Real estate attorney B. Gerald Johnson, co-founder of Pacifica Law Group, played a large role in shaping Seattle. In the latest issue of Washington Super Lawyers & Rising Stars, he explains why it takes so long in the Emerald City to get big projects off the drawing board.
“It’s part of the culture. We have a progressive populist-era state constitution, and aspects of that were reflected in the city charter, so there’s lots of direct democracy as part of that tradition. That’s where you get initiatives and referenda. But it’s also a town that people care about; and that has its tremendous benefits, and that also brings some challenges because everybody’s really invested, there are plenty of opportunities for people to get involved, and people feel passionate about it. So there’s almost always lots of discussion, not always friendly; occasionally there’s litigation, and that’s just part of the path for getting anything done in this town. To some extent it’s enormously frustrating: Obviously, it costs money, threatens projects, occasionally kills projects. … But when something goes through all of that successfully and emerges to actually get done, I think there’s a decent argument to be made that the project is probably stronger and better as a result.”