The mayors housing committee wants less of these taking up valuable space in Seattle.
The mayor's housing committee wants less of these taking up valuable space in Seattle, according to a draft report. Rigucci/Shutterstock

Today, finally, someone decided to stop playing by Mayor Ed Murray's governance-through-secret-committee rules and leaked to Danny Westneat at the Seattle Times a draft report from the mayor's housing committee, which has been meeting since last fall.

The report (PDF) is 38 pages long and contains a slew of recommendations. But one that jumped out at Westneat is to redefine single family zones—currently 65 percent of Seattle—as what the committee calls "low density residential zones." Here's what they mean by that:

A broader range of low density housing types, such as small lot dwellings, cottages or courtyard housing, duplexes and triplexes, would all fit within the character and scale of traditional single-family areas. This “low density residential zone” will allow more variety than single family housing but will be less intense than the Lowrise 1 multifamily (LR1) zone.

The idea is that this kind of rezoning would make these areas affordable for households making 80 percent area median income and above—not below. (That's $52,650 for a family of two.)

Reached by phone, HALA co-chair David Wertheimer said the committee is still deliberating and hasn't reached a final set of conclusions. Then, in a joint statement with co-chair Faith Li Pettis, he said the version of the report obtained by the Times is "outdated and inaccurate," and that "HALA has no intention of recommending the elimination of all single family zones in the city."

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The draft report is clearly a work in progress. There are placeholder texts in brackets, for example, and there's a note in the section on HALA's opposition to Neighborhood Conservation Districts that reads: "It is my understanding that [Council Member] Rasmussen is overhauling his proposal on Conservation Districts. The Planning Commission has not been briefed on this yet and I do not know the new recommendations or structure for this proposal. As a result, this section might need an overhaul before the final draft."

Also, the appendix on rent control doesn't talk about rent control at all—it looks like someone copy and pasted the wrong section.

Wertheimer said he expects the committee to release a final version of the report by Monday.

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