Council to Approve ‘Grand Bargain’ Housing Bill Today

A HALA proposal, the bill allows more development in exchange for affordable housing units.

At 2 p.m. today, the Seattle city council will likely approve legislation that would allow developers to build bigger and denser than is currently permitted. In exchange, those developers have to include a certain number of affordable housing units in the development or pay into an affordable housing fund. This is the “grand bargain” to which Mayor Ed Murray so often alludes: upzones in exchange for more affordable housing.

More specifically, council bill 118736 creates a “framework” for requiring affordable housing as part of residential development in Seattle. Known as the Mandatory Housing Affordability for Residential Development (MHA-R, or “M’HAR!”), the bill “by itself does not implement MHA-R in any zone or area,” according to the bill’s Summary and Fiscal Note. “Instead it creates a regulatory framework proposed to be implemented in 2016 and 2017 with adoption of zoning changes providing the necessary development capacity increases,” i.e. up-zones.

In other words, today’s M’HAR! bill creates a broad set of rules for how developers will pay for density with affordable housing, but the details—How dense? How much?—will be hashed out at a later date.

This legislation was one of the key recommendations made by the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda task force last year. Its sponsor, councilmember Rob Johnson, wrote on his blog, “Resulting from years of negotiation and compromise, MHAR is one of the most ambitious efforts Seattle has ever undertaken to address our growing need for affordable housing and will have a very real impact on current residents and future generations of Seattleites.” A majority of the council—-Johnson, O’Brien, Herbold, Gonzalez, and Burgess—already voted in favor of the legislation when passing it out of committee.

More in News & Comment

The Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability and Equity filed an appeal to the Seattle Hearing Examiner on Monday evening. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Seattle Coalition Appeals Zoning Changes

The 26-group coalition filed an appeal against proposed upzoning that aims to increase housing affordability.

Jenny Durkan Sworn in as Mayor of Seattle

The city’s first female mayor in over a century began her first shift on a citywide tour.

Mastermind of State’s Biggest Ponzi Scheme Escapes From Prison

Frederick Darren Berg had been indicted for fraud in 2012.

Facing Cuts From City, Homeless Service Providers Request a Reprieve

Funding would be cut for at least 300 shelter beds in Seattle, as well as hygiene and support services.

What Has Changed in the Year Since the Passage of Seattle’s Hotel Worker Law?

According to hotel housekeepers on The Westin’s night shift, not much.

Activists and Politicians Rally for Stronger Tenant Protections

During the event, State Representative Nicole Macri announced that she will be introducing legislation to repeal a statewide ban on rent control.

Photo by Frank Kovalchek/Wikimedia
Reports of Assault in the Air Could Be Taking Off

As Randi Zuckerberg accuses Alaska Airlines of inaction, one Seattleite collects accounts of a problem she expects to become more prevalent.

The hummus comes one of five ways. Photo by Nicole Sprinkle
A New Hummus Bar on Capitol Hill Delivers Unexpected Brilliance

A lively atmosphere and fantastic food make Aviv a delectable destination.

Most Read