Seattle for Everyone - University District re-zoning isn't just about Seattle

November 8, 2016

Photo credit: Dan Bertolet

On November 16th, the Seattle City Council will  hold a public hearing on the University District re-zoning.  Take a look at our action alert, and this FAQ on the what the re-zone means for the University District as well as for affordable housing overall in Seattle.

As important as this first of many re-zoning opportunities is for Seattle, it's also important for our region as it relates to population growth.  Backing up, our mission at Futurewise has always been on focused population growth that ensures natural resource areas are protected from development, and that urban areas are livable and accessible to everyone.  This is the yin and yang of sustainable development - if cities grow sustainably, the pressure to develop natural resource areas is diminished - if natural resource areas are protected from development, growth will be focused in the cities.  Futurewise works at the intersections of these issues in an effort to shape a balanced approach to growth.

That said, the University District re-zone is the first step in a critical process that will contribute our region's growth patterns for the next several decades - by planning for density increases in Seattle, growth pressures will be reduced in regional cities, thereby reducing the potential for expanding those cities into our natural resource areas.  By accommodating growth in Seattle, where there is concentrated access to employment and transit, we are also reducing the impacts of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with our transportation system.  And, we're also limiting the need for building new roads and utility infrastructure in rural areas where we are unlikely to have the resources to maintain them.

So while it's easy to resist change in the individual neighborhoods of Seattle - where the rubber meets the road in terms of impacts on the residents of Seattle - it's also important to keep the bigger picture in mind. When Seattle grows sustainably and equitably, the entire region - and our climate future - also benefits.