Seattle 2035: Five maps that will determine the city's future

By Ari Cetron
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The question isn't whether Seattle will grow, but how.

By Ari Cetron

For those in Seattle who believe smaller is better, the news continues to be bad. Though the city lost its title as America’s fastest growing metroplex this year, current projections from the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) show Seattle growing by 120,000 people over the next 20 years, requiring about 70,000 housing units.

At City Hall Wednesday night, DPD laid out ideas for where those units would go. City officials were on hand to take comments from an audience of roughly 100 Seattleites, and to unpack the options for the city’s next Comprehensive Plan, a deeply influential document that will guide the city’s development for 20 years.

The essential question posed: should we concentrate our growth into only a few areas or spread it around, with denser buildings across the city?

“We’re anticipating we might have to make changes in the Comprehensive Plan that are significant,” DPD Senior Planner Patrice Carroll told Crosscut. “Washington law states that when we’re doing big policy changes, we go through this process, where people can comment on them.”

That phase won’t last long, however. Four overarching growth options have been presented for public comment, but that ends June 18. These four alternatives will be narrowed to a single proposal by July. Following this and more public comment, the Mayor will propose a plan to City Council, which will be reviewed, amended and possibly adopted in early 2016.

With limited time to consider and lodge your comments on the growth options, we present a quick rundown of them below.

Growing Pains

There are some certainties regarding Seattle’s future. Regardless of the housing strategy the city adopts, there will be taller, bulkier buildings added throughout the city. Further, DPD expects “localized land use compatibility issues” in coming years. Translated, this means people living in single-family homes could have big buildings sprouting up next door, and may not be too excited about that.

Housing affordability will remain a problem. Two proposed alternatives spread housing growth around the city further, which will prompt development in currently low-income areas, encouraging displacement. The map below illustrates areas most at risk for this to displacement, according to DPD.

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About the Authors & Contributors

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Ari Cetron

Ari Cetron is a Seattle-based journalist who’s trying to figure out how to be a newspaperman in a world with fewer and fewer newspapers. The former editor of the Sammamish Review, his work has also appeared in Seattle Magazine, Seattle Business and