Shocked, not shocked
Housing affordability is the number one issue on Washingtonians’ minds, followed by homelessness and the overall cost of living, according to a survey by the state’s Department of Commerce.
The department — in partnership with the Puget Sound Regional Council — asked people to opine on the top two issues facing Washington as part of a housing survey published in December 2022. Public safety and climate change rounded out the top five.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents said that rents in the state are too expensive and that it’s too costly to purchase a home. Practically the same number said they’d experienced difficulties finding or affording housing, while 14 percent have been forced to leave their homes because of cost, eviction or foreclosure.
“This survey shows that across the state, people clearly recognize the direct correlations between lack of available housing, housing costs and overall quality of life,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown in a press release.
Moreover, survey respondents said that it’s the government’s job to do more to make housing more accessible in the state and fill in gaps left by the private market.
That may be good news for Gov. Jay Inslee. Inslee floated a plan to raise $4 billion in state bonds to build housing, but he needs voter approval to get it done. He must first convince lawmakers to put the measure on the ballot, however.
If you say so…
In a twist, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to impose development restrictions on a drive-through Walgreens location that has a landmark designation, despite four councilmembers voting the week before to reject such a proposal.
The now-drugstore is the site of the former Seattle-First National Bank, located in South Lake Union, a 1950s-era building. The Landmarks Preservation Board designated it a landmark, but this move would prevent changes to the building without board approval.
Opponents say it is nothing but an ode to the car culture of the time and an example of cookie-cutter architecture — hardly the type of building worth preserving for posterity.
Also, because of the zoning in that part of Seattle, the property could support a multifamily apartment building that would also incur fees under the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability scheme, bringing in a potential windfall for affordable housing.
The City Council decided to Solomon’s baby that building. An amendment by Councilmember Lisa Herbold removed a surface parking lot from the portion of the property that would otherwise be preserved, meaning that development would be allowed where the parking lot now is.
So next time you shop at that particular drugstore, know you’re enjoying a piece of history that is the same age as that baby boomer you know.
Read more of the Jan. 18-24, 2023 issue.