Sawant on Tuesday, 2PM, will ask her council colleagues to back a moratorium on removal of Seattle’s two remaining manufactured home parks

Halcyon (5)

U.S Bank Trustees put Halcyon Manufactured Home Community up for sale in North Seattle for $22 million. HALA-MHA upzones “brought this on” says an organizer for park residents

Housing advocates and park residents ask supporters to join them this Tuesday in Council Chambers: “Come support Sawant’s proposed freeze until we find long term measures to save these homes” (sign up to testify begins at 1:30pm)

Thirty years ago, with help from the Seattle Displacement Coalition, residents of the City’s nine remaining manufactured home parks succeeded in getting our City Council to approve a moratorium on redevelopment of those parks.  About 650 households – all low income and most elderly called them home.  Unfortunately, after two years, the freeze was allowed to expire but without follow-up on the part of the Council.  No permanent measures were approved to prevent continued loss of the parks.

Today only about 135 homes remain in two parks, the Bella-B and Halcyon Manufactured Home communities – both near Haller Lake along Aurora in North Seattle. When the longterm owner of Halcyon recently passed away, control of the property moved to a group of trustees dominated by U.S. Bank.  They promptly offered its 7.5 acres up for sale for $22 million dollars  Given the wave of new development in Seattle and planned upzoning of the site where the park is located, apparently the trustees are optimistic that demand will push the sale price much higher than its current assessed value of $3.5 million.

Residents are asking for time and some financial assistance that might enable them to acquire their own park and convert it into a tenant owned cooperative.  They’re nearly all low income retirees whose only asset really is their home which likely will be scrapped because there is nowhere to move them unless the city acts.  However, if the City acted quickly, it could make use of eminent domain to acquire the property for the residents (and at a much lower court mediated sale price nearer it’s assessed value).  Sawant will ask the City first to use its emergency powers to place a moratorium on redevelopment of the park and she’ll also seek removal of any plan to upzone the site under the HALA-MHA plan.

Park residents, several grassroots groups including the Displacement Coalition, are urging all who can to turn out, testify, and show their support for Sawant’s plan to Save these parks and homes – a critical low income housing asset in our city.  Sign-up to testify begins at 130PM.

Posted in Affordable Housing, Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Homelessness, Housing Preservation, Neighborhoods

Race, equity, and single-family zoning

Councilmember Mosqueda’s interest in upzoning undermines her justice goals and her interest in promoting land trusts, co-ops and other tenant ownership strategies


Duwamish Co-Housing; ‘suspiciously’ resembling single-family homes, could not be built in a higher density zone

-by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox reprinted from our column in Pacific Publishing Newspapers

Back in 2004, the city adopted a policy of testing all its legislative decisions and budget allocations against a set of race and justice goals. Funny though, it’s never seemed to have much impact on the city’s ultimate actions.

Case in point: former Mayor Murray’s planners in 2015 completed an extensive “Growth & Equity Report”, clearly showing how redevelopment in our communities had placed many residents at “high risk” of displacement. Ignoring the report, Murray two months later signed a “Grand Bargain” with developers that simply poured more fuel on the fire. Massive and very lucrative city-wide upzones were proposed while developers would be required to include only a small amount of lower-priced units in their projects or pay an in-lieu fee; enough to replace only a small fraction of the existing low-cost housing lost due to the upzones.

Homeownership Within Reach

Homestead Land Trust units: more tenant based subsidized housing serving lower income families and ‘masquarading’ as single-family homes (and made possible only within the context of lower density zoning)

So we were interested to read that Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda sought money in the 2019 budget to fund a race and justice assessment of the city’s zoning code—though her colleagues delayed a decision on her request until later in 2019. On its face Mosqueda’s idea sounds good, but we’re concerned about the motivation behind her proposal.

From her own statements to the press and in committee meetings during the budget process, her interest appears to be forcing more market-rate apartments into what she erroneously claims is “86%” of the city’s land area limited only to single-family. In reality, Seattle under existing zoning has ample capacity for more than 205,000 new housing units and only 35% of Seattle’s land area is zoned single-family.  

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Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Housing Preservation, racial justice

Coalition of 29 neighborhood, housing, and environmental groups challenging the city’s “HALA-MHA upzone plan” to host an educational forum Saturday January 12th 10AM and you’re invited

Here’s what the Coalition writes about their event:

Hold the date! Saturday January 12th from 10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon at the Central Area Senior Center, 500 30th Ave S.

Dear Concerned Neighbor,

The Seattle City Council has an aggressive schedule to adopt the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation by the middle of March. They will discuss amendments to the MHA and to the Comprehensive Plan in January. The single Public Hearing will be held on Thursday February 21.

This will change our city forever! The Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability, & Equity (SCALE) remains concerned that MHA does not truly address affordability, destroys the livability of our homes, and provides no equity for non-wealthy residents. Unfortunately, the Appeal of the MHA Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was not successful, except for requiring the City to more fully examine the impact on historic properties.

Now is the time to push City Council, especially your Councilmember, to make the MHA Grand Bargain the Right Bargain. SCALE is hosting an educational forum, “Fixing the MHA Grand Bargain” on Saturday January 12 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon at the Central Area Senior Center, 500 30th Ave S.

