Neighborhoods For All

A high quality of life, natural beauty and a growing economy continue to attract new residents to Seattle. Since 2010, the city has added more than 105,000 residents, surpassing 700,000 in 2017. One implication of this growth has been a rise in housing prices, creating an increase in the exclusivity of single-family neighborhoods. Allowing more housing in single-family zones, especially in high-cost areas, is critical to stemming the rapid increase of displacement in Seattle's most vulnerable communities.

The Seattle Planning Commission advises the City Council and the Mayor on comprehensive planning issues, including land-use and housing. The strategies in the Commission's Neighborhoods For All report are a combination of short-term and long-term policy opportunities for elected officials and City staff to explore further with community involvement. 

The fundamental goal of the report is to increase housing choices by returning to the mix of housing and development patterns found in many of Seattle's older and most walkable neighborhoods. The Seattle Planning Commission has approached this work with the hope of continuing this necessary and urgent conversation about reexamining our land use policies. 

Download the executive summary in English, or Español // 繁體中文 (Traditional) // 简体中文 (Simplified) // af Soomaali // Tagalog // Tiếng Việt // 한국어

You can explore a short summary version of the report's information in this Story Map

Click here to download the press release as a PDF.

Q: Is the Planning Commission interested in removing all single-family zoning?
A: The Planning Commission supports an evolution away from one-size-fits-all single-family zoning, towards a more flexible policy that can help the City meet our housing, and sustainability goals. Changes to single-family zoning wouldn't remove the design standards or review process that currently exists, and it wouldn't result in the removal of single-family homes.

Q: Does the Seattle Planning Commission support a one-size fits all change to single-family zoning?
A:The current single-family zoning blankets the city with a one-size-fits-all zoning policy.  The recommendations in this report would allow for the gradual, incremental reintroduction of historic building patterns while helping to preserve the character of single-family neighborhoods-that's what we designed the strategies to support.

Q: How is the content in this report related to the Housing Affordability & Livability Agenda (HALA), or Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA)?
A:

  • This report was developed by the Seattle Planning Commission, which is a collection of Seattle residents who volunteer their time to advise the Mayor and  City Council on planning topics. The strategies in the Commission's Neighborhoods For All report are a combination of short-term and long-term policy opportunities for elected officials and City staff to explore further with community involvement.
  • HALA is a City-led multi-prong approach to create an affordable and livable city. One of HALA's strategies for creating an affordable livable city is Mandatory Housing Affordability. MHA is a new requirement for developers of each new commercial and multi-family residential development to either include affordable housing as part of their development, or make a payment to support affordable housing in Seattle.  In exchange for creating affordable housing, developers will be able to access additional zoning capacity.

Q: Why was this report developed without talking to the community?
A: Because the Planning Commission is an advisory body, any legislation that may be generated from these strategies will be developed by City staff. That process will provide opportunities for community input.

Q: How could the strategies in your report be implemented?
A: If elected officials hear from community members that there is support for the report's strategies, they can decide if funds will be allocated to staff to pursue the development of those strategies.
Affordability/Displacement

Q: Will the strategies in this report lead to a "free-for-all" for developers?
A: Zoning is only one land use tool that the City uses to control the amount and types of development. There are, and will continue to be, design review and permitting processes that guide development. Our report calls on the city to develop design standards for duplexes, triplexes, courtyard apartments, etc., with the intent of continuing to control development.   

Q: If we allow more development, won't that lead to more displacement?
A: When property owners can gain an additional revenue stream, they may also be less likely to sell to a developer. For example, if a home can transform their single-family house into a duplex, they may have less incentive to sell. Our strategies are intended to reduce displacement of residents.

Q: Would this report's parking policies remove parking on my street?
A: The Neighborhoods for all report encourages the flexibility of zoning in walkable areas with access to transit, which would reduce the need for cars. Seattle is the only city in the country to have increasing per capita transit ridership and is partnering with transit agencies in response.  The 9-year Transportation Levy to Move Seattle, is creating seven new RapidRide bus corridors, improving connections to three light rail stations, providing safe walking routes to schools and building 50 miles of protected bike lanes across Seattle.  

Q: My bus is already full every morning, shouldn't we add more transit before we add more housing?
A: The Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda has also considered this question, and has a very complete response: "Seattle is expected to grow by 120,000 people in the next 20 years.  We simply won't be able to accommodate a new car for every new person. That's why we remain committed to creating public transportation solutions to be better able to move people efficiently throughout the city. Thanks to Seattle voters, we are in the process of dramatically increasing public transit service across the city. More and more options are being created such as Uber and car share, and bicycling paths and pedestrian walkways are being improved throughout the city. This increase in transit will bring reliable and frequent service to 70% of Seattle. Additionally, existing law still allows builders to build parking if the market demands it. For example, apartment complexes can choose to build on-site parking or work with private parking garages or lots in innovative ways."

Q: My community center/library/parks are already full, if there was more housing in my neighborhood, wouldn't it get more crowded?
A: Parks and open space, schools and transit are improving and will continue to be improved in response to population growth.

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2018, December 7
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2018, December 4
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2018, December 4
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2018, December 3
Zoning changes could improve affordable housing in Seattle, report says

2018, December 3
Changes to Seattle's single-family zoning could improve housing picture, city report says

2018, November 14
Why Cities Must Tackle Single-Family Zoning

2018, November 9
What Seattle's Redlining History Tells Us About Wealth Today

2018, November 5
When Millennials Battle Boomers Over Housing

2018, October 29
Morning Crank: Toward a Redefinition of "Single-Family"

2018, October 24
Climate Action and Housing Action Are One

2018, October 19
Morning Crank: Rethinking the Vaunted Neighborhood Plans of the '90s

2018, October 18
The J is for Judge: It Takes One to Know One

2018, October 8
Seattle's Backyard Cottage Plan Falls Short

2018, October 1
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2018, September 19
Here's What U.S. Cities Gain if Housing is Affordable

2018, September 17
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2018, September 8
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2018, August 31
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2018, July 31
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2018, June 20
If You Lived Here You'd Be Home By Now: How Neighborhoods Can Kick Car Habits   

2018, June 7
Toward Dynamic Zoning Codes

2018, June 1
What is the Correct Percentage of Single-Family Zoning in Seattle?

2018, June 1
Some Seattle Neighborhoods are Untouched by Rapid Population Growth. Why?

2018, May 31
White Seattle Needs a Reality Check on the City's Growth

2018, May 24
Seattle's New Environmental Study on Accessory Dwellings Obliterates Obstructionists' Claims

2018, May 24
The Narrowing of a Neighborhood: Wallingford

2018, May 22
DEIS Shows Options and Urgency of Pending Backyard Cottage Reform

2018, May 21
The City Studied the Impact of Easing Rules on Garage Apartments. What They Uncovered Was an Indictment of Single-Family Zoning

2018, May 3
Rapidly Growing Seattle Constrains New Housing Through Widespread Single-Family Zoning

2018, April 17
Why Are Seattle-Area Home Prices So High?

2018, April 6
Seattle Median Home Price Hits Record $820k, Soaring $43k in a Month, Putting Buyers in a 'Pressure cooker'

2016, November 1
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