Environmental Criticism for the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan

The Seattle 2035 will manage growth for one of the fastest growing cities in the country. But shouldn't it also mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions of this famously eco-conscious city?
May 28, 2015, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Josh Feit reviews the current options under consideration for Seattle's ongoing comprehensive planning process. Seattle 2035, as the comprehensive plan is currently called, will lay out the city's planning agenda over the next 20 years—a period when the city is expected to add 120,000 new residents, 115,000 new jobs, and 70,000 new units.

Feit details each of the four conceptual options currently under consideration for the plan (i.e., urban villages, urban centers, transit oriented urban villages around light rail, and transit oriented urban villages around light rail and major bus hubs) and the engagement and feedback at a recent public hearing on the plan.

Feit, concludes, however, with a strong critique of the plan's lack of ambition in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. According to the consultants leading the public hearing, the plan would achieve small reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Feit's response to such a low bar:

"Growth management is precisely about fighting global warming. Yes, with 120,000 new people and 70,000 new units, Seattle’s carbon footprint, would, mismanaged, increase. And a slight decline with so much growth might be seen as progress. But coordinating new density is actually an opportunity to transform our city into a bulwark against climate change. By seizing growth as a catalyst for transit oriented development built around urbanist and pedestrian values, Seattle could actually be facing a cure for wasteful GHG emissions. Growth induces efficiency."

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Published on Thursday, May 28, 2015 in Publicola
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