News May 4, 2016 at 4:00 am

The "Yes in My Backyard" Movement Builds in Seattle

New construction: Seattle needs more of this. Kelly O


Let's not kid ourselves, the units that result from construction of high rise towers like the one depicted in the photo will never be affordable for average working families making 40-60% AMI. In fact, I would argue that at least 80% of the units being currently being built, or in the pipeline, will be unaffordable to people making less than 80% AMI.
@Mud Baby,

And the longer we wait to build enough for all the people who want to live here, the larger the gap between the cost of new housing and the average resident's income will grow.
@2 - You're probably right, but someone making 100% AMI in 2030 is going to pay less in rent if those luxury towers are built, because it cuts down on the amount of 150% AMI people bidding on more modest housing elsewhere in the city. The rich people won't stop coming to Seattle if we don't build them housing.
So what? New cars are expensive too.

And every new unit helps an existing affordable unit stay affordable.

Or are you just another NIMBY kidding yourself to believe that Seattle would somehow be more affordable without new housing?
I see the article twice mentions part of the HALA recommendations are to allow backyard cottages (DADUs) in SF zones - this is already the case, with lot coverage thresholds and lot size limits (4000 sf) etc. I believe the report had some recommendations about these and other easing restrictions, but do note that DADUs are legal all across Seattle currently.

excuse me...

But what is a thoughtful, balanced, current, relevant article doing on Slog?

Well done, Ms. Groover.
HALA got pinched because of the Mayor's preference for secrecy. You aren't going to turn people into Yimby's by forming commissions that create their plans in secret.

I wonder why we don't see more development like what was done at High Point? Lots of attached housing and multi-unit buildings that are attractively designed and were relatively affordable when they went on the market. It seems that would meet the needs better than a small number of set asides in downtown luxury condos.
Just look at the SFH zoning around the U Dist; that's why you have to live in Renton
I love this web site that tracks new development.

Zoom out and it looks impressive across all quads of the city.
Yes, yes, yes! Seattle YIMBYs unite! Sadly we are going to be stuck gunning for only the two citywide council seats of the nine total seats thanks to districting.
Good article Ms.Groover. I love our city. Let's make more of it.
It's really hard to trust in the wisdom of someone who created a group with the acronym SF-BARF
I have a hard time trusting the mayor on his initiatives. For example, we voted for more bike lanes and he's scaling them back. We also voted to supposedly help add a Graham Street Station - but that's decades away.
> "They don't win fights" ... Schiendelman, 34, believes the only answer in Seattle and San Francisco alike is to get rid of zoning altogether.

Oh yeah, that'll win fights.
"In response to neighborhood backlash, Murray, joined by Council Members Tim Burgess and Mike O'Brien (who claims to be the council's environmental leader), backed away from the HALA recommendations."

This is a mis-characterization of what they actually did. The basically punted on a single HALA recommendation to modify zoning in single-family zoned neighborhoods - for now. They didn't back away from the HALA recommendations as a whole.
"Schiendelman, 34, believes the only answer in Seattle and San Francisco alike is to get rid of zoning altogether."

When pigs can fly.
I've said it before and I will continue to say it: Somebody buy my front yard. Please!
Still driving out Black people, brown people, poor people, artists, writers, old, out of Seattle for the new rich and other rich who can afford to live here now. Step over the bodies of the homeless. Continue to be deaf and blind to the suffering your new city growth causes the vulnerable. It won’t make you happy because greed means you always want more.
@20 - I agree, getting rid of zoning entirely is a non-starter. It's also an overreaction. Zoning exists for a real reason. It's possible to have intelligent zoning (not overly-restrictive, and fine-grained enough so as to not create large swaths of single-use areas that encourage driving). Zoning is not the problem. Poorly thought out zoning is.
Such problems have a lot to do with the voting rights. Prospective residents, who want to move to a neighborhood, cannot decide about the neighborhood. In particular they don't have a say whether to make it possible for them to move there in the first place.

I am willing to buy that long-term residents should have more rights to decide the matters in their neighborhood/city, but it should not be all-versus-nothing. I see two realistic options to improve the matter: a) show up in the meetings; and b) the city/county/state should have more of a say in such cases and protect those whose rights are inadequately represented at the community level. Well, I am not sure b is a realistic option...
Is this account a parody?

I honestly cannot tell
Seattle, pretty undeniably, when compared to other cities in the United States, has a very bi-polar housing base - you're mostly either in a multi-family zone or you're in a pure, single-family residential zone. Very, very few duplex and triplex situations. Very few 3-flats (3 stories, one unit per story). Very few modular and small unit options. The townhomes that are "popping up everywhere," if you look at raw numbers, are still a small minority of overall housing stock.

Housing stock DIVERSITY is important. We need more, and our current zoning still discourages options. For instance, 2 alley-facing townhomes just went in across from my place. They are vertically laid out, and are 4 stories each. We asked the developer why they didn't build a 4-flat. They said that when you arrange units horizontally instead of vertically, you are classified differently and each unit becomes vastly more expensive to produce due to zoning requirements.

That's a shame - This building could have had 4 really nice sized units, and they could have been more affordable due to location. Due to a sloping lot, 2 of them could have been entered at-grade, making them accessible to a wide variety of people, and 2 would have been on upper floors. ~1300 sq. feet per unit.

We need a mix that includes a lot of kinds of units. Affordability is a decades-long game. We need to increase diversity faster NOW in order to manage affordability in the 2020s and 2030s. And we're still not doing it.

Please wait...

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