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Seattle Zealously Protects Its Parkland

Based on a history of park-friendly ordinances, Seattle parks and urban forests are largely off-limits to developers. Landowners who flout these regulations must provide the city with an adjacent and equivalent parcel.
May 7, 2015, 9am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Wonderlane

Seattle is becoming a very attractive place to live, going by real estate prices at least. "With more density and higher property values, it seems possible a developer might call up the Parks Department and make an enticing offer. Could Seattle parks be turned into housing developments?"

Overall, the answer appears to be a resounding no. From the 1970s onward, Seattle residents have been adamant that parkland remain protected. After a series of proposals to develop park land failed at the voting booth, "In 1997, the city passed the Initiative 42 ordinance, which makes it nearly impossible to develop city land designated for park purposes."

"According to the initiative, the first step to turning even a single square foot of parkland begins with a public hearing. Then the city must pass an ordinance saying there's no reasonable alternative. Then the city would have to receive a piece of land of equal or better size and value in exchange."

Typically only individual landowners, not big developers, have taken advantage of this provision, and then only "in exchange for several square feet."

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Published on Sunday, April 26, 2015 in KUOW
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