The Seattle Times Opinion: “All of Seattle’s neighborhoods deserve a say in upzoning upheaval”

Below is an excerpt from the February 14, 2018 Seattle Times (for the full article click here). Written by Claudia Newman and David Bricklin, attorneys who are representing Seattle Coalition for Affordability Livability and Equity (SCALE) in the hearing examiner appeal of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the citywide implementation of the Mandatory Housing Affordability policy. Seattle Fair Growth is one of the 26 member groups of SCALE.

In the same way that we protect wetlands, streams and habitat in the face of increased development, we must also protect our schools, mobility, walking, trees, character and open spaces in the face of increased development in the urban areas.

The Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) began this process the right way. It reviewed, in great detail, the impacts of upzoning in South Lake Union. Then, city planners reviewed, in detail, the impacts of an upzone in the University District. Next was Lower Queen Anne. It’s not clear why former Mayor Ed Murray’s staff then jettisoned that careful neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach and proposed a single piece of legislation to upzone 27 neighborhoods at once. Analyzing so many changes all at once was an impossible task. It resulted in meaningless generalities, omissions, misleading statements and outright inaccuracies.

Ballard is not the same as Beacon Hill. Madison Valley is nothing like West Seattle. Greenwood and Jackson Place and North Rainier each have their own unique layout and issues.

From 1994 to 2003, the city engaged in an extensive, bottom-up, neighborhood-specific planning process. Neighbors and city staff developed plans for individual neighborhoods. The goal was to allow higher density in a way that would protect the quality of each neighborhood. Roughly 30,000 citizens of Seattle worked on those neighborhood plans.

But in 2015, Mayor Murray entered into the “Grand Bargain” with developers and affordable-housing advocates. The so-called “grand” bargain was consummated only by omitting a key constituency from the agreement — impacted residents. The people who live in the neighborhoods and know them best had no meaningful representation at the table. The neighborhood plans were sidelined.


To learn more about the SCALE legal appeal and to make a donation visit


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