Seattle approves new director of Planning and Community Development
On Tuesday, the Seattle City Council unanimously confirmed acting director Rico Quirindongo as head of the Office of Planning and Community Development.
Quirindongo spent part of his childhood in South Seattle. He says he thinks a lot about the challenges local Black and BIPOC families face when looking for affordable housing.
“How do we upzone in such a way that we can create opportunity for developers to build more housing that is affordable for first time home buyers?” he asked.
Quirindongo spoke to KUOW in December.
As director of Seattle's Office of Planning and Community Development, Quirindongo would play a key role in bringing Seattle into compliance with the state of Washington’s new “middle housing law.”
That law requires opening up most residential neighborhoods to duplexes, fourplexes, and in some cases, six-unit townhomes. Those options must be included in Seattle's comprehensive plan update, due at the end of 2024.
Actual homes built under those rules could start rolling out in mid-2025.
Quirindongo said the new housing options will mean fewer families get pushed out of Seattle due to high housing costs.
“What we do now is gonna make a really big difference and is gonna set the stage for the next 20 years," he said.
But Quirindongo also said the city must do more to help Black and other BIPOC families afford those new homes. Census data shows that home ownership among Seattle’s Black families has fallen in recent years.
Quirindongo also says he’s committed to the principle of making Seattle a 15-minute city where the businesses, schools and parks people need are within a short, safe walk or ride from their homes.