In May, 2017, MoCA submitted a Comprehensive Plan Amendment for the 2017-18 cycle related to the City’s proposed revision of our Policies MJ-P13 and MJ-P14. The City has proposed different language but has said they will consider alternate policy language submitted by community members. The results of the November 14 special meeting will be used to construct input to the City for our Comprehensive Plan Amendment using their “Meeting In A Box” submittal form process and will be carried forward to Council discussion.
The intent of the meeting with the Morgan Junction community was to explore some options for action which should be considered in a new policy statements. Those actions selected will be captured in a broader policy setting statement for consideration in the Comprehensive Plan Amendment 2017-18 Cycle which is also aligned with implementation of the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program in Morgan Junction. It should be noted that any MoCA submissions will include the specific requirement for more neighborhood specific engagement, in some form of neighborhood planning.
Specifically at issue is the vision, goals and policies which guide the current Single Family zoned areas inside the Morgan Junction Residential Urban Village (UV). What we heard from the community was that those areas should continue to be areas of homeownership, particularly as affordable and entry level housing, serve as family size housing, retain local owner occupancy, retain MHA money in the UV for both rentals and homeownership and keep the character defined by our Urban Village Vision Statement. At the heart of the issue is how density inside the UV will be achieved and how the balance between the expected density of our UV and the character of the UV, which is currently more than 50% home ownership oriented, will be maintained.
We sought to find proposals to manage that balance. All specific proposals should be considered in a Neighborhood Planning process; that remains our goal. If the city refuses to support a Neighborhood Planning process, MoCA will convene another meeting and come to consensus on a go-forward plan.
Five ideas were discussed at the special meeting:
- MHA fees spent or developed in Morgan
- Institution involved with Development
- Community Land Trusts (CLTs) promoted
- Affordable Housing Special Review District
- Affordable Housing Special Review District + defined home ownership percentages
#1 Advocate that MHA fees collected in Morgan must be spent in Morgan OR that the affordable housing units are included in all new developments
The existing Framework legislation puts all MHA fees into a pool that can be spent anywhere in the city. It is expected that fees collected from downtown and SLU will fund much of the affordable housing built elsewhere in the city. A proposal that Morgan fees stay in Morgan must also include ability to access the fees generated in other areas.
The existing legislation is not inclusionary; a developer may opt to pay-in-lieu at any time.
MHA rules currently address rental units, but the city is not clear about distribution for home ownership units.
- Creates a fairer balance; development impacts in Morgan UV result in affordable housing in Morgan.
- Would have to get the MHA framework legislation changed for either approach..
- Current estimates of the number of Affordable Housing units for Morgan, using both performance and payment generated, are 97 units (Alt 2) or 145 units (Alt 3). There are no estimates of how many units would be generated from Morgan only development activity.
- City says they can leverage threefold when pay in lieu option is used, so would not have that leverage power. But no guarantee that new affordable housing will be in the neighborhood that generates the fees.
#2 Institutions with property in the UV create family size market rate housing through partnerships with non-profit organizations and developers and with collaboration with the community.
An example of this is the current project by the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene.
Pros observed from the Church project
- Respectful, community engaged involvement in the project.
- Public benefit was included in the form of public open space.
- An important institution in the neighborhood gained financial assistance.
- Due to zoning rules at the time, a special Comprehensive Plan Amendment had to be processed. That rule is no longer in effect.
- Unless the developer is also affiliated with a non-profit, this type of housing would be at market rate, not at 60 -80% Average Median Income Affordable Housing levels.
- MHA generated fees cannot be used for these types of projects
Feasibility & potential future duplication
- The Church of the Nazarene is the only church located within the Morgan UV.
- Providence/ Mt St Vincent owns one parcel within the Morgan UV.
# 3 Inform all single family zone homeowners of the Community Land Trusts (CLT model of preserving affordable housing and encourage them to consider selling to a CLT, so that affordable housing is retained for future home ownership. Informed homeowners could then voluntarily contact CLT’s
We think of this as encouraging entry level, family sized, owner occupied housing.
- Land Trusts generally work to provide entry level housing for people who are in the 60% to 80% AMI.
- Land Trusts have a variety of models of housing. Some properties are left intact, depending on the condition of the existing housing. Some properties could be redeveloped to provide multiple units, to the level of the zoning. This would, over time, shift the density of the UV.
- Housing that is redeveloped is targeted for family size housing, generally 3 to 4 bedrooms.
- Depending on the existing home owner financial goals in selling, for gaps between what a CLT can offer and the market value of the home, charitable deductions could be used.
- Works to protect the Morgan Vision Statements that community character is protected and that the UV offers a wide range of housing types
- City Council may be directing budget to explore how to create more homeownership models such as CLT’s
- Does not interfere with natural transition from SF to RSL but does keep some properties affordable during the transition.
