Terrace Station, a residential development at Mountlake Terrace Station

Mountlake Terrace, the small suburb of 21,000 often confused with the even smaller fiefdom of Montlake, is looking at big plans for development around its sole light rail station. On Thursday, the city council approved an update to the Town Center Subarea Plan, which was adopted in 2007 to guide development of the fledgling “downtown” of Mountlake Terrace.

The Mountlake Terrace Transit Center and light rail station will sit at the southwest corner of the town center, which spans 18 city blocks that stretch from 230th Street to 237th Street in the south and east to 55th Avenue. The updated plan calls for buildings up to 12 stories tall with a focus on pedestrian-friendly frontages and mixed uses throughout the town center. At full buildout, the town center would have 3,000 new multifamily housing units, 410,000 square feet of office space, and 215,000 square feet of retail, supporting 6,600 new residents and 1,953 new jobs.

Mountlake Terrace Town Center Subarea zoning map (City of Mountlake Terrace)

The main subarea is divided into three “districts” that determine height limits and other zoning rules. District 1 (TC-1), split between sections along 236th Street Southwest and 60th Avenue West, has a maximum height limit of 6-12 stories. District 2 (TC-2) surrounds 58th Avenue West and the future civic campus, and is limited to 4-8 stories. District 3 (TC-3) forms the outer boundary on the north and east and is limited to 4-6 stories. An additional district to the south of TC-1 is designated as a “reserve” with heights of only 2-4 stories.

The light rail station will be connected to the town center by two pedestrian connections in addition to 236th Street Southwest, a busy street that will soon gain bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks. The town center plan also includes designated uses for frontages that face streets, including several new connections meant to complete the grid. At the center of TC-2 is a “pedestrian core” corridor on 57th Avenue West that would have a concentration of retail with large storefronts. Many of surrounding streets will be designated for “landscaped” frontages with buffers between the street and residential units, with a transition zone between the two zones.

Block frontage and street designations in the town center plan (City of Mountlake Terrace)

Parking will be restricted to structures and surface lots behind buildings to prevent encroachment on pedestrian-dominated areas. The city plans to introduce limited paid and restricted parking areas for on-street spots, but there are still minimum parking requirements for multi-family housing projects. The draft zoning regulations document spells it out: 0.50 to 1.25 stalls per unit for the area immediately surrounding the transit center; and 0.75 to 1.5 stalls per unit for the rest of the town center.

While the building heights are dwarfed by those allowed at suburban stations in other metro areas, Mountlake Terrace has potential to have some of the tallest TOD on the Link Red Line. The town center proposal survived a proposed cut to the size of TC-1 (the zone with the tallest buildings) by the city council, but citizen testimony convinced the city to reconsider. The areas west of Interstate 5 are also in play for potential upzones, as reported here several years ago, but faces accessibility issues due to its proximity to Interstate 5.

85 Replies to “Mountlake Terrace approves plans for town center upzone”

    1. Thanks, Dustin. And “Thank you!” to the Mountlake Terrace City Council and Planning Department. These dense “string of pearls” community centers are what will make The Spine worth the investment by generating all-day ridership. Three cheers!!!!!

    2. Good for you Dustin :-(
      Towne Center has the distinction of having the highest buildings. And we are the smallest city on the line. I will be avoiding a sunless, claustrophobic, city canyon, just like downtown Bellevue.
      IMO They picked the wrong part of MLT for tall development. Should have been south of the Transit Center between I5 and 56th. Then dedicated bike lanes, walking paths, and public shuttles could be orchestrated as a planned “carless “community. Those of us in the “suburbs” of MLT will probably be taking our business to Lynnwood.

      1. Carol – I like the idea of a walking-centric neighborhood near light rail like you’ve proposed, but I’m struggling a bit to see how locating it to the south of 56th is substantially different from what was zoned. The tall buildings are near the Transit Center and on 56th, and the only land that has been rezoned is within a half mile of the transit center. Wouldn’t locating this to the south of the transit center just cause the same effect, only on a place with little to no existing non-residential development?

        It makes sense to me to concentrate development within walking distance of the light rail station, and the neighborhood to the south would be a good place for that. However, the reasons for locating it only to the north of 56th is because we already have existing retail there, wanted to make sure that the retail core of the Town Center achieved enough critical mass in a concentrated area before expanding it, and (I think) because it will be a bit harder to substantially densify the neighborhood due to the windy layout of the streets.

        I’m willing to bet a lot of “suburban Terrace” people already do most of their business in Lynnwood since there isn’t a whole lot in this particular neighborhood at the moment. It will be nice to have some other options.

      2. I agree. I don’t understand why people are so happy about tall buildings and density. People are trying to turn our nice small city into some big urban city 😒. Leave some open spaces and views.

      3. The region is expected to grow by 40% by 2035, and, truth to tell, I think that’s conservative. The Southwest is burning up, and Florida is drowning and blowing away. There are going to be millions of people who want a reasonably predictable climate without catastrophes, even if it is dreary five months out of the year.

        So the choice is “pave the forest from Centralia to Blaine” or build higher in the places that are already ruined. Which is better from a sustainability basis, especially when energy is going to be very expensive once cars are switched to electricity. Sharing a wall, a ceiling and a floor will be a smart strategy.

  1. As someone who grew up in this town. This is a travesty. I just sold my parents house who had lived in the community for 50 years. They would have been highly disappointing to them with the lack of concern for the long term community members and what it will be doing. This town was never meant for this. I have been back to the area since 2011. Crime has skyrocketed. Homelessness has skyrocketed and they just keep putting this stuff up. It will never be a town again where you will know the families in the town. I know the council thinks progress is good. Not this time. Light rail will ruin this city. Its just downright pitiful and painful to watch. Homogenization of America now you can throw Mountlake Terrace right in there to that statement. I was proud to be from this community not any more.

    1. Mountlake Terrace was literally purpose-built to be a growth suburb int he 50s and they’ve been trying to build a downtown since day 1.

