Question-MarkFAQs last updated February 8, 2017.  

NEW:  City provides answer to Community questions from November 5, 2016 Neighbor to neighbor meeting.

Download a .pdf with the City’s answers to neighbor’s questions about rezoning.

Why is the City rezoning and expanding boundaries for urban villages?

Because Seattle is growing very fast and becoming a very expensive place to live, City leaders are trying to find ways to capitalize on all the growth and create 20,000 affordable housing units, 6000 units which would be funded by private development within the 30 Urban Villages around the city. The City Council has already unanimously passed the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan  and the Mandatory Housing Affordability Plan (MHA).  Under MHA, new development in Seattle will contribute directly to affordable housing by either building affordable homes on site or requiring developers to pay a fee to the City to fund affordable housing throughout Seattle. To put MHA requirements into effect, the City must make zoning changes that will allow more development within Urban Villages and other areas zoned for multifamily and commercial development.

Are the draft rezone maps really drafts?

Yes. These are draft zoning maps that we, as community members, have the opportunity to shape and influence. We have been told that approval of these new maps may take up to a year; giving us opportunity to continue our efforts. To join our work and take an active role, please consider volunteering with us. We are particularly interested in securing people with a background in development, urban design, and other skills related to creating a livable urban community.

How would this rezone as currently proposed impact my property and neighborhood?

Go here to download the maps, a comparison analysis and descriptions of the proposed housing types for each of the changes.

  • Allow more density throughout Crown Hill Urban Village. Properties along arterials and immediate adjacent side streets would be upzoned to Neighborhood Commercial 75 – the equivalent of a seven story building and NC 55.
  • Seventy percent of current single family properties would be rezoned to a new zoning designation calls Residential Small Lot which will add increased density on lots that are 4000 square feet or larger. Some areas would be rezoned from single family to Low-rise multifamily.
  • Existing lowrise and commercial zoning could be built taller and larger than currently allowed throughout the Urban Village and adjacent to frequent transit routes.

Our Maps Webpage has complete information.

What specifically has changed in the new draft zoning maps for CHUV?

The Urban Village boundaries have been expanded, and every property within the boundary would be rezoned – or have changes in the existing zoning definitions – with these changes.  We’ve created a handy comparison tool on our website, which can be downloaded here.

How does the draft Re-zone map in CHUV compare to other Urban Villages?

View the other 30 Urban Village rezone maps here.  The Urban Villages that may have boundary expansions are 130th & I-5 (new), Columbia City, Crown Hill, Green Lake/Roosevelt, North Beacon Hill, Othello, Rainier Beach offerer the best comparative, knowing that CHUV is the only UV being expanded without light rail.  When you compare the re-zone maps of Crown Hill and other expansion urban villages, you will note that CHUV has more Residential Small Lot zoning than many comparative Urban Villages, which are getting more low-rise.  You will also note that density in CHUV is centered along arterials, instead of distributed widely.

My home is slated to be rezoned from Single Family to Residential Small Lot.  How will that rezone and the MHA fee impact my property?

We have your questions into the City for answers, and will post more detailed information back here.  Go here for detailed renderings of RSL.

Can homeowners in the proposed new RSL still build a mother in law (ADU) or backyard cottage (DADU)? 

Yes, owners can build and ADU or DADU on an RSL lot, and they would NOT be required to pay the MHA fee to add and ADU.  It’s still undetermined whether a MHA fee would apply to add a DADU to their property. (answer updated January 27, 2017)

Will Mandatory Housing Affordability and rezoning mean more affordable housing here in CHUV?

Not necessarily. Developers will have the option of paying a fee when building in the urban villages rather than  build affordable housing on-site.  The fee will be based on the size of the project (this is what the M designations mean on the zoning maps). The larger the project, the larger the fee. Some developers may choose to include affordable units in their developments; so with larger scale projects there may be affordable units included in new housing built here in the Crown Hill Urban Village. Others, particularly those building smaller scale properties like town homes and low rises or cottage housing in RSL zones, will likely opt to pay into a City fund.

