High-density neighborhoods like Ballard absorbing most of Seattle’s growth

It certainly feels like Ballard is growing faster than other North Seattle neighborhoods. Now there’s visual data that shows that Ballard is absorbing a disproportionate amount of population growth compared to most neighborhoods in our area.

“Last year 88 percent of the city’s new housing was crowded into dense neighborhoods that make up just 18 percent of the city’s residential land area,” explains Seattle Times reporter Mike Rosenberg in a Sunday column.

Rosenberg points to this interactive map (image displayed above) which shows the last decade’s worth of new residential buildings (blue dots) and permits issued for upcoming residential buildings (yellow dots.) By looking at the map — updated by the city of Seattle — it certainly appears Ballard has added more residential housing than any other neighborhood in North Seattle over the last decade. The University District and Lower Queen Anne also show a lot of growth.

“So in reality, most of Seattle is not growing – only certain parts are,” Rosenberg writes in the Times. “Single-family neighborhoods like Magnolia, Laurelhurst and Arbor Heights are absorbing virtually no growth.”

Density is a function of zoning. Central Ballard and Crown Hill are designated as “urban villages,” which makes it easier for developers to gain approval for higher-density projects. The University District is the largest urban village in North Seattle, and parts of Fremont, Greenwood, Green Lake, Ravenna, Northgate and other stretches along 99 and I-5 are designated, as well.

While other parts of Seattle are growing faster than Ballard — like South Lake and Capitol Hill — it’s certainly interesting to see how Ballard compares to our other North Seattle neighborhoods. You can browse the map right here.

Update: Central Ballard grew 54.1% in population since 2010, and that’s faster than any North Seattle neighborhood, according to this earlier Seattle Times report by Gene Balk.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

47 thoughts to “High-density neighborhoods like Ballard absorbing most of Seattle’s growth”

    1. Nice. Appreciate the fact that you think those of us in central Ballard should get all the nastiness and you get to have none of it. Hope this moves on up your way since you are so sympathetic to my neighborhood being destroyed.

        1. Not all of us have the economic luxury. It used to be an affordable neighborhood. The light industry was part of its character. Now we are the receptacle for tents, camps, and crappy RVs. But we live here too – and we pay our taxes.

    1. Don’t complain. At least you guys ALWAYS get to hog the seats on the 17x in the morning from those of us waiting with 100 others on Market street since the bus arbitrarily goes to Sunset hill and departs from there…wherever that is anyway?

  1. At least before the city upzoned Ballard they fully considered infrastructure needs; they built the second Ballard Ship Canal Crossing Bridge for vehicles with a dedicated bus lane and bike facility; the Sound Transit rail lines South to Downtown and East to UW; and made sure there was enough bus capacity so nobody would be left behind at a stop.

    Ohh wait none of that will happen until 2040 at the earliest. We still only have one four lane bascule bridge to connect us to the city, miserable bus service, and a basic bike facility along Shilshole that has spent 30 years and millions of dollars in the study phase. Not to mention our only bridge was built in 1917 and designed to handle traffic volumes that were 1/30 of what they are today and gets stuck in the open position on a routine basis delaying traffic for hours.

    Why did they invest billions in connecting UW and now Northgate to rail before allowing more density but are doing absolutely nothing for Ballard for another three decades?

    A 7 year old playing Sim City understands the need to invest in infrastructure to support growing populations…maybe that would be a better choice for Durkan’s next Director of Transportation pick.

    1. Belltown is the same. We have an entry/exit to the 99, but nothing when the new tunnel opens. We don’t have a green space. There’s no school. We are not going to be on the ST3, completely bypassed. Bike lanes went onto 2nd ave, but buses are still allowed during rush hour, which sometimes can’t stay in one lane. Now 2nd ave is so congested it’s a no go area during busy times. Our community center is closing at the end of this year. The levy that paid for it to be open less than part time is going away and Parks and Recreation who pay for 26 centers will not and have not planned to keep the 27th open. A building that received landmark status on 2nd, has it removed after the owner started they couldn’t afford to renovate it, which would open the door to development and remove a lot of bars. Belltown is historical and high rises should not be built throughout the area. Last year, we were the fastest growing neighborhood in the country, without the services. We are hearing that they want to make 5th ave a two lane Street with the right lane a two way bike lane. No thought. Belltown and downtown will be unpassable, buildings on the west side will be difficult to move into and Avis access will be terrible. What are city planners thinking? The right lane is usually the only lane that moves and allows you to get through to downtown and Stewart easier.
      There should be a requirement that 1/3 of new buildings accommodate affordable housing, not low income, to ensure people are not economically evicted and retain a mixed neighborhood.

