Photo by Andrew Smith

I’ve finally made it through Puget Sound Sage’s much-hyped report “Transit Oriented Development that’s Healthy, Green, and Just.” I read it warily, but was pleasantly surprised by many of the conclusions, even as I had issues with some important omissions. As it happens, the argument the report makes is largely orthogonal to the apartment-tower-vs.-single family home debate that rages on the internet, and in that sense it’s quite refreshing.

For those of you who are interested in this issue, the sixty pages are totally worth your time. The executive summary is pretty good too, but for the extra-lazy here’s my summary:

  • Gentrification (an influx of higher-income residents) is happening in the Rainier Valley, encouraged by light rail and other factors.
  • Through a variety of mechanisms, gentrification is likely to lead to displacement of the poor into South King County, with various moral, social, and environmental consequences.
  • The set of policies usually grouped under “affordable housing” must expand to more directly consider the obstacles to disadvantaged people remaining in place.

There’s a lot to agree with here, although I think the report applies a much more negative tone to the idea of gentrification than I would. In particular, I find the emphasis on the relative proportion of various racial groups as opposed to their absolute numbers to go well beyond avoiding displacement. (In fact, the report shows that the population of color has continued to increase, although not as much as other areas and perhaps not sustainably.) Gentrification is essentially inevitable in an improving neighborhood, so we should either resolve to not improve the neighborhood, or else look to mitigate some of gentrification’s less attractive consequences.

One theme is the need for better access to “living-wage” jobs. This largely consists of standard-issue left-wing labor market reforms and set-asides*, but also emphasizes the importance of zoning to preserve locally-owned businesses that serve low-income people. PCC Markets is specifically called out as an example of an employer with enlightened labor practices. What’s interesting is that PCC is definitely a creature of affluence: it depends on the willingness of the well-off to pay above market prices for food and a clear conscience.This is an example of how gentrification can enable new solutions for the very problems it creates, with the added bonus of an improved neighborhood.

Another is education, an area that seems curiously soft-pedaled in all the talk about quality jobs. If Microsoft were to open a lab at Othello next year, that would certainly bring quality jobs, but they wouldn’t exactly be hiring many kids out of Rainier Beach High School. I’m no wizard on education issues, but it seems fairly self-evident that a large influx of high-socioeconomic status parents into a school is likely to improve its academic performance for all of its attendees, beyond a bump to the average from the new students themselves.

Low income students will benefit if they can remain in place. I really appreciated the new ideas about how to bring more low-income housing online. The conventional approach to making this happen is to levy a de facto tax on development. The report, regrettably, doesn’t talk about this much, but the long term affordability strategy has to be density. There are lots of wonderful, inexpensive dense homes on Capitol Hill, not because of a zoning set-aside but because they’re 100 years old. More construction is a necessary but not sufficient condition to prevent displacement. It’s unfortunate that we’ve been cannibalizing our long-term solution to fund our short term one (and discouraging new construction jobs).

There are too many other good little ideas to list here (e.g., encouraging smaller storefronts and larger apartments.)

* The merits of which (or lack thereof) are well beyond the scope of who lives in Southeast Seattle.

Disclaimer: The author owns his home in the Rainier Valley, and would certainly experience a nice little bump to his net worth if the Valley eventually turned into Medina.

73 Replies to “Gentrification: The Cause of, and Solution to, Displacement”

  1. I completely agree with your framing here, Martin. When trying to mitigate the negative effects of gentrification we must also be cognizant of its positive effects and not go so far the other way as to advocate for neighborhood poverty as a virtue. As long as we’re a country of markets, with demand rather than decree setting neighborhood prices, prices must rise with demand. I especially agree with your recognition that new construction is a “necessary but not sufficient” condition to neighborhood affordability. Neither the SFH “Gated City” nor Homogenous Condo Tower Hell are attractive alternatives. On the whole we should welcome the higher incomes gentrification brings while making sure we sufficiently reduce barriers to development so that more than just high-end projects can pencil out for developers.

    1. I despise sloppy reporting. What is the evidence of “gentrification” near Link stations? Stated more directly, is there ANY evidence that Link was a causal factor in increasing the market value of either sfd or condo prices proximate to any of the stations?

