Why Blue Cities are so Outrageously Unaffordable

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Regulations may have come from a good place, but the result is to make building affordable housing or increasing density or accomplishing needed infrastructure projects all but impossible to pull off.

Post-COVID: Reinventing Paris, Settling for a Same Seattle?

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What is the big Paris-size vision for a new Seattle -- for a city that works better, spreads its wealth more equitably and is built to thrive during the challenges ahead? And more important -- where is the leadership -- people who aren't just selling themselves as mitigators, but who have a vision for the extraordinary region this can be?

We Know How to Manage Seattle’s Homelessness Problem. So Why Are We Waiting?

National research from United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and stories from cities including Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Houston show us what works. Stabilizing peoples’ housing conditions improves the lives of everyone.

Revolving Door: America’s Mayors are Quitting

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As new mayors come in, often in defiance of their unpopular predecessor, they must learn on the job and unwind previous programs. The high turnover makes it likely that the new mayor will also depart before creating lasting change.

Stuck in the Muddle with you: Building Back a Better Seattle

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It's hard to imagine that a fluid, authority-suspecting city such as Seattle would ever settle on a theme, a dominant, driving vision for the city emerging from the pandemic's grand recalibration. But I have a few contenders in mind.

What Seattle Mayoral Candidates Should be Debating

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So far there is little actual debate among the candidates for Seattle mayor. The positions reflect Seattle's progressive monoculture without challenging it.

Pitching In: Building Tiny Homes

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These tiny house villages are a small dent in what continues to be a very vexing problem in Seattle, and many other American cities.

Sawant Circles Back: Her Disingenuous Run at Rent Control

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The new proposed bill still has all of the major issues that the original draft did. On top of that, it’s rent control, and there is broad consensus among economists that rent control doesn’t work as advertised and is poor policy.

“No Defense of the Indefensible”: Los Angeles Judge makes Landmark Ruling on Homelessness

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He went off and wrote a 110-page order – essentially he wrote an entire book – granting the preliminary injunction. In doing so he crafted an initial remedy that goes well beyond what the plaintiffs asked for.

The Invisible Gardener Who Shaped Seattle Parks

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“Green Lake and Lincoln Parks were developed entirely by [Umlauff],” a rare early notice observed. “Woodland, Volunteer, Seward, and lesser parks were transformed and improved vastly under his direction.”

Refreshing an Iconic Seattle Park in a New Context

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It may not be great functional design. It might not even make sense in the new context in which the park sits. But physical spaces are also places of history, and of memory. Sometimes they also get a voice.

Your Utility Rates In A Challenging Climate

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Seattle Public Utilities expects that for a typical single-family home, the monthly bill will increase $15 this year, with smaller increases in the following years. An apartment will see an increase of about $4 per month this year, with slightly larger increases in the subsequent years.

Seattle’s New Gem of a Waterfront Park

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Perhaps my favorite element are the very comfortable bright yellow metal chairs that are placed around the site in discrete and aesthetically pleasing arrangements. The pier is also painted yellow. All this provides a note of dash and wit to the enterprise.

Realignment: How our Housing Rental Market is getting even Worse

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The drops in rents we have seen in the past year have mostly happened in expensive markets where renters have been less likely to be burdened. Rents in markets that are both more affordable and have high rate of rent burden, have actually risen.

City Council debates Mitigating Seattle Police Budget Cuts

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Advocates who were set on a $5.4 million cut to SPD's budget are unlikely to be happy with Lisa Herbold's attempt at compromise. But a bigger, looming question is what Antonio Oftelie, the court-appointed police monitor, will think.

Leaving Portland — One Couple’s Story

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Portland had been transformed into a distinctively Europeanized city, but now it is afflicted by a chronic anarchism that the politicians seem unable to stop.

Has Seattle Become a City that Doesn’t Work?

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It does appear that the Council is more a staging ground for the nation’s culture and ideological wars than for civic leadership on local problems.

Seattle’s Downtown Needs a Strong New Narrative. Here Are Five Places to Start

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Plan-averse Seattle's plan is not to plan but just to wait for the vaccines to bring back the boomtimes. Very risky. And there are some good ideas for building back better.

How Seattle City Light Made it Through a Texas-Sized Windstorm in 2006

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In that Hanukkah Eve windstorm, we heard sad stories about cancelled events and ceremonies, about disabled customers who, without electricity to power elevators, were trapped in dark, heatless multi-storied buildings. Before power was fully restored, 13 people in the region died, mostly by carbon monoxide poisoning .

Ideas: A Seattle Experiment in Equitable Development

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When Seattle leaders were updating the city’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan—the plan that envisions and directs Seattle’s growth—in 2015, they decided to do something unique. The city’s required environmental impact statement was accompanied by a racial equity analysis—which leaders say is the first one performed by any major U.S. city.

Master of Illusion: Seattle’s New Electrical Substation goes Online

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The result is ingenious and well worth the mounting list of design awards and breathless reviews. The NBBJ design team, headed by principal Jose Sama, needed to wall off the substation while offering up favors—all within a single project budget.

A Plan to Help Low-Income Renters

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This legislative session could have a silver lining for renters and advocates for affordable housing in a tax break offered to landlords who will freeze rents for six years.

City Council’s Black Brilliance Research Project Fractures

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Back in December SCC Insight reported on the dubious contractual structure underlying the Black Brilliance Research Project: how the Seattle City Council bent over...

Warning From the Bench: Judge Robart speaks out

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When it comes to what’s going on in Seattle these days, Judge James Robart has thoughts. And when you’re a judge, you can compel an audience.

Why Bellingham’s Waterfront Took So Long, and Why It’s a Good Idea

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There are two huge elephants in this room. One is climate change, since the project is on low-lying shorefront. The other is the railroad, cutting right through the project. All in all, a good fit for "The City of Subdued Excitement."

Is that all there is? Bellingham’s Attempt to Reclaim its Waterfront

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These ambitious waterfront projects normally deploy the resources of large cities. Even then, as in Seattle, these efforts are littered with setbacks, political stumbles, litigation, and misguided public-sector largesse.

Jane Jacobs’ Blueprint for Rebuilding Seattle

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Seattle voters will cast ballots in important civic elections this year: two at-large council seats, a city attorney and a new mayor. The outcomes will affect how Seattle recovers from deteriorating conditions. Each candidate for office will have to address plans for the revitalization of Seattle.

Our Fastest-Growing State… Idaho?

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No state has grown faster than Idaho in the past five years. The Mountain West, overall, has had strong growth since 2015, with Nevada, Utah and Arizona right behind Idaho in the growth rankings.

Open Letter to Mayor Durkan: Don’t Let a Lovely Tribute Park Get Trashed

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The elegant Madison Valley park itself, given its small scale and the number of tents now lining the perimeter, is now essentially off-limits to Seattle citizens.

A Remade Pacific Place: Mall for a Market that stayed Home

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The future of Pacific Place seems less certain, and more tied to the fate of overbuilt retail. Might there be some other ways to rejuvenate the building? Empty Pacific Place might be the perfect place to ease Seattle’s transition into the post-pandemic age—and help to save downtown Seattle once again.