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Seattle Gives Final Approval to 27 Upzones

An historic moment for planning in Seattle: Density bonuses for affordable housing are now allowed all over the city as Seattle implements a big piece of its long-percolating Mandatory Housing Affordability plan.
March 19, 2019, 8am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"Taller buildings in the hearts of more than two dozen neighborhoods, denser housing on some nearby blocks and requirements that developers help create affordable housing," writes Daniel Beekman.

Those will be the intended results of "some of the most sweeping zoning changes in the city’s recent history," after the Seattle City Council voted unanimous support for 27 upzoning proposals as part of the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) plan.

"The council’s vote will allow denser construction in and around 27 neighborhood hubs while requiring developers in those areas to contribute to affordable housing by including low-income apartments in their buildings or by paying fees," explains Beekman. Other parts of the city already zoned for multi-family and dense commercial development will also be allowed new building heights. In total, about 6 percent of the city is now allowed to build at higher capacity than previously.

Beekman provides additional background on the history of the MHA initiative as well as the heated political debate that preceded the vote.

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Published on Monday, March 18, 2019 in The Seattle Times
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