By Roger Valdez
If Jonathan Swift were alive and writing satire about American culture and politics, he might devote at least a chapter to Seattle’s latest public debate over housing. Perhaps in Swift’s story would be about an adventurer, like Gulliver, seeking new and strange lands washing up on an island where people genuinely believed adding costs to expensive things makes them cheaper, building more housing makes rents go up, and taxing new housing is the best way to lower rents.
BY ROGER VALDEZ
What is Mike O’Brien proposing to solve perceived rent increases? He wants to impose a tax of anywhere from $8 to $22 per square foot for any new construction in Seattle. So a 10,000 square foot development in Capitol Hill, for instance, would pay a fee of $120,000 to $150,000. As we pointed out when we were asking to keep microhousing out of the design review process, all the extra fees just end up getting folded into rents. There is no other way to make up the costs. No, taking less “profit” isn’t an option, because lenders and investors set Net Operating Income (NOI). When the ratio of costs to income goes up, banks and investors expect it to be off set with more income: that means higher rents.
BY DANIEL BEEKMAN
By Dan Bertolet
For the better part of the past decade, both advocates and policymakers have been decrying Seattle’s perceived lack of housing affordable to people with incomes in the lower-middle range—so-called “workforce housing.” As a result, Seattle has implemented and is continuing to expand a program known as Incentive Zoning intended to create subsidized workforce housing through fees imposed on new development.