Last MHA hearing set for District 1

mike eliason
3 min readJun 4, 2018

The District 1 Mandatory Housing Affordability public hearing is tomorrow evening — please show up for affordable housing! As with past posts, a few notes/thoughts on land use stats.

District 1 (South Park, West Seattle Junction, Admiral, Morgan Junction and Westwood Highland urban villages) has 10,240 gross acres. Of that, right of ways constitute 25% with 2,576 acres. As with other districts — a massive swath of this is on-street parking– but both 99 and 509 run through this district.

Just how much of D1 is zoned for residential multifamily? A grand total of 453 acres. At 3,781 acres — 49% of D1’s net acres are zoned exclusively for single family. 60% of the housing units in D1 are detached single family homes — yet there are plans for multiple light rail stops for this district — including one running adjacent to a golf course.

Just 27 acres are zoned for residential midrise — 0.3% of the total land area of D1. Industrial and Transportation facilities occupy a seventh of D1’s net acres. Just 255 acres are zoned for commercial and mixed use — At 2.5% of the land area — I do believe that’s the lowest in any District.

District 1 is majority homeowner in both population and households — but given how long multifamily housing has largely been illegal here, that’s not a surprise. D1 Urban Villages, except for South Park, are all overwhelmingly renter-dominated: West Seattle Junction (64.1%), Admiral (63.4%), Morgan Junction (56%) and Westwood Highland (60%). In 2010, South Park was 49.2% renter population — so that number likely shifted majority renter in the 8 years since. The median ages in the D1 Urban Villages vary — from 30–40. I wonder how many of the community councils here fighting the nominal HALA rezones for affordable housing reflect those demographics…

But zoning is not the only major inequity in either District 1. Parks: there is a massive open space deficiency against multifamily housing in these areas — especially in urban villages. We will need radical interventions to add open space and parks here. There is not a single park in D1 that is majority multifamily zoning within a half mile — which is incredible given that nearly 12% of the district is parks or open space. All these numbers are from the excellent, eye-opening @sightline article, ‘Opening Parks to More Seattleites

As these areas densify, the spatial inequity weighted heavily against multifamily areas and urban villages will continue to increase — even as single family zones stagnate in population, or even decline.

As for some brief history on West Seattle zoning, in the late 70s, Mayor Royer looked at allowing missing middle (duplexes, small apartments) low-income units in single family zoning. Many homeowners and community councils — including from West Seattle helped defeat that. When the 1994 comp plan process was underway, and Seattle was looking at requiring affordable housing in UVs, West Seattle residents helped to get the affordable housing component killed. The Seattle Times ran an article titled, ‘West Seattleites Say No Thanks To Rice’s Urban-Village Proposal’ — one of the things to note in this article was anger over the wealthier neighborhoods were completely left out of the Urban Village designation.

‘Complaints were also directed at the council members because the plan does not designate urban villages around the business centers serving several notably well-to-do neighborhoods, particularly Madison Park and Magnolia.‘

A hundred years of classist zoning and land use planning that the city will need to address sooner, rather than later.



mike eliason

dad | designer | writer | Noted shill for housing. interests: Baugruppen, architecture, passivhaus, mass timber, staedtebau, not for profit housing