Mosqueda proposes moratorium on public land sales

The land is called Yesler Terrace North, 4 1/2 acres right next to Harborview Medical Center and very close to downtown.

The Seattle Housing Authority has put it up for sale even though the city is looking for more places to build affordable housing.

After today's housing committee discussion about surplus city property Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda was asked about plans to sell the North Yesler Terrace site.

“That's a great question. What I have called for is a moratorium on selling public land,” she responded.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has not explicitly endorsed a moratorium, but spokeswoman Stephanie Formas said, “The city of Seattle has a large portfolio of real estate and properties, and Mayor Durkan believes that city government must provide sufficient analysis and due diligence before selling any surplus property. As mayor, she has been working with more than a dozen departments to identify these surplus and underutilized properties to explore future uses including housing.”

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Local hotel developer Dick Hedreen looked at this land and said he sees a sale as a lost opportunity. He declined to go on camera, but he told KIRO 7 what he told the Seattle Times, that the city should keep the land and build thousands of housing units instead of selling.

Mosqueda says building affordable housing on land the city already owns saves money.

“In order to make sure that those dollars go further, we need to build on public land and reduce the cost by 15 percent.

The Seattle Housing Authority is undertaking a total redevelopment of Yesler Terrace and says money from the sale is needed to pay for replacing the obsolete public housing that's being torn down.

But Mosqueda wants to be cautious.

“This is the most expensive asset right now that we have in the city is land. And purchasing land just does not seem like an option for the city. So instead of selling land we should be holding on to it.”