Should the University District be upzoned? (Yes.)
Upzones for the University District have been in the works for years. cpaulfell/Shutterstock

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Tonight in the University District, the Seattle Displacement Coalition will hold a community meeting to rile up opposition to upzones that would make that neighborhood denser.

Here's the spooky mailer some residents in the U-District have been getting:

This mailer was sent to University District residents about tonights meeting.
This mailer was sent to some University District residents about tonight's meeting. Laura Bernstein

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Laura Bernstein

The zoning changes under consideration are complicated (get into the weeds here) but would amount to allowing larger and taller buildings, including some up to 340 feet tall. (That's 15 feet taller than the University of Washington Tower.) Incentive zoning rules would also be in place to require public benefits like open space or affordable housing in exchange for extra height, according to the city's plan for the area.

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The city is considering upzoning the neighborhood for lots of reasons, including the potential of adding office space for tech startups. But the most obvious reason to upzone is the new light rail station expected to open in the U-District in 2021. The neighborhood is about to become a lot more accessible for people who depend on transit. And that means it's ripe for more services and more housing. The Displacement Coalition fears new commercial development will mean the demolition of existing affordable housing.

In response to the Displacement Coalition's organizing, Laura Bernstein‎—a renter in the U-District and "yes in my backyard" advocate—is urging density supporters to show up too.

When anti-growthers are the only people who organize, theirs are the only (or at least the loudest) voices the mayor and city council members hear. When that happens, those politicians are more likely to water down or kill efforts to make the city denser. Don't want that to happen? Show up for the meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at the University Heights Center (room 209). Then get a beer with other pro-growth folks afterward to do some organizing of your own.

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