With surge in tech companies, Seattle is ‘starting to reach capacity’

Mar 15, 2018, 1:30 PM | Updated: 1:53 pm
seattle speed limits, tech companies...
Have we already reached capacity in Seattle? (MyNorthwest file)
(MyNorthwest file)

As tech companies continue to cram into Seattle, experts question how much more the city can take.

‘Reliable’ travel time from Everett to Seattle now 1.5 hours

Amazon alone has the potential to occupy as much as 13.5 million square feet in South Lake Union, GeekWire reports. Plus, Facebook and Google continue to expand.

GeekWire Editor Todd Bishop told Seattle’s Morning News there are more than 100 companies, most from Silicon Valley, with established centers in Seattle.

“This is the kind of problem many other places would love to have,” Bishop said.

But when does a good problem become just a problem?

However, the exponential growth puts several things in jeopardy. Affordable housing, for starters.

According to the latest numbers, the median price for a single-family home reached $770,000 last month. Home prices rose by a minimum of 15 percent in every county around Puget Sound, The Seattle Times reports. The Eastside, South Seattle, and portions of South King County saw some of the largest increases in median prices.

And let’s not forget about traffic. The city’s infrastructure is already bursting at the seams. Bishop says with more people moving to the area every day, he believes “we are starting to reach capacity.”

Whether we’re reaching capacity or at capacity may depend on who you ask. Former Seattle Department of Transportation Director Scott Kubly said the city can’t handle more vehicles. Recent data from INRIX ranks Seattle ninth for time spent in traffic. Worse than the city’s 10th place rank a year prior.

“It’s not over yet,” Bishop said.

More companies continue to expand or move to Seattle. Compared to other costly cities, Seattle is still considered by some to be relatively cheap. And there’s no income tax (yet)!

“I’d love to ask the mayor how the city plans to deal with this,” Bishop said.

On the campaign trail, Mayor Jenny Durkan warned that traffic would get worse before it gets better.

“In the next two years, downtown may be almost impassible,” she said.

The same companies that are driving the population up would likely have to buy into solutions to fix traffic.

“We have got to have a more holistic way to get traffic flowing through Seattle,” she said. “We’ve got to do things like going to employers and seeing if they can stagger start times during this really crushing time.”

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With surge in tech companies, Seattle is ‘starting to reach capacity’