Funeral procession rolls through Seattle zoning meeting
SEATTLE - A group of neighbors believe city leaders are writing the obituary for community involvement in the planning process for new housing. They performed a last rights ceremony during a public meeting to discuss upzoning on Thursday night.
“This is basically like an open house that's for show," said Miranda Berner with the Wallingford Community Council, who showed up to express her concerns.
Seattle is in the process of taking feedback on plans to change the city’s zoning ordinances so that more affordable housing gets built. Options include allowing taller buildings with more units to meet a range of incomes.
“I would like us to do everything we can to do to make sure that people who teach, put out fires, make coffee and everything else in this city can live in this city,” said Paul Chapman, a member of Welcoming Wallingford and, in general, a supporter of the city’s approach to reach affordable housing goals.
However, some of the new construction that’s already gone in is criticized for being out of character with existing neighborhoods. Long-time land use activists believe their past input is being ignored.
“We want growth. The problem is we don't have any say in where and how it's done," said Toby Thaler with Fremont Neighborhood Council.
Others think family housing is taking a back seat as the city leaders focus on pushing for dense growth along transit lines. They said the result often means that critical amenities are an afterthought.
“You don't want to just grow buildings without schools and parks and libraries," Berner said.
The changes now under consideration would affect the neighborhoods of Wallingford, Fremont, Roosevelt, Licton Springs and Northgate.
“What we're looking for is input on proposals to change some of those policies to allow more flexibility,” said Sara Maxana with the Office of Planning and Community Development.
Aside from allowing bigger buildings, the city may also loosen rules on building backyard cottages, or allow more row houses.
The public can offer suggestions until December. Planners hope to have their recommendations to city council in January.