Mayor Murray statement on HALA progress and Council proposal

Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement in response to a recent Council proposal on housing:

“Just this past August, Seattle residents voted to double the Housing Levy, a $290 million investment by taxpayers to build affordable housing across the City. At the same time, the City is implementing the first ever requirements that developers either build or fund affordable housing, has passed significant tenant protections, and is building a state and federal agenda that includes reinvesting in the state Housing Trust Fund and expanding the federal Housing Tax Credit program as part of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. With all this work, the City should not take on irresponsible debt that is far costlier than building affordable housing through these programs, and is at the expense of other immediate and future funding priorities.”

 

Background

In his time in office, Mayor Murray has worked with City Council to ensure an affordable and equitable Seattle for all. In the last two years, Mayor Murray and members of the Council have worked to address the affordability crisis through the most ambitious affordable housing plan in Seattle’s history. The Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) sets the City on a path to building 20,000 affordable homes in the next ten years, a tripling of the City’s previous rate of production of affordable housing, as part of ensuring that everyone who works in Seattle can live in Seattle.

With the new Housing Levy and full passage of the Mandatory Housing Affordability Program, the Mayor and City Council are on pace to more than triple spending on affordable housing compared to 2012-2013.

City contributions to affordable housing

 *New Affordable Housing Levy begins in 2017

**MHA projected to take effect middle of 2018, as Incentive Zoning Program (IZ) phases out

Housing Levy

HALA put Seattle on a path to doubling the Seattle Housing Levy, which allows increased investment in housing for people with low or no incomes. The 2016 Housing Levy increases capital investment in new or preserved affordable housing increases to $201 million over the seven-year life of the 2016 Housing Levy. In addition, the 2016 Housing Levy includes $11.5 million for homelessness prevention, $42 million for operating and maintenance funding that allows affordable housing to serve those with extremely low or no incomes, and $9.5 million for homeownership programs.

Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA)

As part of HALA the City will require developers to either build or fund affordable housing, for the first time. The City is shifting from the voluntary Incentive Zoning Program (IZ) focused primarily on Downtown and South Lake Union to a mandatory program in all areas where multifamily and commercial development is allowed. Last year, the Mayor and Council enacted the commercial framework for this program and this summer, the residential framework. The first rezone under MHA, for the University District, has been transmitted to Council, with Downtown and South Lake Union to be sent in early 2017. The City is on track for 2017 implementation in all other Urban Centers and Villages. HALA’s MHA program alone is projected to create 6,300 units alone over the next 10 years.

Multifamily Tax Exemption

Under HALA, the City expanded the use of the Multifamily Tax Exemption cover more areas, helping ensure affordable housing is built all over the City. In late 2015, Council and the Mayor enacted the expansion increasing the area covered by the program to 100% of all areas where multifamily development is allowed, a nearly 70% increase in area covered by the program. The number of affordable homes created under the MFTE is expected to double from 2015 to 2017.

MFTE projections

State and Federal Agenda

Working with the state legislature, we are also seeking authority for a new dedicated source of revenue for housing, an estimated $30 million per year from REET III, and are simultaneously pursuing a tax exemption program for the preservation of existing affordable housing units. Also at the state level, we are championing reinvestment in the state Housing Trust Fund, seeking the prior high water mark of $200 million after years of erosion. Concurrently, Senator Cantwell is advancing legislation that would expand the federal Housing Tax Credit program that leverages our state and local funding. Together these strategies provide a framework for funding a significant expansion of affordable housing units here in Seattle.

Additional HALA Implementation

The City has already passed and/or implemented other key elements of HALA, including new tenant protections, improvements to the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance and increased funding for regional transit oriented development.  The City is currently working on other HALA initiatives to increase affordability, including increasing access for people with criminal records and parking reforms.

 

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Seattle hires affordable housing advocate

Seattle has hired a new manager to lead its effort to implement the City’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. This week, Sara Maxana, a regional planner and affordable housing advocate, joined Mayor Ed Murray’s Office of Planning and Community Development.

“Creating great, walkable neighborhoods is a lifelong passion for me,” said Maxana. “Affordable housing choices are an essential ingredient for diverse and growing cities like Seattle. I am excited that Seattle is implementing some of the most innovative housing strategies anywhere in the country. I look forward to supporting the mayor’s goal of 20,000 new affordable homes so that everyone who works in Seattle can afford to live here.”

Previously Maxana was a principal planner for the Puget Sound Regional Council, where she worked since 2011 on the Growing Transit Communities Partnership. That regional effort seeks to create equitable opportunities for people to live and work near high-capacity transit. Prior to PSRC, she was the Urban Strategies Director and Co-Executive Director of Futurewise, a statewide smart growth advocacy organization.

Maxana is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Ohio State University.

For more information on the City’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, visit www.seattle.gov/hala.

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Mayor Murray answers your questions on housing affordability

Housing affordability is a major issue across the city, and a key focus for my administration, City departments and community stakeholders. I recently joined Robert Feldstein, my director of policy and innovation, for a Facebook chat about our efforts under the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda to create and preserve thousands of affordable homes, and to address your questions. Watch the video below, and scroll down for a recap, answers to additional questions, and information on how you can get involved.

 

Why is Seattle facing such a housing affordability issue? 

