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growth

Artist's rendering of Oakpointe's 'Ten Trails' development
used by permission from Oakpointe Communities

So how did King County's largest development in recent history end up way out in Black Diamond?

It happened in part because of Black Diamond's history as a company town. 

KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Black Diamond is a city of 4,000 people southeast of Seattle. It's a haven for cyclists headed for Mount Rainier, and a historic coal mining town. But a huge housing development has loomed over this small town for 20 years, and the tension over it is tearing the city apart.

Mary Ann and Bill McDermond have lost friends over their opposition to the massive project that's being built in Black Diamond
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Mary Ann and Bill McDermand moved to Black Diamond 23 years ago for the peace, tranquility and the strong sense of community. Their kids used to play with the neighbors kids, she said, “and we just got along good with everybody.”


Urban development is encroaching on forests and impacting the love lives of some songbirds in the Pacific Northwest.

How can we see a better Seattle?

Feb 9, 2017
Courtesy of Chuck Wolfe

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle writer and land use attorney Chuck Wolfe about how people view the cities they live in. Wolfe says people are caught up in either loving or hating the rapid growth that is happening in Seattle. But what should we do about that? His idea: keep an urban diary. Wolfe explains exactly what he means by that in his new book, "Seeing the Better City: How to Explore, Observe, and Improve Urban Space."

Shanty Cafe on Elliott Ave. 'The building was originally a pay station for dock workers, and became 'Violet Shanty' restaurant in 1914 — and they have a menu from the '30s hanging inside.' - @vanishingseattle
Vanishing Seattle/Cynthia Brothers

You'd better hope your favorite Seattle spot never shows up on Cynthia Brothers' Instagram feed. 

To be featured on @vanishingseattle, or on the companion Facebook site Vanishing Seattle, probably means imminent doom.

Not, of course, that Brothers is the cause. She's just the chronicler.


Drivers wait to cross Mercer Street
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Traffic engineers have a nickname for the years 2019 to 2021, when a slew of new megaprojects will get underway in downtown Seattle around the same time. They call it “The Period of Maximum Constraint.” Translated into plainspeak, it means during those three years, we’ll be up the creek in a leaky canoe without a paddle.

Relics collected or created by William Shelton, stored at the Hibulb Cultural Center
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols/Posey Gruener

Wayne Williams struggles to tell the story, because of his health. He speaks in bursts, between coughing fits and gulps of orange juice. 


Developments are popping up all over Marysville.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Marysville is the fastest growing big city in Western Washington.

In part that’s due to people leaving the Seattle housing market to find more affordable housing in a place a commutable distance away.


Elizabeth Mehlbrech lives in Marysville, where she finds the rent for new apartments more affordable than other places closer to Seattle. Mehlbrech manages Fitness Evolution, near The Lodge Apartments, where she also lives.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The farther people flee from the major metro areas, the cheaper the housing. But there’s only so far they can run, because there’s an imaginary wall that stops development from sprawling all over the landscape, a wall that protects the less developed green places that make the region beautiful. 

It’s called the urban growth boundary. Beyond it, developers face more restrictions. 

Just inside the boundary, Marysville, Washington, is growing fast as existing rents trend higher and higher. For those who can't afford it, there's nowhere left to go.


This heat map produced by real estate company Trulia shows the commute times for Seattle residents. The warmer the color, the longer the commute away from Seattle's core.
Screenshot with permission from Trulia

About 236 people move to the Seattle area every day, according to the Puget Sound Regional Council.

This means more people driving to their jobs, some more than an hour. About 100,000 people commute to the region from Whidbey Island, Aberdeen, Mount Vernon and beyond, according to the regional council.

Housing construction in Marysville.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

In Cora Milholland's lifetime, Marysville has grown from under 2,000 residents to over 60,000.

Since the time he arrived in the 1990s, Loren Cook says the population has tripled.

Six new developments have sprung up on all sides of  Nichole Cleland since 2004, when she moved to a new development in Marysville. 

Ken Cage, president of the Marysville Historical Society, says important parts of Marysville history were bulldozed to make room for this mall.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Marysville is the fastest growing big city in western Washington because there’s space to build housing. But there aren’t many jobs in Marysville. So one in six people end up commuting more than an hour to work.

It's a bedroom community that failed to make itself over in the 1980s. Now it's trying again.


Adam Truitt, owner of Pest Fighter, sets traps for rats in an alley behind the University Book Store in Seattle. There are two kinds of rats in Seattle, the Norway rat and the roof rat.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

2017 may not be a good year for Seattle’s booming rat population.

The city’s new building code as of Jan. 1 requires developers to get rid of rats from any property they plan to tear down.

Flickr photo/Alvin Smith (CC BY-NC 2.0) / https://flic.kr/p/dkzcUU

More 32-story buildings, like the UW Tower, could be on the horizon for Seattle's University District. Proposed zoning changes head to the city council for review next week. Just as big as the high-rise buildings are the arguments for and against the rezone.

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