Mandatory Housing Affordability/Residential (MHA/R) Program
The Council’s Planning, Land Use & Zoning (PLUZ) Committee unanimously (5-0) approved framework legislation Tuesday for the Mandatory Housing Affordability/Residential (MHA/R) Program requiring residential developers to provide for affordable housing by including it in their development or paying into an affordable housing fund. The requirement will apply after Council adopts future zoning changes, scheduled for Council consideration next year.
In the bill, Councilmember O’Brien and I proposed, and the Committee agreed, to require a displacement risk analysis to approximate the number of existing affordable housing units demolished as a result of future upzones. The mandatory affordability requirement the developers make will be adjusted higher over the entire area being up-zoned commensurate with the number of units likely to be demolished. While this doesn’t require any mitigation of increased rents from other market forces, it is a modest but necessary amendment.
For the last 30 years, housing advocates have been trying to get the need for housing displacement mitigation recognized. Yes, we focus the spending of affordable housing funds to build more housing in areas experiencing displacement (see map on right), but it’s critically important that in addition to where we build affordable housing, that we also have a regulatory tool to mitigate affordable displacement.
Councilmembers O’Brien and Licata were the first to encourage the city in 2014 to study how development left unregulated without some level of mitigation can impact vulnerable communities. Before that displacement was largely unrecognized by City planning documents.
The May 2015 preliminary Growth and Equity report stated “If unmitigated, new market-rate development in high-displacement risk areas is likely to lead to displacement of marginalized populations. The analysis described in this report assumes that the higher the growth in high-risk areas the greater the likelihood of displacing marginalized populations. Displacement is a concern under any alternative. All of the alternatives are likely to cause displacement, which would have disproportionate impacts on marginalized populations. The urban centers and villages with the highest displacement risk are 52 percent nonwhite, compared to 31 percent nonwhite citywide.”
Between 2005 and 2015 the city permitted the demolition of almost 6,000 units of housing. We don’t for sure know how many of these units were affordable rentals and to be clear, no legislation can stop housing demolition entirely. In 1987, the State Supreme Court struck down a provision in the city’s Housing Preservation Ordinance that required developers to replace low-income housing they demolish to make room for high rise office or apartment complexes. The City Council imposed an emergency moratorium on the demolition of low-income housing in downtown Seattle. After 3 extensions, it too was struck down.
My decision to try & be a City Councilmember – of all the good reasons – the very highest on my list was to insure that the study requested in 2014 resulted in some new level of regulatory attention. That makes Tuesday’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee vote a very important day for me and I believe important for many others who have weighed in along the way.
I don’t want to over-promise the impact of this modest amendment. I thank all of the people throughout Seattle who are skeptical of the impacts of future up zones necessary to implement MHA for their support of this amendment. You are not nimbys; you worry that development will remove affordable single family homes to renter families with children and group renter households, not to mention the small apartment buildings in your low rise zones that are also likely sites for redevelopment.
This amendment will not likely result in mitigation for much of that redevelopment, but I thank you for your support of my amendment in spite of your skepticism about MHA/R). You are demonstrating to those that might otherwise characterize you as anti-density that you are supporters of maintaining affordability in our city.
To those who say that this very slight amendment is in conflict with the “grand bargain”, my response is that HALA expressed a desire to address displacement and this amendment is very much in keeping with those objectives. A pre-HALA public meeting in SE Seattle where participants were given the opportunity to rate their affordable housing concerns overwhelming voted on displacement as being their biggest concern.
I want to thank committee chair Rob Johnson for working with me to word-smith this amendment, Councilmember O’Brien for the same – as well as his leadership in years past – and the Executive for their support as well.
A racially inclusive and more affordable city will mean taking steps to not lose what affordable housing we already have. This is a modest, incremental, and important compact with communities faced with the development pressures of our city.
Hiring More Police Officers
In late July the City Council voted to approve increases in the city’s business and occupation tax and the business-license fee, in order to fund the hiring of additional police officers. The plan was proposed by Mayor Murray earlier this year to finance completing the hiring of 200 additional new police officers.
The Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee (on which I serve as vice-chair) considered and discussed the Mayor’s funding proposal. We approved an alternative fee structure for the business license tax certificate fee that created a new and higher tier for businesses with $5 million in revenue from a $110/year fee paid today to $1,000/year beginning in 2017 and $2,000 in 2019. The new structure raises additional funds so that hiring additional officers will be less dependent on the general fund. Creating such a tier for large business as a way to hold harmless the smallest 85% of Seattle business – those with $500,000 or less a year in revenue – was a priority of mine. I thank Chair Burgess for his collaborative approach in proposing this, along with Councilmember Johnson. The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce posted a statement supporting passage of the legislation.
The next step in hiring additional officers is the creation of position authority, and approving funding. The 2nd Quarter Supplemental budget amendment, currently before the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee, would add position authority for 42 additional officers and approve funding, by releasing $2.8 million reserved by the Council for this purpose, and adding $2 million in new funding.
I support hiring additional officers: we need additional officers to address 911 response times, to enhance patrol operations, and for proactive policing, all of which are important to a comprehensive public safety approach.
Secure Scheduling Update and Timeline
This coming Tuesday, August 9, we will hear the policy direction proposed for the Secure Scheduling legislation as well as a draft bill. As we move through the final stages of this process I will keep you updated; however if you are interested in participating and voicing your opinion on this legislation please know there will be a public hearing on August 16 at 6:00pm, a special CRUEDA Committee meeting on September 7 where amendments will be discussed, and a final vote in Committee on September 13. There will an opportunity for public comment at all of these meetings and I encourage your participation.
If you haven’t done so already, please sign up to receive my committee agenda to receive materials related to this legislation, and other legislation, when it comes before the committee.
As background; this process began in my Committee on March 8, where professor Susan Lambert of the University of Chicago presented on problematic scheduling practices, including an increase in the use of part-time employees, just-in-time scheduling (real time schedule adjustments), and an increase in pressure to “stay within hours” due to tight labor budgets. All of this leads to scheduling unpredictability and volatility, a higher headcount of part-time workers, and fewer hours on average worked for each employee.
Since that March meeting, stakeholders convened by the Mayor’s Office, have regularly met to discuss individual aspects of the legislation and have reported out to my Committee after each of their meetings. In the 10 committee meetings since, we have discussed: employer coverage, advance notice of schedules, predictability pay, right to request, right to rest, and access to hours.
I would encourage you, if you haven’t done so already, to watch the committee discussions which can be found here. I have also written several blog updates on the topic as well:
In early April, stakeholders from the business community requested more local data. The City Council and the Mayor then commissioned a study by Jacob Vigdor. Jacob Vigdor is currently a professor at the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance; he is also the principal in Vigdor Measurement & Evaluation, LLC a company specializing in statistical and economic consulting. The study was presented to the Committee on July 26. Some of the main takeaways are:
- 30% of workers said their schedules created serious hardship for their family, budget or other priorities.
- 30% of workers said that they would prefer to work more hours
- African-American and Latino workers were disproportionately likely to receive their schedules with less than a week’s notice, required to be on-call, to be sent home during slow shifts, or to work “clopenings.” According to the report these disparities are even greater in Seattle than nationally.
- Nearly half of the workers said they would sacrifice 20% of their pay in order to receive one week’s advance notice of their schedule.
The full report is available here.