- GROWING LIKE CRAZY Can 28 people keep Seattle affordable?
The rent is too goddamn high! You know it. We know it. It's spiraling out of control. Seattle experienced the largest rent increases (11 percent) of any major city over the past three years, according to census data, far outstripping wage growth. Renters make up 52 percent of the city's residents. And Seattle is the fastest-growing large city in America. Where will all these new people be able to afford to live? Will they be forced to commute on crowded freeways from suburbs?
Not to worry, folks: Mayor Ed Murray is on the case, with his tried-and-true "lock 'em in a room and make 'em hash out a compromise" strategy. On September 23, he announced a 28-member committee, with the blessing of the city council, and charged it with tackling Seattle's "affordability crisis." They're supposed to come up with recommendations by next May. This is the biggest, baddest advisory committee (yes, you read that right) of his term so far: It boasts four more members than the one that worked out the $15-minimum-wage deal, plus the scope of its considerations and its impact will likely go far beyond the wage bump. David Wertheimer, the committee's cochair, says no housing solution is off-limits from discussion. That means, he says, everything from microhousing to raising fees on developers to rent control.
But does this unelected committee represent Seattle?…