I grew up in West Seattle in a mixed-income neighborhood, part of a large, working-class family. It was a great place to live. We were able to take the bus to school or work. We knew our neighbors. It was an authentically Seattle upbringing. Unfortunately, my family probably couldn’t afford to live there today because of rising costs and a widening inequality gap. To ensure we have a Seattle that works for everyone now and in the future, we, as a city, must address the challenge of affordability and equity.
There is no doubt Seattle’s future will continue to include newcomers attracted to our city by jobs, our spectacular natural setting, our progressive values and high quality of life. By 2035, it’s expected that 120,000 more people and 115,000 more jobs will be added to our city. This level of growth certainly comes with its share of challenges, but it also presents a great opportunity—the opportunity to come together as a community to plan for the future we want. In doing so, we can balance growth while protecting the ideas and values that make an authentic Seattle—a city where people of all backgrounds live and work together.
That’s why the Department of Planning and Development started the Seattle 2035 campaign, a citywide conversation about change—where we’ve been, where we are now and where we want to go over the next 20 years. We want this discussion to guide us in creating our city’s new 20-year plan. This plan will guide how we grow and covers things like housing, land use, transportation, environment, utilities, capital facilities, parks and neighborhoods.
For me, Seattle in 2035 is a city where a high quality of life exists for all residents—one with access to living wages, quality education, a healthy environment, effective transportation options and, very importantly, affordable housing. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made on raising the minimum wage and expanding access to pre-K and transit options. And it’s why I’ve set a goal to bring 20,000 new units of affordable housing to Seattle in the next 10 years.
An authentic Seattle is equitable—all families and individuals, those living here today and those coming tomorrow, should have access to the services and amenities that make Seattle so special. To get there, we need to continue to guide our policies for future growth and decisions in a manner that reflects the city’s core values—values including race and social equity, environmental stewardship, economic opportunity and security for all, and a strong sense of community. Throughout Seattle’s history, some communities and neighborhoods have prospered while others were left behind. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. We must do more to ensure that growth benefits all residents. This means ensuring we have inclusive, diverse and mixed-income neighborhoods as we grow.
I’ve always said Seattle works best when we work together, when we focus on the goals we share in common rather than the differences that too often divide us. Through collaboration we can realize our vision for Seattle 2035 and make Seattle a safe, affordable, vibrant, interconnected and authentic city, today and into the future.