If Seattle had not built lots of housing during the past few decades, its rents and home prices may have approached San Francisco levels of unaffordability.
Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Randy Shaw’s new book, Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America (University of California Press). A Berkeley resident, Shaw is the longtime editor of Beyond Chron and the author of several books. He’s also the director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, San Francisco’s leading provider of housing for homeless adults. The following excerpt represents a case study that Shaw conducted of Seattle’s housing market. I asked Shaw if the Express could reprint this portion of his book because it offers important lessons on housing for the Bay Area. Seattle has shown that building dense housing in cities can help keep rents and home prices from soaring out of control, work to help low-income people from being displaced, and is good for the environment.
In a recent interview, Shaw said that one of the pivotal differences between Seattle and the Bay Area is that environmentalists in Seattle are very pro-housing in cities, while in the Bay Area, many environmentalists embrace NIMBYism, opposing urban density despite the fact that doing so helps spur suburban sprawl, longer commutes, and more greenhouse gas emissions.