Region Of Boom | KUOW News and Information

Region Of Boom

Region of Boom is a new series on KUOW.

Each of the stories below will begin with a place on a map, a place being reshaped by the booming forces affecting our region.

By examining those places and talking to the people we meet there, we’ll discover together what we’re giving up for growth – and what we’re getting in return.

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. 

The Oakpointe development in Black Diamond has already cleared land.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke speaks with Dennis Box, editor of the Enumclaw Courier-Herald, about what he's learned in his years covering the struggle over development in Black Diamond, and why he thinks the story of this small town "goes to the very core of who we are."

"One side is a developer with this vision, it's a remarkable vision, of creating this town. But on the other hand you have a story of people living their lives in a place that they expected to stay one way. And suddenly it's not staying that way," Box said. 

In a company town, says Leonard Garfield, 'you spent your whole day, and all of your night, working for the company whether you knew it or not.'
Courtesy of MOHAI, 1978.6585.30

Bill Radke speaks with Leonard Garfield, executive director of the Museum of History and Industry, about what it was like to live in Black Diamond, Washington, when the Pacific Coast Coal Company ran the mines — and also rented the homes, sold the groceries, hired the doctors, and brought in the entertainment.

For a laborer in that kind of environment, Garfield says, "you can imagine that you could build up some resentment."

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.

KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Residents of Black Diamond, Washington tell KUOW Producer Posey Gruener about their hometown  and what they think of a planned development that will significantly change it.

Mount Rainier looms behind the site of the Oakpointe development in Black Diamond, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke speaks with Kristen Bryant, member of the development watchdog group Save Black Diamond, about why she continues to fight a near-inevitable development and what she thinks of those in town who criticize her efforts.

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.

KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

The Black Diamond City Council is racing toward a deadline to pass a city budget. It was supposed to be in place at the end of last year.

But there are two competing versions of the budget, and Thursday night's meeting settled nothing.

Development signs in Black Diamond
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

The City of Black Diamond may have to shut down, according to its mayor. That is, unless the mayor and the City Council can agree on a budget for 2017 at a meeting Thursday night.

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.”


The Black Diamond Museum sits in the town's old railroad depot. Trains no longer run through the city.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Emily Fox speaks with Joshua McNichols and Carolyn Adolph about their team reporting project, Region of Boom, which explores the growth of our region, one town at a time.

File photo of Uber driver near the San Francisco International Airport.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Downtown Seattle streets are getting congested. This month the city will roll out its plan to redesign downtown’s roads to ease traffic. Part of that includes examining where Uber and Lyft fit in.


Ella lives at Capitol Hill Urban CoHousing, a development built by nine families so they could live together in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle is growing fast, but it doesn’t have many kids.

Sure, the schools are overcrowded and there are babies in strollers everywhere. But as a percentage, the number of kids in Seattle is really low, because there’s not a lot of new housing designed for families.

Still, some parents are finding a way to stay in the city anyway.


Third-generation Arlington farmer Andrew Albert. Albert planted winter wheat around a power box that was meant to serve the housing development.
KUOW Photo/Posey Gruener

Farm becomes subdivision. It's an old story, and one that Arlington hay farmer Andrew Albert has seen a lot.

"Happens all the time. Land is farmed for generations, then one generation ends, the other takes over, and they have different ideas, and it's no longer a farm," Albert said.

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