      The vast majority of new units (less than 8 years old) along MLK are public projects (SHA multifamily units). The “Othello Station” units are TOD, but demand was so low for them only an initial phase was built. There’s a new building that is largely unoccupied where Chubby & Tubby was (near Franklin H.S.) but that isn’t evidence of “gentrification”.

      1. I won’t claim to have delved deeply into the endnotes, but there are cited statistics about increasing property prices since 2005 or so.

        Those SHA projects replaced 100% section 8 housing with a mix of market-rate, section 8, and “workforce” housing. So it absolutely has altered the racial and class composition of those parcels.

      2. I don’t think anyone would argue that Link is the only cause. The CD has seen just as much change over the last 10 years or so without Link.

      3. I’m not sure ‘gentrification’ is quantifiable, is it? At least there is no official target used to define the term. It’s all very relative, and probably means different things to different people. For example, you state that a “largely unoccupied” building isn’t a sign of gentrification, but it could be, right? I mean, a nice new (and unoccupied) building replacing something less “good” (even in a purely visual sense) might be gentrification.

      4. Martin, it probably changed the ratios but Rainier Vista did replace all of the original “workforce housing” units 1-1 if not a little more (481 to about 500).

      5. To add to Martin’s citation, last year I did a GIS case study of property values around Link stations between 2005-2010 using assessor data, and there is indeed spatial autocorrelation which suggests that parcels with greater proximity to rail were more likely to see a jump in prices, this despite the recession.

        There is also Census data which affirms a change in the racial composition of the Valley. If you want even more evidence, you can solicit anecdotal observations from long-time residents and they’ll probably say the same thing.

      6. Sherwin:

        The evidence from King County shows light rail has had little or no impact on property values near the stations, let alone more than several blocks away.

        Here’s a couple of properties within just a couple of blocks of the Othello St. station:……

        Those have values now that are at 2006 levels, which is three years before light rail was operating.

        Can you show examples of homes appreciating in value near the train stations? Your “GIS” study probably included multifamily and commercial properties, which are a very different beast than the properties individuals and families own.

      7. Another thing . . . this report asserts that since 2005, land values surrounding Southeast Seattle’s light-rail stations have risen by over 50 percent.

        Bullshit. The two examples I gave above — picked at random — are just two blocks from a light rail station and their current assessed values are right at 2006 – 2007 levels.

        Can anyone post links to assessor’s data show peoples’ lots that have increased over 50% since 2005?

        More importantly, what evidence suggests light rail caused ANY increase in property values there? My property has increased in value since 2005 and it is nowhere near light rail. Most sfd residential properties in the city probably are like mine (that is, nowhere near light rail and worth somewhat more than in 2005).

      8. Relska, put property values aside for the moment. Would you deny that Linktrification™ has increased rents in the area, forcing low income people/minorities out of the rainier valley?

      9. Sam, as rents and property values are closely linked, it seems that Relska’s comments already answer your question – no, Link has not had a measurable impact.

      10. Relska,

        Your “GIS” study probably included multifamily and commercial properties, which are a very different beast than the properties individuals and families own.

        Multifamily and commercial properties are vastly more relevant to this issue than owner-occupied housing. If a working-class minority family sells their home to an upper-middle-class white family at a tidy profit, it’s hard to identify any losers there. But for renters who can no longer afford to live in their neighborhood, or small businesses that can’t serve their clientele anymore, rising property values are a disaster.

      11. I’d be curious to look at property values near Link stations from 1995 -> 2012 compared to other areas in the valley. If there was a jump in property values near stations, it would have been mostly tied to the decision on where to locate stations. Wasn’t that already pretty much decided by 2005?

      12. Martin Duke wrote:

        “Multifamily and commercial properties are vastly more relevant to this issue than owner-occupied housing. If a working-class minority family sells their home to an upper-middle-class white family at a tidy profit, it’s hard to identify any losers there. But for renters who can no longer afford to live in their neighborhood, or small businesses that can’t serve their clientele anymore, rising property values are a disaster.”

        1. The whole point here is if you look at the assessors’ data for sfd values there’s no evidence of higher prices being caused by light rail. Your hypothetical situation (“If a working-class minority family sells their home to an upper-middle-class white family at a tidy profit”) may take place, but it is not attributable to anything Sound Transit has done.

