Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

The City is getting near to making a decision about upzoning throughout the city.  They say it will be "gradual and incremental" but frankly, I'm sure once the ok comes, you'll see the changes come rapidly.  One item to consider is the report issued by the Mandatory Housing Affordability group says that the current zoning is not fair to all citizens and does not afford them the ability to be near "parks and schools."  

While upzoning would create the ability for more citizens to access the parks and schools, it would also mean more crowding in schools if density is greater.  What will we do then?  If that happened, I would say the district is within its rights to ask for financial/logistical help in building more schools/expanding schools.  The City's decision to change zoning will always affect schools.  (I have previously noted that directly across from Roosevelt High School, there are several apartment buildings going up with more to come.  I would suspect that a few apartments might be rented by parents who want to guarantee their child gets into Roosevelt.  There's also that kind of issue.)

Seattle is one of 34 district to share $900,000 that was appropriated by the Legislature to match federal funds that are "designed to assist public school districts in improving student instruction and assessment through the use of information technology."  I'll have to ask the district what their share is and how they will be using it.

I see by the Public Testimony list for tomorrow night's Board meeting that there are still at least 8 open spots. 

The agenda for Thursday's Operations Committee meeting makes for interesting reading.  There are a lot of items related to capital projects.

The district has added three students to the High School Science Adoption Committee.

Nahom and Sofia are both juniors at Franklin High School and Aiden is a sophomore at The Center School. All three students like science and want to pursue a career in the science field upon graduation. As part of the committee, they will meet throughout the year with adults (teachers, district staff, families, and community members) to decide on potential instructional materials to introduce to the larger community for further review.
OSPI and the Statewide SEL Indicator Workgroup have put forth a survey for Social Emotional Learning (SEL) by request from the Legislature.  It is unclear to me when the end date is for the survey; I'll check.

On the topic of bond measures, the Seattle Times has come out with an editorial telling the Legislature that they need to lower the 60% super-majority for passage.  They are right.  Too many smaller districts are getting their hearts broken over 58-59% passage AND not passing a bond in years and years. 
Even slightly lowering the bar for passing bonds would make a huge difference. This year, 12 school construction bonds failed despite winning the approval of more than 55 percent of local voters. If lawmakers cannot agree on establishing a simple majority requirement for passing school bonds, they should pass a compromise that sets 55 percent as the new standard.
At the same time, state lawmakers must ensure they also provide ample matching funds for school construction in the their upcoming capital budget. The Legislature approved about $1 billion for school construction in its last capital budget; a similar investment may be necessary for the next two-year budget cycle. Legislative leaders should examine whether the formula used to award matching grants should be updated, so that it better reflects actual construction costs. 
Finally, an op-ed from head of OSPI, Chris Reykdal, on the issue of levies and levy authority.  The Times had said that districts like Seattle were out of line in ask for their upcoming levies and Reykdal shouldn't be supporting them.  To which, Reykdal says:
In 2017, the Legislature tasked my office with this process of reviewing levy plans before they go to voters, and it put new limits on how much funding school districts can collect in those levies — the key word being “collect.”
The law did not change how much levy authority school districts can put before their local voters. In other words, school districts can ask their voters for the authority to collect more levy dollars than the law currently allows them to collect; however, our school districts will only be allowed to collect within their legal limits. This has been the law for decades.

School districts can’t forecast with precision what their enrollment or levy authority might be three or four years out, so they get approval to cover those variances. Without this flexibility, school districts would waste taxpayer money going to the ballot every year with precise levy amounts.

In addition to these variances, Seattle Public Schools is asking for additional authority from voters because the Legislature significantly cut its local levy. Seattle will lose nearly $100 million in voter-approved school levies under the Legislature’s levy swap. This is too much!
And this very important statement (bold mine):
One of the most crucial investments that school districts across the state, including Seattle, will make with levy dollars is in critical services for students with disabilitiesBecause we continue to see underfunding of these services, I explicitly told our school districts they could use their levy dollars for this. Until the Legislature fully funds special education, districts will need to continue using their levies to fund these services. The civil rights of students supersedes state funding formulas.
 What's on your mind?


