We really should pay more attention to local government in Seattle; they’re dealing with so many of the same issues. And they have a city council structure which many would advocate for us as a replacement for our ten-member council (plus mayor), all elected at large.
The Council consists of nine members serving four-year terms, seven of which are elected by electoral districts and two of which are elected in citywide at-large positions; all elections are non-partisan.
It will surprise you not at all that their major issue is housing affordability, and that they too are struggling with the question of how much of the city should be rezoned for higher density – and whether neighbourhoods should be treated differently with respect to density and affordability. Here’s the latest from the Seattle Times:
Some potential battle lines were drawn Friday as Seattle City Council members debated trimming a plan to allow denser construction in the hearts of 27 neighborhoods while imposing affordable-housing requirements on developers.
Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and M. Lorena González, who represent the city at large, spoke out against attempts by certain district-based council members to reduce upzones proposed for some blocks of single-family houses. …
The upzones plan would allow developers to build one or several stories higher in neighborhood nodes already zoned for apartments and along commercial corridors while also loosening restrictions on nearby blocks now reserved for single-family houses. As currently proposed, it would affect only about 6 percent of Seattle’s single-family lots, according to the city. ….
Friday was the first chance for Councilmembers Lisa Herbold, Rob Johnson and Mike O’Brien to pitch amendments that would scale back upzones proposed for certain areas in the districts they represent. They said converting a number of single-family blocks in West Seattle Junction, Wallingford and Crown Hill to residential small-lot zones rather than to low-rise zones would result in gentler changes that would be better received by existing homeowners.