As our economy and population grow, housing prices and rents have skyrocketed. As a result, thousands of families and workers – particularly lower-income people and among communities of color – are unable to afford the cost of living in Seattle. The thing that’s driving our affordability crisis is our booming economy. We’re anticipating growing by 120,000 people and 115,000 jobs over the next 20 years. If people weren’t moving here for jobs in our booming tech sector and the many attributes that make Seattle a great city, we wouldn’t have an affordability problem. But the answer isn’t to stop growth, but to plan for it and increase affordable housing supplies and reduce displacement.

What is Seattle doing to create more affordable housing?

In late 2014 I convened a group of stakeholders to look at this issue and come up with a set of recommendations. We adopted a multi-pronged approach – our Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) – that includes developer mandates, capital investments through a renewed housing levy, expansion of multifamily tax exemptions, prioritization of surplus property for affordable housing projects, a new set of tenant protections, building preservation programs and other anti-displacement measures.

Through HALA, our goal is to build 50,000 new homes over the next decade, including 20,000 affordable homes – something that’s never happened before in Seattle.

How we get to 20,000 affordable homes: 

  • Capital investments and partnerships with low-income housing providers through the renewed Housing Levy (expected to produce 7,500 units over the next 10 years)
  • Mandating commercial and residential developments build or fund affordable housing (+6,300 units)
  • Preservation property tax exemption (+3,300 units)
  • Expanding tax exemptions for new multifamily developments that agree to set aside 20-25% for affordable units. (+2,100 units)
  • Use surplus properties for affordable housing either by redevelopment as affordable units or proceeds of sales used for that development elsewhere (+1,100 units)
  • Exploring voluntary employer Housing Fund program, as has been done by some companies in Silicon Valley
  • Negotiating with the federal government to allow Medicaid benefits to be used for eligible supportive housing residents
  • Expanding down payment assistance and other homeowner programs

How much progress has been made?

Since the start of 2015, more than 4,400 units of affordable housing have opened, been funded or are under construction. In just the last few weeks we’ve broken ground on more than 200 units of affordable housing developed in partnership with Bellwether Housing in the University District and South Lake Union. In October, 112 affordable units opened at Plaza Roberto Maestas, an El Centro de la Raza project near the Beacon Hill Light Rail station made possible in part through an $8 million Housing Levy grant. More than $34 million in Housing Levy and other funding will be awarded in December.

How can we ensure equitable distribution of affordable housing? 

As part of our Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan, we conducted a Growth & Equity Analysis to ensure growth strategies address the needs of marginalized residents and are applied equitably. As we guide affordable housing development through HALA, we’re focusing on urban villages throughout the City – 28 areas with access to high-frequency transit, parks and schools. Zoning incentives, developer mandates, expanded multi-family tax exemption programs, Housing Levy and other City funding of new construction and preservation projects are being applied in a geographically equitable manner so affordable housing options might bring people together, rather than drive them apart.

What’s considered affordable and who’s eligible for assistance?

Housing is generally considered affordable to a household if it costs no more than 30% of a household’s income. More than 107,000 Seattle households pay more than 30% of their income for housing, and more than 46,000 Seattle households spend more than half their income on housing.

We’re focused on range of affordable options to assist people with no income, to those on fixed incomes or who need assistance buying their first home. Most programs that are part of HALA are targeted at households with incomes up to 30%, 60%, or 80% of area median income. For instance, the MHA program – developer mandates – require housing be made available to households earning under 60% of area median income – about $38,000 for an individual or $54,000 for a family of four.

Why not adopt rent control?

Rent control is prohibited by the State of Washington. Overturning it would take years and not address current affordability crisis, nor ensure more affordability (see: San Francisco). While that may be a fight worth having, right now we’re focused on acting to ensure neighborhoods are economically diverse and provide affordability for all incomes.

What’s the City doing to protect tenants?

In just he last year we’ve passed several measures to protect renters:

  • We expanded Source of Income protections and are working on reducing housing barriers for those with criminal records. Under new rules, property owners may not refuse to rent to tenants with Section 8 subsidies or alternative sources of income such as disability, Social Security or child support
  • Property owners may not give move-in discounts or other favorable terms for tenants who work for certain employers.
  • We adopted a “first in time rule” which requires property owner to rent to the first applicant who meets necessary screening criteria.
  • Property owners may not raise rent if their building is substandard and/or not up to code.

How do developer mandates work?

For the first time the City is requiring developers of commercial and residential projects contribute to affordable housing by building it onsite, or paying for its construction elsewhere in the City. This will generate more than 6,000 affordable homes in the next decade. Since our goal is to steer development and reduce displacement in urban villages, upzoning could allow for an additional couple stories of building capacity, and developers would need to make even greater investments in affordable housing to take advantage of that capacity.

Developer mandates are being phased in, and already apply downtown and in South Lake Union. Zoning changes to support MHA are being implemented in 28 areas identified as urban centers, urban villages or areas already zoned for apartments and commercial buildings. Mandates are not being applied in areas zoned for single-family housing, but the City is exploring how more types of housing might be supported in these areas.

On Oct. 17, I joined seven councilmembers in announcing proposed updates to MHA aimed at producing even more affordable housing and addressing growing displacement risk in several neighborhoods. Changes include:

1) Adopting a tiered approach in areas such as the U District that are receiving a development capacity increases greater than the typical one-story increase proposed as part of original MHA. This would support higher development capacity – potentially several additional stories – that would be tied to even greater developer investments  in affordable housing.

