Tonight (literally, as I type!) I’m at the public hearing for city council districts 3 and 7 on the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) upzone plan. I’ve written before about the zoning plan. Tonight folks are giving verbal testimony to five of our city council members, as well as writing up their comments on paper. You can also submit comments online by emailing the council! I gave some brief comment with a group of folks from Seattle Tech 4 Housing, but here’s the approximate longer version I hand-wrote (woah) to hand in:
My partner and I moved to where we live near I-90 and Rainier almost eight years ago. We picked our house partly because it was already close to frequent transit and in 2023 we’ll be just a couple minutes walk from the the future Judkins Park lightrail station. Now we have a four year old daughter and we want her to grow up to a world that is more sustainable and includes everyone. We’re not seeing that in our neighborhood now as people are being pushed out by increasing housing costs with double and triple the home prices we saw when we moved here.While I support the current MHA plan, I don’t believe it goes far enough. Where we live, even five minutes walk from that future light rail station, many lots will be restricted to the most exclusionary and most expensive housing – single family homes. Even in properties like ours, which is already zoned for LR2 and stays that way under MHA but with slightly more height and floor area, it is likely to be built to 4 or 5 townhomes with a developer paying the fees to build affordable housing elsewhere. This marginal increase in new homes won’t make it possible for families who aren’t relatively well off to stay. The current plan seems to avoid increasing density near I-90 but that is where the light rail station is. To not allow many many more homes there is to preserve the benefits of frequent comfortable transit to the most wealthy of residents.I support the MHA plan. But if we don’t do even more than this, then my daughter will grow up in a neighborhood surrounded only by families that can afford the single family homes and relatively expensive townhomes that the current plan prioritizes near our home, with only a few less expensive options in a narrow corridor. We won’t build an inclusive city that minimizes its impact on the environment without a lot more homes.