by RENEE STATON
2016 started with a new, energetic Seattle City Council focused on implementing the Grand Bargain and other recommendations in Mayor Murray’s Housing Affordability and Liveability Agenda (“HALA”). The new year appears to have also renewed efforts by those who oppose the HALA recommendations.
Last Wednesday, anti-HALA organizers Greg Hill and Catherine Weatbrook presented their perspective on HALA to an estimated 150 people gathered for a Wallingford Community Council meeting. No City of Seattle presenters were invited to speak, though Councilmember Rob Johnson (District 4) attended and listened to the presentation and public comment. Unfortunately, people who went with an open mind to learn more likely walked out of the Wallingford meeting equipped with one-sided, misleading information.
For the HALA recommendations to pass, urbanists need to provide the other side of that conversation over the next two years. HALA and the Grand Bargain represent the best opportunity Seattle has for achieving greater housing affordability in one of the fastest growing U.S. cities. The HALA policy recommendations will produce and preserve a record number of income-restricted units in Seattle, will accommodate projected population growth without sacrificing affordability, and will leverage our significant public investments in light rail and bus transit by providing households of all incomes a place to live within easy access to jobs and schools.
That process kicks off at a city-wide event tomorrow. Those who want to see HALA recommendations implemented should attend tomorrow’s meeting and stay vocal and engaged in the months ahead. It will be a long process, and supporters need to remain visible in their support. Some of the HALA recommendations, especially those that involve zoning changes or that impact parking, are controversial. Opponents are well organized and it will be extremely important for pro-housing urbanists who support these changes to attend meetings, to speak at them, and to write the Mayor and Council expressing support. Organizing in support of HALA is essential if we want to keep our city great and ensure that Seattle stays affordable and accessible for our children, baristas, teachers, and newcomers to our city.
Important upcoming ways to show your support for HALA and housing affordability in Seattle:
Seattle at Work: Housing Affordability & Livability Agenda
Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Ave, Bertha Knight Landes Room
Telephone Town Halls with Mayor Ed Murray
Mayor Murray will host three Telephone Town Halls. Call-in numbers and additional details will be updated as announced.
North, January 31st 4-5 pm
Central, February 2nd 6-7pm
South, February 4th 6-7pm
Writing to Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle City Council
Send a quick note to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com to let them know that you support housing policies and programs that give more opportunities for people of all walks of life to live and work in Seattle. Tell them that you support the HALA recommendations and want to see them implemented in your own neighborhood and citywide.
Renee Staton lives in Seattle’s Pinehurst neighborhood where she has organized on issues related to land use, transportation, affordable housing and parks.