CM Herbold’s Anti-Displacement ordinance only topic for Wednesday PLUZ committee meeting 930AM March 6th Council Chambers


Housing demolitions: not to worry. It’s the magic of trickle down at work

Please share with our supporters: CM Herbold’s Anti-Displacement Measure is the only topic for consideration, we’re told, this coming March 6th Wed, 930AM in Council Chambers at the Planning and Land Use Committee meeting.

If you care about the continued accelerated loss of our existing low income housing stock, destruction of historic buildings and displacement of small businesses to demolition in your neighborhoods and reining in developers and making them share in the cost of replacing low cost housing they remove, please plan on attending and getting up at beginning of meeting and testifying in support of CM Herbold’s measure. Without such a measure, look for many many more existing low cost units (in historic buildings also holding many small businesses) wiped out in our city. Expect to see more homeless on our streets and growing divide between rich and poor in our city.

We applaud Herbold’s intent here; it would be a great leap forward to hold developers responsible for replacing any portion of the low cost housing they remove. Urge Councilmembers to support and also strengthen it. Developers should be required to replace 1 for 1 every low in come unit they destroy and at comparable price. And it shouldn’t apply just to a few select “high risk” areas of the city but all areas of the city. A low-income person in Lake City or the UDistrict or elsewhere forced from their home due to demolition is no less deserving than those driven out in Bitter Lake or South Park. They’re just as “displaced”, just as threatened with homelessness.

here’s a link to her proposal, click text at bottom for full read:…

Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Homelessness, Housing Preservation, Neighborhoods, Upzoning

Number of housing demolitions exceeds number of subsidized units the city created from 2016 through 2018

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The city spent $175 million over last three years producing 1434 ‘subsidized’ low income housing units but developers tore down 1889 low income units: Recent MHA upzones and more on the way will greatly exacerbate this trend

Drawing from city data sources (with links below) we’ve compiled amounts of money the city spent 2016-2018 to create new subsidized units, according to the City’s Office of Housing Annual Reports, and then added up the total units created for each of those years and then broken out total number each year priced at or below 50 percent AMI. It comes out to $175 million spent to produce 2565 units but only 1434 were priced for those at or below 50 percent of median.

Over the same years, 2699 units were torn down.  Assuming 30 percent were homeowner and higher income rentals not affordable to low income folks, a total of 1889 units were removed serving low income households.  175 million spent over those three years – all to come out at the other end with a net loss of 455 low cost units in our city. There are applications pending for removal of another 910 units so far in 2019.

We also could add to this, the number of units lost each year to speculative activity, developers buying and selling existing low cost buildings driving rents up and tenants out, and due to increased taxes that result when an area is upzoned.  We estimate at least 1000 more low cost units are lost each year as a result of upzoning and developer actions taking advantage of those upzones.  These trends are about to be greatly exacerbated by the pending council passage of its city-wide “MHA” upzoning plan.

(A special note: our estimate that 70 percent of demolished units are occupied by low income households is based on past surveys we have done of residents occupying units in buildings where permits were pending for demolition and by using the reverse phone directory to call former residents of buildings torn down or already vacated for demolition. To downplay the impact of demolitions, city’s planners point to a much smaller number of low income households displaced from these buildings who qualified for and received relocation assistance under the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance or TRAO.  But most low income tenants in demolished buildings often aren’t even made aware of their eligibility under TRAO or for other reasons never apply for assistance, or the landlord forces them out before applying for permits so they never even receive notice of their eligibility.  Also, TRAO limits eligibility for assistance to only households with a combined income below 50% of median.  It means the majority of unrelated low income individuals who pool their rent and live together in a unit, most of these folks are not eligible under TRAO and go uncounted by the city.  In otherwords using TRAO as a method for calculating numbers of low income people displaced by demolition is wholly inadequate.)


City spends about 70 million to produce a total of 1197 units in 2018 but only 557 units were affordable to those with incomes at or below 50% of median) htt  2017 report indicates the city spent about 70 million to produce a total of 896 units of which 588 were offered to those with incomes at or below 50% of median  2016 report indicates that the city spent about 35 million to produce 472 new units of which 289 were offered to those with incomes at or below 50% of median   this chart shows total demolitions by year

Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Housing Preservation, Upzoning

“Save the Ave” Rally at the “friendly” Big Time Brewery in support of their effort to stave off a decidedly “unfriendly” upzone


Ethnic shops and low income housing removed at 50th and the “Ave’ two years ago – an upzone for the Ave would guarantee that much more of this would occur, say Ave small businesses

“You’re invited” Monday, February 25th – 5-9pm

Small businesses along the “Ave” in Seattle’s notably funky and historic UDistrict are hosting a rally this coming Monday February 25th, 5-9pm at the Bigtime Brewery and the public, customers, and all “those who love the Ave” are invited.  As their announcement describes: “Come on by and show your support to help us stave off a planned upzone of the ‘Ave’. that threatens historic buildings, would displace over a hundred longtime businesses including many first generation immigrant and minority owned shops, and lead to demolition and loss of over 200 low income housing units.”

