SEATTLE’S FUTURE: 20-year ‘comprehensive plan update’ goes public


How should our city handle its next 20 years of growth?

The 575-page proposed answer to that question is now public – the updated “comprehensive plan” proposed by Mayor Murray.

With the recommended plan’s release, it heads to the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee (whose members include our district’s Councilmember Lisa Herbold). This is the first major comprehensive-plan update since 2004. One of its key points is an echo of what happened a decade before that, in the city’s first such plan: “The urban village strategy is this Plan’s approach to managing growth. … The City intends for each of these areas to see more growth and change over time than other commercial locations or primarily residential areas, and together they will accommodate the majority of the city’s expansion during this Plan’s life span.”

The announcement from the mayor’s office – which you can see in its entirety here – includes:

Seattle 2035 includes goals and policies, including those that:

· Guide more future growth to areas within a 10-minute walk of frequent transit
· Continue the Plan’s vision for mixed-use Urban Villages and Urban Centers
· Monitor future growth in greater detail, including data about racial disparities
· Increase the supply and diversity of affordable housing consistent with the Mayor’s Housing Affordable Livability Agenda (HALA)
· Update how we measure the performance of the city’s transportation and parks systems
· Integrate the City’s planning for parks, preschool, transit, housing, transportation, City facilities and services


Our area has four urban villages – which are part of the list of neighborhoods in the section of the report that includes highlights from neighborhood plans. You can search that section for each of these:

Delridge (not an urban village)
Morgan Junction
West Seattle Junction
Westwood/Highland Park

The plan spans many topics, from off-street parking to potential North Highline annexation. As the announcement observes, “Forecasts suggest that over the next twenty years, Seattle will need to accommodate 70,000 additional housing units, 120,000 more residents, and 115,000 additional jobs.” This would set a framework for doing that. The plan “and related legislation” will go to the PLUZ Committee later this month, the announcement says. The comments that went into it were gathered in a variety of ways, including meetings like this one in West Seattle last November.

38 Replies to "SEATTLE'S FUTURE: 20-year 'comprehensive plan update' goes public"

  • WS gal May 4, 2016 (5:27 am)
    • This mayor has turned this City upside down and can’t fix the problems he has now. This is just another ad campaign for another levy
  • Gus May 4, 2016 (6:13 am)

    This is just more of the same bunk. As someone who was born and raised here, as someone who has watched all of his friends and family economically chased fron Seattle, as someone who will not be able to afford to retire within thw city he’s lived his whole life, as some ome who has watched the quality if life steadily deteriorate here, this is just more of the same crap that has ruined Seattle. Yes, I complain about it to much but that doesn’t make it not so. I was talking to a woman who was just effusive about how great Seattle is. It turbs out she’s from Detriot…now, there’s a ringing endorsement! Come to Seattle, it’s better than Detriot!

    • John May 4, 2016 (10:54 am)

      @Gus….I also worry if I can retire here.  I just finished an 800 sf backyard cottage and I moved into it.  I’m now renting my main home.  My plan is to retire here and live off the rent, SS and savings.  The City is now taxing me $5,400/yr ($450/m) for my small 6,000 sf lot.  That’s a lot of money for a home that I own outright.   It makes me sick.   And it’ll only go up.

      • Mickymse May 4, 2016 (3:06 pm)

        While I sympathize with your (and many others’) struggle to retire with such a high annual property tax burden to meet… I don’t understand why you think since you’ve paid off your house that should be it. If you’re choosing to continue to live in Seattle, don’t you think you have a responsibility to continue to pay for the services you receive? Or do you plan to just stop using the roads and sidewalks and streetlights and parks and countless other amenities and stay inside your home? I’d also point out that you could pay much less in taxes if you simply sold what is obviously a large, well-priced home. Do you still need all of that space if you’re retired now? Would something smaller be more affordable?

  • KIR May 4, 2016 (7:26 am)

    On the real map, which the city is hiding in a secret vault, all of SODO is dark blue.  Anyone who thinks SODO will remain untouched for the next 20 years hasn’t lived here for the last 20. Developers own this city.

  • d May 4, 2016 (7:42 am)

    Yeah if you’re a blue-collar guy forget about retiring in Seattle got to go to the coast or East of the mountains pretty sad being since we lived here our whole lives 

  • Aero May 4, 2016 (8:03 am)

    D- my parents have lived here all their lives and have worked blue collar jobs. They will have no problem retiring here and will do so in a few years. They bought a house when prices were much less. They paid about $80,000 for their house and just finished paying off their 30 year mortgage. 