Interestingly, we’ve learned that the City and nonprofit developers can build out more affordable units by receiving fees from for-profit developers because they can use Federal and other matching grants, as well as nonprofit tax advantages, to increase the dollars they have to work with. However the City is not required to spend moneys collected from fees in CHUV to build affordable housing here.

Our Committee is also working to make the case with the City that our community will be significantly impacted by displacement of renters living in single family homes and older apartment buildings, many of which are already naturally affordable housing.

What are the City’s goals for more density and affordable housing? What are the goals for our Urban Village?

The City currently has a minimum goal to create 20,000 affordable units within the next 10 years citywide, with 6,000 of those generated through private development dollars. There are no density or affordable housing goals set for the individual urban villages at this time though the City is using a ballpark estimate of 250 affordable units that are either built or are built from fees collected from within CHUV.  We will post any firm affordable housing goals for CHUV when the City releases them.

What is the projected timeline for rezone maps approval?

We have been told that before the City Council can pass the final zoning maps, the City must complete and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The scope for the EIS should be released in September 2017, and it is expected to be challenged and appealed. We anticipate that the earliest the maps would go to the City Council is early Summer, and passage of the maps could be in Fall, 2017. See our comments for what the Environmental Impact Statement study scope should include here.

Who is making the final decisions on the rezone maps?

The City Council will vote on urban village rezoning maps, and ultimately the City Council will decide what final zoning maps developed by the Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development and the Mayor will be implemented.  Contact the City Council directly here.

What about infrastructure to mitigate the impacts of growth?

The Committee has made the case for concurrent infrastructure investments, sending letters to City Councilmembers and sending community members to testify at public hearings. However, at this time we have nothing concrete to report (other than the drainage and flooding progress referenced elsewhere in this FAQ). That said, we have been heard and are working with Councilmember Mike O’Brien to identify community infrastructure issues with City Department Directors. According to our community survey, the most pressing issues identified are police response time, bus transit downtown, and lack of sidewalks north of 85th.

Why are we considered an area with “very good transit” by the city?

The City considers our current bus service to be “very good transit.”  Our survey suggests ample bus transit service is a high value for our community—it ranked #2 in terms of immediate issues for the City to address before rezoning. In survey comments, people made clear that the service is already overcrowded during peak hours and is too slow now at 45 minutes to an hour to travel 7 miles downtown. We have raised this issue with the City and with your help will keep driving this important message through our outreach to City officials and other decision makers.

What about Light Rail (ST3)?

Neither the City, nor Metro or Sound Transit currently have plan to provide our urban village with a light rail option. The closest light rail stations planned (over the next 20-plus years), will be in Ballard and on Aurora.  We are one of four urban villages that does not have light rail at this time. Even with the recent approval of ST3, the light rail to Ballard stops at 15th Ave NW and Elliot, which is not walkable for most living in CHUV.

What about parking?

There is no current parking requirement for development in urban villages, nor will there be a parking requirement in the urban village expansion. Some neighbors have raised the idea of having Restricted Parking Zones (RPZ) for residential streets so that we are able to continue parking in the future. Legitimate concerns have been raised in communities with mail boxes on the street (north of 85th) regarding lack of Federal mail service when people park in front of mail boxes due to access issues, as well as concerns about pedestrian safety and emergency service access. We are raising these ideas and concerns with the City.

What about drainage and flooding?

Our District 6 Councilmember Mike O’Brien and Councilmember Rob Johnson have requested that SPU include an evaluation of the drainage issues north of 85th in their 2017 work plan. We anticipate the Seattle Public Utilities findings will reveal the need for improved drainage in several areas of Crown Hill. This progress on drainage and flooding is due to our advocacy and the information (and photos) we provided to the City in regards to this issue. We will post updates on this issue on our website as they become available. Councilmember O’Brien has said that the City will not re-zone or allow development in the flood-impacted areas of CHUV if it will make the problem worse, and they are moving to evaluate and address the problem.

I already see new developments being built on 15th, Holman and 85th – is the City already permitting under HALA?

