A modified version of House Bill 1490 , the hotly disputed bill that would provide affordable housing protections and require minimum density zoning around some


Transit-Oriented Development Bill Gets Committee Vote This Morning, Seattle Hearing Tonight

A modified version of House Bill 1490, the hotly disputed bill that would provide affordable housing protections and require minimum density zoning around some transit stations, will get a vote in the House Committee on Local Government & Housing at 8 AM this morning (watch the action live on TV-W).

The original bill would have required zoning for an average minimum density of 50 units per acre within a half-mile radius of transit stations. The new version requires that number only around stations located in Puget Sound Regional Council-designated urban centers, and the magic number may be reached via a combination of jobs and housing units.

(It's worth noting that pretty much any urban center--Seattle has six: Downtown, Uptown, First Hill/Capitol Hill, University District, South Lake Union--already meets this requirement. In fact, that's probably why it was designated an urban center to begin with.)

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Sharon Nelson (D., Seattle), says the changes were inspired by feedback on the bill and her own observations of Portland.

"I've been really taking a look at Portland and why they've been successful [with their urban and transit planning]" she says. "One of the things is they've built in flexibility. The different centers, depending on how they were being developed, go from density of 32 units per acre up to over 100."

She credits that spirit of flexibility and citizen feedback for the inclusion of jobs in the density count. "What we've heard from folks is that yes, we want to increase residences, but we also want mixed use."

Nelson says she's "really optimistic" about the bill's chances in committee today, and, citing climate change and gentrification concerns, strikes a note of urgency regarding its overall passage. "This is a bill I really want to see get passed this session...It's time to make sure that working families can [stay in these neighborhoods]."

For more info on the bill, or to speak up about it, check out the workshop Sally Clark will be hosting tonight at Langston Hughes. Among others, it'll feature the bill's authors (Futurewise) and most vocal opponents (Seattle Displacement Coalition). Press release below:

Who: City Councilmembers Sally J. Clark and Tim Burgess, and

representatives from the Seattle Urban Land Institute, Seattle

Displacement Coalition, Transportation Choices Coalition, and the

Washington Low Income Housing Alliance

What: "Trains, Density & Change": A Community Workshop on House

Bill 1490. The meeting is free and open to the public; there is no need

to RSVP.

When: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at 6:00 p.m.

Where: Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center Auditorium, 107

17th Ave. S., Seattle

SEATTLE -- Councilmember Sally J. Clark will host a community workshop

on Wednesday, February 18 at 6 p.m. at Seattle's Langston Hughes

Performing Arts Center to discuss State House Bill (HB) 1490, which

deals with transit oriented communities and affordable housing

provisions in areas surrounding Light Rail stations. The panel

discussion and town meeting will include proponents and critics of the

legislation, and planning and land use experts. The panel will discuss

concepts surrounding transit oriented development, the possible impacts

of the proposed bill on Seattle communities, and take questions from the


Councilmember Sally J. Clark, host of the workshop said, "There's a

lot of rhetoric flying around about the bill, its goals, the sponsors'

intentions, the opponents' intentions, and current zoning capacity.

This bill could have an impact on Seattle neighborhoods. My goal is to

get all of the information out there, so residents can get a full

understanding of the legislation."

State House Bill 1490, titled "Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

through land use and transportation requirements" would require that

zoning around current and future light rail stops meet a minimum average

of 50 homes or jobs per acre in the half-mile walking-distance around

the stations. The legislation would also require developers to replace

existing affordable housing, and require that some units of housing be

provided at set affordability levels.

Neighborhood residents around light rail stations are encouraged to

attend and participate.

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