Note: This post was published on July 8, 2016. It is repeated here with minor edits because it is an example that merits repeating over and over until our City's leaders really understand what's at risk in Seattle today.
The Lorax is a children's book written by Dr. Seuss and first published in 1971. It chronicles the plight of the environment and the Lorax, who speaks for the trees against the Once-ler. It’s one of my granddaughter’s favorites, and it has a lesson for us grownups as well.
The Lorax is the story of Thneedville, the city where greed for the exotic Thneed truffle raw material at the top of the trees caused all the trees to be cut down, and Thneedville became just a “plastic” city. It reminds me quite a bit of Seattle today. City leaders are so preoccupied with funding HALA at any cost, and some developers are so greedy that they are trying to make us into a “concrete” city, with no concern for human lives and the livability of downtown residents.
We believe that the project being proposed here in Seattle on 5th Avenue and Virginia St. is a “poster child” for developer greed and indifference to the human environment. But it’s not just the developer’s fault. Part of the blame lies at the feet of the City whose land-use code is flawed and the Design Review Board (DRB) and the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) fails to enforce a Seattle Municipal code section that allows and encourages them to mitigate the adverse effects of mass, bulk, and scale.
If this trend continues, Downtown Seattle won’t prosper; it will die, just like Thneedville.