    2. In general it makes far more sense to work on density before investing in infrastructure. It creates more of a demand on transit options (ie supporting revenue), as well as having more resources from people paying property taxes. Though it’s painful to grow before that infrastructure is built, it also causes more people to actively choose available transit options when they get fed up with traffic, which shows increased demand, and make a stronger case for infrastructure investment at a more escalated timeline. So if you want to see these investments happen sooner, ride the bus as much as possible and encourage your neighbors to do the same.

      1. I can’t, of course, speak for others, but quite on the contrary, I’ve found myself moving away from transit lately. The bus is too stressful. If I’m not having to stand in a sardine can in a coat that’s too warm because the driver refuses to recognize that it’s twenty degrees colder outside the bus than in, then I’m managing to get a seat only to be overwhelmed by the smell of someone’s weed, leaving me feeling ill by the time I reach work.

        I’ve been taking Lyft progressively more, and even driving myself some days.

        I’m not saying you’re wrong, because you’re not, but there’s a balancing act here, and Seattle has largely failed in Ballard. The 40 is amongst the worst buses I’ve used in the city, and it’s only getting worse.

        1. The bus is too stressful?!

          You should probably take a look at life in Mill Creek or something.

          I ride the bus often to downtown and always find a seat. The drivers are AWESOME and actually listen if you were too foolish to over-dress and might adjust the temperature accordingly.

          1. Are you a dumbass? Idiots that choose to live over an hour outside the city and commute in get the cushy buses. Have you actually ridden buses from Ballard in rush hour? This is spot on. The drivers are fucking stupid and have the heat on when it’s 90 outside and turn the air on during the winter. No matter how you dress, it doesn’t account for the 10 degree temperature change once 100 people pack onto the bus because only one 17 or 18 came in 30 minutes at 8am. So good for you fucker that always finds a seat because guess what there are no seats in Ballard.

          2. No John Smith, I am not a dumbass. Is that a type of fish?

            I ride the bus from Ballard (24th and 65th) and get the ‘cushy buses’ whatever the hell that even means,

            I know some of the Metro drivers quite well and they are likely smarter than you, If you don’t know how to dress properly than you should probably blame your mom for coddling you so much as a (man)child

        2. Oh my did you see a brown face or something? What manner of moron thinks a driver working a 12hour shift should freeze or be be hot so some jackass selfish child is not uncomfortable for 20 minutes?

    3. Perhaps if we had a council member that was there to petition for the needs of their district when deciding such things Ballard could be different.

      Instead, Mike is out kayaking to single handedly stop climate change.

      To further frusterate you, by sound transits own findings, the ballard light rail connection will have the highest ridership of all ST3 built stations, be the lowest cost per rider to build, and also be the lowest per rider operating expense because it will be so busy. Why we are the last one to be built is shameful. With those metrics we should have been the first.

  2. @ Ballardite: I totally agree with you. What part of “progressive” are these aging signals at way too many intersections? When tearing down the Viking tavern etc, I figured the cost of new signals/turn lanes @ 65th + 24th were simply integrated into said cost of the new building. UH uh, we are all STILL stuck with that signal, rom the 50’s-60’s. You see, our wizards of smart running things here really do want things to get worse, so they can then once again ride to our rescue. Without chaos and their permanent underclass, the liberals are sunk and out of power. It’s pretty simple to witness. No feelings necessary.

  3. Yet all the people complaining about this are also likely against the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability which would spread growth more evenly throughout the region.

    Also the same people complaining when apartments are build without parking for every resident. It’s as if some of you don’t realize the extra traffic and grid-lock more cars would bring.

    So, it’s not “most of Seattle’s growth” then it’s just among the other mostly white, affluent neighborhoods north of the ship canal. Woe is me

    1. I think the problem with the no parking is that the people moving into the apartment nonetheless still have cars, just with no parking space. The parking doesn’t bother me so much as the idiocy of building all these condos/apartments with no parking and just hoping that people won’t have cars. Wealthy people moving into these expensive homes DO have cars, and because we haven’t had improvement in our public transportation there is really no incentive not to own a car.

      1. But you do realize even if there was a place to park those cars, that would only lead to more congestion and more complaining from people?

        I’m not sure how this simple concept is lost on so many people. You have no idea how horrible Ballard would become if they actually built parking spots for every resident

        1. Here is the simple concept that is lost on many people: if we don’t have good infrastructure in place, there is no incentive NOT to own a car. Wealthy people moving into these expensive new homes own vehicles. And they continue to need or perceive to need to own a car because public transportation options are bleak.

