Smart Growth Seattle Three Years On: Are We Making Progress?
The good news: our idea that housing production is not, like many are led to believe, a scourge that needs to be reviewed, taxed, and slowed, but is instead an important community benefit that stands strong on its own, is alive and well. The bad news: even while saying the right things, government still treats what builders of housing do as a negative impact that needs to be offset.
I does feel, three years after starting Smart Growth Seattle, that many of the things I used to say that seemed controversial are now common parlance. The best example of this is the word, supply. As I mentioned in a post, supply is now used with ease among growth supporter and skeptics alike. That’s a win.
In a talk today with the Gallup researcher who wrote a damning criticism of zoning, I pointed out that locally at least, we’re still trying to punish developers, builders, and landlords. His study singled out zoning and regulation as part of the reason places like Seattle don’t have a rational housing market. I said that the lack of rationality starts right at the top with a Mayor and Council dead set on raising prices on new housing to offset rising prices.
It’s going to be an interesting year ahead as we try to build on positive changes in the way people are talking about housing while holding them accountable on what they actually do about it.