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Council Vote Prioritizes City-owned Properties for Affordable Housing

The Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to adopt updated policies that set affordable housing as a priority for City surplus and underutilized property. Resolution 31837, sponsored by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide) and chair of the Housing, Health, Energy and Workers’ Rights Committee, updates policies and procedures related to City surplus property.

“This policy sets forth a vision for prioritizing housing on city surplus land, in addition to creating more mixed-use opportunities with open green spaces, child care and educational programs, small business and more,” said Councilmember Mosqueda. “The City needs to use every tool at our disposal to increase access to affordable housing, especially for low- and very-low-income households. This policy is another step towards expanding that access, while upholding the City’s promise to prioritize community-driven development.”

Earlier this year, the Washington state legislature passed HB 2382, which allows cities to sell surplus property below fair market value as long as the property is used for affordable housing. This legislation prioritizes using city surplus property for affordable housing.  If the City decides it doesn’t have the capacity to build housing then it is to work with community-driven development and affordable housing partners to create those opportunities.

The legislation adopted by council:

  • Sets a policy that requires the city to prioritize using surplus land for affordable housing, parks or open space, child care, early learning and educational facilities, light rail station area development, and community and economic development;
  • Allows for land leasing, which means the City could maintain public ownership or partial municipal use, when a property will be developed into affordable housing;
  • Directs the Office of Housing to partner with community-based organizations in areas at heightened risk of displacement, allowing for greater community ownership of affordable housing development;
  • Sets a benchmark that 80 percent of net revenue generated from city parcels that are not used for affordable housing be used for production and preservation of affordable homes in Seattle;
  • Adds annual reporting from the Office of Housing regarding implementation of this policy; and,
  • Requires the policies will be reviewed again in 2023.

The Seattle City Council previously passed similar land disposition policies for Seattle City Light properties through Resolution 31829, which was also sponsored by Mosqueda.

Enterprise Community Partners created a mapping tool identifying all government-owned surplus and underutilized property in King County, as well as non-profit and faith-community-owned properties, providing an opportunity to visualize where the city can collaborate with partners to produce affordable homes and best utilize these policies. The map, which has been produced in collaboration with Futurewise, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the King County Auditor, is available on Enterprise Community Partners’ website.

For more information on land disposition policies, visit http://www.seattle.gov/council/issues/land-disposition-policy

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