MHA upzones: 60 percent of lots the city identified as “likely to be redeveloped” are located in lower income areas of the Central District, Southeast Seattle, and other Southend neighborhoods

Map of the city’s list of vulnerable sites shows communities of color face potentially the greatest change due to MHA upzoning: 85 percent of the 1000 largest upzoned single-family lots are in Central District and South Seattle

There’s some startling information longtime housing and neighborhood advocate David Ward uncovered as a result of a public disclosure request he recently submitted to the City of Seattle  After seeing a very hard-to-read map contained on page 50 of the City’s 2016 Growth and Equity Report, he asked for the source data that was the basis for the map.

The map PSX_20190403_180643shows small clusters of teeny green specks scattered across Seattle indicating parcels “likely to be redeveloped” under current zoning; “underutilized” lots where small older brick apartments or single-family homes may now sit but where much higher density development could be built.

Ward asked for specific information about each of the identified parcels on the map including their addresses and amount and type of housing currently on those sites.  And since the information was dated, he also requested an updated list of every parcel likely to be redeveloped as a result of city-wide upzones accompanying the “preferred alternative” studied in the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the new Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) plan.  These are the upzones recently approved with only minor changes a month ago by our City Council.  Ward knew there was such an updated list of parcels likely to be redeveloped because such a list was the basis for some of their analysis in the EIS for the MHA plan.

After some time and a lot of patience, Ward obtained the information he was seeking.  And with the help of a mapping expert put together his own set of updated maps.  And his maps are a revelation.  They are far more detailed and you can blow them up revealing in a very graphic way, every block and lot the city has identified as likely to be redeveloped under the new MHA upzone plan.  The maps also distinguish single family zoned sites (in blue) from other sites, commercial or existing multi-family apartment areas (in red) that the city identified as “likely to be redeveloped”.

PSX_20190403_181558And what especially leaps out; you can clearly see the disproportionate impact the MHA upzones will have on Southeast Seattle, South Park, Georgetown, Westwood Village-Highland Park, Beacon Hill, and Central District neighborhoods – specifically areas that just happen to contain the city’s highest concentrations of low income renter and homeowner households and households of color.

Working from the lists of addresses reflected on his maps, Ward found that about 6200 of the 10,400 or 60 percent of the lots the city identified as likely to be redeveloped city-wide under the new MHA upzones are located in these Central District and South Seattle neighborhoods.  He also pulled from this larger list 1000 of the largest formerly single-family zoned parcels and found that fully 85 percent of these are located in the same CD and South Seattle areas.  Of all sites the city identified as likely to be redeveloped these perhaps have been placed at greatest risk.  That’s because after upzoning, these larger sized sites that likely held a single-family home on it, they can now be redeveloped to much higher density.  These sites too are where low income renters and people of color now live – especially larger low income families that rely on these larger units to rent.

Other areas that have been upzoned with concentrations of sites now “likely to be redeveloped” include Fremont, Ballard, Crown Hill, Lake City, and areas along Aurora Avenue North.  Census data indicate that most of these areas also contain high concentrations of lower income people and renters.  

So yes, with these maps, we can see rather clearly there are indeed racial and economic justice implications accompanying the new MHA plan.  And they are tied directly to the conscious decision by our elected leaders to upzone without regard to how it will affect low income people and communities of color – those most likely to be displaced and gentrified out of their communities.

To view a map of your neighborhood and other areas of the city, click on this link:

About John V. Fox

Director, Seattle Displacement Coalition
This entry was posted in City Hall, Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Housing Preservation, Neighborhoods, Upzoning. Bookmark the permalink.