Ann S. said...

Thank you for bringing attention to the pending MHA rezones. Anyone particularly interested about capacity issues at Whittier, Loyal Heights, North Beach, Ballard, Ingraham and particularly Whitman should be paying attention to the Crown Hill Urban Village proposed map.

The "Village" boundaries stretch from 8th to 22nd Aves NW and 77th to 95th Streets. In addition to the rezoning of its mostly single family properties to allow townhouses and apartments, building height limits along the arterials (85th, 15th & Holman) will be raised to up to 75 feet (7+ stories). Though deemed a neighborhood with "high access to opportunity", Crown Hill lacks infrastructure to support such growth (such as sidewalks, formal drainage, community center, library, light rail plans, etc.) The fact that students North of 85th are sent to Ingraham via district yellow bus speaks to both the capacity issues at Ballard and inadequate public transportation.

Proposed maps: http://seattlecitygis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=b0167cf4e63149e3b891307a41a639e5

Current zoning: http://seattlecitygis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=b0167cf4e63149e3b891307a41a639e5

Ann S. said...

Sorry. My links go to the same location. As the maps are interactive/movable, you have to go one step further to view each.

Anonymous said...

There goes my house with a yard. I don't want to be the "Up" house. Living on 95th across from Whitman, I have already responded to the city's survey. What is heartbreaking is the reality that my lame teacher's salary will not be able to compete with the big dollars that property developers and construction companies have. Any effort I make to stop the "rezoning" will only result in frustration and anger at losing the only house I will ever have been able to afford in the city (bought during the last recession), my neighbors I have had for 15 years, my beautiful garden that everyone slows down to view as they drive by my house in the summer, the Little Free Library we constantly stock with books for our neighbors to share... I just cannot seeing me with against property developers and construction companies. My neighbors have already said that if the property next to them sells to a developer that they will leave- they don't want people looking out of their condo windows into their backyards. It is sad. It will ruin the community here. Sure, it will create a new, high density one, but our community will be lost. (Blue Ridge is fine, I am sure. People who live two blocks away have the money to keep this type of development from happening there.)
My husband hasn't really seen that this is real yet. I cannot imagine the heartbreak it will cause him when the truth finally sinks in.

Ann S. said...

Thank you for filling out the survey. I also urge you to send your comments to City Council, if you haven't already. City Council is currently and quickly working on amendments to the MHA legislation.

One of the reasons that Crown Hill is seeing such massive rezones is that it was deemed at lower risk of displacement than other urban villages. Your situation, being a teacher living in a modest home, does not follow that narrative, and I believe is more typical of the neighborhood. (We have 3 teachers on my block!)

Note: the truth is that CHUV is at a higher risk of displacement that the City average, but it is still lower than other urban villages. Only urban villages are being rezoned.

Anonymous said...

Ann S. Thank you for the suggestion. I am seriously sitting here, crying about losing my home to developers and their bank accounts.j I will be writing. Again.


Anonymous said...

I’m confused—why does upzoning mean you will lose the house you own? Or is it just that you won’t want it anymore?


Eric B said...

It's worth pointing out that the 75' building height limits in Crown Hill are centered around 15th NW and Holman Road, where there are sidewalks and good transit connections. The area down by Crown Hill Resident lives will have a maximum height of 30' for rowhouses. The current zoning allows up to 25'. That change is also only on the south side of 95th. The north side doesn't change. The allowed height gradually steps up as you get closer to Holman.

That said, experience south of 65th indicates that most single-family homeowners will sell and developers will put up row houses. There's nothing that forces you to sell, though.

Jet City mom said...

Well, if I am surrounded by buildings with little setback, that block the light into my home and garden, that will negatively affect my quality of life.
In that case I will be looking to sell to the first llc that offers 7 figures cash.

