I recently wrote about Seattle’s growing pains and the many moving parts that are part of the affordable housing machine. One of these parts – land use – is so closely related to housing affordability, you might say they march in lockstep.
Today, the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee will deliberate on a set of proposed amendments to Lowrise legislation. Lowrise zones are areas where smaller-scale multi-family buildings reside.
Stakeholders have spoken up on both sides of the issue. On one hand, design and development should be done with an eye to its surrounding environment, which is exactly why zoning exists. For example, the code would not support building a skyscraper in a neighborhood full of Craftsman houses.
On the other hand, Seattle is experiencing an affordable housing crisis. As more housing is built to accommodate Seattle’s growing population, we have to consider where to put this housing. Seattle’s Regional Comprehensive Plan directs growth to existing urban centers, which reduces the public cost and protects natural environment. In other words, we have to think about making our neighborhoods denser.
The proposed amendments to the Lowrise code attempt to address these two main concepts. As the Council weighs the various amendments tomorrow, I will be advocating for a balanced approach that leans toward creating more density and better livability in our neighborhoods.