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Community group creates petition to stop over development in Ballard

Posted by Danielle Anthony-Goodwin on February 11th, 2014

photoA group of concerned Ballard residents who are alarmed by the “recent, drastic, and developer-led changes to our neighborhood” have banded together and created www.livableballard.org.

Within the last week, as you may have seen, the group has distributed hundreds of flyers (pictured) to homes in Ballard urging locals to sign a petition to make our representatives aware of residents’ concerns regarding development in our neighborhood.

Development has been a hot topic on My Ballard in recent times, with many readers expressing their concern about the future of Ballard and asking what they can do to prevent over development. Livableballard.org may be the answer for those who want to make their voice heard.

The team state on their website that they “seek to improve community engagement in growth and provide Ballard residents with tools and resources for planning and development that reflects our needs and values, not those of non-resident property developers.”

Check out the message on the livableballard.org website below:

Are you concerned that the rapid proliferation of new development throughout your residential neighborhood surpasses the rate at which community, environmental, and infrastructure impact can properly be assessed? Troubled by the potential loss of your privacy to towering new construction? Worried that you’ll no longer be able to grow your own food in the shadow cast by enormous out-of-scale development? Well you should be! Recent changes to Seattle’s lowrise multifamily land use code precipitated a development boom that has grossly exceeded our city government’s own growth targets for Ballard’s Urban Village.

These changes have also enabled developers to circumvent review processes intended to ensure that projects fit sensitively into neighborhoods. Dodging these review processes often results in buildings that are architecturally discordant and demonstrate disregard for the concerns of neighboring residents.

Increased density is inevitable and, to some extent, even desirable; theoretically, it should prevent urban sprawl, preserve green space, and give rise to affordable housing. We believe current growth in Ballard’s Urban Village residential areas dangerously outpaces expansion of infrastructure and services (metro/fire/police) while conferring few ecological or affordable housing advantages.

With numerous, large, apartment and condo buildings already built or under construction in Ballard’s midrise zones, we question an affordable housing justification put forward by developers and their mouthpieces for razing so many modest, lowrise zone structures. In fact, reasonably-priced duplex and triplex rentals as well as modest single family homes and historic structures in Ballard’s lowrise zones are often replaced with towering, out-of-scale, “formula design” developments that, when priced at market value, likely displace many of Ballard’s low to middle income residents.

The good news? If you’re frustrated by our representatives’ seeming inattention to residents’ concerns, developers’ clear indifference toward Ballard’s architectural history, and both parties’ inattention to community impact, you’re not alone!

We’ve drafted a petition addressing some of these concerns. It seeks corrections to Seattle’s current lowrise multifamily land use code while requesting a more transparent and resident-inclusive project vetting process. We hope this petition will encourage more community involvement in shaping Ballard’s future. While this document specifically cites Ballard concerns, we believe the changes we’re requesting would positively affect all Seattle’s lowrise multifamily zoned areas, as well as lowrise-adjacent areas; we strongly encourage all Seattle residents to sign the petition and join us in this effort to reasonably guide otherwise rampant growth so our neighborhoods can continue to be vibrant and livable.

The website includes helpful information for locals about what they can do to make their voice heard effectively and also provides guidelines for writing to council members about the issue of development.

The My Ballard team emailed livableballard.org today and we are waiting for a response to find out more about the organization.

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164 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 john shepherd // Feb 11, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Love to see this!!! Finally some citizen common sense SPEAKING UP.

  • 2 Andrew // Feb 11, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    This NIMBY-ism makes me really sad.

  • 3 Cosmo // Feb 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Are they putting anything back into our neighborhood to offset their impact, such as investment in parks, parking, or transit? I don’t think so… Seems like we are losing more than we’re gaining.

  • 4 Aleks // Feb 11, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    The group claims that replacing “modest single-family homes” with midrise apartment buildings will make Ballard *less* affordable. The numbers do not bear this out.

    I just did a quick search on Redfin. The cheapest single-family house for sale that’s anywhere near Ballard is a 2-bedroom, 830 square foot bungalow at 77th and 26th. For this modest home, you can pay the low price of $389,000, or $1,824/month with a 30-year mortgage. And that’s with 20% down — meaning that you had to have saved up about $80,000, once you include closing costs.

    If you look at sales over the past 12 months, excluding short sales and foreclosures, the cheapest sale was a 420 square foot home for $256,000. If you assume an FHA loan with 3.5% down, we’re still talking about $1,600/month.

    In contrast, Calhoun Properties offers “aPodments” starting at $600/month, with no down payment other than a security deposit.

    I invite anyone from this group to explain why single-family housing is actually more affordable than apartments.

  • 5 Aleks // Feb 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Cosmo: Nothing… except for housing. Which is an essential public service, and one that we don’t have nearly enough of, which you can see by the rate at which rents and real estate prices have risen in Seattle over the past 10-20 years.

    You wouldn’t ask grocery stores to build new bus lines. You wouldn’t ask restaurants to build new parks. Why would you require that housing developers do all of these things other than providing housing?

    As far as parking goes, I would argue that building too much parking makes a neighborhood worse, not better. Think about Ballard Ave. Now imagine if you replaced a block of storefronts with a three-story parking garage. I’m not saying that we should eliminate all parking, but given that most new buildings include at least one new underground spot per apartment built — if not more — I’m not sure what else you would want them to provide.

  • 6 Rydiculous // Feb 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Andrew – this ‘NIMBY-ism” that makes you so sad is actually “HBHIOBY” (Has Been Happening in our Back Yard.

    If you like, I’ll buy you a drink at The Viking and explain…

  • 7 Misty Olson // Feb 11, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Thank you for those who have coordinated this effort. It will certainly provide a venue for us to express concerns, become further informed and hopefully gain an active role in the development of our neighborhood vs a passive role watching what the developers decide to do.

  • 8 Rydiculous // Feb 11, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Aleks – A lot of the apartments do have parking, but they charge tenants for the spots. Notice along 15th across from Ballard HS & across from the pancake house, all of the tenants vehicles who’ve chosen not to pay extra to rent a parking spot.

    Or, you could go one block back to Mary or 16th ave, and see all the street jammed with the new car owning apartment dweller’s vehicles.

  • 9 Aleks // Feb 11, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Rydiculous — While I don’t agree with Andrew’s use of the NIMBY label, I think you’re missing the point. The group doesn’t exist just to document what’s already been built. They’re arguing for changes to Seattle’s land use code that will result in fewer homes being built in Ballard, which will in turn result in higher rents and higher for-sale home prices.

    The past is over; what matters is what we do going forward. This group is pretty clear that what they want to see is less development. Andrew and I think that’s a bad goal.

  • 10 Aleks // Feb 11, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Ryducolous — Regarding parking, I’ve long argued that the real problem is the way that Seattle handles parking permits. A better way to handle it would be to figure out just how many spaces the neighborhood streets can handle, and then to distribute exactly that number of neighborhood parking permits. The permits would come with a modest annual fee, and the money would be given to a neighborhood association for spending on local improvements. Anyone who tries to park in a resident-only space without a permit would be towed and charged a heavy fine.

    The fact of the matter is that land is expensive. If you try to give away parking for free (like most of our street parking is), then you’ll have way more “buyers” than spots. Imagine if you tried to give away housing for free — you’d have to wait in line for 20 years before you could get an apartment! The right solution is to charge the market price, not to double down on giving away this scarce resource.

  • 11 Andrew // Feb 11, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Sorry I used the NIMBY label, but it serves as a good catch-all for people who don’t want people moving in near them for any variety of reasons.

    The website states “We believe current growth in Ballard’s Urban Village residential areas dangerously outpaces expansion of infrastructure and services (metro/fire/police) while conferring few ecological or affordable housing advantages.”

    This is just flat out, objectively wrong. As Aleks points out, increased development REDUCES HOUSING PRICES. Having people living in higher density areas REDUCES ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT on a per person basis. If they are truly concerned about these problems, they should be advocating for more development not less.

    If you want better infrastructure, then instead of inhibiting development you support the organizations that are lobbying for those goals, e.g. Seattle Subway for transit. If you don’t like the cookie cutter look of some developments, lobby your representatives to LOOSEN development standards, not tighten them. The reason so many of them have to be the same is because they have to comply with the DPD’s ever more restrictive and antiquated rules.

    If people want to form a group with the purpose of keeping their property value high or because they dislike people from a different social group, go ahead and just say that up front. Just don’t couch it in feigned concern for affordability or environment or any other number of false reasons.

  • 12 Mark // Feb 11, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I am from Ballard, born and raised here.
    It is absolutely a different place today. I am currently living in the Green Lake neighborhood and that’s going through the same changes. I am living next door to a Vacation Rental House, its rents by the day. Its a total nightmare!!!!
    This city is only interested in generating as much revenue as possible, that’s why you are seeing theses single family homes turn into as many units as possible. My experience with Sally Clark at the city council has been a waste of time. The best thing we can do is band together, there is power in numbers!

  • 13 john shepherd // Feb 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Aleks, the street parking is being given freely to the developers by our politicians , and they are not required to provide any parking in the new designated (urban villages). This is creating gridlock everywhere you go. And a parking garage on ballard avenue would be a welcome addition to the hood seeing as how there is no parking now. I would use it. These developers are laughing all the way to the bank!!

  • 14 john shepherd // Feb 11, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Andrew,Are you a developer?

  • 15 Profile photo of Mondoman Mondoman // Feb 11, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Aleks, you write
    “… given that most new buildings include at least one new underground spot per apartment built — if not more — I’m not sure what else you would want them to provide.” Unfortunately, your info is out of date.

    There used to be parking required by the old Seattle development codes. However, the City (with City Council approval) removed this requirement, to the point where currently developers of properties within “urban village” zones (such as central Ballard) don’t have to provide ANY off-street parking! I believe this new organization is striving to reverse such poorly-thought-out recent changes in the development rules.

    If you think about it, most Ballard streets were built with 1-2 on-street parking spaces in the street frontage of each single-family house. Redevelopment of a lot to add density increases the number of vehicles “residing” there; to be fair to the neighborhood, new development should provide off-street parking if more than 1 or 2 vehicles will be housed there, since the number of on-street spaces is fixed in practice. This is roughly what the previous rules required.

