Sound Progress

Research and insights from Puget Sound Sage.


Our People, Our Planet, Our Power—Community Led Research in South Seattle

By Dionne Foster

When Puget Sound Sage came together with Asian Pacific Islander Coalition, Community to Community, Got Green, El Centro De La Raza, Latino Community Fund, One America and Washington Community Action Network to create Front and Centered, we committed ourselves to forwarding the Principles for Climate Justice.

Our principles affirm that solving the climate crisis requires putting racial and economic justice in the center of policies addressing climate change. In order to build resilient communities, we committed ourselves to bringing both economic and environmental benefits to our communities and developing processes that engage community members in a just and transparent manner.

Seeking to put these principles of climate justice into action at the neighborhood level, last year Pugt Sound Sage and Got Green partnered on a community-based participatory research project (CBPR). We interviewed 175 people – predominantly people of color, people living in Southeast Seattle and people with low-incomes. We also interviewed 30 organizations with the goal of determining collective environmental priorities.
hodan jill climate report

Last month we released the findings of the CBPR in a report, Our People, Our Planet, Our Power – Community Led Research in South Seattle, detailing concerns about climate adaptation, decreasing carbon pollution and ensuring equitable representation from the perspective of our base communities in Seattle. Communities named housing, displacement, food access, transit and environmental related heath issues as top-priorities.

This report represents the direction we should be heading as a movement – both in the policy recommendations included in the report as well as the process by which those solutions were developed. What we learned during this process is that when we start policy development with our communities; they lead. And when our movement is led by and centered on the most impacted communities only then can we achieve real climate justice and resilience.

This post is part of a collection of stories keeping Communities of Color “Front and Centered” this Earth Day. To see more of the work our coalition is leading please visit frontandcentered.org/earthday.


Sage’s 2015-2016 CLI Cohort Graduates at City Hall

Twenty leaders from underrepresented and communities of color graduate from Puget Sound Sage’s Community Leadership Institute (CLI) seeking placement on Regional Boards and Commissions to advance an equity agenda!

On Friday, March 25th at the Bertha Knight Landes room in Seattle City Hall, we honored our twenty graduates for their completion of the CLI and their continued commitment and leadership in driving equity on policy-making bodies as they move towards placement on local and regional boards and commissions.

Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez and Justice Mary Yu joined over 100 friends, family members, board and commission liaisons, partners and supporters joined the celebration.

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“To have a program like this that is rooted in the concept of empowering communities of color through public service on board and commissions is really inspiring to me,” said City of Seattle City Council member Lorena Gonzales, first Latina elected to serve the Seattle City Council, and shared her wish to have had the opportunity to access this type of program early in her career.

Two graduates stepped up to the microphone to share their experiences as CLI fellows, and what it means to them in their policy and systems work moving forward.

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Laurie Rocello Torres shared her experience in the program and the process of applying for placement on boards and commissions.

This month, I applied to the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee. Thanks to the support and knowledge given to me from our workshops and the opportunity to do a practice interview with Ubax and Giulia, I felt prepared and able to speak on how my analysis and experience would prove to be an asset to the Committee by helping make sure that the race and social equity lens would be applied to the decision making around funding transportation around the city. I really believe in transparency­­ and community accountability and am so grateful to have had the opportunity to develop skills that will help me work more effectively to ensure that happens.”

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Abdirahman Yusuf used a powerful James Baldwin quote to tell his story of how he came to the leadership institute and the epiphany he got in wanting to create long systematic change in his adopted country instead of taking his brilliance back to Africa.

James Baldwin once said “To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.”  Now imagine being young, Muslim, black, refugee and conscious in America, it’s a mentally exhausting, very draining, and depressing state. That constant rage has become true to me after the murders of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tanisha Anderson and Tamir Rice. They have changed my life, my plans and the way I see America.

I used to want to go back to Africa and become a humanitarian. I wanted to go to a familiar environment. I wanted to work with refugees but I couldn’t continue with that dream. It seemed a fantasy to me. Two things that I hated more than any thing; injustice and abuse of power were happening to us, right here, right now. I came to the conclusion that the best thing I could do was to get involved, and try to make changes not only by protesting, but also by influencing decision makers.

My quest to find a way to get involved led me to the CLI. I needed to learn more, I needed to gather as many tools as possible. CLI provided me with hands to grasp my goals. It is allowing me to thrive and pursue my dreams. CLI also gave me the confidence to take the necessary steps.

