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.