Mayor Jenny Durkan is quoted in the Apple story, “And so I think it’s a really good sign.” No one ever asks if Seattle’s growth is always good, or if, like most things, if it is only good in moderation. For years the city has promoted growth without restraint, taking for granted that what is good for large, growing companies is good for all of us. The current crop includes not only Expedia and Apple, but continued growth of other tech companies, the convention center, pro-sports facilities and cruise-ship traffic.
Cities promote growth through facilitated permitting, minimal development impact fees, and incentives like tax benefits and subsidized public infrastructure. The benefits go to the companies that are growing, their employees (who are often not current Seattle residents) and relatively few related businesses.
For the rest of us, this growth only means more traffic, more construction disruption, more air pollution, higher housing costs (and homelessness), more gridlock at public facilities like the airport, and a generally declining quality of life. We are way overdue to put the brakes on growth.
Christopher Kirk, Seattle