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The Graduation featured keynote speaker Justice Mary Yu, the daughter of immigrant parents; who was the first in her family to receive a college education. She is the first Latina, the first Asian, and first member of the LGBTQ community to serve on the Washington State Supreme Court.

Justice Yu addressed the CLI graduates and said, “If you look the word cohort in any dictionary, you will find that it was a way to define a legion of warriors, defined by a number who collectively together were strategic in what they were doing and when you stop and think about it that is what you have become. A cohort developing strategic purpose and vision being strong in moving forward and for that reason I congratulate you.”

The CLI has prepared these leaders to serve as the next generation of appointed officials who are representative of and accountable to the region’s communities of color and other underrepresented populations. Each cohort member brought a different intersectional identity and approach to our common social justice work, which further strengthened the content of the program and the group’s framework for policy work moving forward.

Together, these graduates are the CLI’s first alumni cohort and embody the power of the equity movement as it continues to grow and shift. The power behind each of these twenty future advocate commissioners expands beyond their individual representation to a truth-telling voice of the communities from which they are rooted.

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THANK YOU to our entire CLI family for the power and backing you bring to these individuals, to our organizations and to the social justice and racial equity movement.

Special shout out and thanks to our integrated knowledge partners, funders, trainers, issue series speakers and evaluators! Thank you for your commitment to leadership development of communities of color and our movement in general. Thank you for your amazing work and continued support in the development and implementation of the Community Leadership Institute. Successes like this only happen when we all work together to prioritize racial justice in our community work.

Check out the graduation photo gallery here.

Keep an eye out for the monthly issue series events that will be happening throughout 2016 and upcoming 2016-2017 important dates! For more information, Contact Program Director, Ubax Gardheere, Ubax@Pugetsoundsage.org or our Equitable Development Fellow, Myani Gilbert, at Myani@Pugetsoundsage.org

 


Sound Transit 3: Ramping up for an equitable and accessible transit future

By Afrin Sopariwala

The Puget Sound region has seen unprecedented growth of population in the last few years and this trend is expected to continue. By the year 2040, the population is projected to grow by roughly one million people, with a majority of the growth occurring in cities like Everett and Tacoma.

As we continue to grow as a region, we must plan to grow equitably. It’s critical that we are able to match population growth with infrastructure growth by investing in accessible public transit, affordable housing, and good jobs. With that in mind, the majority of the Puget Sound Region will have an opportunity to vote on Sound Transit 3 (ST3): a potential ballot measure that will expand and build out Sound Transit’s long range plan. ST3 will go before voters in November 2016. Sound Transit currently serves the urbanized parts of King, Snohomish and Pierce County and approximately 2.9 million people or 80.3% of the three counties.

In December 2015, Sound Transit released the list of candidate projects, which extend from Lynnwood to Everett; Bellevue to Redmond; down to Tacoma from Federal Way; and connects West Seattle and Ballard to downtown Seattle. This Thursday, the board will deliberate over the final list of projects and additional policy direction included in the ST3 package and then launch into a month of community engagement.

Community Engagement is critical to make ST3 an equitable transit system.

Puget Sound Sage, Transportation Choices Coalition, and OneAmerica – collectively Transit for All—are working with Sound Transit board members and staff to flip the script on community engagement by hosting community-driven conversations on the future of transit service and surrounding communities. Transit for All will host several workshops and forums to develop a community frame for the future of high-capacity transit in the region, to convey to Sound Transit board members and staff.

The first of many community workshops was on Feb 19th. Rebecca Saldaña, executive director at Puget Sound Sage, opened the event by inviting the community to engage in this process. She said, “If you’re not at the table, then you’re on the menu.” Shefali Ranganathan, director at Transportation Choices Coalition, walked the audience through the history of the region’s transit system.

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Shefali Ranganathan, Director of Transportation Choices Coalition

Shefali related the ironic story of how Seattle lost the opportunity to build a regional transit system. In 1965, the federal government proposed Forward Thrust – a project to fund most of a regional train system. Unfortunately, voters did not approve the ballot measure, and the Federal Government sent the funding to build Atlanta’s system instead. We are now playing catch-up. This time, it will cost over $27 billion and will be one of the biggest and boldest investments we will see in this region in our lifetimes.

It is important that the community is engaged in choosing how we connect our region in an accessible, just and sustainable way – focusing investments in historically disinvested in communities and ensuring that low-income communities are not displaced. The first workshop generated some great ideas and input from the community. They are outlined below.

