There are pretty much two sides to the growth/density argument in Seattle. On one side is Knute Berger mentality, which says that “density will murder your children in their beds.” Then their’s my side, which says that growth isn’t a bad thing, and that it can be good for the city. I live near downtown. I like growth. When new buildings go up, it usually means more urban goodness. (“Grocery store! Indian food! Basketball court!”)
Of course, whenever a building goes up, that means some greedy developer
stomped on a basketful of kittens made money off the whole thing. This is not always an evil thing.
I agree with Geov that the mayor is pouring it on a bit thick. His new plan isn’t going to save us. (But Al Gore can!) Perhaps the mayor’s enviromental record isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But a rule change to allow for some cheaper housing to be built in what is already a heavily urbanized area can’t be that bad.
Here’s what Erica C. Barnett thought about the mayor’s previous plan, mentioned by Geov:
Subsidizing middle-income housing makes sense, particularly for families. The larger the apartment, the larger the differential between “affordable” and market rate. For example, in one project being built in the University District under the current program, full-price one-bedrooms go for $1096, and apartments for those making 70 percent of median income go for $954—a $142 break. The break on two-bedrooms is much larger: $1,112 for a subsidized unit, versus $1,386 for an unsubsidized unit—a cut of $274.
I’m not disagreeing with Josh that the mayor’s plan doesn’t solve the problem of affordable housing for very low-income people. But it never has been aimed at low-income people (unlike other city programs, such as the housing levy), and Nickels isn’t making any pretense that it is. In fact, the mayor sent out a press release saying as much, stating that the program is aimed at “middle-income wage earners … priced out of the market with few places to turn.” The city should do more to fund low-income housing, but we have a middle-class housing crisis, too; my rent, for example, costs me almost half my monthly income, substantially more than the 30 percent that housing folks agree is “affordable.”