    The Central Ballard Residents’ Association (CBRA) is holding its monthly public meeting this Thursday Feb 13th at Swedish Hospital and the subject with be residential parking. I hope you’ll come!

    As to your proposed residential parking permit scheme, I think it makes sense, but only if the total number of permits is limited to the total number of on-street parking spaces. Thus, a new 60-unit building built in place of 2 pre-existing single-family houses would only be entitled to a total of 2 to 4 on-street parking permits. If new, dense, parking-free housing is really what people want, such a limit shouldn’t be a problem.

  • 16 Panoramic // Feb 11, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Rydiculous- yeah go have a drink at the Viking and then when you get drunk munchies hit up Denny’s.

    This is group is pro NIMBYism

  • 17 Profile photo of Mondoman Mondoman // Feb 11, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Andrew, you’re the only one mentioning keeping property values high or disliking other social groups. Better watch out — impartial readers might infer you’ve got no better arguments than ad hominems :)

  • 18 Jay // Feb 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Ballard has PLENTY of low rent apartments, what’s the occupancy rate? Do we really need more? The argument shouldn’t be about apartments vs houses anymore. It should be about preserving some culture in Seattle/Ballard.

    The bigger issue to me is the absolute disregard to Ballard culture and history when building monstrous rectangle buildings that any first year architecture student could design in a half hour.

    The developers could not care less about what they are building, and that needs to change. There is no stopping this tide, no way, but we can try to enforce some design changes. The corner of Market and 15th looks like “AnywhereVille USA”, strip mall city. We don’t need to look like Bellevue or Redmond, we are Ballard, rich in history.

    Personally, I don’t want Ballard to completely be overrun with these disgusting looking boxes, no neighborhoods, no identity, all gone.

  • 19 j. l. clarke // Feb 11, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Being new (2 years) to Seattle I am in a state of shock over zoning here. It seems anything goes with developers calling all the shots. These large apt buildings are managed primarily out of state and are extremely expensive. These are not low cost housing by any stretch.

  • 20 Mason // Feb 11, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    I had one of these fliers delivered to my house this weekend. Unlike some of the angry, pro-developer folks commenting above, I actually went to the livableballard web site and read the petition. I’d strongly encourage other folks who live in the single family part of Central Ballard to do the same. The petition is about the developer land rush that’s happening all around us as a result of changes to the low rise multifamily zoning code in 2010. It’s not about microhousing or bread loaf buildings in the downtown core.

    I know from experience that long-term low income rental buildings are being bulldozed and replaced by townhouses that sell for $500k and up. It’s happening on my block. I got a card in the mail from a realtor just yesterday bragging that she sold one of these for $700k.

    What’s happening has nothing to do with affordable housing and diversity, it’s about maximizing profit for a select group of developers from the eastside and Lynnwood.

  • 21 Seattle Slew // Feb 11, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Aleks, the past is never “over.” I would wager that you are too young to have yet lived somewhere that had its history blighted and character destroyed by rampant, thoughtlessly done development. Development and urban density can be achieved in a manner that embraces and includes a place’s history and all sorts of things that have made that place unique and desirable to live in. It is simply not being done well in Ballard, and in years to come even more people will look at pictures of Ballard as it once was and will lament that heedless developers out to make a quick buck (under the guise of providing affordable housing) were given free rein to obliterate most of what made this neighborhood an interesting place. You CAN actually have both development and conservation…I’ve lived in places where it’s been done well. And maybe, if both new and old Ballard residents can see through developer shenanigans, it can still be done in Ballard.

  • 22 Toby Thaler // Feb 11, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Aleks, you write, “You wouldn’t ask grocery stores to build new bus lines. You wouldn’t ask restaurants to build new parks. Why would you require that housing developers do all of these things other than providing housing?”

    Why? Because development has impacts and it should pay for itself.

    Not the retail stores directly, but the developer of the property who leases to the grocer or restaurant certainly can be asked to contribute toward the bus lines and parks needed to support the increased density. It’s called impact fees, and they are a standard mechanism to help make development pay for the impacts it creates. See http://www.mrsc.org/subjects/planning/impactpg.aspx

    Same with residential development; if you don’t make it pay for its impacts on public services, the public ends up paying. That’s called externalizing the costs, and it’s a gift of public resources to private developers. Or a degradation of the quality of life if the public cannot come up with the tax dollars to provide the needed bus service, parks, schools, etc. Not a very democratic value in my opinion.

    Seattle’s City Council has not seen fit to implement impact fees. Perhaps it’s because the council members have been too beholden to the developers (and their lawyers and consultants) who are large campaign contributors? Perhaps district elections can help reset the balance? Livableballard certainly can.

  • 23 Balanced Growth // Feb 11, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Aleks, how many square feet is that apodment that rents for $600 a month? I provide rental space in my single family home turned triplex at approximately $1.07 per square foot. Your apodment example which is likely between 70-250 sq ft and rents for $600 provides space at somewhere between $2.40 and $8.57 per square foot. You tell me what’s affordable about that? When surrounding landlords get a whif of what developers are taking out of those apodments you can be darn sure they are going to raise their rents. It’s developoment that is driving up the cost of rents in Ballard, not the other way around.

  • 24 Toby Thaler // Feb 11, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Andrew, you said, “This is just flat out, objectively wrong. As Aleks points out, increased development REDUCES HOUSING PRICES. Having people living in higher density areas REDUCES ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT on a per person basis. If they are truly concerned about these problems, they should be advocating for more development not less.”

    There is no objective evidence that increasing density in core urban areas by itself significantly decreases the cost of housing. Rents in high demand, high density urban centers do not go back to pre-development rates unless you have a total collapse (Detroit, Depression). If you (or Aleks) disagree, post a link to the relevant studies.

    The reduced environmental per capita impact argument has some merit. However, if you don’t provide the transit system, much of that benefit will be foregone because people will end up driving or taking taxi-equivalents. More importantly, careful analysis shows that the benefit is very localized; if you evaluate the entire urban area, there is no benefit because you can’t stop the sprawl of those with enough money to live in resource wasteful suburbs. See https://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2014/01/06/suburban-sprawl-cancels-carbon-footprint-savings-of-dense-urban-cores/

  • 25 Mad Maxine // Feb 11, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Tearing down great compact houses with yards full of gardens to build giant hulking borg cubes that shade the neighbors seems to be the thing in my neighborhood. I have seen 20 great little houses get torn down within 2 blocks of me since I bought my tiny house in 2004.

    Let’s not fail to mention the great 6-unit, single story apartment building with the nice communal yard that was torn down and replaced with 4 giant, single-family borg cubes. How the hell is that an efficient use of space? Less dense than before and more wasteful of resources (the heating on these buildings can’t be cheap). I’m not impressed.

    Don’t get me started about the jerk developer who tried to tear down a house that was sided with asbestos before having it abated (you bet I stopped that from happening).

    And then there’s the “public notice” letters and posted signs implying that there’s a public comment period. I have never seen one of these show up BEFORE the public comment period already expired. What. The. BLEEP?

    There is a place for development, but it needs to be reasonable. I don’t know what to do about it yet, but I’m definitely signing the petition and will for sure be getting more involved.

  • 26 Toby Thaler // Feb 11, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Andrew, you said, “If you don’t like the cookie cutter look of some developments, lobby your representatives to LOOSEN development standards, not tighten them. The reason so many of them have to be the same is because they have to comply with the DPD’s ever more restrictive and antiquated rules.”

    This is inaccurate. The reason we have cr@ppy buildings is because the zoning code keeps getting loosened and design review is largely ineffective. Saying DPD has “ever more restrictive and antiquated rules” is a bad joke.

  • 27 Balanced Growth // Feb 11, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    “In contrast, Calhoun Properties offers “aPodments” starting at $600/month, with no down payment other than a security deposit.” And also provides no parking, is not doing anything to mitigate all those toilets that will be flushing into an already overwhelming 100 year old + sewer system or subsidize an over taxed public transportation system. Ballard already has the highest number of combined sewer overflows (translation = flooding!) in the city. Where is the infrastructure to support these mega buildings that will offer 1-3 months leases? Do you know how many tens of thousands of dollars in rent Calhoun will take off those apodments? Figuring 43 units like the one that is currently under construction in Ballard at $600 per unit, that should be about $25,800 a month and they don’t have to provide parking for the tenants who the city has been told will only take the bus and ride bicycles. Who told DPD that? The developer did – and that was good enough for DPD. Actual research done by someone more responsible than DPD shows that 23% of those people will indeed drive cars. And so will their visiting friends and family members.

  • 28 Toby Thaler // Feb 11, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    This discussion is déjà vu all over again. In the mid-1980s, after a major overhaul of the cities “L Zones”, developers pursued a similar building rush to today. And they were pretty ugly, oversized, and out of place.

    Ballard and Fremont rose up in a manner similar to what is happening now. That effort resulted in a number of local and city-wide changes:
    • a few specific rezones so zoning more accurately reflected existing scales;
    • shifting of significant power to the department of neighborhoods, along with a neighborhood planning process; and
    • a design review program.

    Unfortunately:
    • the 2010 L Zone rezone undid much of the earlier code; and
    • design review has been a crippled process from the start, and has become increasing proscribed.

    Much of this history is found in a chapter of this book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Investing-Democracy-Engaging-Collaborative-Governance/dp/0815703120
    [one copy at Seattle Public Library--first come, first served--cheap used from various sites]

  • 29 Cate // Feb 11, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Strange, none of those flyers made there way to my condo building located in the heart of the urban village. Oversight I’m sure. They must think that condo dwellers have no concerns about this issue that they would like shared with our representatives. Or, maybe, that only people who live in single-family residences have opinions about the neighborhood.

  • 30 Balanced Growth // Feb 11, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Or maybe you live in a secure and inaccessible building?

