I have accepted a research associate position with the Sightline Institute. This is a wonderful opportunity for me and was made possible, in part, by writing here on SeattleScape and for the DJC’s opinion page for the past year.
It has been an amazing year for anyone watching the economy, and interested in housing, development and future growth in Seattle. I have written a fair amount here about the way we define and measure key aspects of growth in Seattle.
Growth Management Act and the City of Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan. The decision then was to avoid sprawl by putting growth in cities, and more specifically in urban villages. Some resisted this planning effort as social engineering aimed at foisting a social agenda on single family neighborhoods.
Others argued that in order to limit and prevent further environmental degradation, enhance mass transit options and support a more sustainable approach to infrastructure, concentrating growth in the cities would be essential.
Does this sound familiar? Today we are taking a piecemeal approach to growth, arguing lot by lot, parcel by parcel, and neighborhood by neighborhood. When will we finally get on with what we decided to do 20 years ago?
More than 60 percent of Seattle is still zoned single family. And any project that increases density, even when supported by underlying zoning, faces a gauntlet.class conflict pitting growth management against the sacredness of the single family home, which for decades has been the organizing economic principle in America and the Northwest.
This year’s election provides the city with a huge opportunity to consciously settle this question. Will candidates for city office embrace the practices we know will reduce climate change, improve the health of the Puget Sound and support less use of the automobile? Compact communities that are safe to walk in with public open space and easy access to transit are what we must have.
The most important question for the candidates is “how will you get us there?” The question for Seattlites is “are we willing to go?”
Tags: 2009 Elections