Industry News

News In Brief: June 2023

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  • The Metropolitan Improvement District (MID) has been renewed for another 10-year term. In a unanimous vote, Seattle City Council’s decision to renew will extend cleaning, safety, and hospitality services until 2033. MID is managed by the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) and funded by downtown businesses and property owners. One hundred thirty ambassadors work together to provide cleaning, concierge and park services across 285 blocks of Seattle’s urban core, according to the DSA. In the past 10 years the MID has: collected 10 million gallons of trash, disposed of 115,000 incidents of human or animal waste, collected 94,000 syringes, removed 362,000 graffiti tags, conducted 73,000 welfare checks for those living unsheltered, and provided directions to tourists and visitors 859,000 times. The next 10-year term begins July 1 and extends to June 2033.
  • According to a new report by Commute Seattle, hybrid commutes are here to stay, leading to unpredictable times on roads across western Washington. Researchers found that a new sense of normalcy has developed in this hybrid-honed world. The report found that Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the busiest times on our streets, with 60% of downtown workers making their way to the office. Yet on Mondays and Fridays, the report noted that many people are working from home, with only a third of people heading to work. According to the report, nearly 60% of full-time commuters live in apartments, which is far more commuters than those living in detached houses and townhomes.
  • At a time of soaring home prices, rising homelessness and a housing crisis in Washington that will require 1 million homes over the next two-plus decades to keep up with population growth, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law legalizing duplexes and fourplexes in most neighborhoods in nearly every city to increase the state’s housing supply. House Bill 1110 overrides local zoning rules that have long kept large areas in cities for only single-family homes. The new law will not ban the construction of single-family homes, but it will stop cities from requiring neighborhoods to have only single-family homes. States have increasingly stepped in to contend with a national housing crisis as populations grow and housing stocks fail to keep pace. Oregon eliminated single-family zoning in 2019 and California largely did the same in 2021.Opponents of the new Washington law argue planning and land use decisions should be handled locally and that the law is a gift to developers without doing enough to increase affordable housing. Supporters of the measure, however, contend an increase in the housing supply is a critical step in navigating the housing crisis. The state Department of Commerce estimates Washington needs to build an additional 1 million homes over the next two-plus decades to keep pace with population growth. The law requires cities with populations between 25,000 and 75,000 to allow duplexes in all residential areas. Any area within a half-mile of a major transit stop, park or school would have to allow fourplexes. The building of fourplexes would be allowed anywhere if one unit meets affordable housing requirements. In cities of over 75,000 people, all residential areas must allow fourplexes. Areas near major transit, parks or schools have to allow six-plexes, which would be allowed anywhere if two of the units are affordable.
  • An annual study by Rent Café analyzed which cities have the most amount of living space with a monthly rent of $1,500. Seattle had the lowest square footage with an average of 453 square-foot space, equivalent of a studio or one bedroom apartment. Compared to the average size apartment coming in at 691 square-feet for $2,289. However, Seattle was not the worst in the nation with Manhattan apartments offering the least amount of space for that same budget. Compared to Seattle, in the growing city of Spokane, $1,500 provides renters with an average of 988 square-feet space. More than half of the average apartment size in Seattle. Other cities in Washington such as Vancouver, Tacoma, and Bellevue had more square-footage apartment averages than Seattle. Although compared to the national average of 782 square-feet of apartment space, Washingtonians spend $1,500 for smaller apartments.
  • The Seattle City Council passed a measure in a 7-2 vote that will limit tenant late fees to no more than $10 a month and took effect on May 30. The decision came after about two hours of public comment and council discussion. The bill was sponsored by Councilmembers Kshama SawantTammy Morales and Teresa Mosqueda. The two who voted against it were Sara Nelson and Alex Pedersen. Earlier this month, several members had proposed legislation that would have capped late fees at either $50 a month or 1.5% of the rental fee, whichever was less. The cities of Auburn and Burien both have $10 caps on rental late fees. The cities of Kenmore and Redmond as well as incorporated King County have a late fee cap that can’t exceed 1.5% of the monthly rent. Other cities in the area have passed other renter protection legislation. There is currently no state regulation that limit late rental fees. 
