The ordinance represents one of the most significant industrial land preservation policies in the United States and saved hundreds of high-quality jobs from leaving the city.
Many family-wage jobs at industrial employers near the Port of Seattle, including machinists and metal fabricating jobs, were at stake in the early 2000s as real estate speculators looked to maximize their profits by converting industrial lands to retail and office uses. The real estate developers and professionals speculated that the land would increase in value with retail and commercial encroachment.
Puget Sound Sage researched job impacts of land speculation and organized community support for a coalition led by the M.L. King County Labor Council and the Manufacturing Industrial Council, which persuaded the City Council to enact a plan to protect the industrial lands.
In 2007, the Seattle City Council approved major changes in Seattle’s zoning laws, preserving large areas near the Port of Seattle for industrial uses. While the final plan approved by the Council allowed continued development of some fringe areas, it protected over 5,000 acres of industrial land closest to the Port from further spread of big box retail stores and office buildings.