Former council staffer Roger Valdez wrote an interesting column on growth and change in today’s P-I.
Growth is coming, Valdez says; lots of it. So how do we accommodate all these new people, their new houses and cars and needs, without losing all of our Sunset Bowls, Chubby and Tubbys, all of our views of Mt. Rainier and Lake Union, all of our Seattleness? Is that even possible?
Valdez says the city would be wise to expand the Transfer of Development Rights program throughout the city so owners of landmark properties could make money, developers could keep building high and we could all hold on to a more diverse cityscape.
That’s an idea council has been kicking around for the past few months, but legislation hasn’t yet been discussed.
He also recommends developer incentives for preserving existing uses, aimed at earmarking some space for the arts, cultural and community spaces that are being pushed out with rising rents and skyrocketing development potential.
Valdez says increasing the type of uses we protect is a good way to protect uses that don’t really “pencil out” but add to the city’s bottom line.
In some cases, Valdez said, the city could even forgo the code and let neighborhoods and developers work together to create innovative projects that fit better with neighborhoods and protect the uses we value.
I’m not sure I really see developers and neighbors joining hands on many projects. But as our region aggressively plans for growth, people like Valdez suggest that more mitigation measures are needed to make sure we don’t change entirely.
In-city density is planning’s penicillin for sprawl. Nobody wants sprawl, but how do we know when we’ve gotten too aggressive with our treatment?