        2. Let’s assume commercial and multi-family properties really near light rail stations have increased in value. Those are primarily owned by corporations, or they are owned by individuals as business investments. All that means is the individuals (mostly) and businesses regionwide who pay the very high regressive taxes for Sound Transit are subsidizing profits for a few business owners. That’s unjust, and unfair. It would be a different story if LID financing was paying for light rail, but obviously that’s not the case.

        3. The individuals who may have had to “move out of the valley” because their rent got increased by landlords due to light rail (hey, it may have happened) are an insignificant percentage of the people around here.

        As near as I can tell, this whole “report” is based on a few unsupportable anecdotes.

      13. “As near as I can tell, this whole “report” is based on a few unsupportable anecdotes.”

        Kind of like most of your comments.

        Have you even bothered to read the report or any of its references before coming to such an informed conclusion?

  2. I think “person of color” is not a great proxy for fairness or justice. Of course, race data is pretty much the only data available because that’s pretty much all the census asks about, but I wish we have better tools available.

    1. Agreed. I get a little uncomfortable with (ostensibly) setting racial demographic goals for a neighborhood. If you provide a good mix of housing, these things will probably sort themselves out in a not so horrible way. A more prosperous neighborhood is just better for everyone (we all do better when we all do better), and my warning bells go off when people start talking about “preserving” a neighborhood for any particular group.

      1. In some sense, it’s backwards to say that an increase in white people without a decrease in minorities is bad. Wasn’t that the long-term goal of the integration movement in that started in 1960s?

    2. The census used to ask about income and wealth — the information we need for analysis of “gentrification”. The American Community Survey still asks those questions. Of course, that’s the survey which attempts were being made to defund, as Seattle Transit Blog discussed a few days ago….

  3. So the very transportation project designed to keep people living in the city and not move out to the suburbs, in a round about way, is causing people of color to move out to the suburbs? Do I have that right?

    1. No, people just have their facts wrong. Gentrification has been displacing people from Rainier Valley and the CD to south King County since the 1990s. In cities with a much more extensive metro than Seattle (Moscow, St Petersburg, London), rents are singnificantly higher within walking distance of stations because so many people want to live there. In Seattle, not so much, but it may become that way in the future if the urbanists are right and people will increasingly flock to station areas. The current generation is still getting over its automobile-dependency assumptions, but the Millenials are less so and the following generations may be even less so.

      The current lack of such demand in Seattle is due to several reasons: (1) Link opened during a real-estate recession, (2) MLK is not the main street in the area, (3) redlining chased all private real-estate development out of the valley and it still hasn’t recovered, etc.

      1. I for one never considered living in the valley until the Link came in. I would consider buying there now. Maybe I’m the only one but I don’t think so.

  4. >> If Microsoft were to open a lab at Othello next year, that would certainly bring quality jobs, but they wouldn’t exactly be hiring many kids out of Rainier Beach High School.

    Don’t be so sure:

    In my opinion, the best way to improve Rainier Beach is to hire world class music teachers. I’ve talked to a number of principals, and they say that having a great band and athletic program is the key to a successful high school. The Vikings are already half way there, they just need a better music program. It worked for Garfield, which was an outstanding school when it had racial and poverty numbers similar to what Rainier Beach has now.

    Speaking of Garfield, it serves as a fine counterpoint to the idea that any of this is being driven by light rail. Thirty years ago it was the heart of the inner city (one of the Garfield cheers started with “Soul in the Ghetto…”), but now it isn’t. People without means have moved south. With or without rail, that move would continue.

    One of the key distinctions you mentioned is ratios versus absolute numbers. If a thousand rich people move into your neighborhood, then technically, some form of gentrification has occurred. But if everyone else stays put, then this is actually a good thing (economic diversity is probably more important than racial diversity). Unfortunately, lots of poor people rent, so they often see their rents go up, which causes a lot of people to move. But I would love to see the numbers on that, with the gentrification that has already occurred. My guess is that there are a surprisingly high number of people of color who own their home and don’t mind the new neighbors. Some of the people who moved might actually be people who have “cashed out”. In other words, if it is 1995, your mortgage is half paid off, the value of your house has risen at a higher rate than any other house in Seattle, why not just sell it and move south. Do that again in twenty years and you own a nice big house with a lot of money in the bank and can quit your day job.

