At a recent Transit Talks meeting, I said “It’s really disturbing for me when I hear somebody talking about how glad they were to see the neighborhood district councils stand up for single-family zoning and then in the next breath disparage the president for wanting to build a wall between the US and Mexico. I see those two things as actually linked,” and I’d like to provide commentary about the spirit behind the sentiments. This remark reflects my passion for Seattle to be a welcoming city, and to me, being welcoming means making space – at the national, local, and neighborhood level.
Every day, as many as 40 people choose to move to Seattle to call it home. Whether it is a new job opportunity, an education, or the desire to live in a place where one can be themselves without fear of violence or harassment, Seattle is their destination. Others have lived in this city for 40 years and the milestones experienced represent a very personal history here. For both those new to Seattle and for those who have lived here for many years, my goal is to ensure that Seattle’s growth is founded in welcoming and inclusive values.
As a planner, I understand the challenges that can come alongside growth (added congestion on streets, a loss of neighborhood character, and increased demands on elements of neighborhood livability like parks and schools) may make many long-term residents of Seattle wary of growth. But it’s these hurdles that we work to address through land use policy. Here are a few examples of how we support and enhance the aspects that have for so long drawn people to our city while simultaneously welcome new neighbors and build pathways for everyone to prosper as a result of future growth:
- Increase access to economic prosperity and more affordable housing for a wide variety of households and housing types all throughout the city;
- Require new development to contribute to long-term subsidized units that allow low and moderate income people to stay in our city as housing costs rise;
- Contribute to neighborhood character through better design quality and strategies to protect historic structures;
- Make room for working families through new approaches to family-sized housing that allow for more families to occupy space that previously held one home and to encourage larger units to be built within higher-density areas;
- Encourage more spaces for neighbors to come together in our schools, parks, cultural institutions, and commercial districts;
- Establish new requirements for certain residential and commercial buildings to support multi modal transit for their occupants, and;
- Support the character of neighborhood businesses districts to reflect the vitality of the neighborhoods that they serve as more people call the neighborhood home.
To be able to extend more housing choices allows people to participate in and prosper from the opportunities presented by growth as well as increase the ability for established and emerging communities to be able to call this city home.
I’ll reiterate that to be welcoming means a lot of things, but through my land use work, it means to make space. Here’s how you can get involved to help have a voice in how we make space at the city and neighborhood level:
- Attend a workshop. To date we have supported 12 Urban Village Community Design Workshops, a number of neighborhood walks, and have 6 additional Workshops coming up between late February and March. Through this process to date, we have gotten feedback and questions from nearly 1,000 people throughout the city.
- Stay tuned for the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. This document will identify potential impacts related to citywide zone changes and how those impacts might be mitigated.
- Add your thoughts online. By using the city’s online engagement tool you can share concerns and opportunities as well as comment on your neighbors’ ideas.
- Talk with your neighbors. Attend one of your neighborhood meetings. Host a neighborhood or block meeting. Find ways to interact with more people who may have a different experience or lifestyle from you and meet new people in your neighborhood. In neighborhoods across the city, neighbors are talking about ways to both celebrate and improve the city; add your voice to the conversation.
- Sign up to receive updates at Seattle.Gov/HALA.
- Call the HALA Hotline, (206) 743-6612. Call with your questions or comments M-F from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.