Seattle Vacant Land For Sale – Othello Village, a small housing camp for the homeless, is under construction in Seattle’s Rainier Valley on February 28, 2016.
King County Assessor John Wilson said Seattle has “completely” unused land to shelter 1,000 homeless people each year. “I am more and more convinced that we have sufficient land potential to solve the housing problem in this district,” he said. “It’s a question of, ‘Do we have the will?’
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Shortly after the 2015 election, Wilson ordered a map of every vacant or unused parcel of government-owned property within city limits. The effort began with a conversation with a longtime friend, Seattle City Councilwoman Sally Bagshaw, who had long believed the city had the land available to address the area’s homelessness crisis.
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The Seattle Housing Office has previously tracked properties owned by the City of Seattle, concluding that, while there are some surplus properties, there is little to address the housing crisis.
But Wilson’s map goes further, listing properties owned by the City of Seattle, King County, Washington State, University of Washington, Washington State University, Port of Seattle, Sound Transit and all other government-owned land in Seattle. The map identifies more than 300 locations larger than 20,000 square feet and located within a quarter mile of transit.
There are obstacles to using this parcel, some of which cannot be overcome, such as contamination or the terrain, for example, being too steep for construction.
In addition, there are two significant bureaucratic barriers to potentially using the land: first, by state law, excess usable land must be sold at market value, even to city departments; And second, the city’s zoning and permitting process makes it difficult to build shelters on some unused land.
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But Wilson thinks this hurdle can be overcome. Since receiving the map, he has been in talks with State House Speaker Frank Chope to pass legislation to make utility lands more accessible. Chop supports and researches the issue, he said.
Wilson also believes that the state of emergency declared by former Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine could be used more liberally to address zoning issues. Murray said the declaration would allow for the rapid construction of shelters in areas where it is not currently in effect. But Wilson argued, “I’m not sure what he’s doing.”
Wilson pointedly stated to Murray that he had received an enthusiastic response to the map from the former mayor’s staff, but that Murray had not considered it himself before leaving office. “I hope the next mayor, whoever it is, will look at this and hopefully work with us and realize that this city has potential. ‘How do I move this forward and make it go faster?'”
In an email, Julie Moore with the Department of Finance and Administrative Services said the city appreciates Wilson’s work and continues to look for land that can be used.
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In 2015, the City of Seattle identified 210 underutilized urban lots, but only 33 were functional. Although Wilson’s map extends the inventory to all government-owned properties, similar constraints exist.
Under state law, property owned by a utility such as Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, or the Seattle Department of Transportation must receive market value for the land, a fiduciary bond between the corporation and ratepayers. According to the Office of Housing, Seattle has 45 such properties; Wilson could not say exactly how many maps were tagged.
“It’s part of the madness,” says Wilson. “There’s a parcel we know of on Capitol Hill that belongs to City Light. It’s been sitting vacant for a while. They’re not making any money. We contacted City Light and they said, ‘Sure you’re a modular home,’ and he said, ‘That would be $91,000 a year.
The requirement doesn’t stop all utility land use, but it comes at a cost: The Department of Human Services pays Seattle City Light market value for camping in Interbay, said Moore with the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.
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In some cases, this is a direct barrier to using vacant land for housing, including several large plots of SDOT land in South Lake Union that are not being used for housing, according to Curbed Seattle.
Speaker Chope said, if and when properties are sold, the high cost makes it less likely that private developers will build affordable housing. When asked whether market rate requirements could lead to a spurt in the sale of public land to private owners, Chopp said, “Yeah, obviously.”
After several meetings with Wilson, Bagshaw, and others, Chope agreed to allow cities to lease utility land for as little as $1 yen for a “public good”—housing, early childhood education or park space. Was interested in legislation to give. “We think there should be an option to take the land and put it back into public use,” he said.
The upcoming season at Olympia is short and Chopp says he is determined to get it done on time. But he said the initial advice from lawyers was that the rule did not interfere with the constitution and could be changed through a change in law.
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Zoning restrictions are another reason why development on unused land can be difficult. Wilson wanted the state of emergency to be used more freely to deal with it, especially as Murray said when the declaration was to be made.
But the question of how far the city can go in the event of an emergency remains unclear. According to spokeswoman Kimberly Mills, the mayor’s office and city council are negotiating with the city attorney’s office regarding the announcement restrictions and therefore the city attorney cannot comment due to attorney-client privilege.
Hugh Spitzer, a law professor at the University of Washington, said it was unclear how many stars the emergency declaration gave a city or county. “From a practical point of view, if the mayor and the district executive have to make minor adjustments that are not much but may help, they cannot be challenged and they can do that,” he said. “On the other hand, if the mayor tries to bypass a fair and clear permitting process, it can be challenged and the City must show that this is an emergency that this state law, charter, and ordinance requires to address.” Is.”
There are currently seven sites in Seattle reserved for tiny homes – 96-square-foot sheds with beds, shelves and heaters. This “little house village” is scattered from Othello to Ballard. Each has a communal kitchen and shared bathroom as well as security.
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Tiny house villages can be more easily located on identified vacant land because the location and space requirements for tiny houses are more flexible. “Our housing model is to provide low-income or mixed-use housing that focuses on, ‘I need a really great property,'” Wilson said. So you see tiny houses where you go, ‘Okay, but can you do something smaller or more compact, but we can still house some people?’
Sharon Lee, executive director of the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), which manages a small housing village in Seattle, wants her organization to double the number of homes — a goal they can achieve if they have the will to do so. Land is given for “I hope the new mayor’s administration will be more generous and make more use of city assets,” he said.
In what was once zoned for single-family homes in Seattle’s Central District, 14 tiny homes have become a community for 22 people and 5 pets. It is on church property and LIHI pays $200 a month to rent the land. Many of the shacks—about the size of horse stalls—were built by different organizations, so their designs vary: pop-up roofs that double as sleeping lofts; burnt cedar siding; The third is painted in Seahawks colors. Beneath the tent was a communal kitchen, with shelves lined with cans of peanuts.
Each tiny house costs $2,200 to build, $2,500 if built off-site and moved here. It was established in 2015 from a collaborative effort between Nickelsville, which supports homeowners, and LIHI.
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Harley (who did not give her last name) has been living here since June after living in several other homeless camps nearby. He had recently moved to Seattle from Colorado, where he had spent 13 years in prison. “Nobody knows me here,” which is a good thing, he said, which is why he moved to the Pacific Northwest.
The tiny house was “peaceful”, he said. He could not remember the last time he had felt stable; He is currently interviewing for a job. “It’s like a small community,” he said of the village. “It’s like a family dynamic.”
There is debate as to whether small home villages can be a permanent solution to homelessness. But there is widespread support among elected officials, including mayors Jenny Durkan and Carrie Moon, for an alternative to unsanctioned camps – so-called tent cities.
On Wednesday, councilors Bagshaw and Kshama Sawant reached a rare agreement that the city should add tiny houses. Sawant applied
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