2) Moving some areas at higher risk of displacement – including the Central District, Chinatown/ID and parts of the Rainier Valley – into zones with higher developer requirements to reflect updated market conditions and stem displacement.

What areas will get higher MHA requirements?

The U District, which has gone through more than five years of community planning, is the first neighborhood where we’re proposing zoning changes tied to MHA requirements. With light rail opening in we’re focusing future housing and employment density in areas with the most accessibility to the station. Our proposal for zoning changes in U District are accompanied by other city investments in open space, transportation and services to ensure a walkable, equitable, vibrant urban center.

Under new proposals to increase affordable housing production through MHA, Chinatown/International District, Central Area and parts of Rainier Valley would be moved to a High-MHA designation to reflect updated rent data and the City’s analysis of higher displacement risk.

North Beacon Hill, North Rainier, and Columbia City, Northgate, and Crown Hill development would be moved from low-MHA requirements to medium-MHA requirements.

MHA map

Mandatory Housing Affordability proposed implementation area

 

Won’t mandates discourage development, or lead to even higher prices? 

Increasing development capacity is one of the ways we can achieve greater affordability. The MHA program is based on an exchange of value: Through upzones, developers can build more market-rate units to meet demand, and must make greater investments in affordable housing to do so. Those units must be built onsite as a set percentage of building size, or fund development elsewhere through the Housing Levy, affordable housing partners and other programs that ensure equitable development or housing preservation throughout the city. We project that increased performance requirements will lead to an additional 200-300 affordable housing units on top of the original program goal of 6,000. The MHA program can be re-calibrated to guard against unintended consequences, and we’ll be closely monitoring the affordable housing production and making changes as necessary.

How is the City encouraging more family-oriented housing?

Multifamily tax exemptions have helped create thousands of units of affordable housing designed for families. We’ve expanded that program to every neighborhood, so more two- and three-bedroom units can come on line and be available to more families.

What about micro-housing?

Small housing units are a good, lower cost option for many tenants. Innovative builders have made Seattle a national leader in micro-housing. In 2014, the City Council passed new regulations to clarify how the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections regulates this type of housing, ensuring greater design review. The City continues to encourage both Small Efficiency Dwelling Units (SEDUs) that have a minimum size of 220 square feet, and in certain locations (i.e. urban villages) Congregate Residences that can have shared kitchens and can be even smaller. We are continuing to monitor production of SEDUs and Congregate Residences, and expect to evaluate how they can be a part of the housing solution in the future.

How can we preserve neighborhood character?

I understand concerns that density and taller buildings may detract from neighborhood character. The City is working hard to ensure that upzones do not come at the expense of livability. We provide incentives for historic preservation and are directing growth to the core of urban villages to avoid large buildings right next to single-family homes. We’re applying new development standards for attractive and varied buildings, and implementing new affordable housing requirements and incentives to encourage a variety of housing types. HALA and urban village plans such as the one adopted for the U District after much public input contain incentives and requirements for open space, historic preservation, social services, and other community priorities. Along with affordable, family-oriented housing options, we’re working to increase commercial affordability so more people can work near where they live and have easy access to restaurants, shopping and services. As the city grows, we must maintain the uniqueness and high quality of life made possible by diverse neighborhoods and are working with neighborhoods to get that right. To weigh in on urban village plans and zoning proposals, visit Hala.Consider.It.

Is there state and federal assistance for affordable housing? 

Housing affordability is an issue facing every county. We need the state to expand the housing trust fund to $200 million. You can help by contacting state legislators about this issue. And we need the federal government to recognize that fully funding opioid treatment and anti-poverty measures will better allow cities to address issues of homelessness and housing affordability. These issues are connected.

What’s the public process on HALA and how can I be involved?

The public engagement process for HALA started in July 2015, followed by a citywide kick off in January 2016 for the HALA community focus groups comprised of over 180 participants who have met monthly to provide the City with feedback. City staff have attended over 70 community meetings and have had thousands of in-person contacts as well as a strong online dialogue like my recent online Q&A.

Beginning in November, the City will hold five community meetings throughout Seattle to share more about the proposal and receive feedback from residents. For those who cannot attend a meeting, or to review the proposals and weigh in, visit Hala.Consider.It.

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Mayor Murray Directs Negotiation of Civic Square Deal, Proceeds to Fund Equitable Development and Affordable Housing

Today, Mayor Ed Murray sent a mayoral directive to Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) to negotiate the sale of the Civic Square project to Bosa Development and direct the proceeds to establish a new Equitable Development Fund. The sale would also net $5.7 million in funds for affordable housing, meeting or exceeding the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program requirement. Combined, nearly $22 million from this sale will go to equity and affordability projects around the City.


“Seattle is growing and we are working to ensure that it happens in a way that is equitable, benefiting everyone who lives and works here,” said Mayor Murray. “The sale of the Civic Square property allows us to leverage our resources to invest in communities most at-risk for displacement and to make a major investment in affordable housing. While we continue to revitalize our downtown core, we are strategically investing around the city to strengthen our communities for the future.”

The Equitable Development Fund will be established with the $16 million in proceeds from the sale, and used as part of the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI), which helps ensure Seattle’s existing residents and businesses also enjoy the benefits of development around the city, rather than being displaced by it. These funds will go to community-driven projects such as a cultural center for long-time residents to maintain neighborhood character or a job training program focused on good-paying jobs in the community.

