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.