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Advocate wants to turn parking lots into housing

Will Toor, former mayor and county commissioner of Boulder, Colo., told KIRO Radio that rules, such as single-family zoning, limits the effort to house growing populations. (AP)

Some of the most successful cities in the country are in a housing crisis, and advocates want to see the focus change from preservation to affordability.

Will Toor, former mayor and current county commissioner of Boulder, Colo., told KIRO Radio that rules — such as single-family zoning — limit the effort to building new homes.

“Our cities can be better places than they are today,” Toor said. “We don’t need to preserve everything just as we inherited it.”

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Toor now works for Better Boulder, an organization behind this week’s National YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) Conference. Though Toor didn’t want to speak for Seattle, he said people in Boulder are pushing the idea of turning parking lots into housing.

“That’s an example of where you can take surface parking lots that are low-value use of urban land and turn them into housing or mixed use,” he said. “Instead of having housing for cars, you can end up with … housing for people. We think everyone is better off due to that.”

Seattle resident Laura Anderle Bernstein previously told KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz that there is a missing middle ground pushing people into the streets.

“Anyone could find themselves in this situation,” Bernstein told Rantz. The movement, she added, is about treating people with respect, whether they have a home or not.

Toor says well-established neighborhoods can help provide more housing. That includes making it easier for people to build backyard cottages and housing cooperatives.

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