"Smart Growth" and "New Urbanism" Compared with "Large Lot Zoning" (Tom Lane) [ Home Page – Click Here]

(May 17, 2017) – Traditional "Large Lot Zoning" is "Greener" than "Smart Growth" within Urban Growth Boundaries . . . Copyright 2009 – 2017 . . . Tom Lane . . . Photographing California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.

(Jan. 4, 2011) Seattle Smart Growth: Mountains to Sound Greenway (I-90) – Photos of Smart Growth Developments incl. Snoqualmie Ridge (Part 2)

Under construction: This is Part 2 of a 3 Part Series:

Part 1 –

Part 1 – Click this blue text for entry. (Jan. 3, 2011) Seattle Smart Growth: Mountains to Sound Greenway (I-90) includes Smart Growth Within Existing Urban Growth Boundaries (UGB’s) – (Part 1) – Click Here

Part 3 –

Part 3 – Click this blue text for entry. (Jan. 16, 2011) Seattle Smart Growth: Mountains to Sound Greenway (I-90) – Successful Example of Rich Philanthropists and Volunteers Building Trails (Part 3) – Click Here

(Jan. 4, 2011) If you had a 30 mile commute from Snoqualmie Ridge to Microsoft in Bellevue or Redmond, would you prefer a one acre lot in dense forests with wildlife, or, a smart growth condo attached to neighbors on both sides?

Unfortunately, smart growth is moving further away from major cities, even in Snoqualmie Ridge, destroying native trees. These master planned development features large areas of native trees clearcut for high density townhomes in many developments, including Talus and Issaquah Highlands, shown at other posts here (click here). With so many Pacific Northwest native plants at risk for extinction, and bird populations dwindling, it’s ironic that so-called “environmentalists” would support high density “smart growth” with clearcutting as the usual prerequisite.

If aesthetic principles were taken into consideration, what could look nice along the Greenway? To answer this, one must travel to areas outside the urban growth boundary, or, to older neighborhoods along the Greenway, such as the one below in Issaquah.

This post will compare a very green, forested, low density hillside in south Issaquah, with the clearcut, high density, cookie cutter, so called “smart growth” masters planned developments in Snoqualmie Ridge, and ultimately, further to the east in the destination live/work resort of Suncadia near Cle Elum, Wa.

Unfortunately, many special interest groups, who likely have no training in landscape architecture or ecology, want to block all growth. They are unaware of the difference between one acre lots with native trees, versus the clearcut induced “smart growth” seen at Talus, Snoqualmie Ridge, and Issaquah Highlands.

They wish to increase restrictions on growth, such as this recent report from 1,000 Friends of Washington: http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/east_king/svr/news/30190829.html However, the real answer is to increase standards for new growth to be “nature friendly.”

Since timber companies such as Weyerhauser and Port Blakely clearcut for a living, and since groups such as 1,000 Friends and Futurewise oppose clearcutting for a living, and since groups such as the Puget Sound Regional Council have an eternal love affair with smart growth and mass transit, then these three parties will never work things out. It’s the same thing with religion and politics, isn’t it? (I sure am glad to be on the landscape architecture side of this debate, and sit back and watch them fight it out!)

Clearly, the solution that the people want, both homeowners and special interests, is for City Councils to pass minimum lot size regulations that would prevent smart growth, along with ordinances preventing all clearcutting.

In addition, urban growth boundary “islands” such as near Snoqualmie result in very long commutes. Why not remove restrictions closer to Seattle along I-90 (as I showed in part 1 of this series), and shorten commutes and general stress levels?

Indeed, the goal or residential neighborhood should be a forested area like Issaquah, and areas of Bellevue and Kirkland. The Issaquah photos below are up the hill from the “upscale” Gilman Village shopping district, although Issaquah now supports a Costco, REI, Sports Authority, Target (?), and Home Depot (?).  Below are classic master planned bedroom communities in Issaquah, very similar to others on this web site in Seattle suburbs built 30 years ago.

All these neighborhoods are expensive, featuring large homes, and wide curving streets sometimes without the need for sidewalks, with both maturing and mature native vegetation. Generally, they are family friendly, with low crime, moderate to conservative in political persuasions, although residents are interested in protecting the environment and outdoor recreation.

