Seattle has seen unprecedented growth in recent years and that growth has brought major challenges in making sure that Seattlites of all economic standing can afford a decent place to live. The average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in our city is $2,789; this means that your children’s teachers, police officers, firefighters, and nurses are just some of the professions that are being priced out of our city. The average salary for an EMT in Seattle would require an individual to spend 85% of income on housing at the current average rate for a 2-bedroom unit! We need to promote economic diversity in our communities and ensure that Seattle is not just a city for the wealthy few. As your representative on the city council, I will fight to ensure that Seattle is a city for all of us. Here are some of the things I will do to help ease the burden of housing costs on Seattle families:
- Protect long-standing residents and small businesses of our neighborhoods by grandfathering them into lower property tax rates when up-zoning causes an increase in local property values.
- Expand on the mandatory housing affordability passed by the council by working with developers to further incentivize the construction of mixed income communities.
- Use the city’s borrowing capacity to borrow against future in-lieu fees and impact fees to construct city owned units now that can be sold for a profit to the city later.
- Offer incentives to open up the many luxury apartments that sit empty to lower income renters or implement penalties for letting units sit empty to keep rates high.
- Act now to further ease regulatory restrictions on accessory dwelling units (mother-in law apartments) if the unit will be offered at rates deemed affordable for a full time minimum wage worker.
- Re-evaluate Permit Process and Zone – Look to expedite backlogged permit applications so construction can begin. The majority of Seattle is zoned single family, prohibiting the construction of apartment buildings and mixed use buildings. Zoning and code regulations need to be re-evaluated, in consultation with community groups and neighborhood residents, so more homes and apartments can be built and the city can grow. With increased supply, competitive pricing will lower rents and home ownership costs. Rather than displacing existing neighborhoods, the zoning changes should be examined near transportation hubs, undeveloped commercial areas and major arterial roadways so as not to displace existing residents and communities.
- Roll Back Unnecessary Taxes – Levies and other taxes target landlords and are rolled over onto tenants, causing rental rates to rise. If we reduce our spending on unneeded projects we can cut the taxes used to support them.
- Increase Housing Options – By increasing the available housing options and looking for practical solutions to our city’s problems, without merely adding another tax to increase the cost of living, we can make housing more affordable in Seattle. Let’s give incentives to developers and property owners with tax credits for providing increased affordable housing solutions.