Taller apartments in Seattle mean more affordable housing | KUOW News and Information

Taller apartments in Seattle mean more affordable housing

Aug 3, 2016

Seattle neighborhoods could start seeing bigger buildings under new zoning framework passed by a City Council committee Tuesday. The framework also requires that developers provide affordable housing units.

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It's the residential element of the mayor's "grand bargain" plan to increase low-income housing. The city already approved the zoning framework for commercial development.

The legislation will change neighborhood zoning so developers can put up larger, taller buildings. In return, developers will have to include low-cost housing units with each building – or pay into the city's affordable housing fund.

Councilman Rob Johnson chairs the land-use committee.

Johnson: "It is critically important for us to continue to do as much as we can to build as much affordable housing as we can."

Development groups had initially backed the affordable housing parts of the so-called grand bargain. Now they're threatening to pull their support because of a last-minute change by Johnson's committee.

That change will require developers to pay for more affordable housing than they were initially told. The amounts haven't been set.

Developer advocate Roger Valdez is with Smart Growth Seattle.

Valdez: "We're concerned about whether or not this will be feasible for our members. So take your time in considering this, don't be rushed."

He says making developers pay more will discourage them from building, but council members say the money will help keep low-income people housed.

The full council will vote in mid-August, then work to change zoning neighborhood-by-neighborhood after that.

A map of neighborhoods that would see a change:

A map of the neighborhoods that would see changes.
Credit Mayor Ed Murray's office