From HousingWiki
Image Source: Kevin and Amanda
Image Source: Kevin and Amanda

Seattle's City Seal lists a founding date of 1869 although the land on which the present-day city sits has been inhabited for thousands of years. Seattle is the seat of King County, Washington, one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States and an important hub for technology, manufacturing, and Asia-Pacific shipping.

Seattle occupies 83.9 square miles (217.3 km sq ) and is located on an isthmus, bounded by Puget Sound (a Pacific Ocean inlet; Seattle's chief harbor is Elliott Bay) and Lake Washington to the East and West. Seattle contains over 5,540 acres of parkland. The city is about 100 miles south of the US border with Canada.

Populous: Seattle is the largest city by population in the Pacific Northwest region and in the state of Washington with an estimated 704,352 residents as of 2016. Seattle does not rank high in the nation for population density at 8.398/square mile (3,242 km square) but has the highest population density of incorporated places in the state of Washington.

Fast-growing population: Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. This rapid growth has important ramifications for housing in the city, as well as for other issues affected by population growth.

The City was named after the indigenous leader, Chief Seattle, and has been variously dubbed "Rain City," "The Emerald City" and "Jet City" (this last moniker is a reference to the aircraft/aerospace industry in the city).

City Motto: The City of Flowers/ The City of Good Will


  • High rent and home prices
  • Affordable housing need
  • Limited housing supply
  • Limited new development and redevelopment, especially of affordable housing
  • Need for expanded public transit
  • Homelessness

Economic Context

In its pre-20th century past, Seattle was a major center for logging and shipbuilding. After World War II, Boeing established Seattle as a nexus for aircraft manufacturing. Seattle is North America's fourth largest port and serves as a major hub for shipping to and from Asia. The 1980s and 1990s saw Seattle's development as a technology locus, with tech giants centered there such as Microsoft and Amazon rising to prominence. Seattle has continued to give birth to and to attract biotech, software and Internet companies contributing to its economic prosperity and rising population. 


See the Washington state section of Politics, Elections, and Legislation for additional information.


Seattle is governed by a Mayor and a nine-member City Council. Since 2015 the City Council has consisted of seven district seats and two at-large positions. From 1911-2013, Seattle's nine city councillors were elected (at-large) independent of geographical divisions.

Elected offices in Seattle, all of which are officially non-partisan, include: 

  • Mayor
  • Nine City Councillor seats
  • City Attorney
  • Municipal Court judges

In addition to decisions taken independently by their Mayor and Council, Seattle voters also have recourse to ballot initiatives to pass and reject laws; referenda to allow the approval or rejection of legislation already passed; propositions put forward by specific government agencies to propose new laws and taxes directly to voters.


Seattle is the seat of King County and as such many of the county's important functions take place there. The King County Courthouse, for example, is in Seattle. King County is a high-income county and the most populous county in the state. Decisions made on the county level have important impacts on Seattle.

For example, the critical Port of Seattle District was established by a vote by the people of King County in 1911. Governed by five Port Commissioners, it is this County entity that manages and maintains the Sea-Tac International Airport,"many seaport facilities around Elliott Bay, including its original property, publicly owned Fishermen's Terminal, home to the North Pacific fishing fleet and the largest homeport for fishermen in the U.S. West Coast;[citation needed] four container ship terminals; two cruise ship terminals; the largest grain export terminal in the U.S. Pacific Northwest; three public marinas; 22 public parks; and nearly 5,000 acres of industrial lands in the Ballard-Interbay and Lower Duwamish industrial centers."

King County is governed by the King County Executive and the nine-member King County Council. Other elected officials include

  • King County Prosecuting Attorney 
  • Elections Director 
  • Sheriff 
  • King County Assessor


Seattle is part of Washington State's 7th Congressional District.

Public and Governmental Resources


Neighborhood Associations, Organizations and Websites


A 2016 report by the Seattle/King County Coalition based on a one night, three-hour street count of unsheltered homeless people in selected parts of Seattle/King County. The count found 2942 unsheltered homeless people (the total count including the suburbs was 4505) in Seattle proper, though organizers said that an undercount is assumed as volunteers could not count everywhere and some of the target population would take pains not to be visible. Rising prices of housing are a significant contributor to homelessness.

Publications and Blogs

Housing/Land-use/YIMBY and Urbanist Organizations

  • Seattle Neighbors @seaneighbors
  • Seattle for Everyone
  • CH Community Council @CHCouncilSea
  • Housing Consortium 


(In progress) Local influencers, activists, journalists, leaders, politicos, researchers, change agents, strategists, and commentators...

  • Laura Loe
  • Sara Maxana @yimbymom
  • Matthew Stafford @mwstafford
  • Myra Lara
  • Scott Bonjukian
  • Doug Trumm
  • Dan Bertolet
  • Anna Fahey @afahey


Seattle, Wikipedia

2016 Census population estimates for every U.S. city, county, state (database) -

List of United States Cities by Population Density

King County, Washington,_Washington

King County’s One Night Homeless Count Reaches An All Time High of 4,505