Urban Politics #163: SHA Changes Rules


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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.

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CONTENTS:

  • SHA Changes Rules
  • Monorail Resolution On Council Intent
  • Monorail Green Line DEIS Hearing

  SHA Changes Rules

After nearly a year the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), working with the Seattle Senior Housing Program (SSHP) Advisory Committee, will adopt new policies aimed at cutting program costs and moving to a tiered rent structure in an effort to guarantee future access to the SSHP for low-income seniors. This is a victory for the seniors who live in this SHA program since 75% of them are at 30% or below of median income.

SSHP is a Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) program created in 1981 when voters approved $48.1 million to develop more than 900 units of housing for low-income elderly or handicapped persons.

Last year I asked SHA to invite the broader community to help resolve the problem they faced in increasing rental costs for seniors living in the Seattle Senior Housing Program. Many seniors feared that they might not be able to afford the increases and be forced out of the program.

SHA proposed to raise the rent for seniors in the SSHP in an effort to raise funds needed to complete expected capital renovations and sustain the availability of the aging housing for the long term. In response there was a public outcry by seniors and their advocates asking that SHA work with them to find another way to address the fiscal shortfalls in the program.

Consequently, SHA created a Stakeholders group. Meanwhile I and Councilmember Nicastro co-sponsored a resolution supporting the SSHP Advisory Committee’s efforts to maintain the majority of units for seniors at 30% or below of median income.

The resolution passed unanimously after SHA, SSHP residents and their advocates, and Committee members McIver, Nicastro and I agreed upon a role for the City to accept regular reports from SHA about the future operations of the program.

Another important element of the resolution is support for the on-going role of the SSHP Advisory Committee. I first proposed the committee when the rent crisis began. The Committee will have a crucial role identifying, notifying, and making recommendations to SHA and the Council about potential fiscal challenges to maintaining this precious housing.

Residents have asked for the City to take a more active role in the program for years. SHA is an independent entity and not required to have City Hall’s approval of their policies, procedures and rent structure. But the Council agreed that a limited role was appropriate since this particular SHA program, unlike others, involves a City contract with SHA to operate these SSHP units under terms of the original city enabling Ordinance and a 1982 Housing Cooperative Agreement.

Monorail Green Line DEIS Hearing

Seattle City Councilmembers will participate in a public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Seattle Monorail Project’s proposed Green Line on Monday, September 29, 2003.

The hearing, held by the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) and Coast Guard, will take place from 1-3 p.m., and from 5-9 p.m. An open house will take place from 1-9 p.m., and SMP staff will be available for questions. The hearing will take place in the Northwest Rooms at the Seattle Center, at 305 Harrison Street.

Councilmembers will participate in the hearing beginning at 5 p.m. They will participate in the hearing because as the SMP project moves forward, the City of Seattle will have a significant and continuing role in various monorail issues, including design review, authorizing the monorail to use City-owned rights-of-way, authorizing the SMP to use Seattle Center property (depending on the final choice of alignment), and potentially other public property. The City Council expects that public comment at the DEIS hearing will help inform the Council’s actions on these issues.

The Seattle Monorail Project is responsible for building the Green Line, and comments will be formally used by the SMP and Coast Guard for EIS purposes. Those agencies are responsible for conducting this hearing. The DEIS comment period ends on October 14, 2003. Written comments may be sent to Ross Macfarlane, Seattle Monorail Project, 1904 3rd Ave, Suite 105, Seattle, WA 98101 or by email to eis@elevated.org.

Monorail Resolution On Council Intent

Tomorrow, Friday, September 12, the Neighborhoods, Arts and Civil Rights (NAC) Committee I chair will consider a monorail Resolution 30629 I introduced on Monday.

I introduced this resolution after receiving a number of comments from citizens and downtown property owners who were concerned about the impacts of the amendments being made to the Land Use Code to accommodate the construction of the Monorail. See UP # 162 for details. The Full Council will vote on that legislation at our Monday, September 15th meeting.

Some citizens suggested adding language to amend the Land Use Code with regards to the Monorail’s finances, alignment and station locations. Such items are much too project specific to be included in the City’s Land Use Codes which apply to the entire city for all projects.

Consequently, Resolution 30629 states the Council’s intent to:

- Approve monorail design guidelines for use in City permitting and for use by the City’s Monorail Review Panel

- Hold a public hearing before approving alignment and station locations, and use of City right-of-way

- Use criteria when reviewing alignment and station locations, such as: consistency with design guidelines and the City’s Comprehensive Plan and neighborhood plans; Resolution 3048 regarding mitigation; acceptability of general sequence of Green Line construction; and substantial evidence the entire 14-mile Green Line can be constructed within the budget in the plan approved by voters.

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