Seattle's Rising Geographical Inequality

Seattle Property Values1.jpg
My hometown of Seattle has been recently praised for implementing measures to fight urban inequality, such as cutting public transit fairs for low-income commuters. It was reported as one of America's least income-segregated large metros in a study by Richard Florida and the Martin Prosperity Institute.

However, a Pew Research Center report showed that inequality has risen in the 27 of the 30 largest American metros. Seattle is no exception, with inequality rising at a higher pace than other metros. With a median housing price reaching half a million dollars (Zillow), Seattle residents are increasingly being pushed into the traffic-ridden suburbs and out of the urban center of economic and social opportunity.

The map above created by Lift Aerial illustrates the significant geographical inequality by indicating land values of King County, with open-source GIS data of parcel value, normalized by square foot. The high-value areas of Downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, Bellevue, Kirkland, and Mercer Island stand out as centers of affluence, many exceeding a land value of over $300/SF, while areas around Renton, Seatac, and Shoreline have a land value of less than 10% of that. This, of course, is not the only, nor the most accurate measure of geographical inequality (aggregating income data, median housing cost, etc.) would add another layer of accuracy), but it begins to tell a narrative of an increasingly divided urban fabric.

Jordan Petersen, LEED AP

Site Designer, ColeJenest & Stone

Founder, LIFT Aerial Marketing

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