    1. Yeah, Microsoft hired me and I dropped out of Nathan Hale high school back when it was bad.

      1. You had excellent software skills. The vast majority of RBHS grads do not.

      2. Obviously you’re the exception. What percentage of the people you work with are didn’t graduate college? Didn’t graduate high school? Where I work it’s the percentages are about : 5%, <0.1%

      3. Starting to drift a bit off topic but Timothy Noah has a new book out called “The Great Divergence”. It’s outlined in a piece from Slate, The United States of Inequality. I disagree with his weight on “union busting” but he has compelling arguements for How the Decline in K-12 Education Enriches College Graduates and why, even though the gap started to spread at the same time personal computers took off this should have helped level the playing field.

    2. A “Microsoft Lab” is usually looking for someone further up the educational ladder than somewhat who is merely certified to use MS products.

      It depends on your definition of “success,” but great music teachers would be at the very bottom of my priority list. Of course, it would be nice if we could do anything to separate good teachers from bad. But we can’t.

      1. I don’t have it at my finger tips but there is a body of evidence correlating involvement in music with success in other areas. Some might be attributed to higher income families being more apt to include it and some might be that by nature high achievers will typically have a multitude of pursuits. But after factoring in demographics it still proves to be beneficial. I can tell you first hand what it can do for a child’s self confidence and it can be the great melting pot in schools fostering respect and breaking down stereotypes.

        PE and sports can do some of the same things and additionally, especially for young boys results in less distracted behavior. Japanese companies, I’ve been told often incorporate some sort of group exercise in the believe that if leads to clearer thinking.

      2. Yes, what Bernie said. Again, I’ve spoken to experienced principals (one of whom was the principal at Rainier Beach, actually) and they came up with the music and sports idea. Like I said, I saw it first hand at Garfield. I was neither a musician nor an athlete, but I could tell people had genuine pride in the school, and what it had to offer. Attitude is often the most important thing in any school.

        Generally speaking, inner city schools struggle not because the teachers are any worse than their suburban counterparts, but because the students come to school unprepared. Poverty and other problems outside the school make it harder for kids (in general) to do well. A solid attitude can make up for a lot of that.

      3. We had a good music program at Roosevelt, which pretty much the only reason I stuck it out. But a huge part of that was the rest of it was the rest of it was so incredibly unchallenging (I topped out at math there in freshman year).

        That wasn’t the case for most of the rest of the students in either orchestra or jazz band. For Jazz band, these were groups where every kid flew to New York plus a second trip to Canada, Europe, Mexico, etc. each year. Obviously the parents paid for it, plus instruments, plus tuxedos for performances, etc. I think half the kids in my class from Jazz band went on to Ivy league schools. Everyone went to college, and would have even without jazz band on their applications. Orchestra had smaller trips but more kids, same results.

      4. When I attended Olympia High School we had an excellent athletic program as well as an excellent music program. In fact several people in my graduating class became professional musicians. We also had top-notch math, science, social studies, and English programs and teachers.

        I know there were kids who might very well not have stayed in school if it hadn’t been for the music or sports.

      5. Another benefit of music and sports is that it increases community involvement and alumni pride. My mother-in-law was a Bulldog until the day she died. Partly because of what she experienced while there but also because of a sense of pride in Garfield’s success in basketball and of course the unmatched tenure of Clarence Acox and the Garfield Jazz Ensemble. Andrew’s experience extends to college. I know some of the kids my son performed with would not have gone on to college if not for the music “hook”. Some major in music some don’t, some change majors and some double major but music remains a foundation of their social if not academic life. And of course athletic scholarships are often a big factor in attending college.

      6. I literally just came back from band practice. Music is a huge part of my life, and I wouldn’t trade that experience. It’s an important thing. Maybe not as important as, say, Math, but more important than jingoism “social studies”.

      7. Meh. It’s not just music and sports, it’s basically electives in general.

        A healthy school has a large number of extracurricular activities and a large number of electives. An unhealthy school is all mandated required classes and “basics”.