The Office of Planning and Community Development and FAS will work with Council and the community to develop a plan for using the net proceeds from the sale. The additional $5.7 million will go to the Office of Housing to leverage other funding for building affordable housing.

The agreement with Bosa Development replaces the 2007 agreement with Triad Civic Center LLC, which had been hindered by the economic recession and a lack of capital partners. Under the terms of the new agreement, Bosa will develop a residential tower that will include the Civic Square Plaza, as well as retail space. The City will maintain the rights to approve the final design. The City expects to send the agreement to Council for approval in early 2017, with the expectation that it will be finalized by June. Construction would start in 2018.

“Bosa’s vision for this project is slightly different than what was originally planned, which is why the City believes it has a greater chance to succeed,” said FAS Director Fred Podesta. “Office space construction in this area has brought a new and higher demand for housing and public amenities, and Bosa is bringing that to the table. We believe this site is the perfect location to meet that need, as it is close to transit and vibrant, diverse neighborhoods, including Downtown, Pioneer Square, the Chinatown-International District and First Hill.”

Watch the press conference here

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Mayor, Council propose implementation changes to Mandatory Housing Affordability program

Today, Mayor Murray and seven Councilmembers announced two proposed changes to implementation of the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program, aimed at increasing production and addressing the ongoing displacement occurring as Seattle grows rapidly. The MHA framework is a critical tool for achieving the goal of building 20,000 affordable homes, as laid out in the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), and provides increased development capacity in combination with new mandatory housing affordability requirements. Today, the City is introducing

(1)   A tiered approach of higher performance and payment requirements for areas – such as the U District – that are receiving a higher capacity increase than the typical one story increase proposed as part of MHA; and,

(2)   A revised map that moves some areas at higher risk of displacement – including the Central District, Chinatown/ID and parts of the Rainier Valley – into higher performance requirements to reflect updated rent data and the City’s analysis of higher displacement risk.

These proposed changes, in conjunction with maintaining the original “Grand Bargain” framework principles across the city, including Downtown and South Lake Union, will increase projected production of new affordable homes by approximately 200-300, from the original goal of 6,000.

“While Seattle reaps many benefits from rapid growth, we have to ensure this city remains affordable for those who live and work here,” said Mayor Murray. “The voters stepped up by doubling the Housing Levy in August and today’s announcement is another step toward achieving that goal by ensuring developers are also doing their part. Requiring developers to build affordable housing or contribute to its construction helps us slow the rate of displacement caused by our city’s growth, making MHA a critical tool for ensuring our city remains affordable for everyone.”

The seven councilmembers joining today’s announcement will co-sponsor the U District legislation, as well future zoning changes in Downtown and South Lake Union, and they include: Council President Bruce Harrell, and Councilmembers Rob Johnson, Mike O’Brien, Lorena González, Sally Bagshaw, Tim Burgess, and Debora Juarez.

“Thanks to constituents and others who have sounded the alarm, I know firsthand the ongoing loss of affordable housing in the U District, and our city’s response must be to take swift action,” said Councilmember Johnson (District 4, Northeast Seattle), Chair of the Council’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee. “The rapid growth and new development we are experiencing in Seattle is causing an even greater need for more affordable housing.  Implementing Mandatory Housing Affordability in the U District will help us meet the current and future needs of the neighborhood by requiring all new construction to either build new affordable housing onsite or pay into a city run affordable housing fund.  I applaud the Mayor’s proactive, comprehensive strategy for growth protects the things we love about the U District and that make up its vibrant character, while maintaining our focus on building homes for families and individuals of all incomes, preserving locally owned business and social services, and continuing recent transit investments.”

Under the MHA framework ordinances adopted by Seattle City Council, new commercial and residential multifamily developments must either include rent- and income-restricted homes or provide payments to the Seattle Office of Housing to fund affordable housing development throughout the city. Homes built or preserved through MHA would provide long-term affordable housing, up to 75 years or longer, for households earning under 60 percent of Area Median Income – about $38,000 for an individual or $54,000 for a family of four.

“All members of our community deserve to live in the city where they work, with the option to walk and ride transit to and from home” said Councilmember González, (Position 9, Citywide). “This approach is an immediate step in the right direction and it will add income-restricted units as Seattle grows, which will help make our city affordable for those who are struggling to keep pace with the economic demands of living in Seattle.”

Seattle has 28 Urban Centers, Urban Villages and areas currently zoned for apartments or commercial buildings, where zoning changes would typically allow one additional story of development in order to implement the new affordable housing requirement. While the proposal would expand some of Seattle’s Urban Villages, no MHA zoning changes will be proposed for single-family areas outside of Seattle’s Urban Centers and Urban Villages.

In areas such as those around light rail stations, at the heart of urban villages, and close to parks and schools, zoning changes could allow more development capacity beyond the typical one story MHA increase. Community feedback has suggested the City help guide growth in these areas, where a tiered approach would require larger contributions to affordable housing.

Areas receiving the largest increases in development capacity would see requirements as high as 11 percent of total units in a residential development being set-aside for affordable homes, or payments of up to $32.75 per square foot. Requirements with the typical one story MHA increase are proposed to have requirements of 5 to 7 percent of homes reserved as affordable or payments of $7.00 to $20.75 per square foot.