      1. Says someone who isn’t watching there neighbors relocated for a high rise hell that does serves nobody in the community and just puts money in local politicians and the cities pocket more tax’s with a denser population easy to buy small town politicians off to build more condos

    2. How does adding housing increase homelessness? It seems to me that adding housing would reduce homelessness.

      1. Where do you live have you been to downtown Seattle do you actually think locals can afford these condos paying a mortgage on one of the existing houses in mlt is more affordable and you actually own something . These condos do not provide affordable housing for locals,it’s for people from out of state who don’t know any better

      2. Homelessness has nothing to do with housing. Drug use, mental illness, and not wanting to confirm to societal rules are not solved by any of this. I grew up in MLT in the 50s and 60s. My family still has a presence there but are being displaced by the gentrification plan. This will raise tax revenue but will only kill the small town feeling. I’m sad to see it go. This is only going to drive out the lower to middle class residents.

      3. Mark B, drug use, mental ilness, and not wanting to conform to societal rules have nothing to do with homelessness. Mental illness rates aren’t even twice the local average. Drug use is comparable to housed levels.

        In fact, there is one statistic that truly shows the cause of local homelessness, and another that supports it. LGBTQ individuals are roughly 2.5 times overrepresented in our homeless numbers. The damning statistic? African Americans are 40% of Seattle’s homeless. African Americans were 7.6% of the city’s population in 2010, predicted to be only 7% between 2016 and 2018, and predicted to be 6.x% in 2020.

        Simple local racism is a greater cause of homelessness in the region than drug use, mental illness, and noncomformity combined.

      4. If bigotry and racism are cited as the cause of a thing, nothing else can be discussed. The vast majority of urban campers I see polluting Seattle aren’t hard workers that just can’t find a place to live. People figure out how to live where they can afford to live, an if housing costs more than their employees are willing to pay they either make themselves more valuable to employees or go where they are able to survive. And I realize this is a sweeping generalization that isn’t true in every case but does seem to describe the current West Coast Bum Explosion.

      5. Again, the number of homeless follows housing prices. It sure looks like a lot of people are being priced out of housing. Some of them can even pay a monthly rent but they can’t pay all the move-in fees up front or they have bad credit. The panhandlers you see aren’t most of the homeless. There are others who don’t want to be seen so they try to be unobtrusive. An increasing number are families with children.

      6. The number of homeless do follow housing prices. But the impact is unequal, and as a result marginalized groups are overrepresented.

        The real issue is that housing prices have become artificially separated from the supply and demand curve by profitmongering. You can’t build past greed. The mere attempt only feeds it more.

      7. “The real issue is that housing prices have become artificially separated from the supply and demand curve by profitmongering.”

        Why are people renting/buying profitmongered units? Why aren’t they remaining empty for years until the profitmongers set them to a natural rate? Thousands of building owners can’t all be in a price-fixing cartel.

      8. Some of them are remaining empty for years. Nobody is renting out the 1500 a month studios in Seatac within walking distance of the light rail station. I know that isn’t specifically in Seattle, but it is an egregiously overpriced unit, laying empty for over a year, with no interest in setting rents to a natural rate.

        Thousands of real estate owners can’t can’t all be in a price fixing cartel? Why not? When everyone benefits from inflated prices, there’s a fiduciary interest to price fix. We’re talking real estate here. The entire business is predicated on raising prices when people next to you raise their’s. It doesn’t matter if the people next to you are price gouging. You’re going to raise your price, guaranteed.

        I’ve known quite a few landlords. I’ve only met one doing it out of the kindness of their heart. When money is the point, any excuse to raise your price is an excuse they’ll use.

      9. Homelessness has nothing to do with housing. Drug use, mental illness, and not wanting to confirm to societal rules are not solved by any of this.

        Wrong. This is common misconception, and it is wrong. Completely wrong. Sorry, but you are wrong. You see someone on the street, begging for money, or strung out or drunk, and think “that is a typical homeless person”.
        But you are wrong. That is not the average homeless person.

        The average homeless person is poor. They can’t afford a place to live. Here is quick summary from a fact sheet (https://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/why.html):

        A lack of affordable housing and the limited scale of housing assistance programs have contributed to the current housing crisis and to homelessness.


        Homelessness results from a complex set of circumstances that require people to choose between food, shelter, and other basic needs. Only a concerted effort to ensure jobs that pay a living wage, adequate support for those who cannot work, affordable housing, and access to health care will bring an end to homelessness.

        (Emphasis mine). You can find similar reports quite easily with even a minimal amount of research. Here is another nice summary: https://familypromise.org/homelessness-fact-sheet/. As you can see, the vast majority of people who are homeless are not drug addicts, or folks with health problems (mental or otherwise). They are simply poor, and live in a place where housing is expensive.

    3. If Montlake Terrace should remain detached houses and one-story apartments, then it shouldn’t be getting a Link station. Link provides the capacity for hundreds of people to travel every five minutes, so where are the hundreds of people? What about the hundreds of thousands of people in this region who need more housing options? Are they supposed to just do without because Mountlake Terrace doesn’t want to grow beyond its 1950s population, like Surrey Downs?

      And crime, really. Link’s ridership is on average more affluent and middle-class than the buses. It’s “people like us” on the train. People like Mountlake Terrace residents going to ballgames and the airport and the U-District. We’re trying to make it more equitable; e.g., so that its segment in Rainier Valley looks more like the demographics of Rainier Valley, but for many reasons it isn’t.

      This is like the fallacy that Kemper Freeman supposedly said (but he denied [1]) that Link would bring “those people” to Bellevue Square. Guess what? Before construction closed the stop, the 550 went directly from Rainier Avenue to Kemper’s Avalon Meydenbauer condos one block from Bellevue Square, so gangbangers could have taken it at any time.

      “Homelessness has skyrocketed and they just keep putting this stuff up.”

      Why do you think homelessness is skyrocketing? It’s because the housing supply is not keeping up with the population increase, so more people are competing for the same units. That allows landlords to jack up the rents and take the most affluent applicant, preferably working for a large tech company. Throughout the 80s, 90s, and early 00s, the vacancy rate was higher apartments remained vacant for several weeks, so rents didn’t rise as fast. The only way to get back to that leveling off is to build enough units to bring the vacancy rate up to a stable level. People also want — really need — to live within walking distance of a Link station and everyday necessities. Mountlake Terrace must be part of the solution to this, not part of the problem.

