SEATTLE – Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6 – Northwest Seattle), Chair of the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee, and Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5 – North Seattle) celebrated the City Council’s 8-0 passage of their legislation to protect 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 four times while awaiting a proposal for long-term regulations. The most recent six-month extension was passed last Monday, December 6th to allow time for these long-term protections to be implemented. The moratorium is set to expire once the long-term protections take effect in mid-January.
The legislation establishes 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, mobile home parks, and low-income housing on sites owned by a government, non-profit, or religious organization;
· 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 further incentivizing the property owners to maintain the mobile home park as is;
· Establish height and setback limitations consistent with current mobile home park residential uses.
Under the terms of the overlay, the property could be sold to a government agency, non-profit, or religious organization for the sole purpose of constructing affordable housing. If a property is developed into affordable housing, the current mobile home park residents would be entitled to a right of first offer, relocation assistance, and affordable rents of a third of their monthly income, not to exceed 30 percent of 40 percent of area median income (AMI). New residents moving into the affordable housing would be income-restricted to 60% of AMI for rental units, and 80% of AMI for homeownership units. 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.
This new overlay expires after thirty years on January 1, 2051, allowing for the long-term preservation of these homes and creating predictability for future residents. There are currently only two mobile home parks left in Seattle: the Halcyon and the Bella-B, located next to each other in the Haller Lake neighborhood. With today’s vote, Council takes decisive action to protect some of the last naturally occurring affordable housing left in our city.
“Today’s action to protect the affordability of the city’s last two mobile home parks honors the dignity of the residents – former teachers, nurses, and military members,” says Councilmember Debora Juarez. “This action will help them to age in place, optimistic that they continue to enjoy their golden years under a roof that they own, surrounded by a community they love.”
“Today, it is increasingly hard for middle-class families to afford to live here,” said Councilmember Strauss. “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 grandparents lived in a 55+ mobile home park and it allowed them to age in place in a community they knew. These communities allow people to purchase affordable homes, even if they don’t own the land under them – 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 MH Park Home Owners’ Association Board of Directors released the following statement in response to the legislation:
“The Home Owners Association of Halcyon Manufactured Housing Community welcomes the approval of CB 120206 and appreciates working with Councilmembers Strauss and Juarez to accomplish this protection of our affordable housing for seniors and working families. More challenges face us regarding rent increases and accountability of management to homeowner residents, and we are glad to have the support of City Council in our efforts to secure our homes for the near future.”
The Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee received a briefing on the legislation on Friday, December 3rd. The Committee held a public hearing and recommended passage unanimously on Wednesday, December 8th. The legislation now goes to Mayor Durkan’s desk for her signature.