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Statement by Mayor Jenny Durkan Celebrating Seattle Hearing Examiner Ruling That Clears the Path for More Affordable Housing

SEATTLE (November 21, 2018) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan heralded a ruling by the Seattle Hearing Examiner that clears the path for more affordable housing in Seattle.  

The Seattle Hearing Examiner ruled today that the environmental analysis of MHA conducted by the City, the Environmental Impact Statement, adequately explores most of the major impacts of the proposal, as well as identified policies that policymakers could implement to mitigate those impacts. The ruling does call for some refinements to the analysis that the City is prepared to start quickly. 

With today’s ruling by the Seattle Hearing Examiner, the Seattle City Council can move forward early next year to consider and adopt legislation implementing Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) requirements on new development in neighborhoods across Seattle. MHA is expected to generate at least 6,000 new rent-restricted homes for low-income people over the next decade. 

“This ruling is a step forward for more affordable housing in Seattle,” said Mayor Durkan. “We must build more affordable housing as quickly as possible. We will move quickly to do the minor work required so we can begin to build these much-needed affordable homes. I look forward to working with City Council and Seattle residents as we continue to invest to create a more affordable future and ensure that our fastest-growing neighborhoods can be vibrant, livable places for the next generation.”  

The Hearing Examiner determined that the City must conduct further analysis of historic resources. City staff is prepared to conduct the additional environmental review in early 2019.

The Seattle City Council unanimously implemented MHA affordable housing requirements in 2017 through zoning changes in six neighborhoods (University District, Downtown, South Lake Union, Chinatown-International District, along 23rd Ave in the Central Area, and Uptown). By extending MHA to Seattle’s other urban villages, as well as all other existing multifamily residential and commercial zones, new development will generate thousands of additional rent– and income-restricted homes. 

MHA affordable housing requirements take effect when the Seattle City Council adopts new zoning that adds development capacity. Development must either include new affordable homes in the building or fund their construction through payments to the City’s Office of Housing. By enacting affordable housing requirements and development capacity increases at the same time, MHA is consistent with a state-approved approach used in other Washington cities.