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Urban Planning

Urban Planning

Despite perceptions, housing production down in 2015, single family home construction up

Signs of Seattle's continued boom can be seen across the city. Cranes stand over the rising concrete frames of skyscrapers in Denny Triangle. Across the…

Living in a micro-apartment — and loving it

I didn’t really choose the pod life. The pod life chose me. It was about one year ago, and I was living in Cambridge, Massachusetts,…

Best of 2015: Seattle installs new system to track individual drivers

Gray boxes, holding the wiring for nearby traffic signals, dot more than 1,000 intersections throughout Seattle. They fade into the background by design, many of…

Best of 2015: How much of Seattle’s housing is affordable? No one knows for sure

This week Crosscut is running some of our best stories of the year, as selected both by our writers and by popularity with readers. We will…

Best of 2015: Why the city’s new buildings often look the same

This is the first in a 2-part series on changes in Seattle's built environment. You can read Part 2 here. Tucked into a side street…

South Lake Union could have been Seattle’s Central Park

Walking through South Lake Union, you feel a kind of urban bounce in your step. Mothers with strollers, joggers, and cyclists move along the tree-lined…

The return of the backyard cottage idea

Councilmember Mike O’Brien wants to pick up the pieces of a bygone housing recommendation from last summer. The proposal, once a piece of Mayor Ed…

Gum on the wall: How Seattle’s strangest tourist attraction reflects the city’s identity

Now this is a classic Seattle debate: chewing over the meaning of the Post Alley gum wall. This is Seattle’s most disgusting landmark, but a…

In praise of the humble bungalow

Earlier this year, Seattle’s single-family zoning suffered a near-death experience when Mayor Ed Murray’s affordable housing panel endorsed what would be an effective citywide up-zoning…

Seattle transportation levy looks like a nail-biter

After months of confidence that voters would approve the $930 million Move Seattle levy, proponents are acknowledging that it will be a very close vote…

Saving Seattle’s trees may mean saving their yards

Amidst all the noise over the city’s recently adopted Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), scarcely a word has been spared for the 4.35 million…

Preservationists score a small victory in Pioneer Square

Opponents of a proposed Pioneer Square development, which has been criticized as “out of scale” with the historic district, won a procedural round from a…

Battered rent control resolution crawls its way to the full council

Although a resolution in support of lifting the statewide ban on rent control is not dead, its future isn't bright, either. The Seattle City Council’s…

Why it’s so hard to build truly affordable housing in Seattle

The Thunderbird Motel was a longtime eyesore, even among the notorious stretch of seedy establishments along Aurora Avenue. The gun violence, drug dealing and prostitution were…

‘Active’ parks celebrated, even among homeless advocates

When Mayor Ed Murray announced last June that the Downtown Seattle Association would manage Westlake and Occidental parks, there was quick pushback from homeless advocates,…

Fed up with Seattle? Here are 9 other cities you’ll love

Over the past year or so, there is been considerable kvetching in certain journalistic quarters about how Seattle (or perhaps more specifically, Capitol Hill) is…

Seattle installs new system to track individual drivers

Gray boxes, holding the wiring for nearby traffic signals, dot more than 1,000 intersections throughout Seattle. They fade into the background by design, many of…

Seattle was once a bicyclist’s city — and it could be again

Anyone who negotiates Seattle on a regular basis asks at some point: Why can’t we just get around? It’s easy to blame geography — squeezed…

Death of a clown bar: The fight to save Shorty’s

We emerged from the restaurant, a successful date night almost complete. Around us, Belltown’s usual Friday night crowd was in full effect. The human subgenre known…

On “scale” issue, a battle between neighborhoods and City Hall

This is the story of two buildings. Both are unloved by many of their neighbors, both share the same address. Given Seattle’s rapid growth, with…

Parched summer could leave houseboats high and dry

Local lawyer/historian Howard Droker’s well-researched 2003 history of the Emerald City’s floating home community was called Seattle’s Unsinkable Houseboats. Well, the houseboats themselves may not…

Socialist councilmember Sawant calls for a new tech revolution

With the exception of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant is the most prominent socialist in American politics. In her years of…

Guest Opinion: Historic Pioneer Square is under threat

I have been called a socialist. I have been called anti-development. I have been called a NIMBY. Call me what you will for defending my…

Can Seattle legally force developers to fund affordable housing?

Last spring, as the clock ran down on Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's affordable housing task force, tensions built around proposals to require developers to help…

City may push aside history, the poor in Pike Place & Pioneer Square

We know that Seattle’s rapid growth is putting pressure on our architectural heritage with demolitions and façadism. The city is being remade at an unprecedented…