      1. Homelessness in this region, heck this entire country, has nothing to do with supply and demand. NYC is living proof of this. They build houses of all market levels at a rate that we couldn’t even dream of. The city has a literal Right to Housing. Yet in the past few tears, homelessness in NYC has skyrocketed. Why? Substandard units run by slum lords and property values sharply inflating. Not a lack of supply or surplus of demand.

        The corporatist lie of “insufficient supply” is one of the primary canards we must learn to ignore in order to make actual progress in equitable housing for all.

      2. @A Joy — Bullshit. Tokyo is a mega-city, even bigger than New York. Japan has experienced the same sort of “let’s all move to the city” movement as the U. S. Yet Tokyo — wonderful, bustling, fantastic and enormous Tokyo – has rents that are a mere fraction of what they are in New York. That is because Tokyo builds, and New York doesn’t. Hell, the phrase “The Rents are Too Damn High”, for which both a book and a shortened Atlantic Monthly essay were written spends a huge amount of time focusing on New York City.

        Of course homelessness isn’t entirely the fault of our backwards, outdated, historically racist and still definitely classist zoning policies. But they definitely play a part. The vast majority of homeless people aren’t drug addicts. They aren’t winos. They aren’t bums. They don’t have mental health issues, or suffer from PTSD. They are simply poor. They simply can’t afford the extremely high rents that exist in a city like Seattle, let alone New York.

        Look, demand to live in big, successful cities has outpaced supply. I know it is mind boggling, but all those cranes simply haven’t kept up. Demand is just too damn high. That is because it is where the jobs are — it is where the help is. It is where family and friends offer the hope that folks will get through this situation — that the crushing poverty that forces you and your toddler to sleep on the couch, or make a pallet on the living room is only temporary. Someday you’ll have your own place, your own apartment. If only the rent wasn’t so damn high.

      3. You believe some very inaccurate things about NYC housing supply. In 2018, NYC permitted 24 new units per 10k population. Seattle? 109.

        Maybe it’s just because NYC is a large East Coast metro? Well, Boston permitted 52, over twice as many.

        NYC has been crippled by downzonings stretching back to 1961, which accelerated under the Bloomberg administration and eliminated much of the supply of new affordable housing: 2-3 unit buildings in the outer boroughs.

      4. And now we see the lie of statistics. Seattle’s 2018 population? 744,000. NYC’s? 8,400,000. As absolute numbers unskewed by per capita obfuscation, NYC builds many, many more units annually than Seattle. Why the attempt to jury rig the numbers?

        The truth is clear. Seattle has ample housing supply. Apartment vacancies were 10 percent of the overall apartment market at the beginning of this year. Those vacancies alone could completely eliminate all homelessness in the city. Just apartment vacancies. Not a single SFH. Not a single vacant building renovated. Just the current market.

        That housing supply is low in Seattle is a grand farce that cannot stand before the slightest scrutiny. Even the most basic glance at the actual numbers reveal this to be so. Homelessness in this region is a direct result of intentional forces. This was the end to their means. Until those forces are uprooted and forced out of the body politic we will never solve the underlying issue.

        Seattle today operates under the mantra “Then let them die and decrease the surplus population!” Until Ebenezer Scrooge is tarred, feathered, and driven out of town on a rail, the homeless will continue to suffer.

      5. Here we see a classic example of people who don’t understand statistics shaking their fist about “lying with statistics.”

        The absolute numbers? NYC permitted 20,910 units in 2018. Seattle permitted 7,918.

        So, NYC allowed about 2.5X as much new development, for a population almost 12X as big as Seattle’s.

        So, for those keeping score at home, yes, a major part of NYC’s housing crisis is lack of supply, same as it is here, although we’ve been doing comparatively better.

      6. Ron, that first paragraph sums up your argument well.

        NYC permitted over 20,000 units in 2018. Only 4,000 people sleep on NYC’s streets. They built 5 times the number of units than they have unsheltered homeless. Supply is no issue in NYC, yet the homeless population is rising. NYC has a Right to Housing, rent control, a functioning shelter process and a robust voucher system that puts ours to shame. None of it is working.

        The takeaway here, the score if you will, is that in the United States housing demand outstripping supply rarely happens, and is not a cause of, not even an exacerbating issue to, homelessness.

      7. Is Tokyo in the United States? I did preface my statement with a national qualifier.

        No, you made the audacious claim that the housing crisis had nothing to do with supply and demand. Let me repeat what you actually wrote:

        Homelessness in this region, heck this entire country, has nothing to do with supply and demand. NYC is living proof of this.

        I called bullshit on that bullshit, and listed one of the few cities in the world that actually compares to NYC — Tokyo. Is Tokyo different? Fuck yes. It actually allows enough supply (more or less) to match demand. If New York actually did that, then rent wouldn’t be so damn high (to paraphrase Yglesias).

        But hey, ignore Tokyo. I await your rebuttal to Yglesias. Go ahead. Tell me why he is wrong.

      8. Supply is no issue in NYC …
        in the United States housing demand outstripping supply rarely happens, and is not a cause of, not even an exacerbating issue to, homelessness.

        Bullshit. You provide no evidence to support that ridiculous claim, while literally entire books have argued the opposite. Your only argument for supply matching demand is that “golly gee, they sure are building a lot of new places, aren’t they”. That is not evidence. For every new place being built in Manhattan, there are two people who want to move in. That is demand exceeding supply.

        It is not that complicated a concept, but let me just give you a quick example. Let’s say that some some celebrity says that Kale is good for you. Suddenly it is the plant that everyone wants. Lots of farmers start growing kale, instead of spinach. More kale is grown than ever before. Yet kale is more expensive than ever! What gives! Obviously, according to your logic, something is amiss. I’ve seen all these kale farms, and yet kale is still expensive — it has nothing to do with supply and demand.

        Ridiculous. It has everything to do with supply and demand. It is just that while supply has increased substantially, demand has increase MORE. The same thing has happened with New York housing, and the same thing has happened with Seattle housing. Lots of people want to live in New York City. Lots of people want to live in Seattle. Lots of people want to live in Tokyo. But the only city of those three that comes even close to meeting demand is Tokyo.

