Fast growing Bellevue (image by author)

Regional leaders are nearing agreement on Vision 2050, a growth plan for the Puget Sound area through 2050. On Thursday, the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) is likely to approve the release of a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS). The new plan significantly shifts the distribution of regional growth to concentrate around high-capacity transit centers.

Once adopted by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), the plan’s requirements will cascade down through county and city plans to growth targets and zoning changes for every city in the region.

The Vision 2050 plan will ramp up expectations for future housing and employment needs, reflecting how the rapid growth of recent years has blown through the targets set in the Vision 2040 plan in 2008. The Vision 2040 FEIS foresaw a population just shy of 5 million by 2040. More current forecasts anticipate the region will hit 5.33 million by then, and 5.82 million by 2050. There’s a lot of growth to be accommodated just to catch up with the deficit in the last plan. The pessimistic regional view in 2008 perhaps contributed to today’s housing shortage by setting growth targets too low to accommodate the boom of the 2010s.

Earlier this summer, a draft SEIS laid out three options. All options raise the overall targets to keep up with the higher forecast, but each lays out a different path for reaching those targets.

The middle option, “Stay the Course”, would continue the policies in the current Vision 2040 plan. That generally has the highest growth rates in the largest ‘metropolitan’ cities, with progressively lower growth rates in larger suburbs, smaller suburbs, and rural areas. A less concentrated growth alternative “Reset Urban Growth” would alter targets to more closely fit actual growth patterns. As we’ll see, some parts of the region have experienced a growth profile very different from the plan, and the “Reset Urban Growth” would arguably recognize those trends.

The more concentrated growth alternative offered was “Transit Focused Growth”. This alternative recognizes the massive investments in regional transit since the last plan was adopted in 2008, and pushes more growth into the vicinity of light rail and BRT stations.

Comments from King County were overwhelmingly in favor of the “Transit Focused Growth” alternative, and other counties were more skeptical. The preferred alternative anticipated this week as a preferred option will stay reasonably close to the transit-focused growth targets. Targets for more dispersed growth have been negotiated with Snohomish and Pierce County. There are also adjustments in Kitsap County where several ferry terminals are designated as high-capacity transit areas.

Plan vs Reality: The region’s performance against the current plan is very mixed

The greatest challenge of the regional growth strategy is its uneven success to date. Take a look at the chart to the right which shows where population has grown. (Click to enlarge).

King County has hewed close to the plan. The two Metropolitan cities, Seattle and Bellevue, have taken slightly more of the county’s growth than planned since 2000. Indeed, their share has accelerated since 2010. The largest King County suburbs have lagged somewhat, but overall the chart shows a fairly close adherence to recent plans.

In Pierce and Snohomish Counties, there is a dramatic divergence. Both counties plan for higher growth rates in their Metro cities (Tacoma and Everett), but continue to see most growth materialize haphazardly in unincorporated suburbia.

Employment growth shows similar patterns, with Seattle and Bellevue dominating in King County, even more than planned. In Pierce and Snohomish, the growth has been much more dispersed. (Click here for the employment graph).

These disparities have driven the debate among the counties and cities since the draft SEIS was published in the Spring. King County seeks to expand on their successes in compact growth patterns. Other counties share the aspirations for urban growth, but see much unplanned growth that is not supported by transportation investments. Those resources have gone to where the growth was *planned* to be, not where it has been.

The bigger question for regional growth may not turn out to be whether Snohomish and Pierce negotiate a few percentage points of planned growth away from the core. It is whether these plans will translate to realized growth in the places we wish to see it. Tools to redirect growth are scarce, particularly if one believes the dispersed growth pattern in suburban counties reflects a consumer preference for low density housing. Housing on large tracts in unincorporated Snohomish and Pierce enjoys a persistent cost advantage over urban redevelopment.

Will the adoption of a “transit focused growth” model have a large impact on transit ridership? Less than one might suppose. In any scenario, transit ridership in 2050 is about two and one half times higher than today. But the differences between the alternatives are comparatively small, ranging from 476 million trips on transit in the “Stay the Course” alternative, to 502 million with “Transit Focused Growth”. Many suburban places with planned high-capacity transit are still very sprawly. In both Snohomish and Pierce, the plan directs some growth away from Tacoma and Everett toward rail stations in less urban places. This muddles the transit advantages. In King County, at least, the outcomes are less ambiguous. The “Transit Focused Growth” alternative has more growth in the Metropolitan cities of Seattle and Bellevue and more around suburban transit centers.

