Editor's Note

Growing Pains and Pleasures

When traffic jams and density get to be all too much, stop and smell the roses.

By Katherine Koberg May 1, 2014 Published in the May 2014 issue of Seattle Met

Yikes. If you have any desire to know what Seattleites are stressed about, take a look at the vitriol that spills onto seattlemet.com in response to any post about growth, development, density, and what those things mean for life in Seattle. I get it, though. A new 236-unit apartment building sprang up a few blocks away in my own neighborhood of Magnolia/Interbay and my former 10-minute commute now stretches beyond a half hour. It is disconcerting to find my home territory in upheaval—even for someone like me who thrives on change.

Perhaps this month’s magazine will provide some antidotes to our collective urban-growth anxiety syndrome. Our annual real estate chart covering 138 neighborhoods in and around the city shows that home values are rising: good for people who paid too much a few years ago, more challenging for people entering the market. The number of apartments and condos is soaring: good for people like my new-to-Seattle nephew who found a rental in Fremont in one day, more challenging for homeowners feeling the invasions of high-density zoning. 

One of those data points comes to life in Matthew Halverson’s story, in which a change in circumstances has him posing the question, “Where do I go now?” Anyone who’s ever moved from one place to another may find comfort in his saga of selling and buying a home and trying to get a loan approved in the postrecession era. Allecia Vermillion’s close look at 10 hot neighborhoods shows that there are still
very desirable places where, depending on what you want, there’s thriving nightlife, modest price increases, and oases of green. 

Which leads me to our cover story. However lamentable it may be that Seattle’s booming growth plans do not include enough parks and open spaces to soften the effects of steel and concrete, Seattle gardens and gardeners go a long way to pick up the slack. There’s plenty of advice here about plantings, soil, and landscape design for home gardeners compiled by Angela Cabotaje, and Erica C. Barnett digs into the city’s community P-Patch program, where growing produce among fellow green thumbs affords one of life’s great pleasures. But let me be clear: It’s okay to look. If you’re not inclined, you don’t actually have to pick up a shovel to appreciate the city’s stunning display gardens or Sarah Bergmann’s flower- and tree-studded Pollinator Pathway, a neighborhood parking strip turned eco-conscious art project.

So next time your blood pressure starts to rise over a construction site or a traffic jam, stop and smell the roses—and the daphnes and the lemon thyme and the loamy soil.

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