Comments

1

Hey now, before you bash on Seattle too much. I’ve lived here 20 plus years and had a transportation epiphany the other day while going to my doc appointment. I was walking along a pedestrian bike trail, realized I was running late, and found a bike share on my phone app. Biked to my appointment. I walked home but could have also taken bus or light rail. (!!!!) The bike and pedestrian infrastructure we put in is paying off. Yes keep pushing, advocating, I guess the snarky remarks help (eh maybe) but let’s give credit where it is due. Of course transpo access is lumpy and who has access to what should be front and center, but good things are happening.

2

When did the Stranger start shilling for corporate profits? The entire focus of this is on adding rental stock, which is needed but isn't actually the biggest missing piece of the puzzle. Seattle and the broader region desperately need more affordable condo and co-op options that would allow middle class to get out from under the constant increase in rents without moving to Maple Valley and upping their commutes. I expect there would also be a lot more support for building mid-sized (5-15 unit buildings with 2 & 3br units) condo buildings across the SFR zones than haphazardly dumping in 3 unit ADUs owned by an absentee landlord. Fixing the disaster of the Condo Act and updating zoning rules to encourage development that invests in neighborhoods, instead of Wall Street rental companies, should be a huge related project to the planning process. Even in NYC you can buy 2br and 3br condo and co-op units for under $500,000 (there is a lot more than just Manhattan, just like Seattle isn't all Cap Hill). That is not low income housing, but it provides an upward path for middle-income residents, otherwise you just crate a doughnut City of rich enclaves and public projects with no middle. The public shouldn't and can't really build housing for all the middle income residents (failing miserably at just doing for lower income), but the system is stacked to give us only crap right now for the middle income younger families and planning and zoning can help fix that to not drive folks out into the boonies.

3

@1 is correct, but it will still be More Of The Same, lots of excuses why we don't restore 65 foot zoning to the white neighborhoods that are (mostly) North of the Ship Canal.

The future is 40-110 story residential apartment buildings, surrounded by parks and so on.

4

Based upon what’s actually getting built, we’re replacing “million-dollar bungalows and garages filled with Subarus” with “million-dollar townhomes/condos and garages filled with Teslas.”

And before someone starts with ‘density at the high end of the market eases pressure and leads to more affordable market-rate housing’ remember that trickle-down economic theory has been thoroughly debunked. Rowboats aren’t more affordable just because Bezos bought another mega-yacht.

5

I'm getting really tired of the term "centering". It basically means, give me (small screechy activist group) all the power and all the taxpayers' money and let us do what we want and don't hold us accountable for any of it and if you don't you're an oppressive white supremacist plutocrat. Whaah!

6

CRiver @2, this is a great comment. There's something fundamentally broken about our economic incentives when we're building so many rental units and so few condos. If we care about the plight of renters, then there's no more valuable thing we can do than to expand the number of affordable choices for them to become homeowners (without exacerbating sprawl).

One statement worth repeating: "Fixing the disaster of the Condo Act and updating zoning rules to encourage development that invests in neighborhoods, instead of Wall Street rental companies, should be a huge related project to the planning process."

You clearly know this better than I do. My recollection is that there's something seriously wrong about our state law that's disincentivizing condo construction. Bruce Harrell mentioned this very problem in his mayoral campaign. He said he'd do something about it. Not sure there's much he can do at the city level, but I appreciate his merely acknowledging the problem.

7

That whole idea of multi-use residential lots has real merit and encourages population density and allows property owners to fully utilize their property, and do what they want with it, although it was stolen from the Duwamish Indians.

We still require the nine-lane car sewer because many pretentious citizens talk through their hats and promote extensive mass transit while putting around in their automobiles and yakking on their cell phones.

The highways and byways of this noble city are like a safety net for those who endorse large mass transit projects and monumental taxpayer giveaways, but haven't got the intestinal fortitude to actually utilize them.

Also, if you've ever ridden on the light rail after someone got motion sickness and barfed all over the place, you can easily relate to these NIMBY types
who toodle around in their Subaru Hybrids and smoke incense cigarettes, ostensible to improve the environment.

The foregoing comment is correct, we are looking at the construction of affordable housing complexes throughout the city to address the displaced homelessness
issue and allow more commuters to stay in the city, rather than driving back and forth from Gold Bar or Maple Valley.

If you look around, Seattle has many buildable parcels that are languishing and asking to be developed, and they are easily accessible to mass transit.

There is one such parcel up in Interbay next to the Magnolia Bridge that would provide an excellent buildable area close to downtown.