The U District, which has gone through more than five years of community planning, is the first neighborhood where the City is proposing zoning changes implementing the MHA requirements. With Sound Transit’s U District Link light rail station opening in 2021, the City’s plan focuses future housing and employment density in areas with the most accessibility to the station. The Mayor’s proposal for zoning changes in U District are accompanied by other city investments in open space, transportation and services to ensure a walkable, equitable, vibrant urban center.

“I want all communities to see their futures in this city, and the U-District legislation, which includes a tiered schedule and revised map to address displacement risk, takes us in the right direction,” said Councilmember O’Brien (District 6, Northwest Seattle).  ”The proposed changes to the MHA plan represent important steps in assuring we are able to create 6,300 units of affordable housing and work to mitigate displacement.”

MHA map

Mandatory Housing Affordability proposed implementation area

Because the proposed zoning in the U District would allow taller buildings, developer requirements for new apartment buildings would rise to $20.00 per square foot or 9 percent of the total units in the building reserved for affordable homes. The U District rezone will create an estimated 600 to 900 affordable homes over 20 years. The City’s analysis shows that without these proposed zoning changes, the U District would risk higher rates of displacement and generate less affordable housing.

For the Downtown and South Lake Union neighborhoods, MHA payment and performance requirements were established according to the Grand Bargain framework principles last summer and the Mayor will send Council legislation to implement zoning changes later this month.

For areas outside of downtown, South Lake Union and the U District, the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) is currently evaluating proposed “zonewide” rezones. The City recently accepted public scoping comments, and is in the process of preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The decision on the MHA requirements to be applied in connection with these zonewide rezones would occur only after the environmental review is completed.

The Mayor is also sending legislation to Council amending the Mandatory Housing Affordability–Commercial ordinance adopted last year, primarily to improve consistency and clarity with the Mandatory Housing Affordability–Residential framework approved by Council this summer.

On Sept. 27, the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) previewed draft maps of potential zoning changes for five urban villages around Seattle. In the coming days, OPCD will release draft zoning maps for all areas where MHA will apply, which can be found at www.seattle.gov/hala.

Beginning in November, the City will hold five community meetings throughout Seattle to share more about the proposal and receive feedback from residents.

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City encourages residents to prepare for weekend weather

With high-winds and rain predicted for Seattle and much of the Pacific Northwest this weekend, it is recommended that residents take extra precautions at home and when out. Residents should defer traveling during the storm, avoid and report downed power lines and trees, and be cautious near areas experiencing flooding.

Latest modeling shows a chance for heavy winds to arrive in the Seattle area as early as 5 PM on Saturday, October 15 and lasting throughout the evening. For the most current weather updates please visit the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office, Impact Briefing for Seattle. For up to date information impacting the City of Seattle please visit or Alert.Seattle.gov.

Storm Safety Information
• Please call 911 to report downed lines, do not touch or attempt to remove lines that have fallen during the storm.

• If you lose power at home, please call (206) 684-3000 to report the outage or call the Power Outage Hotline at (206) 684-7400 to hear a recorded message with power restoration updates.

• Because of the timing of tomorrow’s storm, there may be challenges with travel throughout the city tomorrow evening and Sunday morning.

• For individuals using life-sustaining and medical equipment, please contact and register with your utility company. For more information call (206) 684-3020.

• Remember to treat intersections that are impacted by power outages as four-way stops.

• Check the Metro and Sound Transit websites for any impacts to your transit routes.

• Maintain gutters, downspouts, rain barrels, private culverts by keeping them clean, flowing and directed away from properties and hillsides.

• Keep storm drains free of leaves and other debris to prevent streets from flooding. Be sure to stay out of the road when raking.

• All Seattle Parks and Recreation grass athletic fields, including West Seattle Stadium, will be closed through the weekend. Most importantly, please remember to safe and use extreme caution outdoors. Parks officials encourage residents to avoid Seattle parks entirely this weekend due to the high-winds.

• Seattle Parks has cancelled programs and activities in parks across the system. For the most up-to-date information please visit seattle.gov/parks

• Generally, we want to remind you that if you do lose power, keep grills, camping stoves and generators outside. Fuel burning appliances are sources of carbon monoxide, a dangerous and poisonous gas.

• Have an emergency preparedness kit ready to help you get through until power is restored

• Storms can create a storm surge impacting high-tide. For information pertaining to tides visit NOAA.

• A temporary, emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness will be open at the Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion – near 2nd & Thomas, south of Key Arena. The co-ed adult shelter will open on Saturday and Sunday from 7 PM to 7AM. This shelter can accommodate 100 people.

• King County Shelter for adult males has expanded capacity to serve 50 additional men Friday through Tuesday, 10/14 – 10/18. The King County Shelter is located at the King County Administration Building at 500 4th Avenue in Seattle. The shelter opens at 7 PM.

• The City Hall Co-ed shelter at 600 4th Ave in Seattle will expand capacity Friday through Tuesday 10/14 – 10/18 with an emphasis on accommodating women seeking shelter. The shelter is open from 7PM to 6AM.

• Sign up and use AlertSeattle at alert.seattle.gov for up-to-date information from the City of Seattle

• The City will have additional staff and crews available throughout the evening and weekend to respond to emergencies as they arise. The Seattle Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center will be activated throughout the weekend.