67 Replies to “The next regional growth plan will be transit-focused”

  1. I’m not sure if this is covered in the report, but I’m interested in what you all think about the prospect of finally opening up SODO for more residential development as land prices continue to increase and more industry gets pushed out to the suburbs. Of course, there would be concerns around contamination and pollution, sea level rise, and earthquake/tsunami dangers in that area, but it could potentially provide room for tens of thousands of housing units on flat, bikeable land with good transit and employment access.


    1. I wouldn’t do that. There is only so much industrial land, and I think it is worth keeping. It is a relatively small area, and it wouldn’t be that cheap to develop. In just about all cases, you are talking about tearing down an old building and building a new one. It would likely happen (given its proximity to downtown) but it wouldn’t be cheap.

      I think there are a couple things that Seattle could do to increase density and affordability:

      1) Continue the HALA process. It has taken five years just to get the ADU liberalization rules. This is a small step in the right direction, and we should take more steps. My guess is there are still issues that need to be addressed with ADUs (to make it easier to build them) but we should encourage similar “missing middle” housing. This means allowing much smaller lots, and building right up to the edge of the property line (to allow row houses). It is a continuous process (at least it should be). We are behind Oregon, Vancouver BC and Minneapolis, and we need to keep chipping away at the problem.

      2) Try to add housing in relatively low income, auto oriented areas like Lake City and Rainier Valley. There is a lot of potential housing that is being occupied by car lots. This would be relatively cheap to develop, if the owners sold. I have no idea how to discourage car lots (while encouraging housing) but we should try and do this.

      1. Rezone to five or even ten stories and tax them at the imputed value. That will certainly drive out the used car lots; they aren’t enormously profitable.

        However, most cities happily welcome the tax revenues from new car dealerships, so they aren’t going to harm those businesses. But zone them up as well and they might go multi- story, freeing up some land.

        And don’t forget to zone up the big box stores to encourage them to build housing above. It’s a great use for those big parking lots to have the cars of residents after 7 PM.

    2. There’s no reason housing and industry can’t coexist, especially as industry gets cleaner. It’s happening all over Brooklyn and Queens. Live/work lofts, conversions, etc. I think Seattle would benefit from having an arts district with fewer rules and noise restrictions.

      1. There is already some of this, work-live apartments above the Rainier brewery. Additionally, there is the potential to replace surface parking lots that are used by industry/workers/ect with parking structures and housing units on top. Better to put HALA affordable housing there than out in the periphery of the city? Conversions are also possible, but should be done cautiously since then you lose that working space permanently. It may be better to incentivize clean/green industry e.g. solar and wind power than to completely remove industrial working space.

    3. As a procedural matter, it’s premature to decide on SODO zoning. We’re still at the stage of setting high level targets for counties and types of cities. But the high-level target being set now will translate to a housing capacity target for Seattle, and Seattle will need to decide how to update zoning to accommodate that. That’s the point at which the SODO conversation could come up. There are other regional policies about industrial lands and manufacturing centers that would be in play if Seattle considered that.

    4. The low-hanging fruit is rezoning existing low-density residential areas. I don’t think we should push all the industrial jobs out to the car-dependent suburbs. Yes, it’s harder to serve an industrial estate with transit than it is to serve a cluster of office high-rises, but it’s fairly common in Europe from what I’ve heard.

      1. Exactly. There are about 4,000 acres zoned industrial in all of Seattle. There are about 25,000 acres zoned single family. It doesn’t make sense to worry about one small part of the first group until we address the second.

      2. SoDo has two light rail stations and several bus lines. It could easily be better served by transit by 1) improving the walking/biking “last mile” environment, and 2) running some of the busses more frequently, esp. during commute times, which tend to be more regular for industrial type work (e.g., Route 50). (It would be SO much better if the west Seattle Link extension actually added walk shed area to SoDo, but that ship has sailed.)

    5. Not all land is the same.

      I think SODO is very vulnerable in an earthquake. The bedrock must be quite deep.

