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The social and community amenities in the city of Seattle are in the decline. There is an immediate need to address this issue. Seattle’s estimated population is 700,000 making it 24th largest city in the United States. However the population does not reflect the size of the city and the efficiency of its infrastructure especially transport. Poor planning was attributed to the city and the environment was in the decline. This paper is an analysis of high population versus low infrastructure and the need for environment conversation in the city of Seattle.
A reduced amount of positive prospects about this the Seattle city has led to slow growth of its infrastructure. The community in this city lacked affordable housing. It is important to note that affordable quality housing is becoming an issue after transportation (Simmonds and Hack, 133). It has also been noted that a lack of funding for public education, combined with a lack of coordination between regional planning and education policy has undermined the regions and city’s future in the education arena. These are community issues which should be addressed in detail within the confines of community and state development (Simmonds and Hack, 133).
Reed indicated that problems in the community such as schools, affordable housing, jobs, community leadership, health care, environment and other issues were on the decline in the city of Seattle due to population growth (114). Ohlsen (18) on the other hand says that Seattle’s spectacular economic and population growth during the last few years has altered the city’s political landscape in ways which still cause problems. According to Ohlsen (18) transportation is one of the city’s thorniest issues because of lack of effective planning for public transport. The community often swings back and forth in support of funding for better transport systems but it is inevitably kept at bay by political figure heads.
In addition, the other issue which has stemmed the community as a result of population growth is the rise of cost of housing in the city of Seattle. This is a community concern because Seattle is playing catch up with urban growth and land use planning (Ohlsen, 19). Also the city’s rapid growth especially on the Eastside has turned thousands of acres of farmland into anonymous tract developments and in most cases a limit is now enforced on how many mega houses are allowed. This particularly has affected community development and planning within the city especially for low income earners.
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The other community concern which is affecting from the city’s growth is how to preserve the cities livability and contain the ever increasing population within the available infrastructure. People wanted to impose a cap on building height in the early 1990s seeking to prevent the downtown area from turning into an increasingly sterile enclave of towering business complexes (Ohlsen, 19). With all these concerns the community and civic virtue are based on building bigger and better infrastructure accessible at community level.
Despite the growth in population and decline in social amenities, as far as environment is concerned, Seattle has one of the most comprehensive curbside recycling programs in the USA. Ohlsen (20) says that depending on where one lives in the city their recycling is picked up either weekly or monthly; the cost is included in the price of regular garbage collection. Besides these community policies other contentious environmental issues is the continued practice of logging in old growth forests surrounding the city.
To counter these pressing issues (population growth and decline in infrastructure) Gurstein (285) noted that the city of Seattle adopted a comprehensive plan for a twenty year time period from 1994 to 2014. This municipal planning process was a response to state mandated growth management policies and sought to identify community values, municipal priorities, strategies and the beginnings of the implementation of the plan (Gurstein, 286). The book Community informatics: enabling communities with information and communications technologies noted that “the outlined vision for Seattle city seeks to address a number of concerns by managing growth so that it would not contribute to sprawl or other forms of environmental degradation, enhancing the coordination and responsiveness of municipal agencies to neighborhood concerns and giving neighbors a much larger role in establishing their own development priorities” (p. 285).
To further curb the problem of infrastructure within the community, the city’s ambitious program in community based information outreach and training has grown out to a large scale municipally coordinated and supported neighborhood planning process to establish new local goals and policies (Gurstein, 285). In addition one of the central concepts within this community is to promote an urban village strategy whereby housing and jobs are clustered around a neighborhood commercial core. The new plans in place should be able to reinforce and encourage growth in areas which the community relies heavily on and at the same time preserve local amenities.
Community development groups are empowered with both knowledge and funds to facilitate the planning process and at the same time train people on how to effectively utilize the available resources. Unlike in the past were civic education was not provided, currently the city boasts of community policing teams which provide various teams with problem solving skills at community levels. These teams are also trained on how to gather information about community development, and monitoring the effectiveness of the existing infrastructures for example road networks, schools and health care facilities.
In conclusion, United Nations Environment Programme and Commission for Environmental Cooperation indicated that Seattle city in Washington was one of the first US cities to explicitly incorporate sustainability into its community development plans (171). This was achieved through of the cities policies, the Seattle Comprehensive Plan which was aimed to increase the density of jobs, housing and amenities; reduce urban sprawl and traffic congestion and create an urban village of distinct neighbors. Seattle also developed a set of sustainability indicators to measure the quality of economic, ecological, social and cultural health in its communities and its sustainable Seattle
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