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The Urbanist Policy Principles

The Urbanist’s mission is to tell stories that inform and influence the public and their leaders — and win them to our vision of people-centered communities in the Puget Sound region. We seek to influence urban policy in the Puget Sound region to deliver abundant housing, safe streets, ubiquitous rapid transit, and a strong, just, decarbonized economy. We believe the following principles should guide decisions made by people in power in order to create great cities and urban areas in the Puget Sound region and beyond:

  • Free Cities from Car Dependence: Cities must be designed so that everyone is able to get around safely, quickly, and cheaply without a car. Cities should prioritize investments and street space to meet the needs of people biking, walking, and rolling. Cities should work to end car dependency and reduce vehicle miles traveled by investing in frequent, reliable, public transit, repurpose land allocated to parking to other uses, and ensure mobility access for people with disabilities.
  • Affordable, Abundant Housing For All: Housing should be available in such abundance that safe, healthy, high-quality, and stable housing is affordable to everyone. This will require increasing supply, subsidy, and stability — building more homes near jobs, transit, and opportunity; increasing funding for social and affordable housing; and protecting people’s ability to stay in their homes. The primary goal of housing policy should be to provide homes affordable to people at all income levels — not investment vehicles.
  • Build Up, Don’t Sprawl Out: Cities should grow up, not out. Land use regulations should allow for substantial growth in existing urban areas, while preventing sprawl and protecting wild and agricultural land. Mixed-use neighborhoods, which allow people to live more of their lives close to home, should be permitted widely.
  • Inclusion and Justice For All: Cities must foster belonging for all people and remove barriers to opportunity wherever possible. This will entail identifying and dismantling systems of exploitation and extraction, as well as collaborating with communities that have been colonized, racialized, and marginalized to establish new approaches. The Urbanist believes that Black Lives Matter and that everyone has a right to the city.
  • Community Safety For All: Everyone should be and feel safe in the city and enjoy the benefits of urban life. The pursuit of public safety should follow holistic, evidence-based approaches and not further mass incarceration and racialized oppression. There should be fewer guns on the street, including those responding to non-violent crime.
  • Just Economy: People who work in the city should be able to live and thrive in the city. Among the building blocks of shared prosperity are: living wages, strong organized labor, local ownership of business, outstanding public education, diverse industries, and health care for all. Cities must act boldly to raise progressive revenue in order to provide universal access to a wide range of public services.
    Vibrant, Welcoming Public Spaces: Healthy public spaces and vibrant public life are critical to the functioning of great cities. Cities must cultivate a variety of communal spaces — including parks, plazas, gardens, tree canopy, greenways, and waterways — in all areas of the city, accessible to all. Streets are a vital component of public space and many should be reclaimed from cars for people. Public spaces, including transit, should be free from harassment, including catcalling and gender-based harassment.
  • Sustainable Growth and Ecological Harmony: Cities must be leaders in achieving climate and environmental justice by making it possible for more people to live low-carbon lifestyles, equitably mitigating environmental threats, and achieving long-term sustainability. This will entail collaborating with tribal governments and confronting those blocking a just transition to a green economy and our collective survival.