Redmond Mayor Marchione Shows Us What Success Would Look Like

A week ago I was able to get over to the Master Builders Association mixer in Redmond. It had been a while since I had visited the city and the lure of Jack’s Bar-B-Que and connecting with some builders added to the reasons to take the trip over the bridge. I ended up being impressed with Redmond’s Mayor, John Marchione who spoke at the event. Here’s part of what he said:

We’re always trying to work with our customers and make things work well because you know if we’re going to have housing be anymore affordable we’ve got to make things predictable so you guys can predict, so the market can predict, and so we can have that dream. So, thank you all for being part of building the plans that us cities imagine and being a part of building that dream that vision that we keep out there.

You might remember I wrote about the things keeping us stuck when it comes to housing policy and also about what things we could as a community and industry to change the way people think about housing. Today in Seattle we’re still arguing over whether supply and demand is a real thing and how much “profit” people who build housing should make. In Seattle, developers are very much see as the problem. What we need is research and communications that will shift people’s conceptual framework: when prices go up that means we need more. And well meaning left leaning people would see that blocking growth is just as bad as Donald Trump repealing DACA.

What was powerful about Marchione’s comments was they were delivered matter of factly to a crowd of housing builders. He highlighted predictability and how builders actually make the city happen. Builders aren’t just building housing, they are helping other people build their own dreams whether it is a new home, a job, or a city trying to fulfill its planning objectives.

The fact that Marchione would even show up and say these words out loud is shocking when compared to his elected counterparts in Seattle that want builders to “pay their share” and are making things more unpredictable every day with haphazard rule making, fees, and trying to tax new housing.

My dream is not so much that builders and developers be lauded as the solution to the challenges of housing policy but as part of the solution. The Seattle City Council and Mayor don’t seem to recognize the value of new housing; instead they see it as an impact, something that makes no sense considering housing is scarce in Seattle.

When I heard Marchione’s words I had to imagine how different and better things would be in our city if we had leadership that could be collaborative with us rather than ignoring the expertise builders have at best, and at worst making them out to be villains. When elected officials in Seattle sound like Marchione, I will know our housing “crisis” is over.

Photo is of what I call the Tipsy Cow Building in Downtown Redmond. 

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