Comments

2
Do you think Sawant goes into the back room and giggles about the things she says? If this plan makes development more expensive do the people who move into those buildings pay less or more? So when things like this push housing and rental prices higher for businesses and tenants is this actually sticking it to the wealthy and big business? Sawant knows this, everyone should know this. It isn't rocket science to see that this is a tax to give the city more money. Money they already spend poorly.
3
Didn't these fools read the papers?

Levies work.

Property taxes work.

Tax the people who stand to benefit based on assets.

Stop burdening the newcomers and go after the longtimers who get a full boat for free.
4
A quick tally based on this latest election alone (Prop 1, Initiative 122).

A $450,000 residence (so, a sub-par 2-bedroom house), or a newish mid-rise two bedroom apartment will have another $470 per year assessed in taxes. Homeowners will simply not spend that money on restaurants or discretionary goods/services. Landlords will simply pass-along that cost the tenants. Renters will do less with less.

So, basically "Seattle" just voted (and in many ways, just started) to raise your rent $20 per month so that other people can buy yard signs for politicians that have even more ideas for your rent money. And a BILLION dollar transportation package that's sure about its financing, but has no details about priorities and objectives.

Welcome to Seattle Suckers!
5
Blind faith in the modest amount of low and moderate income housing HALA will add--if it actually gets off the ground and isn't cratered by a lawsuit--seems unwarranted.

Most cities that mandate affordable housing require that AT LEAST 15% of new multi-family housing buildings be affordable by people making 50-60% of the area median income (AMI) or less. HALA only requires that 5% of the new units be affordable for people in the 0 to 30% and 30 to 60%, and 60 to 80% AMI brackets.

In contrast, San Francisco residents just passed Prop A, which creates a $310,000,000 fund over the next five years financed by muni bonds to build and preserve affordable housing. Programs funded under this measure will prioritize “vulnerable” segments of the population, including working families, veterans, seniors and the disabled. Prop A will build or repair 30,000 affordable units by 2020, a much shorter time span than the decade it will take HALA to produce just 6,000 units for these same low and moderate income groups. Prop 5 kicks in next year, compared to HALA, which won't fully kick in for a couple of years because it will take that long to pass all the ordinances needed to implement. These San Francisco muni bonds will be paid back through a small increase in property taxes. Under Prop A, landlords will be permitted to pass only 50 percent of that increase to tenants. Based on current estimates, the highest annual property tax increase for a home assessed at $500,000 would be about $56. Can anyone say how much HALA will cost the owner of a Seattle home assessed at $500,000 per year?

Many other cities including Yonkers and Brooklyn, NY; Eugene and Bend OR; and Miami, FL are spending significant amounts of money to directly build affordable housing rather than relying on complicated programs like HALA.

Speaking of complicated housing programs, Seattle's past effort to supply affordable housing was its notoriously ineffective "incentive zoning" program, which began in 2001 and was aimed not at vulnerable lower income groups, but instead at people making 60 to 80% AMI. Between 2001 and 2014, that program produced just 600 units of housing--less than 50 units per year. Developers of the vast majority of projects that were eligible for incentive zoning declined to participate in the program. It’s hard to trust HALA when Seattle’s past affordable housing program was such a failure.

Next year we'll vote on another housing levy. Over the past 34 years, a series of local housing levies have generated a total of $388,400,000, which averages $11.4 million per year (not adjusted for inflation), and produced an average of 303 affordable units per year, a very small addition to Seattle's stock of housing that is currently approximately 310,000 occupied housing units. Past housing levies also paid for maintenance of existing low income housing buildings, as well as Section 8 and other housing assistance programs, though lately many Section 8 recipients have found it very difficult to find landlords who will accept these vouchers.

Seattle has some of the fastest rising rents in the US, and 46% or roughly 142,000, of Seattle households are rent "cost burdened," meaning people spend more than 30% of their income on rent, and 15% are "severely cost burdened," meaning they spend over half of their income on rent. HALA aims to heavily tap the next housing levy and other existing state and federal revenue streams in order to produce just 6,000 additional units over the next ten years that are affordable by people making up to 60% of the area median income (AMI). The other 14,000 units HALA will produce are for people making above 60% AMI, and of these developers are already producing thousands of units affordable to folks making at least 80% AMI.
I know that lots of people sppport HALA because of their belief in supply side economics which posits that adding to the total supply of housing will surely lower housing costs. I defy anyone to provide examples of fast growing cities where this has happened.

One thing HALA will do is upzone a lot of land and give developers lucrative incentives including the ability to build extra floors. Because of HALA's tilt toward production of housing for people who can already afford market rate housing without being cost burdened, the fact that it will appropriate a large share of existing federal and state housing revenues and a big chunk of the next housing levy, my reaction to HALA is, “Where’s the beef?” I encourage readers to do this math for themselves and prove me wrong, but honestly, HALA seems more like shell game that mostly moves existing money around rather generating the means to produce a substantial amount of affordable housing for those who desperately need it.

It will take time to see how all of this plays out, but it’s quite possible that current HALA enthusiasts won’t be so much in love with HALA 10 or 12 years down the road.
6
Mud Baby, you didn't have to write an essay to tell us that. And no one's an "enthusiast" of the HALA recommendations. They're a compromise between what's really needed and what the developers demanded.
7
Sarah91, if you watch the first HALA hearing on the Seattle Channel you'll see that almost everyone who commented on it said it rocks, and so has almost every member of the City Council.
8
It is my understanding that many members of the Seattle city council, notably Sally Bagshaw, are refusing to endorse and create housing for the unhoused by not choosing a program similar to the Salt Lake City endeavor. This program has an amazing track record and a great non punitive approach towards unsheltered people. It is more economically feasible -saves money- (e.g. less law enforcement, ER visits etc. The housing is decent and services humane and provide empowerment for poor people. Housing is a human right. S.A.F.E.
9
In addition, many in this city (renters, low income -which include many of the elderly- homeowners) are barely hanging onto their homes due to high costs (utilities, taxes, high rents and fees). We have some of the richest people and companies in the world here benefiting from our sweat -tax them now-.
10
If you've got 100 units to rent, and you want to be able to have some poor folks living in there, you have to have 8 percent affordable, the other 92 percent will carry the load. And you will pass on the additional cost to the other 92 percent ... We keep talking about how we are hollowing out the middle class. If the average rent in Seattle for a two bedroom is $2,136 — more than $25,000 a year — you're going to have to have two people making about $100,000 for the average rent. Then you have the poor folks coming in, making $37,680 per individual, and for a family of four it's $53,760.

By by middle class, San Francisco here we come!

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.


Add a comment
Preview

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.