Monday, October 15, 2018

Apply to Work at The Urbanist

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Last year we conducted our first fundraising drive and saw a tremendous amount of support. We are incredibly grateful for everyone who has made donations! And we hope readers continue to donate. These donations, coupled with advertising revenue and walking tour revenue, has made it possible to hire our first paid staff member.

To make The Urbanist sustainable long-term, we’ve realized that we need paid staff and the most critical role is organizational development. To that end, we’re opening up a part-time position for an Operations and Development Manager. Read on for the job advertisement. If you’re not hunting yourself, please pass this on to folks who might be interested.

2018 Endorsement Questionnaire: Strom Peterson

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Strom Peterson (Courtesy of campaign)

As part of our endorsement process at The Urbanist, we ask candidates to complete a standard questionnaire to better understand and evaluate their positions on housing, land use, transportation, and other important issues. We share this information with our readers to help inform their own voting decisions.

This year we are considering selected candidates running for US Congress, Washington State Legislature, and King County Prosecuting Attorney. We are publishing the questionnaires in full, concluding with our official general election endorsements in mid-October.

The following questionnaire was submitted by Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds) running for Legislative District 21A, which covers Edmonds, Lynnwood, and Mulkiteo. Peterson’s opponent, Amy Schaper (R) did not submit a questionnaire.

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Rapid Fire

Do you consider yourself an urbanist?

Yes.

Do you support an income tax?

Yes.

Short Answer

How do we keep Sound Transit 3 (ST3) timelines on track given that the Trump administration is slow-walking or eliminating grants for transit projects and construction costs are skyrocketing?

I will continue to work with our federal delegation to ensure that the promised federal funding remains in tact. Meanwhile, we must continue to work with Sound Transit and all of our local communities to make sure we extend light rail to the outlying areas as promised when we voted on ST3.

What is your position on the Sound Transit car-tab tax? Would you support a plan that cuts Sound Transit’s budget?

I believe we need to readjust the car-tabs to more current valuations. While this might have budget implications to Sound Transit, we also need to take the long view and ensure the public will support transit opportunities well into the future.

New Hugo House Strives for Community and Memory

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The New Hugo House. Photo by author.

But can the soul of the old Victorian house live on in a new mixed-used building?

According to modernist architect and urban planner Le Corbusier, “A house is a machine for living in.” This philosophy unpinned his collection of essays, “Towards an Architecture,” in which he put forth an impassioned call for viewing homes (and cities) as “tools of life,” demanding a “rebirth of architecture based on function.”

As an idiosyncratic Victorian grand dame, there was probably nothing Le Corbusier would have admired about the old house that served as home to writing nonprofit Hugo House for more than twenty years.

But with its odd angles and embellishments, the building did project an aura of mystery over the east end of Cal Anderson Park, and while the cramped rooms may not have been optimal for living, the Victorian design offered diversity in shape, size, and use that was perfect for finding space to dream.

2018 Endorsement Questionnaire: Sydney Gillman Wissel

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Sydney Gillman Wissel (Courtesy of campaign)

As part of our endorsement process at The Urbanist, we ask candidates to complete a standard questionnaire to better understand and evaluate their positions on housing, land use, transportation, and other important issues. We then share this information with our readers to help inform their own voting decisions.

This year we are considering selected candidates running for US Congress, Washington State Legislature, and King County Prosecuting Attorney. We are publishing the questionnaires in full, concluding with our official general election endorsements in mid-October.

The following questionnaire was submitted by Sydney Gillman Wissel running as a Libertarian for Legislative District 36A, which covers the Queen Anne, Magnolia, and Ballard neighborhoods of Seattle. Wissel’s opponent, incumbent Noel Frame (D-Seattle) did not submit a questionnaire.

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Rapid Fire

Do you consider yourself an urbanist?

No.

Do you support an income tax?

No.

Short Answer

How do we keep Sound Transit 3 (ST3) timelines on track given that the Trump administration is slow-walking or eliminating grants for transit projects and construction costs are skyrocketing?

We don’t. We go back and do an honest cost-benefit analysis.

What is your position on the Sound Transit car-tab tax? Would you support a plan that cuts Sound Transit’s budget?

Yes. Car tab costs are irrationally onerous.

How will you leverage state resources to increase affordable housing?

I would work to eliminate needlessly limiting zoning laws and regulations to increase supply so the market would provide or the state would get more housing for the cost.

