Community Post

Meeting tonight about State “Density” bills

(via Chris Leman) The following information was received from the Seattle Displacement Coalition, with some additional background provided:

Mt Baker residents invite you to a discussion of HB 1490 and SB 5687 tonight, Monday, Feb 2nd 7pm at Mt. Baker Clubhouse:  2811 Mount Rainier Dr. S. (click link for map)
Despite all the damage this bill would do to Seattle neighborhoods, it is co-sponsored by the following Seattle legislators:  Sens. Adam Kline, Ken Jacobsen, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Joe McDermott, and Ed Murray, and Reps. Jamie Pedersen, Mary Lou Dickerson and Scott White.   Sen. Kohl-Welles is a board member of Transportation Choices, and City Councilmember Jan Drago’s staff person Jodie Vice is a board member of Futurewise; these are the two organizations that are pushing the bill.
The density bill mandates 50 units per acre within one half mile of a rail station, an area that would cover much of the city, and where densities are now at 4-9 units per acre. Trees, open space, greenbelts, urban streams and low income housing – all are threatened, say community activists.   The bill simply is a developer driven measure wrapped in “green”  and “our neighborhoods have already undergone station area planning” with densities necessary to support rail….  H.B. 1490 pre-empts all this and deprives affected communities of any real say in their future…

Folks from all affected neighborhoods are invited to participate in this discussion. You are welcome to attend to find out more about the bill. Tonight the Mount Baker Community Council is holding a discussion on the Futurewise bill that would mandate a density of 50 units per acre around each transit station along its route. Over half the developable land in SE Seattle would be affected – the low income, multi-racial, and working class half.  Large parts of NE Seattle also are affected.  Representatives of Futurewise have been invited and likely to be there and possibly city representatives…..activists informed about the bill will be on hand to give their perspective. 
The bills, and a listing of upcoming hearings (one of which is 1:30 today in Olympia) can be found at

0 thoughts on “Meeting tonight about State “Density” bills

  1. The major changes in the bill are encouragement of walking and biking and focus on transit to reduce greenhose gas emissions. I think it’s a great bill, except for the “Stadium and airports” carveout.

    Here is the section that has low-density neighborhoods up in arms:

    “comprehensive plans and development regulations adopted under this chapter must authorize transit oriented development within one-half mile of a major transit station. The allowed net density for these transit oriented development areas must be fifty dwelling units per acre.”

    There are 43,560 square feet in an acre. My house sits on a 2000 square foot lot. I have a 300 square foot courtyard in front and a 5 foot run down the other three sides. In front of me is another house, behind me is an alley. It’s definately not an ideal arrangement, but I could afford it (barely.) I’m squeezed in between 4 other houses. This is half the density proposed by this bill. Just to put it in perspecive. However, across the street from me a townhome development was put on the same amout of space and managed to get 6 units in. It’s doable, and condos make it very easy to do. However, you loose front proches, back yards and garages.

    “Transit oriented development” means a type of compact development that provides compact, walkable communities with densities that support transit service and have convenient access to transit systems with frequent peak travel period service.”

    This means condos, apartments, and zero-lot line townhomes. Again, fine for the majority of people who want to live in a city. Not fine for people who want a back yard, front yard, hot tub, and garage. (I want all those things!)

    “Provide for a net gain in housing units that are affordable to low and moderate-income households”

    The bill requires that affordable housing stock increases and it extends renter assistance to the entire state (currently only Seattle displaced condo-conversion renters recieve assistance.) It’s VERY good for affodable housing.

    “This section does not apply to lands upon which stadiums that seat twenty-five thousand or more persons are located (or airports).”

    This, in my opinion, is the real BS provision of the bill. So, Husky Stadium (a Link stop), all of Sodo, the ID and Pioneer Square (Link stops), SeaTac and Tukwila (Link stops), and Boeing Field (Link stop deferred in order to get Port of Seattle support to extend Link to SeaTac) would be exempt. Of 15 stations (16 including the one “deferred” at Boeing Field as a sop to SeaTac) 5 would be exempted from the density requirements or any requirements to provide walking/biking connections or affordable housing. Charming.