      9. RossB, your obsession with off topic cities and bizarre food related analogies only reveal the hollowness of your position. When you actually look at the relative and relevant, your argument falls flat on its face.

        You want to prove me wrong? Great. Drop Tokyo. Until then I will treat your responses as trolling.

      10. It happened in Seattle in the past decade. The crash in September 2008 caused a lot of people to move away, every other building on Capitol Hill where I live had a “For Rent” sign and rents fell. First landlords offered a free month or microwave, then rents actually fell. I had a friend who was unemployed and couldn’t pay his rent, and the landlord let him stay three months for free because “I wouldn’t be able to fill it anyway” and half his other units were empty. In 2010 when I moved they were still giving discounts and I got $100 off what the manager said was the normal rent. Then the Amazon boom heated up and all those units filled, and it kept heating up and squeezed out all the slack and the $600 units that had been cheap for decades finally disappeared, and they built more buildings and they said they’d finally have enough housing in 2012, then they said the same thing in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 but it still didn’t meet demand and rents rose faster than they ever did in the mid 2000s, which itself had been the fastest I’d seen in my lifetime. Seattle was adding 8 housing units for every 12 additional jobs.

        Then over the past two years, the job growth slowed and several new buildings still opened in downtown, Capitol Hill, and Ballard. Hundreds of units had to be leased at once, and it would take a year to fill them. The rent increases finally slowed, and stopped or even reversed in a few neighborhoods, until those buildings were filled. My own rent stayed around inflation from 1989 to 2004, then started rising 5% annually in the mid 2000s, then stopped in 2008, I moved from a studio to a 1 BR in 2010, the $100 discount disappeared in 2013, and then it rose 10% per year in the next few years, and then the past two years it has been 5% or less. Half my building is Amazon or Microsoft because you can walk to Amazon and the 545 stop is one block away, so that keeps it a little higher than the neigborhood average.

        So you see that when the vacancy rate is below 5%, rents rise. When it’s around 5-8%, rents are stable. When it’s above 10%, rents fall. It’s directly related to the number of people competing for each unit.

        But there’s not one single regional market; there’s many markets at different price points and locations. While that was happening in central Seattle the past few years, in more outlying areas like Rainier Valley and South King County and Pierce County, where prices are lower, they’ve been increasing faster. It’s as if they’re starting to equalize across cities, even if they never reach exactly the same level. Rainier Valley and the rest of Seattle has been building more housing than the rest of the region. South King County has built hardly at all. Pierce County isn’t building as much as Seattle, and most of it is single-family neighborhoods in the southeast. So where are rents and house prices rising fastest? South King County and Pierce/Snohomish.

        While Seattle has strong demand by people who want walkable neighborhoods and the coolest bars, the suburbs have demand by people who want a larger unit, and the working class has to go wherever prices are lowest. But there are a lot of people who just want something somewhere and don’t care where it is. At the same time the lower-density areas are building less than the higher-density areas. That causes the curious phenomenon of prices starting to equalize across high-density/low-density areas.

        New apartments do not directly address homelessness because homeless people and working-class people can’t afford them. But the wealthier people who do live in them aren’t living in the lower-priced units they would otherwise be in if the new buildings didn’t exist. This adds slack in the total market, and makes it easier for a less-rich person to get the other unit, and it reverberates down until a homeless person has a chance for the lowest-price unit. But it only works if more people don’t come to make up for this new capacity. If more of them come than there are units being built, it overwhelms the market.

        That’s what’s been happening the past 1 1/2 decades. There’s an overwhelming crisis of housing supply. So when people complain that Seattle has been buiding a lot and New York has been building more, and that the construction itself is causing the price increases, no! On a micro level landlords can charge more because “the neighborhood is improving” even if the building isn’t, but they can only get away with that excuse for a couple years before it rings hollow, and in the citywide and regionwide market that argument is so diluted it’s ineffective. The problem is not that we’re building too much but that the construction is completely insufficient for the crisis. So blaming the solution for causing the problem is just wrong. The highest housing prices are in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, two areas that have built the least and are even further behind.

      11. Building units at 5 times the number of homeless people isn’t enough? What is enough then for the “Build, baby. Build” crowd? When will it end? How much profit must be squeezed from the average local citizen before this rampant paving fetishism is sated?

      12. RossB, your obsession with off topic cities and bizarre food related analogies only reveal the hollowness of your position. When you actually look at the relative and relevant, your argument falls flat on its face.

        You want to prove me wrong? Great. Drop Tokyo. Until then I will treat your responses as trolling.

        Why should I drop anything. I am simply trying — as best I can — to explain some simple facts to you. Let me repeat what you said, verbatim:

        Homelessness in this region, heck this entire country, has nothing to do with supply and demand.

        This is a ridiculous claim, and every economist in the country would find it ridiculous. Every homeless expert would find it ridiculous. It relies on ideas that you are either too stupid or too lazy to even flesh out. Either:

        1) The cost of housing has nothing to do with homelessness. Or…
        2) The cost of housing has nothing to do with supply. Or…
        3) The cost of housing has nothing to do with demand.

        All three ideas are ridiculous. The cost of housing is a major factor in homelessness. You can’t find a study on homelessness that doesn’t mention it. Many of those studies mention it as the biggest factor.

        As for other two, they are absurd. You offer no evidence — not a single, solitary shred of evidence — to support either case. You even ignorantly chose New York City as a counter example, as if supply in NYC actually came close to meeting demand. Good God, man, did you even read “The Rent Is Too Damn High” by Matt Yglesias? He chooses NYC as his first example of a city with artificially high rents, due to zoning.

        I honestly don’t know if you are trolling or simply don’t understand basic economic theory. That is why I give those other examples. When you say things like “NYC is building lots of housing, but rent is high”, it suggests that you really don’t understand the role that *demand* plays in the whole “supply and demand” thing. Thus my attempt at explanation via analogy. But apparently that failed. Let me just state this as simply as possible:

        NYC has increased supply. But not as much as demand. More supply. Even more demand. Thus costs go up, the way you would expect.

