Seattle Can't Stop Building Luxury Apartments Like a Crackhead Can't Stop Hitting That Pipe


People who don't make that kind of money should just leave in droves (that's what everyone here says, right, if you can't afford to live in Seattle you don't deserve to live in Seattle). I'd love to see Seattle attempt to exist with NOT ONE PERSON TO SERVE UP COFFEE, FOOD, BE A JANITOR, OR HELL DO ANY CITY JOB THAT ONLY PAYS HALF OF WHAT ONE NEEDS TO LIVE IN SEATTLE. This is what should happen. If the rich only want their cities for the rich, let them figure out how the f*ck everything gets done in a society when people who aren't paid enough to live in the city in which they work (or even near it) move far far away. That would truly change the game. Would the rich decide to pay people enough money to do what they wanted done? Would they finally create cities that allowed for all economic levels? Or would they figure out how to do everything that needed to be done for themselves by themselves so they need not have anyone in their city earning less than $100,000 a year? I mean seriously, what the f*ck is wrong with this country?
Get rid of the mortgage interest deduction and quit mollycoddling the real estate developers. I often see mindless calls in these pages to waive or eliminate parking requirements. Require each building to reserve a portion for apartments affordable for the teachers and first responders who work in the city, and at least one for the working poor and one for the disabled. Then go ahead and build luxurious high rise cribs for millionaires and foreign speculators. We used to call it integrated housing.
@1, many already do commute from outside Seattle to work here. It's why the freeway is a parking lot. Not sayin' it's right, only pointing out obvious alternatives.
@2: So how can getting rid of the mortgage interest deduction facilitate first-time home buyers, like the school teacher and first responder who got married and adopted several children of color?
@4 - without the morgtage interest deduction, tax revenue would be higher; that extra revenue could be dedicated towards government grants to construct affordable housing (or vouchers for economically disadvantaged to use towards market-rate housing, or to pay teachers and first responders enough to afford to live in the communities they serve). But don't hold your breath waiting any of that to happen.
@1: Those baristas should all leave in droves to move to affordable cities...where there are no jobs, so they can drive down the average barista wage. Or something.
How sad that our SOCIALISM! has destroyed Seattle's economy.

Pleez save us, dumFux Nooz morons!
Supply and demand is really simple. Is there some point this incoherent ramble is trying to make?
Charles secretly masturbates to the thought of a massive economic collapse with Seattle as it's center. Then he'll show all of you he knows best!!

COMMUNISM FOREVER!! It's really the best system: just think of a Great Leap Forward here in Seattle? Perhaps a couple of those Stalinist 5 year plans are more to your liking?
This is the idiocy of this post: "We are building apartments like never before, but almost exclusively for the luxury class . . . Many who earn that kind of money are young and in the tech sector, and so also have college debt. After taxes, they are not sitting as pretty as you might think."

Mudede wants to argue that this is housing for a "luxury class," which is knows very well doesn't exist, because the people he casts as wealthy are in fact after student debt and taxes aren't able to save that much. But Mudede wants to rail against building more apartments which would act to slow the rate of increase in housing expenses for these very people he acknowledges aren't doing so well notwithstanding college degrees and reasonably well-paying jobs.

Mudede's logic is perverse, and is shared by so many other urban liberals.
In the "last century" there were rooming houses all over Seattle that housed the working stiffs who could either not afford or did not want an actual apartment. A place to sleep, a place to clean up and use a bathroom, somewhere to hang your clothes. It wasn't fancy but it was indoors and private. Then they all got torn down to make way for condos. We need a rooming house-equivalent for the modern era of people who can't afford or do not desire to conform to the 1-bedroom apartment lifestyle.
@12 They had that, they were called A-Podments, then people railed against (1) greedy developers and (2) traffic. They were killed.
It's worth pointing out that "rent burdened" is not the same at all income levels. If you make $2000/month and spend 30% ($600) of your income on rent, you are left with $1400 for everything else. If you make $5000/month and spend 30% ($1500) on rent, you are left with $3500 for everything else. I don't see how it makes sense to discuss people making at or near $100k being rent-burdened if they pay, say $3000 for rent. They may well be paying more than they would like, but they are hardly going to be destitute.
Oh, horrors: we're building more of exactly the type of residences the new residents want. That's totally equivalent to drug addiction.

And, the tell: "What we must remember in all of this is there are more roads to density than market competition."

Two words for you, Charles: Yesler Terrace.
The fallacy is that these are being built for people to live in. They're not. They're being built for investors. Once the developer gets his money from an investor or group of investors, he's out. Development is strictly a turnaround business. This will go on until the bottom drops out (a crash in luxury apartment developments) and investors begin shunning Seattle for the next "hot" market.
@1 Would the rich pay enough to have poor people stay in Seattle in order to pour their coffee? Hell no, rich people would be fine with robotized Starbuck$.
Purris - Having developed and built housing I'm always annoyed by the vitriol directed at people like me by people like you and Mudede, who are absolutely bag of hammers dumb about how the housing market really functions, and would never have the cajones, drive, smarts or energy to do what people like I do.

