Seattle’s Next MHA + Upzone Area: Chinatown/International District
Seattle's affordable housing program aims to ensure that growth brings affordability and more housing choices
Now that the University District and Downtown upzones have been approved, the Seattle City Council will next consider mandatory housing affordability (MHA) and upzone proposals for the Chinatown-International District (CID). Under MHA, the city allows larger building sizes in exchange for requiring either affordable housing units or money paid into an affordable housing fund. Initially part of the Downtown-South Lake Union area, the city separated the CID out because of unique concerns about economic, physical and cultural displacement in the area. The CID proposal requires 5-7% affordable units in new development or $8 – $20.75 per square foot into the city’s affordable housing fund.
The city predicts that the CID upzone will result in 150 affordable housing units over ten years. There will be displacement, but the city believes this will happen regardless of the upzones given anticipated development in the area unrelated to MHA. On balance, the city has concluded that the MHA upzone will reduce displacement given the new market-rate and affordable housing units that will result from the MHA process.
The city council’s Planning, Land Use & Zoning Committee discussed MHA proposals and amendments related to the CID twice in May. It must still hold a public hearing and then vote on referring the legislation to the full council before it would be passed. A final proposal is expected to be approved sometime in summer 2017. Other areas currently undergoing planning for the MHA process include Uptown (Lower Queen Anne), 23rd and Union-Jackson and citywide multifamily, commercial and mixed-use zones for remaining areas.