The City Council is currently reviewing the upzones being proposed under HALA/MHA. For more background on this discussion, please click on my author name and that will link you to more articles on housing than you will probably care to read.
- February 21st: public hearing on MHA (zoning changes)
5:30 pm at the City Council Chambers, City Hall, 600 4th Avenue
Definitely arrive early if you can to sign up to speak.
- February 25th: MHA Committee will vote on amendments and will vote the bill out of committee. But an important note: the “committee” is made up of the full City Council. So while the City Council is allowed to make changes or still bring amendments to the final, final vote, it’s really the vote on the 25th that will likely seal the deal.
- March 18th: Final Council Vote, 2:00 pm at the City Council Chambers, City Hall, 600 4th Avenue
If you missed my reporting on the Preferred Alternative maps being released, you may want to read that first. The article can be found here. Please note, nothing is permanent until the final vote on March 18th. And while the Council certainly seems to be very strongly leaning towards passing this thing, if you have an opinion on it I strongly suggest you email / call / show up to meetings and give public comment. And urge your friends, neighbors and unwilling spouse to do the same.
For the Wallingford Urban Village, there are a few, relatively small changes proposed to the Preferred Alternative Maps I reported on before. There are three areas, a total of about 12 blocks, where Councilmember Rob Johnson is proposing a decrease to the upzone from what was is the Preferred Alternative map. These areas were proposed to change to Low Rise 1 (LR1), and Councilmember Johnson is offering amendments that would designate these areas Residential Small Lot (RSL) instead. He stated this is to create a buffer zone between the Low Rise (LR) zone inside the urban village with the Single Family (SF) zones outside of it. Please see the maps below to view the exact location, but they are:
- Amendment 4-14 would apply to about four blocks north of 49th on either side of Wallingford Avenue N
- Amendment 4-15 would apply to three block that are north of 46th Street between Meridian Ave N and Sunnyside Ave N
- Amendment 4-17 would apply to four blocks that are between 40th and 43rd Streets and bordered by Ashworth and Densmore Ave N
It appears that Amendment 4-16, which would have made the same reduction to RSL in East Fremont / West Wallingford is not being considered.
If you don’t see your block in the maps above or you don’t know what the zoning designations mean, here is the link again for the Preferred Alternative map article.
While these changes are being proposed by our District 4 Councilmember Rob Johnson, they are not a done deal. The at large Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena Gonzalez have expressed opposition to them, and some of the other Councilmembers are not 100% firm in their support.
There are also two competing amendments proposed to change Residential Small Lot or RSL definitions. RSL has a limit of one housing unit per 2,000 sq foot of lot size, this will not change. There are also other factors such as height, set backs, etc. that will limit the bulk of the building. But currently there is also a limit of 3 housing units max per building. There are two competing amendments on the table that would change that. Mike O’Brien would increase the limit to four units max per building, and Rob Johnson’s amendment would remove the max limit, but for either you would still have to have 2,000 square feet of lot size per unit.
So if you had a very large 10,000 square foot lot (which you could get if two lots were combined), under Johnson’s amendment you could have a five unit apartment building, but under O’Brien’s amendment you could only have a four unit apartment building plus a cottage in the back. RSL allows carriage houses, cottage housing developments, rowhouses, townhomes and apartments.
Lastly, make sure the City Council and Mayor hear from you!
Mayor Jenny Durkan: [email protected]
An email to [email protected] will reach all of the City Councilmembers.
Or to email the Councilmembers individually:
[email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected];
[email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]
Full 179 page memo with all of the sponsored MHA amendments, any new documents with revised amendments would be here.
Video of City Council discussing the amendments, jump to 2:18:50 to hear discussion of Wallingford map amendments. At 1:16:34 there is also some interesting discussion where the at large Councilmembers start to weigh in (spoiler: they are pro-density).
Select Committee on MHA city website link. Includes information on the remaining MHA meetings (be sure to scroll down to the end for 2019).
It will, per Johnson’s amendment:
That amendment (3) defines an exception to the 1/2000sf density limit in (1), and the 0.85 round-up calculation in (2). Johnson’s office may say otherwise, but unless they’ve actually changed the amendment since it was introduced 2/8, here it is in black and white.
Johnson’s amendments also include one that lowers the density limit for LR1, and apparently the MHA ordinance in its current form doesn’t impose any density limit on “rowhouses”, contrary to what was presented in the EIS. This is significant mainly because of a subdivision trick that Seattle allows developers to pull – subdivide into a front and back lot, fill the front with rowhouses and pack some more townhouses in back, for a higher total unit density. Rowhouses in principle are not supposed to have anything in back of them.
Bummer – amendment 4-14 would RSL rather than LR-1 our street.
Time to write
Tell you what, I’ll happily trade you my soon to be LR-1 zone for your RSL amendment. Deal?
Why are there some small pockets of low density that’s different from neighboring blocks? There is one pocket behind Stone Way 7-11, one corner of Stone/40th, and one small area south of 35th.