A Dying Class

I have a question: Is the disappearance of Seattle’s traditional single-family style bungalow an indicator of socio-economic trouble for the middle class?  According to Knute Berger, author of Pugetopolis, he suggests that that the new trend towards urban infill and sustainability is flawed at the policy level leaving Seattle’s “just right” class is getting “shoved out” if they haven’t already fled to the exurbs.  http://www.seattleweekly.com/2006-05-10/news/the-just-right-people/

Berger raises excellent points about the ailing middle class in America and uses the example of a Rainier Valley resident who described his family as “lower-to-mid-middle-class” and having a household income of $78,000 per year.  He goes on to state that the CEOs in this country earn wages at a 42-1 ratio to the average work force back in 1980 and that ratio has widened to 431 to 1.  To put that in a numerical context, this equals about $11.8 million per CEO to $27,460 for the average worker. That’s anything but trickle down!

Berger goes on to criticize current urban infill calling it a “bash and build” development strategy turning singly family modest homes into Mega houses and destroying affordable options for the middle class.  I completely agree with this sentiment and find Seattle’s gentrification completely irresponsible.

My criticism of Berger is the term “the just right class,” and Berger’s continual suggestions that change is bad.  He is indicative to me of the “Seattle Liberal” that says: “What do we want? Urban infill! TOD! Diversity! Where do we want it? NOT HERE!”  I agree that policies need to change to include responsible development for growing cities but Burger also needs to realize that change is inevidable.  Policies need to compliment the change our growing infrastructure to make affordable living for all socio-economic classes.  So yes, when land values rise above the value of the modest bungalow that adorns it, we need policies that will spur development of all classes, including the Low-Just-Right.


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