Support SEPA reform in Seattle!
Washington's State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) is a set of environmental protections enacted in 1971. "Environmental protection" might sound good, but SEPA has mostly been used over the past decade to block Seattle's ability to enact progressive housing and transit policies. Under SEPA, opponents are able to sue the City and block progress until a years-long environmental review is deemed adequate. These legal proceedings cost tens of thousands of dollars, ensuring that SEPA is a tool exclusively available to the wealthy.
SEPA has been used to delay virtually every large housing policy proposal in the past few years, from creating affordable housing at Fort Lawton, requiring affordable housing under Mandatory Housing Affordability, and loosening the rules to create backyard cottages (ADUs).
This year, the state legislature has adopted a bill, House BIll 1923, that establishes a "SEPA safe harbor" for a menu of policies, including (as reported in The Urbanist):
- Upzoning areas of at least 500 acres that include a commuter or light rail station;
- Authorization of duplexes, triplexes, and courtyard apartments in single-family zoned areas;
- Upzoning areas of 250 acres or more that include bus rapid transit (only applied to cities with a population of forty thousand or more residents);
- And many more!
"Safe harbor" has the potential to take years off of the timeline to enact these policies.
Seattle is adopting these proposed SEPA reforms into its code, and we need your support!