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  • Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 22.37.54

    Tacoma’s Mayor Outlines City’s ST3 Priorities

    On January 21st, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland outlined to Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine what Tacoma’s top 3 project priorities are for Sound Transit 3. Mayor Strickland’s ST3 priorities: Extending regional light rail from Kent-Des Moines Road to Federal Way and Tacoma Dome via I-5; Extending Tacoma Link to Tacoma Community College; and More frequent Sounder service. The Mayor appears to be making an argument for Tacoma’s ST3 projects based on a general request for geographic and social equity in regional transit investments. She goes on to urge Sound Transit to recognize that Tacoma is planning for growth in the year 2040 at a scale that no other city in the South Sound is making preparations for. These are valid arguments based in regional growth management policy and Sound Transit precedent relating to subarea equity. Tacoma Mall Light Rail dropped That being said, it seems that the Mayor has ...
  • Nov25_48-1

    Rainbows, Made For Dancing On

    Twenty-seven minutes into Sunday, but that's just for those counting at home. Broadway and East Pine is the center of the world for some, and here, where lights and faces streak through the slow-shutter filter of a thousand bustling doorways, it's still Saturday night. Listen to the clang of tongs on a concave surface, steam wafting out of industrial kitchen doorways; rich laughter from on high, the hearty, deep-throated kind, spilling out of a dance hall two floors above. Ancient wood and brick watch the world turn. A singing voice plays at half-speed, gravelly, nestled in an alley too dim and dank for touch. Young legs walk past, oblivious for now; they'll hear his tune in dreams. The sidewalks and crosswalks and plazas and roadways are littered with good cheer and revelry, as the youth reach out for Dionysus, flailing for ecstasy and touch, belonging, urges we knew in the days ...
  • Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 22.15.38

    Bridging The Gap: Fifth Avenue Contraflow Bus Lane Extension

    As part of the Yesler Way/Fourth Avenue bridge rehabilitation project, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will extend the existing Fifth Avenue contraflow transit lane by two blocks between Terrace Street and S Washington St. This will connect the two existing segments: Seattle Blvd S to S Washington St; and Terrace Street to the I-5 HOV on-ramp at Fifth Avenue & Cherry Street. The contraflow transit lane will allow buses to more efficiently move people northbound on Fifth Avenue by improving overall transit speed and reliability throughout Downtown. In addition to buses, this lane will also serve as a shared-use lane for bikes, which hopefully will mean an easier ride northbound for people on two or three wheels. Weather permitting, the project will begin around February 13th and should last approximately two weeks. New traffic signals and signs will have to be installed and the new lane markings must be painted, which require ...
  • Odin Apartments is recent addition to the Ballard rental market, which leads the city with a 17% vacancy rate.

    Solving Homelessness Is More Complex Than Just Supply

    In a recent article, I wrote about homelessness and mentioned that the building boom of new (mostly luxury) apartments hasn't positively affected One Night Count numbers yet. Apparently, this is contentious. Urbanists are supposed to only celebrate the primal economic forces of supply and demand; critiquing the market is grounds for excommunication. I'm not ready to concede the point however because it seems doubtful that the free market can address the needs of low-income Seattleites without being prodded to do so by the government. That's what HALA seeks to do. Development-friendly rezones are paired with a commercial linkages fee and mandatory inclusionary zoning in order to ensure the next wave of development includes affordable housing. Time will tell if HALA is fully implemented and if the policies are sufficient to reduce homelessness and ensure that Seattle grows as a city for people of all incomes, not just the wealthy. The ...
  • 43 on Olive Way

    Let’s Make Olive Way A Better Street For Everyone

    Capitol Hill is Seattle's most dense and walkable neighborhood. Despite this there are a number of pedestrian trouble spots which should be fixed to improve the safety and quality of the street environment. A number of them are centered on Capitol Hill's portion of Olive Way, one of the few east-west arterials that connects to Downtown. It's also a transit street and home to many apartment buildings and retail, so it's puzzling that the sidewalk conditions are so poor and that so many safe crossings are missing. Considering the upcoming Convention Center expansion and light rail station opening, this post gives the street a closer look and makes some short- and long-term suggestions for multi-modal improvements. Street Profile and the Need for Fixes Olive Way is the northernmost street in Downtown Seattle's core grid. Within Downtown it is primarily a one-way eastbound street that carries general traffic and suburban commuter buses to Interstate 5 amid ...
  • Elizabeth Kiker flyer

    Reminder: Monthly Meetup Tomorrow

    Tomorrow evening (Tuesday, February 9th) we'll be holding our monthly meetup of The Urbanist. Come on by to talk about urban issues and wade into the weeds of policy. We'll also be kicking off our guest speaker series, which features leaders in land use, housing, transportation, and politics in Seattle and beyond. We'll be joined by special guest speaker Elizabeth Kiker who is the current Executive Director of Cascade Bicycle Club. Kiker has been in bicycling advocacy for more than a decade and has been at the helm of Cascade since 2013. Her discussion will focus on bicycling in Seattle and the advocacy work of her organization to improve bicycling for all. The speech will begin around 6.30pm and Kiker will stick around afterward for one-on-one chats with our guests. Our meetups are open to all and completely free. The meetup runs from 5.30pm to 6.30pm at Belltown Pub. Find us in the loft space upstair just beyond the bar. Monthly meetups ...
  • Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 9.32.29 PM

    State Mulls New Affordable Housing Program

    The Washington State Legislature is considering a pair of bills to create a new affordable housing program, dubbed the Preservation Tax Exemption, for very low-income residents. The bills have received a warm welcome in Olympia with wide bipartisan support. If passed, they could give cities an important new tool to prevent displacement, maintain affordability, and ensure the health and safety of their most vulnerable residents. The Program Supported by the City of Seattle, the Rental Housing Association, and the Association of Washington Cities, the program would allow cities to exempt certain residential buildings and land from local property taxes for 15 years (they would still be responsible for state property taxes). To qualify, buildings would need to set aside 25% of units for renters making 50% AMI (area median income), meet certain health and safety standards, and have an occupancy rate of 90% or higher (targeting existing buildings over new ...
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