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    City Commits $1 Million to Regional Affordable Housing Fund, Explores Backyard Cottage Expansion

    City of Seattle FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/30/2014

    City Commits $1 Million to Regional Affordable Housing Fund, Explores Backyard Cottage Expansion

    SEATTLE - City Council unanimously approved a resolution yesterday committing to allocate $1 million toward a regional fund to expand affordable housing near light rail and transit stations, and also requested the Department of Planning & Development (DPD)to explore the expansion of backyard cottages and mother-in-law units. These efforts are part of the Council's and Mayor's ongoing work to expand the availability of affordable housing at all income levels.

    The regional fund will be used to purchase properties near light rail and high capacity transit stations while the land is still reasonably affordable. The land will be preserved for future higher-density, mixed-use affordable housing development. Money from the fund can also be used to preserve and rehabilitate selected existing affordable housing buildings that are near transit stops and at high risk of being converted to market rate housing. This fund-referred to as the Regional Equitable Development Initiative (REDI) Fund-is a regional collaboration of public, private and non-profit stakeholders being led by Puget Sound Regional Council as a part of its Growing Transit Communities initiative.

    "By buying properties near light rail now, we can ensure greater affordability near transit in the future and help prevent displacement when those land values eventually increase when light rail comes online. Transit-oriented development also means easier commutes and less congestion as well as more vibrant, walkable neighborhoods," said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. "By exploring how to create more backyard cottages and mother-in-laws, we are looking for market-oriented solutions to provide more housing at all levels of affordability."

    City Council also requested that DPD develop a report on regulations regarding accessory dwelling units (ADUs or "mother-in-law" units) and detached accessory dwelling units (DADUs or "backyard cottages"). The report would provide analysis of possible new policies or programs that could be implemented to make accessory dwelling units easier to build, including pre-approved, pre-fabricated designs to streamline permitting, incentives like waiving of permit fees for affordable units, reviewing parking and owner-occupancy requirements and more.

    The report will inform the work of the Seattle Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee and is due to the group by March 15, 2015.

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    [View in Council Newsroom]

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    City Commits $1 Million to Regional Affordable Housing Fund, Explores Backyard Cottage Expansion

    City Commits $1 Million to Regional Affordable Housing Fund, Explores Backyard Cottage Expansion SEATTLE – City Council unanimously approved a resolution yesterday committing to allocate $1 million toward a regional fund to expand affordable housing near light rail and transit stations, and also requested the Department of Planning & Development (DPD)to explore the expansion of backyard cot[More]

    Recycling — yard waste, paper, plastics, metals and now — food waste.

    I have had many conversations this past week about the City’s new compost requirements.  Friends and strangers alike are asking, ” Why are we doing this?” The answer simply is that we are on the vanguard of recycling, and over two decades ago we set a goal for ourselves of recycling over 60% by 2015 and up to […][More]

    Council Approves Incentives to Benefit Seattle’s Historic Theaters

    City of Seattle FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/29/2014

    Council Approves Incentives to Benefit Seattle's Historic Theaters

    SEATTLE - Council approved legislation today that provides land use incentives to downtown’s historic landmark performing arts theaters, The Paramount, The Moore and The Eagles Auditorium (ACT Theatre). The legislation increases development capacity for the theaters, which in turn can be sold to developers.

    "These theaters are one reason companies such as Frank Russell, Amazon and Weyerhaeuser decide to locate in downtown Seattle," said Councilmember Nick Licata, sponsor of the legislation. "Their employees want to live close to restaurants, close to entertainment, close to where the action is. And, utilizing new development to preserve these beautiful old structures and the economic activity they generate requires zero tax payer dollars."

    "Historic theatres provide a critical piece of Seattle's cultural landscape, yet the non-profit organizations committed to caring for these beautiful structures struggle mightily to maintain them.  Ongoing resources are difficult to secure but with passage of this legislation we are much better positioned for long term care sustainability," stated Seattle Theatre Group Executive Director, Josh LaBelle.

    While the size and unique characteristics of the design and function of these large historic theaters present challenges for ongoing maintenance, the City has an interest in supporting and promoting their continued operation. The legislation adopted today is part of a larger implementation plan that accompanied the City's 2011 designation of the Downtown Historic Theatre District.

    Today's legislation increases the base floor area ratio (FAR) of qualifying historic theaters located downtown. This increase in space is considered unused development potential and can be sold to commercial development projects in other parts of downtown. In exchange, proceeds from the sale of these development rights can be used to further the theaters' mission and physical upkeep.

    [View in Council Newsroom]

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    Council Adopts Bill to Improve High-Speed Fiber Network Deployment

    City of Seattle FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/29/2014

    Council Adopts Bill to Improve High-Speed Fiber Network Deployment

    SEATTLE - City Council unanimously approved legislation today that will help expand high-speed fiber network deployment by removing excessive administrative requirements for siting of new broadband cabinets, incentivizing smaller cabinets that deliver higher speeds and requiring landscaping and screening in neighborhoods.

