Herbold Throws Shade on Johnson’s “Mission Accomplished” Moment

You might remember that I wrote about Councilmember Rob Johnson’s Mission Accomplished moment a few weeks ago when he claimed that several developers had backtracked on their already approved projects in order to voluntarily participate in the Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning (MIZ). I pointed out that he simply made our case that if MIZ is so great, why is it mandatory. Just make it VIZ, Voluntary Inclusionary Zoning. Councilmember has shown why she is such a worth adversary by asking some even tougher questions.

The answer is that those projects haven’t made any commitment to participate, they simply included MIZ in their scenarios. And as I have pointed out (and pointed out to Herbold in her office a long time ago), Vulcan and big developers downtown negotiated a sweet deal in which they would pay just about what they would have paid for the existing incentive zoning scheme downtown. That is, whatever those developers would participate in is far less onerous that what everyone else in town has to deal with. Here’s an extensive quote from Herbold’s blog:

I asked for additional information about this interest of developers to opt in voluntarily to MHA in South Lake Union and Downtown and voluntarily contribute to affordable housing.   I learned that since the Downtown / SLU rezone ordinance only just became effective the actual outcome from the opt-in provision is still essentially unknown, and specifically:

  1. While some current applications without issued Master Use Permits (MUPs) have shown alternatives to the Design Review Board that incorporate the additional development capacity, none of the approximately 7 projects that could opt-in have gotten to the point of actually formalizing their commitment to opt-in by getting an approved MUP or MUP revision  that utilize the extra development capacity; and anecdotal stories statements of interest are not guarantees of future action.  But I do hope these developers do voluntarily opt in!

  2. The $25 million estimate assumes maximum build out of a site, again despite the fact that we have no specific information about MUPs approved for maximum build out. In other words, the numbers assume that a developer who might at some later date opt in will use all of the additional capacity granted through the Downtown  / SLU rezone ordinance.  That also might not be the case.  We simply do not know.

  3. Further, even if these 7 projects were to either receive MUP decisions under MHA or submit and receive new MUPs for maximum build out of these seven locations, the $25 million estimate does not derive from MHA obligations. The $25M figure is not the addition from the added MHA increment.  The total from the MHA increment would be between $2.6M and $9.1M, the existing incentive zoning program accounts for the rest.  Each of these projects already (without some future possible voluntary opt-in to MHA affordable housing requirements) would contribute between $16M and $22M under their current MUPs, depending on what’s eventually built.

 

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