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As someone who grew up in Issaquah and has hiked the town’s “Alps” for more than 20 years, I commend the Issaquah residents who successfully organized to stop a housing development on 46 acres on lower Cougar Mountain and instead have the land become a park. People love living in Issaquah, or Bellevue, or Seattle for the proximity to wild lands.

This victory in Issaquah underscores the need to develop denser housing in our urban cores to alleviate the pressure to build on ecologically sensitive lands on the urban edge. Seattle City Council should expediently enact the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program, a set of up-zones that will allow developers to build somewhat taller and denser in urban villages citywide in exchange for helping create affordable housing. If Seattle and other cities keep reserving most of their land for low-density housing, then development will continue to get pushed to Issaquah and beyond. That imperils our open spaces, forces people to make longer commutes that emit more carbon, and limits people’s access to the opportunity-rich urban core.

To preserve the open spaces that make the Puget Sound region special, we must welcome more neighbors into our urban cores.

Allison Bolgiano, Seattle