Council President Sally J. Clark
Seattle City Council passes South Lake Union rezone
SEATTLE - Seattle City Council unanimously passed Council Bill 117603, a package of land use changes that increases the development capacity of the South Lake Union neighborhood to accommodate projected future job growth and housing demands.
"After eight years of collaboration with South Lake Union stakeholders, neighbors and city staff, we're finally implementing the 2004 designation of South Lake Union as an 'Urban Center' and the South Lake Union Neighborhood Plan update," said Councilmember Richard Conlin, Chair of the Special Committee on South Lake Union and the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee. "By 2031, South Lake Union will have to absorb some 12,000 households and 22,000 jobs to continue to meet its share of future growth. This rezone will take the pressure off other neighborhoods and will shape South Lake Union for the next hundred years," added Conlin.
In addition to allowing greater building heights, the new zoning also imposes development standards and incentives to encourage a diverse urban form, more open space and an improved streetscape. For example:
"This is the culmination of many years of hard work by many people," said City Council President Sally J. Clark. "Cascade neighbors, the South Lake Union Community Council, businesses large and small, property owners, research institutions, social service and low-income housing providers - they haven't always agreed, but they've all worked to shape a vision and now the rules for development of an amazing place to live and work."
The Council modified the legislation submitted by Mayor Mike McGinn by adding requirements for greener buildings, historic preservation and view protection, and strengthening affordable housing provisions. Major amendments approved by the Council include:
The Mayor's proposed legislation included a requirement for developers to either include affordable housing in their projects or to contribute to funds for building low income housing if the developer chooses to build above the base height, which is 85 feet in most of the neighborhood. The Council increased the amount of the required fee by 43% for residential projects in hopes of generating more affordable workforce housing in the neighborhood. The fee for commercial projects will increase 33%, phased in over eighteen months.
"We improved the South Lake Union proposal significantly for the public by generating more resources for affordable workforce housing, encouraging the creation of a new public school and establishing a positive precedent for future upzones that will ensure smart growth for Seattle," said Councilmember Tim Burgess.
"I am proud of the work Council did to strengthen the incentives to build more affordable workforce housing in South Lake Union, creating more opportunities for people to live near where they work," said Councilmember Mike O'Brien.
"As we grow denser - and we must - we are growing in a manner that promotes Seattle values: affordability, an inviting pedestrian environment, open space and protected public views, and design standards that will give us a neighborhood worthy of civic pride," said Councilmember Jean Godden.
"The rezone package strikes a sensible balance between developers and the affordability targets by the City. This year, we will begin a 7-year major update to the City's Comprehensive Plan so policy work will continue to address the city's share of affordable housing needs and stimulate the market with smart development," said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. "We want a City where residents can live, work and play. Most importantly, in this process to set a clear vision for the South Lake Union neighborhood, Council was forward-thinking and inclusive."