At a recent Poulsbo City Council meeting (yes, I watch those things), a discussion was about growth–and moderating growth.

The People Are Coming

It was said that in the four-county area surrounding Seattle, by 2050, there are going to be 1.8 million more people in this area. For reference, there are about 4.1 million people currently in these areas. So we are looking at growing 43% in the next 30+ years.

Where is everyone going to live? Where is everyone going to work? As a developer that is easy; more density and more live work communities. As a homeowner and father the answer is also simple: we need more room for our children to play and safe streets with less cars in which they can travel to and from school.

Those two parts of me seem to be polar opposite, and now you know what it is like to be in my shoes. My life is nowhere near that dramatic but it does emphasize the difficulty that we sometimes have in a growing community. This blog post is not about telling you about the solution that I have come up with to save the world from these problems.

Come on would I just tell you this Earth-changing secret without trying to profit a little on it? I do enjoy some of the nicer things. Plus, I haven’t come up with the answer but I do have a few possibilities, and am still working on it.

This Place Is Popular for a Reason

In the Puget Sound we have some of the most beautiful land in the world. We have everything within a hundred miles. Mountains, deserts, rain forests, lakes, rivers, protected ocean, and the raw power of the Pacific Ocean. What we don’t have is an abundance of available land to develop on.

We can’t sprawl out much, not only because the land doesn’t exist to do this, but also because we have these impediments to making mass transit more readily available–our roads are already jammed.

Don’t get me started on mass transit/roads, that is a whole different part of this that boils my blood. But that is for another time.

Managing Growth

I would say the first step towards managed growth is live/work/play communities. Areas with living units, not just huge apartment buildings, but also single family cottages. (I like my space, just like most do). These homes in the same area as office buildings and retail. This is also best if near mass transit so you can get to other parts of the city without a car.

One such example is the Spring District in Bellevue, WA. They went the apartment condo route, because Bellevue is already pretty dense. Some of the largest companies in the world are taking up space there, and there is a mass transit line going right through the property. This line will give direct access to downtown Bellevue and Downtown Seattle and beyond. I am pretty happy that I can say that, it is long past time since we had something like that.

I know areas like this have been around for a long time, but these are examples of suburban more rural areas moving to these strategies. Even in our smaller town of Poulsbo there is a need for similar projects.

Increasing building density and just stuff more houses or apartments on the land we have is not the answer; we need to grow in such a way that all the amenities/necessities of life are close at hand.

Easy right, not really but there are communities that are trying to tackle growth head on, and some that need to be helped along the way. I obviously don’t have all the answers that will be satisfactory to everyone but we definitely need to not bury our heads in the sand!

Next, I will try to solve our over-reliance on vehicles, but first I have to get in my car to go to the store that is less than a mile away. Ooops. That makes me look pretty bad doesn’t it? So I guess I have some work to do also.

Got questions or just want to talk development? Drop me a line

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