    4. “How does adding housing increase homelessness?”

      The argument seems to be that new expensive apartments replace forty-year-old less-expensive apartments or houses. That displaces the previous residents, and if they can’t find other units at the previous price they become homeless or have to move thirty miles further out.

      But the problem they face is not all the fault of that particular unit, it’s the overall of housing supply throught the region. That lack of housing supply is precisely the reason the new building is being built. By trying to save sixty tenants from displacement, you’re making things worse for hundreds of thousands of people. Because it’s not just that building; it’s being replicated by many buildings everywhere. The whole reason outsiders are looking at Mountlake Terrace is that Wallingford and West Seattle are trying to prerserve its single-family houses and one-story businesses outside a token-small growth area, and Roosevelt and Capitol Hill and Northgate refused to build station-village highrises like Vancouver’s New Westminster or Metrotown.

    5. Deanna,
      I would love for you to put yourself in the shoes of younger people, perhaps your children or grandchildren, who are in their 20s or early 30s. What do they want in a home or community? The values of younger people aren’t always the same as older people like you or your parents, or my parents. My parents and grandparents treasure(d) their single family stick-built homes on 12,000 square foot lots, their prized rose gardens, the bounty of vegetables, the manicured shrubs in front, and a sprawling back porch to listen to baseball on the radio in the summer. Me? No sir. When I get home after a work day, I am drained. I don’t want to spend my evenings and weekends spreading Miracle Gro. I don’t care if my house has perfect shrubs or even any grass. I don’t have time or energy to harvest fruit or vegetables from more than a few small plants. I want a house that is low-maintenance, on a budget that I can afford. My wife and I both need to work to make our current mortgage payment. Did both of your parents work full time? I want to be able to walk to a coffee shop and some nice restaurants. I don’t know if my parents have ever been to a coffee shop except the two or three times I’ve personally taken them, and I’m sure they’ve never walked somewhere to go out to eat. They always drive. For me, part of being in a community is having actual amenities at which to meet people. If my world is literally going to just be a bunch of single family homes, a bar, and a church, well, then, I might as well move back to Ottumwa, Iowa, or Hanover, Indiana. (Graduitous references to old sitcoms for the person from a previous generation.) Lots of us chose to move to cities because we didn’t like growing up in small towns. Mountlake Terrace has become a part of Seattle by proximity. That’s how and why Mountlake Terrace came into existence in the first place. It was a bedroom community for bustling Seattle and the Boeing factories. Deanna, times change. Generations change. I am sorry that Mountlake Terrace grew up, but… it did.

      1. Engineer:

        A community is made up of a number of folks. The city is not really looking at that lets put up the apartments be damned. I get where you are coming from. Both my husband and I are in the same boat but I want to have a home and not just a box. That’s the difference between you and I. Maybe that is a generational thing. Not knocking you for it though. MLT has been a small town it’s unfortunate the “The City” doesn’t want to keep that feeling. That’s the sad thing.

      2. Deanna,
        I promise there will be small towns to live in after MLT builds apartments. Heck, a lot of small towns in America, including my hometown, have seen population decline in recent decades. This should make the bar for entry pretty low. The population growth of every major city in the US in the face of rural population declines is evidence that Americans coming of age prefer to live in cities, not in small towns. Also, MLT was never truly a “small town.” It was first conceived by land developers in the late 1940s as a post-war suburban housing development. If we want to go back to MLT’s historical roots, we’d need to go back to dirt roads and 700-sf cinder block houses without water or sewer service. (https://www.historylink.org/File/8576)

      3. “That’s how and why Mountlake Terrace came into existence in the first place. It was a bedroom community for bustling Seattle and the Boeing factories.”

        Mountlake Terrace, along with many other communities around the country, was built to provide immediate housing for returning WWII veterans. You can’t relate that to the current situation like they planned it that way.

        So based on these comments, the only solution is to bulldoze the entire Puget Sound region and build large high-rises at extremely high densities with no allowance for private transportation. Then we can all sit back and watch the tensions rise and all the rats eat each other. Doesn’t sound like a happy life.

    6. Deanna, I didn’t like having to leave my decades-long residence in Ballard on really short notice (seem to recall the authorities’ reminding my new temporary landlord that the law said it had to be longer) And I flatly hate all the forces responsible. None of whom carry any symptoms of being homeless.

      Both for expelling me and for the overpriced and under-qualitied scene that replaced the Seattle I loved so much. And a lot worse, I like even less the familiar indicators here in Olympia. Somehow none of the developments along my favorite country roads seem priced for the average homeless person. Sooner or later the luck that sheltered me here these last six years could really easily run out.

      But since there’s been no mention whatever of even starting light rail here, I hope you’re not going to ask me to blame our excellent little bus system for my shaky tenure here. Only thing that makes less sense is to blame current developments in Seattle on light rail.

      One suggestion for your own credibility. Describe what you mean by “The Homogenization of America.” And to clinch it, explain what light rail contributes to it that automobile-oriented transportation doesn’t?

      Mark Dublin

      1. Homogenization of America. Let’s make this town just like everyplace else. (That’s in a nutshell). Mountlake Terrace was quaint had it’s own quirky charm and was small.

        I agree with a lot of what you have to say. I moved because I can’t afford the area any longer. That’s because of the growth with our tech industry, etc. all the people they have.

        Since they decided to put a light rail station in it has caused a lot of growth and raising of property prices etc.

      2. “…the overpriced and under-qualitied scene that replaced the Seattle I loved so much.”

        I often wonder what my grandparents thought of the same issue in their day, when the Seattle they loved so much was replaced by the one that you (and my parents, and others) did. They had to move from Eastlake out to (gasp) Kenmore when it was still on a brick and dirt highway and the trains still went there.

        My guess is that they felt then the same way you do now as they were replaced by those who could live in that Seattle. Of course, their parents replaced/pushed out others when they arrived here long before statehood.

    7. Deanna, you’re not going to find much sympathy here (except from me). You are talking to people who think the Leave it to Beaver type of town is destroying the earth. The Brady Bunch neighborhood? Pure evil.

