ updated Jul 25, 2015, 11:50 AM by PRCC Webmaster ]

Here is a link to a post I did last week to state my position of the various perspectives on single family zoning:


I hesitate to comment on what the mayor's proposal is at this point because it has not been clear to me.  Instead, I prefer to be as clear as I can on what my position is.  If this statement still leaves questions unanswered, please let me know.  I am always happy to talk on the phone or in person too.

I think my post addresses questions 1 and 2, but let me add some detail to the others:

3. Parking.  It is not clear to me where the mayor plans to further reduce minimum parking requirements so I would want to better understand what his proposal is.  We recently had some reports back on current utilization of on and off street parking and what I heard was that we continue to have excess off street parking in many of the urban villages.  We need to do more follow up on this report, but initially it leads me to believe that requiring more off street parking will not likely address the concerns that are being raised. I do thing there may be some policy changes around parking in urban villages, such as strategies to make existing off-street parking available to people outside that specific building or requiring buildings that do not provide parking to provide transit passes or subsidies for their residents.  As I mention in my post, I do support policy changes that would encourage more back yard cottages or mother-in-law units within single family homes.  This would include possibly removing parking requirements for these housing types - especially when this requirement makes no sense.  (In some cases, there is no curb cut or driveway for parking.  By requiring someone to make a new curb cut, they remove a parking spot on the street, that would then be replaced by one off street.  This would just require a lot of expense for a project with no net change in parking, which seems silly.)

4. The deal that was reached to allow us to move forward with developers producing 6000 units of affordable housing in the next ten years without legal challenges for these developers required the zoning changes in multi-family and NC zones, and I think this is a good deal for affordable housing.  It was a necessary part of the deal.  There are other paths to attempt to get the private development community to produce affordable housing, but I believe this is the best path.  The process to actually change the zoning in these areas will be an 18-24 month process and out of the process we will learn a lot more and likely be making specific zoning decisions on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis.  In general I support the concept of this deal but it is premature for me to take a position on a specific zoning change on a specific block.

5. The agreement that was reached was for a specific production level of affordable housing.  Our calculations indicate that this deal will produce more affordable housing that my originally proposed linkage fee and at a deeper affordability level (60% of AMI as opposed to 80%).  Of course I would like to see more affordable housing, but I support this deal as a bold step requiring for the first time in Seattle that all new development produce affordable housing.

Reply from Candidate Catherine Weatbrook

posted Jul 24, 2015, 9:00 PM by CBF   [ updated Jul 25, 2015, 11:50 AM by PRCC Webmaster ]

1. Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to allow “small lot dwellings, cottages or courtyard housing, rowhouses, duplexes, triplexes and stacked flats” in single-family zones?

I agree that we need solutions for growth density, but I don’t think that the mayor’s proposal is going to create affordable housing.

2. Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to expand the boundaries of some urban villages, such as in Ballard?

There may be areas where expanding some boundaries makes sense, but this is a complex issue and the research hasn’t been done to ensure success with the community.  The Ballard Partnership, working with the city, was working through this kind of conversation in a transparent proces. The Mayor has undermined that inclusionary process. In addition, there’s been no meaningful actual planning for infrastructure like parks, schools, and transportation; all critical components to an expansion like this.

3. Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to reduce parking requirements in transit-served areas and in multi-family zones outside urban centers and urban villages, to ensure that parking requirements are not re-introduced in urban villages and urban centers, and eliminate parking requirements for “small-scale” housing types in single-family neighborhoods?

I do not agree.  For an inclusive community diverse transportation options must be available including accommodations for all modes of transportation. Transit options are variable, particularly based on time of day and how the economy is. Those who work non-traditional hours, who are mobility challenged, families, deliveries, and other trips where a car is more than just a preference, all need places places for cars to be stored. Encouraging and implementing safe transit options and developing infrastructure that accommodates the movability needs of our communities is important, but will not replace all car trips for decades to come. Parking needs to be a part of our development and transportation planning.