    • Sunuva May 4, 2016 (8:44 am)

      That is great to hear, but that is the previous generation. From my perspective, it seems completely out-of-reach for the next generation. Starter homes in WS are hard to find and can go for a half a million dollars now. Investors and developers are winning the bidding battles and the prices are going up faster than a family can save the money needed for a down payment. Even two-income families have to over-extend themselves just to own a home that suits their basic needs. Just a few years ago, it seemed attainable, but it has quickly soared out-of-reach and shows no signs of slowing down. These levies are certainly not helping, and will add to the housing costs of retired home owners as well.

      • Aero May 4, 2016 (2:03 pm)

        Sunuva- I agree. I am 28 and my husband and I just bought a house in West Seattle. We make well above the average and it still took us 10 months to find a house west of 35th and North of Barton that we could afford.

      • JVP May 4, 2016 (3:34 pm)

        Agreed.  Our tax system is totally messed up, totally regressive in a Texas kind of way.  We need an income tax, and drop the real estate and sales taxes. 

  • AmandaKH May 4, 2016 (8:05 am)

    After all the thoughtful comprehensive work that our group has put into going to the 2035 meetings, hosting staff from the 2035 Comp Plan, a letter on the EIS outlining things we would like to see, I personally,  am beyond disappointed.  Most of the items in the WWHPUV section of this document are cut and paste from the 1999 plan.

    Here is the link to the letter we wrote:

    Westwood Village is a poor excuse for a transit hub. Deflecting investments by saying “West Seattle” is not specifically calling out the fact that the city has done NOTHING to support the moving of 6 bus lines to our neighborhood.  

    And now, we are seeing the start of development here, with no impact fees built in to help basic things like sidewalks and lighting.  

    My comment to the Mayor: Do Better, Try Harder.

    • Marty2 May 4, 2016 (8:33 am)

      Just noticed some buses parked on the north side of Trenton near the Post Office and only one bus parked at Barton, I wonder if this is in response to the wall of buses complaints?

      • AmandaKH May 4, 2016 (9:36 am)

        Marty2 – The buses along Trenton are in response to the closure of SR99. The extra buses are staged there for when things get gummed up.

        In direct response to the wall of buses, buses are supposed to stage on 35th, just north of Roxbury, and on Roxbury just west of 28th Ave SW.  It’s rare that those places are used, instead, they park on the west side of 26th along Barton.


    • Kimbee2 May 4, 2016 (10:20 am)

      loss for words except: VERY DISSAPPOINTING. 

  • Barb May 4, 2016 (8:31 am)

    Where in the plan is there any new schools?

    • Anonymous Coward May 4, 2016 (8:49 am)

      Well, all the growth is going to be in “urban villages”, aka multifamily housing.  And how many 3+ bedroom multifamily units are we building?  There won’t be any more schools because the city is obviously not planning to accommodate more children.*  I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to think about what happens to single family home prices in that scenario…

      *It’s like they think all the 20something tech workers are going to move here and stay 29 forever.

      • Mike May 4, 2016 (9:30 am)

        “29 Forever”  I think that’s a great name for a hipster clothing store.

      • Neighbor May 4, 2016 (2:52 pm)

        Spot on, and meanwhile SF homeowners are vilified for placing a value on not sharing a wall, yard, and amenities with 29 year olds. Eventually those who advocate for razing all single family homes and replacing them with multi-family units grow up, have kids, need schools, and then realize they probably shouldn’t have advocated for eliminating the housing stock needed to raise a family. Turns out developers don’t like to build 3-bedroom apartments, so all these plans like HALA and pro apartment density just exacerbate the problems and drive the single family home prices higher (and less affordable).

  • Born on Alki 59 May 4, 2016 (9:13 am)

    “Guide more future growth to areas within a ten minute walk of frequent transit”.

     Now that is open for interpretation.

    Does that ten minute walk include speed walking?

  • plf May 4, 2016 (9:21 am)

    Interesting the vagueness of the plans, also as someone who was fully engaged in the initial plan 20 years ago, they went rogue and many of the promises were not kept.

    Additionally interesting how the admiral district won’t be developed like the rest of the area, what does that say about the concentrated wealth.  They keep their small town feeling and the rest of us end up with high density, no parking increase traffic. 

