Monday, September 24, 2018

Sunday Video: Cycling London’s Bicycle Super Highways

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In this video, Streetfilms highlights London’s cycle superhighways. 

What We’re Reading: LA-Vegas HSR, Capped, and Dignity of Walking

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LA-Vegas HSR: Florida’s Go Brightline is taking over rights to build and operate a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

A pittance: After fighting hard to kill an affordable housing tax in Seattle, Jeff Bezos and Paul Allen tentatively plan to sponsor affordable housing development.

Evicted: A Seattle study indicates that women and black renters are disproportionately get evicted.

Capped: Seattle’s cap on move-in fees passes legal muster ($) in a major defeat to anti-tenant rights landlords.

Reforming parking requirements: Cincinnati has eliminated parking requirements in several dense neighborhoods to encourage walkable communities

Poorly executed by design: The SR-99 tunnel boondoggle sagas continue with yet another missed deadline for opening ($).

Global transit renaissance: Globally, transit is having a big boom, but the United States continues to lag behind.

Fight for free UPass: The University of Washington may be poised to cut the cost of staff transit passes by another 50%, but it still wouldn’t be free.

Central District stands: 50 years later, the Central District remains largely intact thanks to a freeway revolt.

Dignity of walking: Readers of The Guardian share their perspectives of walking in their cities.

Contributing factors: Why isn’t affordable housing more affordable?

Shake’N’Bake II: Nathan on Sleepers

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This was going to be a footnote to my previous story, but it was getting too long– and too important! Sleepers are a major element of the bus world, and they deserve their own post.

If you do long routes at night, you’ll get ’em. As I write above“Waking them up can be a hassle (so can letting them sleep- you become a roving hotel and don’t have room for your Destinational Passengers), but if your biggest problem of the night is waking people up, you’re doing great.” 

Your non-bus driver friends will have trouble understanding how any of this could be annoying. They have a point. Sleeping? Not the most disturbing or violent behavior I’ve ever heard of. They could do worse things on your bus. But losing privacy during your breaks can irk, not to mention the hygiene issue, plus the nagging thought that these often aren’t your regular homeless folks in between jobs and struggling as they look for work. If you think about it, nobody actually minds those homeless people. These guys are different.

Sound Transit’s Level 2 Evaluation Narrows Path for Ballard and West Seattle Link

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this month, Stakeholder Advisory Groups for the Ballard and West Seattle light rail extensions got an update on Level 2 alternatives being evaluated. The updates provided detailed insight to anticipated ridership, mobility connectivity, project costs, and land use compatibility that particular alignment and station alternatives could result in. The update also took a deep look at other dimensions that could be affected by alternatives, such as “constructability” tradeoffs, environmental factors, and demographics served.

Ballard/Interbay Options

Alternatives for Ballard and Interbay. (Sound Transit)
Alternatives for Ballard and Interbay. (Sound Transit)

The Level 2 alternatives analysis looked at seven corridor options in addition to the representative project alignment. All of the corridor options stacked up well and all would perform better than the baseline representative project alignment, in large part because the baseline option is a moveable bridge that would essentially stick to 15th Ave NW instead of serving more unique and active destinations.

Getting Ready for a Post-Viaduct Downtown the Only Way We Know How

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This week we learned that the Alaskan Way Viaduct will close permanently on January 11 of next year, with a three-week gap between the closing of one highway and the opening of another, the long-delayed deep bore tunnel connecting SoDo and South Lake Union. We’ve known this has been coming for a very long time, and the anticipated increase in congestion as 90,000 daily trips that currently utilize the freeway blocking our city from its waterfront find another route or mode.

The viaduct coming down was one of the main impetuses for the One Center City planning process, a meeting of the minds at the regional transit agencies. The outcome of that process was mainly the status quo, and so as we hurtle toward what is anticipated to be a major weeks-long traffic jam, it’s worth noting what tools the city is utilizing to prepare for this event.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) posted an update to its blog after the announcement of the viaduct closure this week: “Here’s what we’re doing to help you get around downtown.” In it, the department lays out its five strategies for getting people around the center city:

  1. Transportation system monitoring and real-time management.
  2. Investments in transit.
  3. Reducing drive-alone trips downtown.
  4. Managing construction projects in the public right-of-way.
  5. Working with commuters, employers, visitors, and Seattleites on their commute.

