Press statement given out by groups opposing the Mayor’s highrise plan: “a blueprint for displacement, gentrification and the destruction of the UDistrict – We say NO! “

The U District Community Council, Livable UDistrict, Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, Seattle Displacement Coalition, homeowners, tenants, low income people, small businesses, seniors, and the homeless OPPOSE THIS UPZONE.

The Mayor has come to the UDistrict to sell his plan to upzone nearly 2/3rds of the University District for highrise office and residential towers. Areas now zoned for lower density buildings of no more than 45’ to 65’, would be rezoned for 240’-320’ towers – rivaling or exceeding densities in South Lake Union. This would set in motion redevelopment on a scale that would destroy the current unique diverse social, physical and affordable character of the neighborhood, forcing demolition of many existing buildings. Longtime small businesses, many first generation immigrant and minority owned, and 1200-1500 existing units of lower density affordable rental housing, all are threatened.

The Mayor has staged today’s event, surrounding himself with hand-picked “stakeholders” to lend the appearance his plan to blanket the neighborhood with highrises has community support. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s been driven largely by special interests intent on turning the neighborhood into a high tech ‘incubator’ hub serving the U of W and large property owners.

Low income tenants, seniors, area homeowners, small businesses at risk of displacement – they were not invited today to tell us their story nor were their concerns ever addressed throughout development of this pre-determined highrise plan. The Displacement Coalition, not the City, went door-to-door to inventory the amount of low cost housing affected by the upzone, we direct mailed twice all affected residents/small businesses (many who’ve lived/worked here for decades). And literally several hundred crowded into forums we held to oppose this highrise plan.

The Mayor’s plan: a direct attack on the fabric of our community!

His highrise plan is not about ensuring the District has room to grow and add density around a rail stop. It’s already been upzoned once since 2000, growing at record rates reaching 125 percent of its city assigned 2024 growth target. And there’s twice the zoned capacity we need to meet our 2035 jobs and housing targets. Instead of stopping to address enormous problems of growth we’re already facing under current zoning – the need for more open space, better bus service, more homeless shelter and services, preserving our historic buildings & unique mix of small businesses, & preserving our existing affordable housing and unique mix of small businesses, the Mayor’s plan is all about stoking even more displacement inducing runaway growth at the behest of the U of W and large property owners! And his mandatory housing requirement accompanying this plan would effectively replace only a small fraction of the existing low cost units we’re going to lose as a result.

Seattle Displacement Coalition flier: : 206-632-0668, sdc@zipcon.net For study of housing placed at risk in UDistrict: http://www.zipcon.net/~jvf4119/ , more also at https://outsidecityhall.wordpress.com/

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About John V. Fox

Director, Seattle Displacement Coalition
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