Additional preparedness information can be found at: Take Winter by Storm – www.takewinterbystorm.org or What to do to make it through – http://makeitthrough.org/

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Mayor Murray launches ‘Resilient Seattle’ Initiative with 100 Resilient Cities

 

Today Mayor Ed Murray, joined by 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) and community leaders, launched a new effort to make Seattle more resilient to shocks—catastrophic events like earthquakes and floods—and stresses, slow-moving disasters such as inequity, homelessness, and climate change—which are increasingly part of 21st century life.

Seattle was selected to join the 100RC network earlier this year and joins cities such as London, New York, Bangkok, and Rio de Janeiro that have demonstrated a strong commitment to resilience planning in order to be better prepared when disruption hits.

image2“How we respond to the complex issues of climate change, affordable housing, and inequity will have profound implications for generations,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We must consider the impact of each of these things, particularly on communities of color, who are often disproportionately impacted. Seattle is prepared to work in partnership with 100RC and our community on innovative ways to lay the groundwork for Seattle to become the most resilient city in North America.”

Cities in the 100RC network have realized a host of benefits even over the relatively short lifespan of the program. These include improved bond ratings, additional federal investment, better collaboration with surrounding municipalities, more cost efficient plans to deal with disasters, and national recognition of their resilience work. The workshop will lay the groundwork for Seattle’s comprehensive Resilience Strategy and address challenges such as rapid population growth, transportation, economic and racial equity, and earthquake preparedness.

The ‘Resilient Seattle Workshop’ is Seattle’s first engagement in our partnership with 100RC. The workshop brings a diverse set of stakeholders from community-based organizations, the private sector, government, academia, and the arts community into the planning process. Workshop participants will explore the range of threats the city faces as well as opportunities to work together to become stronger. In the coming weeks, Seattle will name a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) – a new position that will lead the city’s resilience efforts and continue to engage stakeholders, resilience experts, and 100RC staff in drafting a comprehensive Resilience Strategy.

“Seattle is helping fuel global momentum around building urban resilience, and leading by example,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “The work from the agenda workshop will clarify the city’s needs, surface innovative thinking, and give us a blueprint for engaging partners from across sectors to bring Seattle the tools and resources needed to become more resilient.”

Seattle was selected as one of 37 members of the final cohort of what is now a 100-city global network, and will receive technical support and resources to develop and implement a Resilience Strategy. Each city in the 100RC network receives four concrete types of support:

  • Financial and logistical guidance for establishing an innovative new position in city government, a Chief Resilience Officer, who will lead the city’s resilience efforts;
  • Technical support for development of a robust Resilience Strategy;
  • Access to solutions, service providers, and partners from the private, public and NGO sectors who can help them develop and implement their resilience strategies; and
  • Membership in a global network of member cities who can learn from and help each other.

Seattle’s resilience strategy will be a holistic, action-oriented plan to build partnerships and alliances, financing mechanisms, and will pay particular attention to advancing racial and social justice. The workshop begins the process of identifying priorities, actions, and metrics, and the plan will be drafted over the next 6-9 months.

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Mayor Ed Murray Releases Commercial Affordability Plan

Commercial Affordability

Today, Mayor Ed Murray’s Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee released recommendations to help ensure Seattle remains an affordable and equitable place for small businesses. The Committee, which was made up of small business owners, developers, and members of the arts and music communities, developed recommendations that build upon Mayor Ed Murray’s continued focus on affordability in Seattle, including increasing the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour and addressing housing affordability and livability through HALA.

 

“Affordability is vital to Seattle’s future. Whether it is ensuring people can make a living wage, afford to live where they work or start a business, we must address affordability from every direction,” Mayor Ed Murray said. “Seattle’s small businesses are what make Seattle a city we love to work and live in. As the city grows, we must maintain the uniqueness and high quality of life made possible by small businesses today.”

“I want to thank the Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee for their work and their recommendations,” Brian Surratt, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, said. “The recommendations will be instrumental as we work to fulfill Mayor Ed Murray’s goal for an affordable Seattle.”

The committee’s recommendations were the culmination of collaboration between small businesses and developers.

“The interests of small business owners and developers really are aligned,” committee member and local developer Liz Dunn said. “Developers who think strategically about the neighborhoods they are working in, understand that creating space which is attractive and affordable for small businesses is an essential ingredient for good development and for creating long term value for residents and property owners.  Building spaces that feel like they belong in a neighborhood, and add character to it, create a pedestrian-friendly experience and a true sense of place.”

“Pioneer Square is a neighborhood that demonstrates how growth and small businesses can thrive together while preserving the arts and the historical legacy of the neighborhood all while paving the way for the future,” Karen True, Director of Business Development for the Pioneer Square Alliance, said. “The balance between new development in Pioneer Square and the interests of small business was a model as we developed our recommendations. I’m pleased the committee recommendations include tools for small business owners as well as property owners and developers.”

“As an immigrant and a small business owner, it is important to me that Seattle remains a place where anyone can start a business who has a good idea,” Solomon Dubie, owner of Café Avole, said. “The Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee worked hard to recommend ideas that will keep Seattle affordable for small businesses.”

