We analyzed the five maps the City of Seattle released last month: Aurora-Licton Springs, Capitol Hill, Crown Hill, Othello, and South Park. We also delved into the U District Rezone this week which will be one of the first rezones on the docket and have the most ambitious changes. Now the City has released the rest of the draft MHA rezone maps for urban villages, which includes 21 new maps (see after the jump).

As I suggested in my reaction to the first five maps, the City has used high-rise zones very sparingly. In fact, in the new maps the only use of zoning greater than 95 feet I saw was in Northgate where a few existing NC-125 zones are planned to go to NC-145. My major criticism is that the City should follow the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee suggestion to use zones of at least 120 feet to nudge developers out of stick frame construction. Northgate seems to be the only place where that is happening.

Some urban villages are seeing NC-95 which is in the grey area beyond Type 5 construction but shy of heights where concrete or steel construction pencils out well. 95-foot zones are going to struggle to get bids that fully use the zoning, especially without being breadloafs. In other words, NC-95 may not be a meaningful improvement over NC-85 (which was already being built similarly to NC-75).

Criticism aside, expansion of low-rise and mid-rise zones should be applauded and that enacting these changes would mean the affordability requirement–which we just learned is going larger than had been expected–fully goes into effect. This plan would be a major step forward.

Urbanists should hope to see some more aggressive changes, particularly in light rail station areas and especially in light of large “M2” style capacity increases unlocking the highest inclusionary requirement of 11% in high cost areas. Let’s create more M2 areas.

UPDATE (10/22/16): A full copy of the draft MHA rezone maps is available for download, but note that the PDF is over 200MB in size.

The key for the MHA draft rezone maps. (HALA)
The key for the MHA draft rezone maps. (HALA)

Westwood-Highland Park Residential Urban Village

mha_westoodhighland

West Seattle Junction Hub Urban Village

mha_junction

Wallingford Residential Urban Village

mha_wally

Upper Queen Anne Residential Urban Village

mha_upperqueenanne

Rainier Beach Residential Urban Village

mha_rainierbeach

Northgate Urban Center

mha_northgate

North Rainier Hub Urban Village

mha_northrainier

North Beacon Hill Residential Urban Village

mha_beaconhill

NE 130th St Residential Urban Village

mha_130thst

Morgan Junction Residential Urban Village

mha_morganjunction

Madison-Miller Residential Urban Village

mha_madisonmiller

Lake City Hub Urban Village

mha_lakecity

Greenwood-Phinney Ridge Residential Urban Village

mha_greenwood_phinney

Green Lake-Roosevelt Residential Urban Village

mha_roosevelt_greenlake

Fremont Hub Urban Village

mha_fremont

Eastlake Residential Urban Village

mha_eastlake

Columbia City Residential Urban Village

mha_columbiacity

Bitter Lake Hub Urban Village

mha_bitterlake

Ballard Hub Urban Village

mha_ballard

Admiral District Residential Urban District

mha_admiral-district

23rd & Union-Jackson Residential Urban Village

mha_cd_23rd

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Doug Trumm is the Publication Director at The Urbanist. He joined the exodus to Seattle in 2014, leaving behind his home state of Minnesota. Living on disputed land between Wallingford and Fremont, he is doing his best to improve both neighborhoods. He is a grad student at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance and a marketing intern at King County Metro. His views are his own and do not represent his employer.

7 COMMENTS

    • Yes, you’re right. I had missed that. Actually Lake City has a pocket of NC3-145 (M2) north and east of the community center. Lake City is classified as a Hub Urban Village so that make sense, but makes me wonder why the other hubs–Ballard, Fremont, Bitter Lake, and West Seattle Junction–didn’t see similar zoning. North Rainier is also a hub and had a small pocket of 125′ that is now going to 145′, most of which is consumed by a Lowe’s Home Improvement presently.

      • Yeah I like it, but seems pretty random to have +125′ in Lake City but not in other hubs.

        Once Link station locations are known in a few years, there may be an opportunity for more aggressive zoning of specific parcels in Ballard & WS Junction, similar to the aggressive zoning in North Rainier? But otherwise, I see no reason why LC gets this treatment & other hubs don’t.

  1. Glad to see Northgate going as tall as 145ft, wish they’d push for 165 though. Squeeze maximum benefit out of those Metro owned lots next to the light rail!

  2. Greenwood and Queen Anne mutlifamily areas are embarrassingly skinny and only along major arterials. In fact it looks as if almost nothing was done to upzone them.

    • Those are just residential urban villages. None of the long terms plans intend to push much growth to these neighborhoods. All they get is a small bump in height & FAR. More aggressive up-zoning is intended for hub urban villages & urban centers

  3. http://blog.seattleinprogress.com/2016/07/19/displacement-by-zone.html

    “Displacement caused by new construction does real damage to vulnerable people and communities… in our current mid-rise and high-rise construction, only 4 existing units are demolished for every 100 new units built… while low-rise zones add housing at the cost of high displacement.”

    I think Seattle In Progress made a pretty good case for higher upzone.

    In light of that, it is a bit disappointing that “the City has used high-rise zones very sparingly”.

Comments are closed.