But it’s clear that pretty much the only tool in the toolbox at SDOT under Mayor Jenny Durkan is trying to move more vehicles, mostly with one or two people in them, though our limited downtown streets at the expense of those who chose alternate options.

It’s Easy to Gouge Your Tenants in Seattle, Mercer Mega Block RFP Promises

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Mercer Mega Block mixed-use massing example. (Tiscareno Associates)

While housing advocates have been calling for social housing on the City-owned Mercer Mega Block site and other publicly-held land, the Durkan administration is planning to auction the choice parcel off to highest bidder. In fact, the City’s Request for Proposals (RFP) brags about just how juicy this South Lake Union real estate opportunity is and how royally Seattle has messed up its housing market.

Erica C. Barnett released the RFP in The C is For Crank yesterday and noted that the City of Seattle, via its real estate broker JLL, was touting the city’s skyrocketing home prices and increasingly dysfunctional housing market as an asset.

Obviously, when you put artificial constraints on housing supply (such as zoning laws that make multifamily housing illegal in most parts of a city), housing prices increase. Usually, we think of that as a bad thing, because it means that all but the wealthiest renters (and those who can afford to buy $800,000 houses) get priced out of neighborhoods near employment centers, transit, and other amenities. But the city’s marketing materials turn this idea on its head: Restrictive zoning, “high barriers” to homeownership, and spiraling rents make Seattle the perfect place to buy one of the city’s last large parcels of public land…

Perhaps the Durkan housing affordability solution is to join the feeding frenzy so long as Seattle is turning into an enclave for the megawealthy–Seattle’s median household income recently surpassed $121,000. The City may lack a cohesive strategy to prevent displacement and ensure mixed-income neighborhoods throughout the city, but it could be poised to cater to the rich with the best of them.

One person in particular the RFP did not impress was Mike Eliason, who contributes with The Urbanist and co-wrote with Cary Moon the op-ed in Crosscut urging a higher use of the three acre Mercer Mega Block site. In a series of tweets, Eliason argued that the City’s affordability and sustainability stipulations were rather weak.

Wonkabout Washington: Road Map for Washington’s Future

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Tiki Tenants TTOC.

Quick quiz: Can you name all fourteen goals of Washington state’s Growth Management Act? Would you guess that addressing climate change is not one of them?

Nearly thirty years ago, Washington passed the Growth Management Act (GMA), a comprehensive piece of legislation dedicated to responsibly managing our state’s growth. The same year, Futurewise (originally named 1000 Friends of Washington) was founded as a public interest organization dedicated to proper implementation of the GMA. The act established the Growth Management Hearings Board, where organizations like Futurewise can appeal irresponsible plans for review. The GMA, along with the Shoreline Management Act and the State Environmental Policy Act, is the cornerstone of our state’s planning framework.

But a lot can change in three decades, and as we approach the GMA’s thirtieth birthday, it’s time for an update. In 2015, the Washington state legislature started a process to review the GMA, called the Road Map for Washington’s Future. The state has solicited suggestions from individuals and organizations involved with the state’s planning framework. As the state’s only public interest group focused entirely on GMA-related issues, Futurewise has some ideas.

First and foremost, Futurewise is recommending that the GMA include a 15th element: addressing climate change through mitigation and adaptation, including specific mention of planning to address sea level rise, wildfires, and the protection/accessibility of natural resources – the three largest climate-related impacts affecting Washington State.  The GMA should also include statutory requirements for the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions (GHG) based on RCW 70.235.020.

City Council Sells Wallingford Site to Dunn Lumber and Weighs UW Campus Plan Amendments

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On Monday, the Seattle City Council approved disposition and sale of a City-owned brickyard (3819 4th Ave NE) next to Dunn Lumber in Wallingford. The property is currently owned by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and zoned Industrial Commercial with a 45-foot height limit, which allows light industrial and commercial uses but not residential uses. Under the terms of the deal, the city will receive $2.575 million in payments that will go into the general transportation fund. Other departments did not express interest in acquiring the property.

On Wednesday, the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning (PLUZ) Committee will convene for a packed meeting agenda. Councilmembers on the committee will have an opportunity to discuss the University of Washington Campus Master Plan, which is slated for approval later this year. As a major institution, the University of Washington gets to initiate its own master plan and participate in a process outside the City’s normal neighborhood planning system, but it still needs council approval. Several substantial amendments to the recommendation from the Hearing Examiner are under consideration, including: