Rezones are on the horizon for many areas in Seattle as part of Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. Giving an early sneak peek this week, the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) released five draft maps for a handful of urban villages and urban centers slated for the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) rezones. Those rezones are coupled with other increases in development capacity that will allow the City to require new residential and commercial development to contribute toward affordable housing at various levels below the area median income.
OPCD is diligently developing parallel concept proposals that would modify development regulations to further support the rezones. These are tied to dimensional form controls like minimum lot size and density, floor area ratios, height, and setbacks as well as allowed uses. So far these come in nine flavors, which we’ll dive into further below, but additional concepts are presumably forthcoming for zones like Highrise (HR), Commercial 1 and 2 (C1 and C2), and others that are noticeably absent.
Many readers with a good eye may have gleaned from the draft MHA rezone maps that some zones such as Lowrise 2 (LR2) and Midrise (MR) aren’t really changing in name and wondered “well how is that a rezone?” OPCD is exploring nuanced Land Use Code changes that would modify the regulations for those types of zones, essentially by adding new categories of development standards specific to the MHA zoning variants. So when an LR2 zone gets an M-suffix added to it on the zoning map, the higher intensity version of LR2 development regulations would apply.