  • 31 Profile photo of Ernie Ernie // Feb 11, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Rapid development is nothing new around here. Just take a look around 57th, 58th, 59th, all the streets between 14th and 15th from Market to 65th, and randomly placed pretty much everywhere else in central Ballard for 4-6-plex box shaped apartments, with white textured stucco, aluminum windows, leaky flat roofs, dirty car ports facing the street, and nothing but concrete as far as the eye can see. During the 60’s and 70’s dozens (hundreds?) of single family homes were torn down to make way for these ugly boxes.

    Funny thing is that lots of people who identify as Ballardites (myself included) have lived in these places, yet they are just the 60’s version of a tall, cedar-clad, Scandinavian style triplexes going in today.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same…

  • 32 Profile photo of Mondoman Mondoman // Feb 11, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Cate, MyBallard is our virtual doorstep — my building didn’t get the flyers either, but the net here keeps us informed. It’s nice to see the fairly high level of the discussion here as well.

  • 33 Mason // Feb 11, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Ha. Nice one Cate. I’m sure that’s what it was — a deliberate attempt to exclude condo dwellers. (I’m matching what I think is sarcasm with the like). I’m guessing fliers were distributed where they would have most impact — the folks directly affected by the code change the liveableballard petition is addressing.

    I can’t speak for this group, but a broader neighborhood conversation about development involving all residents — property owners, renters, even condo owners — would be a good thing. Right now, the neighborhood is effectively silent and we’re seeing what happens when folks don’t speak up.

  • 34 Mason // Feb 11, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Ernie, That’s absolutely true. I’ve lived in them also. History is repeating itself. Maybe we can actually learn something and try and stop it this time. With some exceptions, the last wave of “unfortunate” development stopped south of NW 60th. What we’ve seeing now is the area north from 60th to 65th being bulldozed.

    There’s definitely room for infill and other forms of development in this area. And I don’t think anybody is saying all the existing structures should be preserved in amber. But the current approach of just opening the area up for unrestrained and largely unregulated development is clearly not working.

  • 35 Cate // Feb 12, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Mason (and all) – While I was a little sarcastic in tone, I was quite serious. As this group of individuals has a specific POV to get across, yes I do think they are selecting largely the single family residences as their marketing targets. And that is smart on their part if they want to have an impact. However their literature, and this article, overlook that there are individuals who deliberately chose to live in a high density urban village. As the Ballard urban village has been in place since the late nineteen eighties this growth was completely intentional and predictable. In terms of paying for services; if you red-pencil out the total real estate taxes paid by the units of a condominium versus the real estate taxes paid by the number of single family residences allowed on that property size, the condominiums pay considerably more. Even factoring in the larger number of residents in condominiums, there is a net tax benefit to the city/school district for condominiums compared to single family residences. (Tax records are public – I’ve done the math for my building and two others in Ballard and the results were consistent). This issue is more about lifestyle choices then anything else.

  • 36 Aleks // Feb 12, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Toby,

    I don’t know where to begin.

    First of all, development impact fees would have the effect of reducing development. Development has negative externalities, but it also has positive externalities, like reducing carbon emissions. You tax externalities when you want to discourage them, and it’s far from clear to me that dense development is something we want to discourage.

    I’m not opposed to impact fees on principle. But it’s misleading to pretend that all of the impacts happen at the time of development. Streets need to be repaved; buses need to be operated; parks need to be cleaned. When you have denser development, the cost of maintaining all of this infrastructure is much lower on a per-person basis. But because most of our tax revenue comes from a value-based property tax and a retail sales tax, existing single-family homeowners pay only a tiny share of the impact caused by their low-intensity development.

    Come to me with a proposal to charge *yearly* impact fees, on new *and* existing development, and then I’ll believe you that you’re not just trying to oppose change.

    Regarding that suburban sprawl article you linked to, it seems to argue the *exact opposite* of what you’re saying. Dense urban development is environmentally better; suburban sprawl is environmentally worse. In fact, the worst kind of suburban sprawl (according to the article) is medium-density upper-class suburban sprawl, which is precisely the character of the SFH parts of Central Seattle and Fremont and Ballard. By opposing dense development in these areas, you’re actively advocating for preserving the least environmentally kind of housing that we currently have.

    Regarding rents, consider the following article in the Seattle Times:

    http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2022578166_apartmentrentsxml.html

    To quote: “the average monthly rent in the Seattle metro market actually dipped in the fourth quarter by $5″. This was driven by a higher vacancy rate, which was in turn driven by the construction boom we’ve seen in the past few years.

    But anyway, it’s not enough to make an observation. First you need to come up with a hypothesis, and then you need to test that hypothesis. Otherwise, you’re just telling a Just So Story. You can claim that density increases house prices, but I can claim that being within a mile of Toby Thaler’s home increases house prices; both of these theories fit the evidence, and neither one has a shred of theoretical basis. In contrast, basic economics suggests that increasing housing supply will, all things equal, decrease housing costs. This equation explains why food and clothing and transportation have become much cheaper over the past 100 years; only in the case of housing have we not allowed supply to meet demand.

    You say “taxi equivalents”, as though that’s a bad thing. In reality, the environmental impact of riding a taxi is peanuts compared to the environmental impact of owning a car. A taxi vehicle is in active use for anywhere from 8-12 hours a day, and maybe even more if it’s shared between drivers; the average private car is in use 1-2 hours a day at most. Since it costs the same amount to manufacture a car either way, and since older cars lose value just from existing, this means that the fixed cost of manufacturing a car is amortized over a much greater number of vehicle miles traveled for the taxi than for the private car. In addition, for every private car in the US, there are about 3.4 parking spaces; because taxis are largely on the road, much less parking is needed, which again reduces impacts. But the most important reason is that car ownership begets car use. If you own a car, you’re much more likely to use it for all your trips. If you pay per trip, you’re much more likely to walk, bike, or take transit, except for the few trips where you really need the convenience or speed or carrying capacity of a taxi.

    Ultimately, the most revealing sentence in your post is the reference to district-based elections. If anyone doubted that your real agenda was to reinforce the power of single-family homeowners and gerrymander away any political power from renters and condo dwellers, they can just read your comments in this thread. I can only hope that your plan backfires, and that a coalition between Districts 3, 5, 6, and the at-large representatives allows the city to make progress, rather than encasing itself in amber.

  • 37 Aleks // Feb 12, 2014 at 1:22 am

    Mason: What we’re seeing actually isn’t remotely close to the kind of unconstrained development you describe. In fact, there are very tight constraints on what can be built and where. The reason you see so many tall buildings on Market St is that you can’t build nearly that tall anywhere else, and so developers build up to the legal limit. The reason buildings are ugly is that there are city codes that strongly encourage this style of architecture. The reason apartments and condos are so expensive is that developers are pressured to provide tons of parking. It’s true that Seattle has started phasing out parking minimums in urban centers, but that only took effect in 2012, and most of the buildings people are complaining about went through the planning phase before that happened.

    The thing is, *it doesn’t have to be this way*. We could have regulations that encouraged narrow, beautiful buildings, rather than wide ugly ones. If you look at Ballard Ave, the average block has 8 or more different buildings. We could mandate the same thing for all of Ballard. We could mandate narrow and deep storefronts. We could mandate interesting pedestrian destinations at the street level on all major streets.

    These kinds of regulations are collectively called a “form-based code”. Unlike Seattle’s existing zoning, which primarily focuses on separating different uses, a form-based code focuses on creating an urban form that will lead to a vibrant, diverse, interesting, and beautiful city.

    I would love to see Seattle replace its existing zoning laws with a form-based code; it would avoid all the problems you’ve observed in Ballard, but without stifling any new development. I urge you to consider supporting such a change as well.

  • 38 Aleks // Feb 12, 2014 at 1:29 am

    I’ll tell you somewhere that had its history blighted and character destroyed by rampant, thoughtlessly done development: the city blocks that used to be where I-5 currently is. We’ve given up the ability to walk between Capitol Hill and South Lake Union, in exchange for the ability to drive from Lynnwood to Lakewood. We’ve turned Denny and Stewart and Spring and James into “car sewers”, streets that are nearly useless for anything other than getting on and off of I-5, and aren’t very good at that either.

    That’s what car culture gives us: in the name of mobility, it destroys the places we once wanted to go to.

    If we want to turn Seattle into an expensive gated community — a suburban shell of its former self — then by all means, go ahead and require that all new developments have 2 parking spaces per unit. If we want Seattle to become a world-class city, then we need to do what other world-class cities do, and recognize that we need housing for people more than we need places for cars.

  • 39 Profile photo of Mondoman Mondoman // Feb 12, 2014 at 2:32 am

    Aleks, you fail to consider that all else is not equal regarding apartment rents in Ballard.

    Briefly, the lowest-rent units are being removed from the market and replaced with units priced much higher. Thus, there is higher supply but also higher rents! Stats about rents in the Seattle metro area(!) or any area bigger than a neighborhood are meaningless, since the rental stock varies so much from neighborhood to neighborhood.

    Here in Ballard, it’s pretty clear that the apartment housing units being razed are the lowest-rental-price units. Lock Haven is a major example; the small 1960s-era under-10-unit apartments scattered through lower Ballard are others. Those who will be forced out of Lock Haven when it closes will likely have to move out of Ballard for lack of an affordable alternative. Thus, ironically, the locally unrestricted growth policies you support are the ones making Ballard “an expensive gated community”. It’s not parking spaces that add at most 10% to the rental price of a unit that are driving people out, it’s the perverse incentives to destroy the most affordable housing and replace it with the least affordable housing.

    Regarding cars, now that we’ve agreed on an appropriate on-street residential permit scheme, I think the market will pretty quickly show that people won’t buy/rent units if they’re not allowed any parking (on- or off-street). However, there is an outside chance you’re right and that people will snap up those no-car units to save 10-15% of the rent/cost. It would be interesting to test!

  • 40 Profile photo of briarrose briarrose // Feb 12, 2014 at 4:45 am

    I am an old ballardite who has no issue at all with the new development. My only concern is affordability and since single family housing here is also unaffordable I see no loss and a gain in the number of more people who will avoid the burbs. I am in favor of higher buildings actually. If you want to raise chickens move to Mt. Vernon.