Posted in Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Housing Preservation, Neighborhoods

“It is the heart that leads me to places that challenge my comfort” by Serina Holmstrom

unsanctioned2Serina offers her thoughts on helping serve meals to the homeless at the “PopUp Kitchen”

I walked up to him, asking if he’d had enough to eat. I couldn’t understand his reply. He was standing by himself, far away from the rest of the crowd at the PopUp Kitchen. He had a newly gifted coat draped across his arm and his hat was sitting loosely atop his head. He backed away from me and said, “Do you have a camera on you?” I told him no. He asked, “Will you hurt me?”

I said gently, “No, I won’t hurt you. I can give you as much space as you need to feel safe”. He took a step closer. He said he was still hungry, but afraid of going back into the line. “I like people, I really do. But I’m scared of them, man. Like, I don’t want to be alone, but I also don’t want to be hurt, you know what I mean?”

His hand moved up to his head, holding it as he shook his neck back and forth. The cuff of his sweater slipped down and I saw the hospital band around his right wrist. The discharge date was a few days ago. His eyes darted around, “They tell me I got a mental head. The kind that makes me scared of everything. And I am scared. I’m really, really scared.”

I told him I understood what he was telling me, and that if he wanted, I would stay with him for awhile. I said something about when we are scared or sad, maybe the only thing that helps is to have someone safe close to us. We exchanged names. I offered to cut off Continue reading

Posted in Gentrification, Healing, Homelessness, Personal Essays

CM Johnson inserts an upzone for the ‘Ave’ into the city-wide HALA-MHA plan ignoring council’s pledge to first adopt measures that protect small businesses

Historic older buildings with low income housing already are being advertised to developers as tear-downs in anticipation of the zoning change

Screenshot 2018-12-07 at 11.57.10 AM - Edited

Councilmember Rob Johnson and city planners quietly buried the ‘Ave’ upzone into their 350-page HALA-MHA plan even though it was not included in the “preferred alternative” nor was it subject to environmental review. Only months later was it added while 29 citizens groups were in he midst of appealing the larger plan.

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Rob Johnson not running for re-election: who will developers get to replace him

When the City Council approved the UDistrict upzone in February 2017, they postponed upzoning of the Ave – the area from 52nd south along both sides of the Ave to 41st.  That area was slated for an upzone from 65 to 85 feet. But because of a strong showing from affected small businesses demonstrating what a threat this was to the historic character of the Ave and it’s businesses,  the Council, including even Johnson, agreed to pull zoning changes for the Ave. out of the plan. Continue reading

Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Neighborhoods, University District, Upzoning

Multi-family housing, race and class

Both race and class contribute to homelessness

By George Howland Jr, Contributing Writer

During our latest growth boom, 2010-17, Seattle’s single-family neighborhoods have become slightly more racially diverse: 33 percent to 34 percent.The difference in racial diversity between multi-family neighborhoods and single-family neighborhoods is negligible: 34 percent (sf) to 35 percent (mf). This refutes the urbanist contention that single-family residents are keeping people of color out of their neighborhoods by opposing multi-family zoning. These figures are in The Seattle Times’ columnist Gene Balk’s article today. Balk doesn’t address this issue but it’s plain for all to see in the numbers.
Seattle is plagued by individual and institutional racism, but Balk’s figures show current zoning is neither the cause nor the means to perpetuate it. (Historically, of course, redlining was a racist means to concentrate people-of-color in certain neighborhoods.)
The issue facing the city is class and the way it interacts with race. Poor people are being driven out of the city. In 2016, according to, the median income for White Seattleites was $92,000, while African American Seattle’s median income was just $39,000. Native-born African Americans have not benefited from the tech boom. That is why Seattle’s native-born African American population is shrinking.
The market cannot address this issue. Building more market-rate, multi-family apartments won’t help. Instead it will result in more gentrification, more homelessness and more displacement. The solution is more government, low-income, multi-family housing in all neighborhoods–starting with housing for the homeless (who are disproportionately people-of-color).
Award-winning journalist George Howland Jr has been hired by Seattle Displacement Coalition to write for Outside City Hall about city politics, housing, homelessness and land use. He works under his own editorial direction. The Displacement Coalition plays no role in choosing his specific subjects or editing his copy. He has never even been to a Huskie’s football game with the Coalition’s John Fox.


Posted in Affordable Housing, Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Homelessness, Neighborhoods, racial justice, Upzoning

What is an urbanist?

Don’t be fooled by those who drape themselves in pseudo-urbanism and (mis)use the term to mask their pro-developer sentiments

  • by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox, reprinted from the August 2018 issue of Pacific Publishing newspapers

Urban Planning icon Jane Jacobs

In Seattle, as in many other large cities, we’ve seen waves of rapid growth and development over the past 50 years. The first wave occurred in the late 70s when big business and corporate capital saw the advantages of locating within the inner city.

After a slight downturn from 1980 to 1982, redevelopment picked up steam again, fueled by the Reagan tax cuts that favored the rich. After another downturn, a surge of new office development in the mid to late 90’s fed into “the tech bubble,” and another slowdown in the early 2000’s. Things built to another bust in 2008 and now we’re at the apex of another boom with no end yet in sight.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, growth in Seattle has not lifted all boats. Historically it has always accentuated cleavages between the haves and have-nots. More existing low-income housing is lost, more people are displaced and homelessness skyrockets.

In these earlier eras, things were much clearer. Seattle electeds generally gave developers everything they asked for (as they do now), but at times grassroots groups would prevail. There were broad coalitions of neighborhood groups, environmentalists, minority, senior and tenant rights groups, and even Democratic party organizations. Unified we secured passage of the nation’s first demolition control and anti-abandonment laws, just-cause eviction and a succession of housing levies.

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Posted in Uncategorized