  • A recent study revealed the city of Seattle is the worst city in the United States for not cleaning up after their pooch. The Dog Advisory Council analyzed Twitter data to find the cities where people complained the most about bad dog owners. Seattle averaged 58.3 complaints per 100,000 people. The rest of the top five were San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Denver. They searched for complaints of people letting their dogs off leashes in public, barking dogs, and, of course, not picking up after their dogs. The report also revealed that Tucson, Arizona, was the home of the most considerate dog owners. The worst-behaved dog owners in the country live in Pittsburgh, with Seattle coming in third, just behind Newark, New Jersey. The full report can be found here.
  • Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau and reported by Gene Balk of the Seattle Times shows the boom times aren’t over just yet: Seattle just reclaimed its title as the fastest-growing big city in the U.S. From July 1, 2021, to July 1, 2022, Seattle had a net gain of about 17,750 people, bringing the total population to 749,000. The city’s growth rate for the year pencils out to 2.4%, easily the fastest among the 50 largest U.S. cities. The rate of growth is quite comparable to what we saw in the 2010s. Also remarkable: All the fastest-growing big cities last year, with the exception of Seattle, were located in the Sunbelt. Fort Worth, Texas, was No. 2, with 2% growth. Charlotte, N.C.; Miami; and Jacksonville, Fla.; rounded out the top five. In fact, after Seattle, the next 15 fastest-growing big cities were all in the Sunbelt. Twenty-one of the 50 largest cities lost population last year, including Portland, which shrank by about 8,000 people, a 1.3% decline. San Francisco, which had a massive 7% decline in 2021, shrank by a much more modest .3% last year. New York, the nation’s largest city, experienced the biggest population decline in 2022 at 1.5%, a drop of about 123,000 people. But that was still less than half the population decline New York experienced the year before. In terms of numeric growth, Seattle ranked fourth behind three larger Sunbelt cities. Fort Worth ranked No. 1 with a population increase of about 19,000, followed by Phoenix and San Antonio. The Census Bureau’s annual population estimates are based on various administration data sources, such as tax returns, birth and death certificates and so on. An interesting revelation in the new data: While Seattle grew last year, the rest of King County lost population. The data shows most of King County’s losses were in the South End. Federal Way, Renton, SeaTac, Des Moines, Auburn, Burien and Kent all lost population in 2022. On the Eastside, both Sammamish and Kirkland lost population. Redmond, which has been among the fastest-growing cities in the state in recent years, only increased by 0.4% in population last year. But Bellevue had a strong growth rate of 2.0%, and Shoreline grew even faster, at 2.8%. Among Washington cities with at least 50,000 residents, Bellingham had the fastest growth rate, at 4.2%.
  • Seattle is ranked one of the top choices for domestic destinations this summer, according to a report by Allianz Partners. Seattle was ranked #2 on the list of domestic destinations only falling behind Orlando, Florida who has been at the top of the list for seven consecutive years. The Pacific Northwest did manage to fill another spot on the list with Portland at #10. As far as international destinations, Mexico took 3 spots out of the top 10. Cancun was #1, San Jose del Cabo was #2, and Puerto Vallarta was #7. Allianz Partners says the report was compiled using data analyzed from over 1.6 million flight itineraries between five and eight days in length for travel booked between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. Alongside the ranking of destinations, it was found that 73% of the itineraries reviewed were for U.S. domestic trips and 27% of travelers are headed abroad. Read the full report here.
  • The Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA) Airport is among the “least angry” airports in the United States, according to a recent analysis by Forbes Advisor. Forbes Advisor recently analyzed over 37,000 tweets directed at the 60 busiest airports in the U.S. from March 2022 to March 2023. From there, they used a machine learning tool to determine the sentiment of each tweet.Joining Sea-Tac airport as the least angry airports were Indianapolis International Airport and Kansas City International Airport.John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, angered its travelers more than any other U.S. airport, with nearly 65% (2/3) of tweets directed at the airport being characterized as “angry.”Some of the most common words or complaints, according to the analysis, were: security, waiting, hours, lines, stuck, etc. Among the top 10 angriest airports were the following: John Wayne Airport – Orange County, California,  Jacksonville International Airport – Jacksonville, Florida, Eppley Airfield – Omaha, Nebraska, Tampa International Airport – Tampa, Florida, San Antonio International Airport – San Antonio, Texas, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport – Atlanta, Georgia, San Diego International Airport – San Diego, California, Nashville International Airport – Nashville, Tennessee, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport – Phoenix, Arizona, and Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport – San Jose, California.

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