Monday, March 20, 2017

UPDATED: A Brief History of Redmond's Rapid Growth

Rob Odle, Redmond's Director of Planning  and
Community Development
Rob Odle, Redmond's director of planning and community development is the guest speaker in the Redmond Historical Society's Saturday,April 8th Speaker's Series  He explains how growth really took off in the early 1990s with the adoption of Washington state's Growth Management Act.  

What a difference 50 years makes – at least when it comes to Redmond. In 1966, it literally was a small town: 4,800 residents who had just gotten their first traffic light. Today, more than 60,000 people call it home and the population doubles weekdays due to battalions of workers at Microsoft, Genie and dozens of smaller companies.

Redmond did grow a bit in the 1970s and '80s, but it really took off in the early 1990s, with the adoption of Washington state's Growth Management Act. Rob Odle, Redmond's director of planning and community development, will explain that history and process at the Redmond Historical Society’s Saturday Speaker Series meeting on April 8.

      "Under the GMA," he says, "the key decisions were to: focus future growth in our urban centers and not disburse growth evenly throughout the community; advocate for a clear and close-in growth boundary; support Sound Transit and light rail to Redmond and the Eastside; plan to create a walkable and connected downtown; and work to ensure that in Redmond  residents have choices such as in housing, transportation  and employment."  

"The GMA has for all cities required us to not only have a vision for where our community wants to be in the future but also that we have a clear and realistic path to achieving that vision," says Odle. "Certainly, it has changed the way that we do planning and it has caused us to be pragmatic in our analysis  and more transparent to the community. By requiring that there be a clear delineation between rural and urban it has resulted in the vibrancy and growth that we see in our urban centers" of downtown Redmond and the Overlake area.

At the same time the GMA was being rolled out, new jobs (think Microsoft) were rolling in, as were new residents. Redmond focused on protecting the environment, creating parks, requiring quality development, embracing diversity and fostering strong ties to the Lake Washington School District, Odle says, which in turn made the city "a very desirable place for people to reside in."

The Saturday Speaker Series is presented by the Redmond Historical Society on the second Saturday of the month with three programs each in the fall and spring.  It is held at 10:30am at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center, located at 16600 NE 80th Street.  Topics range from local, state and Pacific Northwest historical interest. There is a suggested $5 donation for non-members. 

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