UPDATE: The five pieces of legislation that make up the Yesler Terrace redevelopment plan each passed the City Council Tuesday afternoon 9 votes to 0.
The City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday afternoon on the ambitious — and some say risky — plan for redeveloping Yesler Terrace. Since the majority of the Council already voted in committee to approve the plan, it is very likely to gain full council approval today.
The council vote will pave the way for the sale of Seattle Housing Authority land to developers, who will be able to build market rate office and housing towers under the new zoning plan. The money from the sale of land would then be used to build new low-income housing buildings to replace the aging units currently in the neighborhood.
The development process could take 20 years, the SHA says, but there will be 100 more “extremely” low-income units when it is finished than the 561 units in the neighborhood today. On top of those units, the plan would include 290 “very” low-income units and 850 “workforce” units. Developers would build 3,199 market-rate units, mostly in high-rise condo and apartment buildings.
However, opponents are quick to point out that these land sales and results are not guaranteed, leaving current residents unsure whether (or when) their homes will be replaced. The process of displacing current residents during the demolition, sale and rebuilding of the Yesler Terrace will also be a hardship of many people, a concern that was voiced clearly during a lengthy public hearing on the plan last month.
The new market-rate buildings could also raise the rents in nearby buildings, pricing current non-SHA residents out of the neighborhood through gentrification. John Fox of the Seattle Displacement Coalition sent the following press release, saying they will be delivering a letter of opposition today before the Council’s vote:
The Coalition will present a letter at 2pm tomorrow Tues at the Council’s regular full session and just prior to their vote expressing “deep disappointment with the terms of the cooperative agreement adopted in Committee for SHA’s Yesler Terrace Redevelopment now heading for a full Council vote Sept 4th. ” Over 80 community leaders from across the city have signed the letter expressing dismay that the Council is about to approve an agreement that “seals the destruction of this 561 unit public housing project and does not come even close to ensuring 100 percent replacement of those units either on or off-site. ”
The City Council’s actions will translate directly into more homelessness, longer waiting lists for subsidized housing, and more displacement in our city. We cannot afford to waste our precious housing levy dollars aiding SHA in removal of low income units (the exact opposite of why voters approved this levy in the first place), but that’s exactly what our City Council is poised to approve tomorrow Tues.
If you can’t make it in person, you can watch the Council proceedings live online starting at 2 p.m.