Our very undemocratic capitalist republic functions exactly the way our very capitalist founding fathers designed it to. The Senate was cooked up for the express purpose of keeping the have-nots from taking land and power from those who are smart, ballsy, and energetic enough to actually make something that people want and need. And other than the blip after the war, the country seems to functioning exactly as they intended.

And jesus, do your fucking homework. Housing prices have increased at a fairly steady and consistent pace over the past half century. It's wages that haven't kept up. The growth in the middle class was a short term blip that was unique to the post WW2 era. The reality is that because of economic globalism our modern day capitalist society no longer has the luxury of supporting a large middle class. So it goes.

But If it makes you feel any better, spreading the wealth has improved and saved the lives of hundreds of millions around the world. That's a good thing. And although developers are the low hanging fruit of intellectually and historically lazy malcontents, and despite the brutal hours, it's one freaking hell of a lot of fun, and for me anyway, has little to do with greed. The satisfaction that comes of it is far more complex than that. And oh yeah, I'm a progressive liberal. We just don't live in the same neighborhood.
All of these apartments are small studio or one bedroom units with a tiny kitchen and very little closet space, cheaply built with a trendy veneer. What happens to the demand for these when techies start to breed?
@mfg5000. You are in the wrong place for any kind of discussion or defense of capitalism. That entity is a privileged based construct that you have benefitted from while oppressing others at the same time. "The people" are owed recompense for any success you may have achieved in this unfair system by virtue of their existence.
@4 Who is to say that any potential higher tax revenues would actually go towards grants for affordable housing? Seattle doesn't have a tax problem, it has a spending problem. Giving more money to people who can't effectively manage funds and programs is not a solution.
@19 -- No the are not. These are luxury apartments, clearly. Didn't you read the article? These are all huge, five bedroom apartments, with views. They are basically the size of houses. I am quite sure that developers are tearing down the walls between existing apartments, so that they can cater to the Uber wealthy, that demand such opulence. If it wasn't for the laws that prevent extravagant housing in the city, there would be a lot more of these.

Oh wait, I have it backwards. So does Charles. The builders are building as many units as they can. They would build Apodments -- which is more units -- if they could. Except the law doesn't allow it.

In the single family neighborhoods, they are replacing small houses with big houses. They would replace them with more little houses, or small apartments or row houses (all the same height as the big house) but the law doesn't allow it. The law encourages luxury dwellings on most of the land, and then people wonder why prices are high.

Charles has forgotten that sometimes capitalists work together and form a trust. They monopolize the market, to serve their needs. In Seattle, as in many cities, the vast majority of the private land (roughly 2/3) is zoned as single family. The law (perhaps unintentionally) essentially operates like a trust to conspire to keep prices high. I own a house, but I can't build a dozen units on it -- hell, I can't even build two without jumping through ridiculous hoops. People want to buy small places, builders want to build small places, but the law doesn't allow them to.
@23 has it exactly right. In my single family neighborhood it is perfectly legal to build a giant box to the limits of the lot lines, that blots out the sun & any views for the neighbors, so long as it is a single family house. But God forbid someone wants to build even a duplex of a modest size that is actually in character with the older houses already in the neighborhood. If we want people to have places to live then we have to allow them to be built.

And getting rid of the SRO hotels/flophouses/rooming houses was one of the worst urban planning mistakes ever. Are we really better off with a bunch of people sleeping on the streets in Pioneer Square then in cheap hotels on those streets?
mfg5000 I worked in US housing finance and economics for 15 years, and I did it through a real estate crash created by over-development that preceded the last one. Love and peace to you, too, Bro.
Touche', dear snicks, you got me. Although you might want to ask some of the Latino guys you see out in front of Home Deport every morning what their definition of oppression is; you know, the guys that you're probably afraid to even look at let alone ask to get in your car.

I don't think their definition of oppression would include being paid $18.00 an hour in cash every day, with time and a half over 8 hours if they want the extra work; good food, drinks and regular breaks with snacks; being treated with respect and as an equal fellow human being; given rides home, with a Tecate or two along the way (I know, it's illegal); and you'll love this, snicks - my biggest problem with these guys is that they work so damn hard that I often have to tell them to slow down and pace themselves, which made them work even harder until I learned how to say it in Spanish.

I do this not only because it's good for business, but because as almost any smart capitalist or businessman will tell you, it feels great to do right by your employees and workers, and make their lives better. It's one the things that get's me up on even the shittiest days, and there are plenty of those for people like me.

