Putting the "L" in HALA [Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda]

Putting the "L" in HALA [Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda]


We are huge supporters of Affordable Housing…But HALA is not just about Affordability; it’s about Livability, too. A precedent for granting height departures in lieu of extra girth in the Downtown/SLU rezones is good, but it does not solve existing livability problems, especially in DOC2, caused by inadequate tower spacing and alley loading/unloading and circulation issues.

Visualize alleys totally gridlocked, residents living in the dark with their health at risk having to keep their lights on all the time, wasting energy and increasing utility costs.

A reasonable solution is to couple the allowable height departure under HALA with a height departure in Design Review for DOC2 in exchange for tower spacing and alley setbacks.

The result would be livability, health, and safety protection for downtown residents, no reduction in development capacity, and maintains the expected funding for affordable housing. A win...win...win solution!

We strongly disagree with the claim that there are not enough potentially affected parcels (parking lots/obvious teardowns, etc.)  in DOC2 to warrant including our amendment in the Downtown/SLU HALA ordinance.

Matt Roewe's modeling at VIA Architecture showed 5 or 6 parcels; Dennis Meier at SDCI found 9; our DRA/Escala "boots on the ground study"  found 12. So, picking the middle of that range, for example, even if we were to accept (and we don’t) that there are only nine re-developable parcels in the affected zones, this would still potentially produce 5.5 million square feet of new mixed use/residential development, or the equivalent of as many as 3,600 new residential units, thus affecting at least 10,000 persons lives in total. Is this not enough to be “concerned" about the growing problem created by the city’s flawed land use code and review process?

Often, the city passes code amendments to satisfy just one or two developers’ speculative goals. If nine parcels are not enough for the city to take the downtown residents issue more seriously, then what is enough?

Quite frankly, one parcel is too many when the physical and emotional health of individuals is affected by the lack of air, light and privacy. Who knows if something that is not considered a teardown today might be in a few years? Look at Escala and the properties right across its alley in the early 2000s, when the City failed to take action there because “nothing was likely to happen residentially” …and now look at it.

Amendments to the HALA legislation for Downtown/SLU will be under consideration at the PLUZ [Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee meeting in City Council Chambers next Tuesday, March 21, at 9:30 AM. 

Please let Mayor Murray and City Council know of your displeasure with this lack of concern about people and adverse impacts to their lives, and ask them to include our companion livability legislation in this bill.