Morning Fizz

Morning Fizz: Developers Wary of aPodment Moratorium

Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring compromises, budgets, polls, and parks.

By Morning Fizz September 22, 2014

Morning Fizz

1. There is reportedly a poll in the field right now testing out the idea of a one percent soda tax.

A couple of noteworthy questions in the poll (which also asks about Mayor Ed Murray, the parks department, the city council, and schools): Would you be more or less supportive of the tax if it paid for universal preschool and would you be more or less supportive if you knew an out-of-state billionaire "from Texas" was funding it?

Murray was skeptical of the idea of a soda tax (to pay for parks) during last year's mayoral election

The phone poll indicated that the "Texas Billionaire" was looking at the tax for 2016. 

2.  To the relief of aPodment developers, the mayor is currently thinking of vetoing council legislation that puts too many restrictions on the microhousing option. But staffers at Murray's Department of Planning and Development (DPD) are simultaneously scaring aPodment developers; the developers are nervous that the city may be about to put a moratorium on the 12 to 20 aPodment projects currently in the pipeline. 

"We will be issuing a coordinated response to all applicants on Monday [today]. I can't say more at this time."

The moratorium would be based on a recent court decision against a Capitol Hill aPodment development which held that the city erred in signing off on the project by counting several rooms as just one unit. The "clearly erroneous" interpretation that 49 bedrooms only equaled eight units (because there were eight shared kitchens) failed to trigger a stricter environmental review.

Skittish aPodment developers looking for clarity on their own projects, which were greenlighted under the same standard, have been alarmed by cagey responses from DPD culminating with a recent email from a DPD staffer saying: "We will be issuing a coordinated response to all applicants on Monday [today]. I can't say more at this time."

If the projects are put on hold A) look for the microhousing developers to sue and B) look for them to call on Murray—who overruled the council on its ridesharing regulations by creating a task force to hammer out a compromise deal that did away with the council caps—to include aPodments on his affordable housing taskforce.

Developers may get their hopes dashed, though. While Murray has said a batch of amendments to the aPodment legislation soured him on the council proposal, he did signal support for the underlying legislation which does lower the threshold for stricter design review by counting sleeping quarters as units—just as the King County Superior Court judge said they should have done in the Capitol Hill case.   

3. Mayor Murray is giving his budget speech today at 2:00.

4.  Check out all the pictures and tweets from Friday's SDOT Park(ing) Day here  like the Seattle Public Library's banned books park on Bell St.

PubliCola's own SwaPark (where we converted two parking spaces on University St. downtown into a pop-up swap meet) was a blast. 

Josh was happy about getting a baseball cap in exchange for some hippie pants, but this customer was positively glowing about trading her fish purse for this blue sweater. 


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