The Mayor’s blanket “one-size-fits-all” approach is not a viable solution. Developers will never have enough height, and increasing the height requirements will result in rent increases due to construction, and higher mortgage costs. This approach also pushes out local ownership, which erodes the character and unique attributes of a community. However, development itself is not a bad thing but we need an approach that includes community involvement and opens a dialog between developers, land-owners, the community and the City. We can significantly increase our affordable housing stock through renovation and alternatives to standard, new stock development instead of giving away too much to developers and short changing community livability.

4. Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to increase allowable height and density in multi-family, neighborhood-commercial and commercial zones? Do you believe that such an increase is necessary to create affordable housing?

We need to deal with more people wanting to live here. Everyone is going to have to give up something, but this is a regional problem, not a Ballard problem or a Fremont problem or just a Seattle problem. In order to address the challenges that come with projected growth, we are going to have to work together as a region, as a city, as a community, and as individual neighborhoods to add more affordable housing options without losing the distinctive neighborhood character and livability that makes our city attractive.
Some neighborhoods may be open to having small lot dwellings or other types of more dense housing developed, but collaboration is vital to making sure the needs of the neighborhoods are represented and not ignored by the city. What works in one pocket of a neighborhood, might not work a few blocks away, different solutions
5. Do you believe that the mayor’s proposal does enough to require developers to help provide affordable housing and mitigate the impact of development?  Would you support other measures, such as a tougher inclusionary-housing requirement, or broader linkage and impact fees?

The Mayor’s plan does almost nothing for affordable housing, and does nothing to mitigate the impact of development. We need impact fees for schools, parks, and local roads.

While the Mayor’s plan would increase the quantity of market rate homes available for sale, that increase does not address the many people in Seattle whose income does not qualify them for government-subsidized affordable housing, but who cannot afford a market-rate rental. Instead of creating housing for an economically diverse population, the plan creates an even greater stress on the impact of new development, and does nothing to account for the impact this development will have on services such as schools, parks, and local road. We need impact fees so that the services in our communities can keep pace with the density.

Reply from Candidate Stan Schaufler

posted Jul 24, 2015, 8:19 PM by PRCC Webmaster   [ updated Jul 25, 2015, 11:50 AM ]

1.   Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to allow “small lot dwellings, cottages or courtyard housing, rowhouses, duplexes, triplexes and stacked flats” in single-family zones?

I will agree with the desires of the residents impacted by these policies.
I know some would like to increase density while others do not. I tend to agree with protecting the sanctity of the SFR'S but I am sensitive to those that feel their only means to age in place is to have some rental income.

2.      Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to expand the boundaries of some urban villages, such as in Ballard?

I do not agree with ANY MORE DEVELOPMENT with out first addressing the needed infrastructure paid entirely by new development first.

 3.      Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to reduce parking requirements in transit-served areas and in multi-family zones outside urban centers and urban villages, to ensure that parking requirements are not re-introduced in urban villages and urban centers, and eliminate parking requirements for “small-scale” housing types in single-family neighborhoods?

We will never address our transportation problems by building more parking garages with every multi family development. You simply can not increase populations with cars, make streets narrower to allow for bikes and busses and say you are doing anything constructive on transportation congestion. We have been lied to here in the 6th long enough.

4.      Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to increase allowable height and density in multi-family, neighborhood-commercial and commercial zones? Do you believe that such an increase is necessary to create affordable housing?

Development in existing retail foot prints makes more sense to me than the infiltration and destruction of our SFR neighborhoods with multi family dwelling units.

 5.      Do you believe that the mayor’s proposal does enough to require developers to help provide affordable housing and mitigate the impact of development?  Would you support other measures, such as a tougher inclusionary-housing requirement, or broader linkage and impact fees?

I do not think the development that has taken place and will take place in our community is in any way shouldering enough responsibility for the impact it is having on the quality of life of existing residents.
I would place a MUCH HIGHER PRIORITY ON IMPROVEMENTS FIRST -DEVELOPMENT SECOND !

