Correcting the Record on Single-Family Upzones


Lisa Herbold

Seattle Transit Blog editor Martin H. Duke misrepresented my position when he wrote on Saturday:

Council Candidate Lisa Herbold argues that flexibility in single­-family zones will threaten displacement from affordable single-family homes.

Click through to the article in the link above, and you will see that my position relates not to opposing “flexibility,” but to rezoning existing single­-family zones without including a companion housing preservation strategy. When we talk about “flexibility” within single-­family zones, we are not referring to rezones; rather we are referring to expansion of the current DADU program and allowing backyard cottages in existing single-­family zones, which I support. “Flexibility in single-­family” zones presupposes the retention, not the elimination, of the single­-family zone.

So now that we’ve got the definitions straight, on to the rest of the article, which says:

But current law doesn’t prevent a landlord from renovating or rebuilding a single­family home to be more valuable and displacing the tenant. When this redevelopment occurs, the only difference between the law allowing a triplex and demanding a single home is that it forces two additional households out of Seattle.

It’s true that current law doesn’t prevent rebuilding or renovating a single­-family structure that displaces the tenant when a new single family structure is built. But it is not a good comparison because it ignores how upzones create incentives for redevelopment. Hopefully it is understood that the frequency of tenants being displaced after a renovation or rebuilding of a single-family home in single-family zones is less than the frequency of displacement from redevelopment that occurs when the value of property is increased after an upzone. It is that frequency of displacement that makes this a pressing issue when contemplating the upzone of approximately 138,000 single family homes, about 36,000 of them home to renter households.

Finally, the mischaracterization of my position and argument against it ends with this sentence:

Continue reading “Correcting the Record on Single-Family Upzones”

News Roundup: Openings

ST Link 151 and 157 entering Beacon Hill Tunnel

This is an open thread.

ST/Metro/State Cooperation Will Bring More Service for South King County

gridlock UWThe miscellaneous route restructures for King County Metro proposed for March 2016, transmitted from the King County Executive Dow Constantine to the County Council last week, included some good news for South King County Commuters:

Per Executive Constantine:

Metro is proposing service additions to peak period service on two routes in the I-5 South Corridor: routes 179 and 190. Metro was awarded State Regional Mobility Grant funding for these routes to relieve congestion on Interstate 5 between Federal Way and downtown Seattle, which accommodates over 150,000 vehicles every day, with very high volumes during peak periods. During peak periods, it can take commuters more than an hour to drive the 22 miles between these places due to congestion. Adding two AM and two PM peak trips to both routes 179 and 190 will enable Metro to serve more riders during these periods, relieve crowding on existing service, and reduce single occupancy vehicle traffic. Both Metro and Sound Transit partnered together in pursuing this grant funding. The Regional Mobility Grant will also fund additional service for Sound Transit Route 577.

Route 179 serves western Federal Way, Federal Way Transit Center, and downtown Seattle. Route 190 serves Redondo Heights Park & Ride, Star Lake P&R, and downtown Seattle.

Sound Transit will be adding two AM peak direction trips and one PM peak direction trip on ST Express 577 in the upcoming September service change.

ACTION ALERT: U-Link Restructure Feedback

Metro bus near Northgate Transit Center

The King County Council will soon consider the restructure proposal that Metro submitted last week to take effect in March. They’ve set up an online form for public testimony on these changes. Our sources tell us that the initial comments from this tool, not widely publicized, are running heavily against any changes.

Most STB readers likely understand some basic principles of bus service planning. The University Link restructure enables higher frequency and easy trips to more locations by placing less emphasis on one-seat rides. It also leverages the enormous time advantage of transferring to U-Link from many parts of Northeast Seattle. During peak hours, most riders will still retain their direct buses if they so choose.

The rough STB staff consensus is that the Northeast Seattle changes are a huge step forward for transit connectivity and frequency. The Capitol Hill changes, while significantly watered down from a fantastic first draft, make some important improvements over the status quo for the 8, 11, 48, and 49.

Service changes of this magnitude are a huge organizational effort for Metro, and if the Council strangles this proposal it will only make Metro even more reluctant to rationalize the network County-wide. Moving this plan forward is critical to the system’s ability to improve in speed, efficiency, and usability.

So take a few moments to fill out the short form and tell the Council what you think about what Metro has done. It’s not clear what the deadline is, and there will be no new information, so do it now.