PRESS: HALA and the $100,000 Question

Over at Sightline’s Daily – and related to last week’s post – Alan Durning discusses the recently released Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee plan for Seattle:

“The crux of the HALA plan is to allow much more housing construction while also requiring developers to build—and raising taxes to pay for nonprofits to build—at least three times as many apartments per year affordable to low-income people.

The plan unleashes the private housing market by changing zoning, parking, and building rules and streamlining the processes the city uses for permitting and for environmental and historic preservation reviews—processes that NIMBYs have perverted from their true purpose into means of stopping construction. It includes many of Sightline’s past recommendations on parking (parking benefit districts and parking “cap-and-trade,” for example) and housing (more backyard cottages and in-law apartments, more neo-rooming houses, and fewer restrictions on shared housing).

It also includes many other strategies that complement and expand them: extending the boundaries of urban villages (designated growth zones, where taller buildings are paired with frequent transit, parks, and shops); updating antiquated fire codes that have kept buildings shorter because hook-and-ladder companies once couldn’t reach any higher; adding subsidized housing around parks and reservoirs and above the parking lots of high schools and community centers; and more. These strategies for compact growth should win accolades from urbanists and sprawl fighters. They deserve rhapsodies from climate hawks, because density may be the most important part of beyond-carbon living.”

Read more here.

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