Market NewsReal Estate July 25, 2015

The Mayors new HALA Proposal



HALA Proposal Drives 'Grand Bargain' for Affordable Housing


Last week, the Seattle Times got their hands on a draft of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) report and everyone freaked out about the prospect of Seattle bulldozing residential neighborhoods to make way for a city of microhousing complex (or something like that). Now, the final report is out and Mayor Ed Murray presented the recommendations on Monday. Let's find out what it calls for.

Included in the report are approximately sixty-five recommendations on housing and livability in Seattle. The one getting the most traction? A proposal that would link mandatory affordable housing development in residential areas with linkage fees for commercial development. In other words, if developers agree to include affordable homes as part of their plans, or pay a fee into the affordable housing fund if they choose not to, then the city will relax certain zoning restrictions (though not in residential areas, says Murray). Fees would be based on square-footage.

The "grand bargain" seems to have split the city council already, with only five of the nine members standing with Murray as he introduced the idea. The city council will have to approve the recommendations for them to take affect.

The most noticeable difference from the leaked version to the final version is the change in wording when it comes to single-family zoning. That terminology is removed but recommendations that bring more density to tradition residential neighborhoods remain. Under the recommendation, 5 to 7 percent of units in residential projects would have to be affordable to lower-income families. The plan also calls for tax breaks for landlords who restrict large rent rises, easier access to housing for those with criminal records and a reduction in residential parking quotas.

Ultimately, the goal is for Seattle to introduce at least 6,000 affordable-housing units to the market over ten years. If approved, the plan would start taking effect in September 2017.


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