"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.

(October 1, 2011) Mirrormont on South Tiger Mountain – The Best and Greenest Large Lot Community in Seattle

(October 1, 2011; Mirrormont, Washington State, USA)  Under Construction; More Photos of Mirrormont Forthcoming.


With 1+ acre lots in tall old growth trees against Tiger Mountain, Mirrormont is a dream come true if you’re moving to Seattle.  With no traffic, it’s just a 20 minute drive to Bellevue, and 30 minutes to both Seattle and Tacoma.


If you do not want to deal with the tyrannical Puget Sound Regional Council and local City governments dictating higher densities to increase tax revenues, you will be very pleased that Mirrormont is outside of the urban growth boundary.  Property sizes range from 1 to 5+ acres.  The population of the Mirrormont CDP (Census Designated  Place in King County) is about 4,000.

Fortunately, unlike the nearby Cities of Renton and Issaquah, international timber companies such as Port Blakely Holdings (who clearcut before building the so-called “smart growth” Woodside in Renton and Issaquah Highlands), do not seem to have played a role in Mirrormont’s community development.  Indeed, Mirrormont properties all contain large mature native trees, many of old growth status.

Mirrormont easily would meet Frank Lloyd Wright’s approval, given its apparent one acre minimum lot sizes, protection of native vegetation, and simplicity of form in housing design and urban amenities.

Indeed, Wright would be appalled to learn of the greed and land inflation in nearby smart growth communities, such as Issaquah Highlands (IHS).  While home prices are the same in both IHS and Mirrormont, $600,000 gets one or more acres in Mirrormont, versus a five foot fence, five foot porch, and five foot wide backyard in IHS.

IHS was envisioned by property tax hungry Democrats masquerading as environmentalists, since they allowed International Timber Conglomerate Port Blakely holdings to denude an entire hillside, and replace it with interurban densities ranging from 10 to 40 dwelling units per acre.  The same story happened at Woodside in Renton next to Fairwood Greens.

As newcomers to the region explore the differences between Mirrormont, IHS, and other areas, they will readily recognize this unfortunate ignorance of human requirements for space and nature, from the Puget Sound Regional Council.

Therefore, Mirrormont will serve as this web site’s #1 example of large lot zoning, and an example that forthcoming politicians and architects will follow.  Unfortunately, we all are forced to live temporarily in smart growth dwellings, until we save the money for terrific neighborhoods such as Mirrormont.

Views over Mirrormont from Google

Mirrormont features 1 to 5 acre lots with nearly 100% cover from old growth forests. Can this neighborhood really be called “sprawl?”  I don’t think so.  Neither can adjacent unincorporated large lot communities, such as Four Lakes and High Valley (shown elsewhere on this web site).

Here are google views of the north and south parts of the unincorporated Mirrormont area, including the western edge of Tiger Mountain State Forest.

The third view extends from Tukwila (just east of Sea-Tac airport) eastward to Mirrormont.  The PSRC / King County Urban Growth Boundary is easy to recognize. The north-south line separates ugly high density sprawl with few trees, from low density traditional subdivisions, in a line extending north and south of the Lake Youngs watershed.

What side of the line would you rather live on?  Of course, you’d rather live outside the urban growth boundary, with large old growth Douglas Firs in your backyard. Mirrormont is one of several large lot neighborhoods in the tall trees east of the UGB.


Mirrormont - North Half, 1+ Acre Lots, and Tiger Mountain State Forest. CLICK TO ENLARGE AND SHARPEN.

Mirrormont - South Half, 1+ Acre Lots. CLICK TO ENLARGE AND SHARPEN.

From Tukwila and Southeast Seattle in the west, to Mirrormont in the East, showing the Kent Valley, Kent, Renton, Fairwood, and unincorporated large lot subdivisions beyond the urban growth boundary east of Lake Youngs. CLICK TO ENLARGE AND SHARPEN.

Why Not Build More Neighborhoods like Mirrormont with One Acre Lots?

The Washington Growth Management Act requires high densities of well under one acre within cities, and of over 5 acres outside of urban growth boundaries. Therefore, neighborhoods such as Mirrormont were developed before the Growth Management Act existed. However, you will find one acre lots for sale, although these were approved years ago, with development rights preserved.

Unfortunately, unless people vote the incumbents out of office, one could never develop an unincorporated community with one acre lots as large as Mirrormont.

Below, this map of South King County shows the area from Puget Sound in the west to Tiger Mountain and Mirrormont in the east. The Urban Growth Boundary extends roughly north-south from through Lake Youngs.  Anything east of this line is blocked to development, except for 5 acre minimums.

Coincidentally, the area of this Google Image that appears striped (due to Google’s computer problems) is the area designated for 5 acre estates. As you can see, this is at least half of South King County.  Due to the foreclosure crisis and shortage of affortable housing, why not open these lands to one acre minimums, in the grand tradition of Frank Lloyd Wright?

Indeed, as I will explain in future posts, many US cities have minimum lot sizes, especially Republican areas. For example, did you know that Palm Springs, California has quarter acre minimums, and Cave Creek, Arizona has half acre minimums?

For a broader perspective, here is much of South King County, with Mirrormont in the NE Corner, South Seattle in the NW, Federal Way in the SW, and Auburn in the SE. CLICK TO ENLARGE AND SHARPEN.

Selected Photos of Mirrormont, more forthcoming …


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