Residents of wealthy neighborhoods are taking extreme measures to block much-needed housing and transportation projects.
SEATTLE — In May 2018, a public meeting in a wealthy enclave of one of America’s most progressive cities devolved into a two-hour temper tantrum as longtime residents incensed about a proposed tax to fund homeless services shouted down its proponents.
“Lies!” the crowd bellowed as an attendee explained that the tax would be levied on corporations, not citizens. “Shill!” “Plant!” “Phony!” they shouted as another supporter spoke. “Coward!” a man yelled at a homeless woman as she took the microphone.
Kirsten Harris-Talley, the co-chair of Seattle’s Homelessness Task Force, had to pause to ask the increasingly unruly crowdto calm down:“Can I finish what I’m saying?”
“No!” the audience chanted back.
Seattle is not the only city where locals are losing their minds over issues related to housing, zoning and transportation. Ugly public meetings are becoming increasingly common in cities across the country as residents frustrated by worsening traffic, dwindling parking and rising homelessness take up fierce opposition.