City Hall

The True Cost of Living in "Affordable" Suburbs

By Morning Fizz March 24, 2010

1. In the wake of a city council staff report showing that a large bond measure like Mayor Mike McGinn's proposed light-rail expansion plan would wipe out the city's ability to pay for other big capital projects, McGinn has agreed to outline and prioritize all the big capital projects he plans to propose over the next five years or so, council sources say. McGinn has been reluctant to share his plans for future ballot initiatives with the council, preferring to roll them out with splashy press announcements (see: the seawall). However, McGinn's failure to convince council members to move on a May seawall ballot measure appears to have convinced him of the need to work with the council instead of going it alone.

2. A group of current and former University of Washington students has inundated city council offices with hundreds of postcards demanding that the city guarantee the uniforms worn by firefighters, police officers, and other uniformed city workers aren't made in sweatshops. Last year, the city council agreed to look into where city uniforms come from; that report is due at the end of June.

3. The Center for Neighborhood Technology has created an awesome mapping tool that shows the true cost of living in "affordable" suburbs by factoring transportation costs into the cost of living. In the map of Seattle below, for example, the blue spots are areas where housing and transportation cost the average resident more than 45 percent of their income; the yellow spots are areas where housing and transportation cost less. Places like Newcastle and Renton start to look less "affordable" when you factor in what it really costs to get to and from the "cheaper" suburban housing there.

4. This afternoon at 2:00, the city council's Committee on the Built Environment will likely adopt a couple of ambitious new rules making it easier to build denser, more transit-friendly apartment buildings and townhomes. The first would change the way density is calculated to allow denser, taller developments in parts of the city zoned multifamily; the second, more sweeping rule would do away with minimum parking requirements within a quarter-mile of bus stops served by frequent (every 15 minutes) transit service.

5. Tomorrow night around 9 pm, FoodNerd Angela Garbes and PubliCola Editor Erica C. Barnett will host the second in a series of PubliCola "Nightcaps" at Town Hall, featuring Vashon Island farmer and rancher Kurt Timmermeister, founder of the late Cafe Septieme. Expect an interesting culture clash—the conversation with Timmermeister, who raises and slaughters his own cows, pigs, sheep, and poultry (and also makes his own cheese) follows a talk by Moby, a hardcore vegan.

Show Comments