Monthly Archives: May 2014

Council Members’ Vote = Residents Will Care Less about their Neighborhoods

These out of scale houses prove that in Seattle, developers matter more than great neighborhoods.
People naturally don’t care as much about these degraded neighborhoods, so Seattlites will become more isolated, cynical and insensitive to their neighbors.

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Seattlites are going to care less about their neighborhoods.  And the city the live in.

One of the best parts of Seattle used to be the neighborhoods.   Each had their own character and charm.  The single family areas had grace and harmony, and different architectural styles complemented each other because builders tried to fit new homes into the neighborhood with some sensitivity.  These homes honored and conveyed an ethic that neighbors are considerate to each other.

Neighbors considered each other when remodeling their homes, worked together and helped each other.  Neighbors became your trusted, and often best friends.  Your neighborhood was an extension of your home, the place of rest and refuge after a long day.  It was a place you loved.

Seattle leaders used to value that, so they created a plan to accommodate the new homes where they make sense – in urban villages where you can walk, shop and take transit.

As these areas became more dense, it became even more important to have quiet, green spaces with trees, open air and sunshine for everyone to enjoy.  Parks and single family neighborhoods filled that need.  A rejuvenating and soothing walk or bike ride through our single family neighborhoods were good for the soul.  They were an extension of our park system.

That is going away.

Thanks to certain City Council members, many more neighborhoods will look like Benchview, with out-of-scale, 3 story skinny houses crammed on very small lots.  (btw, Council members don’t think a 3,200 s.f. lot is very small.)

These houses are like billboards constantly reminding  neighbors and visitors:

In Seattle developers follow different rules than everyone else.  Neighborhoods are not communities, they are just resources to extract maximum profit without considering  how you affect anyone else.  

Visitors get that message right away.  It’s embarrassing and frustrating for us Seattlites to explain to visitors why our neighborhood looks like it does now.

Rather than a place of solace, your neighborhood becomes a nagging reminder that Seattle is for developers, not for communities.  When this happens, people become less attached to their neighborhoods and they care less about them.  People start moving away.  Our strong communities become weak.

That former, wonderful Seattle is dying.

That original, sweet soul of Seattle neighborhoods is like Pike Place Market.  We love it, care about it, and will joyfully work hard to make it better.  But the neighborhoods we loved are being replaced – piece by piece –  by the equivalent of a suburban shopping mall, places that we don’t really care about, feel no connection to, and wouldn’t bother to put any energy into making better.

On May 6, the city council land use committee voted unanimously to give developers almost everything they asked for.  If the entire City Council rubber stamps this vote – which is likely – then expect more neighborhoods across the City where people care less and less about their neighborhoods.

Here’s a picture of what Benchview tried to stop.   Dozens of neighborhoods fought the same battle, and hundreds of residents told City Council they want development and density that is appropriate and thoughtful.   But CM O’Brien and Clark led the charge to let developers keep doing this type of thing to our neighborhoods.

There is still time to stop this.  Contact City Council members before they take a final vote on May 19.

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