Sincerely,
Stan Shaufler

Reply from Candidate Jon Lisbin

posted Jul 24, 2015, 8:16 PM by PRCC Webmaster   [ updated Jul 25, 2015, 11:49 AM ]

Here are our questions:

1.                                 Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to allow “small lot dwellings, cottages or courtyard housing, rowhouses, duplexes, triplexes and stacked flats” in single-family zones?  

 

Certainly not without the infrastructure to support it. Schools are overcrowded, traffic is a mess, there's no parking, crosswalks are dangerous and roads bridges, traffic lights and bike lanes are inadequate. We can't keep increasing density without an effective mechanism in place to support growth.

I am proposing that developers pay their fair share towards infrastructure improvements via “developer impact fees” or “subdivision extractions.”  Under the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA), impact fees are authorized to support school facilities, public streets and roads, parks and open space. 

In addition, we saw what happened to central Ballard, upper Queen Anne and West Seattle when developers exposed loopholes in the 2010 code changes to build out of scale and out of character developments. It took 5 years to insufficiently amend these codes (conveniently before election time).  In the future, we have to be much more vigilant and responsive when evaluating and modifying the effects of code changes.

2.            Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to expand the boundaries of some urban villages, such as in Ballard?

We need to take a breath and slow down on these and other critical long term issues.  The next 20 year comprehensive plan (the draft of which was released in May of this year) will guide how the city grows. At this time I support the alternative 3, which focuses growth near light rail and urban villages. The Mayor should wait until the new Council is elected as district representatives will take a fresh look at these issues.

3.            Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to reduce parking requirements in transit-served areas and in multi-family zones outside urban centers and urban villages, to ensure that parking requirements are not re-introduced in urban villages and urban centers, and eliminate parking requirements for “small-scale” housing types in single-family neighborhoods?

In 1970 Joni Mitchell wrote “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”  In 2015 we decided not to include off street parking.  

Parking is already at a premium in our neighborhoods.  It would be nice to think we live in a utopian society where everyone gets around with transit and bicycles but the reality is very different.  Many of the new multi-family units are being built with garages that only Mini Coopers can fit in. Where do their cars end up? On the streets of course.  For those households near transit, they are finding commuters parking in their neighborhoods to avoid the drive and cost of parking downtown. It is worth considering parking permits for these neighborhoods and to stop ticketing people who actually live there.

Additionally, it is a misnomer to assume reducing off street parking requirements will make housing more affordable. In this “sellers” market, the cost savings from excluding parking will simply increase developer profits.

4.            Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to increase allowable height and density in multi-family, neighborhood-commercial and commercial zones? Do you believe that such an increase is necessary to create affordable housing?

We desperately need affordable housing in our neighborhoods, but it’s simply perverse to build tall monstrosities next to small detached homes even if they are in areas classified as multi-family zones.  The psycho social trauma that residents experience from displacement and the bulldozing of their neighborhoods cannot be understated. We need to look closely at the individual neighborhoods and the type and character of housing that already exists.  I would be more likely to support the proposal if there was a design review process or committee to ensure that we preserve the livability of our communities.

5.            Do you believe that the mayor’s proposal does enough to require developers to help provide affordable housing and mitigate the impact of development?  Would you support other measures, such as a tougher inclusionary-housing requirement, or broader linkage and impact fees?

As an entrepreneur and marketing professional I would normally side with supply and demand dynamics. However the current construction is replacing affordable properties with high end developments, starting at $600K. In the name of affordable housing and environmentalism, developers have instead built units that are affordable only to higher income buyers, reducing the economic diversity of our neighborhoods, and dramatically shrinking the tree canopy in direct opposition to the cities goals.  As one resident asked me, “where are the children going to play?”

