I want to make Seattle affordable for every income bracket. We can no longer limp along and hope the market builds and preserves enough affordable housing that helps everyone build a better life.
To accomplish this we must encourage those who live and work and build in our community to be part of the solution: to construct and preserve good quality housing and make room for the 100,000 more people we expect this next decade.
Our collective goal must be to create space where people want to live — near schools and parks, in our urban villages and centers, along our transit lines, and in our favorite neighborhoods.
Just as New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio noted about his own city, we in Seattle have a crisis of affordability on our hands.
We’re short an estimated 28,000 affordable units to accommodate all of us who want to live here. In addition to being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, we are one of the few cities where jobs are being created. An additional 500,000 workers are heading for our state. We need to make room.
Like New York City, we must draft a comprehensive plan to address our housing crisis. See: New York City 5 Borough Plan. That plan must encourage diverse neighbors to come together while expanding our financing tools and funding sources.
Last month Mayor Murray and we members of the City Council launched an effort to develop broad ranging policy options for affordability and livability. The 28-member Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee has been formed. We should support it and let it do its work.
The Linkage Fee Resolution that came before Council today is well-intentioned but unfortunately it misses the mark. It is one tool that should be included in deliberations, but not the only tool upon which we should rely. We must consider all serious options such as inclusionary zoning requirements, expanding the Multi-Family Tax Exemption and focus more on performance than fees.
To reach our goal of creating 28,000 affordable units, we should develop true incentives, expand our financing tools and offer those incentives to the people who build and sponsor our housing. We must address our affordable housing problem strategically across our own city and our region.
I brought forward an amendment to this Resolution to omit the fee ranges and give the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee members space to do their work. As written, Resolution 31551 created unnecessary conflict between developers, policy makers, and affordable housing advocates.
We need a plan that brings us together, not one that polarizes our community. In my time on the council, few matters have drawn us and our community apart. This resolution is unfortunately doing just that.
I also fear the resolution leaves us open to legal challenges. I want to move forward and address our affordable housing crisis in a big way like NYC has done. We should avoid getting bogged down for the next two to three years arguing over legal issues that are openly dogging this linkage fee resolution.
My objective is to improve on what’s worked in our city, learn from other cities’ successes. Boston. New York. Redmond. Many others. All are producing solutions to their own affordable housing and livability issues that we can emulate.
Yes, we need a strategic housing plan. One that will unify us behind a singular purpose: to make our city the place where all of us can live and thrive affordably. We will make this vision a reality by using all available tools and pulling together.