Seattle will gain 120,000 residents, 115,000 jobs, and 70,000 housing units over the next 20 years, according to the Department of Planning and Development (DPD). That’s an 18.7 percent population increase, and when that number gets into the double digits, we know we’re in for significant changes. But what changes? Today, the city told us.
The DPD released Seattle’s Draft Comprehensive Plan for Managing Growth 2015–2035 this morning:
“In keeping with Seattle’s Core Values and anticipating future growth, the foundation of Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan is the Urban Village Strategy. This strategy encourages most future job and housing growth to specific areas in the city that are best able to absorb and capitalize on that growth, while providing essential public services and making amenities available to residents. These areas include designated urban centers, such as Downtown and the five others [First Hill/Capitol Hill, Uptown, University Community, Northgate, and South Lake Union] as well as smaller urban villages throughout the city.”
This Urban Village Strategy has been in place for the last 20 years, and the new Comprehensive Plan will build upon its successes. The new Plan tries to adhere to Seattle’s core values (Race and Social Equity, Economic Opportunity and Security, Environmental Stewardship, and Community), all while keeping an eye—two eyes—to sustainability.
The 2015–2035 Plan doesn’t offer specific answers to growth. You don’t find laws and clean-up programs and housing ordinances in the document. But what the Plan does do is provide a framework and philosophy upon which Seattle’ future will be built. One thing we know we can expect, though, is an emphasis on light rail.
“By 2016, the service will extend northward through Capitol Hill to Husky Stadium at the University of Washington; by 2021 to Roosevelt and Northgate; and by 2023, to Lynnwood and the eastside. By 2035, there could be even more light rail lines in the city … the Plan calls for focusing more growth in areas within a ten‐minute walk of light rail stations and those urban villages that light rail will directly serve.”
Seattle’s specific future might remain vague, but the Comprehensive Plan details how the city should evaluate that future. Success or failure, according to the Plan, will be based on:
Income equity (the gap between persons of color and overall population)
High school graduation rates by race
Housing affordability, especially for cost-burdened renter households
Transportation choices (walking, biking, transit)
Recreational opportunities (households with access to usable open space)
Greenhouse gas emissions (compared to 2008 levels)
Recycling (percent of waste recycled or composted)
Healthy Creeks (habitat conditions of major creeks)
This Comprehensive Growth Plan was chosen from four options presented earlier this summer. The main question those options considered: should Seattle concentrate its growth into only a few areas, or should it grow broadly, spreading density throughout the whole city? The city held a period for public comments, in which 4,000 people viewed the online open house, 1,000 people submitted online surveys, 100 people attended the draft hearing, and 300 people submitted written comments. Based on that response, the city based its Comprehensive Plan on the Urban Village Strategy.
The Plan is not yet finished. The city will accept comments through September 30, 2015, and then, in December 2015, the mayor will send a revised Plan to City Council. Seattle’s official Comprehensive Plan for Growth will finally begin in early 2016.
all images from seattle.gov