      1. Soil there are susceptible to liquefaction. Building any thing there of scale will require considerable amounts of pile driving. When they did the Amtrak Maintenance Facility on 4th and Holgate the pile when down 180ft

    6. Ten years ago I was flat-out against it, but more recently I’ve been wavering as housing prices reach levels we never thought we’d see here. But it’s important to keep in mind what we’d lose. Not all industrial conversions are equal. Some cities have long-abandoned factories that can’t be used for contemporary industries; they can only be demolished. Seattle’s industrial buildings are currently occupied and productive, and in-place conversions have proven viable (the old Rainier brewery has several community groups, and a building on 1st has artists’ studios and other things). If housing is allowed, residential developers will overwhelmingly outbid the second-tier industrial companies and startups and we’ll lose the industrial land forever. We may need it later for local manufacturing, vertical agriculture, etc. If the companies move to the exurbs, they’ll be inaccessible by transit, and a whole swath of blue-collar workers will have to drive or turn down those jobs. If the companies disappear or move out of the metropolitan area, then we’re putting our economic eggs into a narrower basket, which makes us less resilient to recessions and shocks.

      At the same time, the Ballard Fred Meyer lot couldn’t find anybody to use it for ten years until Fred Meyer came along, so that’s kind of like an abandoned obsolete lot. I hate the huge parking lot and one-story building, but they were the first and only ones to step up, and they provide a unique amenity which didn’t exist in Ballard before.

      I’m more concerned about the one-story suburban chain stores like Big 5 and fast-food restaurants that have proliferated around it. That’s not what we’re saving the land for! The car dealerships are just as bad; we’re not saving the land for them either. If it’s going to be car-oriented strip malls and car dealerships anyway, maybe it’s futile to keep it industrial. On the other hand, those multistory car dealerships are compact, and their presence in SODO was a compromise to get them out of downtown. So maybe they should be there.

      SODO is flat and has two Link stations and the streets are in a grid, and you can walk from most of it to the 4th Avenue bus corridor, and there are no nimbys to object to density so from those perspectives it would be good. Heights are limited by the airport flight paths and soil conditions, but you can fit a lot of people in lowrise buildings if you don’t waste the space in dead open space and parking lots.

      1. Most of today’s industrial is flat. Gone are the days of the multi-level factory with floors connected by freight elevators and parts chutes.

        Therefore, the thing to do is allow multi-use with industrial on the first floor. That way, stuff like the SoundTransit light rail maintenance may be buried by housing and there really wouldn’t be that big a change for industry.

      2. Plenty of examples all across europe. Is it simply a lack of imagination / visible examples of this being done or an actual objection to policy?

  2. The big thing that jumps out to me is how Tacoma “Pierce Metro” has roundly failed to create anything resembling an employment center in its downtown or urban-ish neighborhoods. That to me would be the biggest relief valve for congestion and long commutes, but it just never seems to materialize. Meanwhile South Hill and Bonney Lake continue to sprawl out. :(

    1. Arthur,
      I agree. It has been frustrating, to say the least, to see Russell Investment leave downtown Tacoma, back in 2009. Then, there was some promise, when State Farm took up the Russell Building in 2013, only to leave in 2018. One big factor is a complete lack of transit in Pierce County, and employee preference towards auto commutes. When the vast majority of Pierce County residents don’t have access to efficient transit, nobody will be longing for a job next to a downtown bus stop that doesn’t help them get from home to work, when the cost is an expensive monthly parking pass, and daily downtown frustrations. This leads employers to locate in lower-cost industrial and office parks, away from downtown. The only way to generate the kind of growth that we want is a twofold approach: fund transit so there is actually a benefit to at least some employees, and get the City, County, and suburban zoning to match the PSRC goals. At this point, because of suburban and rural Pierce County’s refusal to pass a transit levy, it might mean dissolving Pierce Transit and creating a Tacoma-only transit agency that can at least properly fund transit within City limits. At least then, rural folks can get their desired low taxes, and urban residents can get the transit levies and accompanying service that they consistently vote for.

      1. >At this point, because of suburban and rural Pierce County’s refusal to pass a transit levy, it might mean dissolving Pierce Transit and creating a Tacoma-only transit agency that can at least properly fund transit within City limits.

        Interesting. In Snohomish County, the opposite is true. Everett Transit service is terrible, while Community Transit, at least on core routes, is a lot better.

