This paper examines the spatial and temporal trajectories of Seattle’s industrial land use restructuring and the shifting riskscape in Seattle, WA, a commonly recognized urban model of sustainability. Drawing on the perspective of sustainability as a conflicted process, this research explored the intersections of urban industrial and nonindustrial land use planning, gentrification, and environmental injustice. In the first part of our research, we combine geographic cluster analysis and longitudinal air toxic emission comparisons to quantitatively investigate socioeconomic changes in Seattle Census block-groups between 1990, 2000, and 2009 coupled with measures of pollution volume and its relative potential risk. Second, we qualitatively examine Seattle’s historical land use policies and planning and the growing tension between industrial and nonindustrial land use. The gentrification, green cities, and growth management conflicts embedded within sustainability/livability lead to pollution exposure risk and socioeconomic vulnerability converging in the same areas and reveal one of Seattle’s significant environmental challenges. Our mixed-method approach can guide future urban sustainability studies to more effectively examine the connections between land use planning, industrial displacement, and environmental injustice. Our results also help sustainable development practitioners recognize that a more just sustainability in Seattle and beyond will require more planning and policy attention to mitigate obscured industrial land use conflicts.
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