If the goal of the person who leaked the mayor's Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee draft recommendations to the Seattle Times yesterday was to spark an angry backlash against the idea of allowing some multi-family housing in the 65 percent of the city that's currently zoned exclusively for single-family, they're off to a good start. At least judging from the initial (though not very big) batch of emails that came in to the mayor's office since yesterday.
The mayor's office reports that the emails coming in are running about five-to-one against.
Here’s an example of the argument that's coming in against:
This proposal to drop single-family zoning in Seattle is appalling to me. I barely recognize the city any longer. It is clear what the priorities are here. It's a total massacre of what was. It has gone way beyond reasonable, beyond anything that was expected. It is a shock. All that seems to matter is boosterism, bicycles and "development." And you want even more of it! Does any other voice count? When we look like Tokyo, with 3 or 4 stadiums and the "Big Dig" still not done, what then? A city of transients, tech workers, and rich people. Yes, it is clear what the priorities are here. The wannabe world class city has handed itself over, sold out. I guess it really isn't that smart or sophisticated or it would have known that it once was world class but it isn't now. The loss of single family neighborhoods will be the final dagger.
I just read the breaking news alert that the Mayor is considering doing away with single family housing! Are you kidding me!!!??? I happen to be an individual who loves living in an apartment or multi-dwelling unit, although I currently live in a single family home and it is wonderful. To be mandated by any government to this level of structure is called SOCIALISM!!! This is the first time I have ever written to your office but if this continues, it will not be the last. Thank you
(This is pretty obvious, but I can’t help saying: It’s called SOCIALISM!!! when the government dictates you can only build one type of housing—single family, for example—in a certain zone. It's called the free market when you let developers and residents decide the type of housing they want.) And it's called smart growth when you undo 195os social engineering templates.
As for the minority opinion, as judged by correspondence coming in yesterday to the mayor’s office? Here’s an example:
I read the HALA Recommendations Draft in its entirety and would like to write in full support of increasing zones for multifamily housing. I'm a 28 year old Environmental Engineer who rents in Capitol Hill and desire to stay in Seattle indefinitely. I cannot even begin to imagine buying real estate, never mind taking out a massive mortgage for a single-family home. I feel that I speak for my generation in saying we do not need single family homes. Leave them for the rich and wealthy who don't want anyone to bother them in Bellevue. We just need a place to call home, maybe with a small yard, maybe even a shared yard with neighbors. We don't need 2000+ square feet of house. I'll rent indefinitely until there is a better solution, because our housing system as it exists is a scam. NIMBY politics happen because these people bought into a scam; they have to do everything they can so others also buy into the pyramid scheme that is real estate, so their "investment" can continue to grow. Housing is a right, not an investment. If there's no future improvement to home values and rent skyrocketing, my partner and I will continue to move where the rent is affordable, and that may eventually mean out of Seattle. I hope it does not come to that.
Lastly, my neighborhood has character, but it's obvious it's fading. I can see the well-to-do folks filtering in, and that's fine, but that shouldn't mean the regular folks: artists, blue collar workers, servers and bartenders and baristas, the life wanderers, etc. cannot co-exist. I don't want a property to own as an investment. I want a diverse community and neighbors who stick around and aren't pushed out of their neighborhood because they no longer can afford it.
While that last email may represent the minority POV that's currently landing in the mayor's in-box, the profane idea that Ozzie and Harriet housing is no longer Seattle's given ideal has officially arrived.