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Seattle Getting Shortchanged by Incentive Zoning Program
Seattle's Incentive Zoning program, designed to allow developers to contribute to an affordable housing fund or to provide affordable units in their projects in return for additional residential floor area, has been faulted for letting some developers skate by without putting in their full contribution. Doug Trumm of The Urbanist writes that the city auditor has found an additional $3.4 million owed to the city's affordable housing fund as part of the program.
The audit suggests City departments have inaccurate accountings of projects that have made, or were required to make, affordable housing contributions. “Furthermore, developers for at least ten projects failed to pay for or finalize performance agreements to provide affordable housing units at earlier stages of the permitting process,” the press release stated.
A work plan developed by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections and the Office of Housing is recommending some changes to the process of collecting and monitoring funds, including developing a clear process and review guidelines for applicants and an increased reporting requirement, with new metrics that are reviewable by the public.