Many of the top desired markets are struggling to offer right-priced housing to incomers - land costs have gone so high that developers need to build high priced homes for a decent margin. This ongoing dilemma is coming to a head in some markets, and in the city of Seattle, legislators are doing something about it by revising the zoning.
The single-family zoning that dominates Seattle has priced people who aren’t rich out of most of the city’s neighborhoods, is contributing to income and racial inequality, and has forced the city’s booming population to crowd into small pockets of the city, a new planning-commission analysis concludes.
The advisory report released Monday stops short of recommending major citywide density but advocates for some mild changes that could affect districts that are mostly detached houses now. For instance, it asks for more duplexes near schools, expanding the boundaries of urban villages by a few blocks and reducing lot sizes to squeeze more homes into streets.
Like most cities, Seattle sets zoning rules that outline what can be built in different areas — from skyscrapers downtown and in South Lake Union to suburban-style homes with driveways in Magnolia and Crown Hill.
Facing historic population and housing-cost growth, the city has allowed taller buildings and more housing in some of its dense neighborhoods near transit — think central Ballard or the Junction in West Seattle.
But it’s kept single-family neighborhoods almost entirely unchanged: Residents in those areas dominate the electorate and many have been fiercely protective of keeping their neighborhoods the same, making any proposed changes there radioactive.Read More