    I have no doubt that someone bemoaned the loss of his farm or single family house on Manhattan yet NYC still has neighborhoods with character. Olympic Manor was also much prettier before it was a development.

  • 41 Tomas // Feb 12, 2014 at 8:17 am

    I wouldn’t waste my time arguing with Aleks, he’s either a developer, a troll, or rode the short bus to school when he was younger. No sane person could be making those arguments and think they’re valid.

  • 42 Strangel00p // Feb 12, 2014 at 9:06 am

    My family lives in a nice tudor/deco house on 72nd. I’m happy to see the development of our area: this will mean more transit, more police, MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING, fiber-to-the-home, etc. Yes, it takes some time for the infrastructure to catch up. Most of the new buildings I’m seeing go up are cool and bring some modern character. I’ve been nicknamed “The Eclectic Leprechaun” for my catholic design taste, but I come by it honestly.

    People generally find change stressful; that’s fine, but let’s not screw our future by fighting the wrong battles. Fight FOR police, fight FOR light rail, etc. Stop fighting against change.

  • 43 strikezag // Feb 12, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Such a misdirected and misinformed effort by this organization.

    Washington’s Growth Management Act encourages high density development in urban areas as a means to ameliorate the broader problems caused by urban sprawl. Ballard is one of the inner-city neighborhoods targeted for such development. And it has worked wonderfully. Ballard has a significant pulse and excitement due to the influx of new residents, and the various service industries that now have secure customer bases to survive and thrive.

    I recognize that some do not like to see change. But change is the inevitable in every aspect of life. Either embrace it with eyes wide open, or bury heads in the sand and dwell on the false nostalgia of how it was in “the good old days.”

  • 44 Profile photo of JM98107 JM98107 // Feb 12, 2014 at 9:14 am

    The county is planning to cut transit service in June, so where’s the upside to the increased density? People will need cars and parking if the transit cuts happen as planned.

  • 45 Toby Thaler // Feb 12, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Strangeloop–Most of “us” are not fighting change; we are fighting for more democratic decision making. Yes, adequate policing; yes, more transit. Also, yes, community voice in planning; yes, real and effective design review; yes, developer impact fees to mitigate for externalities.

  • 46 townhouseowner // Feb 12, 2014 at 9:26 am

    After living in a Ballard apartment for six years, I was unable to find a suitable SF home for under half a million dollars in Ballard. Most of the neighborhood is still single family and the lowrise zones are narrow strips of land, mostly along arterial streets. We are moving to a 3BR townhome built in the 90s elsewhere that meets our needs. We work in the public and nonprofit sector and would like to raise our daughter in the city. Brand new homes are of course more expensive, but in 20 years they will allow a lot more people to populate Ballard’s schools and keep adding to the economy and atmosphere of the neighborhood. If you’d like them to look nicer, advocate for changes in code for better form, not to make housing more expensive.Am I the kind of person you want to force out of the neighborhood? Also, if you try and pay for transit with impact fees, you’ll just subject bus service to a continued boom and bust cycle because there will be no new construction in recessions to fund the transit. Although it sounds nice in theory, that’s a really stupid idea in practice.

  • 47 Profile photo of Rondi Susort Rondi Susort // Feb 12, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Developers have the ear of the city council and land use department — they meet weekly with the Dept. of Planning, they fill the seats on the Seattle Planning Commission and Design Review Board along with architects, finance people, real estate people, all whom benefit from increased density. According to the city charter, residents are also supposed to have a seat on both of these agencies. As it stands right now, residents are excluded from participating. This group wants a seat at the table.

    There are pro-developer advocates out there who are pushing for no single family neighborhoods. At the 2/10 council briefing, the DPD is looking at where to put new housing, including looking to changing the zoning in single family neighborhoods. Strangeloop, you love your tudor home, how would you like a 4 pk of 35 foot boxy townhouses next door. This is a definite possibility with a change to the current zoning on your property and with the transit overlay district being used by developers. And, if you look it up, it’s not just for light rail lines, it includes bus routes.

    The city instituted LR 1, 2 and 3 zoning in Ballard. This means one story, two story and 3 story development. With loopholes and variances, developers are building 5 and 6 story buildings in LR 3 zones, 3 story plus buildings in LR 1 and 2 zones. They are permitting buildings with a setback 10 inches from the property lines. One architect of a row house development is also on the Seattle Planning Commission — does this sound like a conflict of interest? The planning commission recommends changes to the DPD which then presents it to the city council. All with no community input.

    The neighborhood has a right to be involved in the planning process so that development can enhance the neighborhoods, not destroy them. And before we turn Seattle into another NYC (which is the goal of these pro-developer advocates), we need the infrastructure to be built. Meaning more and better transit, increased fire and police services. As it stands right now — Ballard has 3-4 cops assigned to it. Do you think that’s adequate for the development we are seeing?

  • 48 Toby Thaler // Feb 12, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Briarrose @40– Even neighborhoods in NYC have to fight to preserve their quality of life in the face of inappropriate development pressure:
    http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/nyu-celebrity-opposition/
    http://thevillager.com/2013/12/19/positively-south-village-l-p-c-votes-to-expand-historic-district/

  • 49 Beaver // Feb 12, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Can’t we all get along? No! Because there are too many damn people flocking to my once peaceful friendly neighborhood. The only benefit of developing is pure profit for the developers. I dont want these damn buildings blocking our sacred sun and filling in once beautiful parks and backyards. Why would anyone in the world want to live 5 stories above the ground with neighbors at an arms length? If your looking for that or to live somewhere cheap then get the hell out and find a neighborhood suited for you. Don’t change ballard’s culture and small neighborhood feel just because it’s the hot new profitable thing. Not to mention all the overcrowding at BHS. We can’t expand the school anymore and now the over population is preventing my children for going to the school that we live a mile away from.

  • 50 BobJ // Feb 12, 2014 at 10:31 am

    “Can’t we all get along? No! Because there are too many damn people flocking to my once peaceful friendly neighborhood.”

    For a moment I thought this was sarcasm (particularly with “damn people” and “friendly neighborhood” in the same sentence). Alas, it’s just NIMBY.

  • 51 Profile photo of great idea great idea // Feb 12, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I am sorry Rondi Susort, but you are incorrect regarding LR classifications.
    LR1 does not mean 1 story. When is the last time you saw a one-story development in Seattle?

    Those numbers refer to the density level which varies by specific type of building (rowhouse, cottage, apartment, etc.).

    Also, is it really the developers? What about the people selling their houses, knowing full well the lot will be subdivided, and then moving to New Mexico?

    And speaking of developers, isn’t the owner of the aforementioned Lock Haven a respected local businessman who gives back to the community? Does that make it better?

  • 52 Profile photo of Marigold Marigold // Feb 12, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Was this neighborhood always zoned LR 1, 2, 3? Or did they change the zoning from SF to L? I’m curious because we bought a house in a single family zone and I’m wondering if it can be changed to multi-family from underneath our feet.

  • 53 Anon // Feb 12, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Still waiting for that monorail we were promised as a compromise for increasing the zoning height.

    The condos came in just fine as promised. Where’s the transit? We are told, the transit will follow the density. We’ve been told that for 10+ years. I want the density, but you can’t have smart density if you don’t have the infrastructure to support it.

    In the end, the developers laugh all the way to the bank, while us Seattleites will be stuck cleaning up the mess when the problem goes nuclear within the next 5 years.

  • 54 Rondi Susort // Feb 12, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Great idea — wishing you all the best when the developers reach your block. Of course that is when you will up and sell to a developer and move to New Mexico and join your friend who wasn’t concerned about development — I wonder if his neighbors are concerned now with the townhouses built on his property.

    My house is zoned LR1. It is a single story, single family home. I have two developments, one behind me, one a house away in the same zoning that are 35 feet high because of loopholes with in the zoning. It would have been nice if they had been limited to two stories.

    I know you say bring on the development and aren’t interested in what’s happening in the neighborhood. That’s fine — but there are people that are concerned about the rapid changes occurring on their blocks. This is an organization for these people to look into. You can forget about it just like everything else occurring in the neighborhood.

  • 55 Rondi Susort // Feb 12, 2014 at 11:16 am

    By the way — your Putin avatar is the best one you have chosen yet — it fits your personality.

  • 56 BobJ // Feb 12, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Rondi, LR1 has never been for one-story homes. As great idea mentioned, it’s a classification. In this case, think of it as Low Rise, Type 1. Even in Single-Family Home zoning, height limits have never been set at one story.

  • 57 Toby Thaler // Feb 12, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Aleks @ 36:
    “I don’t know where to begin.” You obviously know where to begin.

    “First of all, development impact fees would have the effect of reducing development.” I dispute this premise. Produce data and analysis, please.

    “… it’s misleading to pretend that all of the impacts happen at the time of development.” I’m not suggesting that; impact fees are not intended to pay for impacts for all time. Read my comments again, and read the link to Municipal Research page at comment 22.

    “… and then I’ll believe you that you’re not just trying to oppose change.” I don’t think it matters what I say in that regard. As with some other regular posters at Seattle Transit Blog, no matter how much I post about my history working on improving development in Fremont, not stopping it, you will likely persist in this claim. I will say that I don’t think continued growth is possible beyond a few more years or decades, but how our economy will adjust (change to steady state? outright collapse?), that’s a different conversation.

    “Regarding that suburban sprawl article you linked to, it seems to argue the *exact opposite* of what you’re saying.” From the study:
    As a policy measure to reduce GHG emissions, increasing population density appears to have severe limitations and unexpected trade-offs. In suburbs, we find more population dense suburbs actually have noticeably higher HCF, largely because of income effects. Population density does correlate with lower HCF when controlling for income and household size; however, in practice population density measures may have little control over income of residents. Increasing rents would also likely further contribute to pressures to suburbanize the suburbs, leading to a possible net increase in emissions. As a policy measure for urban cores, any such strategy should consider the larger impact on surrounding areas, not just the residents of population dense communities themselves.

