Dan Bertolet, Sightline Institute

Dan Bertolet

Sightline Institute

Seattle, WA, United States

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Past articles by Dan:

A Federal One-Two Punch to Protect Renters---Pandemic and Beyond

Two moves to aid renters now and keep housing prices down for the long haul. → Read More

Fifteen Thoughts on the Coronavirus and Cities

Social distancing has turned urban life upside down, but what changes will persist? → Read More

How Seattle Can Reduce Demolitions and Invite Affordable Home Choices

Visualizing Seattle’s plan to tip the scales from McMansions to backyard cottages and mother-in-law suites, which would create more housing. → Read More

No, Seattle’s Growth Boom Is Not a Tree Apocalypse

Seattle doesn’t have anything like a tree crisis, and concern over trees is no excuse to squeeze much-needed housing options. → Read More

Seattle’s New Environmental Study on Accessory Dwellings Obliterates Obstructionists’ Claims

In the summer of 2016, anti-housing activists from a wealthy Seattle neighborhood appealed proposed liberalization of rules governing accessory dwellings---commonly known as mother-in-law apartments and backyard cottages. Six months later a city hearing examiner upheld... → Read More

A Baby Step toward Revamping Single-Family Zoning

Over the past two decades, Cascadia’s biggest city has planned for growth according to the so-called “urban village strategy” that steers new housing, mostly in the form of apartment buildings, to mixed-used commercial centers with... → Read More

When Historic Preservation Clashes with Housing Affordability

Every city wrestles with the tension between preservation and evolution, the tricky balance between saving great old buildings and not freezing neighborhoods in amber. The tension is especially acute in any metro area that lacks... → Read More

Granny Flats and the Great Affordability Debate

Does adding more new homes to a prospering city help or hurt affordability? Few housing policy debates are as tangled or enduring. Good people with aligned affordability goals disagree. There are those who think the... → Read More

Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act Has Become A Bane To Sustainable Urban Development

Designed to meet the rigorous Living Building Challenge, Seattle’s Bullitt Center is one of the greenest office buildings on the planet. But that didn’t stop antagonists from hijacking Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) to... → Read More

Video: Cruel Musical Chairs (or Why Is Rent So High?)

How does a growing, prospering city stay affordable for all kinds of people? At the most basic level, when there aren’t enough homes, prices will keep rising. And when there are plenty of homes, it... → Read More

Video: Cruel Musical Chairs (or Why Is Rent So High?)

A simple reason is: we don’t have enough places to live. → Read More

Build Less, Share More: An Urban Mantra for Taming Parking

If I were Emperor of Cascadia, I would ban all rules that require new buildings to provide off-street parking spaces. The case against mandating parking couldn’t be stronger: parking makes housing more expensive; it reinforces... → Read More

Impact Fees: An Urban Planning Zombie in Need of Slaying

When people make a mess we expect them to clean it up. If a private business harms others, we demand it pay the damages. These norms stoke the allure of impact fees---charges levied on homebuilders... → Read More

How Seattle’s Design Review Sabotages Housing Affordability

Since 1994, Cascadia’s largest city, Seattle, has subjected most of its new apartment construction to “design review,” in which building proposals must win approval from a volunteer citizen board. But if there’s no accounting for... → Read More

Housing Delayed Is Housing Denied

In March 2015, local housing builder Johnson Carr submitted preliminary plans to Seattle’s Department of Construction and Inspections, seeking permission to erect a four-story, 57-unit apartment structure in the city’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood. The proposed... → Read More

Yes, Red Tape and Fees Do Raise the Price of Housing

Few public policy issues can match urban housing politics for its incendiary combination of passion and misconception. To wit: the confounding idea that relaxing regulations and fees to decrease the cost of homebuilding won’t make... → Read More

Stop Blaming Foreign Home Buyers

Cascadia’s northernmost major city, Vancouver, BC, has emerged as an international poster child for home prices driven sky-high by affluent foreign buyers. Today in Seattle many fear the same scenario. Yet a review of the... → Read More

Displacement Dilemma

Cascadia’s largest city, Seattle, just released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program, a core part of the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. (I’ve written about MHA here,... → Read More

We are a community-sponsored resource and we can’t do this work without you!

"I am your neighbor. Why do you not want me, and people like me, to be welcome in your community?" Those are the words of YIMBY Action executive director Laura Foote Clarke as she testified at a San... → Read More

Some Neighborhoods Losing Population, Despite the Boom

Denny-Blaine, Madrona, and Leschi are among Seattle’s most coveted neighborhoods. Laced with lush parks and beautiful houses commanding magnificent views of Lake Washington and the Cascades, they are closer to downtown than any other lakefront... → Read More