MHA Citywide Proposal and Future Legislative Process; Arts and Music Commissions presentation on arts space affordability; Sound Transit Busker pilot program survey; Democracy Vouchers; Seattle United for Immigrant and Refugee Families

MHA – Citywide Proposal and Future Legislative Process

The broad public conversation of the Executive’s initial (my emphasis added) proposal to implement the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program approved by the Council in last year’s MHA framework legislation  began in Fall 2016. Last year’s framework legislation laid out how all developers would have to contribute to new affordable housing in all developments in exchange for additional zoning capacity.  The steps that began this fall include how much developers must contribute and how much as well as where additional zoning capacity is added.

Prior to the development of the Mayor’s initial zoning proposal, the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) and Department of Neighborhoods (DON) selected 160 community members (from a pool of 250+ applicants) to participate in a nine-month facilitated focus group process to develop principles and recommendations for zoning change proposals to enact MHA. A summary of the focus group process may be found here. An additional summary may be found here.

The map of the proposed MHA zoning changes, by urban village, were made available online mid-October 2016, the City issued draft proposed zoning maps for neighborhoods across the city. An interactive website  allows for input to the draft maps.

The City Council allocated $300,000, in 2017, to facilitate its own community charrettes to help answer the question of where additional zoning capacity should be added.

The Executive’s initial proposal for these zoning changes includes where the boundary for urban villages should be drawn and what mix of zones best support the context and conditions of local areas.  These workshops are meant to be an interchange of ideas and opinions on whether these proposals hit the mark for communities or whether – while still adding sufficient addition zoning capacity necessary to require developers to contribute to affordable housing – boundaries should be shifted or a different mix of zoning changes considered.

You can provide input on the proposed draft urban village boundaries, draft zoning changes, and building types here  Additional opportunities for District 1 neighborhoods will be as follows:

To RSVP, click the link above, email Spencer.Williams@Seattle.Gov or call (206) 384-2709.

I’ve heard concerns that the City is moving too fast. We are early in the process.  The City has begun to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to measure benefits and impacts of the MHA citywide zoning proposal.  Here are the opportunities to influence the final Executive proposal, prior to beginning Council deliberations:

  • Residents will have had at least four months (mid-October until mid-February) to review the maps prior to the tentative mid-March release of the Draft EIS.
  • Once the Draft EIS is released, people will have at least 45 days to provide additional public comment.  Depending the sufficiency of the Draft EIS in identifying the issues raised public comment (which the Council has been compiling) I will consider whether there is a need for additional time for public comment on the Draft EIS. 
  • A Final EIS that further incorporates public comment is tentatively scheduled to be released in Summer 2017 with a final legislative proposal for the MHA citywide zoning changes and developer obligations to contribute to affordable housing.
  • The public will then have an additional approximately 6-month opportunity to comment before the City Council begins to consider the MHA citywide zoning legislation in early 2018.

Additional Helpful links:

Arts and Music Commissions presentation on arts space affordability

On December 2nd a tragic fire resulted in the death of 36 people at the Ghost Ship artists’ collective in Oakland. Two weeks later, the Seattle Arts Commission, Music Commission, and leadership of the Central Area Arts & Cultural District and Capitol Hill Arts District sent a letter to the Mayor regarding the future of arts spaces in Seattle, including recommendations.

The letter states concern about displacement, evictions, and disproportionate impact on people of color, mirroring problems facing housing and commercial affordability in Seattle.

Since these commissions relate to the committee I chair, wanted to give them the opportunity to present their recommendations. The recommendations include applying the City’s Race and Social Justice tooklit to enforcement, a grading system for safety, expanding eligibility for arts funding, and an “Arts Events License” similar to one recently adopted in Vancouver, BC.

The Office of Arts & Culture’s 2013 Cultural Space Inventory showed that Native American and African American organizations showed lower stability, and noted that “…an organization’s target audience’s race provides the most dramatic difference in a feeling of stability and security.”

The presentation will take place at the January 10 meeting of the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee. The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m.; the meeting agenda will be available soon. You can view the presentation live on the Seattle Channel.

Sound Transit Busker pilot program survey

Sound Transit is taking a survey regarding their Busking (street performer) pilot program at the University of Washington and Capitol Hill light rail stations.

Here’s a link to the survey; the performance policy is here.

Democracy Vouchers

The Seattle Office of Ethics and Elections Commissions (SEEC) is beginning implementation of the Democracy Voucher program, a form of partial public financing of elections. The program results from the passage of citizen-initiated “Honest Elections Seattle” Initiative 122 in 2015, and allows Seattle residents to use the vouchers to support candidate(s) in 2017 City of Seattle elections.

In 2017 Seattle voters can contribute the vouchers to qualifying candidates for the two citywide City Council elections, and the City Attorney’s election. The program will apply to the Mayor’s race in 2021.

SEEC began mailing the vouchers to registered voters earlier this week. Seattle residents 18 years of age and older can apply to receive vouchers if they are a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident.

Background on the program is available here. A multi-lingual webpage has materials here.

Seattle had partial public financing of elections in 1979 and 1981, and 1987-1991. State law prohibited public financing in 1992; in 2008 the state legislature allowed for public financing, if approved by a public vote, and funding comes from local sources only. Initiative 122 amended other sections of the elections code as well, including lowering the maximum contributions, limiting contributions from city contractor or those who have paid lobbyists $5,000 or more in the prior twelve months to lobby the City.

Seattle United for Immigrant and Refugee Families

On Friday, January 20, 2017 at McCaw Hall at Seattle Center obtain FREE legal services and information.

Volunteer registration is now open!
Click here to sign up to help us make this event successful.

Questions about volunteering? Please email

Do you need help applying for citizenship?

Check-in from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Do you need to plan for your family’s safety?

Three Identical Know Your Rights Training Sessions: 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 7:00 PM

  • Learn about what to do if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents stop you or come to your door.
  • Take steps to protect your children and family.
  • Learn about your rights as an immigrant, regardless of your status.

Do you need legal help?

Check-in from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

  • Talk to Immigration attorneys about your options.
  • Fill out forms needed to protect your family: power of attorney, temporary guardianship, and other forms.
  • Get your Mexican citizenship, passport, and birth certificate through Mexican Consulate document services.
  • Bring any immigration documents and court documents if you have them.

City of Seattle representatives will also be available to talk about services:

  • ORCA Lift (discounted public transportation card)
  • Utility Discount Program
  • Information on wage theft and unfair employment practices
  • And more…

To qualify for these City of Seattle programs, you will need a photo ID and proof of income:

  • Paycheck stubs/ Employer statement showing GROSS earnings
  • DSHS award letters (TANF, GAU/GAX)
  • Child support document
  • Social Security/SSI award letter/Survivor benefits
  • Pensions/Annuity/IRA, Interest & Dividends
  • Labor and Industry (L&I) statement
  • Student financial aid and tuition statement
  • Rental/investment property income (Provide a copy of lease/rental agreement.)
  • Self-employed (Most recent full tax return & 3 months’ profit & loss statements)

For more information please go to

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