Seattle Courant

City Council Discusses Mayor's Proposal to Change the Multifamily Zoning Code

By Corey Kahler
March 12, 2009 08:03PM

"A lot of people are concerned that we're trying to boost the capacity of these zones as our only goal here," said Mike Podowski of the Department of Planning and Development, "the goals are better design, promote green buildings, and affordable housing."

A representative of the First Hill Improvement Association complained that "affordable housing is given preference." He said, "developers should be able to choose."

Multifamily zones make up 10 percent of the city's land and account for 36 percent of all housing stock. Plots with designated structures such as apartments, condos and townhouses, absent of commercial and retail space, are classified as multifamily zones.

Podowski said that the current code was developed in 1989 and does not reflect the city's comprehensive plan. 

"We are not getting the type of development we want," he said. "There's an overlapping set of standards that don't necessarily match up well." Adding that, it's probably a good idea to think about "how we address climate change and encourage affordable housing."

The central proposal of the plan focused on alterations in building requirements in order to promote better design such as requiring a certain percentage of the housing facade face the street, increasing the amount of greenery on the property and emphasizing clean power. Podowski, however, stated flatly that "there's a limit to how much zoning can control design."

This is early in the process, Clark said that work on updating the code would not be completed until next year. More meetings on the multifamily zoning code changes will be scheduled in April.