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