My neighborhood is currently single family, with triplexes and DADUs grandfathered in.
However the city is looking to expand the urban village footprint four blocks in my direction, without any buffer.

Ann S. said...

CrownHillresident stated that they do not want to be the house from "UP." Rezones don't directly force residents to move, but it is unpleasant to reside in a construction zone. I personally get letters from predatory developers weekly. There is also the risk of property taxes increasing with rising property values (potentially.)

@Eric B.
Yes, the arterial sidewalks and busses are useful, if one wants to LEAVE the neighborhood, not get around it. Please note in my original statement that Ingraham High School kids are provided yellow bus service, as City bus service is insufficient from CH.

@CrownHillresident. Please don't cry! You don't have to move tomorrow. The rezones have not yet passed. There is an election coming up. The pace of building could slow. And this is a 20 year plan. (Ballard was rezoned more than 20 years ago to get to where it is today.)

But I'm getting off topic! We should be united in drawing attention to issues related to school capacity and building condition. This might be helpful ammo in getting Whitman considered for future investments.

Eric B said...

Ann, I'm confused. You said that Crown Hill didn't have the infrastructure to support this growth such as transit and sidewalks. When I pointed out that most of the growth will be around areas that have transit and sidewalks, you tell me that I'm wrong and they need something else. What's the argument?

Also, I know very well the issues of transit. One of my kids rides the yellow bus every day to Ingraham, and the other rode both Metro and the yellow bus for four years.

Jet City mom said...

Are we still using the Seattle 2035 plan at all?
That was from three years ago.


Ann S. said...

@Eric B.

Sorry I was being a little snarky about how sidewalks and bus stops are only useful if one wants to leave the neighborhood. My inner/past New Yorker sneaks out from time to time.

To clarify, though the tallest buildings are slated for the arterials, substantial zoning changes are also being proposed for the current single family streets (from 8th to 22nd and 77th to 95th.) I think we could reasonably assume that this area could eventually develop at the levels of what we currently see in Ballard (and maybe more because MHA changes raises density limits in low rise zones.) My initial statement about lacking infrastructure referenced sidewalks, formal drainage, community center, library and light rail plans...all of which exist in Ballard and most other Urban Villages, but not in Crown Hill.

Anonymous said...

Eric B go suck on an AR15

Sleep911.com said...

The amount of upzoning proposed for West Seattle is ridiculous. They are expanding the main urban village both up and out. Genesse Hill is already over capacity and the largest elementary school in Seattle. It and Fairmount Park don't have the ability to absorb all the proposed changes.

Anonymous said...

Upzones in Seattle are essential to our ability to afford to stay in this city and for our kids to be able to do so as well. I do think we need to collect impact fees from new development to help pay for added school capacity, school buses, and other services.


Jet City mom said...

Single family neighborhood has been upzoned to LR1, but the nearby elementary schools already have 537 and 450 students.

How much larger can they go?

Anonymous said...

Upzones are not good for Seattle neighborhoods. The new construction looks really cheap. The city will be allowing multiple buildings on single family lots without homeowners needing to live there. I doubt having Airbnbs everywhere will enhance our quality of life or make neighborhoods better. The new construction is mostly expensive one bedrooms, not larger places for families.
Contact your city council rep and the mayor to ask them to slow down. No need to rezone every single family neighborhood when growth is slowing faster here than any city in the U.S.

S parent

Anonymous said...

I live on the south side of 95th St. It is MY HOUSE they will want. MY YARD and MY VIEW of the Olympic mountains. It is MY GARDEN I grow and share produce from with my neighbors and food bank. It is directly impacting me, a teacher who will not be able to buy in the city if I am forced to move. It impacts a secretary at North Beach Elementary, one of the neighbors we have had for 15 years. Upzoning will destroy the only home my children have ever known.

Anonymous said...

