SEATTLE – Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6 – Northwest Seattle), Chair of the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee, and Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5 – North Seattle) unveiled a proposal on Wednesday that would preserve mobile home parks in Seattle and save this affordable housing option for our seniors.
In 2019, the City Council heard from residents of Halcyon Mobile Home Park who were concerned that development pressures could displace this community of low-income seniors. In response, the City Council adopted an emergency moratorium on the redevelopment of mobile home parks. The legislation also called on City departments to develop long-term regulations by late 2019.
Since 2019, the City Council has extended the moratorium three times while awaiting a proposal for long-term regulations. The current moratorium will expire on July 10th. The legislation announced Wednesday by Councilmembers Juarez and Strauss would implement long-term regulations and replace the current moratorium.
The legislation would establish a new mobile home park overlay district to preserve the last two mobile home parks left in Seattle. The overlay district would impose new development standards, including:
- Limit residential uses to mobile homes and mobile home parks;
- Establish height and setback limitations consistent with the current mobile home parks;
- Require the provision of residential amenity areas, such as outdoor or indoor recreational areas, when 25% or more of a site is redeveloped;
- Establish minimum and maximum residential densities of at least 1 unit per 5,000 square feet and no more than 1 unit per 2,400 square feet; and,
- Allow some commercial uses but limit the size of those uses to a maximum floor area ratio (FAR) of 2 and a maximum size of 5,000 square feet.
This new overlay would expire after thirty years, allowing for the long-term preservation of these homes and creating predictability for future residents. Additionally, the legislation adds this area to the Office of Housing’s affirmative marketing and community preference policy, which provides opportunities for displaced residents to return to affordable housing in the neighborhood.
There are currently only two mobile home parks left in Seattle: the Halcyon and the Bella Bee, located next to each other in the Haller Lake neighborhood. The loss of these mobile home parks could mean the permanent end of a long-time affordable housing option in our community.
“This legislation aims to protect basic human dignity”, says Councilmember Debora Juarez. “Without Council action, potentially 80 seniors could be displaced, many of whom are recovering from an illness or living with a disability. Tumwater, Bothell and Kenmore, among other jurisdictions, have all passed similar protections because it’s clear cities have a vested interest in preserving mobile home parks as some of the last affordable housing available. We must act when there is an opportunity to keep our seniors housed because everyone should have access to a safe, healthy, and affordable home.”
“When I was growing up, you could get a job at the Sunset Bowl in Ballard and afford to buy a house and spend the rest of your life in Seattle,” Strauss said. “Today, it is increasingly hard for middle-class families to afford to live here. There are only two mobile home parks left in Seattle, and they provide rare affordable housing for seniors in a vibrant, close-knit community. If we want Seattle to remain a city that all ages and incomes can call home, it is important that we preserve these mobile home parks.”
Strauss continued: “My grandmother lived in a 55+ mobile home park and it allowed her to age in place in a community she knew. These communities allow people to purchase affordable homes, even if they don’t own the land under them and this legislation ensures land won’t be sold out from underneath our seniors. I am glad to be working with Councilmember Juarez to finally bring a long-term solution after many years of discussion.”
The Halcyon MHPark Home Owners’ Association Board of Directors released the following statement in response to the legislation:
“The proposed Land Use Overlay regarding the property on which the last two Mobile Home Parks in Seattle sit is welcomed with great enthusiasm by the Home Owners Association of Halcyon Manufactured Housing Community. We have been working on this for 2 ½ years, amidst so many crises that our City government has faced, especially the past year and a half. We want to thankCouncilmembers Juarez and Strauss …who have helped shepherd this much-needed protection of this affordable housing for Seattle’s Seniors and working families. Bringing a little bit more balance between the rights and needs of lower income homeowners and the rights and needs of land owner-investors is a BIG step forward in protecting existing housing and the people who live here.”
The Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee received an initial briefing on the proposal on Wednesday morning. The Committee will hold a public hearing and possible vote on Wednesday, May 26th at 9:30am. The Full City Council is expected to consider the legislation on Tuesday, June 1st.