Growth Management Hearings Board Denies SCALE Appeal of MHA
The Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability and Equity (SCALE) lost its appeal of Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) Citywide Upzone policy, the Growth Management Hearings Board announced today. SCALE is a coalition of 27 neighborhood groups.
SCALE based its appeal on the City of Seattle’s lack of compliance with the Growth Management Act and its own Comprehensive Plan. MHA is the largest single zoning change in Seattle’s history, affecting residential zoning in all 26 Urban Village neighborhoods plus all multifamily and commercial zoning throughout the city. Issues included displacement of existing residents, preservation of trees, historic resources, and worsening utilities and services.
SCALE’s case was primarily based on information and requirements in Seattle City documents:
Police and fire response times are getting longer, hurting public safety. Most of the City’s sewers are at or near capacity and overflows into local waterways are a significant problem.
Citywide, unplanned development is causing a loss of tree canopy. City documents acknowledge that parks and parks acreage is inadequate now and will create significant adverse impacts with future increased growth.
Historic resource surveys are required in neighborhoods prior to redevelopment, but many neighborhoods don’t have those surveys, threatening a loss of historic resources.
Seattle has lost affordable housing because the City has failed to “identify affordable housing at risk of demolition and work to mitigate the displacement of residents ahead of planned upzones,” as required by the Comprehensive Plan.
SCALE is concerned that the City’s policies create unplanned growth and gives a blank check to developers without requiring their accountability to the city’s quality of life.
“We believe the best way is to restore planning neighborhood by neighborhood” SCALE President David Ward said. “With community involvement from the outset, we had very few planning delays in the past.”
“This loss is disappointing!” Ward said. “We knew it was an uphill battle. There are 30 days to decide if we will appeal to Superior Court. We have no deep pockets, only a vision of a more livable and inclusive city.”
The Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability and Equity (SCALE) has decided to appeal the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) citywide upzone ordinance to the Growth Management Hearings Board and will submit the appeal by June 3. Issues include displacement of existing residents, preservation of trees, historic resources, and failure to consider alternative policies.
“We are not opposing growth or density,” SCALE President David Ward said, “but we are asking that the Growth Management Act be followed when it calls for balance between growth and livability. Each neighborhood has its own needs. Impacts should be evaluated on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.”
“Affordable housing for current residents should be preserved, and those residents not be displaced. Racial and social justice impacts should be at the forefront, not be an afterthought. Neither the City’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) nor the MHA ordinance acknowledged this duty to preserve livability while we grow,” Ward said. Ward is a renter in the Ravenna neighborhood.
“After 19 days of hearings and 11 expert witnesses, the City’s Hearing Examiner ignored almost all the evidence,” Ward said. The examiner found the EIS “adequate,” except for the City’s lack of any assessment of historical resources. The City Council adopted the MHA ordinance on March 18.
“We believe the ordinance violates not only the requirements of the State Environmental Policy Act, but also the Growth Management Act, so the next step is to appeal to the Growth Management Hearings Board on this broader basis,” Ward said.
SCALE is optimistic that the Growth Management Hearings Board will find in its favor and will remand the EIS and the entire upzone ordinance back to the City for planners to complete a true EIS that is thorough, transparent, accurate, inclusive and honest, and an ordinance that includes true neighborhood engagement and neighborhood-by-neighborhood planning for impacts and mitigations.
The Growth Management Hearings Board process can take up to six months for a decision.
The purpose of the Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability & Equity (SCALE) is to defend and promote affordability, livability, and equity in Seattle neighborhoods as informed by public participation of the residents themselves in each of Seattle’s unique neighborhoods.
MHA is full of false promises. It will increase, not reduce the cost of housing. It will replace diverse communities with gentrified communities. It will not build family-size housing and removes all single-family zoning in urban villages. It will displace long-time residents and leave them with no place to live. It will produce only a very tiny amount of affordable housing. It may not even produce more affordable housing units than it destroys.
SCALE is opposed to the MHA legislation. SCALE is a coalition of community groups comprised of volunteers from neighborhoods throughout Seattle. We live in neighborhoods, not in housing production zones. MHA treats residents of Seattle, historic buildings, trees, and yards as having no value, and only values the developer profits of the “Grand Bargain”. SCALE asks the Council and the Mayor to reject the MHA legislation.
SCALE calls for the Mayor to engage with the neighborhoods. SCALE supports the anti-displacement resolution before the City Council and urges passage without delay. We need to preserve existing affordable housing and ensure that residents displaced by redevelopment can find affordable places to live.
Should the MHA legislation pass the City Council and be signed by the Mayor, SCALE is considering appealing the inadequately considered impacts of the MHA legislation to the Growth Management Hearings Board.
The Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability, and Equity (SCALE) held a Press Conference on Monday March 18 at 1:15 PM in Seattle City Hall before the City Council meeting at 2:00 PM to consider the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation.
Press Conference with the Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability, and Equity (SCALE) Monday March 18, 1:15 PM Seattle City Hall firstname.lastname@example.org
As the Seattle City Council prepares to vote on the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation, a coalition of community groups will detail the false promises, neighborhood impacts, and displacement of residents by the “Grand Bargain”. The Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability, and Equity (SCALE) will hold a press conference on Monday March 18 at 1:15 PM at Seattle City Hall (at the foyer near the Bertha Knight Landes Room). SCALE is considering whether to file suit under Growth Management Act (GMA) to overturn MHA.
SCALE is a city-wide coalition of community groups that appealed the adequacy of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the MHA legislation.