The Seattle Displacement Coalition has made a name for itself advocating for the preservation of Seattle’s neighborhoods at all costs, which is hard to square with their statement last month. It seems to me that the policies advocated therein would lead to more displacement, not less.
For example, SDC argued against any increase in zoning within the city limits, saying that the city currently has “enough zoning capacity citywide to accommodate 188,000 more housing units.” Tapping into that capacity, however, would mean tearing out every remaining single-family home in Seattle’s low-rise zones, of which there are currently several thousand. It’s unclear where the SDC thinks all those newly-homeless families should move to, but suffice it to say they’d be quite displaced.
Furthermore, the SDC, which presents itself as being pro-family, argued against more jobs in the downtown core, and instead suggested that we “locate more of those jobs out there in the burbs.” Locating employers in far-flung suburbs, however, can cause havoc on a two-income family. If both partners have jobs in different suburbs, the commute can be quite long. And long commutes are bad! A recent Gallup survey found that people with 90-minute commutes tend to have persistent neck and back pain. Umea University in Sweden found that “couples in which one partner commutes for longer than 45 minutes are 40 percent likelier to divorce.” It’s hard to think of a policy that would be more harmful to the region’s families.
To minimize displacement, the right strategy is quite simple: put more jobs and housing in walkable areas served by good transit.