        The key here, I believe, is that students get involved in electives and extracurricular activities *voluntarily* — or at least somewhat voluntarily; at least they had to make some sort of choice in order to be there. If school is all mandates, a lot of students spend their time wishing they were somewhere else.

  5. In general, I like the topic of conversation. It blows a huge hole in the idea that parking is important (do you hear that Seattle Times?). Seriously, if you polled people and asked them “Which would you prefer, lower rents or more parking?” I doubt you would get many to answer the latter. My guess is that if you asked people in the Rainier Valley to list their top concerns, parking would be listed well below rising rents. That is the thing about the whole “parking controversy” that seems to be missed. I can see the value of additional parking, but I don’t want to pay for it. There are lots of things I would rather pay for (sidewalks in my neighborhood, for example). The parking requirement is basically a tax on new development. Not only is it an unfair tax (which effects renters and those who don’t yet own property) but it is a tax that pays for something that is way down on our list of priorities.

    I’m not sure what can be done to protect existing renters. You could, for example, guarantee those that currently live in a building that is about to torn down that they can get a new apartment there at the same price as they currently pay (adjusted for inflation). I think that would be a bureaucratic nightmare, but at least the money would be going into something that most people would consider a priority. A much better solution is to try an encourage the construction of apartments that serve the poor, or a mix of middle class and poor. Changing the zoning laws seems like a good way to do that.

    1. if you polled people and asked them “Which would you prefer, lower rents or more parking?” I doubt you would get many to answer the latter…I can see the value of additional parking, but I don’t want to pay for it.

      That’s why it’s not a fair question. Because the City provides free on street parking people will opt for having their cake and eating it too. If you ask would you rather outlaw all on street parking or pay a rent tax at least everyone that needs a car to hold down a job would grudgingly opt for the tax.

      The parking requirement is basically a tax on new development.

      Exactly. Developers are often, but not often enough taxed to pay for the addition infrastructure their development will require. It’s common for instance to charge a transportation impact fee (TIF) to pay for new stop lights, turn lanes, crosswalks, etc. If the storm sewers need to be upgraded because of a new apartment complex why should the existing residents be forced to pay when it’s the developer making all the profit. The parking minimum is there to mitigate the impact on existing on street parking.

      1. The standing assumption by many seems to be that developers won’t provide any parking if they aren’t required to. Well developers aren’t required to put washer/dryer hookups in units either yet most of the 1 or two bedroom apartments I’ve seen that were built in the past 20 or so years have a washer/dryer hook-up.

        For that matter the people financing larger projects will typically demand a certain parking ratio.

      2. @Chris, the developers wouldn’t put in so many washer/dryer hook-ups if free washer/dryer service was provided curb side. The fundamental difference is the parking minimums are there to mitigate the increased demand on existing infrastructure for the benefit of current residents. This speaks to concurrency and the statute in the GMA that allows juristictions to levy impact fees.

      3. Are we saying that if you’re a current resident of neighborhood X, you’re entitled to free curbside parking provided by the city… but if you’re a newcomer, you have to bring your own parking rather than help yourself to the free parking that’s already there?

      4. No, the issue is the curb side parking for everyone should not be made worse by new development. It’s the same thing as traffic LOS, pedestian access and impact on schools and fire service. If you add a new burden then the developer must provide mitigation. New residents can and will use street parking; if not for their car when guests come over. Often street parking is used by local business during the day or evening. Having those spaces at overflow levels could drive them out of business or force them to move.

      5. Hoping that parking will never get worse in a growing city is not reasonable. Asking future residents to pay for this dream is unfair and unhelpful.

        The only way to keep your free street parking is to stop development in Seattle forever. Make everyone build a dozen spaces each, and they’ll still want to park on the street at times. Only now they’ll have many more cars in the city. Will you be asking them to build more highways as well?

      6. Well, yes. Of course there won’t be brand new highways in a built city but developers do get charged Transportation Impact Fees for things like traffic signals, turn pockets, crosswalks. And yes traffic will get worse in Seattle as it adds people but things like parking can be mitigated. In fact it’s required in the GMA by the mandate for concurrency.

      7. “No, the issue is the curb side parking for everyone should not be made worse by new development.”


