South Lake Union Urban Center Incentive Zoning illustration.

The first public hearing on the Downtown/South Lake Union Rezone is 6pm Monday (March 13th) at City Hall, and we encourage you to testify. Show up early to reserve a speaking slot. If you can’t attend, call or email your councilmembers.

In the latest batch, the City proposes rezoning the areas in pink. (City of Seattle)

Urbanists have been doing a better job of making their voices heard during the rezone process that will unlock the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program–inclusionary zoning in the common parlance–as evidenced by the passage of the University District Rezone last month. But we need to keep the momentum going!

However you feel about how the details of MHA ended up shaking out–some have argued the affordability requirement is too high and others too low—if you support making Seattle an inclusive city able to grow more equitably surely these MHA rezones are a good first step. Contrarily, letting anti-housing folks turn back the rezones would scarcely send a good message and it’s hard to see backtracking work out well for the city.

A third of the affordable units MHA generates are at stake Monday. The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) estimates MHA will deliver more than 6,000 rent-restricted housing units over the next 10 years, with 2,100 affordable housing units coming from Downtown and South Lake Union. Thus, passing the Downtown and South Lake Union rezones would be a huge lift. We encourage you to lend your voice.

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Downtown/South Lake Union Rezones: Five Key Takeaways

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Doug Trumm is publisher of The Urbanist. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington in 2019. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.