Yes, this. This is the biggest difference between the candidates. Neither will defund police. Both will handle the day to day operations just fine. But Gonzalez is the only candidate who is committed to changing the zoning.

Rent will be cheaper under Gonzalez than under Harrell. There will be fewer homeless families. Everyone focuses on the homeless you see, but there over 4,000 homeless kids in Seattle public schools. The more rent goes up, the more families become homeless. Gonzalez has an actual plan to deal with that situation (build a lot more places to live) while Harrell is ignoring it.


If a candidate couldn’t get ‘er done while president of a progressive City Council, where the policy decisions purse strings are, how will becoming Mayor change the calculus?


"To quote Harrell’s repeated, misogynistic “rebuttal” to City Council President Lorena González at a mayoral debate last week, his Climate Plan is “just a bunch of words strung together.”

To be fair, Gonzalez did provide little more than rambling platitudes in the comments that prompted Harrell's rebuttal. At the time, it did not strike me as misogynistic. Rather, I thought it was an accurate characterization of Gonzalez's non-answer.

@2 Seriously. We already know what things will be like under Gonzalez. She is the head of the city's legislative branch, and would, if anything, be even less influential as head of the executive branch.


I cannot see how eliminating single family zoning will increase price affordability in Seattle. Every project I have seen has only increased costs and reduced lower priced rentals...that 2 bedroom cottage is now 4 townhomes on the lot priced at close to a million each. The lower income areas have (,see MLK way) have gone thru this which has only increased the cost of housing in the neighborhood and causing rapidly increasing gentrification.


Agreed. The closest we get to regional lower income housing is the 50 year old apt complex in Burien, or Sea-Tac, or Tukwila, not the new apts in Seattle.
New complexes along MLK are market rate - e.g. $1,600 or more per month for a tiny studio - parking is extra. Buying run-down hotels for housing is the closest Seattle comes to solving homelessness. A proliferation of $850 K townhouses in South Seattle won't get the homeless out of the parks and greenbelts.



Here's the relatively short answer: Instead of developers buying up large old SFD lots and parking four or six three story market-rate SFD's (the infamous "hamster boxes" you see sprouting up everywhere like so many mushrooms in a rain forest) on them, with elimination of SF zoning they could instead be putting up 20 unit four or five story apartment buildings designed for the lower to middle-income market. For example: the 24 designated SFD detached and "town home" units that have gone up on the block directly across the street from me over the past several years, and that take up approximately two thirds of the square footage, could instead have easily been four or five apartment buildings with studio, one and/or two bedroom units that would have accommodated three or four times the number of units on the same footprint.


@7: Higher buildings just cast more shade and no sun in the neighborhood; and hence, a worse quality of life.


To be fair to Harrell, I can see how it would be hard to imagine a car-free Seattle when he is always commuting from Bellevue.


Once again, a bad menu for Seattle leadership.


@7 Nothing prevents developers from taking that approach now on non-SFH lots. But, as several others have already pointed out, they prefer to build luxury units, because those are more profitable.

Eliminating SFH zoning city-wide won't change that. Eliminating SFH zoning boils down to a market-based solution for low-income housing: you are hoping that by allowing for more density, developers will decide to invest in projects geared toward low-income families. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that simply won't work: the private sector isn't interested in building homes for poor people. The private sector will instead prioritize building homes for rich people. See, e.g., essentially every single townhome development in greater Seattle constructed over the past 2 decades.

I get it, I see why politicians and the Stranger commentariat like to float the zoning issue. It costs nothing to make the zoning change, and you get to complain about wealthy elites with $1 million dollar homes on 6000 sq. ft. lots. But it is not a viable solution.


The zoning issue shouldn't be black or white. What's needed is a scalpel, not a bludgeon.


Hey commenters,

Although they data is not unequivocal, rigorous analysis seems to point pretty strongly toward the fact that building housing (even luxury housing) has a net negative affect on prices compared to not building it (anecdotes about the cost of a building and what it replaced on that exact lot aside).

You are completely right that this doesn't house the homeless or make homes highly affordable for extremely low income families. It has, however, been shown that in markets that match supply increases to incoming demand, they do stabilize price. The handwaivey mythology peddled by NIMBYs kept us from doing that, and that paired with high demand for living here is now why we are working with prices are stratospheric.

