Growth without the niceties
It was the usual grand-opening bash: A crowd of swells downing bread hunks, cheese chunks and glasses of wine. Outside, though, there was...
Seattle Times staff columnist
It was the usual grand-opening bash: A crowd of swells downing bread hunks, cheese chunks and glasses of wine.
Outside, though, there was another crowd eager to get into the brand-new Kress IGA Supermarket on Third Avenue in downtown Seattle: the new residents of this growing core.
They've been hungering for a walk-to place that is open past 6 p.m. and has more fortified cereal than fortified beer.
I saw them and wondered: How is it that we can have thousands of units of downtown development, but only one new grocery (Whole Foods) to serve them all?
A new city report offers an answer, but also confirms what we have long suspected: Seattle is growing at near-reckless speed.
In just over three years, Seattle is halfway to reaching its targeted-housing growth for 20 years, according to the Department of Planning and Development report.
Not only that, neighborhoods like Ballard, Eastlake and downtown have already exceeded their 20-year targets.
The only thing not under construction? Plans for a better quality of life.
City Hall needs to rethink a proposal to expand tax exemptions for developers who build condos and apartments in areas targeted for significant growth, like Northgate and Lake City.
Mayor Greg Nickels is so focused on getting dense and going green, the city has lost sight of how to accommodate the crowds.
I hate to complain. Growth has always generated optimism and pride.
Look at all the people who want to come here. Look at all the jobs they are filling. Look at all the things they bring to the texture of the community.
Problem is, they have also brought dogs that need green space. These folks need buses to get to work. Somewhere to breathe and stretch and be without running into another condo project that promises to make our urban dreams come true.
"We are fortunate that we are growing," said Councilman Nick Licata, who, like me, opposes any more breaks for developers. "But we need more amenities before we need more housing units.
"We're riding this wave of green guilt, but you just don't throw more people in the box. You've got to throw something into the box to appreciate living in it."
Licata is pushing for more open space and new and improved community centers, including public pools.
The city is responding to some of the problems that all this new construction has wrought. (Scarred asphalt. Potholes as big as babies.)
In April, Nickels kicked off his "Bridging the Gap" transportation program, which will pave 41 miles of road, add new sidewalks and trees and complete pedestrian and bike trails.
I just drove a freshly paved stretch of Madison Street and felt like Dorothy skipping down the Yellow Brick Road.
"I don't want to be tagged as an anti-growth person," Licata told me. "But you have to grow old with grace."
So before we make sure the developers are happy, shouldn't we be graceful, and meet the needs of the people who are already here?
Nicole Brodeur's column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.