Seattle/ Real Estate & Development
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Published on May 02, 2024
Seattle City Council Rejects Bill For Affordable Housing Exception, Eyes Citywide Plan for SolutionsSource: Google Street View

In a move to prioritize a long-term strategy over quick fixes, Seattle's City Council recently rejected Council Bill 120750 which sought a land use exception aimed at fostering affordable housing. Instead, councilmembers are setting their sights on a comprehensive citywide plan. Councilmember Cathy Moore, chairperson of Housing and Human Services, said, "I am voting no. I look forward to working on expanding the benefit of affordable development capacity to all in the city through the vehicle of the Comprehensive Plan," in a statement obtained by the Seattle City Council's website.

Rejecting the Bill aligns with an April 17th committee vote finding the measure at odds with broader housing policies. Councilmember Maritza Rivera mentioned the pitfalls of legislation that's not strategically tailored, insisting, "Instead of creating a piecemeal pilot project, our focus should be on the comprehensive 20-year plan." Rivera emphasized the need for zoning laws that address the city's "critical housing needs".

Councilmember Tanya Woo, an affordable housing provider, also echoed the call for citywide deliberation instead of limited interventions, saying, "We need to pursue big, bold ideas to address our housing, gentrification, and displacement crisis." Moreover, she claimed the rejected pilot program would have benefited just a fraction of the community, underscoring her anticipation for the upcoming Comprehensive Plan's role in crafting a unified approach.

The Council's commitment to affordable housing, however, remains unwavering. The Housing and Human Services Committee, which Moore leads, will review Mandatory Housing Affordable (MHA) and Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) programs to maximize affordable unit output. Properties currently on MFTE were granted an extension to stave off year-end expiries. The Committee also plans to re-evaluate MFTE policies through forthcoming legislation.

Looking ahead, the Committee is preparing to scrub the Administrative and Financial Plan and Housing Policies as they relate to the 2023 Housing Levy. This groundwork sets the stage for the Council to integrate affordable housing priorities into the Comprehensive Plan, giving particular attention to how MHA is applied across neighborhood zones. With its vision set on broad-reaching goals, the Council also welcomes initiatives promoting property ownership and building generational wealth.

Seattle-Real Estate & Development