Welcome to San Seattleisco…?!

Long gone are the days when Seattle could be characterized as some sleepy, ho-hum, turn-out-the-lights sort of place. So what to make
of our city’s feverish pace of change? Are we truly San Francisco Next? Are we (ahem) better than that? We decided to ask.

Sarah Rudinoff

Realtor | Theater artist

We have to become more dense. I work with a lot of artists and first time buyers and I always try to turn them on to my neighborhood (Highland Park) and the surrounding areas. I am still selling homes within 10 miles of Seattle with mortgages under $1,800 a month. Some of my clients don’t want to give up living on Capitol Hill or walking distance to everything so they have to deal with the rental market or getting into something smaller. I would love to see more cooperative buildings go up, more income- qualified rental buildings or rent control.

Illustration by Hum Creative

Jim Diers

Author | Community builder | Founder, Neighbor Power

Seattle is victim of our country’s growing income gap as increasing numbers of residents get priced out of the city. While measures like rent control, land trusts and inclusionary zoning would help, gentrification isn’t simply a housing issue. The goal shouldn’t be to keep some poor people in our neighborhoods but rather to ensure that everyone has a quality education, health care, good income, freedom from discrimination and an equal voice in shaping Seattle’s future. Our focus should be on social equity, not growth.

George Suyama

Architect, Suyama Peterson Deguchi

The one thing that can’t be removed from Seattle is its natural surroundings. The water, mountains and the benign climate… make ita perfect place to live. This strong connection to nature will overpower the problems of gentrification.

Erica C. Barnett

Journalist, The C is for Crank

When you look at the divide between Seattle’s haves (homeowners who bought decades ago; newcomers who can afford the staggering rents in South Lake Union’s gleaming towers) and the have-nots (everyone else), the devolution to San Francisco-style inequality can seem inevitable. But there are a few things that give me hope. Renters are getting organized because they see that Seattle conventional wisdom — prevent new development at all costs for the benefit of those already here — no longer works. In fact, it exacerbates the housing shortage. I see hope in new alliances between development advocates, renters and social justice activists fighting for a city that’s inclusive and inviting to everyone, including young families, immigrants and, yes, even Amazon programmers.

Peter Miller

Owner, Peter Miller Books

This is a town that loves its companies. We love the notion that business is a fine thing. But it’s naïve, vain and incredibly self-centered to not consider the consequence of how companies are impacting this town. I have great hope that there will be a renaissance of shops and neighborhoods and such. Because right now, downtown looks like the most brilliant airport terminal for people whose flight is not leaving for another five years.

Ethan Phelps-Goodman

Founder, Seattle in Progress

To avoid following San Francisco’s fate, we need to directly address our own housing shortage by building more housing in general, and more affordable housing in particular. To make development equitable, we need to build for a broad range of incomes across all housing types and in all neighborhoods. And to make development sustainable, we need to draw on the resources of all community members, including taxpayers, businesses and bothnon-profit and for-profit developers.

Sharon Arnold

Founder | Curator, Bridge Productions

Seattle has an opportunity to lead the way to compassionate and responsible urban development. If Snohomish, Pierce and East King Counties begin to understand the benefit of spending money on infrastructure, then we can solve our transit issues. If we begin to strive toward density solutions that are about affordable rather than luxury living, as well as work toward better regulation of our rental market, we will begin to solve our displacement issues. If we change the way we look at available space and resources, we may begin to see we have room to build housing for our homeless so that we don’t leave a huge part of our population behind. But if we don’t start taking care of our own, preemptively (because really, why are we still talking about Capitol Hill and not Hillman City, Dunlap, Brighton, Rainier Beach, South Park, White Center, etc.?), then we’re lost for certain.

Ethan Stowell

Chef | Owner, Ethan Stowell Restaurants

Seattle is a really good city. I don’t want it to turn into San Francisco where people who work for us can’t afford to buy a house. I’m all for people making more money and having that money go further. But what we need to focus on as the city grows is making sure that expenses don’t go up at a faster rate than pay.