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.