The City Council unanimously agreed to pass the measure to rezone buildings between Roy Street and Denny Way to a cap of 85 feet on Monday, October 2nd. The existing buildings in that area are less than half that height.
Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess signed a slightly altered version of the rezone into law last week, on Wednesday, October 11th. The alteration reduced the cap to 65 feet.
The need for more housing and specifically, affordable housing has the City Council and many neighborhood residents cheering on the decision. According to a KUOW report, the rezone in the Lower Queen Anne area (also known as Uptown) is expected to result in a minimum of 600 new affordable homes by the year 2038 (20 years).
However, these affordable homes won’t necessarily be located in the Uptown neighborhood, since developers will have the option to either dedicate a portion (7-10 percent of residential buildings and 5-10 percent of commercial developments) to be priced for households with lower income, or they can instead pay into the city’s affordable housing fund.
“The actual affordable housing is not going to be built on site. The majority of it is going to be paid in lieu so a lot of people think they are going to get affordable housing but it’s not going to be in the areas these zoning changes are occurring,” said Jon Lisbin, president of Seattle Fair Growth.
Despite the Council’s unanimous vote, many neighbors are concerned. The CEO of the Bayview Nursing Home, Mary Cordts, expressed concerns that buildings of the new height could block daylight for members of her retirement community. Cordts did say that a reduction from the initially proposed 85-foot cap to 65 feet would be more manageable, so it appears her suggestion was applied when the legislation passed last week.
Another community member, Alexandra Moore-Wulsin, told KUOW News that her concerns were more about the more widespread effects on the community: “In fact, what it is doing is gentrifying this neighborhood, and it’s being replaced by shadowy, corrugated steel and brick canyons. Please don’t do this to our city,” she said.