Region Of Boom | KUOW News and Information

Region Of Boom

Region of Boom is a reporting team at KUOW.

We are tracking growth in metropolitan Seattle, which is being reshaped by the demands of a fast-growing technology sector led by Amazon. It’s a boom on a grand scale bestowing wealth and opportunity upon some and disruption and displacement upon others. 

Take a look at where development is happening now and make sure to tell us what is going on in your own neighborhood.

Follow the ongoing discussion at #regionofboom

This project is edited by Carol Smith. 

A community meeting on Mandatory Housing Affordability at Northgate on March 12, 2018
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Residents of north Seattle want affordable housing, but are skeptical of the city’s plan to get that housing built by encouraging more development. That was the dominant message heard at Monday night’s public hearing in Northgate.

KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Amazon's search for a second headquarters has entered a new phase of courtship: The company has begun making visits to the 20 places on its short list.

And the first candidates to confirm they've met with an Amazon team are all in the Washington, D.C., area.

From left, Anthony Banks, Zack Larson, Chris Chase, Devin Ottesen and James Kennemer laugh while working on a job site on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, on 38th Ave East in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The Seattle area needs more housing.

There’s not enough construction workers to build all the houses we need.

Meanwhile, ex-prisoners have a hard time finding work and a place to live.

One woman and her company found a way to tackle all these problems at the same time.

KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Congestion on regional roads is not expected to get better anytime soon, so more and more communities are considering a Puget Sound commuter ferry.

Agencies in Pierce, Thurston and Island counties are all looking into the possibility. But these agencies have a common problem: where to land on Seattle's crowded waterfront.

KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

Last summer Kitsap Transit launched a fast ferry service with a single vessel. The Rich Passage I was the only low-wake boat it had to satisfy shore-erosion concerns along the passage from Bremerton to Seattle.

Since then, the Rich Passage I has missed 128 sailings, mostly because of mechanical failures. And though the vessel has been reliable since last October, Kitsap Transit’s problems aren’t over yet: In just over a month the vessel is due in drydock for the complete replacement of its engines.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
SIFF Egyptian (map)
Doors at 6:30 pm, Show at 7:00 pm
$10 for General Admission, $5 for KUOW member/Student/Senior (55+)

Bike share bikes in Seattle
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle’s in the middle of a big bike share experiment, with bikes everywhere that you can rent for only a dollar.

It’s so cheap. So how do these companies make money?

Kyle Rowe wants bike sharing companies and cities to be true partners.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

This is a story about dockless bike sharing, but it begins with a story about Uber. Uber's complicated history with cities has made city officials more willing to push back.

Flickr Photo/Tom Davidson (CC BY NC 2.0)/

Our region’s population hit 4 million people just over a year ago. Now, there’s a prediction that it will reach nearly 6 million by 2050. It’s the latest growth projection from The Puget Sound Regional Council.

KUOW photo/LIsa Wang

As of the 2010 Census, 80 percent of U.S. citizens lived in urban areas. Human beings are drawn to cities for work, culture, camaraderie and hipster coffee shops (among other things).

Every city starts somewhere. Some plug along, while others take off with growth most inhabitants never imagined. Seattle has been both types of city, from the home of the last person leaving turning out the lights, to construction-crane magnet.

Ask a Seattle newcomer, beat ‘the freeze’

Dec 30, 2017
KUOW Photo/Lisa Wang

Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Why are people moving here? It's an attractive place. Businesses are growing and resettling here; there's a building boom; the cultural and natural attractions are numerous. What's not to like? 

But being the new person in any town comes with its challenges. And here in Seattle, there are some unique hurdles to assimilation. As the area grows, long-term residents and new arrivals alike question what kind of city this is, and how it’s changing. 

From left, Amazon software development interns Min Vu, Cindy Wang, Jason Mar, Katie Shin and Louis Yang, walk after getting bananas from the Amazon Community Banana Stand outside of the Amazon Meeting Center on Thursday, October 5, 2017, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

We’ve all noticed that Seattle feels like a younger city these days. Census data indicates that change is happening fast.

The number of adults under age 35 has been growing and much faster than in other tech capitals.

At least there's a beautiful sunset to look at when you're stuck in Seattle traffic.
Flickr Photo/HeatherHeatherHeather (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Highway congestion in the Seattle area overall was up 22 percent in 2016.