Huh? Upzoning doesn't mean a thing for your house. It doesn't force you to move. Nobody is going to bulldoze your home if you don't want it. You can still grow and share produce.

If we don't upzone, however, that outcome you fear is precisely what will happen. In places like the Bay Area, where upzones haven't happened, the price of housing has skyrocketed to unaffordable levels. The new density we have recently built in Seattle is all that is keeping us from becoming as bad as the Bay Area. The only way out of this housing crisis is to upzone and build more housing. If we want that housing to be affordable then it's gotta be dense. If people want to live in a community of single-family homes, then the suburbs are close by.


Anonymous said...

I'd be curious to see where all the city council members live vs. where all the upzoning is proposed. I suspect they are largely unaffected. I doubt any of them will ever end up with a six-story condo with no parking right next door.

The whole plan disproportionately affects certain neighborhoods. There is a whole swathe a few blocks from my house that is planned to go from 30' max height to 65'. Quite a change. The height increases step down from there - the next couple of blocks go up 25', then out from there 15'. Parking is already a problem, so I'm curious just how bad it will be with so many more people living there. Of course, the city council in their wisdom decided a few years ago that parking is not required if there is a bus stop within a certain distance, so most of the new housing units built in the last few years have less than one parking space per unit, and in some cases no parking at all. The sample apartments on the MHA page (not the link above, but if you look up the zoning types to see the details of what they mean) suggest things like 15 units with 5 parking spaces, or 51 units with 12 parking spaces. As if most new residents will just magically not own cars. There is definitely the notion that if they just make parking inconvenient enough, everyone sell their cars. I'd like to see the members of the City council haul their family groceries home on the bus a few times, and then maybe they will rethink that concept.

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

@Crownhillresident -What the others have already mentioned to you. Nobody can force you to sell, don't cry. In addition, your property will go up in value and will be worth more than single family zones in your neighborhood. Land is worth more. If your neighbors sell it is because they want to take advantage of the high value of their property. This may leave you eventually years down the road with more of a mix of single family, townhouses, condos in your neighborhood etc like south of 65th. This will be happening all over the city though to densify and add more housing. Change is inevitable.


Anonymous said...

@Crownhillresident "It is directly impacting me, a teacher who will not be able to buy in the city if I am forced to move." You own property in the city and your value will go even higher. Of course you would be able to move. There will still be single family areas worth less than your property and you are relative to the housing market.


Anonymous said...

@JK - You appear to be a cynic who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
While change may be indeed inevitable, the Seattle City Council is directing and concentrating those upzone changes in Urban Villages, without providing any mitigations for the inevitable impacts on transit, schools, parks, environmental quality, and utilities. The MHA plan works ONLY if UV residents give up and move out, thereby disrupting families, neighbors, and relationships with local institutions like schools and churches.
To add insult to injury, the City does not promise ANY increased affordable housing in the afflicted UVs. Developers can - and will - opt to pay in-lieu fees directly to the City, instead of building and managing affordable housing units on-site. The City promises only to use those fees to build affordable housing somewhere, sometime in the future; odds are it will not be in the (now more expensive) UVs.
MHA is a targeted displacement plan, with the City counting on increased churn to generate increased revenue. UV residents will suffer the brunt of the MHA plan, whether they stay or leave. And, lest you think you are safe because you live outside of the UVs, just remember that the City can expand the UV boundaries at any time, without public input or comment.
We should all write to the Mayor and City Council NOW and demand better planning, accountability, and equity.

Jet City mom said...

across the street was zoned single family when we moved in.
Now it is zoned LR1, they want to upzone it to LR2&LR3.
( blocks of affordable homes have been removed, replaced with townhomes 3 to a lot, going for 780k)
Additionally, they propose moving the boundary of the urban village 4 blocks.
Since all this density has been added, traffic has gotten much worse.
No lights, or even marked crosswalks have been added.

We’ve been adding 15,000-17,000 to the population every year.
Shouldn’t we start to add infrastructure?

