The following post is by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties:
Housing affordability and the impact of the Puget Sound region’s dwindling supply of buildable land was the focus of the recent Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties' (MBA) 2014 Housing Summit in Bellevue.
“Accommodating Housing Needs with Less Land” included presentations by top national and regional housing experts and a panel discussion with state legislators and homebuilders.
“There is an explicit link between the availability of buildable lands and housing affordability,” said MBA Executive Director Shannon Affholter. “The Summit served as a starting point in a frank discussion about what’s working, and what’s not, in meeting the Growth Management Act housing targets and the region’s growing needs.”
A presentation by Todd Britsch, regional director for Metrostudy Inc., a leading provider of research and analysis to the housing industry, underscored the immediate challenge to the buildable land supply: based on projected population growth, King County has 3.87 years of supply remaining of assumed total inventory, and only 3.29 years of supply in Snohomish County.
“We’re seeing lot prices absolutely skyrocket, and the numbers are staggering. It’s a long-term issue and we have to address it sooner rather than later,” he said. “And if we don’t, the Puget Sound region is going to become the next San Francisco Bay Area, where only the ‘elite of the elite’ can afford to own a home.”
Nancy Bainbridge Rogers, land use attorney at Cairncross & Hempelmann, noted that GMA-mandated Buildable Lands Reports generated periodically by counties don’t provide a full and accurate picture of future trends.
“The reports compare housing targets to the actual growth. The reports must determine whether sufficient land exists to accommodate population projections. Unfortunately, the reports are not required to include a feasibility component or an assessment of affordability.”
A lively panel discussion focusing on legislative solutions included Senator Joe Fain (R) 47th District, from Auburn; Senator Marko Liias (D) 21st District, from Mukilteo; Representative Jay Rodne (R), 5th District, from Snoqualmie; and Representative Larry Springer (D), 45th District, from Kirkland. Other participants included homebuilders Mark Kaushagen of the Pulte Group and Lynn Eshleman from Pacific Ridge Homes.
Individual panel members cited specific action items that could advance the goals of housing availability and affordability, including:
- couple housing demand with affordability in future planning
- passage of a transportation package and infrastructure financing bill
- comprehensive review of the Urban Growth Boundary and its possible expansion
- require cities in King and Snohomish counties to do a planned action on remaining undeveloped lands to assess infill housing opportunities
- eliminate redundancies in the review and permitting process, and establish a meaningful time limit in which permits can be outstanding.
The following post is by DJC staff:
Disaster-resiliency expert Stephen Flynn has posted a piece about the Oso mudslide on Northeastern University Seattle’s Re: Connect blog.
Flynn is a professor of political science and director of Northeastern’s Center for Resilience Studies in Burlington, Mass.
He spoke with the DJC in February about lessons from Hurricane Sandy and the need to better prepare for natural and manmade disasters.
In his post he says we tend to ignore the risk of disasters until they happen and says builders, developers and planners have a role to play in changing that.
It is purposeful denial, bordering on negligence, which allows residential property development in dangerous areas. That negligence is fed by a self-destructive cycle that begins when builders and developers with short-term interests are granted local permits to build new homes on low-lying barrier islands, flood plains, or near steep hills in the wilderness. These homes then require investments in new public infrastructure, which in turn require additional tax revenues to build and sustain. In order to expand the tax base, towns end up approving new property development adding new fuel to growth. When the foreseeable disaster inevitably strikes, individual property owners are often wiped out and the American taxpayer ends up picking up most of the tab.
Read the whole thing here and tell us what you think.
Painting is a fun, easy to do project. But once the job is done, excess paint often sits in the basement, dying a slow, slow death as the years pass by.
So today I was delighted to hear about "the green man," via a press release. The green man is an
effort by Wallingford's Reed Painting Co. to gather all your old paint and recycle it. Each year, it says, at least 695,000 gallons of paint is wasted in Washington State.
Currently, King County suggests residents dry out latex paint, strain it and put it in the garbage with the lid off. But Cole Palea of Reed Painting said that wastes a good product, while taking up valuable landfill space. Instead, his organization is collecting paint, straining it, categorizing it by color and giving it away as recycled paint.
"The need is there," he said. "But there is no real solution out there. We're hopefully getting this conversation started around the community."
This is the second year Reed has held a paint drive. Last year, it collected almost 200 gallons just from Wallingford, Queen Anne and Capitol Hill. The drive is currently in its second week. Palea said Reed has already doubled the amount of paint it collected last year and plans to pick up an additional 200 gallons of paint this weekend, for a total of at least 600 gallons that would otherwise be in the landfill.
People can either drop off old paint at the Reed shop in Wallingford or call to schedule a $20 pickup this weekend.
Palea said he and business owner Randy Reed grew up in Hawaii where they were acutely aware of natural resource use. Palea is a certified sustainable building advisor and this effort is one way for Reed Painting to become a better steward of the environment. "We're not trying to greenwash and tell everyone we're 100 per cent green by no means, because we're not. But we're definitely taking steps further," he said.
Portland has successfully turned paint recycling into a business. To read more about that city's efforts, check out this excellent story from 2009.
Reed is a painting contractor that works on homes and commercial projects. It paints the interior of the Seattle Art Museum between exhibits.
To drop off your paint, visit the shop this Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is at 3668 Albion Place North, on the backside of the block. The front of the shop is along Woodland Park Avenue North and 38th. There are three garage doors painted red. Reed is behind the first garage door. For more information, visit http://www.reedpaint.com/ or call (206) 965-0504.
