walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

because honesty would be too difficult

I used to read a blog called Seattle Housing Bubble (this would be pre-collapse). I quit for a variety of reasons, but mostly because the guy who did the blog was just being an idiot. I thought I'd check in, to see what was happening over there, and saw some commentary and a link to Crosscut about how Seattle wasn't going to grow as much as projected and even if it did, there was more than enough space under the current zoning rules.

As a side note, I think there _is_ plenty of space in Seattle for however much growth will occur, because unlike some planners, I assume that household size is going to grow. And _not_ because people are going to be having more children: roommates, extended families, blah, blah, bleeping blah. That's what densification is all about.

http://crosscut.com/2009/08/11/seattle/19155/

Here are the offending paragraphs:

"The argument that our population will double by 2040, or even increase by the 180,000 hypothetical share projected by PSRC, makes one wonder whether those numbers are reachable. If they are, that would drastically reverse a 50-year trend.

In 1960 we had population of 557,087. The last census in 2000 said we had 563,334 people. If the City of Seattle estimate of 602,000 population is accurate, we have in almost 50 years grown by only 44,913 people. Despite all the construction cranes, our population is moving upward very slowly."

I know, because this is a pet interest of mine, that population trends in cities (and we're talking city limits here, NOT metropolitan area) over the last 50 years have not been a straight line in any direction. They have, in fact, been a V. And I had recently looked at the Census figures for Seattle, so I knew it wasn't just a V (shit, I _lived_ just north of Seattle and/or in Seattle for 30+ of the last 50 years -- this is my lived experience) -- it was a very weirdly shaped V, even to 10 year intervals. And rougher still between, if I had to guess. So asserting a "50-year trend" that could be reversed is, well, dishonest. And in case one thought he (Kent is usually a man's name) was envisioning an inverse squiggly V, that 1960-200 with no intervening data points is pretty solid proof that's not an assumption with any real support for it.

There's always a chance that the guy who wrote this happened upon a pair of numbers and was too lazy to look at the intervening ones. So I dug down to where he got his numbers from.

http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Research/Population_Demographics/Overview/default.asp

That chart is _crystal clear_. He had all the data points.

Apparently, honesty would be too difficult in making his argument. I _think_ (but I'm not sure), that this guy wants to see the same kind of low-density development that drew everyone out to the suburbs in the first place (well, that and rampant racism in conjunction with mandatory school busing). And Seattle city neighborhoods are rife with that kind of low-density housing, which makes public transit highly problematic. Nickels is pushing hard to convert the Ballards and so forth in Seattle into multi-family housing meccas (or at least convert them to the same tiny lot size as Ballard and, hopefully, the same completeness of development, i.e. minimal open space) because that's what it takes to support public transit at a meaningful level of service.

I'm hoping Nickels keeps winning, but clearly it continues to be a struggle.
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