Everybody knows that the rich are getting richer and the poor and getting poorer. This has been the case for about 30 years. We're used to it by now. According to the 2000 census, incomes in Seattle rose over the '90s by 56 percent for the wealthiest fifth, while incomes for the bottom fifth fell by 7.4 percent. While things have slowed a bit since the dot-com bubble broke, I'm betting that the next census shows a similar trend.
In 2000, 52.6 percent of Seattle residents paid more than a third of their income for housing. With rental vacancies at around four percent, rents at an all-time high, and the price of housing rising out of reach, this situation is unlikely to have improved.
Seattle has reinvented itself as a city for upper-income professionals. The rest of us, more and more, are forced to live elsewhere or in the limited number of subsidized units that exist to preserve "affordability" within the city.
The developer-friendly "Seattle consensus" has always been to say yes to corporate interests and make up on the other end with generous social services. The city plans long-range , behind closed doors with those whose opinions matter, and then takes the details of the done deal public for ratification.
Those of us who represent the rest of us need to find ways to operate more proactively and find a more powerful place at the table. We're losing ground fast, and may someday find the generosity of the Seattle consensus more conditional than we think.
For daily posts by Tim Harris at http://www.apesmaslament.blogspot.com