The Committee made a variety of short- and long-term recommendations. Highlights included:

  • Explore a new entity focused on commercial affordability. This entity would provide support services for small businesses and small-scale building owners, including technical assistance, help navigating real estate issues and City processes, support from non-public funding resources, activation of public agency-owned property, and coordinated advocacy.
  • Institute new financial incentives. Advocate for legislative changes that would make it advantageous (via property tax exemptions and property tax assessments tied to building income) for property owners to support local small businesses. Stimulate a non-City fund that would provide alternative financing options for both small businesses and small property owners.
  • Make changes to public policy. Specifically, focus on the sale/lease of public property; affordable commercial space within mixed-use housing developments, public spaces or transit oriented properties; zoning that encourages small-scale commercial pockets in residential areas; and policies that promote a healthy mix of local, small businesses and chain/big box retail tenancy.
  • Improve the permitting process. Reduce permitting requirements for qualifying “light-impact” small business projects, strengthen design guidelines that favor small business and retail spaces, and enable greater neighborhood input on tenant selection.
  • Expand technical assistance programs. Increase or supplement the Office of Economic Development’s existing small business resources to include a third-party commercial affordability consulting team, coordinated and diversified outreach (more languages and formats), and an online “Marketplace Exchange” for the small business and property owner community.

Additional recommendations can be found in the full report: www.seattle.gov/CommercialAffordability.

Mayor Ed Murray directed his Office of Economic Development to work with small businesses, business districts, developers and other stakeholders to explore the implementation of the Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee’s recommendations.

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In the short term, the mayor immediately committed to taking action. For example:

  • King Street Station Activation
    The City will transform the second floor and plaza space of King Street Station into affordable food and retail space that will serve as an attractive gathering place for neighboring residents, workers, and travelers. Funding: $360,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for the renovation of tenant spaces, plus possible matching funds from other sources (e.g. federal grants, foundations).

 

  • Commercial Affordability Consulting Team 
    The City will create a commercial affordability consulting team to assist small businesses and small-scale property owners with a broad range of real estate and business expertise (e.g. design of tenant spaces, feasibility analysis in renovating buildings, business plan development). Funding: at least $65,000 annually in CDBG funds.

 

  • Financial Support for Microbusinesses

    The City will assist low- and moderate-income owned microbusinesses (i.e., five or fewer employees) to overcome a critical obstacle to growth: low-cost capital. The City will partner with a nonprofit lender to provide Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and 0% interest loans. Funding: $122,000 annually in CDBG funds for the IDA and 0% interest loan products.

 

To read the full response from the mayor including all of his action items, visit www.seattle.gov/CommercialAffordability.

The committee and the Office of Economic Development identified several pressures facing small businesses as Seattle grows. For example:

  • Space is becoming more expensive: In Seattle, asking retail rents are 7 percent higher than before the recession and 28 percent higher than their post-recession low in 2012.

 

  • Space is harder to find: Seattle’s retail vacancy rate in the third quarter of 2016 was 1.9 percent, down from a prerecession vacancy rate of 4.1 percent. Industrial vacancy decreased from 3.6 percent to 1.5 percent in the same time period. Decreased availability of commercial space across the city creates challenges for small businesses.  They are not able to find space that is suitable for small business use, and what little space that is available has experienced dramatic rent increases as a result of limited selection.

 

  • Available space is getting larger: Many small businesses need small spaces, but the size of leased retail spaces is increasing. This compounds the affordability challenge for many business owners who may not be able to find appropriately sized spaces. Among existing buildings, 25 percent have available spaces under 1,000 square feet. Of the buildings that will come online in the future (those listed as proposed, under construction, or under renovation) the count falls to 20 percent. With only 1 in 5 planned buildings renting spaces under 1,000 square feet it may become harder for small businesses to find smaller spaces.

 

  • Small businesses are having difficulty obtaining access to lending capital: When ranked in order of dollars lent per capita, the top 10 census tracts received $7,228 per capita in small business loans from 2010 to 2014, more than 30 times more than the bottom 10 tracts, which received $230 per capita in small business loans in the same time period. These bottom ten census tracts are located in neighborhoods of the city including Rainier Beach, Beacon Hill, Delridge, and Lake City, all areas with concentrations of low-income, minority and immigrant-owned businesses and households, highlighting the need to expand technical assistance programs and outreach to underserved communities.

 

Additional data is featured throughout the report.

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Mayor Ed Murray proposes an additional $12 million to implement the City’s new homelessness plan

Today, Mayor Edward B. Murray announced $12 million in new funding to implement strategies laid out in the City’s new homelessness plan, “Pathways Home,” Seattle’s Person-Centered Plan to Support People Experiencing Homelessness. This funding is sourced through a combination of new general fund dollars, additional revenue from the housing levy to support an increase to the Homelessness Prevention Program and a continuation of funding for key programs originally funded under the 2015 State of Emergency.

“By providing funding for key element of the Pathways Home Plan, I believe we can make a dramatic and visible difference in the number of people currently experiencing homelessness through a major transformation of our homeless service delivery system,” said Mayor Ed Murray.

The 2017-2018 Proposed Budget includes almost $1 million in investments that will help to create capacity to house the unsheltered families on the waitlist. These investments will fund rental assistance and one-time funding to address immediate needs to divert people from homelessness, rapid rehousing funding, as well as funding for motel vouchers for families. This also includes a $200,000 investment in domestic violence and sexual assault housing first and case management programs.

