A nasty sign of the times in West Seattle.
Much of the theory of managing development in Seattle has revolved around the idea that density can absorb growth and take pressure off other areas: Funnel people into downtown and "urban villages" and you'll curtail suburban sprawl and take some pressure off settled, residential neighborhoods.
The problem with that theory in Seattle is scale and demand: Condos are popular, but so too are the increasingly scarce (and expensive) single-family homes. Neighborhoods are seeing backyards and vacant lots disappear; homebuilders are increasing densities inefficiently by building huge homes with few people per square foot; townhomes, skinny houses, bungvillas, and megahouse remodels are also cramping Seattle's residential style.
The market is rewarding developers who build large, single-family houses on tiny lots because the demand for single family homes in the city is still strong.
So while massive downtown development is supposedly good for the neighbs, it doesn't mean in-fill isn't having major impacts citywide.
There have always been development squabbles over views and scale, but the pressures are very likely to increase as Seattle's population swells and as the economics of class division get worse.
A case in point. A reader sends in a link to this controversy in West Seattle: A nasty sign is hung on an under-construction million-dollar dream house. It says, "Developer terrorist: testament to his greed." The reader who wrote me wonders if "Seattle polite isn't fraying at the edges." The signs says the home – a tall, apparently charmless box – is an example of "developer terrorism." The very upset owner of the house in question then weighs in with his side of the story. (Read comments from "Michael.")
Is this merely an isolated dispute over a view, or more indicative of tempers at the grassroots level?
In any case, it's always good fodder for discussion when the city's smiley-face mask slips.