What a perverse little town Seattle is. Oh sure, you read all that Chamber of Commerce hype in the national press about how this place is supposed to be so livable. But in the latest survey Seattle didn't even make the Top 200 anymore. "America's Most Livable City?" BUAHAHAHAHA!!! Here...suck on this livability, Ex-Mayor Schell!
And say, sports fans...MONEY Magazine is the one that started all this bs. Does that tell you anything? I mean, who do you think is behind concepts like the WTO? It's not the several thousand homeless who were being rousted nightly by putz ex-City Attorney Mark Sidran's elite shock troops. It's not the long-time Seattleites who are being systematically priced out of their own home town. Nope, it's Mayor Developer, the Coffee Lobby, BoeingSoft and the Washington Bureau of Tourism. Why? Because they've all been sitting out in the rain too long. People who are truly visionary make beelines for the border as soon as they're old enough to swim. So let's start the ball rolling by dispelling some of those verdant Greater Seattle myths.
DON'T COME HERE! YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT!
Forget it. You're WAAAAYYYY too late! The Thursday, June 6, 2002 Seattle P-I tells the story. In the past year, the median price of a home in Seattle has risen from $260,000 to $277,500!!! Who's buying this stuff??? Who can possibly afford it??? Beats me, cuz I grew up here and I'm not on the guest list. Washington State presently leads the nation in unemployment, at least partially a result of the dot-gone fall-out coupled with massive Boeing layoffs. But obviously somebody has a lot more discretionary income than they're entitled to, because they keep spending it on homes most of us can't even think about affording.
Clearly, Seattle is becoming a city where the "haves" are taking over. The economic gentrification reaches astounding proportions -- a friend of mine recently sold her modest home for $525,000! The house is located on a hill behind the traffic hell hole that is University Village. You move there, you're trapped. I guess that matters little to people with cash burning holes in their pockets. Good luck, suckers. Call me when Sound Transit brings the monorail to your hood. BUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!
This humongously offensive feeding frenzy all started in 1989, when scumbags like Michael Martin, a real estate hustler who has since admitted to bilking his clients out of millions, fomented a home-buying stampede. It was fueled by Californians, who discovered they could dump off their ratty bungalows in East LA and buy three Seattle houses for the same price. This, in turn, caused a panic among traditionally blue-collar Seattleites, who were happy to sell their $75,000 places for $120K, but suddenly discovered it would cost them $130K to get a place they liked better. To give you an idea of what's happened here in the last dozen years...
In late 1990 I began renting a modest one-bedroom place on Magnolia Blvd, a nice part of town. That year the house was assessed at $100,400, within my range of making an offer on it. I was preparing an offer when the 1991 assessment came in, with the Feeding Frenzy Factor attached. The assessment exploded to $161,000. Needless to say, I could no longer afford to make an offer on the place. In late 1996 some people bought the house for $212,000! That means the same old funky house -- which needed 25 grand of deferred maintenance when I moved out in 1992 -- is now worth no less than $300,000 under the "40% Rule." That's a staggering 200% increase in 12 years. And that's f**king crazy!
So who's buying these places? Well, the other "ugly duckling" on my old Magnolia block was snapped up by a young doctor, who completely renovated it. He saw a "For Sale" sign in the window, and made the deal the very next day. Then there are the Microsofties, who, despite the dot-com crash, have cashed in big time. Wherever the money's coming from, you'd better have a lot of it if you expect to move to Seattle any time in the future. We're officially the Fourth Most Expensive City in America.
Then all you have to deal with is this...
Yeah, right. I guess that's what you call that pale, washed-out indigo tint that occasionally appears overhead. Look for it on the second weekend of July. (See Hot Flash! below.) Reality: While "normal" annual Seattle rainfall is only 38 inches (only???), the gray goes on forever. Kinda like a big sponge squeezing drops out one at a time...like Chinese water torture, it never really goes away. Curiously, last year we had a drought that forced us to buy power from scumballs like Enron. That, in turn, forced utility rates up by 60%. City Light now admits it screwed up, and the City Council is threatening another round of rate hikes. This year, of course, rainfall is above average, snow pack is way huge, and hydro power is so plentiful that City Light can't unload all they have. And you know what that means. Btw, average number of clear Seattle days per year is approximately 50. That's 13.6% of the year. You have the other 315 days to frolic in the gray, gloomy, moldy mist. There's a reason it's always so green around here.
The winter of 1995-96 was a classic. We had two 100 Years Floods in the span of three months. (They're not making centuries like they used to.) There were ZERO/NADA/NO clear days at all in April, and rainfall was twice normal. On Mothers' Day the prediction was for 70 degrees and sunny. Torrential rains soaked the region all day, and Seattle's share was 1" in 24 hours. I know this doesn't seem like much to you people in Indiana and Missouri, but when your rains and floods are over the sky does clear up. Here it doesn't.
