Councilmember O'Brien left office on December 31, 2019. This website is for archival purposes only and is no longer updated.

My Big Idea


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Seattle Magazine recently asked a number of people throughout the city to contribute big ideas to their annual Big Idea issue, including Seattle City Council. Below is my submission, which you can find online along with the other ideas submitted (part 1 and part 2). The prompt we were asked to respond to was: “If money were no object, what one thing would you do to fix Seattle?” Leave your own big ideas in the comments section!

Given a blank check, I would invest in affordable transit-oriented housing in Seattle. We would create safe and healthy housing while simultaneously increase density in the city. Housing would also be near healthy sources of food, as well as good schools and vibrant community centers. By placing the housing near transit, we would help minimize household transportation costs. Further, this would be take strides towards housing many homeless individuals in our city—while there are many systemic reasons that residents find themselves homeless, the plain fact that there isn’t enough affordable housing is one of the many reasons so many people sleep on the streets or in shelter at night. Finally, supporting the creation of more affordable housing near transit, would put a much-needed boost in our economy by creating green jobs for the countless number of unemployed residents in Seattle.

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Comment from John Pehrson
Time September 5, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Mike, I think your idea on housing is the a great idea and we should work toward it. Thinking ahead to the Council decisions on SLU rezone I’d offer a couple of ideas.
We should have transit oriented housing densities and those can easily be achieved with the current SLU zoning. Densities of 40 to 60 housing units per acre achieves almost all the benefits, we don’t need to go higher.
We should have housing across the price spectrum, from low-income subsidized housing to work force housing to family housing and high rises for the rich. It is my understanding that housing to 65′ to 85′ (5 wood over 2 concrete) is what’s affordable for work force and middle incomes and must be retained.
We need to encourage multi-bedroom units for small families. Their stability and neighborhood concerns and commitments are vital to a safe, interesting neighborhood.
Thank you for taking a leadership position on this vital .
John Pehrson
206-254-1570

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