After “research” trips to both Vancouver, B.C. and Portland OR. in recent weeks, here’s what Sherlock found that makes both of their downtown areas more “livable” than Seattle:
1. Great mass transit.
2. Wide functional alleys. *
3. Public open spaces, parks, and schools.
4. Reasonable tower spacing.
5. Good mix of low-rise, mid-rise, and high-rise buildings.
6. Fewer homeless persons on the streets.
*In Vancouver. Portland does not have alleys.
So the lessons for Seattle today:
1. Don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over.
a. Seattle passed on mass transit decades ago, and we’ve paid for it ever since. Only now are they starting to play “catch-up”…at an exorbitant cost.
b. Seattle failed to pass legislation on downtown zoning changes/residential development standards in 2006, deciding to “wait and see” if residential development came downtown. Now they've seen - and it’s not pretty - and yet the current administration is still not proposing to include residential development standards/alley setbacks in the HALA legislation this year.
2. Seattle can’t be a great city without a great downtown.
3. Seattle can’t have a great downtown without leaders who really “get it” regarding urban living and will do what’s necessary and right to insure livability for all of its citizens, no matter whether poor, middle-class, or wealthy.
My dear Watson, It’s really elementary!
Downtown Seattle’s potential has barely been tapped. What’s lacking is logical thinking, political will, and creative problem solvers.