      2. Pat, there’s a big difference between Pierce & Snohomish Counties. South King County is the equivalent, in terms of distance to downtown Seattle, to most of Community Transit’s service area, i.e. Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Brier, Bothell, Mill Creek are generally about the same distance from Seattle as south Renton, Kent, Des Moines, Federal Way, and Auburn. With this, CT has a lot more density to work with than rural & suburban Pierce County (Sumner, UP, Puyallup, Sumner, Bonney Lake), which is more comparible in both density and proximity to Seattle to Marysville, Smokey Point, Arlington, and (maybe) Lake Stevens. Tacoma has twice the population of Everett, and better density, so there’s much better critical mass for transit there. What would Everett Transit & CT look like if they covered everything north of SR 526 and didn’t include the tax base nor density of south Snohomish County?

    2. Tacoma has struggled for decades. The bones are all there, it’s just missing the meat. It’s a shame because Tacoma has some beautifully historic and walkable neighborhoods with far more charm than anything in Bellevue.

      It will rebound eventually, it’s already happening. I don’t mind if Tacoma rebuilds itself slowly from the ground up instead of having a behemoth like Amazon come in and take everything over.

  3. How much do these PSRC vision plans actually effect zoning and planning at the local level?

    If a city of county zones to allocate growth where the PSRC says not to, what is the enforcement mechanism?

    It seems like there is a lot of growth in unincorporated areas, and yet a lot of town centers are restricting growth via zoning. Shouldn’t the PSRC somehow prevent this?

    1. It definitely sets a minimum target where cities must zone for enough capacity on ‘buildable’ lands. Arguably, it also sets a maximum where there shouldn’t be too much capacity, though that’s a controversial interpretation. A few years ago, several small cities zoned for much higher growth rates. They got a telling-off, but no real consequences, and the policy question was punted to this comp plan cycle where it will surely come up again.

      Generally, the PSRC has handed out targets to cities and not told them where to put the growth within the city as long as there’s enough. The proposed focus on transit may change that.

  4. “The bigger question for regional growth may not turn out to be whether Snohomish and Pierce negotiate a few percentage points of planned growth away from the core. It is whether these plans will translate to realized growth in the places we wish to see it.”

    Herein lies the issue with the transit focused alternative. Redirecting growth is not something government should involve itself in. It represents the worst type of social engineering. It rarely works. It is an overreach of power. As it is destructive to the welfare of a free and open society, it is by definition Orwellian.

    We need to act and legislate based where people are or will be. Guiding that process is a fool’s errand above every politician on the planet’s paygrade. Just having that wish to see growth in a location is an example of a frankly disturbing thought process.

    1. Glad to see you’ve finally come around to the “abolish zoning” viewpoint. Great to have you.

      1. Abolishing zoning isn’t the cure all you think it is. Houston is hardly an urban paradise.

      2. Don’t abolish zoning. Design zoning that recognizes the people already living within the zone. It is relatively easy to do, even at a pro-density/urbanization pace more aggressive than HALA.

      3. Zoning is literally “redirecting growth” and is therefore by your own logic “the worst type of social engineering.”

      4. Pat, zoning has little effect on growth. It directs where growth can occur, but doesn’t actually stimulate the growth itself. It redirects nothing without people and capital.

        It also has a tendency to not see the forest for the trees. If you look at Seattle as a whole, current problems look very different and therefore very different solutions present themselves. Getting bogged down in turning Zone X into Zone Y can only do so much. If we’re looking at just shy of doubling Seattle’s population by 2050, we need to rethink the process, not continue down the path that got us here in the first place.

      5. >It directs where growth can occur,
        >It redirects nothing

        You are very smart and definitely have an internally consistent ideology.

      6. We’re in a situation where the region *is* experiencing significant growth. Your growth-free counterfactual is totally moot. Obviously zoning for high-rises in some Podunk town in Wyoming isn’t going to will them into being, because there’s no demand there.

        I’m not saying liberalizing zoning is a cure-all, but if you keep the existing zoning it’s *literally* directing all growth into the designated urban villages, just like the PSRC’s plan does on a regional scale. But one of these things is “social engineering” to you and the other one isn’t.

      7. Wait, what?

        Redirecting growth is not something government should involve itself in.

        Are you saying that zoning isn’t redirecting growth? I am pretty sure it is. We can discuss all we want the best way to redirect that growth (I think it is quite likely we are on the same page) but it is still redirecting growth.

        For a very long time, like most cities, Seattle let people build what they want. This is how most of the “missing middle” as well as many nice apartments were built. Eventually, the city restricted such growth by establishing more restrictive “single family” zones. This directed growth outward, towards the suburbs. More recently, they’ve adopted an “urban village” policy, meant to direct growth to a handful of neighborhoods. This also directed much of the growth to areas outside the city.

