We're still waiting for higher density to bring housing prices down in Seattle...we've been waiting for nearly two decades for that bullshit line of reasoning to be realized.

And still waiting......
I am for up zoning but silly to think that 20 story buildings will do anything useful for anyone
Are authors on City payroll?
I think that if we do nothing we will see rapid displacement, suburbanization of poverty, and a city that is only affordable to people who can pay mortgage on 2 million dollar homes. A lucky few might be able to get into coveted spots for affordable housing but I'd rather not our housing system by like a lottery and our city turn into a gated community. Thank you both for your leadership and volunteering in our city.
"suburbanization of poverty"? My dear, have you been to Auburn recently? Or Kent? Or Renton? It's been happening for the last ten years.
The U District is going to be home to more good jobs. The only question is how many more people will be able to live near them, and how much money folks will have to pony up to do so (fewer homes near jobs and light rail mean "more"). The up zones coupled with investment in affordable housing is a great opportunity to give more people at all stages of life and income levels a shot at living in what will continue to be a great neighborhood.
It's not as simple as Upzone / Don't Upzone. Some people believe in upzoning, but don't believe an entire district should be upzoned at once.

Sunlight lovers unite!
What utter nonsense. If you want a good example of how increasing density has done nothing for affordability, and actually decreased it, look no further than the CD. Look at all the fancy new multi-unit condos that are being built all throughout the neighborhood. Almost no new single family homes are being built. And then ask what's left of the longtime minority residents there what they think about what's happened to their neighborhood and if they like it. Do you do-gooders actually believe that all this new housing is affordable?
@10: not building housing doesn't make people who would've been housed in the u distrcit simply go away: they still have jobs here and those of greater means *will* be moving into seattle. the question is whether he or she will out bid an existing apartment resident, or move into a new building displacing no one.

we know, for sure, that apartment rents would be higher but for new construction. people like you assume that new construction cause higher rents, but its actually the opposite. if you want higher rents, by all means oppose this upzone.
Zach, you know where they can build more density that won't displace anyone? Downtown! There's still room for plenty more. Or how about on Aurora with all those abandoned lots and fleabag, crime magnet motels? Or, you want to solve the problem of the Jungle? Upzone it!
Mandatory Housing Affordability will accelerate the rise of market rate rents as developers pass the cost on to their tenants.

At the same time, MHA will destroy the existing natural affordable housing market of howeowners who build extra units into existing footprints like Accessory Dwelling Units, Detached Dwelling Units, Mother in law apartments, and even room rentals.

While large developers will easily pass the cost of MHA onto their tenants, homeowners, unable to afford the penalties, will likely choose to sell to a developer, and move out of Seattle.

The end result will be a city where the only affordable housing left will be in MHA units, as the natural affordable housing market disappears in neighborhoods with urban village boundary expansion.

MHA is not a tax, it is a penalty.
MHA will not give developers a "tax break".
MHA will give developers and homeowners penalties for not participating in MHA in urban village boundaries.

The penalties will be used to fund the new city MHA bureaucracy and the non-profit developer industry.

MHA has two options:

1. "Performance", meaning the developer or homeowner provides affordable housing on site, and enters into the City's new MHA administration and monitoring bureaucracy.

2. "Linkage Fees", which are varying penalties developers and homeowners can pay to get out of providing affordable housing.

Current proposed fees range from seven to eighteen dollars per square foot.

There are three tiers of payment (M $7, M1 $12, M2 $18) corresponding to low, medium or high market value rating.

For example, a 2500 square foot single family zoned house up zoned to Residential Small Lot (RSL) that gets converted into 2 or 3 apartments will receive a $17,500 penalty under M rating, $30,000 under M1, and $45,000 under M2.

In other words, single family homeowners do not need to add a single square foot of property to be subject to MHA penalties. Simply converting a home to multiple units will subject all the existing square footage to MHA.

There is already talk of raising the medium rating from $12 to $20, so the final cost of MHA penalties may be much higher.

MHA will not put much affordable housing in the University district, because it is a high value market.

High to medium value markets are expected to take the penalty option, while low value markets are expected to take the Performance option.

Here is a link to the MHA penalties or, "linkage fee" map.…

The map shows areas of low expectation of linkage fees in red; just Downtown and South Lake Union.

Red also means low expectation of "performance" options, which means few affordable units in the high value neighborhoods of Downtown and South Lake Union. MHA is expected to produce 300 affordable units out of 6000 in Downtown and South lake Union.

Half of all customers of Seattle affordable housing programs are people of color.

Assuming a 50/50 split, this means MHA will only move 150 people of color into Downtown and South Lake Union over the next ten years.

Yellow indicates a medium expectation of linkage fees, and green indicates a low expectation of linkage fees.

The University District is in yellow, so fewer affordable units will be built there.

Most green areas are in South East, South West, and Central North Seattle, where the bulk of affordable housing, and highest percentage of people of color, already exists.

The green areas are also where the urban village boundaries will be expanded to capture surrounding single family zoning.

Most of the yellow areas will have little to no expansion of urban villages or conversion of single family housing to RSL.

Developers in the high value market of University District will pay the linkage fees and pass the cost on to their tenants.

So developers will not pay a dime, but the market rate median rent will see a rapid spike as developers try to recoup the MHA penalties a quickly as possible.

In the end, the only affordable units left in the University District, or perhaps anywhere MHA applies, will be the MHA units themselves.

So all those working class people and students in existing affordable housing in the University District better get their ORCA card for the light rail, because they will all be moving to Rainier Valley, if their income is low enough to qualify for MHA housing.

