More places to live, and more people to live in them. Discuss what that might be like in Seattle’s next 20 years

An old house goes down, three new ones go up. City zoning allows that now, and will soon incorporate a new state law allowing four units on most lots. And as more homes are built, more people are moving here to live in them. How will our city evolve over the next 20 years, both for those of us here now and those coming to join us? West Seattle Realty (2715 California SW; WSB sponsor) hosts a discussion on Tuesday night with West Seattle architect and advocate Matt Hutchins, and you’re invited – here’s the announcement:

Opening the door for middle housing:
A look at the future of Seattle neighborhoods.

Seattle can expect to be a city of one million residents by 2040 and is undergoing a comprehensive planning process to guide that growth. If you are interested in what Seattle might look like in twenty years or what are the immediate impacts and opportunities, join local architect Matt Hutchins AIA CPHD in a virtual tour of how our neighborhoods are most likely to grow in the future.

In addition to designing creative urban infill development, Hutchins is a housing advocate, policy wonk, sustainable building expert and Seattle Planning Commissioner.

No RSVP or admission charge – just show up at 6 pm Tuesday (June 18).

43 Replies to "More places to live, and more people to live in them. Discuss what that might be like in Seattle's next 20 years"

  • Jason June 14, 2024 (9:30 am)

    More density please!!!! We need to build up both Admiral and Alaska junctions! Lightrail is coming finally and we need more housing to supplement each area around the stations. 

    • Platypus June 14, 2024 (10:01 am)

      Yes density, but I also want mixed use zoning. I want everyone to be able to walk a block or two to a tiny market, coffee shop, or store front.

    • CarDriver June 14, 2024 (10:16 am)

      So what is “density”?? If developers/city say they’re going to build up California from Admiral to Fauntleroy with 25,000 apartment/condo units you’re going to cheer “just what we need and want”??

      • Jon June 14, 2024 (12:52 pm)

        I’m personally not against gaining neighbors, and even if I wasn’t enthusiastic I can think of at least 25,000 people who would want to cheer that move

    • East Coast Cynic June 14, 2024 (8:10 pm)

      More density in the neighborhoods that have prevaricated density with apartments for middle and lower income people, i.e., Wedgewood, Maple Leaf, Laurelhurst, and Magnolia.  Share the responsibility of accommodating the growth.

  • KJ June 14, 2024 (9:48 am)

    We need a hospital on our side of the bridge.

    • CarDriver June 14, 2024 (10:44 am)

      Don’t know why it closed but we had a good sized hospital just north of Westwood Village.

      • Wacked June 14, 2024 (1:19 pm)

        That’s now a much needed and local psychiatric hospital.  

        I know!

  • M June 14, 2024 (9:50 am)

    It is estimated that by 2030  40-60% of homes will be corporate/investor owned. This is already evident in Seattle where today 40% of residents are renters and many of those renters are spending 50%+ of their salaries on exorbitantly priced corporate rentals. This city has no interest in serving the low or middle market and getting them into real homes. In 2022 the city built a total of 29 homes to serve this market. Without real leadership to champion this cause we’ll continue to live in indentured servitude.

    • PSPS June 14, 2024 (9:58 am)

      This is actually an international problem, not isolated to Seattle or even the US.

      • Joan June 14, 2024 (4:30 pm)

        You are right about that! My friend lives in England and though she can afford higher prices, she can’t even find a suitable place to rent. There is an extreme housing shortage in London and surrounding areas. And, she says, senior citizens can’t get mortgages there. They have to pay cash. We are lucky to get mortgages in our senior years!

    • B June 14, 2024 (10:14 am)

      Increasing density doesn’t have to mean corporate/investor-owned housing, but sadly in Seattle this is how it goes. I have read that much of that type of investment building stays unoccupied. With subsidies and tax breaks investor group still make a profit without the hassle of tenants. Wonder why there are so many living on the streets?

    • NotImpressedWithHALA June 14, 2024 (10:22 am)

      As a single-unit landlord I have no interest in serving the low or middle rental market. I want tenants with strong, dependable income who won’t use the law to stiff me on rent and who will take care of the property responsibly. I sincerely wish every renter who hates landlords will someday become an owner and discover just how much it costs to maintain a property and repair damage. Continue policies that burden small-time landlords and discourage homeowners from redeveloping their property themselves and you will get more corporate-owned housing as the mom-and-pops give up and sell out. 

    • Doug June 14, 2024 (10:35 am)

      Corporate ownership is a strawman.  With limited supply, and high interest rates, only those with access to capital are going to be homeowners. All housing is unaffordable when there aren’t enough units to go around; those with cash can come in and out-bid.

    • AD June 14, 2024 (10:37 am)

      Housing prices are dictated by supply and demand and any estimates are based on current regulations.  More housing stabilizes pricing and makes homes a less attractive commodity to hoard.  Any housing that is built helps with housing prices, even the units that are not specifically designated for low income residents.  It also has the added benefit of lowering tax bills (if you build enough).

      • jedidiahperkins June 14, 2024 (11:28 am)

        I thought housing prices were dictated by market comparisons?