The proposed budget also includes $5 million to fund investments in new best practices, as well as to continue best practices, initially funded as part of the State of Emergency. The new investments include funding to convert an existing shelter to a 24-hour model and funding for a new navigation center, which will be a 24-hour low-barrier shelter with case management. Programs continuing from the State of Emergency investments include funding for rapid rehousing and diversion for single adults, outreach to unsheltered individuals and families, youth case management, and mobile medical van services.

To support system transformation, the proposed budget includes $1.1 million in investments for staffing and data capacity, enhancing the Coordinated Entry system and standing up the Housing Resource Center. Human Services Department (HSD) is making significant changes to their current business practices around homelessness investments, to implement Pathways Home. Performance-based contracting requires new data expertise to collect and interpret both program-and system-level data and a deeper level of expertise to actively monitor fidelity to best practice program models.

As the City transforms its homelessness investment system in coordination with All Home and King County, there is an immediate need to shelter those living in crisis outdoors.  To address this, the 2017-2018 Proposed Budget includes $2.1 million to maintain stability in shelter and encampments as system changes are made. These investments maintain the additional shelter beds and increased operating hours funded as part of the State of Emergency. The proposed budget also includes funding for a faith-based partnership to expand shelter capacity and operating support. These investments maintain stability in shelter system capacity as HSD moves toward a Request for Proposal (RFP) process for all homeless investments in 2018.

The Mayor and City Council are engaged in efforts to modify encampment cleanup protocols and examine options to provide safe alternatives to camping in public spaces, additional services and supports for people living unsheltered.  A task force has been convened to develop potential recommendations and the 2017-2018 Proposed Budget includes $2.8 million to improve coordination and outreach; increase safe sleeping locations, shelter and housing options; address public health and safety issues and the storage of belongings.

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Mayor Murray, Councilmembers applaud unanimous adoption of secure scheduling legislation

Council unanimously (9-0) adopted Secure Scheduling legislation today, adding stability and predictability to Seattle shift workers’ hourly incomes and schedules. The legislation, developed collaboratively between Mayor Ed Murray, Councilmember Lorena González and Councilmember Lisa Herbold, is intended to address retail and food service employees’ unpredictable working conditions by requiring employers to provide workers with a good-faith estimate of hours upon hiring, provide work schedules two weeks in advance, and requires compensation for workers if their hours are changed or if they’re asked to work back-to-back shifts that prevent adequate resting time.

“Seattle once again is taking concrete steps to address income inequality,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Secure scheduling helps working families, young people, students, and workers of color by providing stability and clarity to their work schedule. I would like to thank our progressive community of businesses, labor, and to Councilmembers Lorena González and Lisa Herbold for helping create more equitable workplaces and healthier lives for workers.”

The legislation adopted today extends to retail and quick or limited food service establishments with more than 500 employees worldwide, and full service restaurants with more than 500 employees and 40 full-service restaurant locations worldwide. Among key provisions of the proposal:

  • Employers must give employees their schedules 14 days in advance.  If an employer adds hours, the employee is paid for one additional hour of “predictability pay”
  • If an employee is scheduled for a shift and sent home early, the employee is paid for half of the hours not worked
  • A good faith estimate of workers’ hours are to be provided upon hire
  • Employees have a right to decline any shift added to their schedule within two the two week notice period without fear of retaliation from their employer
  • If the gap between a closing and opening shift is less than 10 hours, an employee is entitled to be paid time-and-a-half for the difference (addressing so-called “clopenings”)
  • The “access to hours” measure requires that employers give notice and offer hours to qualified current employees of new, additional hours available before hiring additional staff.
  • On-call protections measure, whereby employees will receive half-time pay for any shift they are on-call and do not get called into work

Beginning in March of this year, City policymakers conducted extensive outreach in the business and labor community to gather information on best practices, challenges, and scheduling needs of both workers and employers. For six months, City staff led roundtables with business and labor leaders, visited workplaces, and separately met with business owners, scheduling managers and individual workers to better understand how schedules are created and the impact unpredictable scheduling has on workers’ lives.  Since March, 17 stakeholder meetings took place, and the Council’s Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee met over a dozen times to review and refine the legislation.

Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 8, Citywide) said, “For the last 10 months we have been working to craft legislation that gives workers not only Secure Schedules, but also secure incomes. As we work to make Seattle a city that welcomes workers of all incomes, all backgrounds, and in many languages, this legislation moves us closer to a truly equitable community.”

 

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park) said, “Unpredictable work schedules disproportionately affect women and especially women of color. This legislation will provide adequate notice of schedules, the right to rest between shifts, predictability pay for additions to the schedules, and access to hours to existing part-time employees. This is an important step forward for the workers of Seattle in balancing the needs of business with the lives of workers.”
Mayor Murray and Councilmembers also felt it essential that employees retain their ability to swap shifts or accept additional hours. Under the new regulations, employers are not expected to offer one hour predictability pay when an employee requests a change to their schedule; when an employee finds replacement coverage for hours through an employee-to-employee shift swap; or when an employer provides notice of additional hours through mass communication and receives a voluntary offer to cover the available hours.

Seattle is the second municipality in the nation to adopt Secure Scheduling regulations, after San Francisco.  Several other cities are considering Secure Scheduling laws, including Albuquerque, New York City and Washington DC.

 

The legislation adopted today will now to be delivered to Mayor Murray for his signature. The legislation will take effect July 1, 2017.

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