- Dependant on individual homeowner remembering about the CLT concept when they decide to sell their home.
- If City proposes anything greater than RSL, the land value and tax burden may discourage retention of small homeownership stock to remain on the land
- Not know if MHA fees can be used to help the Land Trusts purchase the properties.
- The conflict still exists that our Vision is specific about single family, so we sill need to address this through a neighborhood planning process.
# 4 - Affordable Family Homes Special Review District:
Work with the City of Seattle and CLT’s to create a Special Review District within the Morgan UV: when a property in an area which has been transformed from SF to xxx by the MHA upzones goes on the market, a CLT would have first opportunity to purchase that property. If the CLT and the seller cannot reach agreement satisfactory to both within a reasonable time (for example, one week), then the seller is free to proceed and sell on the market.
For more information on Special Review Districts, it is covered in section 23.66 of the Seattle Municipal Code. Special Review Districts have been traditionally used in historic and culturally significant areas, and this would expand that concept to have an economic perspective more than the usual “visual” review element of façade alterations, signs, new construction, changes of use, and street improvements
We think of this as encouraging entry level, family sized, owner occupied housing on steroids.
- All pros listed above in Option 3 plus
- Retains integrity of the existing Morgan Neighborhood Plan goal as “a community with strong single family neighborhoods and compatible multifamily buildings offering a wide range of housing types for all people.” by being proactive to ensure the lower income families are not priced out of Morgan Junction.
- By establishing a Special Review District under Seattle Municipal Code 23.66, it would enable transformation of our single family zoned lands in a very specific way, but one that would be completely voluntary.
- The City could use MHA funds to assist with purchasing properties, per some of the other HALA recommendations
- Supports original HALA recommendations of FF.1, FF.2, FF.3, 1 and P.2
- Does not penalize current homeowners in any way, not in fees, taxes or impose improvement restrictions.
- An Affordable Family Homes Special Review District does not exist, just the framework for creating Special Review Districts. We would have to work with City departments and Council to create criteria and pass into law.
- Current homeowners will have to take an extra step when they sell their house, to consider a CLT offer first and accept or reject.
- The CLT’s have an economic model that may not be able to follow the market, either because of steep price increases or swings in the market. People could be put through all this work and we not be able to preserve as many properties as we would hope.
- Currently, MHA money cannot be used to purchase existing housing, so the MHA legislation would have to be changed.
# 5 – Create a Special Review District that does not involve CLT’s, but establishes rules to specifically retain homeownership at some percentage in the Morgan Junction Urban Village. Any new rules would have to become a part of the MHA legislation and we would have to get the City Council and departments to agree to the percentages and to managing the program.
We think of this as encouraging entry level, family sized, owner occupied housing by mandated control
- Removes a third party with some right of restriction
- Sellers remain independent without first rights of refusal overlays.
- Places responsibility for developing new ownership opportunities with the developer.
- Rules are triggered at the plan approval stage of development leaving the home or land sale as is.
- Will impose some other rules about future sales in order to get to desired percentage.
- Does not hold properties at affordable levels, but allows sales to follow the market.
- Does not prevent the neighborhood from developing.
- Adds complexity for developers.
- Does not address affordable housing directly.
- Hard to determine language and boundaries for rules. For example % of housing mix.
Discussion and Voting
Each option was introduced separately. Clarifying Questions were asked first on all options.
After discussion of the 5 options, there was a call for any new or additional options; none were offered. Voting then took place.
After Round 1, a second phase of Clarifying Questions on Options 4 and 5 took place, followed by a Round 2 vote on Options 4 and 5.
There were 55 people at the meeting, and during voting, 52 people participated. An option had to have 27 votes to move forward. Abstentions were not counted
Voting Results – Round 1 & Round 2
Option 1: MHA fees spent or developed in Morgan
Yes = 50
No = 2
Option 2: Institution involved with development
Yes = 39
No = 0
Option 3: Community Land Trusts (CLTs) promoted
Yes = 33
No = 2
Option 4: Affordable Housing Special Review District + CLT
Round 1 Yes = 20
No = 12
Round 2 Yes = 39
No = 5
Option 5: Affordable Housing Special Review District + defined homeownership percentages
Round 1 Yes = 18
No = 13
Round 2 Yes = 27
No = 17
Options 1, 2, 3, 4 passed. Option 5 did not pass
Discussion was then held on how to reflect all these possible options and how it will be reflected back to the City. it was recommended they all move forward and the policy statement focus on the common policy of encouraging affordable, entry level, family sized, owner occupied housing with all possible options listed. Any suggestions, as stated at the beginning will include the specific requirement for more neighborhood specific engagement, in some form of neighborhood planning.