Some Districts 3/7 Land Use Stats

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.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
mike eliason

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