    Then you say “… In fact, the worst kind of suburban sprawl (according to the article) is medium-density upper-class suburban sprawl, which is precisely the character of the SFH parts of Central Seattle and Fremont and Ballard.” This is patently absurd. Look at the mapping the authors have done: http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/maps

    “… basic economics suggests that increasing housing supply will, all things equal, decrease housing costs.” Produce the evidence. Dense urban cores do not have lower housing costs no matter how much is built.

    “You say “taxi equivalents”, as though that’s a bad thing.” No, you project that I’m saying it’s a bad thing.

    “If you own a car, you’re much more likely to use it for all your trips.” Personally, I’d prefer to bike, and usually do, and second bus. I use the car to get large grocery loads etc. I agree with you that cars are a blight. You’re barking up the wrong tree here.

    “Ultimately, the most revealing sentence in your post is the reference to district-based elections. If anyone doubted that your real agenda was to reinforce the power of single-family homeowners and gerrymander away any political power from renters and condo dwellers, they can just read your comments in this thread.” Your inability to think outside your own biases is showing. Look at the demographics of the districts and how the last election went. Renters and the young voted more for districts than owners and older voters. My “plan” is to encourage what 66% of the voters want; more democracy in Seattle.

  • 58 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Alek is a regular on Seattle Transit blog, one the many urbanist extremists who doesn’t even live in Ballard. Now he’s here to tell that building huge multistory buildings and destroying old stock will lower rent and CO2 emissions. Well, Ballard is having building boom, anyone see rents dropping? And what’s the carbon footprint of destroying existing housing stock and building new huge apartment buildings?

  • 59 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Alek’s other developer shilling colleagues include Roger ‘I’m paid by developers’ Valdez and Ben ‘the urbanist thug’ Schiendelman. These folks look to the sterile moneyed playground that South Lake Union has become as a model for development and don;t give two hoots for your ‘culture’ or even your right to speak.

  • 60 Kylek // Feb 12, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Sam/Toby – I live in Ballard and completely disagree with both of you.

    Calling anyone who disagrees with you a “shill” is just weak.

    Fact: The huge majority of Seattle is dominated by single family zoning.

    Fact: Building more supply brings down or stabilized prices.

    Fact: People living in dense walkable communities have a much smaller carbon footprint/person.

    If you don’t care about the environment or afford-ability, just say that.

  • 61 Profile photo of briarrose briarrose // Feb 12, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    I also live in Ballard, likely for longer than most here. Nothing ever remains the same.

    I agree that much of the new building is not attractive but then Seattle is not a real mecca for creativity.

    As I said earlier the only issue I worry over is affordability. Single family housing in ballard is not affordable so what’s the difference?

  • 62 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    “Fact: Building more supply brings down or stabilized prices.”

    That’s not a fact. Some of the most expensive cities in the world are the densest. Ballard is filled with hundreds of new apartments, many empty, yet rents have skyrocketed.

  • 63 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    “Calling anyone who disagrees with you a “shill” is just weak.”

    Many of Seattle’s leading urbanists are shills. Roger Valdez admits he works for and accepts money from developers.

  • 64 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Let’s look at who funds one of the leading voices for ‘urbanism’ in Seattle (along with the Seattle Transit Blog), Smart growth Seattle, a group Alek supports and lead urbanist shill Roger Valdez works for:

    BLUEPRINT CAPITAL, LLC
    “Blueprint provides loans and development services to builders”

    FOOTPRINT INVESTMENTS

    MASTER BUILDERS ASSOCIATION
    …aka developers mouthpiece

    TOUCHSTONE
    “developer of commercial real estate in the Seattle/Puget Sound market area”

    VULCAN INC
    ….aka your friendly neighborhood small business.

    Yep, just a bunch of regular working stiffs you share a cold one with down at the Viking looking out for your best interest.

  • 65 Kylek // Feb 12, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Sam: You have a point on Richard Valdez, he is actually paid by developers. You do not have a point on Aleks or Ben. They are both concerned citizens who want Seattle to have a better future. Therefore saying “many” is false, you have one valid example.

    Re: Building Brings down or stabilizes prices. It 100% does. Supply and demand – its a real thing, been around forever… look it up. You are confusing correlation with causation. Common mistake.

    Identifying developers and pointing out the developers want to make money is a strange argument. Of course they do. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t also providing something Seattle desperately needs.

  • 66 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    ” They are both concerned citizens who want Seattle to have a better future.”

    BS. They are both little transit fascists who don’t give a damn for people living in communities for decades, their culture, their way of life. They are like the commissars in Shanghai cheering while developers bulldoze little old lades out of their 100 year old homes to build apartments for the wealthy to profit the wealthy. Seattle urbanists are Vulcan’s best friend and they’ve never been shy about that.

  • 67 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Case in point: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_bz5VsufrFZU/SkLdX4cKzDI/AAAAAAAAKGY/UhfWOndh0-s/s400/3612944061_8b78c24568_o.jpg

  • 68 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    By the way, Aleks and his cronies don’t just want to develop ‘urban villages’ they are supporting and advocating rezoning the entire north side of Seattle, from the Ship Canal to 85th for density:

    “an overall recommendation to up-zone Seattle’s single-family neighborhoods.  This is controversial, but important.  Discussions of where new development should go tend to be narrowly constrained to a few urban villages, while the vast majority of Seattle – something like 2/3 of the land – is considered off-limits (the yellow stuff in the map at right). So we argue about whether to allow 5 stories or 6 in a narrow sliver of Capitol Hill, meanwhile acres and acres of the city’s neighborhoods remain locked at absurdly low density levels..”

    http://seattletransitblog.com/2014/02/12/affordable-family-sized-housing/

  • 69 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    “Building Brings down or stabilizes prices. It 100% does”

    http://livableballard.org/density-debate/

    Part 2: Density does NOT produce affordable housing: Instead of “trickle down” it means displacement, gentrification, more homelessness, and an accelerated loss of our existing low income housing stock

    Econ 101 textbooks offer a simple equation: More supply drives down prices. The pro-density argument to legitimize runaway growth here in Seattle is that increasing the supply of market-rate units will lower housing prices and guarantee a larger stock of affordable housing.

    That’s the theory. But what does empirical experience in Seattle tell us? For the last 35 years, since Seattle came out of its mid-1970s economic bust, periods of accelerated residential development have always directly coincided with more demolition of low-income housing, higher rents, lower vacancy rates, longer waiting lists for subsidized housing, increasing levels of homelessness and higher housing costs for all Seattleites. Each successive wave of growth leaves in its wake a growing divide between rich and poor, white and non-white in our city.

    So how does the simple economic maxim of “more supply lowers prices” get turned completely on its ear? In a built-up urban environment, there’s less and less vacant land over time, and the consequence of new development means removal of the existing supply of lower-density housing. Housing that’s older, non-debt-supported and affordable gives way to new, more expensive housing.

  • 70 Kylek // Feb 12, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Sam: Aha. The troll shows its stripes. You make neither well reasoned points nor are you fair or accurate in your analysis. I won’t waste my time correcting you further.

  • 71 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Brent …sorry “Kylek” …. how do you know an urbanist is lying?

    His lips are moving.

  • 72 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    ” nor are you fair or accurate in your analysis.”

    Are you denying this is what Aleks and his cohorts want for Seattle as stated over on their website, Seattle Transit Blog:

    “an overall recommendation to up-zone Seattle’s single-family neighborhoods. This is controversial, but important. Discussions of where new development should go tend to be narrowly constrained to a few urban villages, while the vast majority of Seattle – something like 2/3 of the land – is considered off-limits (the yellow stuff in the map at right). So we argue about whether to allow 5 stories or 6 in a narrow sliver of Capitol Hill, meanwhile acres and acres of the city’s neighborhoods remain locked at absurdly low density levels..”

  • 73 Profile photo of Mondoman Mondoman // Feb 12, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Kylek, you seem to be conflating two different types of “supply”: low-rent older apartments and premium high-rent new apartments.

    Even if new construction of the latter outnumbers demolition of the former, the high-rent apartments do not “substitute” (used in the economists’ sense) for the low-rent ones — essentially, we’re dealing with separate markets. That’s why your assertion that the new apartment construction in Ballard will bring down low-end prices is broadly wrong.

    Check out my previous post about the Lock Haven apartments — apparently it was clear enough to convince Aleks, given the lack any rebuttal.

  • 74 Ballard Mom // Feb 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I can’t wait until we have a council member representing Ballard and not the developers. The kind of democracy the rich hate.

  • 75 Toby Thaler // Feb 12, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Kylek @61–“Calling anyone who disagrees with you a “shill” is just weak.”

    Point out where I have called anyone a shill. I am willing to engage with almost anyone as long as the discourse is polite. I do occasionally get sarcastic. Excuse me! More to the point, I will consistently call for data and analysis when claims are made that don’t have empirical support to the best of my knowledge. http://www.condenaststore.com/-sp/Are-you-just-pissing-and-moaning-or-can-you-verify-what-you-re-saying-w-New-Yorker-Cartoon-Prints_i8575207_.htm

    Like your claims: “Fact: Building more supply brings down or stabilized prices. Fact: People living in dense walkable communities have a much smaller carbon footprint/person.” I have responded to these in some depth, with citation to peer reviewed literature. The former is utterly unsupported for housing in urban centers, and the latter is a misleading half-truth.

    “If you don’t care about the environment or afford-ability, just say that.” I have been an active environmentalist and social justice activist my entire adult life. So I’ll never say anything to that except “B$.”

    BTW, Blueprint Capital is Dan Duffus of “shove a hulking house onto the lot you didn’t know existed in your back yard” fame. And he’s made plenty doing it: http://blueprintcap.com/blueprint-capital-releases-2012-q1-earnings/

    And Touchstone–One of the least friendly large developers to work with (I’ve been doing land use politics in Fremont for 40 years). We are happy to welcome new projects that add to the neighborhood, and have done so for many years.

    I have no direct experience with Vulcan. But of note, the ten year Executive Director of the Seattle Planning Commission (Beth Wilson) is now (as of late 2013) doing “Government Relations” at Vulcan. She’s the latest in the SeattleVulcan revolving door.

    It is not calling people “shills” to point out these facts or to follow the money.

