development

Ed Ronco, KPLU

Mama's Mexican kitchen in Seattle is going to be closing soon after 40 years in business. For its patrons, this means farewell to cheap, late-night burritos in Belltown, cozy booths and the Elvis Room.

But for Bella Biagio it's more than a loss of a business, a job or a building; She's worked there 18 years. So for her, it's the loss of family -- albeit an odd one she refers to as, "The island of misfit toys."

"We are the train with the square wheels. And the gun that shoots jelly and the Charlie in the Box," she said. "It's so dysfunctional but it works."

A lot of older Seattle is disappearing under the ceaseless march of urban development, she said. And the town is lesser for it.  There are not as many none corporate, "genuine" places in Seattle anymore, she said. Certainly not many like Mama's, a popular, divey Mexican eatery on the corner of 2nd Avenue. and Bell Street.

City Of Seattle

Seattle city officials want to put a stop to a scenario that’s playing out more often in this region’s tight and competitive housing market. It goes like this: landlords issue a staggering rent hike, tenants move out and not to long after that, the building undergoes a big remodel. It’s called an “economic eviction.”

 

This is how landlords avoid the responsibility of paying about $1500 to low-income tenants to help them find a new home. When landlords do this, tenants also lose the opportunity to collect a similar amount of money from the city for a total of more than $3,000.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

If you think Seattle’s already struggling with growth, imagine adding another 120,000 people. That’s the jump in population the city expects over the next two decades.

But where do you put those folks?

People in neighborhoods such as Ballard say there’s already too much construction.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU News

Mary Ann Fordyce didn't think there was anything she could do about the proposed development that will cast a shadow over the garden in her backyard.

After her neighbor died, a developer paid $755,000 for the modest house and a 5,000-square-foot lot on the other side of Fordyce's fence and drew up plans to replace with five townhomes.

Then another neighbor, Catherine Smith, came to her door — she lived just across from the lot in question on North 46th St. in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood — with an idea on how to fight the proposal.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Seattle is in the middle of a development boom that many people argue is proceeding without enough limits set by the city. The city council has now voted to tighten some zoning regulations but one councilman says they don’t go far enough. 

Some parts of Seattle are zoned for low-rise multi-family development that allows for three- to four-story buildings. But Ballard residents, for example have complained that when the city council updated the code five years ago, they made it possible for developers to build things that are out of proportion with the rest of the neighborhood.

philsnyder / Flickr via compfight

Proposals to streamline permitting for development in and around state waters have some environmental groups worried. The groups are concerned the changes could weaken crucial protections for fish and their habitat. 

The law in question is the state’s Hydraulic Code, which dictates how permits are issued for any project that touches a waterway—things like docks, culverts, and bulkheads. The law’s main aim is to protect fish and their habitat.

Buildings full of so-called micro-dwellings have been going up in parts of Seattle, but not without controversy. Now the Seattle City Council is getting ready to consider changes to the code to provide more oversight. 

In Skagit County, a decades-old fight over water rights has come to a
head.

County Commissioners are walking away from an agreement they say
was originally intended to allocate water permits fairly, while
protecting endangered salmon. But now they say that agreement has
caused nothing but lawsuits, so they’re seeking mediation instead.

courtesy King County

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine have proposed new development incentives for Seattle's bustling South Lake Union neighborhood.

The program would allow dramatically taller buildings in exchange for extra funds from developers to preserve farmland and forests in rural King County.

There appears to be a deep-seated intellectual boil festering at the base of our discussions around philanthropy, foreign aid and development, reports our global health blog Humanosphere.

Tom Paulson, who runs the blog, says he’s not sure anyone really knows what they mean.

He is sure the experts on philanthropy, aid and development all think they know what they mean, “but as a journalist assigned to cover this stuff — and asked to translate it into “normal” language — I’m increasingly running into debates about fundamentals, if not outright confusion.”

Read more.