Tag: single-family zones

Inslee Issues Pro-Housing Partial Veto; Another Avoidable Outbreak Preempts Planned Sweep; Affordable Housing Data Supports Single-Family Upzones

1. An important follow-up story to our Olympia coverage: On Thursday, Governor Jay Inslee vetoed several sections of a supposedly pro-accessory dwelling unit bill that ADU advocates convinced him failed the smell test. A pro-affordable housing coalition starring the AARP, Sightline, the Sierra Club, and the Washington State Labor Council, initially supporters of the legislation, wrote Inslee a letter after the session ended telling him the bill would actually end up being detrimental to the pro-housing movement.

PubliCola wrote about this bill all session, noting that housing development antagonist State Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-46, Seattle), the House Local Government Committee chair, derailed the bill with, among other objections, odd complaints about “profit tourism” (a scary-sounding, but frankly meaningless epithet).

State Sen. Marko Liias (D-32, Edmonds) originally passed the bill on the Senate side, but by the time it came back from the House, thanks to Rep. Pollet and Rep. Sharon Shewmake (D-42, Bellingham), the legislation was watered down to the point that the affordable housing advocates felt compelled to send their letter urging Inslee to veto major portions of the bill, including provisions that gave cities veto power over ADU mandates.

Inslee’s message was clear: Let’s actually do something to create more affordable housing stock.

Now that the governor has weighed in, I’ll be working to pass an even stronger bill in 2022.

After Inslee’s partial veto, Liias told PubliCola:

“We need more housing options. Renters and homeowners both benefit from ADUs. I was disappointed in the House amendments. Now that the governor has weighed in, I’ll be working to pass an even stronger bill in 2022.”

A key piece of Liias’ bill did survive Inslee’s pen, a section that prohibits local rules barring non-related people (such as roommates) from sharing housing.

2. A new outbreak of an unspecified gastrointestinal illness temporarily halted a planned sweep at a homeless encampment near White Center this week, after King County Public Health recommended strongly against uprooting people with severe symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting.

The Centers for Disease Control has recommended that cities refrain from sweeping encampments during the pandemic, because redistributing large numbers of people throughout cities causes an obvious risk of community transmission. But the city has begun ramping up sweeps of homeless encampments in recent months anyway, citing the need to keep parks and playfields safe and clear for kids going back to school, among other justifications.

“In general, we recommend taking into account potential communicable disease risks if there is a plan to move an encampment where there is either an active disease investigation or an active outbreak.”—King County Public Health

A spokeswoman for the public health department, Kate Cole, said the county is trying to figure out what pathogen is making people at the encampment sick. There have been several reported outbreaks of shigella among homeless people in the last year; the disease spreads rapidly when people lack access to sinks with soap and running water, which the city, under Mayor Jenny Durkan, has been reluctant to provide.

“In general, we recommend taking into account potential communicable disease risks if there is a plan to move an encampment where there is either an active disease investigation or an active outbreak,” Cole said. “We understand there are many health and safety factors that play into the City’s decisions about moving encampments and we maintain regular coordination with the City to address these complicated situations.”

The city identifies a list of “priority” encampments each week and directs outreach providers to offer shelter to people living at these sites before removing them. In addition the the White Center encampment, the city just placed encampments in Ballard and on Capitol Hill on its priority list.

3. We’ve got some more data to help put the city’s recent Mandatory Housing Affordability report in context. Last week, you’ll remember, we added some initial context to the report: Based on the total affordable housing dollars generated by development in the 6 percent sliver of the city’s single family zones that the council upzoned in 2019, it appeared that those areas were producing more funds for affordable housing than expected. Continue reading “Inslee Issues Pro-Housing Partial Veto; Another Avoidable Outbreak Preempts Planned Sweep; Affordable Housing Data Supports Single-Family Upzones”

The J is for Judge: Celebrating the Real Seattle

Folklife image via Wikimedia Commons.

