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
Today, Sightline issued a new update to its Cascadia Scorecard. Sightline is an environmental think tank, based in Seattle. Its scorecard is a progress report that tracks seven trends in the Pacific Northwest including pollution, population, sprawl and economy.
The scorecard is a plethora of information. Here are some of its findings:
- In 2008, the Northwest states or Oregon, Idaho and Washington spent almost $30 billion on imported fossil fuels, what it says is a record high. That breaks down as $16.6 billion for Washington, $9.4 billion for Oregon and $3.6 billion for Idaho. Regionally, that's the equivalent of $10,000 for every family of four.
- The share of residents living in walkable or transit-oriented neighborhoods has increased in each major Northwest metropolis since 1990. But the scorecard says if recent trends continue, it will take 56 years for the Cascadian city average to match the compact-growth record of Vancouver, BC. Today.
- People in this region consume the energy equivalent of just over 2 gallons of gasoline per person every day, which is nearly double the scorecard's model of Germany.
- People in British Columbia live an average of two years longer than residents of the Northwest states. Also, if BC were an independent nation, it would have the second longest lifespan in the world after Japan.
To see more fun facts about the intersections of our lives, the environment and the future, read the scorecard for yourself at http://scorecard.sightline.org/.
Remember that time, last July or August, when you caught a view of the Puget Sound out of the corner of your eye... maybe above Pike Place Market. Maybe crossing a ferry to Bainbridge. Maybe at Discovery Park. And you just thought to yourself 'Wow.'
Hold that memory in your head. Now imagine what this region would be without Puget Sound. If you voted for the Pike Place Market property tax levy because of the
market's intrinsic value to this community, then imagine how much more intrinsic is that body of water that is an environmental and economic driver of the Pacific Northwest.
Guess what, it's sick. It's really, really sick. So sick, the Puget Sound Partnership has spent the last 18 months figuring out what it would take to cure it with its draft action agenda. But hold your horses, the document is still only a draft and is ready to change based on your comments.
If you care about the sound... or would like to have future memories with the sound in it, I'd read my story in the DJC tomorrow, check the action agenda out here, and start investigating the issue and how you can make a difference. It's worth it.
Legos have been played with. Leaders have created their plans for people and transit. Gov. Chris Gregoire has extrolled the benefits of compact communities, and Washington's role as an international leader. In short, Reality Check 2008 is halfway under way and will soon be done (for a definition of Reality Check, see the post directly below).
The fact that so many regional leaders are playing with Legos is definitly interesting and will no doubt be the major focus of the plethora of different news organizations that are here from NPR to TV to print papers. But something else is happening beneath the surface of the Legos... people are listening to the concerns of other regional leaders they might not necessarily otherwise hear.
That's one of the main points of this excercise, said Greg Johnson, ULI Seattle chair and president of Wright Runstad & Co. For example, members of my table included representatives of Microsoft, Fort Lewis, a Snohomish County economic council member, and the Washington Roundtable. Other people at my table were Seattle City Council Member Sally Clark, Seattle developer Jim Soules, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agnecy Dennis McLeran and Bert Gregory, president of CEO of Mithun.
Representatives of ULI said they spent an awful lot of time planning those tables, and making sure differnet groups were represented, to come up with broader solutions.
What do you think? Will this event come to anything, or will it become yet another regional plan that people trumpet as the next big thing, then forget about a month later? Does this region have any hope of coming up with a comprehensive plan to deal with density, jobs and people?
If you live in an area that has went through this excercise already - Sacramento, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles.... have you seen any differences because of this process? Tell me what you think, you never know who may be listening.
I'm about to head out to Reality Check 2008, along with 250 of my closest business, environment, political and civic leader friends.
Held at the University of Washington and presented by the Urban Land Institute, it's a high profile day-long event where leaders in their field come together to play with Legos. Yes, I'm serious. After a series of welcome speeches, the 250 leaders will do a planning exercise that uses Legos to represent people, transit and other things. They will physically plan for where a whole lot of people projected to come to this area by 2040 - 1.7 million people and 1.2 million jobs, to be exact - will go.
Perhaps the most impressive thing is the guest list, and the group of people ULI has been able to get it one place. Attendees should include Gov. Chris Gregoire, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, the mayors of Auburn, Redmond, Bothell, Sumner, Lynnwood (and other cities), and an impressive list of council members from different city and civic councils.
On the business front, there's going to be representatives from Mithun, CamWest Development, Vulcan Inc., Microsoft, Opus Northwest, Wright Runstad and Co., Boeing, and Uwajimaya. Most of the attendees are high level executives, if not presidents. Basically, anybody who is anybody in planning and development is going to be there (or at least is sending a representative). The event is by invitation only.
The exercise has already been done in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento. For more information on it, press here. I'll keep you updated as it moves along.