The Seattle City Council is considering sweeping changes to all low-rise
multifamily-zoned residential areas, an upzone that, some argue, would make
these zones not "low" anymore. The L zones cover about 6 square miles in
all parts of the Seattle. New apartments and condos could be higher, in
some cases by as much as 15 feet. All could cover more of each lot and have
less setback from property lines. In some cases, buildings may be right up
against the alley. Parking requirements would be reduced, and in urban
villages they would be completely eliminated.
With less room for yards, new and old residents alike will have less
privacy, trees will have less room to grow, and runoff will increase. Many
existing views will be lost. Allowing more bulk and units will drive land
values higher and increase pressure to tear down affordable housing stock.
Most residents are unaware of these changes and how they would change
Seattle for the worse. On their behalf, we are challenging the City's claim
that the changes would not have significant impact. When it last considered
changes in the L zones (in 1980 and 1989), the City Council insisted on full
environmental impact statements, but this year a "declaration of
non-significance" claims that none of the impacts are significant.
An appeal has been filed by neighborhood leaders from throughout Seattle,
along with the Seattle Community Council Federation and the Seattle
Displacement Coalition. The appeal asks the Hearing Examiner to halt these
upzones until a careful environmental assessment has been done. There is a
strong case against the upzones and the City's claims, and the appeal
hearing begins Monday.
Members of the public are encouraged to attend any part of the appeal
hearing, which will be held 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the 40th floor of the
Municipal Tower, 700 5th Avenue on the following days: Monday, July 26;
Wed., July 28 (afternoon only); Thursday, July 29; and Monday, August 2.
For any changes in the schedule, check the Hearing Examiner web site at
The appeal is made possible by legal representation donated by Toby Thaler
and research donated by Anna Nissen and Bill Bradburd, and involves expert
testimony in a variety of fields. The legislation being challenges is at
public interest background on these issues, see
questions about the appeal, or to receive the documents, contact Bill
Bradburd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Financial support for the appeal is welcome and needed. Tax-deductible
checks may be made out to "SCCF--Legal Fund" and sent c/o Seattle Community
Council Federation treasurer Chris Leman, 2370 Yale Avenue East, Seattle, WA
98102-3310, or call (206) 322-5463.