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.
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