Snoqualmie Ridge is also moderate to conservative, yet also very trendy with smart growth and a synthetic infill district of independent shops. Many homeowners commute all the way to the Bellevue or Microsoft offices (30 miles, either way, I-90 or SR-202). The views of the Cascade Range and especially Mount Si are incredible and unmatched, unless you’re under Mt. Rainier in southeast King County or eastern Pierce County (60 miles from here).

Snoqualmie is the fastest growing city in Washington State, as Dan Catchpole of the Sno Valley Star wrote in Sept. 2010: http://snovalleystar.com/2010/09/22/snoqualmie-is-the-fastest-growing-city-in-the-state

“It’s official: From 2000-2009, Snoqualmie had the fastest growth rate of any city in Washington. The news, which came from data released Sept. 10 by the U.S. Census, is no great revelation to many city residents. (During that)10-year period, Snoqualmie increased by 332.4 percent, growing from 2,010 residents to 8,692 residents. The city has developed into a bedroom community for Seattle and the Eastside in an idyllic setting.

Its growth was led by the development of Snoqualmie Ridge, which began in the late 1990s. Since then, thousands of houses, a school, dozens of retail stores and a business park have been built.”

With once exception, the earth tones of the buildings, smart growth, rapid population growth, political conservativism, and infilling, and views of the mountains, Snoqualmie Ridge reminds me of fast growing Bend, Oregon. However, Snoqualmie Ridge is expensive, with brochures for new homes that I picked up ranging from $500,000 to $800,000.

Two major differences between Bend and Snoqualmie Ridge are 1) more high tech job availability in the latter 2) the lack of native vegetation in the latter. Bend has preserved its native Ponderosa Pines around its new smart growth development – Northwest Crossing. Bend and Snoqualmie Ridge are also both very friendly family, including for members of the LDS (Mormon) Church, as this recent (January 3, 2011) explains: http://snovalleystar.com/2011/01/03/family-friendly-snoqualmie-ridge-fuels-growth-of-mormon-church

In addition, the LDS Church has grown from 1 ward on the eastside in the late 1960’s, to 50 today, see this third article in the Sno Valley Star: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19980330&slug=2742489

Of course, to be a successful urban planner / architect / landscape architect, who sells their properties without going bankrupt from low demand, one must understand how to design for various religious, ethnic, and other special considerations. Indeed, in terms of the “leapfrog” commuting effect of driving 30 miles from Bellevue or Redmond to Snoqualmie Ridge, what is the motivation for the extra time and gas money? Religion and family? Low crime? Great views of the Cascades (see below)? Close proximity to hiking, skiing, golfing, and mountain biking? etc. etc.

Overall, Snoqualmie Ridge is a winner for all of the aforementioned criteria. The only issues it has – depending on your perspective (your choice, not mine, it’s America, and you have the comment boxes below) – are long commutes, isolation, and most of the “smart growth” properties have no yards.

I’ll start with traditional 30 year old bedroom communities in Issaquah, and then show smart growth with views of the Cascades at Snoqualmie Ridge:

Goregous native trees on private large lots in Issaquah, Washington along the Mountains to Sound Greenway.

Nice, safe neighborhoods with large lots and wide streets.

Very typical street in Issaquah with large lots and wide streets, with native vegetation.

Very nice. Much preferable to “smart growth.”

The “Timbercrest” neighborhood features a unique one lane road forming a loop, with a wide sloping grass strip in between.

Another view of Timbercrest and the grass strip. Large lots with preservation of natural vegetation.

View of Lake Sammamish to the north, and the abundance of native trees in southern Issaquah.

Oh no! In the far distance (towards the West) is Talus, a high density Smart Growth Development.

Issaquah Cedar and Lumber Company on East Lake Sammamish Boulevard. The hill extending to the right heads to Issaquah’s immediate neighbor across the Greenway – Sammamish.

Snoqualmie Ridge Photos 


Contractor map of Snoqualmie Ridge in Realtor Office.

Welcom to Snoqualmie, Wa. home to Snoqualmie Ridge Smart Growth.

The familiar high density, ugly three story attached condos, yet again, at Snoqualmie Ridge.

Despite so much buildable land in east King County, they limit the lot sizes, and build skinny homes with no backyards. Ridiculous.

Attached condos are very common and offer no yards or privacy.

If not for this rare clear day, this place would look dark and depressing, due to no native Douglas Fir trees.

Major corporations are building these “smart growth” developments. So much for the theory that “smart growth” is from “the left.”

One of the fancy entrance displays. Of course, if you and I purchased property here, we wouldn’t have a million bucks to pay for such a fancy amenity. Yes, the pond and waterfall drive your housing costs up in this place.