          And no, I don’t think making more parking spaces would increase congestion, because I personally don’t believe not providing parking keeps people from owning cars. Haven’t you noticed how much traffic around Ballard has changed?

          1. Anne – I so get your logic. Just ask the neighbors who live on 14th or 16th avenue if they have more cars parked on their street as these new buildings go up. The other challenge in building any apartment adjacent to lower density areas is that even if they did build parking spots, the parking spot would be an extra $100 a month. Why pay that if you can find free street parking a block away.

            There has to be a certain point at which there is enough density and enough public transportation that a car isn’t needed. downtown ballard is probably getting close to being there. crown hill or greenwood – not even close.

          2. No, not even close. Are you serious? Public transit from Ballard sucks, even during rush hour. We get maybe 1.5 buses every 30 minutes from 7-9. Outside of that, fuck, good luck riding the 40. You know why it’s called the 40? Because it takes at least that many minutes to get to SLU, let alone downtown, try an hour. You need a reality check.

          3. If I walk…..WALK…..to and from Ballard to the U-district where I work it is 90 minutes each way – 3 hours/day (I actually do this from time to time). If I take the 44 at peak times it is 2 hours/day. Given that it is too chaotic to work on the bus and I can’t read on the bus – that is getting surprisingly close to walking. Meanwhile, driving by car even at peak times is only 1 hour/day.
            The math says cars still rule.

            East-west transportation in North Seattle has long been ignored in this city in favor of North-south transportation needs. My slightly paranoid friend believes this is because all the SDOT workers and city employees live in Maple Leaf and maximize traffic infrastructure to meet their needs to get downtown. Sometimes I think he is on to something.

    2. Give me a break. MHA is all about cramming more density in already overcrowded areas lacking sufficient infrastructure. Your comment is totally uninformed.

  4. @ MillBall: I bet you really then dug it when Nancy Pelosi told America that “we need to pass Obama-care to find out what’s in it:, right? I bet you run your life and household in this same fashion; wetting your finger and thrusting it into the air too? Reactionary government is not what we need. You’ve been conditioned. We need leadership, not gender politics. Sad that just having that “d” there makes you feel so comfortable.

  5. So what’s the alternative? Tell people where they live? Put a cap on Ballard population? It is odd that Ballard has lots of apartments, but 45th through Wallingford looks the same as it did 30 years ago.

    1. Which is one reason that the proposed Ballard to UW route (which had a stop in Wallingford) was not part of ST3. That, and SDOT wanted to have stops at Amazon and Expedia

  6. Ballard is now filled with yuppies walking around with plastic bags of dog poop. It’s a very chic, classy place.

      1. Hate to tell you, Cas, but most people use whatever is handy. The cognitive dissonance about pet waste is up there with the denial about global shipping pollution (ocean plastic, sweatshop garbage, fossil fuels) that our beloved Amazon relies upon. See you at Whole Foods!

  7. Not quoted here in the myballard page, but the S.T. article states that 69% of seattle is zoned for single family housing. What is extremely misleading in the S.T. article is that town homes are considered zoned for single family housing. So in reality, most of the city could be built out under current zoning laws so that there are very few DETACHED single family homes, but many many 4, or 6 per lot attached townhomes.

    I’m all for density – but to try to paint the picture that 70% of seattle cannot add housing stock is false. MIL and the “backyard cottages” can double the density of that 70% of seattle, and adding townhomes can make it even denser.

    1. They want you out. Look at SF
      They don’t care how many bums and junkies and loony vegans take over. Seattle is cooked.

  8. Thanks for showing the proof on the map visually.
    Ballard used to be actually nice …..but…we have been experiencing high density growth, without any coordinated planning between city building department and transportation methods. It shows bad foresight and has created permanent damage. Allowing developers to run rampant over neighborhoods was the start. But that’s okay, Ballard should get light rail in 20 years.

  9. Is the map showing population – actual people? – or just amount of dwellings and apartments? If it’s amount of dwellings and apartments they shouldn’t be counted unless they are being lived in. If they are vacant make that circle smaller!

  10. So insane…i HATE BALLARD NOW…i was born in Ballard…and still remain here…i care for my 93 year old dad…..when i drive around daily, my jaw drops …..just looking at the new BOXES that are being built……so sick….where there used to be 2 homes….now its ripped down and a damn condo/ apartment of 1,000 unitz is there…..and they dont even have parking for more than 25 % of tbe tenants….etc…..6 thousand month of people are moving into Ballard alone….im so sick

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