Interesting article over on Crosscut today: Why Seattle won’t grow as fast as planners say
If Seattle’s current estimated population is 602,000 and we add the hypothetical 180,000 and you get 782,000 people by 2040 — considerably short of the 1.2 million that some claim are on the way.
The assumption is that right now, without changing or increasing any zoning at all, Seattle has the capacity to provide housing for up to 800,000 people without changing the rules to make buildings more dense like the proposed multifamily update or up zoning single family neighborhoods. Theoretically the capacity is already there.
Whichever means of calculating you use, it turns out we aren’t anywhere near capacity.
According to Seattle’s own numbers from January 2005 through March of 2009, over 28,000 housing units have been added to Seattle’s stock either built (16,504 units) or permitted and at various stages of construction (11,721 units). Seattle in just 51 months has reached 60 percent of its 20-year target. At this rate we’ll add over 110,000 units under current zoning by 2024, over twice the rate needed to fulfill our targets.
It should be noted that this article is focusing on Seattle proper, not the entire metro area. That being said, the author points out some interesting facts that would seem to point to continued downward pressure on home prices, even in the “close in” in-city neighborhoods.
It is also worth mentioning that I made similar points back in 2007 that apply on a county-wide basis.