    All neighborhoods will benefit, but the changes will initially help companies like CenturyLink launch one-gigabit-per-second (Gbps) fiber internet service to Beacon Hill, the Central District, Ballard and West Seattle. New cabinets are necessary for the delivery of 1 gigabit-per-second (Gbps) service. One-gigabit-per-second is equivalent to 1,000 megabits-per-second (Mbps). According to speedtest.net in Seattle, the current average download and upload speeds are 34.95 Mbps and 19.85 Mbps.

    "This critical change will bring next-generation broadband to unserved and underserved neighborhoods," said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee. "We have gone through an extensive community process to get to this point, balancing the concerns of home-owners, street character and the desire to push fiber further out into neighborhoods. Next-generation fiber broadband is vital for our students' education, helps mitigate traffic by allowing residents to work from home, and businesses and startups benefit by stimulating innovation and jobs. We must continue to think outside the box to create an environment competitive for companies to build fiber to your home and business."

    "This legislation is a win-win for neighborhoods. Underserved neighborhoods will receive a lightning-fast level of broadband service, while the visual clutter typically associated with these communications cabinets will be greatly reduced. I look forward to the expansion of this service throughout the city," said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Transportation Committee.

    Robert Kangas, chair of Upping Technology for Underserved Neighbors, said, "This is a great first step to opening our neighborhoods to improved broadband. Thank you to the Mayor's office and the Seattle City Council for working with members of the community and the broadband providers to give us more competition and improved service. This will help Seattle remain a leader in the tech community for years to come. While this is an immediate win for the under-served areas of Seattle, it will benefit the entire city."

    Brian Hsi, chair of the Citizens' Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board’s Broadband and Cable Committee, said, "I'm pleased to see progress being made toward bringing more broadband choices for Seattle residents. For too long parts of our City could not receive the infrastructure necessary to build out affordable, quality, high speed broadband options. That changes today with the passage of this legislation."

    Beginning in January 2013, SDOT began engaging with stakeholder groups and sought feedback on siting issues for new telecommunication cabinets in the public right-of-way and held meetings with stakeholders from North Beacon Hill, Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board, Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities, Citizens' Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board, Public Space Management Task Force, Department of Information Technology, Department of Planning and Development, Office of Economic Development, Seattle City Light, CenturyLink, AT&T, Comcast, Wave, Verizon and various other community groups. The consensus of the group concluded that new legislation must prioritize:

    1. Improving broadband deployment, especially in underserved areas;
    2. Keeping our public spaces and rights-of-way free from visual clutter; and
    3. Maintaining other priorities for the public spaces and rights-of-way for community activation goals.

    Council Bill 118208 will help broadband deployment by:

    1. Incentivizing smaller cabinets (less than 36") that deliver faster connection bandwidth by streamlining the permitting and outreach requirements.
    2. Providing a dis-incentive for siting larger cabinets by requiring additional public outreach and visual mitigation for cabinets taller than 36".
    3. Eliminating "veto power" from adjacent property owner as currently required in SDOT Director's Rule 2-2009.
    4. Eliminating requirement of obtaining 60% approval from within 100 feet on proposed installation as currently required by SDOT Director's Rule 2-2009.
    5. Requiring written notification to all residents, businesses, and property owners within 100-foot radius if the proposed installation cabinet is greater than 36 inches in height.
    6. Requiring screening mitigation such as landscaping and vinyl wrap for new cabinet installations in residential zones above 36 inches.
    7. Removing graffiti in a timely manner.
    8. Requiring all service providers to submit quarterly reports to SDOT that describe each complaint received, how complaint was resolved, and how long it took to resolve the complaint.

    # # #

    [View in Council Newsroom]

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    Incentives for Historic Theaters

    Frank Russell, Amazon and Weyerhaeuser decided to locate downtown so employees are close to where the action is.[More]

    Council Approves Incentives to Benefit Seattle’s Historic Theaters

    Council Approves Incentives to Benefit Seattle’s Historic Theaters SEATTLE — Council approved legislation today that provides land use incentives to downtown’s historic landmark performing arts theaters, The Paramount, The Moore and The Eagles Auditorium (ACT Theatre). The legislation increases development capacity for the theaters, which in turn can be sold to developers. “These theat[More]

    Council Adopts Bill to Improve High-Speed Fiber Network Deployment

    Council Adopts Bill to Improve High-Speed Fiber Network Deployment SEATTLE– City Council unanimously approved legislation today that will help expand high-speed fiber network deployment by removing excessive administrative requirements for siting of new broadband cabinets, incentivizing smaller cabinets that deliver higher speeds and requiring landscaping and screening in neighborhoods. All[More]

    Civil in Seattle: Downtown District Council’s Public Safety Forum

    Wednesday night this week I had the opportunity to speak on a panel to a group of downtown residents and other community members about Public Safety and our efforts around making Downtown Seattle a clean, safe, and welcoming place to be. I joined our new police Chief O’Toole and City Attorney Pete Holmes. This forum […][More]

    Coffee Conversation with Councilmembers Sally J. Clark and Sally Bagshaw next Saturday

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/26/2014 Coffee Conversation with Councilmembers Sally J. Clark and Sally Bagshaw next Saturday SEATTLE - City Councilmembers Sally J. Clark and Sally Bagshaw will be at Northeast Branch Public Library in Ravenna-Bryant nex...[More]