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MHA Process and Schedule; Eviction Reform; Seattle Squeeze Resources; Community Involvement Commission; Planning Commission; Office Hours

MHA Process and Schedule

The Council has begun developing and considering amendments to the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) bill which is currently being heard in the Select Committee on Citywide Mandatory Housing Affordability.  On January 22, 2018 Council President Bruce Harrell established the 2018 Select Committee on Citywide Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA).  The committee was formed to consider passage and implementation of the citywide MHA including changes to land use regulations, zoning designations, comprehensive plan language and maps, neighborhood plan policies and changes to Urban Village boundaries.

Here is a summary of the program and process to date (see link).

I would encourage you to visit the committee webpage here, you can also sign up to receive committee agendas while you’re there.  You can also view the committee schedule which will be updated when there are changes.

MHA requires developers to contribute to affordable housing either by paying a fee based upon the square footage of the building that they are building or by “performing,” which means devoting a percentage of housing units to be offered at lower rents for 70 years. I believe that, with the proposed zoning changes, we are granting additional development capacity to developers as part of MHA, we should be getting the value of that additional development capacity as contributions to affordable housing. Some believe the current MHA program does require developers to contribute sufficiently to affordable housing. Others do not. Although I support the program, I am in the latter camp of those that say that the affordable housing contribution should be greater.

The city plans to develop 6,000 affordable units with funds derived from the implementation of the MHA program. The broad principles of the MHA program were approved by the City Council in the Fall of 2016 MHA framework legislation. This framework legislation laid out how all developers would newly be required to contribute to affordable housing in all developments in exchange for additional zoning capacity.  MHA requirements apply to development after a rezone is approved that increases the maximum height or floor area ratio (FAR) for the area. Most areas where MHA applies will have an (M), (M1), or (M2) suffix added to the zone name identifying the affordable housing requirements for that zone. Requirements vary based on housing costs in each area of the city and the scale of the zoning change.
MHA has been implemented in some neighborhoods, namely Downtown/South Lake Union, the University District, Queen Anne, the Chinatown/International District, and several areas around 23rd Ave. Please see my blog posts on the University District MHA  and the Downtown and South Lake Union MHA.

I am working with community members in each of the Urban Villages in District 1, specifically South Park, Admiral, West Seattle Junction, Westwood-Highland Park, and the Morgan Junction.  They have helped me to develop a number of amendments that will, if passed, make small changes to the current proposal to reflect the goals held by the community organizations representing those communities, while still implementing MHA in all areas proposed from MHA implementation.  

This week the Council met twice and heard possible amendments to modify the proposed zoning changes, you can view those here. These are not the final amendments, they were identified through public comments gathered at hearings and correspondence with constituents. These amendments were not voted on, and do not reflect the final amendment package from Councilmembers, they are simply a starting place.

If you are interested in the proposed changes or would like to see what is proposed in your neighborhood, please check out this map. Click on “Map 4: Research a specific property” and then on the top left of the map you can enter an address, or you can simply scroll in on the map and click on a specific area to see the current and proposed zoning changes.

The committee will have its next meeting – where we will discuss, but not vote on amendments – on February 8 at 9:30am. That meeting will be followed by a Public Hearing at City Hall starting at 5:30pm on Thursday, February 21.

The committee then intends to vote on final amendments and the overall legislation on Monday, February 25, after Full Council. Finally, the Full Council is scheduled to take up the legislation on Monday, March 18.

 

Eviction Reform Efforts Begin in CRUEDA

In my September Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee I heard a report of the Seattle Women’s Commission (SWC) entitled: Losing Home. 

The SWC acts in an advisory role to the Mayor, City Council and executive departments. The SWC works on issues that impact the women of Seattle.  They recommend policy and give input to city and state budgets.

The report included review of all 1,218 residential eviction actions filed in Seattle in 2017. 
The study also included:

  • Surveys and interviews of tenants
  • Interviews with homeless prevention providers
  • Cross-reference of evictions with Medical Examiner’s records
  • Examination records regarding housing code violations

I wrote about this report in my blog post following the presentation.   Major findings were:

Of one-tenant household evictions with $100.00 or less owed, 81% were women.

Black tenants experience eviction 4.5 times what they should based on demographics.

People of color were more likely to be evicted for smaller amounts of money.

Of 1,035 evictions, 86.5% were for nonpayment of rent and 52.3% of nonpayment of rent cases were for a month or less in rent.

Attorney’s fees were charged to tenants in 90.6% of cases, and court costs were charged in 92.2% of cases, with a median charge of $416.19 and $358.98 respectively.

A Federal Reserve Report found that 40% of Americans could not come up with $400 in the event of an emergency.

Post-eviction, only 12.5% of evicted respondents found another rental, 37.5% were completely unsheltered, 25.0% living in a shelter or transitional housing, and 25% staying with family or friends

After hearing this report in my committee, we worked to develop a resolution to plan out next steps to work on eviction reform.  We then, last Tuesday in my CRUEDA committee, reviewed the draft resolution that outlines both what the Council has done to date to respond to the report recommendations as well as next steps to take action over the next year.

