Whenever I see traffic coming in via a link from another site I always check it out. So I almost missed Crosscut’s Skip Berger slamming back at HA’s own Will for his critique of Skip’s recent anti-density sermon.
Thank you, Will, for being honest enough to validate my suspicion that progressives will put “coolness” above rationality when it comes to density — it’s a snobbery that asserts that the urbs are infinitely superior to the burbs.
Hmm. In all, Skip devotes nearly 1,800 words defending his original 1,600 word column, much of it fisking Will. Which strikes me as a tad, well… dialectically masturbatory.
See, I could understand Skip’s fervor had I “posted an attack,” but… it was only Will. You know, a second stringer. One of those guys who sometimes fills space here on HA on those few occasions I’m out trying to have a real life. So get some perspective, Skip — you don’t see me writing doctoral theses deconstructing (u)SP posts by Reporterward, do you?
I mean really, who actually gives a fuck what Will has to say? He’s just some 26-year-old, beer-bellied, snot-nosed slacker stuffing his iPod full of hip, stolen tunes he never listens to, while choking his colon on the fetid remains of a steady diet of breakfast burritos and Diet Coke. What exactly makes Will an arbiter of “cool”…? His youth? His poverty? His dank, dirty Belltown apartment and Wal-Mart remaindered wardrobe? When you mythologized him as some paragon of progressive “snobbery,” knowing Will, I just had to laugh to myself: “Snobbery? Over whom?”
Will is just some pathetic, B-List, blogger for chrisakes, whereas you Skip… you’re a local institution. So my advice to you, Skip, is to ignore the hoard of Goldy-wannabes out there — otherwise they’ll just keep coming back for more. Ignore them. They’re not worth your time.
Me, on the other hand, well that’s different. Had I refuted your density column, that would have been worthy of a vigorous debate. But I didn’t. And I won’t. Because quite frankly, regardless of what you or I think, density is inevitable.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against the burbs. I grew up in one. It was nice. (If you like that sort of thing.) Hell, with my single-family, South Seattle home and its fenced in backyard, I kinda feel like I’m living in a suburb now.
And the rural areas? I love ’em! They’re quiet and peaceful and spread out. Very relaxing. And, um, rural-like. And the food they grow — great stuff! I eat it every day.
In fact, Skip, I share so much of your reactionary nostalgia, that I don’t want things to change one bit. Too bad then, we gotta find a place to put up all these damn people who keep moving here to share our natural splendor and booming economy.
But we do. And while packing a lot more of them into our existing urban cores won’t stop the sprawl that’s threatening to eat up our region’s last remaining farmland and wilderness, it’ll help.
Skip rages at oblivious ecotopians and hip, progressive snobs for destroying the middle class culture that once defined a younger, smaller Seattle — but they didn’t do that, the economy did. I share Skip’s desire for mixed-income neighborhoods with enough affordable housing to serve the needs of those who serve the rich, but tell me Skip, how exactly do we build affordable housing on unaffordable real estate? How does maintaining height limits and restricting density make neighborhoods like Wallingford or Fremont or Queen Anne or Capitol Hill any more affordable? Have you found the secret to repealing the law of supply and demand? And before you start blaming sprawl on mass transit, tell me, when was the last time you drove through the Rainier Valley and saw the thousands of units of mixed-income housing going up along the path of Sound Transit’s light rail? And if mass transit and density aren’t the solution Skip, please tell me how — other than a job-killing, real estate-bubble-bursting, major economic recession — we manage to maintain the city you love, unchanged, while absorbing the hundreds of thousands of new residents coming our way?
But like I said, I didn’t respond to Skip’s column, and I’m not gonna do it now, because while I don’t have any more answers than Skip does, I am absolutely confident of one thing: we’re getting more density. The only question is where we’re gonna put it. In the cities? Or in the burbs and rural areas?
Welcome to 21st Century Seattle, Skip. And welcome to the blogosphere.