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.