In Crosscut a few weeks back I wrote about the chance Seattle has to build some bridges (or tunnels if you must) between urbanists, environmentalists, labor, and the business community on land use. I think the South Downtown rezones presents just such an opportunity.
Like many land use questions, this one is pushing friends onto opposite sides–or at least into camps of different opinion. Preservationists seem to be favoring the more conservative DPD proposal being offered and likely debated next week, changing the variable height of 100 feet and limiting heights beyond that to 120 feet.
The letter I am reproducing below (in its entirety, including weird spacing from the PDF) is pushing for more than that in Pioneer square. Those of use who signed it are a motley bunch. Three of us–Dan Bertolet, Chuck Wolfe and myself–could be considered “area bloggers.” Others are sort of usual suspects for this sort of thing.
When it gets down to it, it’s the Council that has to make this tough decision. Nobody wants to obliterate Pioneer Square. On the other hand, there is an interest in giving the area a boost by taking advantage of new developments in transit and new development potential.
I think a heartier and citywide TDR program for historic buildings would help in this situation, and could garner the support of many of the preservationists concerned about new development. I think. I don’t know. I’ll write a bit more about TDR soon. I also plan to write more about the incentive zoning program mentioned in the letter that intends to address housing affordability, but, in fact, doesn’t do anything of the sort, in my view.
Mostly though, I think what is most interesting about the letter is the diversity of the people signing on. I think the coalition I wrote about in Crosscut is possible, but we need preservationists on board to make it more effective.
April 12, 2011
Councilmember Sally Clark
Councilmember Tim Burgess
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen
Seattle City Council
PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124- ‐4025
Thank you for your continued thoughtful review of the proposed Livable South Downtown Legislation and for the time you have put in working with and listening to stakeholders. We strongly support adoption of a rezone proposal that prioritizes market rate and workforce housing, maximizes housing and employment density near transit stations and corridors and encourages public and private investment in South Downtown. We believe the following modifications to the legislation are necessary in order to achieve these goals:
Increase maximum heights and densities in Pioneer Square. Additional height and density in Pioneer Square will result in more market rate and workforce housing, which means more residents supporting local retailers, activating parks and providing eyes on the street. Today, hundreds of new employees are making their way to Pioneer Square, but they have limited housing options if they desire to live in the neighborhood where they work. We urge you to adopt the maximum height and density limits studied in the EIS for Pioneer Square.
Increase the maximum floor area ratio south of South Charles Street to 5 in order leverage transit oriented development opportunities and permit greater development flexibility. In 2009, the City of Seattle had 30,000 fewer jobs than in the year 2000. We urge you to provide property owners greater flexibility to attract major employers to Seattle and maximize transit oriented development.
Require a review of incentive zoning provisions in 2011 and include a wide range of community stakeholders in the process. The city’s current incentive zoning, bonus and amenity programs are confusing and don’t acknowledge the unique needs or market conditions of individual Seattle neighborhoods. We urge the City Council to require a review of the program within the South Downtown resolution that is currently before the Committee on the Built Environment. The current draft resolution does not go far enough in its commitment to analyze and address the IZ program. We believe the review should be guided by the recommendations made by the Seattle Planning Commission in its 2007 report titled “Incentive Zoning in Seattle: Enhancing Livability and Housing Affordability.” In the report the Commission writes:
In order to ensure that the developers take advantage of density bonuses while also ensuring the public receives significant benefits, the City should take great care to create programs that make economic sense for each zone or area being considered. What works in one place might not make sense in another, particularly when construction technology is factored in. Seattle should ensure that the upzones it provides are significant enough to provide real benefit to developers and a substantial difference in its effort to increase density. (Incentive Zoning in Seattle, Seattle Planning Commission, 2007)
The City’s Comprehensive Plan establishes future goals for housing inventory in SouthDowntown. In order to reach these goals of balanced housing in South Downtown, incentive zoning requirements must be structured appropriately and reflect the cost of development in South Downtown relative to other neighborhoods in the City. The review of the program should also explore a new definition of affordability that accounts for improved transit access and reduced transportation costs within South Downtown and other dense Seattle neighborhoods.
We believe a serious review and revision of the incentive zoning program is required in order to achieve increased densities and additional workforce and market rate housing in Seattle.
Thank you for your continued hard work on the South Downtown rezone. We appreciate your consideration of our comments.
Mick McHugh – ‐ FX McRory’s
Tamara Murphy – ‐ Owner, Elliott Bay Café
Tomoko Moriguchi Matsuno – ‐ Uwajimaya
Jen Kelly, Pioneer Square resident
Dan Greenshields – ‐ ING Direct
John Bisbee – ‐ Owner, KOBO
Renee Staton – ‐ Leadership for Great Neighborhoods
Phil Bussey – ‐ Seattle Chamber of Commerce
Tyler Moriguchi – ‐ Member of CIDBIA Board
Binko Bisbee – ‐ Owner, KOBO
Dan Bertolet – ‐ Citytank
Bryan Yeck – ‐ Zeitgeist
Kate Joncas – ‐ Downtown Seattle Association
Ron and Diane King – ‐ Property Owners
Ferdod Haghighi – ‐ Designs by Ferdod
Rick Cocker – ‐ Cocker|Fennessy
Richard Thurston – ‐ Grover/Thurston Gallery Inc. and Pioneer Square resident
Jerry Cohen – ‐ Co- ‐owner of Ebbets Fields Flannels
Karli Neale – ‐ Designs by Ferdod
Tomio Moriguchi – ‐ Uwajimaya
Charles Royer – ‐ Pioneer Square resident
Roger Valdez – ‐ Researcher and writer
Assunta Ng – ‐ Owner/Publisher, Northwest Asian Weekly
Susan Grover – ‐ Grover/Thurston Gallery and Owner/Publisher, Seattle Chinese Post Inc.
Jeff Reibman – ‐ Architect, Leadership for Great Neighborhoods
Randi Pierson – ‐ CB Richard Ellis
Marianne Pulfer – ‐ Architect and Pioneer Square resident
Denny Onslow – ‐ Harbor Properties
Natalie Quick – ‐ Leadership for Great Neighborhoods
Andy Yip – ‐ Hong Kong Association of Washington and Board President, International Examiner
Larry Larson – ‐ American Hotel
Allegra Calder – ‐ Downtown property owner
Brian D. Scott – ‐ Downtown resident
Jeff Schoenfeld – ‐ Property owner
Brad Tong – ‐ Sheils|Oblitz|Johnsen
Rita Brogan – ‐ PRR
Chuck Wolfe – ‐ Attorney and board member of Great City
Dirk Park – ‐ Resident and Business Owner
Anne Fennessy – ‐ Cocker|Fennessy and Pioneer Square resident
Dan McGrady – ‐ Leadership for Great Neighborhoods
Lei Ann Shiramizu – ‐ Owner, Momo
Thomas Kleifgen – ‐ Owner, Momo
Scott Shapiro – ‐ American Hotel
Gabe Grant – ‐ HAL Real Estate Investment Inc.
Jessica Clawson – ‐ Leadership for Great Neighborhoods