        It’s crap. My neighbor has a 25,000 square foot lot and he would like to build townhouses on it. But he can’t. So folks end up living in Shoreline, or Lynnwood, or some place where houses aren’t so expensive. He goes ahead and builds the only thing he can: three houses, on big lots, because that is all the city allows. Obviously (given the housing prices), more people would rather live in Seattle than Shoreline (or Lynnwood), yet because of the zoning, that isn’t an option. The growth doesn’t match the demand, simply because of zoning.

        That doesn’t even count the huge number of people who would prefer to live in an apartment in Seattle. The cities are directing growth big time. They are doing it with the zoning regulations.

      8. “It’s crap. My neighbor has a 25,000 square foot lot and he would like to build townhouses on it. But he can’t. So folks end up living in Shoreline, or Lynnwood, or some place where houses aren’t so expensive.”

        Agreed; it is indeed crap. I own a large lot just north of Lynnwood in unincorporated Snohomish County. My parcel was originally included in an area designated as low density residential SF land use when I puchased it some 15+ years ago. But since then the county has gone thru two 10-year comp plan updates which included FLUM changes that now have my area designated as high density residential MF (Technically in SnoCo’s PDS world they use the designation “MR”. Go figure.) So those townhouses your neighbor would like to build/have built on his lot are totally doable on my parcel (at least a dozen of them with my understanding of our current zoning rules and my lot size). It’s crazy that this is legal where I live but not so for your neighbor there in Seattle.

    2. People can and do vote with their feet. And they are moving in to the transit oriented, walkable areas in droves. How does allowing more of this type of development–which a critical mass of people clearly do want–count as social engineering?

  5. Now if only transit agencies would build high capacity transit near regional growth centers. Seems like it would be easier to build a station where a village is, than to build a village where a station is.

    1. That doesn’t make any sense. Building a station requires clearing land for construction and staging. If a village is already there, a few buildings would probably have to be demolished. It’s much easier to build on top of a station than below a building.

      1. Just so I got this straight … Link should avoid running lines to where the people and jobs already are. They should avoid preexisting density. Alignments and stations should target where the people, job and buildings aren’t. Because it’s cheaper and easier that way. Then, build villages from scratch around the stations. Do I have that right?

      2. Do you have a reading comprehension problem, Sam? That’s not what I said at all.

      3. Just so I got this straight … Link should avoid running lines to where the people and jobs already are. They should avoid preexisting density.

        Now you got it. You should be an ST board member. Skip over First Hill, avoid Belltown. Ignore the Central Area, too. Focus on areas that will become the next Brooklyn — like Fife and Mariner.

      4. @RossB +10 for snark. (I too think Sam would be well-qualified to sit on the ST board in this regard. Hell, perhaps he’s been the puppet master all along and pulling the strings there to make sure that the selected routing didn’t include service to First Hill, the CD and Belltown in the Sound Move, ST2 nor ST3 measures.)

      5. That’s why you put elevated stations over the major roads that often have surface parking lots for construction staging (hello Fauntleroy in West Seattle, Shilshole and 24th Ave. NW in Ballard), perhaps go at grade for a few blocks if you’re overly worried about aesthethics.

      1. Doesn’t it disturb you that so much of those Urban Growth Areas lie outside city limits? It isn’t as obvious near Seattle, but on the Eastside you’ve got square miles of unincorporated King County marked for urban growth.

        It seems awful sprawly. I thought sprawl was bad and urbanization/density was good?

      2. Oh it disturbs me quite a bit! Sam’s claim was that our light rail planning is missing the RGCs. My contention is that if anything, our light rail is TOO focused on RGCs.

      3. Frank is right. I misspoke. I didn’t mean transit doesn’t build in regional growth centers. I was thinking more on a smaller scale.

      4. My problem (and I think this is true for all of us on this little thread) is that it is nuts to focus transit on areas that are supposed to grow, instead of focusing transit on areas that are already really big (and growing). With all due respect to Canyon Park, it is nowhere near as populous as Ballard, yet the latter is merely a “manufacturing industrial center”. Yep, good old Ballard, still cranking out the ships — too bad no one wants to live there (except all them Scandinavians).

        Give me a break. Various parts of Seattle — many of which aren’t shown in color on the map — have way more people, way more jobs, way more going on and yes, way more trips to and fro than places like Silverton and Lakewood. The map is full of false equivalences as well as omissions.