      1. The Brady Bunch House housed 9 people in a four-bedroom house — as well as a home office. That’s pretty dense!

      2. The Brady kids lived three to a room. The My Three Sons and Death of a Salesman kids lived two to a room. I think the Leave it to Beaver kids lived two to a room. Houses in the 1950s were 800-1000 square feet, the same as 2 BR apartments in our time. Then they started ballooning, while household sizes simultaneously shrank. My 4 BR suburban house had 3 people but most of our neighbors’ houses had 4 people, and our next-door neighbor had 7 people (two parents and five kids). Now many of those houses probably have two people.

      3. Here’s my point. If this blog had the power to force people to live in either the type of neighborhood Elliott from the movie E.T. lived in, or the the neighborhood JJ from Good Times lived in, they would force us to live in the Good Times neighborhood.

      4. Funny, your sarcasm, Sam. I grew up in Leave it to Beaver & Brady Bunch. It was hell.
        Everybody knows their neighbors… everybody is up in your business. Sorry, but I am not interested in having churchy old ladies judge me for skipping church to deliver newspapers on Good Friday. I am not interested in all 6 cops in town judging me (a child) for my parent’s drug use. (Whether that is “aww, poor thing” or “family of deadbeats,” go back to your A/C cop car and talk to me when you have a legitimate law enforcement concern.) I am not interested in classmates picking on me for living in a trailer park. I am not interested in every American Legion member recognizing me as “Edwards’s grandson” (or Bob’s great-nephew, or Greg’s nephew, etc.) No. I am nothing like them. I don’t fish or hunt or drink cheap beer. I am not interested in being identified for all of my hard work and potential. NO! I am working hard out of desperation to escape poverty, I know that without scholarships I have no chance in hell of going to college, and I am burnt out as hell! My “Americanism” essay was a giant lie. I can tell you that at least half a dozen essays that won scholarships were similar lies, including one by a friend about how wholesome small towns are (thank you local religious org for granting my friend a scholarship, she deserved it, not for her world view, but for her hard work and good grades).
        Small towns are great if you have a great experience. Thing is, about 1 out of 3 of my high school classmates had similar experiences on varying levels and moved away permanently. I want a home where I can choose my friends and be mostly anonymous outside of my chosen circle.

      5. This is an interesting discussion and it highlights the fact that different people want different things from their community. There is a lot of discussion and use of the term “small town” and I’ve tried to prod people to better explain what they mean. “small town feel” is used by folks who are not enthused about development. They use it to oppose the physical size and proximity of buildings but when pushed it’s more about how people relate to each other and the sense of community they feel. This has nothing to do with buildings heights. I think a larger quantity of unknown people are perceived as a threat to this small town feel. The community is being diluted and they don’t know these people. They fail to recognize many of the benefits of more people: more places to meet people, better infrastructure for walking and unplanned interactions with your neighbors, a better variety of ways to participate in community, a downtown to gather in, etc. That small town feel, community, whatever you want to call it…is what you make of it. Some of the most community-oriented people in Mountlake Terrace right now are the young people who see great opportunity taking the great community we already have and making it even better….for those who want to participate. Growth, more people, more businesses, access, investment, and change should be seen for the opportunity it has to make the Mountlake Terrace that many of us love even better.

    8. While I am a relative newcomer to MLT, I can assure everybody that homelessness in MLT is not really an issue. There are some issues with homeless in Lynnwood and the Highway 99 part of Edmonds, but not really in MLT itself. Is it Lake Forest Park or Brier? No. Never will be. But sorry, MLT is not a place that is being “ruined.” Not even close. And there’s always Lake Forest Park and Brier if that’s where you would rather live–to each their own. The only constant in life is change. Pretty much, where everybody is from has changed.

  2. Phew, sounds like you escaped just in time!

    Maybe you can convince Sinclair Media to do a Mountlake Terrace is Dying “special”?

  3. Mountlake Terrace is approving a density for an above-ground Link station that is not allowed in Ballard nor West Seattle even though interests there want Link tunnels.

    1. So why is that? Why is Mountlake Terrace approving a density that Seattle, in Ballard, for example, isn’t? And please don’t blame NIMBYS, because there are also NIMBYS in Mountlake Terrace.

      1. Simply put, Sam, is that our station area planning doesn’t match our light rail station planning.

        Just watch any public comment on the station planning and it’s a parade of people complaining about how building Link negatively affects them and their property as it is today. It’s never about how their property values increase or how this helps grow Seattle responsibly. There are never speakers who get up and say that we should save money by not building expensive tunnels so our city can be better served by more stations nor are there speakers that talk about how rider convenience is more important than adjacent properties nor are there speakers who demand that the choice of a tunnel should accompany an agreement to allow 200+ foot buildings.

        I’d have no issue with tunnels in West Seattle and Ballard if the plans were for large areas of 20 and 30 story buildings — but not when they keep lids on development that make them less dense than a future Mountlake Terrace!

      2. Two reasons: (and not necessarily in this order)

        1. Fear. Fear that the state may come in at some point and impose zoning requirements in areas near high capacity transit.

        for instance: https://www.theurbanist.org/2018/10/05/state-sen-palumbo-plans-to-introduce-a-minimum-housing-density-bill/

        This way, communities such as Lynnwood, Federal Way, and Mountlake Terrace can get control of where and how much development there will be – without someone from the state telling them differently.

        It also lets them play nice with other cities and the growth management act by allowing them to say that they are doing their share to absorb growth.

        Just don’t expect them at any time in the future, ever, to upzone anything else.

        And maybe for an outlying suburb of a city that is okay.

        2. Money: The Mountlake Terrace’s of the world are probably interested in the additional tax money they will get from a larger population, and the fees they can get from developers.

        = = = = = = =
        In contrast the Seattle city council might even welcome a state imposed upzone as a way to cut through the Seattle Process. And as far as needing more money goes… how large was the budget Durkan just proposed? The marginal monetary gains from trying to push for even more upzones now aren’t large enough to incentivize the council to do it. We even see certain candidates saying they are in favor of backtracking on upzones already.. i.e. the Ave.