Massive clearcutting. How does the Puget Sound Regional Council allow this? They are not an “environmental” public agency. Instead, it’s more than obvious that the PSRC makes special deals with major construction and logging companies, instead of letting the free market take its course.

There is no oversight from the PSRC or anyone else on how the Developer treats remaining trees. These are in very poor health, with surrounding trees that protect them from blowing over removed. Eventually, and sadly, they will fall, or, be cut down when the contractor’s arborist notices. How sad.

Here’s the logging truck! If it’s a commercial truck, I have no problem. If they just cut trees for more smart growth, shame on them. The whole thing reminds me of The Lorax story by Dr. Seuss. Or, how about

Goodbye, trees. While I have no issues with Commercial logging, I am a strong supporter, as are many people, of tree ordinances in neighborhoods and even light industrial areas. You can bet that every logger lives on a 5 acre treed parcel outside the urban growth boundary. The whole smart growth thing sounds like the story of the Lorax.

Businesses in Snoqualmie Ridge

The development supports many entertainment options, including a golf course.

Also: a light industrial area with warehouses. I noted that many of the offices were for lease:

Light Industrial at sunset for lease at Snoqualmie Ridge.

Also, the older businesses in North Bend and Snoqualmie, along with the industrial plant at Snoqualmie Falls, employ some people. However Dr. Richard Morrill of the University of Wasington says that even though the planners in the King County Council tries to treat this area as an agricultural area, most people in the area commute to the Seattle area.

Also, if SR-207 ever becomes a freeway joining SR-520in Redmond, then that would increase gas mileage, relieve congestion, and eliminate the need for stop lights along SR-207. That would form almost an entire crescent shaped bypass around I-405, with SR-18 from North Bend to Auburn serving as the second half.

Meanwhile, until any or all of the above happens, here’s a few photos of the infilling at Snoqualmie Ridge. Fortunately, they secured a grocery store, an IGA outlet, to prevent driving 12 miles to North Bend. However, it’s probably expensive, but many people who are living here are rich (relatively speaking, that is, given their Microsoft salary).

Looking north down the infill at Snoqualmie Ridge. The new Snoqualmie branch of the King County Library System, not shown, is at the corner to my right.

Looking south on the same infill street.

Looking east at the “center” of the infill.

The IGA grocery store, starbucks, Snoqualmie Falls Credit Union, etc.

Gateway Gas and Deli at Snoqualmie Ridge.

Golf Course at Snoqualmie Ridge

The golf course faces east, towards the Cascade Mountains and the Snoqualmie River valley. Mount Si is the most prominent mountain peak in most photographs below.

Entrance to Golf Course.

Golf Course just below the clubhouse.

Golf course snow and Cascade Mountains in the background.

Mount Si.

Mount Si on the left.

Nice view of grass extending to the edge of this hill with Mount Si.

Golf Course, lake, and Smart Growth homes shown in next photo.

Smart Growth homes on lake near golf course.

Gated area near the course under Mount Si.

Return to Part 1: Overview of Land Use along the Greenway – Click Here:

Part 1 – Click this blue text for entry. (Jan. 3, 2011) Seattle Smart Growth: Mountains to Sound Greenway (I-90) includes Smart Growth Within Existing Urban Growth Boundaries (UGB’s) – (Part 1) – Click Here

Part 3 –

Part 3 – Click this blue text for entry. (Jan. 16, 2010) Seattle Smart Growth: Mountains to Sound Greenway (I-90) – Successful Example of Rich Philanthropists and Volunteers Building Trails (Part 3) – Click Here


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This entry was posted on 2011 by in Issaquah, Puget Sound Regional Council, Snoqualmie, Urban Growth Boundaries.


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* HEY SEATTLE * – VOTE YES on Kemper Freeman’s Initiative I-1125 – Protect Your Gas Taxes and Tolls – Stop Illegal East Link I-90 Light Rail – Stop the Destruction of Downtown Bellevue with an Ugly Transit Oriented Development -CLICK HERE –

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*GREEN ALTERNATIVE * to Smart Growth – *WATCH VIDEO* from Pique Architects – Do They Present Something SIMILAR to the “LANDSCAPE URBANISM” Concept of Harvard’s Dr. Charles Waldheim? Image Source: http://vimeo.com/user4133046/videos – Pique LLC of Bend, Seattle, & Montana –

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