      8. One reason is it’s required in the GMA by the mandate for concurrency. Another reason is that it would be bad for small business that rely on street parking thereby driving down sales tax revenue for, among other things, transit. It would also mean more people circling the block looking for parking resulting in all those bad things like increased VMT and pollution; but raise gas tax revenue to be put toward building more roads. In total it makes Seattle a less desirable place to live which in turn hampers the desire to densify rather than sprawl.

      9. “One reason is it’s required in the GMA by the mandate for concurrency.”

        I don’t think that applies to new buildings in the city. The rest of your argument hinges on the predication that parking has somehow reached a perfect equilibrium on every street within the city.

      10. Only Bernie could come up with added residents will be bad for local businesses. Take a step back and you’ll see a forest behind all of those trees.

        Free all-day street parking does not help businesses. Put in hourly restrictions*, or charge for parking for even more turnover.

        *as if there’s anywhere in Seattle in front of a business that doesn’t have at least this

      11. The GMA most certainly applies to new buildings within the City! It’s a State law (GMA – 36.70A RCW). All local planning statutes have to conform.

        Nothing hinges on the idea that parking is a “perfect equilibrium” or even that required parking minimums will maintain the status quo. The issue is mitigation. ST is building new HOV lanes ending at the Mount Baker tunnel. Traffic will be worse if the center HOV lanes are closed because you’ll have a merge mess like there is on SR-520 where the current HOV lanes end at the bridge. Because it’s not “prefect” doesn’t mean you don’t have do any mitigation.

      12. Concurrency is one of the goals of the Growth Management Act and refers to the timely provision of public facilities and services relative to the demand for them.” There is a demand for parking, no? What the mayor was trying to claim is that being near transit provides sufficient mitigation and/or the invisible hand of the market will prevail. But the GMA also stipulates that decisions must be based on Best Available Science. Hand waving doesn’t cut it. That’s why all local development ordinances I know of require parking minimums along with other mitigation for new development. Changing that would have to start with revision to Seattle’s comprehensive plan.

      13. Less available parking is bad for local business. Only Matt could come up with added residents will be bad for local businesses. I’m all for metered parking and/or maximum time limits. I think the City was smart to extend this in areas like the ID. Using the B&O and sales tax data to prove this provides some mitigation can be done; but it takes time for that to work through to local ordinances. Data on number of cars per household and rates of utilization of newly created parking should also be examined and may lower but not eliminate the need for new parking. The fact is more people means more cars. Less cars per person in dense urban areas but those are also the places where the effect per added car is most severe. Think evolution instead of revolution.

      14. I think you’re strongly misapplying the GMA. Even considering free parking a public transit facility (really?), the GMA would be telling cities to add more, not require them to force developers to build privately owned parking. Then there’s this from WAC 365-196-840

        “The level of service standards adopted by the county or city should vary based on the urban or rural character of the surrounding area and should be consistent with the land use plan and policies. The county or city should also balance the desired community character, funding capacity, and traveler expectations when adopting levels of service for transportation facilities. For example a plan that calls for a safe pedestrian environment that promotes walking or one that promotes development of a bike system so that biking trips can be substituted for auto trips may suggest using a level of service that includes measures of the pedestrian environment.”

      15. considering free parking a public transit facility

        Where do you come up with the idea that concurrency only applies to public transit? The law says, “Multimodal level of service methodologies and standards should consider the needs of travelers using the four major modes of travel (auto, public transportation, bicycle, and pedestrian)”. Driving somewhere doesn’t work unless you can park. Yes, there are all sorts of things that can be done. Parking minimums reduce the impact on existing parking. That doesn’t mean it’s all you require of a developer but it’s one of the things that’s been put into ordinance. Can they be reduced or maybe even eliminated in certain situations, absolutely. But you have to go through the process not just pick some arbitrary distance from an arbitrary definition of a transit hub and call it good. You have to base it on the BAS.

      16. “I’m all for metered parking and/or maximum time limits.”

        OK, so everyone in this discussion seems to be all for metered parking. So what does it take to get metered parking?

        I realize it involves some enforcement expense, as someone has to come and collect the money and check the cars every so often. It’s cheaper to do the “pay at the end of the block” box such as many cities now do, than to do the old-school “meter at every space”.