      3. “Just don’t expect them at any time in the future, ever, to upzone anything else.”

        I wouldn’t be so sure. There is some local support for an incremental upzone in SFR zones to allow more affordable missing middle housing.

      4. To answer my own question, in smaller towns, perhaps something as unsexy as greater density near transit stations might be higher on the list of priorities than in larger cities, like Seattle, where, while important, falls far down the list behind other issues like police reform and homelessness.

      5. One factor that drives support for this kind of rezone is that walkable downtowns with businesses and activity are nice and fun. While there are many strip malls in the area, there aren’t many locations along this line that have come into the full flower of being nice places to walk around.

        Also, denser neighborhoods provide support for services that lower-density areas couldn’t provide on their own. For example, this neighborhood’s last full-service grocery store closed on 2016. Probably the most-requested feature of the new neighborhood was a grocery store, and comments made throughout this rezone process supported increasing this neighborhood’s density to support a grocer.

        Never in my life have I heard someone say “we’d better rezone this before the state makes us do it”. Mountlake Terrace has already exceeded its state-required growth with existing projects already under construction. This extra growth is for other reasons.

    2. One reason we wanted the taller buildings is because, in theory, it would make concrete-framed, non-residential development pencil out better in immediate proximity to the transit center. One goal of this zoning process is to build a daytime population in close proximity to transit and the retail spine. However, six story buildings just gets you 5/1 apartment construction.

      1. Yes, it’s probably going to be 5/1 apartments and condos with some ground retail, like what’s already going on on 56th Ave W. Maybe some co-work space mixed in. The office complexes are really going to be in Lynnwood, one light rail stop away. I am somewhat discouraged that the same residential parking minimums as the apartments on 212th ST, which has zero bus service, are being applied in the “downtown” area which is walking distance to light rail. Very shortsighted! Though this can be subject to change once the development ball gets rolling.

      2. Parking requirements are lower in the Town Center. Up near 212th is the RMM zone and that requires Studio: 1.0 space, 1 bedroom: 1.5 spaces, 2 or more bedrooms: 2 spaces. Town Center has 3 different parking zones. Tier 1 closest to the transit center is Studio: 0.5 space, 1 bedroom: 0.75 spaces, 2 bedrooms: 1.0 spaces, 3-bedrooms or more: 1.25. Tier 2 is Studio: 0.75 space, 1 bedroom: 1.0 spaces, 2 bedrooms: 1.25 spaces, 3-bedrooms or more 1.5. Tier 3 is Studio: 0.75 space, 1 bedroom: 1.25 spaces, 2 bedrooms: 1.25 spaces, 3-bedrooms or more 1.5.

      3. More amazon housing! All the transit is for anyway not for people born and raised here. When amazon finds a cheaper way to do business it will be abandoned just another high rise slum

  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWNMRlUYA9M

    Breanna, for an explanation this is going to come across as bewildering if I use it to define “quaint.” One part of it was shot on the East Coast, New York City I think.


    But main film footage around the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee could very well contain me at eight years old. Before traumatic family move relocated my early art life from the Chicago to the Detroit Art Museum.

    And a serious comedown in association with the transit world cured only forty years later by actually getting a job driving electric buses in Seattle. So to me, maybe from the term “acquaintance”, “quaint” implies a critically deep and longing familiarity.

    In today’s Chicago, or most any city I can imagine, Child Protective Services would have had a long talk with my parents about sending an eight year old child ten miles or so into Downtown Chicago for charcoal drawing lessons every Saturday on the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) “El” for “elevated” though last fifteen minutes or so were a roaring high speed tunnel.

    Familiarity with the Chicago Art Institute is a formidable lifetime-shaper.

    But additional nostalgiabait: Amid an average Chicago trainload of passengers who in those days made their living running factories to scrubbing floors on their knees, anybody with an immoral thought toward me would’ve ended up being a linear coroner’s exhibit along the tracks from the point somebody else would’ve gotten the “air” off the doors at sixty. Maybe the conductor.

    From all those cross-ties to all that steel and copper to all that electricity, for the rest of a long life far from Chicago and all it contained and continues to….that IS my village. From Detroit suburbs to some overseas places to Detroit and its suburbs….in an hour or two I’ll take an Intercity Transit bus to Olympia Terminal for espresso nearby.

    Leading in to my main point. Retiring from Metro, three community college trade schools taught me how to sit at a laptop over coffee creating “CAD”- “Computer Assisted Drafting” files manufacturable just about fresh from my keyboard.

    Have to admit this year’s real nostalgic sorrow, though….in this manufacturing world, a seven year old Dell laptop might as well print with a goose-quill. Good thing average really good idea shares is how much you can design with pencil and paper.

    What I’m telling you, Breanna, is how much of the really important substance of your life you can keep alive for yourself whatever, say, Mountlake Terrace looks like. Or wherever your next residence. From closely-passed hours of my own on Link, many if not most stations bear favorable acquaintance, if you just get off and look.

    And maybe most important, be proud of what your taxes are indeed paying for. Conveying you the authority to develop an intense familiarity with the people your contributions are paying to manage the thing.


    Teach them to remember your name and interests.
    And remember that at present status of Link, its meeting room at International District is a fast ride from any other station.

    Mark Dublin

  5. We bought a home here. 8 years ago. Intended to raise our family and retire right where we bought our lovely home. The lightrail had been a distant maybe and not a topic brout up regurly if at all . Now, Townhomes are surrounding us and it no longer feels safe for our little ones . It’s not peaceful anymore . Not fun. Where the hell are we supposed to move to? Well at least someone else will get some affordable housing out of this right?

    1. So those “perverts” in those $600,000 Townhomes are going to molest your kids? In all honesty, that’s exactly what you’re implying. You watch too much Fox News and “True Crime” sensationalism.

      Crime is down across the country, mostly because we got lead out of gasoline in the late 1970’s and the people whose brains were ruined by the oil industry are too old to commit crimes.

      Some of them are the “homeless” now.

      Reparations are in order.

    2. There’s a debate about why the crime rate went down. Some say leaded gas, some say legalized abortion, and some say improved police procedures. It may have been all of them, but in any case the crime rate is much lower than it was in the 70s and the crack epidemic in the 90s.

