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In Major Win Over 'Corporate Bullying,' Seattle Approves Tax on Amazon to Combat Homelessness


So amongst the top 50 cities

  1. Seattle is already creating more housing units per year (in terms of percent growth) than any other city in the U.S.,

  2. Seattle is already in the top ten most densely populated cities in the U.S. (about 8600/sq mile compared to your example of Houston at about 4800/sq mile), and

  3. Seattle already has one of the lowest unemployment rates amongst any big city in the U.S.

So your solution is to make them grow even faster and become even more densely populated in order to attract the kind of businesses that aren’t willing to help pay for services.

That just doesn’t sound too smart to me.


It’s not “my” solution - it’s a simple fact of economics. If Seattle wants to reduce the cost of rentals, and decrease homelessness, there are two solutions - drive people away (reducing demand) or build more (increase supply).

The fact that 4 districts in Seattle have increased density dramatically shows both the problem with averages and illustrates my comment about Seattle’s zoning. 4 districts show dramatic increases, another 8 show moderate increases and more than 70 show tiny (if any) increases. Because Seattle restricts growth to a few areas, the average density (as opposed to median) goes up dramatically, and because supply remains limited costs rise as well.

The head tax can be seen as choosing the first solution - drive people away by moving jobs out of Seattle. Now that they’ve retreated from that, it will be interesting to see if they actually make it easier to bring more units into the system.


None of us care what Seattle ultimately does (at least I don’t - I don’t live there). We’re not really trying to give solutions other than the very obvious and surefire one of ramping up new housing stock. The point is Seattle caused the problem. Not Amazon. Taxing Amazon allows “leaders” to attempt to paper over their mistakes without any skin in the game or accountability. The millions they are already spending (which is coming from Amazon and the residents) is being wasted on temporary housing and other things which don’t actually solve the problem.


Nope - Seattle did not cause the problem. @WWSmith and your assumption that they can build out of the problem is simply wrong and without evidence.

On the income side …
Washington state law prevents them from having a local income tax, a capital gains tax, or a corporate income tax, so they must rely on sales taxes to fund services. This makes the poorest 20 percent of the citizens have a tax rate that is seven times greater than the top 1%.


Correction: I just realized that Amazon’s Seattle jobs are not at all the same as the jobs you see at places where they just have big warehouses like the Economist article described. The Seattle jobs are indeed quite high paying tech jobs that are associated with the activities of their headquarters.

While I don’t like being wrong on a point - I hate knowing I’m wrong and not admitting it much more.


So allowing the population to rapidly grow in a place where the infrastructure can’t handle it isn’t the fault of leadership? More specifically, in a place where infrastructure can’t handle it because of laws passed by those same leaders.

Do we limit how many people can be in a building or room or store? On in an elevator? In a car?


Seattle spent more than a half billion dollars upgrading infrastructure to accommodate Amazon and they continue to upgrade infrastructure to handle growth.

I’m not sure of your point with this.