NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Mayor Ed Murray signed legislation last week that will require new development in the Chinatown-International District (C-ID) to contribute to affordable housing, producing at least 150 new affordable homes over the next decade.
The zoning change will implement the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA)’s Mandatory Housing Affordably (MHA) requirements.
“Growth has brought thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in investments to Seattle,” said Murray. “But while we are the envy of many cities, we need to ensure this growth doesn’t push out the very communities that define our character. The Chinatown-International District is one of these defining communities … we are requiring developers to build or fund affordable housing for the first time, and helping to keep our neighborhoods places where anyone can live.”
Seattle’s MHA program requires multi-family residential and commercial development to either include a set percentage of rent-restricted homes for low-income families or make a payment to the Office of Housing to support affordable housing. For these neighborhoods, the requirements would be to set aside 7 percent of homes as rent restricted or pay $20.75 per square foot for residential buildings, and between 5 percent and 8 percent of floor area or $8 and $20.75 per square foot for commercial buildings. These payments will go towards the production of affordable homes across the city.
The cost of a rent-restricted two-bedroom apartment for a family of three earning about $49,000 would be $1,219.
The increase in development capacity needed to implement these MHA requirements is an additional one or two stories for most areas included in these proposals. For areas of the C-ID already zoned for residential high-rises, buildings could be an additional three stories taller.
“Our neighborhood was upzoned several years ago,” said Maiko Winkler-Chin, executive director of the Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation Development Authority. “During those conversations, we discussed the desire of having a mixed-income residential neighborhood — it would be a positive outcome with the changes we knew would come. MHA is one tool that helps provide a continuum of homes for people who want to be in this neighborhood.”
The Chinatown-International District National Historic District, along Jackson, King, and Weller streets, is excluded from this proposal due to the National Historic Registry designation and unique character of the area. (A map of the Chinatown-International District proposal is available at murray.seattle.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/2017_0412-Chinatown-ID-rezone-area.png.)
The news conference on April 14 in the lobby of the Bush Hotel was Murray’s first appearance before the media since he initially denied allegations that he sexually abused a minor. On April 11, Murray’s lawyer presented a doctor’s note which appears to contradict one of the key pieces of evidence implicating Murray in the lawsuit.
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