Last week I spotted this tweet from Ben Evans, a well-regarded analyst and investor at Andreessen Horowitz.
San Francisco is really a case study in how to make a city unaffordable with laws that you think will do the opposite.
— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) June 13, 2015
Thanks to a toxic combination of anti-growth zoning laws, NIMBY-dominated neighborhood politics and well-intentioned but counterproductive rent control policies, San Francisco has become the least affordable city on the west coast. When combined with the inevitable growth produced by the thriving Bay Area tech sector, these policies have produced a massive shortage of housing at all price levels, driving up rents across the board, worsening the effects of income inequality and pushing poor and middle-class residents out of the city.
A few days later I received my absentee ballot for Seattle’s upcoming primary election in the mail, reminding me that we have the power to choose a different fate for our city. But only if we all take the few minutes required to mark our ballots and send them back on time.
Two weeks from today — on August 4th — Seattle residents will have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the future of our city. This August primary will set the slate of finalists for Seattle’s newly-reconfigured City Council — the body that controls many of the levers we have as citizens to shape our city’s future, including zoning, transportation, parks, police, building fees, low- and middle-income housing, stadiums, homeless services, drug treatment and mental health care, pay rates and pay gap legislation, to name just a few.
The issues are big, complex and directly impact our ability to found, finance and grow great companies by attracting as well as retaining talent and competing with the rest of the world. They also deeply affect the health and sustainability of the city we all love.
The tech community in Seattle is broad and diverse — we don’t necessarily speak with one voice on any issue. And because this year’s election shifts us from “at large” (or citywide) Council representation to a largely neighborhood-based system, we each have the power to choose just three candidates — one who will represent our home district, and two who will represent the city as a whole.
But this year it’s critical that all of us who care about Seattle’s future as a global hub for technology innovation take the time to choose a City Council that will avoid the mistakes of other cities and embrace a future of inclusive growth and shared prosperity for all.
Who you vote for us up to you, but please get your ballot in by August 4th. (If you’re interested in learning more about the candidates most strongly in support of the innovation community, the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy has a well-researched list).
Founder’s Co-op partner Chris DeVore is a Seattle entrepreneur and investor, and the managing director of Techstars Seattle. Follow him on Twitter @CrashDev and read more of his writing at his CrashDev site.