City-wide MHA survives legal appeals

This afternoon, the Seattle Ciy Attorney’s office announced that the deadline for appealing a recent ruling on the city-wide MHA legislation has passed, clearing the path for the ordinance moving forward.

Last March the City Council passed the “city-wide” version of the Mandatory Housing Affordability ordinance, which requires developers to either set aside a certain number of residential units to be offered at affordable rates or alternatively to pay into a city fund for building affordable housing. Before the bill passed, a group of neighborhood associations challenged the Environmental Impact Statement the city completed on the bill; however, the Hearing Examiner ruled in favor fo the city and upheld the EIS. Under the law, further appeals had to wait until the City Council passed the MHA bill. The bill did indeed pass annd was signed by the Mayor; the neighborhood groups filed their appeal with the state Growth Management Act Hearings Board; and in late December the Board ruled in favor of the city. The plaintiffs had until January 29th to appeal the Board’s ruling; they did not, which ends the case.

This forecloses challenges to the MHA legislation based upon the Environmental Impact Statement process. That doesn’t mean that an aggrieved party can’t challenge it in court based upon other legal issues (such as property rights), but at this point it seems that MHA has a clear path forward. A spokesperson for the City Attorney’s Office confirmed that no provisions of the MHA bill were on hold pending resolution of the challenge; nevertheless the legal risks and potential roadblocks seem to have all been cleared now.