City Council strengthens affordable housing program

(Edited from press release) — The Seattle City Council South Lake Union Committee voted unanimously on an amendment to produce more workforce affordable housing in the South Lake Union (SLU) neighborhood by strengthening the incentive zoning program.

(Edited from press release) — The Seattle City Council South Lake Union Committee voted unanimously on an amendment to produce more workforce affordable housing in the South Lake Union (SLU) neighborhood by strengthening the incentive zoning program.

The agreement is a compromise between two existing amendments offered by Councilmembers, which were introduced in last week’s SLU Committee meeting. Consensus was built around the need to strengthen the incentive zoning program without discouraging development.

“Today’s decision is an important, modest step toward securing more affordable workforce housing in South Lake Union, so that people at all income levels who work in the neighborhood have a chance to live there,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “This is a community of opportunity where the city is investing over $500 million in public infrastructure, and I think it only fair that the benefits of this redevelopment are shared more broadly.”

The legislation to strengthen incentive zoning includes a 43 percent increase in the residential pay-in-lieu price (from $15.15 to $21.68), effectively immediately, and a 33 percent increase in the commercial price that will be phased in over eighteen months (to $29.71). These prices are paid on a percent of square-foot basis in exchange for additional height and building capacity. Collectively, these provisions will produce an estimated 733 units of workforce housing in and near the neighborhood. The original legislation would have created an estimated 406 units.

The Council last updated the incentive zoning program in 2008, establishing the goal of producing 5 percent of affordable workforce residential units in the neighborhood of the development. The Council will also consider similar fee adjustments to the downtown incentive housing program to take effect in 2014.

City Council plans to vote on the full South Lake Union rezone proposal at the May 6 Full Council meeting at 2:00 p.m. in Council Chambers.

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