Anonymous said...

@Anti-MHA who said "You appear to be a cynic who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

You are taking out your rage on me for some reason for suggesting to the Crown Hill resident that her property will be worth more, and nobody is going to force her to move. Pro-MHA also made some good points, you need to think big picture and not so one sided. Our un-affordable housing would be made even worse without density. Without density you also get sprawl and traffic is even worse, hard to imagine but true.

I am not stating there are not issues with the MHA plan. The city should be charging impact fees to developers to pay for schools and impacts. There also should be more money coming from the state. But I think your beef is elsewhere not with me. In addition, you are incorrect in some statements you made. The City cannot and will not expand boundaries at any time. Plans are developed and implemented over time. Ballard has developed to its current state with plans laid 15-20 years ago. Next year they are not just going to surprise you that your zoning has changed. Stop with the fear-mongering.


Anonymous said...

Part of the issue with all the building which was also largely brought on by the Amazon boom, is we have yet to catch up with transit. It is rediculous and we are all suffering with this boom. Ballard which we are discussing, won't even get light rail until 2035!! It is slated long after most areas. Yet it is an urban center that has exploded. Same with West Seattle. The suburbs on the East side are slated to get light rail much sooner than many dense urban villages within the city. I think they did it backwards and should have expanded light rail to the areas which have been developing the most rapidly.


Anonymous said...

Jessyn Farrel had stated she had a plan to speed up and also how to pay for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail lines sooner when she was running for mayor. I am wondering what happened to her plan and if she shared it with Jenny Durkan. People should be advocating for it.


Eric B said...

Observer, all it will take to speed up light rail to Ballard and West Seattle is money (Sound Transit has limited borrowing capacity) and for the community to get it together and not file endless challenges to the EIS. That would get us a few years at least.

Outsider said...

From a system dynamics perspective, Seattle has to find a way to stop growing. That is true regardless of the will of politicians or residents. It's true just because nothing can grow forever. You can get a better understanding of the situation by focusing on the system dynamics and forgetting about the will of individual participants.

Broadly speaking, there are three ways to stop growth:

1) Restrictive zoning to prevent construction of both residences and office space. Alas, restrictions on office space are unpopular with the moneyed class who make billion$ off of commercial development and always have their way in politics. Restrictions on residential construction are controversial, but the population seems to be leaning against. They would result in a nice but expensive city.

2) Anti-business measures like the head tax, which would drive away jobs and thereby drive away people. This is my personal favorite approach, and the politicians were willing to give it a try, but the voters had a tantrum earlier when it was floated.

3) so that leaves only one option: lower the quality of life to the point that people stop wanting to come here. The upzoning approach is squarely in this category. If CrownHillresident feels driven out, forced to leave -- that means it's working. That represents success of the policy, not failure. All day traffic jams, crowding, poop and needles, darkness and depression, rabbit hutch living quarters -- these are all Seattle's default measures to do what it must eventually do -- stop growing.

On a lighter note, there was some great news in the Times today. Killer amoebas in the tap water of Seattle! Perhaps that will thin the population or finally stop people from moving here.

Seattle Citizen said...

I'm wondering how many people complaining about density have three kids or more, or have two or more siblings. I am the third of my family...
When my dad was born, there were two billion people on earth. When I was born, there were three.
Now we're close to eight billion, on track to triple the earth's population in my lifetime.

They have to live somewhere. If we are going to continue to overpopulate, then urban density is a net positive. Suck it up.

Seattle Citizen said...

Outsider - I'm from NY. We all thought forty years ago that NY - bankrupt, trashed, 1.6 million (twice the population of Seattle) commuting on and off Manhattan every day - was going to sink into the bay under the weight of its eight million. It's thriving.
Seattle can handle another million, easy!
: )

Jet City mom said...

NEW YORK — Vandalism at two Brooklyn synagogues and a monument to African-Americans was part of a recent hate crime spike in New York City, NYPD figures show. A total of 309 hate crimes have been reported this year as of Sunday, up about 4 percent from 297 in the same period last year.