Recently, a story of mine appeared in the DJC called "Smart grid experts say AEC firms should start getting ready." It's about the smart grid, and how it will likely affect many aspects of your life - from the space you live in, to the car you drive to the way you use energy.
Vadari said there's a ton of money heading into this industry and the game changing technology, if it's not already here, isn't far off.
He said the idea of a green building will change from a minimal energy user to an energy producer. As more people get electric cars and pull energy from the grid through buildings, he said a structure that produces extra energy would be ahead of the curve.
“You've got to start thinking holistically because if you just lean more into the grid, you're not helping your carbon footprint,” Vadari said.
Vadari said more thought will be given to combining technologies to save and produce energy, or to achieve multiple goals. For example, he said windows and roofs could become energy-producing solar cells, forcing changes in the market as no one will want traditional windows and roofs anymore.
We're just at the beginning of the smart grid now, with regional demonstration projects funded by the stimulus in motion in all corners of the country. Regionally, Battelle is leading the $178 million Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project. Electric cars, like the Nissan Leaf, are just coming to market and charging stations are just beginning to be installed.
But the potential for the smart grid and its related technologies to change our lives is huge. There's no telling now which direction will move quickest but changes could include market-priced energy with monitors that allow you to control when you purchase energy based on price; electric cars; and homes and buildings that produce energy and feed it back into the grid.
Is there anything -- energy wise -- that you're excited about or looking forward to? Would love to hear your thoughts.
I've been writing a lot about Vancouver's density recently, in comparison to Seattle's so I know I should move onto another topic. And I promise I will next time. But I just can't resist posting these pictures of my sister's neighborhood, Kerrisdale.
Kerrisdale is about a 15-minute drive away from downtown and a 10-minute drive away from the University of British Columbia. It is a sweet neighborhood, filled with restaurants and shops (but only one bar that I could find). However, what's unique about it isn't the composition of retail. It's the composition of housing types within a two-block radius. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:
This neighborhood has nearly every type of housing within two blocks, all mish-mashed up together. That McMansion above? It's located across the street from the first picture of row-houses. The mixing of housing types doesn't feel crowded; it feels like a nice, traditional neighborhood. It's a real urban village.
Seattle has neighborhoods that exemplify this mixed-use concept just as well. Capitol Hill, Lower Queen Anne, Ballard to some degree. But for some reason, the way Kerrisdale did it just felt smoother. Maybe it's primarily an architectural issue? But it feels to an outsider like the apartment building is meant to be located next to a large, single-family house.
To all my density nerds out there, what do you think is Seattle's best example of density that meshes well? It is Capitol Hill or Lower Queen Anne? Any particular street or corridor that really stands out? A really good recent example, I find, is NK Architect's latest project on Lower Queen Anne called Fourth and Roy. The DJC wrote about it last month here. Basically, the team designed it to consciously fit in with the neighborhood.
In our story, Brandon Nicholson, a principal at NK, said he tries to picture a four-plex craftsman knockoff on the parcel and does not think it would fit in with the neighborhood's character. “In a neighborhood filled with old brick buildings, it might be much more modern in aesthetics but in materials and scale, it's appropriate for the context of Lower Queen Anne.”
This is a guest post by Dave Bennink, owner of Re-Use Consulting.
I was born in Bellingham and have always lived in Washington. Yes, that means I'm allergic to sunlight and spend 11.23 months a year with extremely pale skin, and the other .77 months with extremely red skin. For me, there is a positive to all that rainfall and that's river and stream kayaking. Recently, I was able to pay penance for all of that praying for rain. I helped
The January floods damaged hundreds of buildings around the area and many of the homeowners didn't have sufficient insurance to cover the repairs. A typical home may have had to replace sheetrock, insulation, wiring, wood flooring, doors, sliding glass doors, cabinets, appliances and more. My clients couldn't help with the sheetrock and wiring by they donated almost 100 doors, over 40 cabinets and many other expensive items including a large amount of lumber and plywood. The value of these donations was in excess of $75,000!
What was I most impressed with? It was either because they donated them anonymously or
When it rains in Seattle (as it often does) water flows along city streets and sidewalks, picking up toxins, before it is sent to a storm drain and eventually ends up in Puget Sound. This is the largest polluter of the Sound, sending 52 million pounds of pollutants into it every year. That's a conservative estimate but it's nothing new.
What is new is a map, produced by a team of GIS students from the University of Washington that shows where the storm drains - that send the water into Puget Sound - are. Turns out there are 4,500 public manmade storm drains, according to the team. The map was produced for People for Puget Sound, a nonprofit that advocates for healthy policies for the sound. The map also includes 2,123 natural drainages that receive inputs from the watershed system of additional drains, and 297 storm drains from the Washington State Department of Transportaion and 70 bridges. Industrial and private drains were not included in the project.
What poisons end up in the sound? Yummy things like copper, zinc, mercury, flame retardants, PAHs, and petroleum hydrocarbons. Some of these pollutants, like phthalates, which are found in plastic bottles and packaging, get dissolved in stormwater, making them hard to remove, if not impossible. Pleasant.
Why should we care? Because, on a very base level, the Puget Sound is a huge economic driver that helps support our local economy. Not to mention the environmental aspects.
So what does the image look like? Here it is...
Bruce Wishart, policy director for People for Puget Sound, said the map shows the enormity of the stormwater problem which impacts the sound.
Heather Trim, urban bays and toxics program manager for the organization, said the students went well beyond their class project to create a terrific map that advances knowledge of stormwater inputs. "We have been told by agencies that it would be years before we could get this map and yet the students have produced this tremendous resource."
How about it readers, is this image a tad surprising? Or is it what you would have expected?