Labor Takes a Vacation


Street and alley vacations can be a fraught affair these days. A vacation is when a private developer purchases public right of way to build on, under, or over. A parking lot under an alley way, for example, is a subterranean vacation. But it’s not just a sale because there has to be “public benefit.” […]

NIMBYs: The Koch Brothers of Land Use


When I first met with Mike O’Brien and his lead staff person on land use, Esther Handy, she told me, “I’m here to look out for the little guy when the market can’t.” I think Councilmember O’Brien and Handy are sincere in their desire to accomplish advances toward the goals of social equity and justice. We […]

Design Review: Stealing From the Future

Cassandra and Friend

As I have already pointed out, the Department of Planning and Development has proposed design review for new microhousing projects as a way to assuage anger and fear of a band of neighbors opposed to the product.  But why, in a city where it is liturgical for politicians to state their commitment to ‘affordable housing,’ […]

Orientation: The Construction Codes Advisory Board

Meeting of the Construction Codes Advisory Board

The Construction Codes Advisory Board (CCAB) is probably one of the most important City Boards that you’ve never heard of. The CCAB is the body that reviews additions and changes to the City’s building code. This matters a lot for builders, architects, engineers, and everyone in the building trades who actually have their hands dirty […]

Have Any Red Herrings? KIRO is Buying Them!

KIRO Has and Appetite for Red Herrings

Once again local media—this time KIRO Radio—has played right into the NIMBYs hands with a story on this morning’s radio and a post on their website. The headline? Microhousing trend in Seattle ruining property values, warns real estate agent  I talked with the producer of the story Zak Burns and took him to task for […]

You’ve Heard of Backlash. Ready for Frontlash?

The Oddfellows at night

Frontlash is the pain that comes before big changes in a city. I can’t take credit for this use of the term,since the first person I heard use it was former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. He used the term to describe the neighborhood outrage and upheaval that was happening before the imposition of a “road […]

The Neighborhood and its Discontents


When we start to consider this possibility, we come across a point of view which is so amazing that we will pause over it. According to it, our so-called civilization itself is to blame for a great part of our misery, and we should be much happier if we were to give it up and […]

Report: Love Your Neighbor (and Her Home)


This past week the Seattle Times published a guest editorial by Diane Douglas the Executive Director of the Seattle CityClub, headlined, “Seattleites Stop Ignoring Your Neighbors.” The CityClub says it goal is to provide “a space to talk about the issues that impact our lives. Dialogue that is passionately nonpartisan. Connections to leaders and local […]

Innovation in Affordable Housing

View from 422 11th

Innovation happens in affordable housing, but progressive cities such as Seattle who have chosen to make it a priority could be doing more to encourage creativity in developing new models. City planners are on board with the value that mixed income living brings to neighborhoods, but regulators too easily think in terms of twisting the […]

Small Homes Still a Big Deal


There is a great post up at Living in Density (a blog  featuring small living spaces) featuring a home built by a local builder, Steele Homes.  Context is everything, and the 2-bedroom home sits in a part of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle, where the average house is more than twice its size. Developed […]