Sounds great.
BTW Seattle has about half the cops NYC has per capita.

Seattle Citizen said...

Jet City mom -
Washington State used to have one of the biggest KKK chapters in the country. We have the Aryan Nation in the NW. We have racist skinheads, Portland has a huge issue with the Proud Boys...If you think hate crimes only happen in bigger cities you have another think coming.

Seattle has PLENTY of hate crime, maybe more than NYC per capita.

Seattle bias crimes

As to your second point, are you suggesting we need more officers? That NY needs fewer?

Jet City mom said...

I’m saying that we obviously do not have enough officers as it is.
Weekly my neighbors has their homes & cars broken into.( or stolen)
We’ve had squatters across the street.
I’ve experienced mail/identity theft, multiple times.
It is really a nightmare.
I’ve had gang tags carved into my windshield, but a police officer never showed or contacted me.
( I waited two separate times for hours)
We’ve had our car also broken into, in our driveway.

But NYC is certainly safer than Chicago,
If you don’t mind a low bar.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat related regarding development, change, NYC etc. when my father was growing up (born in 42) he remembers when going out to Long Island was "a drive in the country". There were empty vacant lots that went on forever for him to play outside in the Bronx and in Queens. Can you imagine? He once caught 30 snakes and released them at home. My poor grandmother.


Outsider said...

So Seahattan it will be. The new Big Apple, honey crisp edition. I am glad the plan is finally on the table.

Seriously, Seattle Citizen, it's amusing and revealing how you note correctly the short arc of cities, and casually take this as an unqualified endorsement of growth triumphalism. The exact opposite conclusion could equally be drawn. New York has been up, and down, and back up in a short space of historical time. How can you assume the current arc is the last? The short arc of cities, combined with the old principle "the bigger they are, the harder they fall" could be taken as reason number one to fend off big changes stay small.

I realize that Amazon is expanding in New York, and nothing ever goes wrong without Amazon's permission, but the city's position is precarious in some ways. They have acute budget problems, and an unpayable overhang of pension debt, and an unseemly reliance on overseas criminal and oligarch money to prop up their real estate sector. They are beneficiaries of a huge subway system built under a very different regime of labor and environmental law, and that system couldn't be built today. It can barely be maintained today. Not to mention a lot of other aging infrastructure. The arc of New York could flip with surprising speed.

This whole issue, the short arc of cities, should prompt some curiosity about the system dynamic forces that drive the arcs. As Jet City mom hints, crime is the single most potent anti-quality of life growth limiter that cities can use. It's working well in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, and elsewhere. Unfortunately it has a strong tendency to overshoot, and swing the city from growth to depopulation (see all of the above.) This being a school blog, it's worth noting that schools are also a powerful QOL growth driver or limiter. Strange coincidence that Seattle's high-tech sector started to mushroom and real estate prices started to go vertical right around the time that forced busing was cancelled and neighborhood school assignment was restored. Strange coincidence also about New York -- the city has long tolerated stark school segregation that enables the rich and knowledge worker classes to access good, functional schools amid a sea of educational chaos. Not to mention a very large private school population. Also, New York's most recent downward arc was driven partly by runaway crime, wilding in the streets, etc.; and the recent upward arc was driven partly by a crackdown on crime, zero tolerance, stop and frisk, etc. under Koch, Guiliani, Bratton, et al. The foundations of NYC's current prosperity are not 100% progressive, and Seahattan might not be either.

It's precious how Seattle progressives worry about carbon, and Orcas, and salmon, and want to tear down hydroelectric power, while simultaneously advocating upzoning and unlimited growth. Another million people will definitely show up in the Puget Sound region, even if not within the Seattle city limits. Where will their electricity come from? Where will their sewage go? Orcas schmorkas, its all a joke. But one thing for sure -- quality of life will go down, and keep going down, until some equilibrium is restored where no more people want to come than leave. As SeaCit hints with the world population angle -- in an age of globalism and open borders, Seattle will face stiff global competition in the race to the bottom with quality of life in search of equilibrium. This is not a choice, or necessarily a managed process. It must happen, simply because no system can grow forever.