Sunday Video: Jersey City Experiments With Its First Protected Bike Lane

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In this video, Streetfilms highlights how Jersey City is experimenting with the city’s first protected bike lane to get people biking, skating, and scootering on city center streets. 

What We’re Reading: Death Nail, Lively Fences, and Showbox Saga

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Re-bridging the bay: BNSF is looking at options to replace its bridge over Salmon Bay.

Death nail: Washington’s state supreme court struck down capital punishment in the state over its disproportionate and unfair application.

Step-by-step guide: How can planners fix badly planned cities?

Crisis averted: A pipeline explosion in British Columbia nearly took many buses in Pierce County offline.

Incentivize it: Why does public transportation outside of America work better?

Lively fences: New York City is looking to pilot colorful construction walls and scaffolding.

Capping I-5: Knute Berger talks about how capping I-5 could redeem Seattle’s past.

Serious climate: Paris is leading the way on tackling climate change.

Showbox saga: The City of Seattle is requesting that the Showbox lawsuit for $40 million in damages be dismissed.

Stuck in neutral: According to experts, the federal government isn’t adequately responding to the pedestrian safety crisis plaguing the nation.

The Nathan Book

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I can still remember when the team from The Urbanist invited me on board. In true urbanist fashion we all arrived without using cars–Owen by bicycle, Ben on foot, myself by bus. The three of us took a corner table and devoured dim-sim the way college students demolish nachos. (Is there another way?) The website then had only recently grown from being just a notion, a fledgling idea in the throes of coming together.

The year was 2014, February. Come Valentine’s Day we would lose the 358 with the new shakeup, and they encouraged me to write a piece on what the 358 was like from the point of view of a driver who couldn’t get enough of it as a cultural artifact.

Of course I was excited by the invite. I’d been to the website before and was impressed, but also intimidated. My stories are mini-narratives with no data on offer about housing, transit infrastructure, zoning… they’re just about people. My posts don’t have any numbers in them. I want to be part of this, but wouldn’t I be out of place? 

That’s exactly why we need you, they said. People need to remember that after reading about mobility law, tenant rights, bus lanes, rights of way, bikeshares, density bills, pre-tax pass policies, rail alignments, fare hikes, signal investments…

It’s easy to forget that what we’re actually talking about are people. You, me. Somebody’s grandmother. And that’s what these stories remind us of, the human element. We have to remember this is all really about real people. And what does that look like, and feel like? How does it sound? That’s why the bus stories, they explained. 

I was humbled. And excited. I still am. It’s been an honor to contribute in my own small way to the beautiful collective mass of information and reflection that this website is.

If you’ve enjoyed the stories (which will keep coming–never fear!), you may know (from a previous post) that there’s a book version of them being released at a show of mine this Saturday.

But I wanted to extend a personal invite to you, The Urbanist readership and staff, because it means something important to me when the stories resonate with those of us with a passion for urban planning, politics and execution. You guys get the bigger picture, the micro and macro, the machinations behind the day-to-day interactions.  You know the size of things and the effort that goes into their being. You care about the betterment of the city and its population as a collective. And that perspective means you get a certain something out of these bus stories that is unique, steeped in the cultured context of knowledge and time.

How could I not invite you personally?

Perhaps I’ll see you Saturday. Details and location here.

2018 Endorsement Questionnaire: Frank Deisler

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Frank Deisler

As part of our endorsement process at The Urbanist, we ask candidates to complete a standard questionnaire to better understand and evaluate their positions on housing, land use, transportation, and other important issues. We then share this information with our readers to help inform their own voting decisions.

This year we are considering selected candidates running for US Congress, Washington State Legislature, and King County Prosecuting Attorney. We are publishing the questionnaires in full, concluding with our official general election endorsements in mid-October.

The following questionnaire was submitted by Frank Deisler running for Legislative District 32B (which stretches from the Broadview neighborhood of Seattle to Lynnwood) on the Republican ticket. Deisler’s opponent, Lauren Davis (D-Shoreline) did not submit a questionnaire.

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Rapid Fire

Do you consider yourself an urbanist?

Yes.

Do you support an income tax?

No.

Short Answer

How do we keep Sound Transit 3 (ST3) timelines on track given that the Trump administration is slow-walking or eliminating grants for transit projects and construction costs are skyrocketing?

By ending illegal sanctuary city and state policies, the Federal government will most likely cooperate with grants and funding assistance. More tax revenue will be available to complete the project.