        It would also be a disaster for any transit system if it were to actually come true. If “Puyallup South Hill” was anywhere close to as big as “University Community” we would have a logistical transportation nightmare on our hands. That makes the concerns about a little unincorporated sprawling (however legitimate) seem trivial. The map seems to be pushing towards the creation of gigantic exurbs — under the guise of “smart growth”.

        I’m not sure if the PSRC is stuck in the past (believing that people are afraid of the big city) or are merely trying to boost up some small town officials that want an ego boost (along with a little something on the side, to be sure). Either way it is irresponsible. The growth that is happening — the demand for growth — is happening almost entirely inside Seattle and Bellevue. The only reason it spills out to other areas is because those cities refuse to let enough of it happen there. Of course the bordering areas (the Rentons, the Buriens, the Shorelines) should also grow — but to leap frog, and pick out a handful of regions far from the economic center of the region and expect them to be huge is a terrible approach.

        Just to be clear, I’m all for boosting Everett and Tacoma — maybe with a little bit of help they can grow a bit, and mimic the big cities. But to expect them to grow like Seattle is unrealistic — to encourage suburban towns to grow as fast as Seattle is irresponsible.

      5. PSRC is a regional entity that represents King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties and its boards are made up of representatives from all four of those counties. It’s not just King County so of course you’re going to see regional growth centers spread throughout the 4-county region.

        You really think representatives from Pierce and Snohomish Counties (or even the more suburban parts of King County) are going to put most of the regional growth centers in Seattle and Bellevue? Of course not – they’re going to be spread evenly across the region. PSRC is a political entity above all else.

      6. The outlying cities want to increase their tax base by bringing more jobs and retail. Growth in Seattle/Bellevue doesn’t increase their [the outlying cities’] budgets. The counties defer to the cities because they’re the most important entities in the county’s minds, and the PSRC defers to the counties.

        Unincorporated growth seems to be due to too lax county zoning. And fewer city annexations. King County never intended to offer urban services but only lower-level rural services. It has been pressuring unincorporated suburban areas to join neighboring cities or incorporate, or else they’ll lose a lot of their services. That’s why Shoreline incorporated, Kirkland annexed Juanita and Rose Hill, Bellevue annexed south of I-90, Burien annexed South Highline, and North Highline is deciding whether to join Seattle or Burien. Snohomish and Pierce seem less able to control unincorporated growth.

    2. I’d say Sam is clearly wrong. Much, much easier to build transit to brownfield or greenfield space and develop TOD after the transit infrastructure has been put in. Building through an existing village is disruptive, contentious, and expensive.

      Most of Seattle’s streetcar neighborhoods were undeveloped prior to the arrival of the streetcar. Developers built the streetcar line first and the neighborhood after.

      1. Putting aside the “Field of Dreams” approach to transit infrastructure (build it and they will come); what pray tell, should we do about the vast majority of people in the region who already live in it? Are they just expected to move? Do you really think that we will have thousands of people moving from Fremont to Fife because there is a Link Station there? Or a mass migration from the C. D. to Ash Way?

  6. Because the shape of our Metro is elongated north-south, balancing jobs and housing on either side of the Downtown Seattle/ Downtown Bellevue employment areas is important to do. If it is too far skewed, then very-long-distance commuting may emerge as more significant in the future.

    I’ll be looking at this closer.

  7. I’m still of the heretical opinion that cities should be for the living. Cemeteries do not belong in or near dense urban cores. My urbanist fantasy is to tax them out of existence within the city limits and build dense, affordable housing in their place.

    Perhaps the argument could be akin to impact fees but instead of the impact being additional people using infrastructure the issue is the gaping density deadzone sucking the potential tax base from beyond the grave! (Cue spooky music.)

    1. While it’s true that cemeteries are not a great use of land, once you have them it’s pretty hard to remove them, and they have a historical and cultural value. Bruce Lee and the Denny family are both on prime land for housing on Capitol Hill, but you aren’t seriously suggesting we dig up their corpses and export them to low-value land in rural King County, are you?

      1. Washelli also has The Arlington of the West in it. Many of our cemeteries are staying. That said, they could be trimmed. Define the sections with graves of historical importance, and keep them. You could trim off 2/3rds of Washelli and still have the oldest section and Arlington.

