Seattle Councilmembers vote ‘no’ on land use exception, eye comprehensive opportunities to address affordable housing

The Seattle City Council voted no on Council Bill 120750 during Full Council today. This vote is consistent with the Land Use Committee vote on April 17.

“A more effective approach to attaining citywide neighborhood affordability is to make the benefit of development capacity generally available to all and to do so through the draft Comprehensive Plan under consideration. For this reason, I am voting no. I look forward to working on expanding the benefit of affordable development capacity to all in the city through the vehicle of the Comprehensive Plan,” said Councilmember Cathy Moore (District 5), Chair of the Housing and Human Services Committee.

“We have seen the unintended consequences of legislation not strategically aligned with broader city policy.  Instead of creating a piecemeal pilot project, our focus should be on the comprehensive 20-year plan, which will allow us to tailor land use and zoning laws that will meet the city’s critical housing needs,” said Councilmember Maritza Rivera (District 4).

“We need to pursue big, bold ideas to address our housing, gentrification, and displacement crisis. This program wouldn’t do that. It would have been limited to certain parts of the city and only involve a small number of groups. As an affordable housing provider myself, we need to deliberate, analyze, and ensure our actions truly serve the needs of all our residents. I look forward to working to address these issues holistically through our upcoming Comprehensive Plan process,” said Councilmember Tanya Woo (Position 8).

Increasing the city’s capacity for affordable housing is a top priority for this Council. Over the course of the next two years, the Housing and Human Services Committee will be leading Council review of both Mandatory Housing Affordable (MHA) and Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) to ensure both tools achieve the most affordable housing units possible.

The City Council, today, passed an extension for properties participating in MFTE that would otherwise expire at the end of the year. The Housing and Human Services Committee will be the vehicle for forthcoming MFTE Reauthorization legislation which will be an opportunity for the city to make necessary adjustments to MFTE policies.

The committee is going to be reviewing the Administrative and Financial Plan and the Housing Policies, in the coming months, for the implementation of the 2023 Housing Levy.

Finally, the Council will have the opportunity to work together to ensure that affordable housing is prioritized in the adopted Comprehensive Plan, including the application of MHA in neighborhood zones.

The Committee welcomes additional actions focused on property ownership and building generational wealth.