Parks and open space are integral to a healthy, livable urban environment. People need space for recreation and stress-relieving access to light and air, where they can enjoy urban wildlife, plants and trees. Additionally, tree canopies counter the urban heat island effect, and wide areas of grass and ground coverings naturally absorb rain water.
The Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan, currently under consideration, claims that our deficit of open space and parks is because there is limited open space available. And then it provides “creative” suggestions: that open space could be provided by other agencies (federal, state and Port of Seattle) and on private developments, which are “often available to the public”.
With Seattle’s push to densely develop lowrise zones by subdividing lots with minimal space between property line and structures, and by encouraging back yard cottages in single family zones, City officials misguide us. They suggest that we benefit from “many private open spaces in the city, such as yards that provide usable space for residents in single‐family and multifamily areas” at the same time they recommend upzones to even more densely pack our residential lots. Although some residents will have roof top gardens above their newly constructed apartments, others will have their backyards shadowed and sunless by those same developments.