After a delay of a couple of weeks, the Council voted unanimously today to adopt an update of the city’s Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance.
For the first time in ten years, the City of Seattle is bidding out $30 million of homelessness funding through an open RFP process. It’s using the RFP as a chance to rewrite the rules for service providers — and more importantly to ratchet up the requirements placed upon them.
This morning, the Council’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee voted to send a batch of updates to the city’s Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance and Building and Maintenance Code to the full Council for adoption. Most of the changes are pretty tame stuff, dealing with carbon monoxide detectors, lead paint, safety and security requirements, and adjustments to program fees. But one area — required inspections — dives into a topic with a rich history of legislation and litigation, and pushes the rules right up to the limits of (and possibly over) what the courts allow.
Here’s a quick summary of notable things from today’s City Council meetings.
On June 8th, the city published a Draft Environment Impact Statement (DEIS) for the “city-wide” implementation of the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program. It’s 462 pages of dense material. Here’s your cheat sheet.
It’s been about two years since the city’s Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) started inspecting rental housing under its Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance. Earlier this week they brought a proposal to the Council’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee for several changes in order to fix problems they have encountered over the 5,000 inspections they have completed to-date.
Yesterday the Rental Housing Association of Washington filed a lawsuit against the city over the ordinance passed last December that caps move-in fees a landlord may charge and requires most landlords to allow those fees to be paid over six months in installments.
As the neighborhood MHA upzones have been working their way through the Seattle legislative process, Council member Rob Johnson has held out hope that development projects already in the queue for permits could be enticed to “opt in” to the MHA program, gaining the ability to build bigger structures in return for delivering affordable housing. This afternoon, Johnson announced that his hope is becoming reality, with seven projects in the Downtown-South Lake Union area beginning the process to opt in.
This morning, the Council heard a proposal to tighten the rules and streamline others in order to prevent vacant buildings from becoming neighborhood nuisances — or worse, fire hazards.
In February of 1898, seven hundred acres on Magnolia Bluff were given to the federal government. Today, almost all of that land is back in local hands. Almost — the last bit has been the source of plans, lawsuits and headaches for ten years.