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Debating the big U District upzone: a sign of things to come?

Podcast on February 10, 2017 by Daniel Beekman & Jim Brunner

Should Seattle go ahead with a controversial plan for high rises and greater density in the University District?

Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson thinks so — and points to the city’s housing crisis. “We’re in a circumstance where we’re seeing 40 people move here per day and we’re only adding about 12 housing units per day. That’s contributing to economic eviction and a lot of folks in the neighborhood that are already being priced out.”

But Matt Fox, president of the U-District Community Council says City Hall can’t be trusted on this. He says the city (with an assist from property owners and the University of Washington) took what started as a “modest” economic-development proposal, “and seized that as an opportunity to totally rewrite the neighborhood plan.” The new zoning, he argues, spells doom for the “eclectic” mix of family owned businesses the neighborhood has now.

Listen and decide for yourself who makes the best case as Seattle Times City Hall reporter Dan Beekman and political reporter Jim Brunner moderate a debate between Johnson and Fox. The City Council is set to vote on the upzone plan — which could set precedent for other parts of the city — in the coming weeks.

Plus: this week’s winners and losers in local politics, both involving Mayor Ed Murray’s announcement of a San Francisco-style homeless shelter set to be opened in the Chinatown International District.

Listen here.