No, what you see being built right now in the urban village are being built under the current zoning and within the current capacity, and what you see being built now is allowed under existing rules, but is only now being utilized in our current housing boom.  The HALA upzones are not in effect yet, and these upzones would be in addition to what is already being permitted and will shape our neighborhood in the future over the next 10-20 years.  You can see major building permits at Shaping Seattle.  View all permits and development activity at the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspection (SDCI) website ( http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/default.htm ) and use their Find Status & Activity tool.  

What can neighbors do to impact these changes?

The Crown Hill Urban Village Committee for Smart Growth has been and will continue to advocate for community planning before zoning and growth is informed by a community plan, design guidelines and other basic tools to ensure a livable community for current and future residents. We will also continue to advocate for meaningful infrastructure and transit investments, as well as our recommendations, which have been endorsed by community members and leaders. However, we need the involvement of additional community members to keep our organization strong and active. Please consider volunteering for our steering committee.

Who is the Committee for Smart Growth?

We are your neighbors. Our organization formed in early 2016 after several community meetings hosted by the Crown Hill Neighborhood Association brought a group of us together. Gathering feedback and participation from community groups for the neighborhoods potentially affected (Olympic Manor, Crown Hill, Greenwood, and Whittier Heights) as well as people who have expressed interest in working with us on these issues; we’ve hosted many meetings to raise awareness on the issues, successfully placed HALA focus group members for our urban village, met with key members of the City Council, and had a number of people give testimony at public hearings for the City on these issues. We welcome your feedback.  Contact us at info@crownhillurbanvillage.org and participation.

What is the Crown Hill Urban Village (CHUV) and proposed expansion area anyway?

The Crown Hill Urban Village (a residential urban village) was created by the 1994 Seattle Comprehensive Plan, when the City designated six Urban Centers, six Hub Urban Villages and 18 Residential Urban Villages in Seattle and designated these areas to concentrate future growth in population (density) and jobs (economic development).   The center of CHUV is at the intersection of 15th and 85th NW.

The Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan update includes a proposed expansion of our Urban Village boundaries.  The expansion boundary was drawn to include the area within a 10-minute walk of light rail or frequent transit station (In Crown Hill – the bus) about 1/2-mile.

The draft rezoning map shows borders for the urban village that extend as far as 21st Ave NW to 8th Ave NW along the East/West axis in some places and from 77th Ave NW all the way to 95th Ave NW. Not all properties within the boundaries are slated for rezoning. By looking at the map, you can see that rezones the boundary along 8th Ave NW only extends for roughly a block either way, for example.

The proposed expansion for CHUV is the largest land-area expansion planned in the City.

What is HALA ?

The Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) is “a multi-pronged strategy for addressing the housing affordability crisis in Seattle and adding density in the city to meet the rapid growth and demand for housing.”

My neighborhood isn’t “Crown Hill”.  Why is my property included in the Crown Hill Urban Village (CHUV) or expansion area?

The CHUV and expansion area actually includes parts of several neighborhoods:  Loyal Heights, Whittier Heights, Greenwood, Olympic Manor and Crown Hill.  We believe it’s critical for all impacted neighborhoods to work together to guide Smart Growth in the CHUV, as it affects all of us.

Didn’t I hear that the Mayor excluded Single Family properties from upzoning?

The initial HALA proposal announced back in the summer of 2015 included a provision to increase density in all ALL Single Family zones in the City by allowing duplex and triplex developments. After a backlash from the neighborhoods, the Mayor revised this proposal to limit Single Family upzoning to Urban Villages and areas already zoned multifamily.

How can I get involved? 

  • Sign up to get more information and use the tools on this website to make your voice heard. We need advocates to the City Council and City meetings, and participants skilled in design and planning as our neighborhood changes and grows.  And neighbors who are willing to help organize events, pass out flyers and more.
  • Learn more about the recommendations for smarter growth for our neighborhood and be informed.
  • Check back on this website for updates of upcoming events and ways you can be involved and influence the changes
  • Spread the word to your neighbors.