End of the single family house? An upzoned Seattle promises more affordable housing

Development News Preservation Urbanism West
Photo by Seth Sawyers via Flickr Creative Commons.

(Seth Sawyers via Flickr Creative Commons)

Seattle is abuzz about zoning. Last week, The Seattle Times leaked a draft report produced by Mayor Ed Murray’s housing task force, a 28-member committee steering the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).

While the report outlines a variety of strategies to increase affordable housing in the Seattle region, one bold recommendation is getting a lot of attention: the upzoning of single family housing in Seattle to multi-family housing.

On Monday, Mayor Murray released an action plan outlining the overall vision: build 20,000 affordable housing units and 30,000 market rate units in the next decade through public and private investments. By 2035, the city is expected to grow by 120,000 people.

“The exclusivity of Single Family zones limits the type of housing available, limits the presence of smaller format housing and limits access for those with lower incomes,” reads the action plan. “The City will allow more variety of housing scaled to fit within traditional Single Family areas to increase the economic and demographic diversity. The broader mix of housing will include small lot dwellings, cottages or courtyard housing, rowhouses, duplexes, triplexes and stacked flats.”

A map on the HALA website shows that the proposed upzoning changes, if passed, would affect 16 percent of Seattle. But The Seattle Times reports otherwise. An architect and developer on the housing committee told the paper that the upzoning would affect all single-family lots.

You can read the final version of the Seattle housing committee report at Seattle.gov.

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