  • 76 Toby Thaler // Feb 12, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Ballard Mom @ 75: Amen! [and also West Fremont, Phinney, and Greenlake--Ballard is the biggest, but we're all in District 6]

  • 77 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    @75 Which is exactly why the urbanists and Seattle Transit Blog community (including Aleks) opposed us having local representation. They hate democracy and people having a voice in shaping their communities. Urbanists hate idea that city council members will have to listen to us, the local residents and not the wealthy developers who finance their campaigns. they are density fascists.

  • 78 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    You want to hear another thing the ‘density’ advocates want to do over at Seattle Transit Blog? Remove the property tax exemptions/discounts for the elderly to ‘encourage’ them to move out of their single family homes and into apartments because their homes are ‘underutilized’.

    Seriously these people are as cold as dead fish.

  • 79 Aleks // Feb 12, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2257.1998.tb00026.x/abstract

    To quote: “The empirical results show that impact fees reduce rates of residential development by more than 25 percent.”

    > I’m not suggesting that; impact fees are not intended to pay for impacts for all time.

    I understand what you’re proposing. My argument is that you’re very concerned with the one-time externalities of development, but you seem to be completely unconcerned with the ongoing externalities of low-intensity land use.

    > This is patently absurd. Look at the mapping the authors have done:

    Thanks for the pointer to the map. I agree that Fremont and Ballard come out looking pretty good. Of course, downtown looks even better.

    You seem to be arguing that it’s an iron law of nature that an environmentally-friendly place like Seattle must be surrounded by environmentally-unfriendly places like Mercer Island; my argument is that we should focus our population growth on Seattle, rather than restricting growth here and channeling it into the suburbs.

    I already linked you to a report that showed that Seattle rents are decreasing, which you seemed to have chosen to ignore.

    > I agree with you that cars are a blight. You’re barking up the wrong tree here.

    If you really think so, that’s great, but you have a strange way of going about it. Denser places are places with less car use, and your campaign against density is a campaign for cars, whether you like it or not.

    > Renters and the young voted more for districts than owners and older voters.

    Plenty of people vote against their self-interest. I’ve talked to many people who regretted their vote for districts after finding out that their home is in the “wrong” district.

    > My “plan” is to encourage what 66% of the voters want; more democracy in Seattle.”

    “Democracy” is a weasel word. In the old system, I got to vote for every council representative; in the new system, I only get to vote for three. I think that’s less democracy; you seem to think it’s more.

    Obviously, it’s inarguable that most people voted for districts. I’m not going to dispute that, though it wasn’t really a record turnout.

    I am going to dispute that it’s a good thing for Seattle. I think the current city council does a great job at focusing on city-wide issues, and I have a feeling that the next council will be much more parochial than the current one, though I’d love to be wrong. But why did you want district elections, if not so that council members would spend more time focusing on their district, and less time focusing on the whole city?

  • 80 David // Feb 12, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I’m fairly new to the neighborhood, but I would like to pick up @briarrose question of affordability. The question to me with all this development is: How affordable will the neighborhood be for the people who live here? Or in general how will cities stay affordable to working class people when “growth and change is inevitable”? Do people who work minimum wage or low income jobs have to live in the suburbs (and cause sprawl) because they cant afford to live in the innercity any more? Or do they all have to be singles and live in “aPodments”? The problem is not growth/ not growth, but how to create a liveable city for all (new and old residents).

  • 81 Ballard Mom // Feb 12, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    When I moved to Ballard I respected the way people lived. What kind if person moves into someone else’s home and then starts rearranging the furniture and knocking out the walls without so much as asking? All we want is a voice against the powerful developers like Vulcan and their supporters here.

  • 82 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    ““Democracy” is a weasel word. ”

    Always is to density fascists.

  • 83 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Most urbanists like Aleks work as those soul-deadening tech monsters like Google and Amazon; they have no respect for Ballard’s history or culture. It’s destroy, destroy, destroy to them.

    They are culture-less buffoons. They would have never understood a place like the Viking, Manning’s Diner or someone like Edith Macefield. They would have run her out of town.

  • 84 Toby Thaler // Feb 12, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Aleks @80–
    ““Do Development Impact Fees Reduce the Rate of Residential Development?” Skidmore and Peddle, 1998. To quote: ‘The empirical results show that impact fees reduce rates of residential development by more than 25 percent.’”

    Yes, for one of five counties (DuPage) in the first ring suburbs of Chicago, using data from 1977 through 1992. On the “coolclimate” map, the entire county shows orange to red, meaning high per capita GHG emissions. Yes, we should definitely encourage more housing out there. And I cannot find anything more recent on the topic, and since this is probably the best abstract you could find, I suspect you can’t either.

    “you seem to be completely unconcerned with the ongoing externalities of low-intensity land use.” You’re projecting again. I am concerned about the ongoing externalities of our entire global civilization. E.g., http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1001345 (The Macroecology of Sustainability, Burger et al. 2012 – no pay wall). I do natural resource policy analysis for a living.

    “You seem to be arguing that it’s an iron law of nature that an environmentally-friendly place like Seattle must be surrounded by environmentally-unfriendly places like Mercer Island; my argument is that we should focus our population growth on Seattle, rather than restricting growth here and channeling it into the suburbs.” No, I’m arguing, as the authors concluded, that there is not a single example of a city in the U.S. that has actually succeeded in reducing per capital footprint by increasing density in the core. It doesn’t work.

    “I already linked you to a report that showed that Seattle rents are decreasing, which you seemed to have chosen to ignore.” No you didn’t; you linked me to an article that says “Even if job growth remains steady, he said, the swelling supply will spur more competition for tenants and slow rent hikes.” Not decrease rents, just slow the increases.

    “your campaign against density is a campaign for cars, whether you like it or not.” I am not campaigning against density. I’m campaigning for democracy and quality urban development, including a real transit system.

    “I’ve talked to many people who regretted their vote for districts after finding out that their home is in the “wrong” district.” I’d love more than anecdote; publish your data. In any case, what does “wrong district” mean? The current boundaries are only in place until the 2020 Census, and the next time they’re drawn I’m sure there will be far more public engagement (i.e., democracy).

    “’Democracy’ is a weasel word.” Wow, you are a piece of work. Democracy is a substantive concept with real meaning. I am incredulous that you use “weasel word” as your definition.

    “In the old system, I got to vote for every council representative; in the new system, I only get to vote for three. I think that’s less democracy; you seem to think it’s more.” You’re welcome to argue that position. You lost. 48 out of 50 largest U.S. cities have all district or mixed systems. There’s a reason; people want access to their representatives, they want accountability, they want an equitable share of city resources, and they want a say in how the city develops. They want more democracy.

    “Obviously, it’s inarguable that most people voted for districts. I’m not going to dispute that, though it wasn’t really a record turnout.” Nor was it a particularly low turnout for a municipal election.

    “why did you want district elections, if not so that council members would spend more time focusing on their district, and less time focusing on the whole city?” Having council members who focus more time on their district does not mean that the quality of governance of the whole city necessarily diminishes. As it is now, the council largely represents interests that don’t give a rip about Ballard, Fremont, or any other neighborhood outside of Downtown. I want district representation for the same reason I don’t want people in Texas voting for my representatives in Congress. If we all participate in the governance of our city (that’s “democracy”), we can avoid the worst aspects of parochialism. I have confidence in the intelligence and good will of the people of Ballard and the rest of Seattle. You apparently do not.

    If you think your “city wide perspective” is so much preferable, run in District 6, or whichever one you live in, and see how well you do.

  • 85 Profile photo of great idea great idea // Feb 12, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    I could see district representatives being in bed with developers just as easily as council members at-large.

  • 86 Ballard Mom // Feb 12, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    @sam

    Who needs culture when all you have is data?

  • 87 Profile photo of Mondoman Mondoman // Feb 12, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Sam, where are your manners? Your posts seem to be just insults, ad hominems, and other poor behavior. Are you Aleks’ cyber-stalker or something?

  • 88 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    “and other poor behavior.”

    When you’re arguing with people who think retirees should be taxed out of their homes to make way for density and techies like themselves, then yes, I forget my manners: That 80 year old widow living alone in the 3 bedroom home on my street that she and her late fisherman husband bought in 1955? This is what Aleks and his friends at Seattle Transit blog want to do to her:

    “Would it increase the supply and/or affordability of family-sized houses if senior citizen property tax exemptions or deferrals were decreased or phased out?”

    “Maybe seniors could be encouraged to move to an apartment by changing this tax policy?”

    That’s right. To hell with the old folk. Tax item into apartments.

    http://seattletransitblog.com/2014/02/12/affordable-family-sized-housing/

  • 89 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    How come there are huge vacant lots all down the Rainier Valley where the light rail was built? If housing and transit are in such demand, why is the stretch from the RV station heading south almost countryside? Huge swaths of undeveloped land, parking lots and weeds.

    Apparently the demand for transit and housing isn’t there because that would be an ideal location for it. Nope, this is about lining developers pockets to yuppify Ballard with soul-less techies from Google and Amazon, the same creatures that have ruined San Francisco.

  • 90 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Light Rail station, 20 minutes from downtown:

    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=St+Light+Rail+%26+S+Othello+St&hl=en&ll=47.523359,-122.276888&spn=0.004419,0.007124&sll=47.613028,-122.342064&sspn=0.282363,0.455933&oq=rainie&t=h&hnear=St+Light+Rail+%26+S+Othello+St&z=17

    Note large vacant tracks f empty land and woods. You can almost here the crickets chirping.

    So tell me, where’s the demand for density and transit?

  • 91 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Yipes… here = hear

  • 92 Brent // Feb 12, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Hi Sam,

    I see you have me confused with Kylek. I can understand the confusion. He is well-spoken and can argue circles around you.

    As it happens. I have no idea who Kylek is.

    But I believe him when he says that, unlike you or I, he actually lives in Ballard.

  • 93 Brent // Feb 12, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    And since you invited me to debate you in front of all these good Ballard foks, allow me to retort:

    1. Have you been on the light rail during rush hour?

    2. Are you familiar with John Fox’s (unfortunately successful) efforts to forestall upzones around each of the stations, and his hypothesis that densification causes housing prices to go up?

