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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

City Council Unanimously Approves 5,000-Unit Yesler Terrace Rebuild

Posted by on Tue, Sep 4, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Today, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the $290 million Yesler Terrace redevelopment package, even as low-income housing activists and members of International District residents turned out in force, pleading with council members to delay the long-awaited vote.

The objections raised today by activists were not new. The Seattle Housing Coalition once again lobbied for more extremely-low-income housing and residents from neighboring International District repeatedly asked the council to delay the vote until the Seattle Housing Authority—which is orchestrating the rebuild—unilaterally committed to developing a Vietnamese cultural center.

“Once you approve this rezone, there is no leverage within the community to keep SHA at the table,” testified Quang Nguyen, speaking on behalf of the Friends of Little Saigon. "We ask you to delay this vote."

While council members were unwavering in their votes, they acknowledged that their proposal wasn't without flaws. "I understand your disappointment," council member Nick Licata said, calling the legislation package "the least bad decision that's available, considering that [federal] funding for anything else just isn't available."

Two weeks ago, council members passed over 20 amendments to address a slate of objections to the rebuild.

Still, today many people testified the council didn't push hard enough to accommodate the city's most vulnerable residents.

"This is a market-rate development scheme," John Fox, head of the Seattle Displacement Coalition, testified today. Fox presented the council with a letter signed by 80 community members who opposed the project. "It's robbing Peter to save Paul. It will mean more homelessness, longer waiting lists for public housing in this city."

Fox has long criticized the Seattle Housing Authority for its plans to use grants and city Housing Levy funds to replace YT's 561 extremely low-income apartments with 5,000 mixed-income units—but only 661 units (tops) will serve the extremely low-income households that have historically comprised the area.

In response to the criticisms raised, city council members pointed out that:

· More than 1,100 new units of low-income and subsidized housing will be built, along with up to 661 units of extremely low-income housing.

· All current residents will receive relocation counseling in their own languages, and the costs of all on- and off-site moves will be covered.

· And all current YT residents will be guaranteed the right to return to new units at Yesler Terrace.

"We know there will be tremendous overturn in the neighborhood and that we will have to deal with the impacts," responded council member Richard Conlin. "We are not simply going to pass these ordinances and resolutions and walk away... we will work with SHA and the community to make this work as best as possible."

But moving forward, Licata urged activists to refocus their goals to "preserve the community as much as possible." As an example, Licata urged SHA to make a promise to keep Yesler Terrace "child friendly" by committing to relocating children with families back on site as quickly as possible.

"Without community, you're just building buildings," he said.


Comments (6) RSS

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@5 Seattle is at least a lifetime away from being a City where most can be carfree like say a New York or Toyko. This is especially true of the working poor/middle class with families who lack the time to negotiate our inefficient transit system to get to distant jobs or deal with kid shit like soccer games in far flung areas.

Your single hipster type slinging coffee in the kind of places that don't hire middle aged Hispanic women with mediocre English can do it. They can't.

So how about we make sure they have a place to park so maybe they'll be less likely to have to also deal with the shit that comes with relying on street parking. Like parking tickets and theft.
Posted by giffy on September 4, 2012 at 9:37 PM · Report this
More housing = more affordable housing, it really is that simple. Anyone truly interested in affordable housing for the masses should be applauding any effort to get that many more units on the market. The article shows that many of the complaints really don't have to do with affordable housing, it seems.
Posted by shotsix on September 4, 2012 at 6:47 PM · Report this
raku 5
Don't forget the 5,100 new parking spots, which will cause more gridlock downtown than the tunnel. That neighborhood will be an automobile blight for our entire lifetimes. It had so much potential, but now they're kicking everyone out to build 10 Walmarts worth of parking right next to brand new light rail, brand new streetcar, commuter rail, and about 50 bus lines (that will all be stuck in traffic).
Posted by raku on September 4, 2012 at 5:25 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
Seriously, if you want to address homelessness, stop creating ghettos and let people live everywhere in the city. You end up with lower costs and people get a chance to have new contacts that will actually help them get jobs - in Spain Italy and Greece, youth unemployment is around 50 percent, for example, and it's not that great in the US either.
Posted by Will in Seattle on September 4, 2012 at 4:34 PM · Report this
wisepunk 3
Posted by wisepunk on September 4, 2012 at 4:31 PM · Report this
How is adding 5,000 units of housing going to make housing more expensive?

You know what makes housing expensive? less supply than demand. You know what impedes supply? people urging the delay of permitting.
Posted by Alden on September 4, 2012 at 4:12 PM · Report this

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