If not, there is always Federal Way or Tacoma, for now.

LA is going to solve their affordable housing and homeless problems with a $35 per household property tax., so there are alternatives available.

Unfortunately, Ed Murray cannot seem to solve any problem in Seattle that does not include making developers filthy rich with another "Grand Bargain", while attacking his favorite scapegoats; single family homeowners.

More info:
By all means make a case for the upzone, but why are density proponents still pretending it is going to magically help with climate change in addition to solving all other urban problems you can think of?

They have actually done studies about this:………

Are you just pretending these don't exist?

If you think you found a solution that magically solves all the problems at once, that is the first sign you might be engaging in a bit of motivated reasoning. A bit of self-skepticism will lead to a much stronger argument.
@12: downtown is being upzoned under MHA sometime early next year. aurora will be upzoned next summer. udistrict just happens to be first.

not sure how to upzone a highway.
@15: "not sure how to upzone a highway."
Well, that hasn't stopped idiots from The Urbanist blog from suggesting we should literally DESTROY I-5 where it passes through Seattle and put housing in it's place, has it. No, I'm not making this up.

And besides, the Jungle is not just the hellhole under I-5, it's also the greenbelt. Tons of room for growth there.
You racist old NIMBY people can GTFO, move to north marysville where you belong with the Trump voters.
I agree. We need to upzone. Thanks to Jesse and Noah for writing this piece. Seattle is growing, the U-district is ground zero for that growth.
I think it makes more sense to have more employment centers than just downtown. We could have centers of employment in Everett, Bellevue (already a center) redmond, Kent, and make nice livability elements in all those areas with nice parks, good schools. Then encourage people to live near where they work. It would bring housing prices down because there would be less demand in Seattle. And it would get people off the roads because they would live near where they work. Upzoning isn't the only option.
Another place that is greatly under developed and beautiful with a nice downtown is Tacoma. Why not put some big businesses there and make that a nice employment hub. There is lots of vacant land that is cheaper than here. And lots of homes that are also cheaper. They already have nice parks, bike lanes, transportation. And already have a train to get to Seattle.

If your goal is to protect the environment while still promoting livability we should be thinking outside our Seattle bubble. We need to make use of all the available land in the region including in Tacoma. We shouldn't be competing with other Cities for Jobs and housing when we could be working together to achieve affordabillity without destroying livability.
The other problem is we don't know when the slow down will hit. It's starting and it's going to pick up steam soon. I think it would be better to use the JUST IN TIME philosophy for building housing just like they do with building cars. This will prevent overbuilding. We don't want to end up with a bunch of empty office buildings and there is a danger of that. And we want to have some land left for future building. It's important to allow the proper amount of growth and not too much.
The U Disrict is a logical place for increased density given its proximity to transit and the UW. The proposed plan is for a variety of building types and scales in response to citizen input and a lack of enthusiasm for what has happened elsewhere. Coupled with the open space proposals for the 2018 UW campus plan it has great potential to be affordable, livable and sustainable.
The Sierra Club is just a voice for development and no longer is a voice the environment.

The Sierra Club in San Francisco successfully fought off the pro-development takeover but here in Seattle the Club doesn't advocate for trees, doesn't advocate for Puget Sound. Just for upzones.

Worried about traffic from the burbs into Seattle and the carbon impact? Well, Seattle's Climate Plan doesn't count cars coming into the City. If it did, we'd never get to zero carbon. Advocating for taller buildings made from concrete and steel? Our climate plan doesn't account for that. Nor for the carbon footprint of ST3 that the Club went balls out for. In fact Seattle doesn't really get to zero carbon by 2030 if it was on track. It only "gets there" by buying carbon offsets and not measuring our real carbon footprint.

Climate action in Seattle is really just another vehicle to further development.

Now the Sierra Club is worried about carbon footprint - after fighting against the Carbon Tax of I-732 along side power companies, the fossil fuel industry and big business.
@Newsmama, the concept 'regional' planning, ie Peter Calthorpe/Williams "The Regional City" considered detailed Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City urban models. Portland led. SLC followed, Seattle offered least comprehensive new urbanist modelling, barely worth mentioning, more talk than substance. That said, your perspective is so close to spot on, I had to alter my own verse to respect a rare peer. Good luck landscaped neighborhoods absent between urban towers. Regional development favors 3-to-5-story complexes, cement base, wood frame, good balconies, better heat/air systems, better light than 10-story and above. Anyway, take Talgo to The City that Works. I'm fairly certain it's 20-development plan is sound.
I do oppose the MAX light rail to Tigard as way too high impact, poor walking corridor hardly improved with 4-lane 45mph too fast traffic, least development potential. AORTA favors converting WES to MAX. I agree with that, but like Seattle, Portland agency employees cannot voice concern in public. To do so raises ire from the unquestionably informed managerial clerk crew. Smart enough to believe the autonomous car/bus idea isn't too ridiculous to consider seriously.
Talgo to the City that Works. I'm fairly certain it's 20-YEAR development plan is sound.
(most mid- and high-rise towers gracefully added to complementary settings.
Here's hoping a new paratransit bus model - low-floor, plugin-hybrid is grudgingly delivered; perfect hill climbers, cheap, 20mpg or 4mpg 40' buses roaring mostly empty)
Really glad to see the Sierra Club in Seattle is fighting for density! The Sierra Club in San Francisco is really disappointing on this issue. It's so important to make the connection of density to affordability and environmental friendliness. People have to live somewhere, and we should make that somewhere walkable and transit-accessible.

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