Demythtifying the Urbanista’s Untruths

myth truthby Jon Lisbin

I’d like to take a moment to dispel some myths that are commonly used to suppress and dismiss the voice of neighborhood residents.

Myth # 1 We oppose growth.  Seattle Fair Growth (SFG) and the Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability and Equity (SCALE) welcome growth and all newcomers to the city of Seattle. What we care about primarily is that the infrastructure in Seattle supports that growth so we can all enjoy this beautiful part of the world.  Let’s not ruin it!

Myth #2 – We commonly hear from Urbanistas (those who profit and pray to the alter of growth at all costs) that Single Family Zones comprise 65% of of Seattle land. I want to dispose of that myth once and for all as none other than the  Seattle’s comprehensive plan  makes it clear that SFZ’s comprise 35.5% of Seattle acreage.

% SFZ Seattle

Myth # 3 We need these upzones so we can develop more housing.  As you know apartment development in Seattle reached historic records in 2017; over 10,000 units and there are plans for over 12,500.  There is no shortage of capacity in Seattle with current zoning. Not to mention, the avg. occupancy per unit is 2; not 1.

Myth # 4SCALE and other neighborhood groups are trying to slow down the process of development by appealing the EIS.  Nothing can be further from the truth. We are simply trying to improve the process by having our voices heard and exposing the plan’s inadequacies to our neighbors.

Myth #5We’re trying to protect our home values. – Nobody is selling because there’s nowhere to go. The truth is we are trying to prevent displacement of vulnerable citizens as developers and developer interests have one goal in mind; maximizing profits by buying political influence.

Don’t let the Urbanistas green-wash the environmental facts of urbanism and slander the voice of the neighborhoods. Stand up for what you believe in; managed growth and the truth!


Appealing Upzones?

20180130_154155There have been both facts and misrepresentations of why the Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability & Equity (SCALE) is appealing the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in various media outlets.  To set the record straight, we are unequivocally not “slow-growthers” or that tired slur “NIMBY’s.”  These bullying phrases are used by special interest groups to disparage and suppress the voice of concerned citizens who oppose growth at all costs.

We welcome growth and our new neighbors with open arms. What we want is growth done right! Growth that takes advantage and partners with the vast knowledge and input of neighborhood groups.  Growth that conforms to the State’s Growth Management Act requirement for “concurrency” and adequate “level of service” as density occurs. Ask yourself, is the City Infrastructure keeping up with growth?  The answer to that question is self-evident and does not require further explanation.

The Mandatory Housing Affordability program is not about growth in the first place. It’s a plan to address Housing Affordability; a true crisis the city of Seattle is facing. Have you looked outside your window lately? Density and growth are occurring with current zoning at historical rates. According to the City’s Residential and Permit History report an unprecedented 10,161 units were built in 2017 and there are over 22,000 permitted and not built yet.  At the pace of the last two years Seattle will reach it’s 2035  goals of 70,000 new units in 2024! There is more than enough capacity with current zoning. This is not why we are appealing the FEIS.

The real reason can be summarized in in two words; sales job!  The city’s proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability program’s FEIS was written to justify a pre-determined plan, and just like the HALA committee’s public outreach campaigns, spun to the community to check a box.

20180130_153855(0)What evidence do I have for this claim?

  • Specifically affected private interests and neighborhood groups were not notified directly, or perhaps purposely, to provide constructive input into the plan.
  • The FEIS claims compliance with the comprehensive plan yet proposes parallel amendments which counter these well considered collaborative plans.
  • An EIS is supposed to give alternatives that reach the objectives of the plan and offer reduced impacts. This plan offers none of that. What we want are real alternatives that address the housing affordability crisis, not simply three versions of the same thing. Would you like upzones, more upzones, or mega upzones.   OK, I’ll take upzones! Hmm, how did I possibly come to that conclusion?
  • The FEIS claims and HALA officials state there will be negative impacts on displacement of vulnerable communities and infrastructure (roads, schools, housing, transit, tree canopy, utilities) whether or not Mandatory Housing Affordability is adopted. Although that statement is true, it does not acknowledge that this plan will accelerate these impacts.

