Saturday, May 9, 2015

For those of you concerned about height, mass and scale in Multi-Family zones

(written by Kathryn Keller, Homer Harris Park neighbor)
A few years ago, many neighbors began to notice new building that is totally different than what they understood to be the zoning of the area they moved into. They checked the zoning map and did not notice much difference -- saw LR-2 instead of L-2, but the explanation was basically the same as they had seen all along. So they started to organize and do some research and a LOT of documentation of the difference between what is explained as intent with what is seen in reality. This effort included many of our neighbors. They held a number of public meetings a few years ago.

Under pressure, cm Clark asked DPD to 'fix' the land Use code to prevent unintended consequences of the Multi-Family zones rewrite of 2010. Citizens appealed to the hearing examiner on that bill , due to analyses that predicted exactly the above consequences, along with a whole host of other follow-on issues - think about what has been going on in the last 5 years.. . The intent of those tweaks were to allow more variety of building styles, but the results has been development of a scale that any sensible person would say should require a re-zoning process.

DPD complied and drafted the fixes, a bill was introduced, then the developer lobby appealed to the hearing examiner on the basis that land use that provides the most profit can not be taken away, which is why people pay attention before laws are passed! Surprisingly, they lost. Now your opinion matters, especially if you live in an LR zone. This notice explains how to submit your public testimony or written comment, and a link to details towards the bottom. Once you go to the council committee page, scan down to "Low-rise Multifamily Code Corrections" to review the measure that had been introduced. It look like they will tweak it, and especially will tweak if it seems to meet the needs of housing production called for by the Mayor's HALA committee. I respond, be brave and up-zone, or add zones. if buildings need to go higher and bigger in an area and stop doing under the covers up-zones by changing the meaning and intent of a zone.

Comments will be accepted Tuesday, June 2 starting at 2PM in council chambers, and if you cannot go (many of us cannot) you can email your comments, to register your opinion with the Seattle Council Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee.

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