I support linkage fees on commercial development, coupled with developer fees on residential development to support critical infrastructure. I believe this is the best of both worlds and will contribute to more manageable growth. There's an argument that impact fees will increase rents, but that depends on the housing market and which study you read. Improved parks, schools, streets, crosswalks and utilities add value to neighborhoods.  One must also consider the benefits from infrastructure improvement when weighing a cost/benefit analysis.

Bottom line, I have talked to hundreds of residents on the campaign trail and I am confident my assumptions are widely shared among constituents. Voters chose district representation because they feel they are not being listened to by city hall.  I hear them loud and clear.

Jon Lisbin – District 6 Candidate

 

 

Reply from Candidate Alon Bassok

posted Jul 24, 2015, 7:19 PM by PRCC Webmaster   [ updated Jul 25, 2015, 11:51 AM ]

Thank you for the opportunity to comment. Please find my responses to your questions below within your original text. 

Kind regards, 

Alon 

Dear city council candidates:

 I am writing on behalf of the Phinney Ridge Community Council. We are currently reviewing the mayor’s proposed “Roadmap to an Affordable and Livable City,” and would like to know the council candidates’ positions on several of the mayor’s proposals. We are asking the questions of all candidates who will appear on the ballot in District 6. We intend to distribute your answers to our members and post a link to them on our Facebook page.  Please feel free to provide an explanation for your answers as you see fit. Thanks in advance for taking the time to promptly respond. 

 Here are our questions:

1.    Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to allow “small lot dwellings, cottages or courtyard housing, rowhouses, duplexes, triplexes and stacked flats” in single-family zones?

Yes. We already allow for single family homes to have either a basement apartment or a detached backyard cottage. That is already two--not one. The new regulations would allow both. That would bring us to three. 

Since we would have three, I am open to different versions of three. 

Some people argue that the accessory units as opposed to duplex/triplex would generate income for the owner and prevent displacement. This is not likely because the remodel of a basement and construction of a backyard cottage would cost upwards of $200,000. For people in danger of being displaced, a load of that size is likely out of reach in addition to their existing mortgage. As such, I don't believe Mother-In-Laws and Backyard Cottages will produce a lot of new housing. 

However, I think there is a lot of potential for other housing types to add more housing. For example, imagine a home that from the street appears to be a two story single-family home with a daylight basement. But, inside you would have separate condos in the daylight basement, first floor and second floor. This would require less space, keep more room between houses and can maintain look and feel of existing streets. 

I believe most of the problems we have with regards to development have a lot to do with poor design. We need better design guidelines. All of the building types you have asked about can be done tastefully and be attractive. 

No one will be required to build or tear down under the new rules. But, we need a lot more housing in this city and the HALA recommendations are a good first step forward. 
 

2.      Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to expand the boundaries of some urban villages, such as in Ballard?

In general, yes. I believe we can expand the boundaries where it makes sense to do so. There are also some places (for example, the are in the West Seattle village with six churches/schools) that likely don't make much sense for that designation. 
 

3.      Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to reduce parking requirements in transit-served areas and in multi-family zones outside urban centers and urban villages, to ensure that parking requirements are not re-introduced in urban villages and urban centers, and eliminate parking requirements for “small-scale” housing types in single-family neighborhoods?


Yes. One of the last things I did before leaving my position with the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies to campaign full time was to complete a study on parking in Ballard and West Seattle. The study may be found here: http://realestate.washington.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Runstad_Center_Parking_Study_2015_final.pdf. What we found in this study was that by and large, people living in microhousing units do not park on the street. 

Most of the vehicles parked within the urban villages were registered to single family homes and to apartments that had parking. This makes sense. If you live in an apartment that charges you for parking, it's not hard to do the math on free street parking being cheaper. For a single family home, parking on the street and using the garage for storage or shop space is cheaper and more convenient than renting shop or storage space elsewhere.  

And, most importantly, we found there to be available parking spaces at night for the stationary population. The lack of parking is a commercial business issue and not a residential one. 