Good Jobs near Transit:

  • Construction and maintenance jobs should pay living wages, and have intentional inclusion for people of color, women, LGBQT and other marginalized communities.
  • After construction, ensure good jobs that are long term and relevant to the community are available and accessible to people most impacted
  • While disposing the land, ST should require that developers provide good jobs to people that are from those communities.

Affordable Housing:

  • It is important that people can work and live near transit — to save a lot of time and cost. Sound Transit should prioritize affordable housing and living-wage jobs near transit.
  • Sound Transit and local governments must play a role in preventing and mitigating economic displacement that happens near transit for both residents and community institutions.
  • It is important to provide adequate benefit for households that will be physically displaced, there should be fair relocation opportunities offered to them in affordable housing without pushing them further out of the urban areas.
  • Surplus land disposition must allow affordable housing that recognizes the needs of the community that already exists to minimize gentrification.

Climate Resilience:

  • Resilience is both being prepared to face disasters and making our communities and social relationships stronger.
  • Transit centers must be designed keeping in mind climate change impacts like increased temperatures and frequent storms, especially to elders and disabled people. Invest in low-impact developments – rain gardens, tree cover, permeable pavements, etc.
  • Existing infrastructure should be retrofitted to be accessible and prepared for climate change impacts.
  • Different modes of transit must be in proximity each other and to community centers, educational centers, faith-places.

Community Engagement:

  • Set up community boards in each area of proposed construction with people that represent the community. Diverse segments of people must be invited to this board — not only business owners but also students, disabled, low-income people. Representation from ST should not just be engagement managers, but designers and engineers to collaborate on solutions.
  • Employ community liaisons from the community, and use easy-to-understand and interactive ways to engage the community in technical details.
  • Publish information in ethnic media outlets that the communities engage in more than just the mainstream media. Meeting should be set to be accessible in different languages and at times that working people can attend.
  • Design simple ways for people to understand the cost impact — cost to use transit, or how it might affect the rent of their homes.
  • Resource community stakeholders to conduct community engagement and organizing.

Accessibility & Safety:

  • We need sidewalks and good lighting not just at the station but 1/4- 1/2 mile from the station.
  • Stations should have activity near them like retail or commercial so that there are lots of people around. This creates a sense of safety.
  • Better bus access to the stations.
  • Bike lanes and lockers at the stations.
  • Better amenities at bus stops near stations (lighting, shelter, seating).
  • Make sure that communities are part of the design process so that they welcome the station and do not oppose it.
  • Good signage to and from the station in multiple languages where it makes sense.
  • Stations should feel walkable and human scale – not like the Mt.Baker station.
  • More security at stations.
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Transit for All is hosting several workshops and forums to develop a community frame for the future of high-capacity transit in the region to convey to the Sound Transit board members and staff.

Ramping up to the next phase:

The Transit for All coalition will advocate for these priorities to Sound Transit board members and urge them to take this community vision for an equitable Sound Transit 3 into account as they make their final decisions over the coming months.

This is just the beginning and it is important that the community deepens conversations and brings more voices to the process of decision making in the next few months. It is critical that we get active in discussions around the impacts and long-term goals that we envision for transit in our region. We will organize phone banking, door knocking and invite people to show up at board meetings and public hearing.

Please sign up to learn more and attend the next People’s Workshop on April 13th at Highline College.


The HALA Recommendations, Why We Support Them, and Why it is About Race

-By the Staff of Puget Sound Sage

Puget Sound Sage joined as one of five signatories with affordable housing advocates, labor, and environmental organizations to an op-ed last week expressing our support for the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee’s recommendations to increase zoning density in conjunction with affordable housing strategies.  Sage supports these measures because there is an affordable housing crisis, and we need more affordable housing.  We support increased density, so long as upzones are implemented in conjunction with affordability measures, like a linkage fee or mandatory inclusionary housing.

As a result of years of advocacy, including co-leading a coalition of organizations fighting for inclusionary housing policies, our Mayor is now advancing a strong inclusionary housing policy — a commercial linkage fee, in conjunction with a mandatory inclusionary housing policy for residential development.  The inclusionary housing policy is only one of seven recommendations we actively support. And we hope you join us in advocating for implementation of  the HALA recommendations as soon as possible at upcoming City Council meetings.

The time to act is now – Tell City Council to implement the HALA recommendations as soon as possible. 

