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Friday, April 14, 2006

Taller Downtown = "Affordable" Downtown

In case you missed it last week, the downtown building height / "affordable housing" saga finally came to somewhat of a conclusion.

The repeal of the CAP initiative Monday was unanimous and underwhelming—an anticlimactic finish for a once-sacrosanct law that limited downtown building heights for almost 20 years. So uncontroversial was the new law, proposed by onetime CAP campaigner Peter Steinbrueck, that the only matter left to settle Monday was how much money to make residential developers pay toward affordable housing: The mayor wanted $10 per square foot; Steinbrueck, and affordable-housing advocates like Real Change and the Seattle Alliance for Good Jobs and Housing for Everyone (SAGE), wanted $20. In the end, Steinbrueck (more or less) got his way: a tiered system in which the fee, called an "affordable housing bonus," increases on floors above the current limit, for an average per-foot bonus of $18.94. The bonus, though contentious, will only pay for about 600 new affordable units downtown (2,600 once an uncontroversial $10 bonus for commercial buildings is factored in)—one reason Steinbrueck called it "a very small contribution toward the very large and growing gap in downtown affordability."
I think that when city officials use the word "affordable" they must mean something different than the way that I interpret that word. I have a feeling that the only real measurable change that will come out of all this will be taller buildings downtown.

(Erica C. Barnett, The Stranger, 04.06.2006)


waiting said...

So who gets this 10 or 20 dollar "affordable housing" money and where/what do they build with it?

Still like the NYC idea of just having a certain percentage of units in new bldgs. go affordable with tax decreases to the developer.

Otherwise, won't that $10-20 just be grafted off somewhere? I mean, how much of that money will actually go towards housing?

At any rate, I still believe that if they can keep this bldg up in Seattle, eventually prices will fall for everyone and "affordable" will just be a normal state of affairs.

Don't forget folks, we're competing with the Chinese and Indian workers now. Their wages may come a bit, ours have a LONG way to fall.

Unless we want tent cities on every corner, something's got to give.

waiting said...

make that: their wages may come UP a bit-

Rob Dawg said...

Yeah right. I was wondering if anyone can point to the examples where higher densities and talling buildings resulted in more afforadable housing? This is nothing more than yet another example of would be social engineers masquerading as urban planners.

seattle price drop said...

This is completely OT but for those on this blog who are realtors or have been realtors:

What, if any, are the laws governing the MLS list?

Is it perfectly legal to de-list a property, relist with a new number, roll DOM back to one day and call it "New on Market"?

I am seeing this ALL the time on the Seattle realty sites and it would seem that, at the very least it would go against some kind of 'truth in advertising" law.

Is the RE industry constrained by any ethics laws at all?

Please, anyone who has an answer regarding the laws of the MLS list and RE ethics in general, please enlighten us.

meshugy said...

Sorry...this is OT

Has anyone seen this?

Vacancies low, renters stay put

Looks like it will be increasingly more difficult to rent instead of buy. What does that say about the future of the Seattle market?

It's also interesting that they're citing the strong economy as a factor:

Foremost is the improving economy. The addition of 50,000 jobs to the area last year, and potentially as many again this year, give a big boost to apartment demand.


The Tim said...

Dang, meshugy... I'm in the middle of a post on that article at this moment. Seriously. You'll have a thread just for that article in mere minutes...

Anonymous said...

What, exactly, are these 50,000 jobs?

Which companies and how many jobs per company?

Give us the facts on this on this bit of info.

more jobs!!!!! said...

The Seatle Times Sunday "Job Market" section this week did a half page article on just one of the up and coming job fields for the region:


Apparently, all the new hotels that've been built are going to cause high demand for chambermaids.

Hourly wage- $7-12.00, average is just below $10, before taxes.

THAT ought to support huge home and rental appreciation in the city!

Anybody else got some concrete "new jobs news" for Seattle?