Part of the solution (multi-family dwelling) replaces part of the problem (single-family dwelling).
Part of the solution (multi-family dwelling) replaces part of the problem (single-family dwelling).

You'll find this in the "housing" section of Mike McGinn's campaign website:

The future of our neighborhoods must be determined by the people who live there—renters, homeowners, and small business people.

In fairness to McGinn, everyone running for mayor has said something similar. They all pay lip service to neighborhoods having more control over development. In response to a questionnaire from Seattle Fair Growth (SFG), an anti-development/NIMBY org, all the mayoral candidates save Durkan (who didn't respond) endorsed bringing back neighborhood councils. These councils were dominated by old, white homeowners who oppose rezoning, multi-family housing, new apartments, mother-in-law units, etc., and will be again, if revived and re-empowered.

Nikkita Oliver was asked at a forum hosted by SFG if she "[believes] current Seattle residents, in Seattle's diverse neighborhoods, should have more say over land use and zoning issues in their neighborhoods." Oliver responds: "Absolutely." Bob Hasegawa responded to a FSG question about density with this: "Neighborhood residents should be empowered to decide how to accept their fair share of density and growth that is inevitably coming."

Neighborhood control sounds nice in theory—the "neighborhood" gives us all warm and fuzzy feelings—but in practice "neighborhood control" has meant blocking the creation of new housing units. This creates scarcity, which drives up housing prices, which benefits the kind of old, white homeowners who dominate neighborhood councils. The policies backed by NIMBY orgs like SFG would make housing more expensive and lead to more displacement, not less. SFG split their endorsement between Oliver and Hasegawa. (They also endorsed SECB-backed Jon Grant.)

Anyway... I was thinking the "future of our neighborhoods [being] determined by the people who live" while reading about the steps proposed by lawmakers in California to address that state's housing crisis. Which mostly involves stripping "neighborhood groups" (read: older, whiter homeowners) of their ability to determine "the future of [their] neighborhoods" and give them less say, not more, over land use, zoning, and development. From today's NYT:

The extreme rise in housing costs has emerged as a threat to the state’s future economy and its quality of life. It has pushed the debate over housing to the center of state and local politics, fueling a resurgent rent control movement and the growth of neighborhood “Yes in My Back Yard” organizations, battling long-established neighborhood groups and local elected officials as they demand an end to strict zoning and planning regulations.

Now here in Sacramento, lawmakers are considering extraordinary legislation to, in effect, crack down on communities that have, in their view, systematically delayed or derailed housing construction proposals, often at the behest of local neighborhood groups.... The bill sponsored by Mr. Wiener, one of 130 housing measures that have been introduced this year, would restrict one of the biggest development tools that communities wield: the ability to use zoning, environmental and procedural laws to thwart projects they deem out of character with their neighborhood.

I moved to Seattle in 1991 from Madison, Wisconsin. I've been listening to locals say they don't want Seattle to become California since the day I moved into a single-room-occupancy hotel full of drunks and old fisherman in Belltown. (It's a youth hostel now.) People didn't want housing prices to go up—rising house prices would turn Seattle into California—and complained endlessly about the new people turning our sleepy little fishing village into San Francisco.

But since we couldn't stop people from moving here—and still can't—the only way to keep housing affordable was to build enough new housing to accommodate demand. That we haven't done and we have a housing crisis to show for it. Things aren't as bad as they are in California, where "housing prices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego have jumped as much as 75 percent over the past five years," the NYT reported this morning, but we're headed that way. And we'll get there faster if we allow neighborhood groups "to use zoning, environmental and procedural laws" to block the construction of new housing units.

Jenny Durkan's campaign makes a full-throated argument for new development but she also says she will "[listen] to communities and neighborhoods," and welcomes "robust input and engagement" from neighborhood groups. But we're going to need a mayor willing to say no to the neighborhoods—or say no to the old, white homeowners who claim to speak for them. Or we will become California.