They claim that Councilmember Rob Johnson secretly inserted an upzone for the Ave into the city-wide MHA-HALA plan several months after the plan was finalized and a legally required environmental review had been completed.  To add it “after the fact” they say should have triggered a new notice to the affected businesses and residents, opportunities for them to comment, and extensive additional environmental analysis.  But none of that occurred.

Also, the businesses say that CM Johnson and the city’s planners are pushing this upzone despite a pledge and a resolution unanimously passed by all Councilmembers over two years ago that no upzoning would occur along the Ave at least until measures were first put in place to preserve and prevent displacement of historic buildings and longtime businesses and first generation immigrant shops.

Their announcement invites everyone to drop by the Bigtime any time between the hours of 5pm-9pm, and partake in great locally-brewed beer and enjoy some of their great food Monday, February 25th from 5-9pm. Their address is 4133 University Way NE.  And it’s family-friendly until midnight.  In their words; “We will be sharing stories and collecting signatures to preserve the Ave from the upzone. Come join us! “

Posted in Uncategorized

CM Herbold releases her anti-displacement plan: require developers to replace low cost housing they remove while Mayor’s just announced strategy takes small step

Seattle Displacement Coalition responds today to CM Herbold’s and Mayor Durkan’s anti-displacement strategies 


Lisa Herbold wants developers to replace low cost units they destroy

The Seattle Displacement Coalition is a 42-year-old housing and homeless advocacy group and for the better part of those years we’ve been pushing especially our locally elected leaders to do more to combat displacement.  No agency or organization has so consistently fought to address the on-going loss of our city’s existing  unsubsidized affordable housing stock. And we’ve had many successes along the way, but one thing has eluded us – securing passage of a effective measure that holds developers accountable to replace the hundreds of existing affordable units they demolish each year “one for one” and at comparable price.

In a just released five page press statement, Mayor Durkan announced she was launching a new anti-displacement effort in the form of an “Executive Order”to stabilize low income and minority communities in the face of runaway displacement in our city.  But despite the five pages of verbiage which essentially repeats current inadequate efforts, there is only one new initiative she is proposing: a “community preference policy” giving preference and access to displaced neighborhood residents into publicly subsidized low income housing built in neighborhoods where they were displaced.

While this is a small step in the right direction to ensure at least a small fraction of those displaced in Seattle have first priority for the city’s limited supply of subsidized low cost units, it will do nothing to stop the dramatic loss of existing unsubsidized older lower income rentals due to runaway development and market forces here in Seattle. Every year, over 500-1000 existing unsubsidized units are destroyed each year by developers demolishing to make way for luxury and market rate development.  And when an area is upzoned, speculation and turnover of lower priced existing rentals by developers drives rents up forcing out another 1000-2000 existing low cost units each year, forcing these households from their homes.

Our City Council and Mayor are on the verge of substantially upzoning all our neighborhoods which will set in motion – further encouraging these trends – and an even more dramatic loss of existing naturally occurring unsubsidized units in our city.  These losses – are destroying 3-4 times the number of subsidized units we are creating in this city causing even more displacement.   It cannot be offset by simply guaranteeing a few of these folks priority for the few subsidized units that become available each year in their neighborhood.  Many more times that number are being forced out by developers.

There is a tool we should have implemented a long time ago that could stem displacement – require developers to replace 1 for 1 any low cost units they remove and at comparable price.  CM Herbold is proposing such a policy and if implemented now – before upzoning our neighborhoods with the HALA-MHA plan.  It would be groundbreaking and the first real solution to the problem of displacement proposed in years and it would truly and fundamentally make a dent in displacement and gentrification sweeping our city.  It would hold developers responsible to replace what they destroy “and one for one”.

Here are excerpts directly from CM Herbold’s recently released press statement describing her proposal and responding to Durkan’s press event (all the follows are quotes of hers):

Councilmember Lisa Herbold to Introduce Anti-Displacement Ordinance

SEATTLE – Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle, South Park) will introduce an anti-displacement ordinance that would authorize additional displacement Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Your only chance to tell councilmembers to require developers to replace, 1 for 1, low income housing they destroy: public hearing on MHA upzones, Thurs. Feb 21st, 5:30pm in Council Chambers

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The city-wide MHA upzone plan right now is a blueprint for massive displacement and gentrification of our city and a growing divide between rich and poor and people of color in our city! 

Call or write your councilmembers and come to the hearing to demand they first implement measures that prevent massive loss of our existing low cost housing stock (and more homelessness).  A ‘1 for 1’ developer low income housing replacement requirement can accomplish this goal.

Save the Date: Please plan to attend the only Public Hearing for the MHA legislation on Thursday February 21, 5:30 PM at Seattle City Hall in Council Chambers. Come early to sign up to testify.

And tell them they must also remove an upzone for the ‘Ave’. 