But, let’s dig in a little more about why inclusionary housing is necessary, and why it is about race.

In the past few weeks, a magnitude of articles written by city news sources have accused the city of Seattle of “playing the race card” in justifying increased density in single-family zones.  In an article by the Seattle Times Editorial Board, published on July 22nd, Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell was quoted as saying, “Housing policies are largely governed by socioeconomic patterns . . .[y]es, we can agree there’s a huge overlap between poverty and communities of color.  But to suggest that in 2015 there’s a conscious attempt to exclude in terms of zoning decisions based on race — that almost distracts from the issue.”

We would have to agree with Harrell, there is not a current ordinance that racially restricts zones.  However, the key word in Harrell’s quote is “conscious.”  Just because it is not “conscious” does not mean that the impact of current zoning laws that result in the exclusion of communities of color from certain zones is not racist.  Actually, this is called de facto segregation, and we wrote an op-ed back in March about how development in accordance with a history of racially-restrictive covenants contributes to its perpetuation.

The “socioeconomic patterns” of development, in Seattle, as well as nationally, have largely been governed by five factors: 1) a history of racially restrictive covenants; 2) redlining; 3) lack of jobs available to people of color; 4) exclusionary zoning; and 5) poorly regulated economic growth and gentrification that lead to displacement.  For the purpose of this blog, we will not delve into these factors.  However, in a July 28th article, the Stranger paraphrases Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project by stating “racist covenants were merely a convenient substitute for racist zoning, which was outlawed.” This truth offers fodder for those who love to trump the semantic argument “but the zoning wasn’t actually racist, it is classist. This conversation isn’t helpful.”

We disagree. We think this conversation is helpful, not to self-righteously point accusatory fingers or judge individuals, but to help us advance solutions for lasting affordability.  Placing a spotlight on current zoning impacts prevents an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” mentality that passively allows for perpetuation displacement of communities of color and de facto segregation well into the future.

Exclusionary zoning like single family zoning is the historical implementation of facially “race-neutral” land use laws that were deliberately crafted to keep people out, such as the disallowance of multifamily homes, and single family homes affordable to low and moderate income people (we’re not going to even touch the environmental impacts of these policies). Coupled with discrimination by banks, landlords, neighbors, it is even more difficult for people of color to access single family neighborhoods that are also unaffordable.

Moreover, displacement due to rising rents and foreclosures disproportionately impacts people of color, putting access to single-family homes even further out of reach for many people of color.  Thus, the impact is disproportionately racist, and therefore, racist.  The City has taken steps to acknowledge the impacts of institutional racism through it’s Race and Social Justice Initiative, and eliminating racial disparities is going to take exactly the kind of thoughtful policy interventions outlined in the HALA recommendations.

So, back to the solutions.  Here are 7 policies from HALA, among others, we think are a step in the right direction.


The Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda Recommendations That We Support (Among Others)

The time to act is now – Tell City Council to implement the HALA recommendations as soon as possible. 

Questions? Email Ubax Gardheere at ubax@pugetsoundsage.org or Lauren Craig at lauren@pugetsoundsage.org.

Executive Director Rebecca  Saldaña kicking off our Growing Together Coalition's inclusionary housing celebration!

Executive Director Rebecca Saldaña kicking off our July 14th Growing Together Coalition’s inclusionary housing celebration