What the 26 neighborhood and community groups of the Seattle Coalition of Affordability, Livability and Equity want is simple:

  • Truly affordable housing, including family-sized housing, in all parts of Seattle
  • Zoning that keeps diverse, vulnerable communities, especially vulnerable communities of color and low-income seniors, intact and involved in planning
  • Managed growth, that is, density done right–neighborhood planning for the growth that’s coming
  • Livability, that is, quality-of-life issues for all ages, including parks, tree canopy, water runoff and drainages, small business, school capacity, transportation, parking, community centers, cultural and historical assets

We ask the citizens of Seattle to rally behind us and support us by visiting


Jon Lisbin, President

Seattle Fair Growth (a founding member of SCALE)


Jon Fox points out one fatal flaw of City’s affordable housing plan

Jon Fox points out one of the fatal flaws of the city’s MHA program. In order to produce affordable housing you have to destroy it. To read the full article, click on this link:

Historic Sheridan building faces demolition; ‘HALA’ mandatory housing program removes developer’s obligation to replace 56 affordable downtown units


To learn about our appeal and make a donation, go to:

The Amazon Debate

by Jon Lisbin

A recent article in crosscut debated how “Amazon earned Seattle’s Scorn – and whether it’s deserved.”

I personally think this is all about relationship building. If the city wants to work cooperatively with Amazon both parties must form a better relationship. One based on mutual trust.

Amazon isn’t a cold edifice. At the risk of sounding like Romney, it is composed of people, most of them who live in our community. I am sure the company wants to see improvements in transportation, safety issues and housing for the 10’s of thousands of Amazon employees trying to get to work and live in this city.

It’s not a black and white issue. For the city to have any leverage it does need a reset, but to me that means building a relationship that balances concerns rather than the transactional one it currently has.  What are your thoughts?



Why you should vote for Jon Grant

by Jon Lisbin

john-grant_1I am throwing my support behind Jon Grant for City Council position 8, and I’d like to explain why you should too. I believe he fits both the values of our community as well as mine as a small business owner.


Neighborhood Policies:

  • Jon was the only member the top down Housing and Livability Agenda committee who abstained from the final vote because he knew that neighborhoods and the community were getting the shaft.
  • He supports developer impact fees so growth can pay for growth and address the school capacity crisis Seattle is facing.
  • He wants to bring back the voice of the neighborhood by funding the neighborhood councils that the city recently cut ties with.
  • He understands that we need to tie infrastructure to growth. They must be concurrent!

Small Business Policies:

  • A city sponsored pension plan to attract talented workers.
  • B&O tax exemption from $100,000 to $1,000,000 in gross revenue
  • Commercial rent control to protect against rent hikes
  • Zoning incentives to provide new commercial space for small businesses
  • Municipal bank to provide low interest loans

I have witnessed the displacement of small businesses throughout the city due to the pressures of high end development.  We’re seeing that now in lower Queen Anne as upzones (changes to zoning which allow greater height in exchange for “affordable housing”) are being proposed that will displace small businesses as affordable office space gets bought by investors and redeveloped into high end Class A units.  What will happen to all the artists, small architectural firms, marketing companies and entrepreneurs who no longer can afford their leases? Seattle is growing at an incredible pace and its economy is soaring; but we must ensure that we don’t kill the goose in pursuit of the golden egg.

Special interests and Independent Expenditures have had a corrosive effect on City Hall.  Democracy Vouchers are being used for the first time this year for the purpose of leveling the field.  Jon has received $300,000 in Democracy Vouchers which has funded 90% of his campaign. Now is time to elect leaders, like Jon, who truly represent their constituents.

Jon is endorsed by community advocates like Nick Licata and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. His opponent is endorsed by the build at all costs wing of the council including Mike O’brien, Sally Bagshaw, Rob Johnson and Lorenza Gonzalez.  It’s critical that we change that balance now!

In summary, Jon represents the neighborhoods, small businesses and the people who live in Seattle; not downtown developers, real estate and business interests. In fact, he refuses to take donations from developers, big corporations or CEO’s.   I hope however he will take money from me 🙂


Join your neighbors. Please attend the Design Review Hearing Monday Sept 11

Screenshot 2017-07-06 at 5.05.35 PM

Expect fewer public notices if design review “improvements” are approved.

The City wants eviscerate design review for neighborhood scale projects.  Please attend the public hearing and voice your support for keeping design review as an important checks and balances in neighborhood developments.

Monday, September 11, 2017, at 7:00 p.m
SIFF Cinema Uptown, Auditorium 3
511 Queen Anne Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109