Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Seattle's Mayor Nickels: Is he on crack?

That's the question being asked by many people who are at least acquainted with a system called "logic". Nickels, in his latest 'goal' wants the city of Seattle to increase its population by a whopping 60% by the year 2040.

Seattle's population is currently a little over 560,000 as of the 2000 census. For the city of Seattle-- a city on a narrow strip of land surrounded by water-- to increase its population by 350,000 by 2040 is... ambitious to say the least.

The Seattle Times quoted Richard Morrill, a geography professor emeritus at the University of Washington as saying "That magnitude of change hasn't happened anywhere except maybe Beijing". The story continues:

For the city to reach such a goal, Morrill said, likely zoning changes and "somewhat astounding density" would reduce the number of single-family homes and families with children in the city, leading to "some kind of rebellion."

What's strange is that Nickels refuses to 'touch' the zoning of existing single family housing. Nickels is rather famous for these pie in the sky proposals- such as the South Lake Union Action Plan.

This is a plan which envisions 15,000 to 23,000 new jobs to be 'created'. We assume that this calculation was done by estimating the number of cubicles one could fit into the newly proposed office space. When the Major makes a major news release that 25 new jobs have been created in South Lake Union it makes one wonder just how long it's going to take to bring in the other 22,975.

I will say one thing about Nickels-- he's got vision. His action plan basically breaks down as thus:

  • Attract biotech and other jobs.
  • Encourage development of housing for a range of incomes.
  • Create a new waterfront park.
  • Build a streetcar.
  • Improve the Mercer Corridor.
  • Build infrastructure for new jobs and housing.
Why didn't he just tack on his country's 500th anniversary to plan and his wife to murder? Can anyone spot the incongruity? Somehow, a streetcar factors heavily into this whole thing. A single, fixed line transportation apparition of antiquity. Why? There's nothing wrong with anything else in his plan less the lofty predicitons born of an attitude harkening to 'build it, and they will come'. I hate to say it, Mr. Nickels, you can build it all you want, but they may not come. And frankly, don't be surprised if they don't.


Anonymous said...

He needs to watch out, because I'm pretty sure Bellevue has a ton of office space available, already built, no streetcar required.

Something else I'm pondering...what if his grandiose plan works out, and then the companies that move into S. Lake Union grow, need to expand, maybe have some sort of "campus"...does he have a plan to deal with that, or does he just assume these jobs will be created and then remain static for the rest of time? That's sort of short-sighted.

Anonymous said...

What Seattle really needs is a walk-thru Red Light District. That would attract tourists (who get screwed with taxes, anyway, let's make it literal) and hell, S. Lake Union is perfectly situated. Nickels could even keep his precious trolley. Call it the "Red Light Express" or something.