Open Letter

An Open Letter to Those in Need of Affordable Housing in Seattle

I'm just worried about my exquisite view.

August 22, 2016 Published in the September 2016 issue of Seattle Met

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Image: James Boyle

I’m afraid there’s been a terrible misunderstanding. I’ve been out of town for a few months and just heard the scurrilous accusations that have been leveled against myself and other residents of the city’s luxury condominiums. No matter what the media try to tell you, we do not object to plans that would increase affordability in downtown Seattle. We object to plans that would increase affordability anywhere in Seattle.

I’ll allow that the details of those stories could have been garbled by the time they reached me. Internet access where I summer on the island of Walandia is spotty—that’s why I bought it. (Even those of you who vacation in pedestrian locales like Ibiza and Fiji must understand that sometimes you just need to get away.) But as I understand it, here are the facts that were reported by The Seattle Times and The Stranger, among others: 

  • My neighbors and I are worried that a handful of proposed high-rise apartment buildings could present transportation problems in downtown Seattle. This is true; anything taller than 25 stories forces us to alter our helicopter flight paths.
  • We are worried that those same high-rise apartments will ruin our view. This is untrue. We’re worried that the residents of those buildings will have a wonderful view of what goes on in our homes. It would be gauche to go into the details, but suffice it to say that Stanley Kubrick showed remarkable restraint when depicting our parties in Eyes Wide Shut. Ahem.
  • In June we filed a legal challenge against a new city policy that would allow developers to construct taller-than-usual buildings in exchange for funding affordable housing. This is true. (You’d know that any resident can file such an appeal if you weren’t so busy working.)
  • We appealed that policy to stop developers from constructing taller-than-usual buildings. This is untrue, although it’s an understandable misconception. We appealed it because we don’t want tall buildings or affordable housing.

You probably think that we sound like a self-serving, fiscally elite scourge of gentrification, oblivious to the needs of those less fortunate. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Some of my closest friends are struggling to find affordable housing. Just the other day I was talking to a fellow member of the Pacific Northwest Most Dangerous Game Reenactors Club who’s in the market for a seventh home but just can’t swing it. I don’t feel sorry for him, mind you; no one made him buy all of those genetically modified, black market mini elephants. But I do understand how one can struggle in this market.

Frankly I believe we’re doing you all a favor by making it so hard to live here. Nothing breeds success like aspiration. Imagine standing outside the city gates (for which we’re currently submitting building permits) and looking up at the tall (but not too tall), gleaming spires in which my friends and I live? Doesn’t that make you want to stop surviving and start living? Trust me; one day, once you’ve amassed the wealth necessary to finally buy a home in Seattle, I think you’ll appreciate how we’ve managed to keep out the rabble. 

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams,

Geoffrey Alabaster Postlethwaite IV

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