JuNO Land Use Committee to city: Include apartments In upcoming HALA outreach

information from JuNO

It’s not enough for the City of Seattle to reach out only to single-family home residents affected by the recently proposed upzone and boundary expansion of the West Seattle Junction Urban Village – apartment residents should have their voices heard as well, said the Land Use Committee of the Junction Neighborhood Organization (JuNO).

Last week came word that the City Office of Planning and Community Development will canvass residents in single-family homes slated to be upzoned under the controversial Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). That effort needs to be expanded to those living in apartment buildings, the committee said.

“Apartment residents deserve the chance to ask the City any number of critical questions, including how many units of affordable housing the HALA plan will create specifically in our urban village, what kind of units will be available for what income levels – including those for families – and why the upzoning is taking place even before we know where the light rail stations will be placed,” said committee member Christy Tobin-Presser.

The HALA outreach process has been troubled from the start. Despite language in the City’s comprehensive plan that describes a “bottom-up neighborhood planning process,” officials released proposed upzoning maps quietly last October, did not notify those directly affected by the changes, and offered only one evening of poorly organized public meetings for the West Seattle Junction in the midst of the December holidays. Public outcry, spread through social media and neighbor-to-neighbor communications, forced the City to add an event on January 26 where a standing-room only crowd made clear its displeasure with the plan.

As a result, JuNO launched a petition asking the City to delay the start of the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the West Seattle Junction Urban Village by six months. Through door-to-door efforts, JuNO volunteers have gathered close to 300 signatures.

Tobin-Presser said six months would allow the City, JuNO, and Sound Transit to craft a growth plan the neighborhood can support, one that includes economic diversity and affordable housing situated in the West Seattle Junction Urban Village; offers fair growth and density allocation; is supported by infrastructure improvements such as open space; and maximizes the benefit of light rail.

Despite the recent City announcement delaying the EIS start by two months, Tobin-Presser said the committee will push for a full six-month delay and deliver its petition to the City soon.

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