That's according to the latest WSDOT report on the state of our  roads network. That network is challenged — as are we all — with the consequences of Seattle’s jobs and population explosion. 

Seattle skyline
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Ross Reynolds talks to Zaki Hamid, a program director for Humanities Washington, about why he calls Seattle home and what has kept him here. And we  take calls from listeners who share their stories of how they make it work in the changing region. 

Journalist and author Ruchika Tulshyan says Amazon is not immune to the tech industry's diversity problems.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

It’s lunch time in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. Employees pour out of Amazon’s headquarters. Ruchika Tulshyan sits on a bench, watching who comes and goes. 

Why We Stayed Here

Nov 16, 2017

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Theatre Off Jackson
7:00 p.m. doors, 7:30 p.m. show
Buy tickets here
NOTE: This event is SOLD OUT, but tickets may become available at the door.

We know people want to move to Seattle. But for many of us, Seattle isn’t a brand-new place. Maybe we grew up here, maybe we moved here years ago. And we see Seattle changing, but we’ve decided to stay. And those stories  - stories about why we stay - need to be heard too.

Amazon confirmed a second and 'full equal' headquarters somewhere other than in the Puget Sound region.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Regional politicians have been assembling a multi-county strategy to keep Amazon’s growth here.

The company’s announcement last month that it will pick a second headquarters has sent cities scurrying to meet an October 19 deadline.

KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle has a shortage of housing. But all over town, houses stand vacant. Either they’re in foreclosure, or they’re waiting to be torn down for development. Some people think vacant homes are an underused resource.

One man steals them.

Growth makes driving Seattle streets crazy - in front of schools, on narrow streets in old neighborhoods, and 59th St. and 22nd Ave NW  where this crazy thing went down. Our audience's question, by a landslide: where are the stop signs to restore order?
KUOW/Megan Farmer

As traffic has worsened in the Seattle area, drivers have taken to side streets to beat the brake lights.

This prompted one of our most popular Local Wonder questions: Why doesn’t Seattle have more stop signs?

KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The rising cost of housing in America's most desirable "creative" cities troubles Richard Florida, urbanist thinker and author. In those cities, the cost of housing is affordable only to the creative class themselves. The rest of the working population — those in service industry or manufacturing — struggle to keep up with rising housing prices.

Florida says what's happening in Seattle, specifically, is surprising even to someone like him, "supposedly in the know."

Justin Robinson, left, and the man who bought his apartment building, Dan Robins.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

When an old apartment building goes on the market, all of a sudden, everybody starts doing the math.  

Steve Moddemeyer on Brooklyn Avenue in Seattle's U-District.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle doesn’t get hurricanes like the ones that recently dumped trillions of gallons of water on Texas and Florida. 

Kevin, Kelvin and Georgia Hinton at their old apartment
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The movers have arrived at the Hinton household. They load up boxes onto dollies and wheel them out the door.

A toddler watches the garbage trucks at Wallingford's rebuilt transfer station
KUOW Photo / Joshua McNichols

The south end of Wallingford used to stink because of a smelly old transfer station. 

KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Bill Radke speaks with John Fox, of the Seattle Displacement Coalition, and Roger Valdez, of Smart Growth Seattle, about their (very different) ideas for how to make sure Seattle has enough affordable housing for those who need it.

KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Until last week, Seattle’s growth looked endless and predictable. Amazon was hiring at a fierce pace, and planners were struggling with housing and transit needs that are a consequence of all the new jobs.

But with Amazon’s announcement that it will build a second headquarters elsewhere, bets about the future of Seattle’s growth are off.

KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Emily Fox speaks with KUOW's Region of Boom reporter Joshua McNichols about the team's upcoming coverage of Seattle's housing crisis.

Carl Slater at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood is known for its restored bungalows and for Gasworks Park. But some people worry it could lose its soul if the city’s affordable housing plan goes through. 

Image Courtesy/Vulcan

Amazon wants to double its footprint by building a second headquarters — for 50,000 more workers.

Consider that its current Seattle headquarters has more than 40,000 people at its Seattle headquarters.

Jeremy Noble flies his Cessna 182 airplane on Wednesday, August 23, 2017, to the Renton Municipal Airport during his morning commute to work.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

It's after 3 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, and Jeremy Noble is about to leave his job as an air traffic controller at Sea-Tac International Airport. 

If he were driving home to Stanwood, north of Everett, his commute would take two hours. But today, he's taking his plane.