COUNCIL ACTIONS ALREADY TAKEN:

  1. Recommendations “Prevent Evictions from Substandard Properties,” and “Create a Legal Path for Tenants to Enforce their Rights in Court:”Statement of Legislative Intent 33-5-A-2 seeks efforts to design a proceeding to resolve issues when a tenant receiving a notice of eviction lives in a unit with habitability issues.
  2. Recommendation “Increase Coordinated Funds for Legal Defense and Tenant Outreach Funds:”Green Sheet 33-4-A-2, and Green Sheet 33-6-C-1 funds services and outreach with low income renters, communities of color, LGBTQ renters, those with limited English proficiency, and immigrant and refugee communities as well as funding for legal services to tenants facing eviction.
  3. Recommendations Centralize the Process for Obtaining Assistance in One Place,” and “Expand Courthouse-Based Resources:”Statement of Legislative Intent 15-9-A-1 requests a re-design of eviction prevention programs, including a “one-stop shop” for eviction services and an assessment whether they should be in the courthouse
  4. Recommendation “Increase Subsidies to Tenants At Risk of Eviction:” Green Sheet 15-7-B-1 provides additional financial assistance to prevent evictions and utility shut- offs, and assist with move-in deposits; and
  5. Recommendation “Build More Housing for Low- and No- Income Residents, Especially Families:”Statement of Legislative Intent 1-3-A-2,on feasibility of issuing bonds for affordable housing
  6. Recommendations “Provide Courts with More Flexibility When Determining if an Eviction Is Warranted,” “Increase Time Period to Cure Nonpayment of Rent “and “Strengthen the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance:”Council includes specific language in State agenda to support state changes to amend RCW 59.18 to allow eviction reform.

RESOLUTION’S NEXT STEPS:

The resolution states that the City Council will explore strategies to address the problems described in Losing Home, with the following being our near term priorities to address with new eviction prevention laws these issues:

  1. Financial hardship for tenants experiencing domestic violence held liable for damages caused by the perpetrator.
  2. Lack of flexibility to avoid eviction when faced with emergencies
  3. High default rates for evictions arising from not understanding the eviction process, mutual termination agreements, or resources available.
  4. Additional burden to hardship in paying rent from late fees, court costs, and attorney’s fees.
  5. Landlords have discretion to reject roommates regardless of whether the rejection is reasonable, yet tenants often need to live with a roommate to afford rent.
  6. Though a landlord is required to make a reasonable effort to re-rent units when tenants break the lease, termination fees are often high even when the market indicates re-renting a unit is not difficult and
  7. Courts generally do not exercise judicial discretion to prevent evictions, even if a tenant has all of the money owed at the time of the hearing or has good cause to be late on the payment of rent.

We’ll be discussing and possibly voting on this resolution in my CRUEDA committee next Friday, January 25th, at 10am.

 

Alaskan Way Viaduct Closure Resources, February 2 Public Events

In case you’re looking for resources during the closure of SR99 over the next few weeks, here are a few from the Seattle Traffic website:

Community Involvement Commission Seeking District 1 Member

The Community Involvement Commission has a vacancy for the designated District 1 position.

The Community Involvement Commission advises the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and other City departments on coordinated, citywide outreach and engagement activities.

The Commission is composed of 16 members – seven appointed by City Council and seven appointed by the Mayor, with one of the mayoral positions filled by a young adult through the Get Engaged program. The final two commissioners are selected by the CIC members.

The Department of Neighborhoods is collecting applications; if you’re interested, please complete the online application by Monday, February 4 by 5 p.m. If you cannot submit the application online, contact Danielle Friedman at (206) 256-5973, and an application will be mailed to you.

To learn more about the Community Involvement Commission, visit the website or call Danielle Friedman at (206) 256-5973.

The District 1 position is Council-appointed, so I’ll be reviewing the applications and working with the Department of Neighborhoods on the nomination.

District 1 Needs Planning Commission Representation

The Planning Commission advises the Mayor, City Council, and City departments on citywide planning goals, policies, and plans and provides them with independent and objective advice on land use, zoning, transportation, and housing issues.

Earlier this week I received a notice that the Seattle Planning Commission had openings soon and was seeking applications for new members. I asked commission staff for the roster, to see if there were any members form District 1. There aren’t any, so here’s a link to additional information about the commission, time commitments, and skills they are seeking. All appointments must be approved by the City Council. It’d be great to have a representative from West Seattle or South Park.

To apply, please send a letter of interest and resume by post or e-mail by February 15, 2019 to:

Vanessa Murdock, Executive Director @ Vanessa.Murdock@seattle.gov or by postal mail to Seattle Planning Commission, PO Box 94788.

MLK Opportunity Fair

On MLK Day on Monday, January 21, the Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition will be hosting the 4th Annual MLK Opportunity Fair. The event is designed to promote economic and employment opportunities. It’s at Garfield High School in the Central District, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

The event includes a Resume Room where career and employment coaches will be available to review and build resumes, and give advice about interview questions, salary negotiations, and training resources.

50 companies and organizations will be there accepting applications; here’s a link to the schedule and participating companies and organizations.

You can register at the Eventbrite page.

In-District Office Hours

On January 25, I will be at the Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon St) from 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.  The final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, February 22, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, March 29, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, April 26, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, May 31, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, June 28, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, July 26, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, August 16, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, September 27, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, October 25, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, November 29, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, December 20, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St

 

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