The south end of Seattle also has many underutilized properties that could be purchased by the city and developed to provide affordable housing.

Apparently, whenever anyone tries to effect policy change for the benefit of the displaced they run into the magisterial Seattle City Bureaucracy in all of its golden
bejewelment, and the best laid plans die in committee.

The city should cover the margin for low-income folks the way King County does with vouchers, to make sure everyone has a place to call home,
rather than improvising shelter on the streets, which makes it look like Seattle has collective low self-esteem or just plain bad housing policies and no solutions.

NoSpin makes a cogent point in that if you feed the horse more oats, it won't necessarily crap out alms for the poor or more housing for the marginalized, self-serving Republican
hot-air to the contrary.

8

@4 -- First you start with a bullshit argument, then you burn down the strawman. Nicely done. Did it every occur to you that the reason that the condos and townhouses are so expensive is because we restrict where they can be built? Imagine if they only allowed a thousand smartphones to be built every year -- do you think they would build cheap phones?

Look, in a market based economy (like the one we live in) it really isn't that complicated. Why is gas so fucking expensive right now? Supply and demand. Specifically, demand has rebounded, while supply has not kept up. Supply is influenced by the cartel known as OPEC. This cartel was also responsible for the oil crisis of the 1970s that hammered the middle class (before Reagan got elected and really thrashed it). This ended the post-war period in America, when we built the greatest middle class the world had every known. But I digress.

We have a similar situation as with oil, expect the cartel is the city and its zoning laws. I don't live in a fancy neighborhood. But brand new (really big) houses go for about a million dollars, and small condos go for about a third of that. Just down the street from me sat a small house on a big lot. The house was demolished, and the land subdivided into three large lots. They could have easily built 30 condos on the land. The developers grossed around 3 million, while they could have grossed 10 million with condos. Even when you consider the extra cost to build the condos, the developers would have made a lot more money simply building condos. Except that would have been illegal.

Of course if people keep building more and more condos, you reach a point where building houses is a better option (for developers). When new condos go for somewhere between 100 and 200 grand, then it probably makes sense for the developer to build McMansions instead. Would brand new condos costing $175K push down the cost of apartments and existing (older) condos? You bet your ass it would.

Which is not to say that we would reach that point anytime soon. What it does mean, is that all things being equal, allowing more high density development leads to cheaper prices.

9

@8 the cartel in your example is not zoning laws. Huge upzones around transportation corridors have NOT pushed down housing prices for apartments to “affordable levels” for price burdened renters, although they likely help the $100k+ crowd not pay SF prices. The key is that supply come from a not-profit driven supplier, and a enough of it to push down prices for everyone else. We need to give up the ghost of capitalism fixing capitalism and get back in the business of governments or PDAs building housing.

10

been quite a bit of building going on in south Seattle with king county comprehensive plan upzoning there. all of it, at least to my eye, is bougie three-story townhomes crammed four to a lot and quite expensive compared to the one formerly affordable home that had to be torn down to make way for that middle-upper class Subaru Tom and Sally with golden retriever.
how many of these expensive townhomes have to go up, and relatively affordable homes have to be torn down, before the price of a home falls enough that your average Joe can afford one?
how many insufferable, microbrew drinking twats do we have to deal with before that happens? like, bro no I don't want to follow your dog's Instagram and no I don't think your subie looks dope. lol

just curious where that equilibrium lies.

11

First, @5 is spot on. "Centering" needs to go on Lake Superior State's annual list of words we need to banish.

Second, no one has a "right" to live wherever they want. I want to live in Medina or Clyde Hill or Hunts Point, but I can't afford to. So I live in south Seattle. Does it suck to be pushed out to the margins? Yes. (And based on my landlord's "your lease is almost up" and "I'm raising the rent" warning, I may be going out even farther this summer.) Do I understand why I can't live on the Eastside, or any of the more affluent areas of our region? Also yes.

12

@5 Precisely! This is Seattle at present and its why this place is so horribly messed up.

I suspect with corporations leaving by the drove, people leaving in significant numbers, rising violent and property crimes, lack of will from the silly council to do anything reasonable.....you'll see plenty of vacant housing.

In a way, they will have solve the problem using a play book from Detroit.... well played Seattle!

13

7 - you're an idiot. That's an off-gassing landfill and can only be built on if you want to poison people with methane.

14

@12, nobody is leaving “in significant numbers.” Net 30k left KING COUNTY last year, about 1%, hard to say how many Seattleites from the data. It is one data point that shows a trajectory change but it is incomplete. If history has taught us anything, it is that Seattle will continue to grow. If people move away, all the better, maybe we can catch up.

