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growth

Where affordable housing could go in Seattle's Chinatown-International District
City of Seattle

Big changes for Seattle's Chinatown-International District are just one vote away. A Seattle City Council committee Tuesday passed zoning legislation to increase density in the historic neighborhood.

Based on requests from residents, though, the council is delaying its final vote on the matter.

A worker pulls a wagon past a "his and hers" garden theme set at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, in Seattle.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Is Seattle's convention center really running out of space?


Newlyweds Shannon and Eric Joehl sit down to a dinner of shrimp tacos as they discuss utilities for the house they just bought on Beacon Hill.
Anna Boiko Weyrauch for KUOW

At an Airbnb apartment in Seattle, newlyweds Shannon and Eric Joehl sit down to a dinner of shrimp tacos as they discuss utilities for the house they just bought on Beacon Hill.

Cassie Chinn is the Deputy Executive Director of the Wing Luke Museum and Tam Nguyen is the owner of Tamarind Tree in Chinatown-International District
KUOW Photo/ Amina Al-Sadi

Bill Radke talks to Cassie Chinn, deputy executive director of the Wing Luke Museum, and Tam Nguyen, the owner of Tamarind Tree, about how Chinatown-International District is changing and what might be lost as the area faces the pressure of new development.  

Tang Fung Chin was forced out of her apartment in Seattle's Chinatown-International District in 2015
KUOW Photo / David Hyde

Once again, residents are being forced out of Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. More than a century ago, a wave of anti-Chinese violence hit the West Coast. Hundreds of Chinese workers were made to leave Seattle by ship.

Then came World War II, when thousands of Japanese Americans were taken away.


Writer Kate Lebo
Heather Malcom

Bill Radke speaks with Kate Lebo about why she left her life in Seattle to move to Spokane. We all know new people are flooding into this area, but as all these people move in, who are the people moving out? 

Cross this log bridge to reach an island in Auburn where some homeless people live.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

There's an island in the middle of the White River in Auburn.

To get there, you cross a log bridge and follow two separate trails. That’s when you see them: Semi-permanent shelters people have built. One looks like a big family tent but made of logs and sticks all woven together — whatever people could find.


Jeffrey Basket is fighting the foreclosure of his home in Auburn. He is among the people whose wages never fully recovered from the Great Recession.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

South King County has long been a destination for working people seeking home ownership.

But prices have been rising and not people's ability to pay.

Blue Origin employees Devin Vezetinski (C) and Dan Cody (R) chat up Edward Matyasi (L), who just interviewed with the company. Blue Origin likes this brewery & taproom so much, it sent a postcard from Airways Brewing Company up in one of its rockets.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Lots of industrial jobs are coming to the Kent Valley, south of Seattle, businesses that make everything from ice sculptures to airplane parts. But workers today don’t want to carry a metal lunch pail to work everyday. They want to go out.

Restaurants and pubs are trying to capitalize on those hungry workers with money in their pockets. But it’s tricky in Kent, because the modern city was laid out to keep industry and restaurants far away from each other.


A 1960s sign from an old flophouse in Pioneer Square in Seattle.
Flickr/Matthew Klein (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/4PF4Bn

It’s not an easy time to find an apartment in Seattle. You’d be hard pressed to find a one-bedroom on Capitol Hill for less than $1,400 per month — and rents for similarly-sized apartments in swanky new buildings regularly soar upward of $3,000.

KUOW Photo/Posey Gruener

If this ghost town had a mayor, it would be Don Mason.

Back in the 1970s, Mason was hiking when he stumbled on evidence of a town called Franklin. He’d never heard of it. Since then, Mason has been collecting proof that a town once sat on this hillside, high above the Green River Gorge. 

The Puget Sound region is growing fast, and King County is its engine. For now, the sun shines on us.
Flickr Photo/Tom Davidson (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/dQVW4x

New Census Bureau data shows our metropolitan region is one of the fastest-growing in the US.

Seattle-Tacoma gained 88,000 people from July 2015 to July 2016, according to the Bureau’s estimates. That’s like gaining a whole new Bellingham or Federal Way.

4 things to know about Mayor Ed Murray's homeless levy

Mar 22, 2017
Kara Bernstine, who is homeless, said she knows the Jungle homeless encampment isn't perfectly safe, but it felt safer than other places in the city. Click on this photo to see more images of the Jungle.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

This summer, Seattle voters will likely be tasked with a big decision. Should the city should double what it spends combating homelessness?

Harold Nesland III owns Sahara Pizza in Snoqualmie and Black Diamond.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

A woman, a new resident of the huge Snoqualmie Ridge development, had called in for pizza.

It was the first pie order for one of those new shiny houses, and Harold Nesland III, owner of Sahara Pizza, drove it over.

Courtesy of Jane Richlovsky

Bill Radke talks to Seattle artist Jane Richlovsky about why she wants people to rethink how artist keep their business alive as the city of Seattle grows. 

Her talk "When Artist Get Together They Talk About Real Estate" is available through Humanities Washington. 

A construction crane at the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Kiewic (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/MLM8np

Yellow and orange cranes loom over Seattle’s landscape like an army of gentle dinosaurs.  

Bill and Cindy Wheeler have lived on Lake Sawyer for 30 years, but they don't know the weir master.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Our region’s rapid growth is straining our lakes, especially little lakes on the fringes of urban areas. When growth approaches, the communities around them aren’t always prepared to protect them from pollution. 


For this map, we combined a map from 1919 with Google maps to approximate modern roads and living areas. We then took satellite maps from the City of Black Diamond showing proposed new developments and sketched those out as well.
KUOW Graphic/Kara McDermott

A mega housing development is going up in Black Diamond outside Seattle, and some of those houses could be built on top of old mine shafts.

Mine #11 in Black Diamond supported a workforce of 400-500 people, underground and on the surface. This mine operated from 1896 to 1927. Photo is from 1904.
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collection Negative No. UW-23734.

The hill at Palmer Coking Coal Company in Black Diamond is smoldering. 

A vacant lot in Black Diamond, Washington
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Do we have enough land for all the people moving to Washington state? There’s a bill working its way through Olympia that would change how planners would answer that question. It’s backed by builders and realtors.

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.


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