Former Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda falls short on both affordability and livability. We can do better.

An edited version of this statement was given by Alex Pedersen on February 12, 2018 at the District 4 public hearing on Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA). It is are shared here with permission.

Alex Pedersen with his children - Copy

Alex Pedersen, founder of the neighborhood newsletter http://www.4toExplore.org and former legislative aide to Tim Burgess. Alex and his family have lived in the Ravenna neighborhood for over a decade.

Good evening.

Thank you, City Councilmembers, for travelling from City Hall to our neighborhood to have this public hearing tonight.

My name is Alex Pedersen. My family and I live in Ravenna and, for the past several years, we have published a neighborhood newsletter that celebrates Northeast Seattle (www.4toExplore.org). As someone who has worked in both the public and private sectors to analyze affordable housing, let me say this about the proposal before you tonight:

We can do better.

We can do better because former Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda falls short on both affordability and livability.

We can do better by increasing the percentages of affordable housing. Setting aside only 2% to 12% benefits the wealthy 1% at the top of the economic food chain while leaving only scraps to the low-income families who need the affordable housing.

We can do better by inserting meaningful protections against economic displacement. Among the many disruptions caused by upzones, upzoning too much, too soon causes land values to spike. Higher land values mean higher taxes, which can push out vulnerable populations including senior citizens and small, neighborhood businesses.

We can do better by requiring more affordable housing on site — we want the affordable housing in our neighborhoods — that is the right thing – the equitable thing — to do. So then build it now, build it onsite – instead of letting developers discriminate and delay by writing a check and being “NIM-D’s” — “not in my developments.”

We can do better by crafting fair Impact Fees to help build more public schools. Sensible Impact Fees are charged throughout Washington State and throughout the nation and we need them in Seattle so that growth pays for growth.

We can do better by concentrating the growth within the existing boundaries of the Urban Villages where frequent and reliable transit already exists, rather than forcing it upon neighborhoods where it would benefit only real estate speculators.

Finally, we can do better by letting our new Mayor Jenny Durkan provide more affordability and more livability, rather than ramming through the backroom deal of the former mayor.

Please continue your hard work for our city by rapidly revising the proposal so that it is truly affordable, truly livable, and much, much better for everyone. Thank you.

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