Councilmembers Herbold and O’Brien on U District Rezone

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park) and Councilmember Mike O’Brien (District 6, Ballard) issued the following statement regarding Mayor Murray’s announcement of a proposed University District rezone and urban design framework:

“The University District will be the first rezone since Council adopted the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA-R) legislation last month, requiring developers to either include affordable housing in their residential or mixed-use projects or pay into a fund. Any zoning changes Council reviews will be considered knowing that it will include new affordable housing for those making less than 60% of area median income.

“It’s reasonable to give developers more capacity if we are going to require that they help us address affordability.  As Seattle grows we must ensure all communities benefit from the prosperity, so strict affordability requirements are needed to address displacement of low-income people.

“We are especially interested in reviewing how the executive will address displacement in the new proposed University District upzone legislation as intended by the MHA-R bill. Because this upzone increases zoning capacity beyond what was anticipated in the MHA-R bill, we look forward to working together to ensure increased affordability requirements for the neighborhood. From the MHA-R legislation: ‘The Council intends to consider whether to include higher [affordability] performance and payment amounts … (b) [in] areas where the increment of increased development capacity is greater than the standard MHA-implementing zone change; and (c) … to increase affordable units sufficient to offset the affordable units at risk of demolition as a result of the increase in development capacity due to MHA.

“Communities are strong when they’re economically diverse and those of all income-types have the opportunity to contribute to neighborhood success. That will be our overarching perspective as we consider the proposal developed for the University District.”

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