Editor’s Note: This month’s guest editorial is by Ruby Holland, a Leschi resident who is resisting the changes that upzoning can bring.
Displacement is predicted to be high in the Central District because of the upzoning that is expected to occur this year. Please be aware that voluntary displacement is already occurring in the CD. Many times, parents of children previously priced out of the CD, pass away or move to assisted living facilities. The children of that resident, who have already moved elsewhere, find that their best option is to sell the property. This will continue and will provide lots of properties for developers wishing to rebuild, yet this is not addressed here.
This article is for the many CD homeowners whose property is in the upzones who do not wish to be displaced. We want you to know that you do have options to do whatever is right for you and your family. We want you to make your decision from strength, not fear. This article is also for any of us struggling with rising property taxes.
Why stay in the CD? Below are responses from people in the CD, as well as some who have been displaced:
We are close to everything: Parks, fishing and boating activities, downtown.
As we age, we need to be close to hospitals and other amenities for seniors.
We need sidewalks to walk on, which many suburbs do not have.
As we age, we stop driving. Public transportation is better in Seattle than in the suburbs.
Houses are getting scarce in the suburbs.
Traffic is bad and getting worse.
When we talk about ways to stay in our homes we are talking about ways to pay for an increase in property taxes. Here are some strategies:
Redevelop your property into an apartment building, working with a developer to sell and stay in the CD. This option resonates with many who wish to downsize from a multi-bedroom home that is no longer needed. The developer will build on your land and you will get a return on the investment that your family has put into the property. There are benefits for all parties. A real estate attorney is recommended when going this route.
Add an accessory dwelling, attached or unattached, like a mother-in-law suite, an apartment over your garage or a Tiny House in the backyard.
Remodel your home, which could be less frightening than redevelopment. Adding an upstairs or downstairs apartment, or add rooms to rent, perhaps offering short-term rentals, like Airbnb rentals, or renting rooms the old fashioned way by posting a “Room for Rent” sign.
Offer long-term rentals to foreign exchange students or guest lecturers. Contact the student housing offices at our local colleges.
Rent yard space, perhaps for a Tiny House, or boat storage.
Offer parking in your yard, driveway or garage. Reliable parking will continue to be needed as more folks move to this area.
This list is far from complete. We continually find ways to turn our lemons into lemonade. The point is that this is a time of introspection. Decide where you want to be in life. You may well find that your wildest dreams may now be possible because you can get more money for your home.
Make sure you know your property’s true value, and work with a real estate agent to proceed in your best interests if you choose to sell. But if you choose to stay put, know that it is not only possible, but also doable and desirable.
For taxes and home repair help for seniors, contact the City of Seattle at 206-263-2324.