Given the hubbub over the draft report leaked earlier this week from Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee—on which, full disclosure, I sit—and the coming release on Monday of the official report, Sightline thought we’d share a perspective that hasn’t received much attention in the debate.
On Monday, Sara Maxana, a homeowner in Seattle’s fast-growing Ballard neighborhood, testified before Seattle City Council. She expressed her enthusiasm and strong support for exactly the kind of growth and density that some would have us believe are the bogeyman threat to “neighborhood character.” As The Urbanist blog rightly pointed out, “The only way that makes sense is through the vacuous suggestion that Seattle’s character is dependent on suburban homes rather than diverse people, uses, and business.” Hear, hear.
Ms. Maxana’s testimony, notably coming from a self-identified “dripping in privilege” homeowner, acknowledges the benefits she derives from living in a compact, growing neighborhood—from easily walkable parks, restaurants, and shops to the increased property value of her home and the potential of her children’s own future there:
I attribute much of what I love in my neighborhood to all of its recent growth. And what I love most about that growth is that every new unit I see constructed in Ballard makes more likely that my children will be able to afford to live in their community when they grow up.
Ms. Maxana’s message should make us all think a bit harder about the kind of communities we want to live in and what it will really take to cultivate them together.