15

3: "The future is 40-110 story residential apartment buildings, surrounded by parks and so on." No, it is not. High rise construction is very, very expensive compared to low-rise construction, and it alway will be. That will remain to province of the wealthy. Google "Ville Radieuse" and read up on why it never came to be. It is a fascinating story.

RE: Condos, Apartment or Coops. Those are terms describing the form of ownership, not building configuration. The Seattle Zoning Code does not address those distinctions, to my knowledge. Condo construction is relatively rare because of future liability issues for the developers. I have no idea how to solve that one.
RE: Publicly owned housing. To say that enthusiasm among the general population for building vast tracts of public housing is nil would be an understatement. We might dream of Stalinesque apartment blocks for the masses, but it ain't gonna happen.
All that said, there is a great deal of room in the Seattle Zoning Code to increase density . If the MHA-HALA rules were amended to disallow developer payments in lieu of providing a percentage of affordable units we would see a lot more affordable units coming on-line. The city could make the task of administering those units much less burdensome to the property management people as well.
RE: Housing for the destitute. I have no idea how that might be accomplished. Good Luck!

16

@15 is about 30 years in the past. Again, restore the 65 foot zoning citywide (before 1933 and the racist plats) and then upzone to 40-110 story residential towers near transit. But build parks next to them. It works fine all over the world.

17

“and engaging with more than 30 community groups to ensure it’s not just aging boomers worried about tree murders who have a voice.“

What a totally BIGOTED statement. Author is an ass. Racism, sexism, ageism: none of it is acceptable. What an idiot. Do you understand the concepts of oxygen production, heat islands, air cleaning and health outcomes?

Want a little test to see if you’re saying bigoted idiotic things? Just swap out the name of the group you’re insulting with ‘Black’ and see if it stinks. Ask yourself, “would I say this to the face of an angry Black linebacker?” No? Then don’t print that drivel either.

If there’s any karma that damn fool will die before he ever reaches the age he blithely and ignorantly insults.
What you little turds call the vast demographic of “boomers“ contained substantial diversity: including radicals that stopped the Vietnam War (the police shot us dead too), boycotted for immigrant wage and safety protections, were jailed for the pot you blow in strangers’ faces, began the ecology movement, demanded reproductive privacy & rights, put lives on the line protecting old growth carbon sinks, grew the unions, and so on.

Yes of course there are horrific corporate murders the same age. But painting and entire age group with the same broad brush is just ignorant, pissy bigotry.

Fuck right off Engelson!!! Bigot! Do you ever think about the shoulders you stand on? Those who took on the big fights for the sweet progress you take for granted now? Asshole.

18

"A nine-lane car sewer." Okay... feet on the ground, please.

19

@14 Now do try and pay attention....

I'm suggesting with the current problems, pitiful solutions, crime, lack of political will and sad leadership... that people will leave and are doing so in significant numbers.

I'm suggesting there is a correlation between people leaving that the problems listed above.

20

16:

"@15 is about 30 years in the past"
Masterful command of Rhetoric and Logic there, Good Sir! I have been bested!
"But build parks next to them. It works fine all over the world."
Show me. Silver Towers at NYU is kind of there, but the park part is pretty weak. Other than that, I am unaware of any successful implementation of the typology. But I am willing to learn.
But the bigger point is that Seattle is an existing city with broadly dispersed ownership. We have no Baron Haussmann and Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte combo (thank God) to plow down vast acreages of the proles housing and build a grand imperial city. Where would you place your Utopian towers in the parks? I am quite curious.

21

"transportation emissions grew by 10% between 2008 and 2018."

Mayor Harrel: "I want to consider the role of cars in the city"

To pollute and clog, Mr Mayor, to pollute and clog

22

@20: "We have no Baron Haussmann"

Ours was Paul Allen.

23

@22: Perhaps, but Paul Allen was missing a Napoleon III wannabe so his grand plans remain aspirational only.

25

Is Dr. Nelson Salim now in the credit counseling business?

26

@23: Did you miss all the acreage of the proles housing plowed down in the South Lake Union neighborhood? Pail Allen was his own Napoleon.

27

@26. I lived on Lower Queen Anne in the eighties and walked / biked to work downtown often. I do no recall much housing between Mercer and Dexter. Mostly light industrial and lower end retail and warehousing. But could have a bad memory on that.

28

we own a single family home in the city and would be fine with middle housing in our neighborhoods; duplexes, triplexes, quads. townhouses covering every square foot of the lot front to back with no green space not so much. all the climate change stuff is nonsense and a waste of money. should be canned.


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