Seattle Has a Housing Crisis, Not a Land Crisis

Like many attractive, economically successful cities Seattle has a housing crisis, but not a land crisis. There is plenty of land if the city will just grow up.

1 minute read

April 4, 2021, 10:35 AM PDT

By Todd Litman

Queen Anne Hill Seattle

M.O. Stevens / Wikimedia Commons

"Seattle is in a housing crisis, not a land crisis. We have plenty of land in this city," writes Ryan DiRaimo, a guest contributor for The Urbanist.  "Single-family zoning takes up 30 square miles in this city, an area larger than Manhattan and nearly the size of Paris. Single-family zoning, a zoning type invented out of thin air to maintain economic and racial segregation, dominates our city’s landscape."

DiRaimo continue to break down the numbers of the city's zoning. "Of its 84 total square miles of land, Seattle currently has just 40 square miles of land where housing is permitted to be built. Of that, only 10 square miles allow apartments and townhomes."

And DiRaimo conclusion's after doing this math: "We simply do not have the space for people to all live in single-family homes or detached accessory dwellings and must change the path we are on." The article lays out the case for a supply-side approach to residential zoning in the city, complete with numerous, original infographics.

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