Another week, another story about how Seattle is losing the battle for its “soul.”
Today, the New York Times posted a lengthy piece on how the tech scene is changing Seattle, touching on all the critical points that we live with every day — rising housing costs, traffic woes and a loss of diversity.
The Times piece directly compares Seattle’s boom and changes to that of our lovely overpriced neighbor to the south, San Francisco.
“For years, business leaders here have closely studied the San Francisco region, seeking to emulate the way it churns out so many leading technology companies,” the Times writes. “But now, leaders in Seattle are looking to the Bay Area as a different sort of model: a cautionary tale.”
The tech boom, of course, is being largely attributed to our growth — the number of tech jobs in King County at about 138,000 this year, compared to 88,000 a decade ago, according to stats the Times received from research firm Community Attributes and the Washington Technology Industry Association.
And, of course, they also point out the Amazon effect again.
As the average one bedroom apartment in San Fran is now going for “more than $3,500 a month,” according to Zumper, with Seattle the No. 10 market at $1,650 comparatively, the piece addresses more issues a vibrant city needs to worry about, such as pricing out middle-class workers and creatives.
They also point out that Mayor Ed Murray “has set a goal of creating 50,000 homes — 40 percent of them affordable for low-income residents — over the next decade.”
That still doesn’t help out those in the middle, especially when most new apartments are built for high-income residents, many of whom in tech get perks and special consideration, even though optimism about our housing market actually fell this fall as people fear a tech bubble burst is not far off, according to Zillow.
“Seattle has wanted to be San Francisco for so long,” Seattle Magazine columnist and local writer Knute Berger, who writes often on Seattle’s growth, told the Times. “Now it’s figuring out maybe that it isn’t what we want to be.”
The article also looks into other cities grappling with tech-industry growing pains, like Portland, Ore., Boulder, Colo., and Austin, Texas.
In perhaps the best quote of the article, Austin-based marketing exec Matt Ott, who started Black Fret, a charity that gives grants to musicians there so they can afford to stay in the city known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” left the Bay Area “because it got so expensive.”
“It got really tiring to have wealth and consumption be the topic of the day,” he told the Times. “I think that is a real danger here.”
Can Seattle hold out against becoming another San Francisco?