When Norm Rice was elected Mayor of Seattle in 1989, downtown Seattle was a mess. Crime was rampant, and major retailers were struggling. Rice made the effort to revitalize downtown the centerpiece of his mayoral agenda, and it was a major success.
Later in 2005-06, the City failed to follow the lead of Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck and the recommendations of expert land-use planning consultants from Vancouver, B.C. to secure the conditions for fair and lasting residential development standards for downtown Seattle. Consequently, today we have a “wild west” style residential high-rise building boom with virtually no rules to do it right.
If that were not dangerous enough, we have the current Mayor piling on with his short-sighted plan for affordable housing, designed to cash in on the current building boom (for which he is probably too late) by proposing upzoning to allow even larger residential buildings with still no livability protections (such as reasonable tower spacing and alley setbacks) for downtown residents.
All downtown residents should be aware of the risks to downtown’s future and to their livability if changes are not made, and made now, to what the Mayor is proposing. Downtown Seattle won’t be a place that people want to live if the City continues to erode livability by allowing taller and fatter residential high-rises closer together without adequate light, air, and privacy. That is a recipe for disaster for the future of Seattle, because it will “kill the goose that lays the golden egg” for funding affordable housing
However, if residential development standards such as tower spacing and alley setbacks are included in the Mayor’s affordable housing legislation, we will save downtown Seattle for another generation of residents, maintain development capacity for developers, and provide the funding for Affordable Housing.
If you agree, please speak up. Tell Mayor Murray, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, and the media what you think.