Some Districts 3/7 Land Use Stats

mike eliason
5 min readApr 14, 2018

The Districts 3 & 7 Mandatory Housing Affordability public hearing is coming up, so, as with Districts 4–6, a few notes/thoughts on land use stats.

District 7 (Magnolia, Queen Anne, SLU, Belltown, Pioneer Square, and rest of downtown west of I-5) has 6,089 gross acres. Of that 6,089 — right of ways constitute 1,758 acres. As with other districts — a lot of this is on-street parking– but there’s also I-5, and train infra.

Just how much of D7 is zoned for residential multifamily? A whopping 443 acres. The district closest to downtown, and there’s less land zoned for multifamily residential than in District 5. Only a third of D7’s net acres are zoned exclusively for single family — lower than other districts — but it should be less (I mean, that’s true for the city as a whole — it should be zero). Nearly all of the snob zoning in D7 is in Magnolia (median single family home: $1.03M and rising), and Queen Anne (median single family home value $1.03–1.6M and rising) — so preventing more housing in these neighborhoods isn’t going to preserve any affordable housing.

City Proposed 1994 QA urban village

District 7 is majority renter in both population and households. The Queen Anne urban village — which was heavily gerrymandered and reduced from the city-proposed urban village in the 1994 comp plan, is over 70% renter, and the median age is 36. There are a number of multifamily buildings in Queen Anne’s single family zoning — because they were built before the 1923 zoning ordinance. Oddly, none of them ‘destroyed the neighborhood character’. In fact, they make the neighborhoods more vibrant, and more accessible — especially to those that can’t afford homes that are well over a million dollars (which is most of the city).

Just 34 acres are zoned for residential midrise — 0.5% of the total land area of D7. More of the district is zoned for industrial than multifamily residential.

District 7 Urban Villages: Uptown, Belltown, SLU, and the commercial core are all overwhelmingly renter-dominated. Upper Queen Anne is 70% renter, and median age is under 35. I wonder if QA community council meetings come anywhere close to representing that…

Now on to District 3: Capitol Hill, First Hill, Madison Miller, Madrona, the Central District, Judkins Park. D3 has 5,304 gross acres, of which 1,637 (31%!) acres are right of way. Again, as in the balance of the city, most of this is in the form of on-street parking. There is also a freeway that bisects the southern portion of D3.

A total of 551 acres are zoned for multifamily in D3, this means 90% of D3’s total acres exclude multifamily residential. There are 1,624 acres zoned for single family, 44% of D3’s net acreage. Affordable and multifamily housing are illegal on 80% of the land in D3. Furthermore, just 2.1% of the gross acreage in D3 is zoned for residential midrise housing — that sweet spot for baugruppen and coops. At one point, multifamily housing was legal everywhere in D3.

66% of D3 is white (the city average is 69.5%). The median age is 36. It is majority renter households by a massive margin. 76% of D7 is white, median age is 38. It is also majority renter households.

District 3 Urban Villages: Capitol Hill, FIrst Hill, Pike/Pine are also all overwhelmingly renter-dominated (shocking!). Madison Miller is 69% renter, and median age is 32. 23rd and Union-Jackson is 60% renter, median age of 34. I doubt the land use committees from either of these communities are close to representing those statistics, either.

But zoning is not the only major inequity in either Districts 3 or 7. Parks: there is a massive open space deficiency against multifamily housing in these areas — especially in urban villages. Almost all of Discovery Park (90%) is surrounded by single family zoning within a half mile. All these numbers are from the excellent, eye-opening @sightline article, ‘Opening Parks to More Seattleites

West Magnolia Playfield — in the heart of Magnolia’s commercial area (an area that is 88% white), just minutes from downtown — yet it somehow avoided becoming an urban village — is 96% single family zoning within a half mile. Even Bayview Playground, which abuts multifamily zoning, is still 65% single family around it. But this district also features the majority of Seattle’s parks that aren’t primarily surrounded by single family zoning: Denny Park, SLU Park, Cascade Playground, and Myrtle Edwards. Cal Anderson Park is a whopping 3% single family within a half mile. As these area densify, the spatial inequity of these areas continues to increase — even as single family zones stagnate in population, or even decline.

Within a half mile of West Queen Anne Playfield? 75% single family.
David Rodgers Park? 77% single family.
Kerry Park, just blocks from downtown? 49% single family.
Volunteer Park? 67% single family.
The Arboretum? 93% of land within a half mile is single family. Absurd!
Madison Park? 85% zoned single family.
Pendleton, in the middle of an urban village? 53% zoned single family.
Garfield Park? 60% single family within a half mile.
Madrona Park? 94% single family.

Unlike previously reviewed districts, there are a number of parks that aren’t completely surrounded by single family zoning. But the parks in the urban villages are largely inadequate on a per capita basis — especially compared to the larger parks outside of them. MHA goes a small way in starting to address some of those massive inequities. Similar inequities play out for schools in these districts. Perhaps one day we’ll have a council that corrects this.

The D3/D7 MHA public hearing is this Monday. I hope you will show up for more housing, more affordable housing versus the status quo, and opening up more of the city for those who can’t afford million dollar homes.



mike eliason

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