        Either way, you’re right about supply and demand. In 2022 private equity purchased 10% of residential real estate in King County. That is 10% less homes available to an individual or family. Additionally, a person above said they have “no interest in serving the low or middle rental market.” Considering the median household income in Seattle is close to $120K, I’m guessing that person has inflated the cost to rent their property, to avoid that “middle rental market.” This in turn increases rental prices in that area due to that whole market comparison concept.

        Similarly, if you sell your house for $1.5M, all surrounding home values will begin to increase no matter their condition.

        • AD June 14, 2024 (3:31 pm)

          The list price is set by area comps.  What it actually sells for is supply and demand.  The more people are competing for a single property, the more you get bidding wars and prices going higher than list price.  When there’s more supply so people have more choices of available and viable housing, they are less likely to play the bidding war game and the overpriced houses will sell for below their list prices.  That’s how it worked in the past, and when you have enough housing for everyone, it can work that way again.

    • Brayton June 14, 2024 (11:34 am)

      There’s corporate ownership that is overpriced and under-cared for and there’s also new construction that’s cheaply made. Density is fine but silly designs make it more like factory farming chicken houses. 

    • Wacked June 14, 2024 (1:24 pm)

      That’s now a much needed and local psychiatric hospital.  I know!

    • QWacked June 14, 2024 (1:33 pm)

      Interesting facts M.  
      Wondering about your sources?

      According to the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey released last month, 44% of renter households in Seattle spend 30% or more of their income on rent and utilities.As big a number as that sounds, it’s surprisingly low compared with other big cities. Among the 50 U.S. cities with the largest number of renter households, Seattle had the third-lowest percentage of cost-burdened renters in 2022.”

      And, “There are a variety of reasons people rent rather than own, but one of the major ones is cost. Home prices in Seattle have long been higher than the national average, but in the last decade, they’ve soared out of reach even for many who have good incomes. The typical Seattle home had a value of $804,500 in November, according to real estate data firm Zillow.And that surely has a lot to do with why, since 2010, Seattle’s renter population has grown at twice the rate as the owner population — a 34% vs. 17% rate of increase.Among the 50 most-populous U.S. cities, Seattle is now among just 18 in which the estimated renter population is larger than that of owners.”

  • DogMom June 14, 2024 (10:06 am)

    All for housing density, but won’t solve many of this city’s issues when those homes are overpriced and unattainable for those residents not making six figures a year. Also, does all new construction have to be so flipping ugly? Recently in my neighborhood, two older homes were torn down and replaced by hideous, “modern” looking boxes. Yet, people still bought the homes, so I guess taste is subjective, lol. 

    • bill June 14, 2024 (11:56 am)

      A few people are willing to pay for tasteful architecture. One of my neighbors added a second floor in character with the original house; the entire thing looks original. The tradeoff is greater expense for the space added. Most people want the most living space per dollar. That is how you get rectangular boxes with flat roofs. Can’t say I’d mind having a rooftop deck, myself.

  • David June 14, 2024 (10:28 am)

    In 20 years the NIMBY’s will still be protesting light rail – it will take an hour to get across the bridge – people will move away due to traffic congestion 

  • waikikigirl June 14, 2024 (10:31 am)

    “They” can build as many homes as they are allowed but does that mean the “normal” person/people will be able to afford to buy, rent, pay RE taxes on them?

  • anonyme June 14, 2024 (11:14 am)

    Build it and they will come – which solves absolutely nothing.  As Waikiki Girl pointed out, there still won’t be enough affordable housing for the people already here.  And too many people everywhere will continue to be an existential threat to all of humanity – as if we needed another one.  None of the changes to zoning or other housing policies accomplish anything aside from benefiting developers, who build cheaper and less sustainably (not to mention uglier) while reaping enormous profits.  What a mess.

  • Oh Seattle June 14, 2024 (11:17 am)

    There was actually quite a bit of “middle housing” in West Seattle when I moved to the area in the early 2000s.  It has largely been demolished in favor of the expensive 8-pack townhouses that went up everywhere.

  • drahcir61 June 14, 2024 (11:21 am)

    At 16,000 sqft, our property is one of the largest residential sites in West Seattle.  We constantly get calls from realtors/developers who think we don’t know the *real* value of our property.  They’d tear down our house & garage, remove most of the trees, & put up 2 or 3 concrete behemoths, selling each for (at least) $1.5M each. 

    Sorry, we prefer the owls, raccoons, & other wildlife that also call this property home.  Our family legacy will ensure this property remains a wildlife sanctuary for the next 100 years.

    And for those that call this “selfish”, sorry but some of us really do enjoy the peace & tranquility of living in a very unique area.

    • Dc June 14, 2024 (1:05 pm)

      Fair play as long as you pay your taxes

    • jedidiahperkins June 14, 2024 (1:37 pm)

      dang, is 16,000 sqft the size of your house or the parcel it sits on?

