One of the more interesting discussions I think we have here is one of density. Where do we allow growth, and how much? What kind of public amenities should have to come with new density, how much affordable housing, what kind of investment in common space, and what kind of requirements should there be on design?
Personally, I’m interested in allowing a great deal, because I see the alternatives as worse for both affordability and the environment. If we don’t build enough new housing to keep up with the demand from new residents, it pushes costs up for all housing, all the way down to the poorest of us. If we don’t allow density, our growth will come at the edges, worsening congestion and pressure on our transportation system, and contributing to climate change.
South Lake Union is possibly the perfect place to allow large increases in density. It has very few existing residents outside of those who have come in very recent development, far fewer than any other neighborhood in the city, so change there has the lowest impact on existing communities. It is directly adjacent to downtown, meaning new residents are most likely to walk or take transit to work, and with expansion of the streetcar through downtown, that will only be a stronger argument.
Tomorrow evening, the city council will take public comments on approving the recommendations from the city’s Department of Planning and Development. These are, at the root, taller buildings, but there’s lots more in the full plan (PDF), which is really worth a look before being critical. It limits exactly where towers can be and how many.
Comments are at City Hall tomorrow in council chambers, run from 5:30 to probably 6:30, and you must sign up to comment before 5:30 to be called. I urge you to comment in favor of the recommendation – it protects the small part of South Lake Union with older residential, and makes more room for downtown to grow. It would help us be more prosperous and sustainable, and make all of our investments in transit infrastructure more efficient.
November 14, 2012
View the public notice for hearing details.