Dear Mayor Durkan,
We welcome you to office and admire your direct and candid comments regarding the issues of affordable housing and homelessness shared during your campaign. Your initiatives reflect the concerns of the community at large and your position resonates with many in the community. As you are transitioning from advocate/ candidate, to head of a Seattle in need of steady leadership, all while balancing many voices and agendas, we want to provide you with the collective information that we think will aid your success as mayor of Seattle.
You and your opponent spent much of your respective campaigns discussing our current population growth and impacts on our city as well as potential policy changes in Urban Design and building development for Seattle. We have been engaged in this conversation professionally and personally for some time.
We’ve taken the opportunity to first get facts and figures straight regarding Seattle’s population growth, housing supply, and number of homeless souls since we found so many conflicting figures. We have provided those here.
We have also checked in with some of our experienced and respected property developers, architects, design professors, and design leaders to gauge potential opportunities and pitfalls that they see in the near future. Of particular note, we found a consistent thread between many of these individuals regarding the difficult balance between creating affordable housing, managing escalating construction costs, and obtaining financing for building projects. Beyond all the rhetoric and wishing that we are all experiencing at some level, projects need to be viable financially to get entitled and built. That is, stretch affordable housing with tax abatement too little, and not very much affordable housing gets created. But perhaps more threatening to this mission, push too far, and even less affordable housing gets created, as it becomes unable to obtain financing.
In short, there is a balance.
Again, getting past the rhetoric, the existing HALA recommendations have done a remarkable job of bringing diverse stakeholders and voices together and have created a pathway forward given our likely population growth. We want to last offer a reasoned, very balanced summary that appeared just a few weeks ago in the Seattle Times which we feel summarizes the road ahead quite eloquently.
We hope and trust that, with this framework already in place, the Mayor’s office, in conjunction with City Council, can focus their efforts on implementing HALA into policy.
We at BUILD LLC, and our community here in Seattle, stand ready to assist with this mission however we can.
Good luck and thank you for your commitment to Seattle. We’re here for you if we can be of service.