Even worse was the winter of 1996-97. Or so I heard. I saw it coming in November, when we were hit with extremely unusual cold and several inches of snow. By December 15, I was on a plane headed way south. Hah-hah! That's why I missed the coldest Seattle winter in 70 years! Imagine my delight, sipping a frosty cerveza in the 80-degree sunshine, and hearing reports of four feet of snow in Seattle. Sometimes life is even better than good.
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!!! Even worse than '96-'97 was the La Nina winter of 1999. Read it and weep, boyz and grrrlz: Between November 1998 and March 1999, Seattle experienced a record-breaking 93 straight days of rain! I know you think you didn't read me right so I'll repeat it: 93 STRAIGHT DAYS OF RAIN!!! Needless to say, new monthly rainfall records were set in November and January. Still wanna move here? Does your daddy own stock in Prozac?
Addendum: The following is from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Page 1, 12/16/95:
Most of you should be able to read that text on your monitors. If not, please let me know and I'll be glad to give you the "Baby Boomer's Deteriorating Eyesight" Version 1.0. But maybe we should highlight a phrase or two, anyway.
" The continuous wind and rain storms we have make it one of the gloomiest places to live in winter. While only 1 percent of sunny Floridians experience winter depression...10 percent of Seattle-area residents suffer from debilitating symptoms of SAD. Researchers find no shortage of subjects to study around here." Y'all come! The only problem with this article is that it was published in December, and completely ignores the rest of the year. The reason people are so depressed in Seattle's winter is because the weather also sucks in spring, summer and most of fall. Here are some typical examples.
But hey, if 12 clear days in three months of summer is your idea of a good time, come on down!
Hot Flash! July 19, 1996...Just so's you don't think I knock Seattle weather without due cause: That weekend we had the summer I'd predicted above. Coincidence? Aliens? Miss Cleo? I don't think so. It was over 90 degrees for two days, breaking records that had stood for 44 years. Immediately, of course, all the Norwegians in Ballard started complaining. In a way I couldn't blame them...lutefisk gets real rank in the heat. (This was solved in 2001, when the Health Department declared lutefisk a health hazard.) Not to worry. By Monday morning the temperature had plummeted more than 40 degrees. It stayed 55 and raining through Labor Day. See y'all next summer!
Hot Flash 2! June 29, 1997...A year later and nothing changed. Rained like stink, and got up to 70 maybe once all month. Oops, correction...one thing changed. The National Weather Service stopped supplying the P-I with the kind of weather tables shown above. Now there's no way to compare this year's bad weather with last year's. Suspicion abounds that looking at all those dark circles made people too depressed, so the Weather Service offed 'em. Oh, that makes things better, for sure!
Reality: Not exactly, but we do have a disproportionate share of rock stars killing themselves with heroin. The only buffalo you're gonna experience in Seattle goes by its traditional name of bull-(expletive deleted). You may have us confused with Ted Turner and his ranch in Montana. The distance between Seattle and Montana is, oh, about the distance between New York and Cleveland. The Pacific Northwest is not one big state named Oh-ray-gone, sorry. Seattle is also not a large campus called "Microsoft." And whatever was left of those "wide open spaces" (we used to know them as "greenbelts") has been filled in with high rise condos. The romantic view of Lake Union and the Cascades from the Adriatica Restaurant was eclipsed by two new office buildings a while back. Now, you can't even stare misty-eyed over your cab-merlot at the romantic greenish glow of fluorescent lights from the cubicles across the street. That's cuz, absent their glorious view, Adriatica took a permanent header. All their furniture was auctioned off in early 2002. Too bad, cuz it was a wonderful spot til the Dilberts moved in across the street. And when I could no longer see the mountains, at least I could check out that couple in the fourth cubicle from the left on the sixth floor! Wonder if they got Extra Credit for that.
The good news is there's now a Hooter's at South Lake Union (otherwise known as the Herpes Triangle).
Reality: Well, I guess that depends on what you like to breathe. Seattle has been cited by the EPA for non-compliance with Federal Air Quality standards, and was named in June 1998 as one of the most polluted locales in the 50 states. On July 16, 1996 we scaled the heights of the Pollution Index, reaching a whopping 97. Hit 100 three days out of the year and the EPA nukes every sports utility vehicle with a vanity license plate.
As usual, there's more. The April 19, 2002 Seattle Times carried the following headline story:
WASHINGTON — The Seattle area is in the worst 5 percent of the country for air toxics, and the cancer risk from diesel emissions alone may be roughly 500 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency's acceptable level, according to state research that was a follow-up to an unreleased EPA study.
One reason for the dirty, polluted air might be the fact that we are now the
#1 Worst Traffic-Congested City in America!
Yup, we finally whupped New York, LA and San Francisco at something. The traffic around here is so insane that on a recent trip to LA, my first in 23 years, I had to ask, "So where's all the traffic?" You oughtta be here when the temperature inversions are in full swing. How now, brown downtown.
At a glance