Twenty-six neighborhood, housing, and small business groups file appeal challenging HALA upzones and mandatory housing requirement

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No they’re not carolers but community leaders from across Seattle at City Hall and voicing their opposition to the HALA “developer giveaway” upzones

Coalition of groups from across Seattle demonstrate broadbased opposition to the City’s HALA Grand Bargain “developer giveaway”

On Monday, Nov. 27th, 26 neighborhood, housing and homeless advocacy, small business and environmental groups from every corner of Seattle held a press conference at City Hall to announce formation of a coalition to challenge the adequacy of the final environmental impact statement for the planned “HALA-MHA” upzones and mandatory housing requirement.  (A video of the event is here)

Calling themselves “the Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability and Equity” or SCALE, the Coalition filed this appeal with the City Hearing Examiner.  If successful the appeal would force a ‘remand’ sending the upzones back for further review, revisions, and public hearings.  A successful challenge would be a significant setback for city leaders, like Councilmember Rob Johnson, and their efforts to ram these upzones through the Council next year.  

The City Council cannot act on the HALA land use changes or mandatory housing requirement before a hearing examiner decision on the appeal and the environmental review process has played out.  A remand would force at least a six month delay in the process if not longer.   

Said David Ward, a Ravenna renter and president of the coalition, in reference to the HALA plan, “It will make Seattle far more unaffordable and also make it more difficult to live here due to more traffic, not enough schools, more pollution, fewer trees, and a loss of the diversity of residents we currently have.”

“I’m worried about moving out from my parents’ home because I know it’ll be hard to find an apartment I can afford,” said Beacon Hill Council Member and UW student Cacima Lee. “And the idea of buying a home in Seattle is almost a joke.”

“Instead of invalidating all neighborhood plans, the city needs to support and celebrate differences while maintaining intact communities,” Christy Tobin-Presser of the West Seattle Junction Neighborhood Coalition added. “These upzones are not needed to accommodate the growth that’s planned. The city already has the more than twice the capacity in multi-family zoning to accommodate all the growth that’s coming, so who’s driving this land-grab?”

The Grand Bargain, or Mandatory Housing Affordability-Residential (MHA-R), is a one-size-fits-all proposal by former Mayor Ed Murray and city planners that would give developers substantial increased height limits and profitability while only requiring them to pay a small fee or include a handful of affordable units in their projects.  

While city planners say the plan would produce about 6,000 low cost units over ten years, appealing groups say this is a gross exaggeration and that the upzones would displace 2-3 times that number of households. Many more people will be gentrified out of their communities including some rendered homeless.

As one of the community leaders attending the event said, “This is an extraordinarily broad base of rich and poor, tenant and homeowner organizations from every corner of the city and a powerful display of grassroots disaffection with the City’s plan to cram still more runaway growth in our city regardless of its impacts on either the livability or affordability of our city. We’re sick and tired of being marginalized and sick and tired of the city’s shameless catering to developer interests.”

Here’s the full list of participating organizations:

SCALE Coalition members: Baker Street Community Group ● Beacon Hill Council of Seattle ● Cherry Hill Community Council ● Citizens for Architectural Diversity ● Eastlake Community Council ● Fremont Neighborhood Council ● Friends of the North Rainier Neighborhood Plan ● Friends of Ravenna-Cowen ● Georgetown, Duwamish Valley Neighborhood Preservation Coalition ● Jackson Place Community Council ● Madison-Miller Park Community●  Magnolia Community Council ● Morgan Community Association (MoCA) ● Save Madison Valley ● Seattle Displacement Coalition ● Seattle Fair Growth ● Seniors United for Neighborhoods ● South Park, Duwamish Valley Neighborhood Preservation Coalition ● TreePAC ● U District Small Businesses ● University District Community Council ● Wallingford Community Council ● West Seattle Junction Neighborhood Organization (JuNO) ● Westwood Roxhill Arbor Heights Community Coalition ● Central Ballard Residents Associate ● Greenwood Exceptional Tree Group

Donations are needed to support their effort: 

If you would like to contribute either time or money to this effort – well they’re going to need it.  The Coalition has hired a couple of the state’s most highly regarded but not inexpensive land use attorneys to make their case before the Hearing Examiner. To contribute go to this link: http://www.seattlefairgrowth.org/appeal.html

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About John V. Fox

Director, Seattle Displacement Coalition
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