City Council Votes To Enact Mandatory Developer Fees

towersThe Seattle City Council voted 7-2 Monday to make real estate developer fees that would go toward building affordable housing mandatory; until now, developer fees have been voluntary. As reported by the Puget Sound Business Journal, the Affordable Housing Linkage Fee Program will require commercial and residential developers to pay a fee of anywhere from $5 to $22 per square foot of rentable space in the building, or make 3 to 5 percent of the building’s units available to those who make 80 percent or less of the area’s median income. According to KIRO, that works out to no more than $1,200 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Linkage fees will apply to developments mainly in commercial areas and multi-family residential zones, and will range from $16-$22 per square foot in Downtown and South Lake Union to as low as $5-$7 per square foot in the Rainier Valley and North Seattle (see the map of where fees would be applied here). The money generated by the fees would be used to build housing for people making 60 to 80 percent of the median income, which works out to $45,000 to $65,000 for a family of four, according to The Seattle Times. The fees would not apply to buildings in single-family neighborhoods.

Before the city council vote, a group of 13 land-use lawyers sent a letter to the council opposing the mandatory fees, saying they were illegal under current state law.

If you are interested in learning about housing in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today.

City Council Limits Building Heights On Small Lots

houses

Five of nine Seattle City Council members voted yesterday to set limits on building heights for homes built on small lots in single-family zones, an issue that has come to the forefront after an uptick in developers building tall (30 feet plus) narrow homes on lots that have been carved from back and side yards of stand-alone houses. The Seattle Times reports that the council vote set the height limit at 18 feet plus a five-foot pitched roof, or the average height of the surrounding homes, whichever is taller.

Residents have complained that homes built on these small lots sacrifice lawns, open space and trees in the name of density and are often out of scale with the more traditional homes in the neighborhood. Along with the building height limit, regulations will now prohibit development on lots smaller than 2,500 square feet, and neighbors will have the right to appeal proposed development on lots smaller than 3,200 square feet, according to the Times article. Council members also voted down what was called the “100 percent rule”, which would have allowed building on smaller lots if the lot was the average size of others on the same block.

 

City Council Budget Meeting Friday – Push for Public Safety

safetySeattle City Council will be holding a budget meeting Friday, October 25th, at 9:30am to discuss the proposed budget’s police elements and will meet again on Monday at 2:30pm to discuss the human services budget. The DSA has been working hard to raise awareness of the public safety concerns in Downtown Seattle. Mayor Mike McGinn has included expenditures directed at public safety such as additional police officers, park rangers, shelter beds and expanded human services in his proposed 2014 budget. The DSA is asking that you email the Seattle City Council or attend the meeting Friday to voice your support of the proposed 2014 budget and focus on improving public safety Downtown.

If you would like to email the city council, please sse the email address Council@seattle.gov and bcc Jon Scholes at  Jons@downtownseattle.org so that volume of emails can be tracked. Please visit the Downtown Seattle Association website for more information on the topic.

Seattle City Coucil Reaches Agreement in Arena Deal

Photo courtesy of Bellinghamherald.com

That’s right Sonics fans and Chris Hansen supporters, the rumors spreading around town are true; the votes are in, and Seattle is one step away from getting ourselves a brand new arena! Seattle City Council announced yesterday that they had reached an agreement with Chris Hansen on the proposed $490 million arena deal, gaining much support from the public, city officials, local politicians and other local figures in the community. If the agreement is approved, Hansen can begin the search for a Seattle NBA team, and we might be lucky enough the bring the Seattle SuperSonics back to home plate. Or hoop?

After much deliberation, even the Port of Seattle has initiated statements in agreeance with the new deal. According to the Seattle Times, the revised agreement will utilize $40 million towards transportation funds, specifically freight mobility and other various improvements indicated by the Port, and other maritime businesses in the Sodo area. The City Council has also stated that the Port will contribute to this fund, and that it could be used as leverage to receive additional funds from state and federal funding. The council’s Government Performance and Finance Committee will meet Thursday to discuss and vote on the revised memorandum of understanding, and then the agreement will go to the full council later this month, possibly the 17th or the 24th according to the City of Seattle . To keep up to date on the arena deal, please visit the City of Seattle.

Council Members Vote Against Arena On Public Ballot

They had a rally for the Sonics last week, and this week Chris Hansen is on the grind making moves for that arena! On Wednesday City Council members put Chris Hansen on the chopping block in a two hour questions and answer discussion regarding the $490 arena proposal, just a day after he did the same for the Metropolitan King County Council.

Hansen is seeking $200 million in public funding for the arena, to bring back an NBA team and entice a professional hockey team to the city.  According to the Seattle Times, when asked if sending the proposal to build an arena to a  public vote, a majority of the City Council members voted against it; making the claim that the decision was rightly theirs to make. When asked the same question Hansen made the argument that Seattle has already voted on initiative I-91, (requiring the city to see a return on any sports facility investments) and that “if every question before lawmakers was put to a vote, nothing would get done.” Fair enough. The majority of the council members later said that rather than taking to a public vote, they would continue to analyze Hansen’s proposal in house. If taxpayers voted in 2006 that they wanted to see a return on investments, they probably want it now too. Stay tuned for more arena updates!

Arena Deal Under Seattle City Council Scrutiny

Seattle City Council’s Top Dogs announced yesterday that they settled an agreement with Chris Hansen, hedge fund manager, to build a $490 million dollar sports arena in Sodo, and sent the proposal off to their individual councils to mull over and decide if the arena’s financial plans are feasible, and if the added traffic will affect Sodo’s industrial area. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine came out of the meeting with a positive outlook, with protection for taxpayers and a $800 million ballpark in private investments from Hansen and his investment group, ArenaCo. $290 million of the donations will go towards arena construction, and roughly $500 million will go to purchasing a National Basketball Association team; investors also hope the arena will attract a National Hockey League in the near future.

Seattle investor Chris Hansen & Mayor Mike McGinn Shake on it; Photo Couresty of the Seattle Pi

According to the Seattle Times, this deal could mark one of the largest private capital deals for a project like this in North America. While the arena has been widely accepted as a plausible deal for the city of Seattle, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) will now go to the city and city councils, whose members have openly voiced concerns for traffic congestion in the area’s already bustling sodo district, and loose financial plan. For more information regarding arena construction updates, follow the Seattle Times.