One comment from a recent community meeting between developers, city planners, and local residents regarding a proposed rezone of more than 200 acres on Samish Hill went something like this (paraphrased): “We need the city to support existing neighborhoods and not be involved in supporting this massive growth.”
Burying one’s head in the sand will not stop people from moving here — it will only increase the chaotic nature of growth once they do.
Many residents in areas within the city limits next to privately owned space that is now forest or greenspace need to realize one thing: if they want that area to remain forest, they need to buy it. This goes for Chuckanut Ridge or Samish Hill or anywhere else in the city. The growth is happening, it’s just a question of where it will go.
The city is rightfully working as diligently as it can to promote infill vs. sprawl, and unbuilt private land will always be the first target of developers.
It is easy to sympathize with the landowners who not surprisingly are not wild about their back-yard woodland being turned into a high-density development. Who would want that?
Moreover, it is easy to characterize the request on Samish Hill for a rezone that would allow for higher density as a move that would be out of character for the rest of the neighborhood.
But regardless of the density, residents need to adapt a much more realistic buyer-beware mentality: private land abutting yours will almost certainly be built on in the coming years if it hasn’t been already. This is depressing to many, but realistic.
Moreover, allowing a higher density will provide at least a chance for these new homes to be near entry level in cost; as many homebuyers know, the ability to buy a small starter house in the city for a reasonable price is now an urban legend, right along with alligators in the sewers and the hook-armed man who stalks Lover’s Lane.
This city needs affordable housing. First-time home buyers turning rent checks into equity is an integral cog in our economy. Without it, this city will drift toward an economic model that basically locks out middle-income residents — or encourages uncontrollable sprawl.
Do we really want to live in a city affordable only to the very well-off?
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