      2. Single family housing is so sacrosanct that we are literally suggesting every other piece of land in Seattle for development…golf courses, cemeteries, lids on top of highways, and now industrial land in SODO. It’s sad. I’m opposed to all of them.

        The overwhelming majority of land in Seattle is already dedicated for housing. It’s being used inefficiently. Upzone everything within 2 blocks of arterial streets and within 4 blocks of all bus stops with all-day service. Allow the “missing middle” to be built. Quit letting the minority of Seattle residents (SF homeowners) dictate the conversation! Why do we have single family homes along our rapid ride bus lines???

      3. Pop up the head stones and turn it into a park. Cemetery Park maybe. Add a jungle gym, some benches, picnic tables, some stationary grills use the new park land to exchange for golf course land. Build affordable hosing next to light rail.

      4. Single family housing is so sacrosanct that we are literally suggesting every other piece of land in Seattle for development…golf courses, cemeteries, lids on top of highways, and now industrial land in SODO. It’s sad. I’m opposed to all of them.

        No kidding. This is silly. Just change the laws and allow more growth in the single family zones. Allow smaller lots and apartment conversions. Sure, we might lose a few nice houses, but we are losing them now, and one reason is because of our stupid all-or-nothing policy. A small house on a big lot gets torn down and replaced by a big house. A big old house on a big lot gets torn down and replaced by an apartment building, because it is within the “village”. But convert a house to an apartment — illegal on 2/3 of the land. Town houses on that old lot? Illegal. Our stupid zoning policies are moving us towards contemplating crazy solutions.

      5. In addition, lots within two blocks of major arterial roads and especially at busy intersections are exactly where most single family homeowners *do not* want to be. And where bus service can be most effective, and those who choose to drive don’t need to go through the “heart” of the residential area. Upzone the heck out of those blocks!

      6. Lake View Cemetery on 15th Ave E. My spouse’s paternal grandparents are buried there, as it has been a popular final resting place for many Chinese/Asian family members.

      7. It seems disproportional to argue against a small cemetery when there are several times more acres of single-family houses around it.

      8. Yes, my Mom and her family are also buried at Lake View; I think they bought the family plot in 1923 or some such. It’s not far from the United Confederate Veterans memorial (no connection). ;-)

        People still come by to see Bruce (and Brandon) Lee’s graves; the cemetery has handouts in their office across 15th that show you how to get there.

  8. “In Pierce and Snohomish Counties … continue to see most growth materialize haphazardly in unincorporated suburbia.”

    I’m not sure it’s fair to conflate those two situations. My understanding is Snohomish has a large chunk of unincorporated land along the 99 corridor where the county is channeling re-development growth that will be well served by Swift and/or Link. The land between Lynnwood, Everett, and Mill Creek is very much within the UGA and well served by transit (for non-Seattle neighborhoods). That seems very different than Pierce, which is mostly growing at the edge of the UGA with more typical “edge suburb” greenfield growth.

    1. “My understanding is Snohomish has a large chunk of unincorporated land along the 99 corridor where the county is channeling re-development growth that will be well served by Swift and/or Link.”

      That’s true. And the new ‘high-capacity transit community’ designation will pick up some of that area and distinguish it from other unincorporated sprawl. I had in mind more the North Creek/Maltby/Cathcart areas where there won’t be much transit service and which are still growing like topsy. (south and east of Mill Creek on your map).

    2. @AJ That’s exactly right. I was just about to post a similar comment to yours in response to what I considered an inaccurate portrayal (“haphazardly”) of the way SnoCo has managed and planned for growth in the county’s SW UGA. I live in this unincorporated area which you’ve referenced so I’ve seen firsthand the impacts of the FLUM changes that accompanied the last two 10-year county comp plan updates. (My own parcel has been upzoned twice as a result, from low density residential SF use at the time of purchase to high density residential MF use today.) The county’s infill approach, in this area at least, has been pretty focused, and far from haphazard, by design from what I have seen. It looks like Dan clarified his original remarks in response to your comment so I’ll leave it there.

  9. I must admit that I’m really struck by the only slight actual variations in the different scenarios. The names have grand inspiration but little variation between them. Considering that land use is affected more by the marketplace, the plan hardly seems ground-breaking because the market will choose the outcome for us. Even the impacts don’t seem to vary by more than 10 percent, and in many cases less than five percent.

    I also looked at several technical appendices and found discussion about traffic congestion and mode shares — but not transit congestion/ overcrowding. Is that located anywhere?

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