  1. Commercial linkage fee and mandatory inclusionary housing on residential development: Both are inclusionary housing policies. One mandates that affordable units be included in new housing developments or pay a fee, and the other requires that commercial developments contribute fees towards affordable housing, and provide an associated upzone or floor area ratio (FAR) increase.  Increased density – tied to affordability – can help mitigate the impacts of historically exclusionary policies by fostering inclusion and preventing displacement with the creation of new affordable housing (if all goes according to plan, 6,000 new homes).
  2. Real Estate Excise Tax: HALA directs the state legislature to pass a law that would allow cities to impose an increased Real Estate Excise Tax specifically dedicated for affordable housing. This tax would create a stable source of funding by requiring sellers of properties to pay a percentage of their earnings towards a fund dedicated to affordable housing.  This increased REET would provide a source of funding for investments in affordable housing for low-income people, currently around 30% of the Area Median Income.
  3. Anti-displacement toolkit: An affordable housing preservation tool that identifies areas vulnerable to displacement. Using this tool to guide City planning and decision-making would help mitigate the impacts of gentrification and rising rents. A related preservation strategy is to establish an expert advisory body or commission to lend specialized expertise and guidance to the City’s housing strategies, bringing together representatives of tenants, owners, developers and public agencies.
  4. Preservation, generally: Our HALA recommendations request that the city leverage substantial financial resources and legislative authority to preserve affordable housing. Maintaining and preserving our current stock of affordable housing prevents further displacement and generally has a smaller carbon impact than building new.
  5. Sustainable homeownership: Permanently affordable homes can stabilize low-income households and communities. New and leveraged resources should go towards land trusts, as well as preserving ongoing homeownership opportunities in an increasingly expensive housing market. Long-term affordability can only be ensured by including a revenue source to pay for adequate stewards, like community land trusts, to ensure long-term affordability.
  6. Tenant relocation assistance: When buildings are demolished, displaced tenants have difficulty finding replacement housing in Seattle. The recommendation is to increase the effectiveness of the city’s current tenant relocation assistance program (TRAO) by offering additional protections for vulnerable populations and against landlords’ evasion of the program. Although we support this, we would like to see assistance implemented for those displaced by rising rents.
  7. “Ban the box” provision: The recommendation to increase fair access to rental housing for people with past criminal records through local legislation, education and technical assistance is great, and we look forward to seeing it positively impact communities. A related provision directs the city to provide funding for tenant counseling and landlord education to combat displacement and increase access to housing.


Any Carbon Policy Must Meet the Equity Test

Revenue Investment is a Key Component to Socially Just Climate Policy

Puget Sound Sage advocates for a strong carbon pricing policy that re-invests revenue from a carbon-pricing mechanism (whether it be a cap and trade or a carbon tax) into targeted communities that need it the most. A cap and trade or a carbon tax offer both upsides and downsides for the environment and equity, which you can learn more about here. In Sage’s opinion, the merits of each policy comes down to how well it is implemented and whether or not there is a targeted approach to supporting people of color and people with lower incomes.

A targeted investment approach would create massive opportunity to:

  • Identify which communities are the most in need
  • Target those investments to communities who are impacted first and worst by climate change and environmental degradation

We looked towards California’s policy SB 535 – which first commissioned a study to understand environmental hotspots in California. Based on the findings it then had community and policy experts work together to reinvest 25% of the revenue into smart investments that simultaneously address poverty and environmental challenges. This policy has resulted in the largest investment in environmental justice communities in the country. California has already moved millions of dollars to create green jobs, build affordable housing, build up transit centers and invest in clean trucks (which is vital for the health of communities living along heavily polluted truck routes).

How do we evaluate any carbon pricing policy? We start with equity and look towards investing in communities with the most need – but we should be clear about what equity means. This chart can be helpful to explain the difference.

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Does Carbon WA’s proposal meet the equity measure?

Carbon WA’s proposal is to tax carbon and use the revenues to 1) reduce the sales tax by 1%, 2) give tax breaks to specific industries, and 3) put the rest towards funding a working families tax rebate. On the surface, this seems like good policy. But let’s examine their approach through a social justice lens.

Ultimately, the core concept to Carbon WA’s carbon tax proposal is “revenue neutrality,” where we greatly increase tax on one thing (carbon) but reduce taxes on other things (general sales). The problem with this is what the revenue neutral approach is about giving everyone the same via a tax reduction. Even at a 1% lower sales tax, this policy solution does not address the severe regressivity of our state’s tax policy – people with lower income pay more in taxes in Washington than any state in the country.

To their credit, Carbon WA included a portion of the revenue to the Working Families Tax Rebate a good policy similar to the Earned Income Tax Credit that gives working families larger refunds at tax return time. However, this solution does not take into account the fact that some communities live in closer proximity to environmental degradation and thus bear worse consequences. In addition, it leaves out large swaths of people with low incomes: specifically, people who lack documents to work in this country, single people, and people on fixed incomes.

For the future of our planet and for the people already experiencing the consequences of climate change, any policy must reduce carbon pollution. A successful and socially just policy will include revenue investments that create good jobs, prepare our region for climate change and incorporate the needs and input of communities of color and communities with lower incomes. We believe Carbon WA’s revenue neutral approach falls short of this measure.


