Herbold: Office of Planning and Community Development Growth Monitoring Report- D1 Highlights
By Lisa Herbold
District 1 Seattle City Councilmember
Last month the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) released the Comprehensive Plan Urban Village Indicators Monitoring Report. Adopted in 2016, Seattle 2035 is Seattle’s current 20-year Compressive plan. This report is the first in a series of monitoring reports tracking the growth of Seattle through 2035. This monitoring is an important part of maintaining the transparency and effectiveness of the Comprehensive Plan. The report is broken into 3 sections; Housing and Employment Growth, Affordability and Livability.
Housing and Employment Growth
According to the report, “Seattle’s Growth Strategy directs 84 percent of housing growth to urban centers and urban villages.” District 1 contains 5 urban villages; Admiral, West Seattle Junction, Morgan Junction, South Park and Westwoord-Highland Park. The City’s Growth and Equity Analysis identifies urban villages where there is a high risk of displacement for current residents. You can see the displacement risk chart below.
The report notes Seattle’s extremely fast paced housing growth noting that, if the 21,500 housing units permitted as of December 2017 are
built, the City will have reached 52% of its 20-year housing growth estimate in just a few short years. These rates of development varied greatly among individual urban villages with high displacement. Among a notable exception to the growth rate is South Park and the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village which had housing growth of 1% or less between the beginning of 2016 and the end of 2017.
Below you can find the full chart of the 20 year Comprehensive Plan housing growth estimates, along with actual housing growth thus far in the monitoring period for each urban center, hub urban village, and residential urban village in the city:
Sixty-nine percent of the City’s employment growth between March 2015 and March 2016 occurred in urban centers. Almost all urban centers have seen a growth in employment with one notable exception; the number of jobs in the Duwamish and Ballard-Interbay-Northend manufacturing/industrial centers declined during the same period. The Greater Duwamish M/IC lost roughly 600 jobs during the monitoring period.
The first year of the monitoring, between March 2015 and March 2016 saw varies rate of growth in Seattle’s six urban hub villages. Among the areas that grew more rapidly was the West Seattle Junction where employment grew by 9%.
Seattle 2035’s goal is to achieve a supply of housing that is diverse and affordable. The monitoring report acknowledges that “Seattle’s high housing costs are making it increasingly difficult for low-income household to live in our city.” The Comp Plan found that meeting the plan’s 20-year growth estimate of 70,000 net new housing units would require roughly 27,500-36,500 new affordable units at or below 80% area medium income (AMI). It should be noted these numbers did not account for existing unmet affordable housing needs and as such the need for new affordable housing units is likely much higher.
The affordability section of the report monitors two different indicators including affordability of market-rate rental housing and income-restricted affordable housing. The data for these indicators shows several key factors for the city as a whole:
- Market-rate apartment units in medium-to-large complexes, the most common form of rentals, are largely unaffordable to low income households
- Small apartment complexes and multiplexes are more affordable but are decreasing as a share of rental housing in the city.
- Average rents for newer properties are notably higher than those for older properties
- The affordability of market-rate apartments varies greatly from one urban center to the next
- As of March 31, 2018, the supply of income-restricted affordable housing in Seattle totaled approximately 29,370 units.
- Of the rent- and income-restricted units existing in Seattle as of March 2018, roughly 82 percent are inside urban centers and villages.
The final section of the monitoring reporting addresses livability including access to transit, presence of sidewalks, and access to parks and open space. Of these three livability indicators the report notes:
- Within the urban villages 84% of housing units are within a half mile walk of transit running every 10 min or better and 99% are within a half-mile walk of transit running every 15 minutes or more. This includes the West Seattle Junction.
- The report also notes that “Admiral is unique among urban villages in that none of the housing in this village is within a 10-minute walk of either 10-minute or 15-minute transit service. Corridors serving Admiral are identified in the Frequent Transit Network as priorities for upgrades to 15-minute service.”
- There are several urban villages in south Seattle, including Westwood-Highland Park that have low rates of sidewalk completion as part of the Pedestrian Master Plan Priority Investment Network. See figure below for more details