Update from Smart Growth Seattle

Smart Growth Seattle is a non-profit, 501(c)4 organization and what we do is fueled by contributions and by volunteer time by builders, developers, and landlords. As the Director, part of my job is to raise funds for our work. I thought I’d share a recent appeal because it outlines a lot of the work we’ve been doing. In short, we’re suffering death by a thousand cuts. Sure, Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning is a disaster, but there are dozens of smaller problems that make it more and more difficult to provide housing supply for people that need it. Not long after I sent this I realized I had understated the fees. I’ll post my follow up correction too. 

I’m writing you again to ask for your contribution to Smart Growth Seattle and to update you on our work. As you know, we’re the only voice standing up in Seattle against the citywide imposition of Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning (MIZ), a scheme that would require the inclusion of rent controlled units in all new construction or a fee to avoid inclusion as high as $10 a square foot. This makes no sense since it will make many projects infeasible, and when they do pencil it will because the price or the rents go up; we also believe MIZ is illegal.

But here’s what we’ve also been doing along with making the intellectual and economic case against MIZ:

  • Supported successful lawsuit against City ordinance that illegally required design review for projects because of development on adjacent lots;
  • Successfully advocated for inclusion of a proviso in the Senate’s version of the state budget to audit housing costs statewide;
  • Collaborated with the Pacific Legal Foundation to produce and send a letter to the City explaining why MIZ is illegal;
  • Making the case against first in time requirements for new tenants at the City and at the Legislature;
  • Monitoring the work of the City’s Unreinforced Masonry Building (URM) task force that will make recommendations on seismic upgrade requirements;
  • Advocating on a regular basis for improvements and changes to policies that increase development costs like
    • New requirements to include water main extensions
    • Trash receptacle requirements for new development
    • Requirements to expand Combined Sewer Overflow infrastructure
    • Additional setbacks for overhead wires
    • Requiring additional electric service strikes to live work projects
    • New requirements for vacant buildings
    • Restrictions in the building code that drive up the size of SEDUs
    • Inconsistent inspections and enforcement from City departments

Finally, this year is an election year for Mayor and City Council, and we plan to keep a very close eye on the candidates, what they say, and whether any of them might be better for our work than others. This election may be the most important for our community in a generation as the City considers how to accommodate job and population growth. We need leadership that knows you are part of the solution, not the problem. 

Supporting our work financially is an investment in the long-term success of your business. We’re here to advocate at all levels at the City and State to be sure you are represented on legislation, rule making, and enforcement. Your contribution will help us finish out this year strong and maintain our effort into next year. I’m always happy to meet with you to talk further about the latest and answer questions. And we always want to hear if you’re running into regulatory issues so we can help you if we can.

Sincerely,

Roger—

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