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Judge Upholds Seattle's Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, Clears the Way for Upzoning

Since a city judge determined the legality of the long controversial Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, Seattle has been able to move forward with the plan to allow new density around the city.
December 6, 2018, 10am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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The political saga of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) plan continues in Seattle, where the City Council is expected to approve in March 2019.

The headlines of a series of recent articles in the Seattle Times by Danny Westneat and Daniel Beekman focus on the upzoning included in the HALA plan. Westneat describes the plan thusly: a "sweeping plan to upzone 27 Seattle neighborhoods to create taller, denser housing."

Here, Beekman describes the HALA: "The plan would upzone parts of 27 neighborhoods and a number of commercial corridors but would affect only 6 percent of lots now zoned for single-family houses. It would allow developers with projects in those areas to build one or several stories higher while requiring them to include or pay for some low-income apartments."

Westneat writes to dig into the political complications of upzoning in much more detail. And as a Seattle Times columnist, Westneat also offers a take on those political complications: i.e., expect complications. "The obvious peril with making a deal without public input, and also calling it 'grand,' is that there’s not much daylight for the plebeians to come along and have meaningful input into how it’s carried out," writes Westneat.

Meanwhile, Beekman has been covering the resolution and way forward from a recent legal challenge to the HALA plan's environmental review.

In an article dated November 21, Beekman reported that "Seattle’s environmental review of a plan to allow larger buildings and impose affordable-housing requirements in the urban cores of more than two dozen neighborhoods was almost entirely adequate," according to the ruling of the city’s administrative-law judge.

Then, in an article dated December 3, Beekman reports on the proceedings of the first meeting of the City Council on the subject of the plan since the judge's decision, when the council laid out a timeline for remaining work on the project. First to complete is some "additional analysis only on how the upzones plan would impact historic sites," which is expected to wrap up in January. Then, "[c]ouncil members would propose and discuss changes to the plan in January and February, and the council would hold a public hearing in late February," according to Beekman.

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Published on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 in The Seattle Times
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