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Is Seattle All That?

In my story on the Boston mayoral race, I mentioned that Sam Yoon--one of the candidates trying to unseat the four-term incubment Tom Menino--talks about Seattle as a sort of urban planning nirvana. When I asked him if there was any city Boston might model itself after, he replied in almost dreamy voice: "I think about Seattle."

But people in Seattle don't seem as high on their city as Yoon. The blog Seattlest goes through all the ways in which Seattle's city planning isn't so enlightened:

Seattle as a model for Boston's urban policy? Lordy, Lordy. Don't get us wrong--we love Seattle to death, but having been a less than passive observer of our local political trials and tribulations over most of the last decade, we tend to love Seattle in spite of, not because of, its apparently noteworthy urban development policies.

Of course, I'd imagine that Yoon's mention of Seattle is more about dogwhistle politics than actual policy. The yuppie white liberal voters in Boston he's courting hear Seattle and they think bikes, wi-fi, good coffee, and fleece; they don't think the Alaskan Way Viaduct (to cite one of the urban-planning screw ups mentioned by Seattlest). But maybe they should.

--Jason Zengerle