  • 94 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    I live in Ballard, unlike your playmate at Seattle Transit Blog Aleks. Run along now, go ruin another neighborhood.

    By the way, why is there no density and development near the Henderson station on the light rail line? Ideal spot for you urbanists.

  • 95 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    “forestall upzones around each of the stations, ”

    South of Henderson it’s zoned low rise, 3 story multifamily units. Instead you have fields, pea patches and parking lots. Not a lot of demand for either transit of density.

  • 96 Sam // Feb 12, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    “densification causes housing prices to go up”

    No, he correctly argues that density and transit are gentrifiers, that’s what causes rising home prices in those neighborhoods. Look at the folks at Seattle Transit Blog, nearly all college educated white techies like our friend non-Ballard living Aleks.

  • 97 townhouseowner // Feb 12, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Sam doesn’t like brown people *or* techies. Thanks for making that clear; I’ll just scroll past your repugnant views from now on.

  • 98 Brent // Feb 12, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    Nope, Sam, not much demand for transit in Rainier Valley. Nobody rides light rail any more. It’s too crowded.

  • 99 Brent // Feb 12, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    “No, he correctly argues that density and transit are gentrifiers, that’s what causes rising home prices in those neighborhoods.”

    Yes, transit raises land values and demand to live near it, hence the rising prices. Increasing the supply of housing around stations mitigates this effect. Prices might still go up, but not as much as if the housing wasn’t built.

    So, the lack of housing around stations likely has more of an effect of chasing poor people out to the more affordable suburbs than any densification does. The whole notion that densification causes gentrification defies simple math. If keeping certain kinds of people from living next to you is more important, than it is in your interest to oppose densification. If, instead, you want to allow more poor people, people of color, or whatever category to have the choice to live in Rainer Valley, somebody has to build places for them to live, which will happen eventually when John Fox runs out of ways to undemocratically veto upzones.

  • 100 KyleK // Feb 12, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Mondoman: In the isolated case of lock vista, you have a point. Replacing a bunch of affordable apartments with an equal number of market rate apartments does not aid affordability.
    However: Replacing a single story business (or SFH) with hundreds of apartments (and some retail as well) does increase supply and tame prices. Even if that new supply is at the higher end of the market. Most of the building in Ballard matches my example.

    Can you imagine what prices would be like right now if all of the people who can afford $2500 2 bedroom apartments were competing for the existing apartments?
    You kind of don’t have to: Look at SF. They have stolidly refused to allow development and they have the insane prices to show for it.

  • 101 KyleK // Feb 12, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Last note: demand is so high here right now that both private dev and gov affordable housing efforts are failing people who make 60-80% AMI for different reasons. I’m hoping that non profit REITs will help fill that gap. Raising the

  • 102 KyleK // Feb 12, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    …cont. raising the minimum wage will help, but not all the way.

  • 103 Profile photo of Mondoman Mondoman // Feb 13, 2014 at 5:14 am

    Kyle, part of my point is that people who will pay $2500 for 2-bedroom apartments won’t consider low-end apartments, but will instead go for a house or another neighborhood (e.g. Belltown) if only the low-end stuff is available. Thus, they won’t be competing for existing low-end apartments. Similarly, the availability of new high-end apartments might moderate the price of high-end apartments, but it won’t affect the price of low-end apartments.

    You’re essentially arguing that increasing production of Mercedes cars would put pressure on Yugo to lower prices.

  • 104 Profile photo of Mondoman Mondoman // Feb 13, 2014 at 5:18 am

    I do think you’re right about demolishing parking lots and low-rise offices/retail to build apartments, though. That should moderate prices of high-end apartments without affecting other housing.

  • 105 Tomas // Feb 13, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Oh yeah of course higher density reduces rents. It’s so obvious. That’s why the average rent in NYC was over $3,000 last year
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/09/new-york-city-rent_n_3568278.html

    Vs a less dense place like Moscow Idaho at under $700
    http://www.city-data.com/city/Moscow-Idaho.html

    “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

  • 106 Profile photo of briarrose briarrose // Feb 13, 2014 at 8:47 am

    David @79

    Really my point is that this has absolutely nothing to do with affordability, from both sides. That’s just a way to get sympathy for each cause.

    There is only one way to address affordabiluty and that is rent control. We will see that or the elite will have no one left to serve them. The choice is up to the owners. I hope they make a wise one.

    In many ways Ballard is a better neighborhood than it was when I was a kid. In many ways not. Not everyone will lile each and every change. Change is part of life and without it we have stagnation.

  • 107 BobJ // Feb 13, 2014 at 8:58 am

    FYI everyone Sam (@93) does not live in Ballard. He lives on the Eastside, which is well documented on the Seattle Transit Blog.
    Most others here, however, do live in Ballard, and are having a lively discussion. This is good.

  • 108 Sam // Feb 13, 2014 at 9:07 am

    @105 Unless there are two Sams in the world.

    Sorry, East Ballard, lived here 15 years.

  • 109 Ballard Mom // Feb 13, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Urbanists are like the Puritans who showed up in America. They arrive, give you a blanket and demand you worship their god for your own good.

    Just replace ‘blankets’ and ‘god ‘ with ‘density’ and ‘green washing’. Time for some push back.

  • 110 Kylek // Feb 13, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Mondoman: I have to use your example back on you. Lock Vista is a case of low end apartments being upscaled to meet high end demand. Your car example is not a good one for this reason, Yugo’s never become Mercedes. Again: San Francisco. We have an excellent example available to us of what happens when you artificially constrict supply. Let’s use it and be wary of the thinking that led there.

    Briarrose: Re: Rent Control. SF, NYC. That is what happens when you constrict supply and apply rent control. Everyone who can’t get a rent control unit is stuck in a market that is made even more crazy by rent control.

  • 111 JohnD // Feb 13, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Before moving to Ballard in 2011, I managed an older 15-unit apartment building, two blocks west of north Broadway on Capitol Hill. All units were 1-bedroom, and ranged from $750 – $1200, depending on view and updates.

    Then in 2008, three massive apartment buildings were completed and began renting 1-bedroom at rates from $1500-$2500, depending on view and size.

    So we slapped some new paint colors on the walls and raised the rates of our older building to $1000-$1500. Many tenants moved out, and we filled the vacancies very quickly at the new rates.

    No reason why this won’t happpen in Ballard, too.

  • 112 Ballard Mom // Feb 13, 2014 at 10:13 am

    @109 exactly. What the Urbanists want is for them and all their rich tech buddies to move into and take over someone else’s community.

    Now, they’ll say it’s because they want to be ‘green’, and they’re right: Dollar bill green.

  • 113 Bob // Feb 13, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Mondoman is correct, and Kylek does not refute his point at all. That people continue to espouse that housing/rental prices are simple supply/demand equations is outrageous. It is a theory that doesn’t match observations. The simplistic Econ 101 model of supply/demand assumes all kinds of things like “all other things being equal”, fungibility of the good or service, perfect information, etc.

    Mondoman’s example fits perfectly: smashing up 100 Yugos and then building 300 Mercedes does NOT drive down the price of cars. Again, fungibility…

    Overall, I think the new group is a good thing. There will be more development in Ballard but I think many of us are concerned that 1) It is not visually appealing 2) it does not fit the character of the neighborhood and 3) it is not affordable. These deficiencies are the result of rules and zoning that is heavily influenced by developers. Residents should have a larger voice in the development process to ensure we get attractive, affordable housing.

    I recommend the New Urbanist model (https://www.cnu.org/) as something for Livable Ballard to advocate *for*, instead of just *against* development in general — essentially Aleks’s “form-based” code.

  • 114 dpballard // Feb 13, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Trolls will be trolls.

    http://seattletransitblog.com/2014/02/13/what-could-800-million-do/#comment-422693

  • 115 Ballard Mom // Feb 13, 2014 at 10:25 am

    “Sam doesn’t like brown people ”

    Disagree with green washing Urbanists and you’re a racist apparently.

    What would Edith do?

  • 116 dpballard // Feb 13, 2014 at 10:28 am

    (There may be two Sams in the world, but there are not two Sams in this thread. His trolling style and predilection toward logical distortions and strawmen are familiar and transparent.)

  • 117 Brent // Feb 13, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Sam @106, are you a different person than the Sam who posts a lot at Seattle Transit Blog?

    My recollection is that Toby Thaler lives in Queen Anne, if that really matters to anyone.

  • 118 dpballard // Feb 13, 2014 at 10:35 am

    @113: Edith would tell you to stop misappropriating her name and abusing her image. She would ask you to please, kindly, leave her alone.

    On her abandoned street. In a zone that had been “industrial” as long as the zoning had been codified, and where she hadn’t had any neighbors in decades.

    Edith Macefield didn’t give a damn about “preserving character”, and she certainly never tried to dictate how anyone else should live. She never tried to deny change, even when it came to her block.

    She simply wished to remain in her familiar postage-stamp home, which she was therefore uninterested in selling at any price. This was her prerogative, as it would be yours, or anyone else’s.

    So stop sullying her name with your false impositions on others.

  • 119 Kylek // Feb 13, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Bob. Yeah, I totally did refute his point and we have tons of macro examples that support this view (it isn’t mine, its Econ 101.) The market doesn’t have to be 100% perfect (it isn’t) for supply and demand to exist. If you just don’t want to believe in economics, etc — then that’s your right, but at least add some meat if you are going to declare the existence of supply and demand in housing as invalid.

  • 120 dpballard // Feb 13, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Also, Sam’s racism is well documented in the other forums he trolls.

    The racial-exclusionist history of the “tight-knit neighborhoods” of North Seattle is also well documented, if you’re curious to do some research on the places you deem unassailable.

  • 121 Rondi Susort // Feb 13, 2014 at 10:45 am

    As Toby Thaler stated earlier, he lives in Fremont (off 3rd NW). I’ve been to his house. He lives in District 6.

  • 122 JohnD // Feb 13, 2014 at 11:10 am

    In addition to raising the rent by avg. of $300 (see comment #109) we also doubled the cost of parking, from $50 p/month to $100. This was no doubt helped by the sudden increase in population from the new buildings, and the sudden decrease in available street parking.