      • drahcir61 June 14, 2024 (3:23 pm)

        The lot is 16,000 sqft but there is also a stream running through the property which attracts everything all year round, especially in the warm, dry months. Highlights are hearing the birds splish splalsh, even the hummingbirds enjoy the flowing stream.  So to think we’d “sell out” such a unique property & that is also so close to the city is unthinkable for us.  And yes, we pay our taxes. :-)

        • M June 14, 2024 (3:33 pm)

          That sounds wonderful! I firmly believe in density, and having green spaces too. Sounds like a wonderful way to keep a SFH and give back to our environment and community, so thank you for your commitment. Rarely are SFH properties beneficial in such a way as yours.

    • anonyme June 17, 2024 (6:54 am)

      I think this is great, especially the fact that a stream is being preserved.  The current push toward building on every square inch and cramming more and more humans into smaller spaces doesn’t make sense on many levels.  The SF model is not the evil enemy it is being portrayed as by current politicians and activists.  Small, modest homes with green spaces and veggie patches are far more sustainable (and temperature regulating) than huge million dollar townhouses surrounded by concrete.

  • HS June 14, 2024 (11:39 am)

    Fantastic! I will definitely be there.

  • Arbor Heights Resident June 14, 2024 (1:02 pm)

    All the more reason to build the light rail. Imagine traffic in our city with ~30% more cars on the roads.

  • aa June 14, 2024 (2:57 pm)

    The city likes corporate funded housing because they are often required to provide a percentage of their units as MFTE. Unfortunately the rental price is still too high for many who qualify based on income.  Lots of tax breaks to the companies and tenants get stuck with small expensive narrow boxes with one window at the end.  In my opinion the MFTE program is not what it should be, a way for people of varying income to live in Seattle. 

  • Rico June 14, 2024 (3:35 pm)

    As someone who works in the construction, I can assure everyone developers love Seattle and the $ubsidies.   However, developer subsidies (upzoning, rezoning, etc)  have not led to less expensive housing.    Developers love these deals because on a per square foot basis, the ROI is significantly higher.      Their is a cost to society of increased density and numerous studies have shown mental health and overall lifespan (when adjusted for access to healthcare and income) are inversely related to higher density.   In addition, traffic and related infrastructure strain will be felt by all.    Maybe that is ok?While it may seem antithetical to someone in Seattle, nationally, home ownership is higher than it has been in 15+ years.    Anecdotal evidence, but a couple of houses down from mine was a nice middle class home on a decent lot.   Soon in its place will be 4 homes, all with multiple stories, and all selling for far more than the original home sold for.   I am not sure current policies are resulting in more affordable housing. Maybe it is time to accept that Seattle is a desirable place to live, and  an affluent area, and we don’t need developer subsidies to help that along.  I wonder if the Big Yellow Taxi may now be:   “they paved paradise and put up a 6 homes with no parking lot.”          

    • Wacked June 14, 2024 (7:47 pm)

      Rico,  those are not subsidies. 

      And the cost of homes is indeed being affected by these new codes.  

      What ten years ago was a single family $400,000  post war “bungalow” whose owners sold for a ripe $900,000 to a developer who then builds three units Main, ADU and DADU each selling for $800,000, the same happening all over Seattle.  
      This increase of supply  will  lead to more affordable housing as it has in other cities that have adopted zoning changes.

  • Scarlett June 14, 2024 (3:46 pm)

    Light rail will not make the slightest dent in traffic congestion.  It hasn’t elsewhere on the West Coast and it won’t here.  Light rail is a marketing tool, a gimmick that developers (and the construction industry)  use to sell density except that’s all it is – it never repays the favor by substantially reducing congestion or increasing access to public transportation.   If you don’t believe me, visit other West Coast cities that rolled out light rail to great fanfare and where it has been a flop.   

    • Jeff June 14, 2024 (5:28 pm)

      I don’t care if it fixes congestion, I care that it gives me an option to not be in that congestion anymore.   I mean really, what city anywhere ever has “fixed” congestion?

    • WSrealtor June 14, 2024 (7:29 pm)

      Portland, OR has an amazing lightrail system serving many neighboring cities as well.  They started over 30 years ago and added various new lines over the years.  Seems to be very successful there.

    • Bbron June 15, 2024 (12:16 am)

      what constitutes a “flop”? you have real numbers or it is just vibes based? for someone who always belabors this, you’d think you’d have more concrete sources than just “trust me”.

    • K June 15, 2024 (2:25 am)

      Why visit other west coast cities when you can just head over to Beacon Hill, Columbia City, or Angle Lake and talk to the folks there, who are very happy to have their light rail, and have been riding it in record numbers since it opened?  Trying to distract people from how successful light rail has been elsewhere in Seattle by talking about other cities isn’t fooling anyone.

    • Arbor Heights Resident June 15, 2024 (8:27 am)

      West coast transit systems daily ridership:-San Diego Metropolitan Transit; 263,000-LA Metro Rail; 193,000-Bay Area rapid Transit; 158,000-Portland MAX; 63,400 -Link Light Rail; 71,000-Vancouver BC Skytrain; 432,000Scarlett- care to explain how these numbers contribute nothing to reducing traffic? Mass transit systems are a major feature of city life all across the world for a good reason. 

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