Deja Vu 2006!

When Seattle was going through its last comprehensive downtown zoning study in 2005-2006, several world renown urban planners, Larry Beasley and Ray Spaxman, were hired by the Seattle City Council to evaluate the mayor's proposed zoning changes. It was not even a serious consideration to propose raising allowable height to 400' unless you also provided 60'-80' tower spacing; and so they did it because the DMC zone of Belltown was going to be mostly residential.

Similar residential development standards were also proposed in Downtown zones such as DOC2, but they failed to pass City Council because opponents said that we should "wait and see" if residential development actual comes to Downtown.

The most recent re-zoning in Seattle took place in 2013 when the City Council passed residential development standards for SM South Lake Union that included a max of one or two towers per block and 60% maximum lot coverage. These standards effectively created reasonable tower spacing for all new residential construction.

Now, in 2016, residential development has come to Downtown in a big way, yet the current mayor is proposing to allow fatter downtown residential towers towers in zones where there are absolutely no tower spacing requirements (or other reasonable development standards) as the way to fund his affordable housing agenda.

We really want to support HALA as enthusiastically as we do the Housing Levy, but using the extra 1000 sq. ft./floor of development capacity in new residential towers as the vehicle for achieving HALA’a funding goals is a “sticky” point for many of us downtown residents; because we see it as further eroding light, air, and privacy, essential elements of Livability.  But there is a solution that would work for everyone…and put the “L” in HALA.

Just using the residential development standards of SM South Lake Union (60% max lot coverage and some alley set back requirements) or DMC Belltown and South Lake Union (80’ tower separation and 10,700 max floor size) and combining that with more allowable height (instead of more girth) would result in a fair, just, and complete HALA solution—dollars for Affordability and Livability for downtown residents.

And we could say that we learned from and corrected the mistakes made in 2006.