It wasn’t in the plan they studied in the EIS.  And as we explained in this story, by secretly adding an upzone for University Way later, it violates state law and takes away due process for over 150 racially diverse and historic small businesses.  All those businesses and over 200 low income housing units along the ‘Ave’ are threatened!  Councilmembers also promised measures to preserve ‘legacy businesses’ and the Ave’s character before considering any further upzones – a promise not yet fulfilled.

Here’s some more background for you:

The city-wide HALA-MHA upzones, first proposed by Mayor Murray have wound their way to City Council for a final vote.  But after countless hours and hours of testimony at hearings and forums by literally thousands of citizens, very little of their upzone plan has changed since it was proposed over three years ago.  It has been since day one, more of an attempt by two Mayors, Rob Johnson, now also Teresa Mosqueda, and most of the city’s planning staff, to ram as much density as possible into our neighborhoods without regard for its impacts on open space, trees, and our existing affordable housing.

Time to Email (and then call them to make sure they got it) our Mayor and the City Council (their emails are below) and come to the hearing on the 21st and testify.

And still more background

This is how community leaders in Wallingford described the impacts of the plan upzones affecting every neighborhood of our city:

“The City’s propaganda paints a story that the MHA Legislation is the only way to increase affordable housing in Seattle. What they not tell you is that it displaces as much Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

What missing middle? More than 110,000 rentals are affordable to 28,000 middle income households in Seattle

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28,025 households in the ‘middle’ but over 110,365 rentals  they can afford (source: Seattle Comprehensive Plan Housing Appendix)

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Mayor Durkan’s middle income task force is more deja vu than ‘first ever’, like many past attempts aimed at giving developers a free hand and handing them more of our tax dollars.  

written by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox (reprinted from our monthly column appearing in Pacific Publishing Newspapers)

Last week, Mayor Durkan, in a press release announced establishment of the City’s “first ever” Affordable Middle-Income Housing Advisory Council. Her statement proclaimed those she’d selected to address our “missing middle” had “years of experience and vast knowledge of development” and would advise her on next steps the city must take to “increase housing choices affordable to middle income individuals”.

In reality, she’s found an excuse to bring together in one room a who’s who of the city’s pro-downtown, pro-density, and developer elite and, like every Mayor we’ve observed over the last 45 years, given them a formal role (not just their usual behind the scenes role) in shaping policies that affect them.  

It’s a foregone conclusion what they’ll recommend: give us more tax breaks, more upzoning, more freedom to build what we want and where we want. As a former councilmember once remarked, “Every developer who lobbies me has really only one underlying message: ‘Give us more, anything that doesn’t is bad.’”

Some neighborhood advocates astutely pointed out that the new advisory group could be dubbed “HALA II,” with many of the same faces that crafted the now infamous “Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.” That’s the body Mayor Murray created for ramming upzones and increased density into our neighborhoods regardless of impacts on our existing affordable housing stock.

At least the original HALA task force also came up with a few ideas to address our city’s low-income housing shortage, and four of its 28 members were plain old citizens. Durkan’s new “middle income” group, however, lacks even one of its 25 members without a direct financial interest in promoting runaway density. And speaking of the “missing middle”, how about selecting someone who actually is “middle income”?

In spite of Durkan’s “first ever” claim, there have been a number of “middle income affordable housing” efforts over the years.  A little over a decade ago, pushed by a “Middle Income Housing Alliance” of developers, Mayor Nickels attempted to shift the Continue reading

Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Homelessness, Housing Preservation

Mayor Durkan’s ‘first ever’ middle income task force is deja vu all over again

Durkan 2

Mayor Durkan gives us one more ‘first ever’ developer driven task force

It’s a foregone conclusion what to expect from this developer dominated advisory group and a long ways from ‘first ever’

This is a Quote from Mayor Durkan’s recent press announcement: Today, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced the establishment of the City’s first-ever Affordable Middle-Income Housing Advisory Council.”   

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one noticing this, but I could swear the Mayor declares just about everything she does as “the first ever”.   A couple of neighborhood advocates astutely pointed out that Mayor Durkan’s newly created middle income advisory group could be dubbed “HALA II” made up of many of the same faces that crafted the now infamous “Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda”.  You know, the body Mayor Murray created primarily for the purpose of ramming upzones and increased density into all our neighborhoods.

At least this earlier task force also included a few good ideas to address our city’s low income housing shortage and three or four real citizens (out of its 28 members) were invited to participate.  Durkan’s new “middle income” group, however, lacks even one person (out of its 25 members) without a vested and direct financial interest in promoting runaway density.

And, more to my point, there have been a number of “middle income”, “missing middle” and “affordable housing” efforts over the years – every decade or so they pop up in one form or another.  Mayor Nickels made it a priority a little more than a decade ago and we all feared his administration, backed by some city councilmembers, were laying the groundwork to shift the bulk of the city’s housing levy dollars away from serving the very poor to production of middle income Continue reading

Posted in Affordable Housing, Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Homelessness, Housing Preservation, Politics, Upzoning