Anonymous said...

@Outsider- Seattle also has a very large private school system, not just NYC. However outside of NYC in Long Island they have very strong public school support. People from all social classes (including very affluent) send their kids to many excellent public schools. The taxes are super high, but they are resource rich and per pupil rates much much lower than Seattle. They also receive alot more state funding and the tax structure is very different.

Anonymous said...

@outsider You talk very negatively about NY and NY schools. My mother was an immigrant from a poor country, my father child of a widow on welfare both raised in NYC projects. They both went to some of the worst public schools in NYC, with very low graduation rates. Did not go to college. However many from their generation moved out of NYC to the suburbs (now highly developed) to obtain the "American dream". Many like my parents raised their kids outside of NYC on LI and one reason was to access excellent public schools. Even though I knew nothing about college I went because it was the pathway of my peers from the public schools I attended. My parents had to move "far out" from the city to afford a home. The NY metro area is very large and very varied economically. As far as economics, there are poor & rich and in between. There is also more ethnic, racial and you name it diversity in Queens than any other area in the US.

Anonymous said...

@Outsider who said "Strange coincidence also about New York -- the city has long tolerated stark school segregation that enables the rich and knowledge worker classes to access good, functional schools amid a sea of educational chaos"

Well you know they are also the first state (as far as I know) to pay tuition at any 4 year state university for those families who make under $125,000. That is a pretty bold move. I would also not agree with your black & white statement about NY metro area as there are plenty like my family who can point toward excellent public schools as helping them along the way. There was an average of 17-22 students in my high school classes and the schools were resource rich and well funded by local taxes and the state.

In some ways NY is also more progressive than cities on the West Coast. They have a much higher homeless and mentally ill population and but have had a "right to shelter law on the books since the 1970's. Many more services for mentally ill and other populations.


Anonymous said...


Yep the prices are so "un-affordable" that the prices keep going up.

Think much

Seattle Citizen said...

My point, Outsider, is that it is possible for a city to grow without tumbling into the sea. You ascribe a litany of problems to cities that are human problems, issues that occur whether in the city or out.

I believe that if the population is going to continue to grow that density is a net benefit. Perhaps you would rather spread the coming billions all over the countryside and let them commute in by teleportation or something, but I prefer building up rather than out.

I really don't know what you mean by "the short arc of cities."

Unless you mean "the short arc of humanity."

Rome wasn't built in a day and look, it's still there.

Ditto NY.

I'm just now finishing "The Shaper of Seattle," about R.H. Thompson, one of Seattle's first city engineers. He "gave" us a water system, power, sewers, the regrades (for better or for worse....) I've studied the guy for years, and others, such as Virgil Bogue's grand visions. I'm an amateur Northwest historian - my library one the topic, history and lit, is around 2500 books - and I don't see the city having a "short arc" - even as it just began 170 years ago. We'll be around for a loooong time, barring the catastrophe of any number of human missteps, none of which have much to do with cityhood, but rather with the human condition of growth, greed, and waste. The ocean will swallow the city before it kills itself and Seattle didn't create climate change all by itself....

Ann S. said...

Wow. Finally a controversial thread that is not related to HCC!

But I believe there are some parallels here. MHA has ended up pitting neighborhoods against one another (those inside Urban Villages vs those outside) similar to how capacity issues with the District results in battles between communities.

And there is a connection with impact fees, in that the City knew it will be difficult to get developers (via their lobbyists and influence) to agree to pay them without a fight. When they could have been negotiating for impact fees, Mayor Murray struck the "grand bargain", exchanging upzones for MHA fees (that only go toward affordable housing, not necessarily correlating with the upzoned neighborhoods.) It's my opinion that impact fees (which could be used for schools and transportation) will be even harder to get now that developers are already paying MHA fees.