The problem that we have is that so many of us do not have good transit options to get to the commercial cores of our neighborhoods. We need transit that serves not only commuters and downtown but also the neighborhoods.  

4.      Do you agree with the mayor’s proposal to increase allowable height and density in multi-family, neighborhood-commercial and commercial zones? Do you believe that such an increase is necessary to create affordable housing?

Yes. I support the height increases because I fully believe in the efficacy of inclusionary up-zoning. This is a tool that can provide us with many thousands of affordable housing units while not increasing the tax burden on Seattle's residents. 
 

5.      Do you believe that the mayor’s proposal does enough to require developers to help provide affordable housing and mitigate the impact of development?  Would you support other measures, such as a tougher inclusionary-housing requirement, or broader linkage and impact fees?

I would hope that the HALA recommendations could have gone further to increase the percentage of housing units required to be affordable. Throughout my campaign, I have called for mandatory inclusionary up-zoning requiring 1 in every 5 new units built be affordable to people making the minimum wage. The HALA report calls for 7%, compared to my proposed 20%. My proposal may be found here: http://www.alonbassok.com/images/bassok-housing-paper.pdf  

Reply from Candidate John Persak

posted Jul 24, 2015, 7:07 PM by PRCC Webmaster   [ updated Jul 25, 2015, 11:51 AM ]

1. No. I agree that we need ADUs and DADUs that can provide affordable housing and build wealth for the middle class, and that the rules restricting these should be loosened. However, an effective and categorical up-zone of SF areas means homeowners will be pressured or enticed to sell, which will place profits into the hands of developers, and overturn 30 years of neighbor driven community planning. It will fundamentally alter these neighborhoods.

2. No. I believe that we have the capacity in our current urban villages, in conjunction with the loosening of rules for ADUs/DADUs, to meet the needs of population growth and the demand for more affordable housing. Seattle has already absorbed a disproportionate amount of growth in King County.  Transit Oriented Development in practice leads to displacement, and we need to link up our existing communities with transit in a way that works for Seattle's unique topography and community needs--not on a disconnected ideology. 

3. I believe the rush to eliminate parking is inspired by the drive to deregulate zoning very quickly, and doing so will impact each community in a different way. That is why I believe people who live in these areas need to be part of the discussion before any policy decisions are made or ordinances passed. One community recently has successfully sued the city on this issue and many other aggrieved communities may follow. There has been no adequate inquiry or planning as to how other modes of transportation will absorb these changed mobility needs. The proposal to reduce parking requirement exacerbates an already existing and complex problem without examination.

4. I believe that some height increases may be necessary to lessen the demand and impact on areas of the city where up-zoning would be a detriment to the livability of the neighborhood. However, I reject the notion that increasing supply will result in affordability. The basis for this strategy is called "supply side economics" and has been debunked repeatedly by mainstream economists and by the practical effects of "Reaganomics" which has jumped off wealth disparity for the last 35 years. The HALA inspired incentives to build in affordable units are weak and provide little recourse or leverage, should developers not collectively fulfill their obligation. Instead, market restraint in the interests of low/no income earners will produce affordable housing. The lack of fees assessed in exchange for 6,000 units (the "grand bargain") seems to evoke an economic concept known as "trickle down", which has also been a historical failure for solving economic inequality, and it will fail here. 

5. The Mayor's recommendations do not do enough, and in some instances actually would do damage. There are too many built in incentives for upscale development that cancel out the policies that may encourage affordable housing. The proposed up-zones/code changes would go into effect sooner and have impacts sooner, than any or all of the corresponding policies that would ameliorate the upward pressure on housing costs--if any or all of them were adopted at all. Once developers have their needs met there is no incentive for them to give back, and the people of Seattle, or even city council, will have little leverage to make any demands after the fact. If the HALA report was realistic about true affordability, the requirement would be to implement ALL of the measures to preserve and build affordable housing and to keep neighborhoods livable, *before* any kind of deregulation occurred for developer interests.

Thank you,

John Persak

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