As for being privileged...sure, I'm a white guy and the first to admit to the advantages that alone brings. And there are certainly plenty of assholes out there and nobody hates trump and his fellow travelers more than I do. But I would also hazard a guess that if I were dropped on an island in the middle of the ocean with 10 of you, none of us with any advantage over the other, that within a fairly short period of time you'd all be looking to me for food, shelter and a way to get us the hell out of there. You'd be glad that I was there and I know dozens of Latino guys who'd tell you the same thing, one privilege that I do take very seriously. It's a simple thing, really. And I always find it annoying that so many bleeding edge malcontents fall back on capitalist oppression as the intellectually lazy excuse for whatever real or imagined misfortunes that life has dealt them. Yuk.
#24: If people in your SFR neighborhood are building "giant box(es) to the limits of the lot lines" then you need to call the City. Building codes require that new homes cover no more than 35% of a lot, including outbuildings, and the City enforces this rule without exception in the kind of neighborhood you describe. Believe me, any builder stupid enough to try it would be stopped before construction even began. They just look like they cover the whole lot.
@12 - the SROs downtown were done away with because a couple burned down and the city deemed the rest (or most of them) firetraps.

Also it was the 1970s - that decade when this billboard became famous:

@mfg5000. I'm a builder too. That was sarcasm (sorry it was unclear)and this is the stranger comments board where things like "hard work" are counted as racially based microaggressions. I'm surprised you weren't attacked as a capitalist pig who exploits the masses when you identified as a business owner. I liked and related to your comments, however...This is not the place for pragmatism,rational discussion, or problem solving.
Sorry, snicks. It did occurred to me that you were being sarcastic after I wrote my comment - long week. Anyway, sounds like you're as annoyed as I am about so often being stereotyped as a greedy capitalist because we like to build things that people actually want and need, like, gasp, housing. The horror. Fortunately, in our line of work, we seldom have to deal with aging lefty malcontents like Charles, either on site or as clients. Just another perk of this very rewarding but often exhausting work.
@26-I of course meant to the allowable limit, not the physical edge of the lots. I'm sure that the lawyers and architects plan it to the millimeter. But the effect is still that we get huge boxes in areas that previously had small-medium homes with a bit of space and light between them. The net result is that one expensive house gets replaced with one that is even more expensive, which does nothing at all to help with housing availability.
#30: I was responding to your comment as written, which was inaccurate. But I agree that there's some pretty dreadful stuff being built out there, although I'm seeing less and less of it in Seattle these days, mostly because the people who can afford to buy in this market usually demand more than a box, where the only design principal seems to be maximizing the lot, the height limits (30' for a flat roof, 35' for a peaked roof), and, of course, profit.

Ironically, it's the boxy flat-roofed homes that are only 30' tall, verses the peaked roof 35' homes, that seem to be the object of so much derision. The reason they're popular with both builders and buyers is that they allow for a larger interior, but more importantly in Seattle, a better view from the top floor. Peaked roofs were originally designed to prevent snow buildup, and in a place like Seattle, an affectation and pointless waste of space.

And FYI, the developer generally determines the size of a building(s) footprint and the number of floors and the architect designs the house based on those parameters. It's not rocket science and lawyers are seldom involved in those decisions - if you need one to tell you what 35% of 7200 is I'd recommend a different vocation.
WOW----what an insanely exorbitant change from 20 years ago: 1-bedroom apartment on a Metro bus line (both 15 & 18) in Ballard for $560 a month that included water, sewer, garbage and a garage parking space. Those were my AIS days.

yes, I mispoke re "lot lines." But my point remains that these giant boxes (and incidentally, I have had much more trouble with leaks in flat roofs here than peaked ones, snow or no snow) trash the character of the neighborhoods far more than a few low- to medium-density rentals. But the important thing is clearly that the sacred single-family zoning will remain inviolate, and as a result there will continue to be no place for people to actually live.
While the author, and his Alt-Left Nihilist brigade are getting all cerebral about axes of oppression, and foaming at the mouth for the collapse of Capitalism, well, the ship left the dock 20 years ago, and has faded off into the horizon. Now they want to talk about it...STFU
Everybody is entitled to live in the city center, whistle a happy tune, walk to work and live a care free existence working 35 hours a week.

In real big cities, we call those who live outside the city and commute into work daily the "bridge and tunnel crowd.

That's really the genesis of opposition to higher minimum wages, isn't it? Not your risibly half-baked misunderstanding of economics, but rather a simple grudge against a category of persons whom you have deemed to be unworthy of earning more money. They're earning more money with the higher minimum wage, and you can't show any real economic damage from it, and so you can't stop us from creating such laws.
Isn't that a picture of Bellevue?