In the end, it's a lose-lose situation for our schools. Higher density, no mitigation.

Ann S. said...

Regarding New York, having lived there for 17 years, I am here to say that Seattle is NOTHING like it, probably never will be, nor should it be. Seattle can and should accept more and gradual density, but Seattle also needs to seriously and concurrently upgrade infrastructure and transportation. Our bus system and pittance of light rail is a joke compared to Manhattan's.

Regarding upzoning to prevent urban sprawl. It's not one or the other. In New York, most every middle to upper class person I know who did not live in the suburbs, had a vacation cabin somewhere outside of the City. Ever hear of the Catskills? Poconos? They are some of the densest vacation spots I have ever visited. As new affluent residents choose townhouses and apartments in Seattle, they will also build vacation homes in the woods.

Seattle Citizen said...

Ann S - Yes, they're different places. NYC is twice as old as Seattle. for a century, at least, it was a major immigration entry, resulting in a diverse population that, yes, moved up, then out to the further reaches of the boroughs and to Jersey, Westchester and Long Island. Transportation systems followed...or preceded that process.
Here, we are slow on the uptake on transportation, but we also have our share of immigrants, immigrants who move up, then out. We have one good light rail line building out, and heavy rail commuter trains north and south, in addition to the ferries to Kitsap. As more people move here the transportation systems (hopefully) will build out to support them (we are famously limited as to our roads by pinched aspect of our landform.)

Not sure what you are getting at with the vacation cabin part of your comment - plenty of people here have them, as well. Look at Chelan. Or Leavenworth. Or, down the road from there, Twelveworth.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I'm wondering how many people complaining about density have three kids or more, or have two or more siblings. I am the third of my family..."

I'm to blame for being the youngest of five? Now I've heard it all. And yes, I have just two kids.

Ann S. said;
"In the end, it's a lose-lose situation for our schools. Higher density, no mitigation."

Yup. So what happens when, after all the new apartment buildings around RHS happen and light rail opens there as well, to who gets into RHS? This is a problem the City is allowing to happen and I again contend the City will need to do alot to help SPS.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the episode a few years ago when the District had take back classroom space from after school programs to make room for higher attendance in the north end. People were mad at the district for the move, but the city has much more responsibility for supporting families with child care than the district has IMO.

- Wallflower

Anonymous said...

Quiet everyone! Our socialist government overlords have made an alliance with the real estate industry and have decided what is best for us. We clearly don't have the ability to see the bright future they will bring us.

Good grief.

Fed Up

Seattle Citizen said...

No, Melissa, I'm not blaming you for being one of five children, just pointing out that bigger families lead to, yes, bigger populations that have to live somewhere....

I'm aware that bigger cities have more congestion and lots of issues, I just don't see a lot of answers as to where else to put people.

Fed Up! Comrade! Your support will be rewarded!

Vulcan Wins!! said...

I don't believe we will ever see impact fees for schools and other supports.

According to Roger Valdez, MHA will worsen the housing crisis. Vulcan was the big winner, here.


I'm not expecting Amazon or other wealthy interests to experience increased taxes for education etc. The middle class has always payed the way and they will continue to do so, IMO.

Cynic said...

With NYC spending $21K per student, those students should be getting a good education.

Don't look to New York for any answers. People pay enormous amounts of taxes and they need another $37 BILLION to fix the subways.


Anonymous said...

Increasing urban density in the Seattle core is necessary and prudent. More people living closer to their jobs will reduce congestion. We do need a better public transportation system so that people will get out of their single occupancy vehicles which clog the roads. I wish Seattle would put in a fleet of mini buses that would run frequently on arterials and speed up the construction of LINK. Also, building homes in SODO and Georgetown would be helpful as there is a lot of relatively vacant land south of downtown, but still close in.
- NP