The Growth of Cities: My Comments on Zoning

Home Builder with Retired

Few cities, if any, appeared on the scene over night (remember, "Rome wasn't built in a day?). Even well planned cities have taken unusual twists and turns along the way from ground breaking to current habitation. And no two cities have ever taken identical paths. Builders of condominium complexes establish and record a comprehensive set of rules and regulations for the future use of that which they build, as required by law. But there is a point when the people who have purchased the various units have  greater interest in the complex than the builder and the balance of power shifts. The owners start to amend the rules and regulations. The landscaping changes. When more owners are involved in the day to day process of maintaining the property, the better the property becomes.

Small townIn many cases, when there is a predominance of rental units in the building, the property is not so well maintained. For this reason Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac require a high percentage of owner occupants or they will not accept the mortgage terms.

Cities usually have a cause attached to their location. A river allows for river transport of goods. The bay off an ocean demands a port. Mountain passes define routes, and where routes cross, trade has been going on for centuries.

SeattleOnce a town or city has begun to grow, interested parties make rules and set up enforcement policies on how the inhabitants should get along. And as towns become cities the management becomes more complex.

City management systems include mayors and councils and more rules and regulations are made. There comes a time when the managers start asking neighborhoods to reoprt on their wants and needs. There comes a time when city managers tell the neighborhoods that they must plan for the future. They ask the neighborhoods how they are doing and how they want to grow.

Some neighborhoods heed the call and engage. The people that live in these neighborhoods meet and talk and tell the city managers how things are going. Neighborhoods are made up of people. Some academics like to do studies and they come up with things called demographics. These academics go deeper into there studies and say that if this then that. They start forgetting about the people that live in the neighborhoods.

You may think I'm wandering, but I am not. Seattle has asked it's 37 urban villages to come up with plans for growth and greater density. The Roosevelt neighborhood has done that. The Roosevelt neighborhood has come up with a zoning plan that allows for greater density and allows for a density that sustains a new light rail station to be built there. But certain elements fo the city are aligned with developers who have decided that blocks which they control would be better suited to growth and that the people who live in the neighborhood are just being selfish is wishing to control home their homes are impacted.

It's a sad day when communities loose control to developers. Don't let it happen to you. If you live in a Seattle neighborhood, support Roosevelt's Plan for the future. And Roosevelt will support your cause when the going gets tough.  Great neighborhoods make great cities.

Posted by





Glenn Roberts



Comments (19)

Liz and Bill Spear
Transaction Alliance 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
Transaction Alliance Cincinnati & Dayton suburbs

Glenn, Good luck with the fight!  Controlling growth in a rational manner can be quite the challenge.

Jun 22, 2011 11:31 PM
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Thanks, Bliz. Several meetings this week have the direction of our progress here taking unsual turns.

Jun 23, 2011 12:42 AM
Al & Peggy Cunningham, Brokers
RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage - Brampton, ON
Our Family Wants To Help Your Family!

Glenn this is a very important topic. Residents need to get involved and stay involved. Our city was planned with family living in mind, schools, parks, neighbourhood stores in all sections, then as you said developers got involved and our city became a money making machine for them. Houses were being built so rapidly the roadways couldn't keep up. Finally, after years of congestion and confusion it is straightening out.  Seattle shouldn't be caught 'sleeping'.

Jun 28, 2011 01:33 AM
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

What makes Seattle a desirable place to live, for one thing, is the unique village-like neighborhoods. Making them little cities ruins that atmosphere for most residents.

Jun 28, 2011 02:17 AM
Sheila Newton Team Anderson & Greenville SC
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - C. Dan Joyner - Anderson, SC
Selling the Upstate since 1989

we are fighting the addition of a hwy through some of our neighborhoods right now.. (and losing!)

Jun 28, 2011 02:12 PM
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Sheila - More roads don't make traffic better, they just invite more travel by car. Keep fightng.

Jun 29, 2011 02:17 AM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso
Golden Girls with SW Desert Homes - Tucson, AZ
Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE!

Fantastic explanation and information.  The zoning in Marana, AZ seems to be much more PRE-thought out than Tucson.  With one freeway slashing diagonally through the city and no major transportation alternatives, surface streets are really clogged when our winter population tops a million.  City planning has a lot of challenges.  Seattle has some terrifically-defined neighborhoods that really add to the character.  I love the percentage of construction that must go towards beatification and art in the downtown sector.  Too cool.

Jun 29, 2011 04:50 AM
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Cara - efforts are being made everywhere to get people out of their cars and on to public transportation. Many good and bad decisions will be made before we can get drivers out of single occupant vehicles whenever possible.

Jun 29, 2011 06:09 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate (435) 632-9374 - St. George, UT
St. George Utah Area Residential Sales Agent

Glenn, It is important to keep what makes your area unique and what works for people. Washington City is now trying to re-build their downtown area to become walkways to shops, parking in the rear of businesses on the ground floor with huge plate glass windows, industrial-type condos on the top floors. It looks great on paper, the real test is follow-through. The best to you.

Jun 29, 2011 06:34 AM
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Wanda - everyone is using the walkable/bikeable theme to promote thir concept of development, but in truth, not all "building" does not work in every location.

Jun 29, 2011 06:42 AM
Alicia Barrington
Houston Home Staging Presents Alicia Barrington

Houston has no zoning laws!!!!!!!   Which leads to multi-million dollar faux Italian Villas being built on the footprint of a 1950's rancher with 1950's ranchers as neighbors.   However, we've got Nazi like HOAs and the master planned communities have all the charm of Stepford!

Jun 29, 2011 07:05 PM
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Tom - Sometimes I think we don't have zoning here either.

Jun 30, 2011 02:14 AM
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

Sometimes the community can take things too far, and it usually has something to do with someone disliking someone else. Not allowing potted plants on the ground out front if they can be seen from the street…. No window coverings with anything other than a white backing….

Jun 30, 2011 10:13 AM
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Jim - People in power often have strange ideas concerning the common good. Thankfully, the right to vote makes change possible.

Jul 03, 2011 05:09 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

We have a brouhaha going on down here because the County is updating its General Plan, and lots of developers aren’t happy!

Happy Wednesday!

Aug 02, 2011 06:06 PM


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