Region Of Boom | KUOW News and Information

Region Of Boom

Reporter Carolyn Adolph stands on a development site near Black Diamond, WA. Her fellow reporter Joshua McNichols is behind the camera.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Bill Radke speaks with KUOW reporters Joshua McNichols and Carolyn Adolph about what they learned from their time reporting in Black Diamond for KUOW's Region of Boom team.

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. 

KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke speaks with Kristen Bryant, Dennis Box and Johna Thomson about the controversy surrounding a planned development in Black Diamond.

Bryant is a member of Save Black Diamond, an organization that opposes the development. Thomson is a community volunteer who thinks the town would be better off if citizens worked with developers to make the best of inevitable change. Reporter Dennis Box has been following the development fight.

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.

Commander Brian Martinez of the Black Diamond Police Department.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Black Diamond is a small city on the verge of big growth.

It recently came through a budget crisis that threatened to shut down the city – including its police department.

Kara McDermott of KUOW's Region of Boom talked with Commander Brian Martinez about how the city is now moving forward.

Photo/Washington State Patrol

The Washington State Department of Transportation has confirmed what drivers have been suspecting: Crashes are causing more traffic delays.

State crews cleared more than 15,000 traffic incidents in the final quarter of last year, 20 percent more than in 2015.

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.

Moon Bang, originally from Korea, owns the Black Diamond Bakery. She has periodically encountered racism since she bought the bakery 10 years ago.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Our region was built with immigrant labor. It’s part of the story of growth and development here. There are many ways to tell that history. How we tell it signals who belongs, and who is a foreigner.


KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

As we all know from living here, our region’s roads haven’t been keeping up with population growth.  If they were, we wouldn’t be sitting in so much traffic.

It’s a longstanding problem coming soon to Black Diamond, which is embarking on one of the largest developments in King County.

Johna Thomson attends a meeting hosted by KUOW to talk about the development that is coming to Black Diamond, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke speaks with Black Diamond resident Johna Thomson about a planned development that will quadruple the size of her town and why she thinks Black Diamond should stop fighting over the development and start focusing on getting the most out of it.

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. 


Vancouver, British Columbia
Flickr Photo/Andriy Baranskyy (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/68ttdz

Like Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., also has a housing shortage. At the same time, many new homes in Vancouver sit vacant. Vancouver’s experience could hold lessons for Seattle.


Black Diamond City Council was mired in disagreement over the city's 2017 budget. Council member Brian Weber ended that by making a gesture of 'good faith'.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The city of Black Diamond has a 2017 budget at last.

The City Council voted to approve the budget Thursday night after being divided for months.

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.

Bill Kombol, manager of Palmer Coking Coal, which is still in operating in Black Diamond, though it hasn’t mined in the area for years.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Ours is a region full of hazards, including earthquakes and slides.

It’s also a region where the rising cost of housing has been pushing people to the edges of the region to look for homes. But as people go farther out, they encounter a hazard not seen in the city: abandoned coal mines.


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