Supply increases (at least from the private market) won't deflate home prices, because devs will hold back when prices drop. But the research is pretty clear that they can stabilize while we spend a generation waiting for incomes to catch up.

Affordable housing for the poor, especially after house prices have inflated, is another matter. That takes genuine subsidies, serious public funding, derived from sources like tax dollars and inclusionary zoning fees, etc. It needs to be paired with stabilization mechanisms (that limit rent increases, displacement, produce right-to-return, etc.) as well.

It's only when we have all three - supply, stabilization, and subsidies, that we can tackle both rising market prices and affordability at the bottom run of the economic ladder. And of course, we have macro factors to attend to as well - like asset bubbles caused by interest rates, inequality, etc.

Thanks for your enagement,



Thanks for letting me know what I should think, Ron.



Because they don't have to be $800,000 Condos. There are plenty of property management companies out there ready, willing and able to absorb the long-term investment costs associated with apartments - it's not like developers have completely stopped building them, after all, but they're usually built along major arterials where the zoning is less restrictive for such buildings.

And even condos only cost as much as they do because they have expensive amenities the average person doesn't actually need like granite countertops, all stainless steel appliances, in-wall vacuum systems, rooftop decks, et al, and because developers apparently think they need a 20% profit margin (which frequently turns out to be considerably more if, as is often the case in a hot real estate market like Seattle, the unit sells for well above the ask.) Quick turnaround is the name of the game in the current SFD landscape: slap it up and sell it off, bank the money and lather, rinse, repeat. By incentivizing - and to some degree mandating - longer-term investment strategies, there's simply no reason we can't have thousands, if not tens of thousands of units of affordable MFB going up, so long as there's someplace to site them.



But you'd howl hurricanes of outrage if there weren't $15 an hour workers here in Seattle willing to do the grubby tasks you wouldn't ever deign to soil your no-doubt bi-weekly manicured nails to do yourself. So, if you want your artisanal, locally sourced Wagyu beef and aged Gruyere with organic tomato burger made, packaged and delivered to you while you're blasting through your 12th straight hour of Call Of Duty Warzone, or conversely blearing through your 60th hour of code-monkeying for Jeff Bezos this week, so you can afford your $800K condo, you're going to either have to put the game or your job on-pause for a few and go make it yourself - or be willing to pay someone to make it for you. And, if we've learned one thing in the last 18 months or so, it's that people making $15 an hour would rather do something else - anything else, really - than spend four hours commuting back-and-forth to that burger-flipping job here in Seattle, just so you can have it without having to move your increasingly spreading ass-cheeks off the sofa or out of your Herman Miller Aeron chair.

In other words, be careful what you wish for - you might not like it when you get it...


City Light has a troubled past with Nuclear power….

On the other hand, they didn’t get caught up in WPPS.


Let's see... hmmm, oh...wait none of our erstwhile city leaders (silly council) or Mayor have done squat over the past 15 years to work on climate issues.

So the point of this article should probably be directed at "all of them".... and not focused on simply Bruce Harrell, who is leading by 18 points.

I think we've all had enough of the far, far left agenda. Time to move to the center of the democratic party and get back to reality.


This word salad from Harrell is not the least bit surprising, and most of these Green environmental plans are more wish list than anything else.

The 800-pound gorilla is that most commuters live on the outskirts of Seattle and have to drive in or take an arduous transit ride, because our transit system is somewhat dysfunctional and ersatz, although workable.

The concept of an urban oasis where everyone is already there so they don’t have to commute, and ride bikes or scooters to get around is meritorious although unrealistic, given the economics of real estate prices and bedroom communities.

Also, the people funding Harrell’s campaign probably drive or telecommute, and don’t use mass transit, so he has to pull his punches when discussing green solutions.

Mass transit is for the less fortunate, although the mass transit expansion we’re experiencing is a good policy move, and the only realistic way to reduce carbon emissions.

Hats off to the poster who had the balls to advocate for nuclear power, which is being safely implemented in France, for example.

At any rate, Harrell is pandering to the status quo people at the Seattle Times and you should vote for Gonzales, who is willing to implement real policy changes to protect the environment.

Please wait...

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