The City said it wants to reform the housing permitting process, and the council knows how, but no one wants to make the first move. Paige Vickers



A person likely to fall into homelessness also likely has a hard time holding a job due to a number of issues including need for mental health treatment. Even if housing is affordable you have to qualify for it and you can't do that without an income stream. It would be better to provide the mental health treatment and counseling to stop people from losing their housing in the first place.


There are several options when it comes to design review:

1) Streamline the process. As it stands now, it is way too complicated, and way too prone to big, unnecessary delays over trivial bullshit. Someone doesn't like the color of the window trim, and it could be delayed for months.

2) Simply get rid of it. Plenty of cities don't have design reviews.

3) Get rid of it for low income housing.

4) Apply it only to parking.

I would go with a combination of 1 and 4. This in turn includes 3, as low income housing shouldn't have parking.

When I think of ugly buildings built in Seattle, my first thought is parking. It was common from the post-war period through the 80s to see developers build really ugly duplexes and quads, built around parking. They would have a lot of pavement, a couple rhododendrons for landscaping, and call it a day. Some of the older ones look "retro", but most are just ugly. Ballard had a lot of this, and still has a few remnants. This spurred a lot of the "anti-growth" sentiment. In general it is very easy to build something ugly when you include parking -- it is hard to build something ugly without it.


@1 -- There are a lot of reasons why someone could be homeless. But studies have shown the biggest reason -- by far -- is the cost of housing.


@1 -- Oh, and while people who are homeless are disproportionately mentally ill, that doesn't mean that most people who are homeless are mentally ill. Around 20 to 25% of the homeless nationwide are mentally ill ( My guess is the number is lower around here, since so many mentally stable people simply can't afford the rent.

To put it another way -- in low rent cities the mentally ill may make up a higher percentage of those homeless, which means that in our city (where rents are much higher) we have a significantly lower percentage of homeless with mental illness. We should definitely provide help for low income people with mental illness, but that should be taken at a much broader level -- ideally at the federal level, but at the very least at the state level. Spokane, for example, probably has a higher percentage of homeless who are mentally ill.


Well written Hannah Krieg!


golly .. there Hannah.... now you know what normal developers have to contend with.

Why should the "low income housing" be the only ones exempt from this horrific, do nothing layer of process which drives up the costs of housing.

If we dumped this whole entire useless process, developers could build more units quickly, and at lower cost..

See you can find a "market driven solution" to social problems using economics once in a while.... a capitalist approach. I'm proud of you.

Its like "hope" is kindled at the stranger.


@2 - It's the parking that spurs a lot of people in neighborhoods to oppose apartments. Another 60 or 80 or 100 cars in the neighborhood is by far the largest consequence that a new apartment builder has for the neighbors and its what gets their attention. You want to kill off neighborhood opposition, this is a great place to start.

For decades, apartment builders managed to include space for the residents to park their cars. But now, suddenly, that seems to be impossible. You (and a lot of other people) may not like the fact that most people in Seattle have a car. But it's the reality and it is not going to change until our public transit systems are far better than they are. So maybe we accept the current reality and put up buildings that work within the way things actually are rather than the way we hope they'll be in 20 years?

And WTF is this "low income housing shouldn't have parking?" People who live in low-income housing are far more likely to have to commute between a couple of jobs, and are much less likely to know where they'll be working next year. Professionals who work downtown can predict that they will be doing the same in a few years and be confident that they will not need to drive to work. I have not routinely driven to work for many years and know that I will never need to. The guy who's barely making rent working at a couple of different WalMarts or Jack in the Boxes (Jacks in the Box?) can't be sure of that.

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