    This mayor and council stink.  Hey Lisa I know you are all about density how about equity

    Lets have 4 story 3 block long apartments in North Admiral…fair is fair  

    • Baffled May 4, 2016 (2:59 pm)

      Um, California just south of Hanford?

  • d May 4, 2016 (9:29 am)

    Trust me they’ll be taxed out before you know it unless they’re blue collar jobs provided white-collar income

  • Brian May 4, 2016 (9:38 am)

    I just wanted to check in as seemingly the only person who isn’t super upset about everything this city does.    

    • AMD May 4, 2016 (1:54 pm)

      You’re not the only one.  The population increase is real and it needs to be handled somehow.  I see a lot of people who don’t like how their own lot is changing when people move here but very few ideas about what the council could do to help everyone, current and future residents alike.  

    • MacJ May 4, 2016 (2:03 pm)

      High five!

    • KM May 4, 2016 (3:57 pm)

      Brian, this is WAY too mild a comment for this topic–where’s your outrage?

  • Gus May 4, 2016 (10:30 am)

    This is not a plan for a livable city. This is a plan to further enrich the developers that sold it to downtown. A decent place to live is a place where going to and from the grocery store is not an epic obstical course. It’s a place where people ca quietly live their lives and not be squeezed out as far as Arlington or Puyallup.

    • Rick May 5, 2016 (5:43 am)

      I lived in Puyallup when the population was around 8000. Nice little town. No more. Here since 1969. Nice little town. No more.  That’s the norm, I guess.

  • Joe Szilagyi May 4, 2016 (10:30 am)

    Can the nonsense in the Westwood section from 1999 be replaced with a version that isn’t 17 years old?

  • Fauntleroyville May 4, 2016 (11:23 am)

    I’d like to see a comparison between the 1999 plan and what actually occurred.  Let’s start with the facts on the ground to give us some shared understanding of how past performance might inform our expectations of the future.  What did we DO, versus what we said?  

  • BlairJ May 4, 2016 (11:37 am)

    I wish we could zoom in on that map.  It opens in a separate window, but it’s the same size.

  • Peter May 4, 2016 (12:46 pm)

    I’m seeing tons of comments about affordability and blaming the plan, but that is false. The reason housing is so expensive is because we have not been building nearly enough of it, not even remotely. Supply and demand in housing is real, and the city will only keep getting more and more expensive until we massively increase the supply of housing, and that means density. The commentors demonizing planners who are doing their best to accomodate the people who are coming (whether you like it or not) and demonizing developers who are the only ones who can build the housing that would ease affordability are both counter-productive and insulting.

    Disclaimer: I know people are going to claim I’m a schill for and/or in the pocket of developers, as usually happens when I post a comment like this, but those claims are lies. I’m a long time West Seattlite who strongly favors growth and density because I understand economics, and I do not nor have I ever worked for a developer or the city.

  • Neighbor May 4, 2016 (12:49 pm)

    So, what are we supposed to hate about this plan? It appears to provide for urban areas, preserve single family zones in the West Seattle Junction area, and integrate infrastructure development, transportation and services. Is the problem that this doesn’t destroy single family neighborhoods in favor of a San Francisco north-style urine infused concrete valleys? This is separate from the HALA levy for 2500 affordable units.

  • M May 4, 2016 (7:58 pm)

    Housing prices are largely inflated because of 200 year low interest rates. When rates finally rise the price of homes will decrease as people can’t afford as much with the same monthly mortgage expense. The city is going to have to deal with lower property tax revenue.  

    • Rick May 5, 2016 (5:45 am)

      Oh,they’ll find a way to keep it up.  I never use the term “trust me”, but trust me. 

  • James May 7, 2016 (6:45 am)

    Hello all,

    I work for a greedy developer. There is nothing I enjoy more than gentrification and pushing people out of their homes. And I love buying all of our socialist politicians because a capitalist like me loves socialism.

    But I understand all of your concerns so on top of all the expensive regulations that I put up with, please make it harder for me to build in this city. After all, the harder you make it, the more I will charge to compensate for this risk and difficulty. Or did you honestly think that developers should just build housing at a loss out of the kindness of their hearts. How about this, I will build for free when I can go to your place of work and receive goods or services for free. That is fair right?

Sorry, comment time is over.