Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Monday, August 1, 2016

As Seattle goes

The "U" Word  


Just like Portland, Seattle looks to its single-family neighborhoods to pick up the burden of the city's housing needs.  This movement is nation-wide: it is called "The Missing Middle."  The planning movement seeks to interject multifamily housing into single-family neighborhoods with duplexes, tri-plexes, row houses, cluster developments and other low and medium-density housing types.

Neighborhoods are fighting back, as part of the city's planning process.  He claims the groups are mainly made up of older, white homeowners, and not inclusive enough, even though the groups are open to everyone.  This constituency also happens to be the main opposition to upzoning in low-density residential areas.  Ridding the city of this planning obstruction will open the process to more multifamily development without the bother of organized citizen backlash.  The City Council will make a decision on upzoning soon.
dump neighborhood associations and in a stunning move this summer, Seattle Mayor Murray announced his plan to

When when faced with criticisms of increased density, Lake Oswego planners and some politicians respond proudly that they haven't upzoned SFR neighborhoods.  Is there a "yet" implied at the end of the thought?  Otherwise, why bring it up?  Even though LO has plenty of capacity for housing density along major corridors in the city, I feel in my bones there is another shoe about to fall within our neighborhoods - just a bit for now.  I hope I'm wrong.

Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016 (Excerpts)
Cities Struggle to Add Upscale Housing While Maintaining Diversity
Packing new development into existing neighborhoods vexes locals

Cities from Seat­tle to Chicago to Wash­ing­ton and
New York are strug­gling to crack the ul­ti­mate uraban code: How to squeeze in ever more well-off peo­ple with­out dri­ving out the less af­flu­ent?

As ur­ban pop­u­la­tions near a new apex, city plan­ners are rais­ing the ire of many lo­cals with pro­posals to al­low de­vel­op­ers to pack more hous­ing into ex­ist­ing neigh­bor­hoods, a process called up­zon­ing, if they pay up to pro­tect or add op­tions for lower-in­come res­i­dents.

The push to add density with­out sac­ri­fic­ing di­ver­sity comes as an in­flux of pro­fes­sion­als are dri­ving up prices and rents in many cities, a force ex­pected to in­ten­sify in com­ing years. The is­sue has become more se­vere as large num­bers of mil­len­nials, push­ing off mar­riage and chil­dren, es­chew subur­ban liv­ing for amenity-rich ur­ban ar­eas.

The prob­lem has been par­tic­u­larly acute in Seat­tle, which is gear­ing up to ab­sorb at least 6,000 new res­i­dents a year for the next 20 years. The av­er­age rent for a one-bed­room apart­ment has shot up 29% in the last five years, ac­cord­ing to the city.

In re­sponse, Mayor Ed Mur­ray in late 2014 cre­ated a com­mit­tee made up of for-profit de­vel­op­ers, afford­able-hous­ing ad­vocates and neigh­bor­hood ac­tivists. The group proposed a “grand bar­gain” that would al­low de­vel­opers to build more densely in ex­change for af­ford­able hous­ing.

The mayor ini­tially sup­ported a plan to open the nearly two-thirds of the city’s neigh­bor­hoods zoned ex­clu­sively for sin­gle-fam­ily homes, many of which are out­side the city cen­ter, to ac­com­modate a wider range of hous­ing op­tions, like flats, du­plexes and triplexes.

But stiff op­po­si­tion from res­i­dents forced the mayor to fo­cus on up­zoning pro­pos­als in the city center. New com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ments and mul­ti-fam­ily res­i­den­tial projects can ex­ceed cur­rent zoning restric­tions on how big and tall they can be if de­vel­opers set aside a por­tion for af­ford­able hous­ing or pay the city to build af­ford­able units off site.

Seat­tle’s City Coun­cil has ap­proved com­mer­cial up­zon­ing and is ex­pected to vote on a frame­work for sim­i­lar moves in res­i­dential ar­eas later this summer.

But find­ing the right mix of growth and af­ford-abil­ity has pre­sented chal­lenges, with de­bates around up­zon­ing turn­ing in­tensely po­lit­i­cal and pit­ting de­vel­op­ers, neigh-bor­hood ac­tivists and af­ford­able-hous­ing ad­vo-cates against one an­other.

“What­ever you do with re­zon­ing you are in­vari­ably step­ping on some­body’s foot, or block­ing their light or tak­ing their air,” said Ben­jamin Dulchin, ex­ec­utive di­rec­tor of the As­so­ci­ation of Neighborhood Hous­ing and De­vel­op­ment, an af­ford­able-hous­ing ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion in New York City.

“A lot of the strug­gle in New York City was, ‘af­fordble for whom?’” Mr. Dulchin said. “Is it technically af­ford­able or is this af­ford­able for me?”

No comments:

Post a Comment