    Again, these large new buildings allowed us to leverage higher rents, because our older building was still cheaper than the new buildings.

  • 123 Ballard Mom // Feb 13, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Be careful Sam, Urbanists are like zombies, they like to attack and destroy in swarms. Go down to their urbanist fantasy land, South Lake Union, you can see what happens after they take over, soulless neighborhood filled with overpaid zombies.

    And yes, Edith would have hated you and your spandex, chai lattes and locally sourced green washing non sense.

  • 124 Ballard Mom // Feb 13, 2014 at 11:26 am

    @116 I met Edith. She had no time for hucksters and shills for green washing developers like you.

  • 125 Anandakos // Feb 13, 2014 at 11:37 am

    @Mondoman-#15,

    How many of the older single-family homes have a garage which has been converted to a shed or shop, with the owners depending on the street to store their cars?

    My guess is at least half. Now I understand that most of those old garages are pretty small, and most families now have two — or even more — cars rather than one.

    But anyone who has a re-purposed garage on her or his property is standing on quicksand when complaining about “developers” failing to provide proper parking for new buildings.

  • 126 Anandakos // Feb 13, 2014 at 11:46 am

    @Ballard Mom,

    Wow; a little envy for successful young people leaking out, ma’am?

  • 127 Anandakos // Feb 13, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    @David #79

    You ask very good questions, but unfortunately economics — the dismal science — has only discouraging answers to them. In short, there is nothing that can be done which will affect the enormous pressures forcing housing prices upward everywhere in King County for more than a brief period.

    Puget Sound country is a world class beautiful environment, well supplied with water and abundant hydroelectric and wind power. Seattle has three companies which are powerful dominators in their respective industries. In a world of drought and searing summers, the winter rains in the Northwest will seem like a trivial bother.

    In the absence of global economic collapse, people will want to move to Seattle. Honestly, given the attractiveness of the place, nothing short of fairly massive boom-and-bust overbuilding will ameliorate housing prices, and that only for a little which.

    So, urbanists should not make claims that “affordable housing” can be created without massive public subsidy, which isn’t going to happen. On the other hand, the reactionaries who want lily-white 1950’s Ballard are living in a dream world. Neither group is going to be satisfied with the future.

    What we have here is a microcosm — and just one more battle — of the Red/Blue national divide.

  • 128 dpballard // Feb 13, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    @122: I am no developer.

    I have lived for the better part of a decade in a central Ballard building that is older than your grandparents. My rent, which seemed high when I moved in, is now well below today’s constrained-supply Ballard norm.

    Edith Macefield merely wished to withstand and adapt to the change happening around her. That’s what many want, including myself. That may be what you want too — except that you seem to want to do so by restricting the number (and type?) of people who can live in this lovely neighborhood. Which won’t actually work.

    You seem spiteful and controlling. There’s a difference between trying to guide better-functioning urbanity (the aforementioned “form-based code” approach) in your surroundings, and clinging desperately to suburban closedmindedness and lashing out at your neighbors.

    If you thought Edith shared your spite then you didn’t understand her at all.

  • 129 Profile photo of Ernie Ernie // Feb 13, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Ballard Mom @ 110 said:

    “@109 exactly. What the Urbanists want is for them and all their rich tech buddies to move into and take over someone else’s community. ”

    Unfortunately for you, this isn’t just “your” community. Once someone moves in, it instantly becomes their community as well. If you don’t like that, you’ll need to move to a private gated community where you can keep those nasty rich Urbanists out!

  • 130 Toby Thaler // Feb 13, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    117/121. Yes, Fremont (“East Ballard” if you’re territorial). Since Fall 1972 (with one year in Dillingham AK and one year or so in West Seattle). It’s really not hard to look me up; I’m in whatever passes for the phone book these days.*

    And note that Rondi and I are the only two posters who aren’t hiding behind an alias or nickname. Overall good dialogue.

    * I just looked, and I’m in the printed 2013 white pages, but it’s hard to find my address on line without paying. How about that!

  • 131 Sam // Feb 13, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    “Once someone moves in, it instantly becomes their community as well.”

    Not when they push in and price out the working class and people of color. Then they are parasites.

  • 132 townhouseowner // Feb 13, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    129 Sam, when were people of color “priced out” of Ballard; did it have anything to do with the signs on the Ballard bridge threatening them with violence if they stayed after dark? Why don’t you support building more housing to welcome them in?

  • 133 Ballard Mom // Feb 13, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    @139 yeah right. Why are all Urbanists rich white kids with college degrees working at tech companies? This is gentrification by force. Ballard will resist.

  • 134 David // Feb 13, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    @ Anandakos #125 and @ briarrose

    I agree that change or people moving into a neighborhood is not a bad thing. With all love to Dennys, there is no discussion that building an aparmtent block on that lot isn’t a positive development. And more to briarrise: I stil think that Ballard was more affordable than it is becoming. I mean a townhouse sells for more than the Singelfamily home on that lot with more space. The rentprices in all new apartment blocks are way more then I pay now (Thx to my nice landlord). Or look at the Lockhaven example: That’s pure gentrification and it seems like the neighborhood looses some of its heterogeneity by building high end apartments and townhouses. But maybe it is just my view. But for me the next question is: what is the city doing for affordability? Today was a workforce housing forum and some of the invited speakers talked about their cities buying land to reserve it for affordable housing development and I don’t see much of this in Seattle. By the way no one had a solution for affordable hosuing units for families (3 bedr.). So to conclude: Raising awareness against, from my point of view, gentrification as this group is doing is not a bad thing (disregarding if one agrs with all their opinoins or not).

  • 135 Ballard Mom // Feb 13, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    “Edith Macefield merely wished to withstand and adapt to the change happening around her”

    Which one was it? I met her. Working class Ballard like me. I know you think we’re stupid and racist but guess what? We’re neither because we know urbanism is green washing gentrification and we will fight it.

  • 136 Ballard Mom // Feb 13, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Kick the old folks out of Lock haven and the Urbanists admit, “yeah, that’s gentrification. But it won’t happened elsewhere, we promise!”

    You know how you can tell these green washing Urbanists and developers are lying? Their lips are moving.

  • 137 Profile photo of great idea great idea // Feb 13, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    ballard mom,
    I served with Edith Macefield.
    I knew Edith Macefield.
    Edith Macefield was a friend of mine.
    Ballard mom, you’re no Edith Macefield.

  • 138 ProgressiveBallard // Feb 13, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Just so all of you know what kind of people we’re dealing with here with the pro-development lobby in evidence in this thread (Are you Apodment leasing Alex from Calhoun properties? Just wondering…Are you paid to make pro-Apodment comment all day?): These type of people, we believe, are behind an active harassment/intimidation campaign against Ballard citizens who are simply asking nothing more than CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT in land use reform. Someone is actively harassing/attempting to intimidate community members by posting their addresses online! One person they’re targeting did nothing more than donate a domain name that he purchased to http://www.livableballard.org. Now his kids are scared. Really classy tactics, you guys. It’s obvious you’re really civic-minded, ethical people **cynical laughter** Intimidation tactics like these show who they really are. Total. Scumbags. The good news. Most of you are too smart to be taken in by this nonsense and have signed the petition expressing your support. You might also consider writing a letter to your City Council member letting them know what the Growth Thugs are up to. We’ve found CITY LEADERS ARE NOT IMPRESSED BY YOUR INTIMIDATION TACTICS.

  • 139 ProgressiveBallard // Feb 13, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    And for those of you who have already written to Council Members and the Mayor in support of livableballard.org and in protest of the intimidation tactics, thankyouthankyouthankyou. Your support is working.

    Also, livableballard.org DID flyer LR1 rentals/condos they could get into and they actively recruit renters. Long term renters, especially those facing eviction due to development, are allies in the cause, which again is this simple: CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT IN LAND USE.

  • 140 Brent // Feb 14, 2014 at 1:02 am

    I don’t agree with every idea spouted at Seattle Transit Blog (certainly not the ones Sam spouts, whether or not he is being facetious), but STB has a policy against sock puppetry (one poster using multiple names in order to make it look like others agree with him). I heartily recommend such a policy to MyBallard, so you don’t get one person pretending to be three, all spouting crazy stuff, just to scare off the sane conversers. It really does help keep the conversation civil.

  • 141 ProgressiveBallard // Feb 14, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Wrong wrong wrong #42, BobJ. That guy just bought the domain name and is not an active member of livableballard.org. Looks like you’re enjoying being apart of the bullying. Are you also the guy, encouraging others to go to his house with the effect of frightening his kids? What’s your address, jerk?

  • 142 Profile photo of Bucky Wunderlich Bucky Wunderlich // Feb 14, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    http://www.djc.com/news/re/12062320.html

    February 13, 2014

    Real Estate Buzz: Developer says Seattle ‘starved’ for condos so he’s building them; prices start at $250K
    By NAT LEVY
    Real Estate Reporter
    Whenever Dave deBruyn and his wife travel from their home in British Columbia to Seattle, Ballard is usually the first stop.

    DeBruyn has been a Ballard fan for more than 15 years, and he has watched it turn into a hip neighborhood with lots of popular restaurants and good transit options. DeBruyn is principal of a Vancouver, B.C., development company called InHaus Development. When he started looking for spots in Seattle to build condos, Ballard was at the top of the list.

  • 143 Profile photo of Bucky Wunderlich Bucky Wunderlich // Feb 14, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    FWIW…

    From “Grow Seattle Daily Digest” (2.14.14):

    According to Dave deBruyn, the lack of condos being built in Seattle isn’t due to demand, it’s financing. Dave deBruyn is the principal of a Vancouver, B.C. development company, InHaus Development. He says, the “market has been starved for product for the last five years, the fact that there haven’t been condos being sold or built doesn’t reflect whether or not people want to buy them.” As a result, deBruyn has plans to start building multiple condo buildings in Ballard that will seek to supply the high demand for condos in the Seattle area.

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    $250,000 for a studio. This must be what green washing urbanists consider as ‘affordable’ housing.

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