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caption: A Habitat for Humanity affordable housing project under construction in Seattle's Loyal Heights neighborhood on Wednesday, December 15, 2021.
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A Habitat for Humanity affordable housing project under construction in Seattle's Loyal Heights neighborhood on Wednesday, December 15, 2021.
Credit: Casey Martin / KUOW

No design review for Seattle's affordable housing projects

The Seattle City Council has voted to extend a program aimed to make it easier to build affordable housing projects.

The City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to temporarily exempt affordable housing projects from the Design Review process.

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Architect Kate Smith, with SMR Architects, testified during Tuesday's Council meeting and argued that Seattle's permitting process makes it difficult to build affordable housing.

"By the time affordable housing projects go to the permitting process, there is little room for delays and cost increases," Smith said. "The last challenge these housing projects should face is a costly, inequitable and uncoordinated city permitting and review process. Housing is a human right."

The ordinance exempts low-income housing projects from certain requirements, such as landscaping, aesthetic, and other requirements for one year. During that year, the Council plans to rework the design review process for affordable housing.

Seattle's Design Review process includes a board of locals who largely weigh in on the aesthetics of new construction projects in the city.

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