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Revisiting Single-Family Zoning After a Political Setback
Owen Pickford picks up a debate from 2015 over single-family zoning in Seattle. Planetizen readers will recall that the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) Advisory Committee created by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray created national planning news when it briefly considered fairly progressive changes to the city's single-family zoning.
Pickford details how that news played out in Seattle:
This particular proposal was leaked to Danny Westneat at The Seattle Times who broke a story titled “Get Rid Of Single Family Zoning? These Discussion Should Be Secret.” Despite the modest changes, you could almost feel the wet froth from the outraged backlash. Many self-described YIMBYs and urbanists pinned the blame on NIMBYs. The Urbanist at the time criticized Westneat’s framing but also called on electeds to bring this debate to the public and develop a real plan. We’re still waiting for that plan.
Accepting the idea that making changes to single-family zoning is an important and necessary step for the city, Pickford reexamines the issues in the hopes of moving the city toward another discussion about single-family zoning reform. To do so, Pickford takes the 2015 controversy as a teachable moment in formulating and detailing three recommendations: 1) Make Single Family Zoning A Top Priority, 2) Focus On Politicians, Not NIMBYs, and 3) Support Policies That Can Build A Winning Coalition.