Seattle experiencing 'runaway growth' of housing developments

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by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jakewhittenberg

KING5.com

Posted on February 25, 2014 at 8:10 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 26 at 8:33 AM

A group of Seattle neighborhood leaders is trying to convince the city to put a moratorium on issuing permits for large scale apartment complexes.

The Federation of Community Councils said high-rent apartments are depleting access to affordable housing in the city and forcing working class families out of town.

"Our elected officials are just giving the green light for 'runaway growth'," said John Fox, director of the Seattle Displacement Coalition, one group leading the effort among local neighborhoods.

"This is having an enormous impact on our community," said Fox. "We are seeing a loss of tree canopy, loss of open space and our urban streams are under siege."

The city has experienced an explosion of growth in the past few years. In neighborhoods like Ballard, the Department of Planning and Development reports that residential growth is 317 percent over its target for the year 2024.

Roger Valdez, director of Smart Growth Seattle, says additional growth is needed to drive rent costs down.

"If you think housing is expensive now, wait until you put a moratorium on it," he said. "If these folks close off the housing supply there is not going to be anywhere for them to live. They are going to have to live outside the city. We think that is unsustainable."

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has promised to form a community advisory panel to explore the issue of affordable housing which he made a key campaign issue.

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