A Look at Seattle's New Upzoning Regulations

On March 18th, Seattle City Council voted nearly unanimously to upzone 27 neighborhoods throughout the city, with the changes set to take effect on April 19th. Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA), aims to add affordable housing opportunities for low-income Seattle residents through taller single- and multi-family projects throughout many parts of Seattle. City official reports indicate that new and existing MHA regulations will provide 6,000 new affordable residences at a minimum.

This new MHA measure comes after a 2017 upzone of six Seattle neighborhoods, which included South Lake Union and Lower Queen Anne, Downtown Seattle and Central Seattle, the Chinatown-International District, and the University District. Now MHA reaches as far north as Bitter Lake Village, Northgate and Lake City, extending south to Greenwood-Phinney Ridge, Crown Hill, Ballard and Green Lake, toward Wallingford, Fremont, Eastlake, Upper Queen Anne and First Hill, down through Beacon Hill, Columbia City, Othello and Rainier Beach. Parts of West Seattle, including Admiral, West Seattle Junction, and Morgan Junction, are also affected.

MHA provides two options for builders to adhere to affordable housing requirements:

  1. The Performance Option: requires that five to eleven percent of the homes in a new multi-family building be offered to low-income residents.

  2. The Payment Option: charges developers a fee that ranges from $5.00 to $32.75 per square foot on their project, should they elect not to provide low-income homes in their project.

The City of Seattle expects that there will be a balance between the two options and that beginning in September 2019, Mayor Durkan will begin to receive reports regarding program performance—data that will be leveraged as future changes are considered.

For more information, visit the City of Seattle MHA Webpage >>