        In places with crowded free parking, try metered parking — at a low price (I’ve seen as low at 25 cents an hour) — and see what happens. It may clear things out instantly. If it doesn’t, then perhaps you might actually need to build parking.

  6. I haven’t read the report so thanks Martin for the breakdown.

    Whenever I hear talk about gentrification I feel like it constantly conflates two really different issues.

    The first is affordability. As a neighborhood becomes more attractive then housing prices, rents (commercial and residential) and likely average cost for goods and services goes up. This is by no means bad for all the original community members (if you own a house, you are now richer). But one could reasonably argue that a historically affordable neighborhood should remain affordable (I would not be that one).

    The other issue, which I think is a much bigger part of gentrification, is a cultural change. The needs and wants of young, white, urban-oriented families is much different than the needs and wants of more minority, working class, and probably bigger families. However, the influx of new people generally have more disposable income and thus, tailoring to that population makes a lot of sense. What happens is that the mix of goods and services shifts to cater to that newer population, disrupting a generally long-standing business mix, and really life style.

    In this second issue, the displacement isn’t so much forced as it is a choice. If I don’t ride a bike, eat sushi, and drink microbrews, why would I want to stay in a neighborhood where these are the types of businesses popping up?

    For a really great visual image of this type of gentrification taking place in DC check out the link below:

  7. “Displace poor people to South King County”…

    Really…hasn’t that always been the case.

    And also the Renton and East Valley corridor has been gentrifying as well (SIFF is even running a satellite film presentation at the IKEA College for the Performing Arts…it don’t get more gentrified then that!)

    So, it sounds like the reality is that prices dropped fast in Rainier Valley (nothing to do with LINK) and pent up demand for SFH in the North released middle class couples to the South. Ok, I’m willing to say that LINK may have acted as a catalyst. Not so much that anyone would actually use it…but more as a beacon from the Central Authorities that it is now “ok” for you, middle class couple, to homestead there. Kind of like the Calvary building a Fort in Wyoming before the settlers would roll in the Conestoga wagons.

  8. Martin, you are a part of the gentrification of the rainier valley. Did the coming of Link play a big part in your decision to move there?

  9. I think Adam’s April Fool’s post made it to the heart of this issue better than anything I’ve read.

    Want to stop gentrification? Outlaw garbage collection, and nobody will want to move there, keeping prices low.

    On the contrary, it’s a good thing to make a neighborhood more desirable. And yes, Link will make the RV more desirable, as would better schools and cleaner streets. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to deny these neighborhoods better lives in the name of stopping gentrification. The trick is to add capacity for more people to move in, so that prices don’t shoot up with demand.

    1. Sadly, I accuse the Nickles administration, in league with the Downtown Syndicate of doing essentially this. Leaving the entire South area of Puget Sound to devolve into barbarism during the past 2 decades in order to boost the prices of their own properties.

      The amount of violence here during that time has been unheard of.

      The lack of police involvement has been shameful.

      Am I pointing fingers.


      All ten of them.

      1. Do you have any evidence for this?

        Wait, “South area of Puget Sound”… do you mean Kent? You know it’s a different city, right? Maybe you mean the Cooke administration? (had to look that up)

      2. I was stumped at “Nickles”, before I even got to “entire South area of Puget Sound”. I’m sure he meant either Greg Nickels, Seattle’s mayor for eight years, or perhaps comedian Don Rickles.

        I think both had equal influence on the great conspiracy to keep south Sound down.

        Good to know though that John’s well equipped for base ten math.

      3. Bailo,

        please then make Kent so attractive of a community that the trouble makers move somewhere else–are “pushed out”. I would greatly welcome gentrification of Kent, however there is nothing of great interest there to attract those with money except lower priced housing and hence those less economically fortunate are moving ever south.

  10. I haven’t seen much ‘gentrification’. New construction, sure…but a lot of it is pretty shoddy.

    I have an idea that could prevent the ‘gentrification’ of the RV, AND benefit downtown Seattle! Let’s move all of the social services, prisons, etc. out of the city center and into Columbia City or Mount Baker! Add some shelters and missions, too. The downtown core would benefit tremendously.

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