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Will The New Mayor Inspire Seattle To Rise Above Fear Of Change?

2013 December 23
by dan bertolet


Note: I was invited by Seattle Met magazine to contribute to a series of short essays offering advice to Seattle’s new mayor. It’s now on the stands in the January 2014 issue, and here’s the raw version of mine…


Seattle is on a roll. Great people want to be here. Great businesses want to be here. As human energy pours into Seattle, the one sure thing is change. And what the new mayor needs to do is lead Seattle in embracing that change, rather than fearing it.

Because buildings are so tangible, development is one of the most polarizing aspects of change in Seattle. And when people respond from the perspective of fear, all they can think about is how big new buildings are going to make things worse.

The alternative is to see Seattle’s prosperity and the development it induces as the phenomenal opportunity it actually is. With all the potential for growth in Seattle, the prospects have never been better for creating one of the most sustainable cities on the planet, while at the same time abating sprawl’s decimation of the greater region.

As with every human endeavor, development sometimes comes with warts. But if the fear-driven reaction is to attack developers, everyone will lose in the end. And those hit hardest will be the poor, because when demand for new housing outstrips supply prices skyrocket, and the result is a city accessible only to the wealthy—case in point, San Francisco.

The next major’s task is to inspire Seattleites to rise above fear of change, and channel their abundant passion and creativity into positive collaboration on development that will set a national example for how cities can grow in a way that benefits everyone.



Construction photo by Darick Chamberlin.