    3. ST2 was funded in 2008, when it was announced that a station would open in 2023. That included a Mountlake Terrace Station — obviously adjacent to the parking garage. While it may have been feasible to move the station elsewhere or eliminate it, no one wanted to walk away from the region’s gift to put a station there.

      Once a station is sited and funded, property values rise and redevelopment pressure happens. That’s obviously market economics.

      Lynnwood Link was underfunded as recently as last year. Did a majority of the local residents in MT come forward then — asking to drop the station to save money and “save the neighborhood”? No.

      Whining now looks pretty silly at this point. The region gave MT a station — and the region deserves a decent return on investment.

      I’d even be in favor of requiring any neighborhood that gets a Link station to generally allow 85 foot buildings surrounding it, with 200 feet allowed if that station is in a subway.

      1. Agree 100%. Anecdotally I’d say the vast majority of MLT residents are excited about light rail and at least recognize the need to take advantage of the incredible access opportunities by focusing growth nearby.

      2. The development is happening because the upzone allows it. There are buildings just as large along the Bothell-Everett Highway and there’s no Link there. The location is near three freeway entrances. Even if developers declined to build now because Mountlake Terrace is low on their interest scale, the rising population would make them build eventually. It’s the center of town in a town that doesn’t have a center.

  6. In 2013, I would’ve given a lot to be able to live out my retirement in the apartment my wife left me in Ballard. Over our years at Lock Haven, our wonderful landlord let us paint the walls in all our rooms in her own beautiful choice of colors.

    When a very rich developer bought the complex, some of us tenants made him the best offer we could to buy back our homes. Verbatim: “It’s not in my business plan.” Doubt I would’ve lasted very long with him for a landlord. Our sweet little wood-trimmed kitchen had become a counter in the middle of the living room. And the walls would’ve stayed off-white.

    Like the rest of Ballard, and Seattle, it would never really be our home anymore. But if I’d stayed, I would’ve also counted Link as the best thing about living there. Pretty much the same as Metro Transit and its new regional affiliate Sound Transit, which truly made Ballard so livable, and lovable, to me all those years.

    To put it another way, worst outcome I could’ve imagined would’ve been Ballard with all the new buildings, people, and cars but without the planned rail transit, wherever within reason the station ended up.

    For the record also, my 2013 Prius, object of much affection, would’ve been a major reason for supporting the proposed rail. The fine fuel mileage is only part of the story. More to the point is how thoroughly that car agrees with the two-lane blacktop that, for the remainder of its shrinking life, is the only automotive environment I’d willfully make it inhabit.

    While thanking Tim Eyman by way of wishing him a complete retirement. But for everybody else I’m asking seriously and respectfully: Of every change these years have delivered Seattle ….why would anybody consider the proposed rail system as anything but good?

    Mark Dublin

  7. I look forward to visiting a more interesting Mountlake Terrace when this gets built out and the station opens.


  8. Be honest! The residents displaced by this and the other development WILL NEVER find housing in this area again they can afford. MLT is delusional in it’s thinking . And has chugged the single family home is evil kool aid.

    1. No one is displaced when they upzone. You must be confused. Sometimes they displace people when they build a freeway. Sometimes they displace people when the build a mass transit system. Sometimes renters get displaced because landlords raise the rent. But an upzone is not displacement. Those that decide to sell their homes will get good money for them. Those that don’t can just stay where they are.

  9. I remember having to meet someone in “downtown Mountlake Terrace” years ago, a town I was then quite unfamiliar with. I saw a sign pointing to “downtown” and followed the sign, but found no downtown. Then I saw a similar sign nearby, and followed that one also. But still no downtown.

    It finally dawned on me that what they called “downtown” was just another junction of faceless strip malls ~ nothing remotely like what I was expecting to find. Perhaps this time, MLT will get something closer to being a legit downtown.

    1. When I was visiting a family in Mountlake Terrace in the 90s, 56th seemed to be the main street, as having slightly more businesses and activity than the others. Now they want to make 58th the main street?

      1. The updated Town Center plan calls for a new 57th St which is imagined to be something similar to Park Lane in Kirkland. A low vehicular volume and high pedestrian volume street with storefronts on both sides. The east side of 58th is also now required to have storefronts due to its close proximity to light rail, Veterans Park and the Civic Campus. Storefronts are still required at intersection corners along 56th.

  10. My main concern is 0.5-0.75 parking spot per one unit. One household has at least one car. A family of two has 2 cars. If a family has three teenagers, there can be 5 cars. Where are they going to park? The cars will spill all over the streets of the City, blocking owners for parking their own cars in front of their houses. Then, Police will be overwhelmed by 911 calls with parking complaints.
    How could a Planning Department approve 0.5-0.75 parking per a unit? People are not going to walk or bicycle for miles to only two food stores in the City, QFC and Safeway, to buy groceries.

    1. Have you considered that people who are willing to pay some sort of premium to live next to light rail might be using it to commute every day, making it feasible for a family to have only one car for weekend getaways or grocery runs? Just because you can’t envision having fewer than 1 car per person doesn’t mean other people can’t. (FWIW, my household of 1 has zero cars).

      One family with FIVE cars? What godforsaken corner of Florida are you from? When I was a teenager in the long-ago time of 2011, my family of 4 had 2 cars, and this was in a place where there no way to get around except driving. I had to do the unthinkable and ask my parents for permission to borrow a car to go to the mall, or *gasp* ask a friend for a ride.

      Also, calling 911 for parking complaints (FYI, you don’t own the curb space in front of your house and anyone can legally park there) is some entitled BS when there are people out there actually having medical emergencies.

    2. The relevant term is “car-term.”. While households are unlikely to be car free, given the suburban location and various needs of a multiperson household (e.g. grocery runs) the idea is that since most work commutes can done without a car, households often will only own one car per family, rather than once car per driver.

      FWIW, Bellevue spring district is having an issue of not enough parking for cars, because the apartments that have opened are not well served by transit, until East Link is open. So if the TOD precedes the transit, there can be problems.

Comments are closed.