HALA Is the New Redlining

HALA, Seattle’s so-called Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda – crafted by Ed Murray in a room with developers – proposes to upzone valuable land along our main streets and elsewhere giving developers additional stories of height in exchange for nothing.

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It’s a political smokescreen for the massive displacement of vulnerable people and small businesses, immense net losses of affordable housing, further erosion of livability, and in case that wasn’t enough to cause us to take a closer look under the hood, let me pile on that it will result in systematic re-segregation as well.  

But isn’t HALA supposed to go a long way to solving our housing affordability and urban livability problems going forward?

Well, it doesn’t even attempt to. It’s fancy “branding” designed to fool you with words like Mandatory Housing Affordability. It’s politicians and political consultants at their worst which, on their terms, is their best. It galvanizes the trajectory of a city that once embraced all, but now favors the spin doctors, the well-connected, and the elite.

Wrap your head around this:

Over 20 years, across this entire city, this humongous hoax will result in – wait for it – 10 units of affordable housing per urban village per year. This is not permanently affordable housing mind you- and it’s not net units of affordable housing after bulldozing the affordable housing we already have in these locations. It’s 10 units of temporarily subsidized below-market rate housing.

TEN. 10. Only 10. 10 units of pseudo-affordable housing per urban village per year.

You’ve got to be kidding me.  

That is nearly the same number of affordable housing units that I created on my own “single family” 5000 sf lot without any “incentive” at all.

The “Grand Bargain” that our disgraced former Mayor Murray worked up with his crony capitalist campaign contributors hurts many of the people, neighborhoods, and small businesses of Seattle, stuffs the coffers of the City and the wallets of the developers, and lays no sustainable path forward for the next generation.

And the BS never stops.

New mayor, same problem. Jenny Durkan bends her ear to the same consultants and benefactors and puts addiction to the rush of the property taxes, real estate excise taxes, and general fund windfall ahead of sustainable policy.

Meanwhile, the City Council tamps down sensible opposition to HALA with neo-urbanist excuses for the duping in a rushed scramble before they resign or get booted out of office.

Ed Murray’s grand bargain is as dishonest as the man himself. Let’s retire policy and electeds of that ilk. Instead of the kind being walking around on leashes by the same consultants and contributors who baked this cake, we need honest electeds making policy and legislation that serves the needs of the people and businesses in the districts across Seattle and beyond.

We need to give Seattle a future that’s better for the next generation and that most certainly means preventing HALA legislation now. Call your councilmembers and the mayor at (206) 684-4000 today because they’re fast tracking.

Remind them that 10 pseudo-affordable units per urban village per year in exchange for massive upzoning is nothing more than a “grand swindle”.

Talk about how it redlines because developers don’t have to actually put those crumbs of units in the new buildings where they displace folks, they can instead pay a fee to concentrate the lower income people elsewhere – further north or south – which is repulsive.

Tell them it’s not even a good response in real time let alone a gesture to the future.

Mention that you will push for repeal of any HALA legislation that finds its way into ordinance.

Don’t let them respond with false claims that we can’t do better because we can and we must.

Going forward we need to shift the focus from the next cocktail to the next generation.  

  • We need all market-driven redevelopment to pay its own way for impacts on our city infrastructure just as Seattle’s historic neighborhoods did when they developed otherwise it won’t get done or punishes the next generation by kicking the can down the road.
  • We need to support all development in every zone across the city to be in sync with our environmental, economic, and social justice aspirations so that we can meet our goals of sustainability and inclusivity with every step we take, not promise we’re going to do it at some later date.   
  • We need to pivot to quality human habitat from the “stack and pack and cram ‘em in on the arterials and transit route” accountant mentality of the last dozen years especially.
  • We need to maximize stable households and happy childhoods with every single move we make for this is where a lot of mental illnesses can be prevented.
  • We need to encourage more opportunities for people to own their own land and develop their own homesteads so that we can have permanently affordable and stable housing in our single-family neighborhoods and elsewhere – for both owners and renters – which will help families, schools, and communities across Seattle immensely.  

Kate wants to be your candidate in the District 6 City Council race.

Your contribution to her campaign will make all the difference and will help her qualify for Democracy Vouchers. Your vouchers will arrive in your mailbox in mid-February. Vouch for Kate!

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