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HALA & Seattle 2035

City Council Voted Aug. 2, 930 AM on Mandatory Housing Framework Policy Amendment

Fremont Neighborhood Council has not taken an official FNC position on HALA or Seattle 2035, but FNC does want all residents in Fremont to be aware of what is happening on that front.

UPDATE ON STORY BELOW–here is a link to the PLUZ Committee action. In brief, “The Council’s Planning, Land Use & Zoning committee unanimously (5-0) approved framework legislation today that would require that residential developers provide for affordable housing by either including it in their development or paying into a fund used to support the development of affordable housing in Seattle. The requirement will apply after Council adopts future zoning changes, scheduled for Council consideration at the end of 2016/early 2017.”

Now, a City Council vote coming up Aug. 2 is receiving a lot of attention. See this press release today, for example:

“Press Release * August 1, 2016  …Housing advocates from across the city send letter strongly urging Seattle City Council to approve Councilmember Herbolds Anti-Displacement Amendments to Mayor’s Grand Bargain! – Vote tomorrow 930AM Seattle City Council Chambers 5th and Cherry Downtown

“Affordable housing advocates say Herbold’s amendments are needed to prevent gentrification of Seattle and displacement of thousands of low income people, and people of color from their communities as a direct result of “Grand Bargain” upzoning. For more information contact David Bloom (206-941-8062), or any of letter’s signatories

“This afternoon, leaders and former leaders of housing and homeless organizations from across the city forwarded a letter giving their strong support to Councilmember Herbold’s amendment to the HALA “Grand Bargain’s” mandatory housing framework policies to ensure that developers replace housing they’ll remove as a direct result of upzones accompanying the Mayor’s Grand Bargain.  A vote will be taken in the City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning (PLUZ) Committee tomorrow morning (930AM) in the Seattle City Council Chambers.

“Their full text of the letter can be found on the Displacement Coalitions “” website.  Among the letters 19 signatories, they include current and former Directors of the Tenants Union Liz Etta and Jon Grant respectively, director Real Change Tim Harris, Church Council Director Michael Ramos and former Director Alice Woldt, Yusuf Abdi former SHA boardmember, Bill Kirlin-Hackett Director of the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, John V. Fox Seattle Displacement Coalition, and former Director of Seattle’s Dept of Community Development Darel Grothaus.

“While calling on City Councilmembers to support Herbold’s amendments, the letter highlights current record levels of new construction and record levels of displacement accompanying that growth due to demolition, speculative sale and rent increases and responds to developers alleging displacement is a myth.  Housing Advocates warn that without Herbold’s amendments, ‘we’ll continue to lose many more low cost units than we ever can build with our subsidy programs even factoring in passage of a new housing levy and imposition of the modest HALA mandatory housing requirement now being considered.  Homelessness and our housing shortage will only continue to spiral upward.’

“The full text of letter and all signatories can be found here:

~ End of Press Release ~


One Response to “City Council Voted Aug. 2, 930 AM on Mandatory Housing Framework Policy Amendment”

  1. August 1, 2016

    To: Seattle City Council
    PLUZ Committee

    Re: CB 118736, “to establish the framework for mandatory housing affordability for residential development”

    Dear Members of the Seattle City Council:

    Council Bill 118736 proposes adopting significant changes to Seattle’s Land Use Code implementing the so-called “Grand Bargain” of July 13, 2015.

    The “Grand Bargain” memorandum—“Statement of Intent for Basic Framework for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Commercial Linkage Fee”—is sometimes characterized as a binding contract, which it is not. The mayor and city council member who executed the memorandum had (and have) no authority to bind you as Seattle’s legislative body to the terms spelled out in the memorandum. Promises were made, including forbearance of related litigation by some of the most powerful large developers in town (their counsel is a signer!). However, certainly anyone who is not a signer is not legally bound by the memorandum either; other developers can sue regardless.

    The Grand Bargain was executed in the context of a process known as the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). As has been well known and criticized from its inception, the members of the HALA committee consisted largely of representatives from the housing development community, with little representation from low income, renter, and neighborhood interests, minority and immigrant communities, or environmentalists. Moreover, arguably none of the eight signers of the Grand Bargain has advocated effectively for these interests. It is incumbent on you (the first council with seven members elected by district, after the Grand Bargain was negotiated and signed) to thoroughly review the content and justification for the adoption of the proposed action, despite the heavy pressure not to make any changes from the Executive and large developers.

    The HALA process is being pursued separately from a major overhaul of the City’s Comprehensive Plan (Seattle 2035). Unfortunately, there has been little coordination or joint consideration of the overlapping impacts of these closely related processes.

    The Executive created a HALA focus group process, ostensibly to provide a forum for input to the City regarding the HALA recommendations, with a focus on the “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing” (now “MHA”) proposal. As a member of the focus group supposedly “representing” the Fremont neighborhood, I was astonished that the process has not included consideration of how the MHA will produce the goal of 6,000 net new affordable housing units over ten years. I and others have repeatedly asked for this information, both in the focus group and in separate meetings and written requests to City officials.

    Proposed amendments to CB 118736 (July 16 memo by Ketil Freeman) are intended to address the absence of this supporting data and analysis, but cannot do so effectively. Instead, this is exactly the type of information that the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) is designed to elicit from the City before it takes significant action.

    Unsurprisingly, the City on July 28th “determined the MHA proposal is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment.” Thus, “[a]n environmental impact statement (EIS) is required under RCW 43.21C.030 (2)(c) and will be prepared.”

    It is foundational SEPA law that no action shall be taken prior to completion of the EIS process once a DS has been issued. Therefore, I request that you not vote on CB 118736 until the EIS process has been completed. Furthermore, it would be appropriate for the Council to direct the Executive to work with you to combine consideration of the HALA-driven MHA with your pending review of the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan update.

    If you do choose to move forward on CB 118736 at this time, at a minimum all of the amendments proposed by Councilmembers O’Brien, Herbold, and Johnson are necessary to reduce—or at least try to get a handle on—the still unquantified adverse impacts that will be caused by precipitate action on such an important city wide land use policy.

    Thank you for your consideration and the opportunity to comment on this very important proposal that will affect how development proceeds in Seattle, and how its impacts will be mitigated (if they can be mitigated at all), for years to come.


    Toby Thaler

    Cc: Mayor Ed Murray
    City Attorney Peter Holmes

    Posted by Toby Thaler | August 1, 2016, 11:07 pm

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