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Broad coalition calls on City of Seattle to increase housing options in Comprehensive Plan study.

Coalition of Seattle orgs calling for increase in housing options

An unprecedented coalition has locked arms in calling to increase housing capacity in Seattle by broadening the options studied in the One Seattle Comprehensive Plan. To truly tackle our housing affordability crisis and related crises around climate, equity, and small business vitality, the City of Seattle must think big as it approaches housing and land use decisions in this city. 

The pro-housing coalition spans the political spectrum, bringing together labor, business, environmentalists, nonprofit builders, urbanists, safe streets advocates, and social justice organizations. Twenty-two organizations including the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Housing Development Consortium, Futurewise, Real Change, and Puget Sound Sage joined in signing a letter urging the City to study options providing greater housing capacity and asking them to translate that study into policy that expands housing choices for all. The MLK Labor Council sent a letter affirming the same housing abundance principles.

These comments were echoed in the City’s public outreach process for the plan. Robust community engagement, both online and in-person, has demonstrated overwhelming public support for housing abundance, including plans that go beyond the Combined Alternative 5.

Restrictive zoning and land use is contributing to high housing prices and displacement in Seattle. Adding capacity can also create more incentives for affordability and equitable development and opportunities to age in place. We cannot miss out on the once-a-decade chance presented by the Major Update to the Comprehensive Plan, or yet another generation of Seattleites will be priced out of this city. Simply put, Seattle is a better place, a stronger community, and a more just and vibrant economy when there’s sufficient housing for all.

Several Washington State lawmakers have referred to 2023 as the “year of housing” as they debate dozens of bills grappling with the statewide housing crisis. The City of Seattle must lead on this issue too and make this a year of housing action locally. Solving the housing crisis requires teamwork and shared commitment. Seattle has an opportunity to offer a model for other communities, showing solutions that reflect the scale needed to bring the crisis to an end.

Shemona Moreno, 350 Seattle Executive Director: “Climate justice demands a much bolder One Seattle Plan.  We need a One Seattle Plan that allows multi-family, affordable, I-135 and Green New Deal housing to be built in all Seattle neighborhoods.  A bolder One Seattle Plan can reduce climate pollution from cars by creating true 15-minute neighborhoods throughout the city, welcome climate migrants, curb displacement and the ever-increasing climate pollution from suburban sprawl, and help preserve every possible acre of farm and forest land to supply food and absorb carbon.  350 Seattle urges OPCD to follow the recommendations in our coalition letter as well as those from MLK Labor, to ensure that scoping for the One Seattle Plan Environmental Impact statement studies options that allow more, and more affordable, housing in all our neighborhoods.”

Alex Brennan, Futurewise Executive Director: “It is great to see such a broad range of partners coming together to advocate with one voice on scoping for the One Seattle Plan. Our city needs a new growth strategy that creates abundant housing, increases affordability and equitable development, and confronts our climate crisis by giving everyone access to walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods. Our shared comment letter shows a path to do that within the city’s EIS scoping framework.”

Tiffani McCoy, Real Change Advocacy Director: “The next comprehensive plan can’t nibble around the edges, and change a few pieces here and there. We need a wholesale transformation of our city. For years now, we have been in a housing crisis, one which has cascaded and grown each year we’ve failed to take action.  As long as we continue on the path our city is currently on, we will never achieve the goal of housing all of our neighbors affordably. We are proud that this coalition supports density bonuses for social housing and current affordable housing models. We are proud of the concrete steps on climate action. The dream of a 15 minute Seattle for all is achievable, where all can afford to live and thrive, but only if we are willing to enact a bold vision.”

Rachel Smith, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce President & CEO: “Healthy communities need healthy housing markets, and we need both for a healthy economy. We can’t rely on half measures, and we know voters support solutions. Our recent Index poll of 700 Seattle voters showed 67% support the building of new housing in their neighborhoods and 79% support policies that make it easier to build new housing in transit and commercial areas. With support this strong, it’s time for action.  The One Seattle Plan is a window of opportunity to make important policy changes that set the stage for more housing options so that more people, across life stages and income levels, can afford to live in Seattle.”

Patience Malaba, Executive Director of the Housing Development Consortium: “A safe, affordable home is the foundation for individual health and thriving communities. Seattle needs more homes of all types, especially affordable homes. Affordable housing is restricted by the same zoning regulations as market-rate housing, and large parts of Seattle are effectively off-limits to affordable housing. This has created and exacerbated racial and economic inequities in our city, as growth is channeled into a small number of urban villages and along arterials, and limited in high-opportunity neighborhoods with low-displacement risk. The One Seattle Plan is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to change our city’s framework for growth—to allow abundant and affordable homes throughout all of Seattle, and truly become the welcoming, equitable city we aspire to be.”

Katie Garrow, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the MLK Labor Council: “Seattle is a city built by the hands and minds of union workers, but most of us have been priced out of the place where we work. I am a recently married millennial and my spouse and I both have good union jobs in Seattle – but despite that, buying a home in the City was not an option for us due to cost. I want to see more density and affordability in the City of Seattle for the workers who serve our city, so that families like ours can enjoy the fruits of our labor – like Seattle’s amazing parks, diverse arts and culture and high quality public transportation.”

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