Miller Park Livability – Guiding Principles for Planning v2
Miller Park Neighbors embraces the stated goals of HALA to create more affordable housing and meet the housing needs of our growing city. We support a plan for increased density that:
1) Maintains or improves the affordability of our neighborhood and diversity of our housing stock while prioritizing family housing over luxury condominiums and micro-housing.
a. Current housing stock consists of single-family homes, older affordable apartments and condos, new townhomes and apartments, Seattle Housing Authority properties, Capitol Hill Housing properties, and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – allowing for a wide variety of people to enjoy in-city living. This diversity of housing types scale to each other, maintaining the attractiveness and livability of the area.
b. Providing development opportunities without guidelines for the type of housing needed for the long-term is short-sighted. We may lose the exact type of housing we will need when younger residents desire to have a family in a few years. We could be left with a glut of housing that isn’t conducive to these families because the City didn’t require construction of enough 3+ bedroom units with access to outdoor space. The result will be even higher prices for family housing and a flight of families to the suburbs, which will exacerbate our region’s transportation issues.
2) Maintains or improves the diversity of our residents, including diversity of ethnicity, age, family makeup, renters/owners, and economic status.
a. With no requirement to actually build low-income housing in the same neighborhood where development occurs, HALA may actually exacerbate the increasing lack of affordability in our city by replacing lower-rent apartments and condos with more expensive rental options, and decreasing the stock of much sought-after single-family homes. This is especially true in the Miller-Madison neighborhood where many reasonably priced older and multi-bedroom apartments exist.
b. Increased demand for property by developers could also drive away long-term residents from this neighborhood, especially those on a fixed income, due to the increased taxes on their rising home values. An exodus of our active elders is a loss of history, soul and identity of this city.
c. Not enough attention is being paid to maintaining housing for mid-income earners, who are quickly being priced out of Seattle. Many middle-income residents are also concerned about their ability to stay in their homes due to increased taxes.
d. Decreased livability due to overstrained infrastructure, blocked sunlight, lack of thoughtful setback requirements, and abrupt transitions between larger-scale buildings and smaller buildings could drive long-term residents and families out of the neighborhood. With new development likely to be one-bedroom apartments or vertical-style town homes with no elevators, the neighborhood won’t be as attractive to families or the aging, and the diversity of residents would decrease.
3) Encourages thoughtful density increases that happen concurrently with increases in infrastructure such as parks, green spaces, and transportation to maintain the livability of the neighborhood, and addresses the aging sewer lines, roads, above-ground utilities and other infrastructure that will be compromised by additional growth.
a. The lack of parking required for new developments, along with the reopening of Meany Middle School and its large student population, (before planned transportation improvements are in place) will make parking incredibly difficult for residents and for those patronizing local businesses. This is an old neighborhood with narrow streets, where most houses and institutions lack on-site parking.
b. The Miller Park Neighborhood is more than 100 years old. The aging sewer lines are often shared by multiple properties and would likely fail under the added strain caused by multi-family units.
c. Miller Park is already highly utilized, and with Meany Middle School’s re-opening it will be stretched beyond capacity. Additional green spaces need to be added to the neighborhood if density is to be increased.
d. The new zoning requirements should retain front-yard and back-yard setbacks of 15-20 feet and all established trees (12” trunks or greater), in order to help maintain the attractiveness of the neighborhood, and diminish the impact of larger-scale buildings blocking light to other residences, sidewalks and streets.
e. Any development capacity increases in Urban Village expansion areas should ensure that new development is compatible in scale to the existing neighborhood context, and that there is a plan for transitions between higher-and lower-scale zones.
4) Provides a commercial core scaled to the proportions of the neighborhood that encourages the continued presence of locally-owned small businesses.
5) Protects the presence of single-family homes (or free-standing houses, as many have been converted into multi-family homes) as a significant component of the Residential Urban Village, and honors the architectural character of the neighborhood and the personal investments made by its residents to preserve these historic homes.
a. It doesn’t make sense to eliminate the largest source of family housing in a neighborhood that is within walking distance of multiple public and private schools – including the soon-to-be-reopened Meany Middle School.
b. ADU's and other compatible options for increasing density that maintain family housing, such as RSL zoning, should be encouraged instead of the significant zoning changes that have been proposed for SF-zoned areas.
c. The City’s policy is to not increase development capacity in Seattle’s Historic Districts, even if it means these areas do not contribute to housing affordability through MHA. The Miller Neighborhood is the south edge of the designated boundary of historic Capitol Hill. Most of the remaining single-family homes in this neighborhood were built over 100 years ago, and several are at least 128 years old. These single-family homes are both historically and culturally significant. (One example: Jimmy Hendrix first picked up a guitar at Meany Middle School and likely hung out in these homes.) By eliminating these older neighborhoods, much of the historic quality of Seattle’s context and style will also be destroyed. Before this neighborhood is rezoned (and therefore threatened with elimination) there needs to be a survey of all pre-1940 homes and buildings in the neighborhood by a historic preservationist as part of the Environmental Impact Survey (E.I.S.)
6) Represents an equitable plan for contributing to density and city-wide low-income housing goals without placing an undo livability and tax burden only on certain neighborhoods (including the Miller Park Neighborhood.)[EM1]
a. The city’s density goals for 2035 in the Miller neighborhood have nearly been met, and the city acknowledges that the density goals for the entire city can be met without changing current zoning. Therefore any further increases in development that hurt the livability of certain neighborhoods are not required to keep up with density demands. For density purposes, we encourage the use of existing zoning capacity, and propose looking for ways to support the low-income housing fund so that residents of the entire city are asked to support equally.
b. The borders for the upzone in the Miller neighborhood match the city's historically discriminatory "red-lined" neighborhood borders, and we question why these particular blocks have been chosen. Other areas on Capitol Hill are closer to city amenities, which was supposedly the criteria for selection. The majority of lots in this neighborhood are small, which doesn’t yield maximum effect with regard to density. And why not upzone further down 19th Ave, which is already a commercialized zone, past the artificial boundary of Roy all the way down to Galer? Why wouldn’t 23rd Ave also be upzoned, given the transportation that already runs along this corridor?
c. Why destroy neighborhoods in order to collect a minimal amount of money from builders paying the proposed MHA fees? If the estimate is 6 – 10% of the value of the project, and there are no impact fees or contribution requirements for enhancing the infrastructure that will be strained, then HALA doesn’t appear to be a good deal for the city, its residents, or those needing affordable housing.