Now that we’ve come through another Seattle summer, it’s the perfect time to reflect on our annual parade of non sequiturs: Bumbershoot, Hempfest, Seafair, Folklife.

I’m being a little snarky, but only a little. Attendance at Bumbershoot is down, Hempfest has been struggling since marijuana legalization eliminated its raison d’être, Folklife was almost canceled this year due to lack of funding, and the Seafair hydro races, once a major local sporting event, are no longer televised. Along with declining attendance, my guess is that many of these Seattle staples (I’m looking at you Bumbershoot) have become largely bridge and tunnel festivals that have about as much to do with Seattle’s sensibility as Blue Angel war planes.

I’m not cranky enough to argue for pulling the plug on any of these events—and the Capitol Hill Block Party, which displaced Bumbershoot as the city’s tuned-in music festival about a decade ago, is as guilty of suburban creep as Bumbershoot. But let’s be honest, these holdover community celebrations have become more meta than meaningful. Meta is okay. People have likely been rolling their eyes at the stilted nature of these local holidays for years. And we will likely go on doing so for years to come.

But let’s at least also hold some events that generate genuine excitement. As this summer’s buzziest event, Pearl Jam’s sold-out “Home Shows,” showed, Seattle is hungry for communal events that match Seattle’s values. (The shows raised a combined $11 million to address homelessness). I personally think Pearl Jam is a banal, generic rock band, but I will admit, a ton of people (admittedly, largely white and deeply nostalgic) were caught up in the shows in a way that made Bumbershoot look like obligatory Sunday dinner at your parents. The city’s official community events were shown up by something that felt relevant.

I’m not going suggest killing off any of our legacy events. Instead, I’m going to suggest a few ideas for Seattle to get its authentic Seattle on.

Single Family Zone Day

To celebrate hypocritical liberal “In This House, We Believe” Seattle, let’s hold an annual festival celebrating exclusionary zoning. We can hold the event at a public city park like North Beach Park, where 97 percent of the residential land within a half mile—walking distance— is exclusively zoned for single family housing.  (In general: 70 percent of the land in Seattle around parks larger than an acre is zoned single-family, giving single-family homeowners greater direct access to our city’s greenspaces). Or let’s hold the event at View Ridge Elementary School, one of the city’s top performing public elementaries, where 93 percent of the surrounding land is zoned exclusively for single-family use.  It’d be a fitting way for privileged Single Family Zoners to celebrate the fact that “On average, single-family zoning covers 72 percent of land in attendance areas of Seattle’s 13 top-rated, non-option, public elementaries,” according to some woke analysis by Sightline.

None of this is particularly surprising given that an astonishing two-thirds of Seattle’s land is zoned exclusively for single-family houses, making all those coloruful placards proclaiming diversity ring hollow.

It’s the ’90s Day

Let’s toast this great era before we had  a mandatory nation-topping minimum wage, light rail, gay marriage, mandatory affordable housing regulations on new development, a plethora of high-profile, independent  voices calling bullshit on the Seattle Times (Erica, the Urbanist, Seattle Bike Blog, Seattle Transit Blog, Sightline, Michael Maddux), legalized pot, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, protected bike lanes, activated Ballard, Fremont, Columbia City, a ton of art spaces, a majority of the city (around 65 percent) living within a 10-minute walk of 10-minute or better transit service, the Seattle Storm (sweep tonight, please!), the Seattle Sounders, June Baby, Molly Moons, and Sydney Brownstone taking down serial sexual abusers.

We could hold the event at the Showbox.

Your Dog is Your Best Friend Day

On this special day, we would allow Seattleites to break King County Health Department rules that restrict people to only bringing service animals into bars and restaurants. On this special day, you can bring your beloved pooch, the waiter can pet your beloved pooch and let your beloved pooch slobber all over their hands, and…

Oh wait.

Comic Con Everyday! 

Oh wait. Every day is already Comic Con in Seattle.

These are some suggestions for authentic early 21st century Seattle holidays. Let me know if you have others.