Seattle exodus causes small Washington town to invest in new infrastructure

Jun 22, 2022, 12:21 PM | Updated: Jun 25, 2022, 8:55 am

The city hall and public library of Sultan, Washington, United States....

The city hall and public library of Sultan, Washington, United States.

As Seattle housing prices continue to skyrocket, many look outside the city for housing options. That has led to needed urban growth improvements in small towns like Sultan, Wash., faced with dual challenges of a growing population and the desire to maintain the city’s charm.

With a bigger population comes paying taxpayers and dollars for improvements to the public infrastructure. But issues surround traffic, housing, and development costs for new businesses.

The mayor of Sultan, Russell Wiita, spoke to Jason Rantz on KTTH about how the city is handling this growing population, as more people look for housing outside of the expensive King County area.

“We’re seeing a couple of different demographics. We’re certainly seeing that the folks that can’t afford a home in Seattle King County, even Southwest Snohomish County, so they’re looking for that more affordable option,” Wiita said. “But also people who grew up in Sultan looking to move out of mom and dad’s house, and can’t afford to buy anywhere else. But even then, the price of homes has gone up as it has with the rest of the region.”

By looking to develop a series of multiunit townhouses and rezoning single-family units to provide more dense housing, the city is looking to expand affordable home options in the area without sacrificing the small-town charm that Sultan residents expect.

‘We’re so far behind on this’: Seattle council looks to catch up on affordable housing data

Another major issue is the road work needed to expand Sultan, situated along State Highway 2, and the development to allow more traffic in the area without disrupting the local businesses.

‘Yeah, so we know that the highways been an issue, Highway 2 through Sultan for a lot of years, and that’s kind of top of mind to folks when I talk to them and their concerns over growth,” Wiita said. “So we’ve taken on the initiative locally, to really start identifying what those solutions to the highway look like and so last year, we commissioned an analysis of four alternatives for Highway 2, that would solve our congestion issues.”

The options for the area include widening the road with a new lane through town, maintaining the stoplights, regulating traffic through the area, redesigning the road to have two separate one-way roads around the town, and adding a roundabout to the highway in the city.

“We’ve got residential developments going in and we’ll have a few more, but the thing that I’m really excited about is the opportunity for commercial development in Sultan,” Wiita said. “As the community grows and population, businesses, and commercial developers start looking more at the community we could put in another grocery store or more restaurants, and we’re already seeing that. Three years ago, we had a lot of vacant storefronts on our main street.”

“Now, our chamber of commerce or economic development folks are getting calls from people wanting to open a business, and we don’t have space. We have the land, but nothing’s been built on it,” Wiita continued.


Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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Seattle exodus causes small Washington town to invest in new infrastructure