By Andy Rheaume
I grew up in Bothell and can tell you first hand a lot has changed over the decades, but the last 10 years have been evolutionary. Like the rest of the region we have felt the strain of millions of people moving to the Puget Sound region. We have packed the majority of those people within the urban growth boundary (which encircles Puget Sound in Snohomish, King, Pierce and Kitsap counties).
The state passed the Growth Management Act in 1990 to limit sprawl. The plan was for dense urban areas inside the boundary and rural areas outside the urban growth boundary. Limiting sprawl is the best thing we can do to protect the environment and limit the amount of infrastructure (roads, sewers, water pipes) we need to build to support future populations. The alternative would look a lot like Los Angeles.
With this last economic boom the 1990 act has come to fruition. Within our city we have seen a reduction in forests and natural areas, more people and traffic everywhere, and affordable housing disappearing. At the same time, the growth has brought new restaurants, retail, housing opportunities, and a more walkable, vibrant downtown Bothell.
We are not alone. All cities inside the urban growth boundary are experiencing the same thing. People are drawn to our region for its proximity to nature, good schools, and other amenities. What we can do is prepare for the future by building the infrastructure we need, protecting the environment the best we can, and continuing to deliver city services to our growing population. If we do all three we will preserve our quality of life, but understand the City will never be the same as it was. It will grow and change quicker and quicker as the population in our region increases. I’m with you if you miss the way it was, but I also have high hopes for Bothell’s future. The Reader’s Digest named us one of the nicest places in the country, and that has remained constant. Stay involved, help us keep the character of our community, and influence what we will become.