I know that Strong Towns generally supports the concept of incremental development as a key strategy to achieve economic resiliency. However, when cataclysmic money arrives, how can cities most effectively guide it? I’ve been following Strong Towns for many years (and founded StrongWA.org last year), and I've somehow found myself at the nexus of this challenge. I live two blocks from a planned $300 million BRT station (including a freeway interchange rebuild with HOV direct access ramps) that will connect our city to the region’s rapid transit network. A large company is purportedly preparing to purchase 10 acres adjacent to the planned BRT station to build its third campus in our city of 90k people, after having opened the second campus in town earlier this year. (I’ve been working there for over 14 years, but I’m not connected to their real estate team at all.) Housing prices are continuing to rocket upward, even since the city further refined its rules to make it easier to build duplex, triplex, cottage, and ADU homes in virtually every residential zone in the city in early 2020. And I serve on the city’s planning commission. I realize we’re not fitting the usual Strong Towns mold of ‘next smallest increment of growth.’ However, in order to constructively steer the growth, the city is preparing to draft a form-based code to shape the area around the station and make it more accessible for more people...but it’s admittedly going to be a big change. I’m hopeful that the form-based code will enable the change to occur incrementally, even if the increments come in quick succession. In the midst of all this, I’ve been invited to speak at a meeting of one of the adjacent neighborhoods in a few weeks. I've been told, “people would like to understand how the (BRT) Station Area Plan fits into the idea of Strong Towns. Some folks are resistant to this plan so it might be good to hear how it can really benefit the area. Others have expressed interest in how Kirkland can create/support more affordable housing.” I have lots of ideas on this, but would like to invite others to share their perspective on how to achieve economic resiliency in the midst of cataclysmic money.
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