Urbanists and Advocates Agree that Linkage Fees are “An Essential Tool for Affordability”

A local urbanist, Owen Pickford, in a popular urbanist magazine literally called “The Urbanist,” recently published a call to urbanist action to support linkage fees.  His article provides the strongest evidence yet that a linkage fee will build a better Seattle. Pickford methodically unpacks somewhat misleading arguments we’ve heard for a decade and half from big property owners and developers.  He then calls on his fellow urbanists to heal their myopia and see the bigger picture:

“(w)e can remain the smallest voice in this debate. We can continue to conflate regulatory costs with housing limits. We can continue to ignore the problem of increasing land values. We can continue advocating only for policies that lead to displacement and segregation. We can expend our energy fighting against regulatory costs when we should be fighting for reduced housing limits. We can continue to use narratives that explain-away evidence rather than seeking to understand. We can continue to give people the perception that we are adversaries of affordable housing and integration by opposing a policy that evidence shows would be beneficial.”

Source: The Urbanist, May 7th, 2015, "Why Urbanists Must Support Linkage Fees. . . "

Source: The Urbanist, May 7th, 2015, “Why Urbanists Must Support Linkage Fees. . . “

What’s an urbanist?

Urbanism is defined by Miriam Webster as “a) the characteristic way of life of city dwellers, or b) the study of the physical needs of urban societies,” but is often understood as a movement for urban density, walkability, public transportation, and other modern urban “aesthetics.”  Much appealing to the urbanist aesthetic is a value known as “vibrancy” which often goes hand-in-hand with the value of diversity, a.k.a. integration. However, the land-use and other policy decisions required to support both racial and economic diversity are often an afterthought, rather than a priority of decision-makers.

In our most recent op-ed, Puget Sound Sage also made the case for inclusionary housing programs by demonstrating a linkage fee will help prevent us from perpetuating land use patterns that perpetuate de facto segregation. De facto segregation is segregation inherited from a time of de jure segregation, like racial covenants or redlining. Linkage fees ask developers to set aside a small portion of new units as affordable or contribute to the city’s affordable housing fund. Because it would be applied broadly across the city, it requires only a modest contribution, but would become one of Seattle’s best tools to create affordable homes for low and moderate wage workers and families, because it would create new affordable housing within city limits, and mitigate the impacts of rising rents. Therefore, a linkage fee helps to prevent displacement, and contribute to the racial and economic diversity that both urbanists and social justice advocates hold dear.

The Growing Together Coalition, co-led by Puget Sound Sage and Housing Development Consortium, represents hundreds of individual signatories and over 50 organizational endorsers, including the some of the largest human service providers, faith, labor, housing, environmental, and social justice organizations in Seattle. All believe that the City of Seattle must pass an inclusionary housing program like the linkage fee, which would enable Seattle’s workers and their families to live near their jobs in the city.The Growing Together Coalition is pro-economic-growth, pro-density, pro-transit, pro-public investment, as well as pro-integration.

Pickford’s urbanism mirrors that of the Growing Together Coalition.  Pickford highlights that linkage fee opponents have been detrimental to the plight of urbanists because they conflate height and density limits with regulatory costs like a linkage fee.  He says this is a “mistake [that] has been detrimental to urbanists’ goals, creating an adversarial relationship between urbanists and affordable housing advocates. Furthermore, blurring the lines between housing limits and regulatory costs induces urbanists to overlook the most important factor in housing affordability: land values.”

In fact, Pickford’s article (which we will explain in layman’s terms in a separate post): 1) demonstrates that regulations like a linkage fee actually reduce land values, the increase of which contribute to our housing crisis for everyone, not just the extremely low-income; 2) provides evidence that linkage fees do not reduce supply of market-rate housing, but increase affordable housing production; and 3) calls on urbanists and social justice advocates to stand together because they ultimately share the same values.

This concept is not new – urbanists like Mike O’Brien, who sponsored the linkage fee legislation and others have long-supported social justice policies. If a linkage fee is not passed, the city would miss a significant opportunity to create thousands of permanently affordable homes where persons of color and people with lower incomes are experiencing displacement, like Southeast Seattle.  This means that Seattle will not be “vibrant” or diverse, values that urbanists hold dear.  In fact, demographic changes indicate that Seattle is becoming less diverse.

Last, Mayor Murray’s goals of creating 20,000 new affordable housing units in the next decade cannot be realized without a developer contribution program, even with the much needed renewal of the taxpayer supported Housing Levy. It is time to put to bed how linkage fees will end density as we know it, for good, if we want to live our values as urbanists and support economic growth, density and integration.

If you would like to stand with the 50+ organizational endorsers and individual petition signers in support of a linkage fee, visit our coalition website today!

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