Only the New York and Los Angeles metro areas topped Seattle for adding “million-dollar ZIP codes” — areas where at least 10 percent of homes cost that much; new internet utility planned focusing on rural areas; more Amazon-Wal-Mart rivalry.

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Last year, we got word that a record 12 percent of homes in King County were selling for at least $1 million, a big rise from previous years. Now we know that our share of million-dollar homes is rising faster than just about anywhere in the country.

Zillow released a new national report this week that looked at ZIP codes where at least 10 percent of homes are worth a million bucks or more. Three years ago, the Seattle metro area had 16 of these ZIP codes — now, it has 38.

In the past year only the New York and Los Angeles metro areas — both much bigger — added more of these “million-dollar ZIP codes.”

Seattle, the 15th-biggest metro area in the country, now ranks 7th for the most million-dollar ZIP codes.

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We’re still behind New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, San Jose and Washington, D.C., Zillow’s information shows.

We asked the Seattle-based real-estate site for some extra data — which of our local ZIP codes have the most million-dollar homes, and how has that changed recently? Explore the map for details on your neighborhood.

Not surprisingly, topping the list is Medina (the exclusive 98039 ZIP code, home to the two richest people on Earth — Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos), where 99.7 percent of homes are worth at least $1 million.

In Mercer Island, 88 percent sell for more than a million, while 64 percent of West Bellevue homes are worth seven figures.

The only ZIP code in Seattle with a majority of homes over $1 million is 98112 (think Montlake and Madison Park).

Next up is the University District (42 percent of homes worth $1 million), Magnolia (39 percent) and Queen Anne (36 percent).

At the other end, a few ZIP codes on the northern and southern edges of the city, like Lake City and Georgetown, still have fewer than 10 percent of homes worth $1 million.

Which areas are making the ascent into luxury living the fastest? In the 98075 ZIP code in Sammamish, 11 percent of homes topped a million three years ago — now, 52 percent do.

The Fremont and Green Lake neighborhoods also stand out. Three years ago, less than 3 percent of homes in the 98103 ZIP were worth seven-figures; now, 17 percent are.

— Mike Rosenberg: mrosenberg@seattletimes.com

Darrington internet utility is started

Policymakers, community activists and corporate philanthropists have spent years and billions of dollars grappling with the problem of spotty internet access in rural America.

A Darrington man is taking matters into his own hands. This month, Jacob Kukuk started the Darrington Internet Users Association (DIUA), Washington state’s newest internet utility.

Kukuk moved last month from Arlington to a home closer to Darrington in rural Snohomish County. The 28-year-old software developer at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology found the internet options lacking.

About 60 percent of residents in the communities east of Arlington along Highway 530 have internet access slower than 5 megabits per second (Mbps), he said.

That’s a fraction of the 25 Mbps that federal regulators consider broadband.

“It doesn’t make financial sense” for big internet companies to invest in the area, Kukuk said. His DIUA aims to bring the area a better alternative.

He figures that it can eventually offer internet speeds of about 50 Mbps at a price of $45 a month for residential users. People with low incomes would be able to apply for reduced or free internet. DIUA is applying for nonprofit status, which, combined with a volunteer staff, should keep costs low, he said.

Service is at least a year off, Kukuk says, but he has a blueprint for how it will work. The Darrington Internet Users Association will plug into the Seattle Internet Exchange — an entrance ramp to the global internet — lease space on telecommunication companies’ fiber-optic cables to Arlington, and, from there, beam the signal to users with the association’s own equipment.

For now, DIUA is offering memberships — at $150 a piece — that come with an ownership stake in the venture and the right to buy its services down the line. It is also looking for board members and volunteers.

“We’re starting to get attention, and people are getting involved,” he said.

The internet project isn’t Kukuk’s first stab at civics.

In 2015, he was behind a social-media campaign to split Washington east of the Cascades into a new state, a move conceived as a way to give rural voters a greater voice in state matters by carving out liberal-leaning population centers in King County. That year Kukuk also ran unsuccessfully for the Arlington City Council.

— Matt Day: mday@seattletimes.com

Wal-Mart flies into Amazon airspace

Wal-Mart Stores has opened a new front in its battle with Amazon.com, Bloomberg News reports.

The world’s largest retailer has applied for a U.S. patent for an airborne floating warehouse that could make deliveries via drones, which would bring products from the aircraft down to shoppers’ homes.

The blimp-style machine would fly at heights between 500 feet and 1,000 feet, contain multiple launching bays, and be operated autonomously or by a remote human pilot.

Amazon was granted a patent for a similar vessel in April 2016.

The migration to the skies represents the latest volley in a clash between Wal-Mart and Amazon to grab shoppers’ attention, loyalty and dollars. In the process, the companies are increasingly treading on the other’s turf: Amazon is opening physical stores and agreed to pay $13.7 billion for upscale grocer Whole Foods Market. Wal-Mart, meanwhile, has beefed up its e-commerce business through acquisitions and offers like free two-day shipping.

An unmanned aerial warehouse — laden with drones — could help retailers lower the costs of fulfilling online orders, particularly the so-called “last mile” to a customer’s house, which is usually handled by a local or national logistics company. To avoid that expense, Wal-Mart and other retailers often encourage shoppers to pick up those orders at the store, where they might grab a few additional items. Earlier this week, Target agreed to acquire a software company that coordinates local deliveries.

“The core challenge of traffic and driving distance in any major city or in a very rural location can be helped by a floating warehouse,” said Brandon Fletcher, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein. “Movable warehouses are a really nice idea because any flexible part of a logistics system allows it to be more efficient when demand varies wildly. The e-commerce world suffers from highly variable demand and more creative solutions are needed.”

A movable warehouse could serve a wider distribution area, Fletcher said, compared to a traditional warehouse that can only fill orders within a fixed driving distance.

The airship could fly to one town and release a flock of drones to deliver packages, after which the drones would return to the vessel and restock while it flew to the next town. Such a system would be more efficient than having the drones fly back to a central distribution hub, according to research firm CB Insights.

“There are numerous ways to distribute and deliver products,” according to Wal-Mart’s patent application. “Getting the product to a delivery location, however, can cause undesirable delays, can add cost and reduce revenue.”

Wal-Mart’s application stands a good chance of getting approved as it goes into more detail about the implementation of a gas-filled aircraft than Amazon’s patent, which is a more general description of the concept of airborne-delivery systems, according to Khaled Fekih-Romdhane, managing partner at patent-licensing firm Longhorn IP.

This isn’t the first time Wal-Mart has shadowed Amazon’s intellectual property. In October, it filed a patent application for a web-based system similar to Amazon’s Dash buttons, which can quickly reorder household goods like paper towels or razor blades. The technology could also gather shopper data, such as how often a product is used and at what times of day.

In recent years, Wal-Mart has significantly stepped up its patent filings, many of which focus on web development and easing shoppers’ journey through the store. The company has also filed a patent for in-store drones that would ferry products from the backroom to the sales floor.

— Bloomberg News