Thursday, 18 April, 2019

Event Reminder: Sustainable Rosengård on Tuesday

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Don’t miss out on our event for Tuesday where we’ll have a presentation on Sustainable Rosengård. Paul Byron Crane, a local landscape architect with the City of Everett, will lead the conversation on Rosengård, a neighborhood of Malmö, Sweden. The story of Rosengård is unique because a small group of disenfranchised refugee women managed to ignite a neighborhood effort to create better public spaces like playgrounds, community gardens, and an enhanced town center. Through their work, the community became deeply engaged on how to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood, develop more holistic projects, and establish a sustainable Eco District. For full details, see our original event notice.

Sustainable Rosengård
Tuesday, 18 November
6pm to 8.30pm
GGLO at the Harbor Steps
1301 1st Ave #301Seattle, WA 98101
Free

For other upcoming events around the city–like the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Meetings or SDOT’s Safe Roosevelt Open House–check out our calendar and let us know if we should add others.

Saturday closure of Central Link Light Rail and Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel for system upgrades

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Rider Alert

All downtown tunnel stations and Central Link Light Rail stations will be closed on Saturday, November 15th. King County Metro will be operating replacement bus service on the surface streets.

All regular bus service that normally operates in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) will instead operate on designated surface street routings and stops while alternate shuttle bus service will be provided to serve Central Link Light Rail stations and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The DSTT and the entire Central Link Light Rail line will be closed for system upgrades to prepare for the extended service to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington, due in early 2016.

What does this mean for me?

  1. All downtown tunnel stations and all other Central Link Light Rail stations will be closed.
  2. Metro Routes 41, 71, 72, 73, and 255 heading toward Northgate, the University District, or Kirkland, respectively, will travel through Downtown Seattle via Fourth Avenue and Olive Way; heading south into Downtown Seattle, they will travel via Second Avenue.
  3. Metro Routes 101, 106, and 150 heading to their south end destinations, and Sound Transit Route 550 to Bellevue, will travel through Downtown Seattle via Stewart Street and Second Avenue; heading north into town, they will travel via Fourth Avenue.
  4. All SODO Busway service will operate via normal routes and stops.

What about getting to/from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport?

Sound Transit is providing two replacement bus services to Sea-Tac Airport: one local service (designated Route 97) and one express service (designated Route 97A).

  1. Route 97A (operated by Pierce Transit) – This route will be a direct, non-stop service between Downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport. From Downtown Seattle, it will travel westbound on Pine Street between Fourth and Third Avenues at Macy’s. From Sea-Tac Airport, it will travel northbound on International Boulevard South just north of South 176th Street.
  2. Route 97* (operated by King County Metro) – This route will be a local Service between Downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport servicing the following stations: Westlake Station, University Street Station, Pioneer Square Station, International District Station, Stadium Station, SODO Station, Columbia City Station, Othello Station, Rainier Beach Station, Tukwila Int’l Blvd Station, and SeaTac/Airport Station.

*Route 97 (Central Link Light Rail shuttle) does not serve Mount Baker and Beacon Hill stations. Bus options for those neighborhoods are as follows:

Riders from Beacon Hill and heading toward Downtown/Westlake should board Metro Route 36 northbound while riders heading toward Sea-Tac Airport should board Metro Route 36 southbound and transfer to King County Metro Route 97 at Othello Station.

Meanwhile, riders from Mount Baker and heading toward Downtown/Westlake should take Metro Route 7 northbound while riders heading toward Sea-Tac Airport should board Metro Route 8 southbound at Mt. Baker Transit Center and transfer to King County Metro Route 97 at Columbia City Station.

It should be noted that DSTT routes and the Route 97 do not make all posted bus stops along their surface street routing. Please visit Metro’s Service Advisories page to find out the routing and stops for specific routes. For more information on the closures, visit alert news releases by King County Metro and Sound Transit.

So Many Lives

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Picture 7

 

The faces you see, glancingly, across the years, are living full and storied lives of their own. Nearly three years ago I wrote: A red-faced man in construction clothing steps on through the back door at Maynard, recognizing me, the driver way up there, and shoots me a big wave, which I enthusiastically return.

That was all I knew of him then. Some guy with a reddish face and a smile.

Then, in November of 2012, he came up to the front of the bus. This is from November 26:

‘I’m gonna be a father soon,’ a Caucasian man tells me at Rainier and Brandon. He’s young, tough, with sun-scarred skin, a lot of sharp edges
and tattoos. But his voice is as gentle as can be. “Congratulations,” I said at the time.

Over a year later I saw him on the 358, clear on the other side of the county, and I recognized him instantly. With him was his girl and a baby basket. “Heeyyyy, dude!” I say. He lights up.
“Is this the new baby?”
“Yeah!” he says, still the same odd amalgam of genial roughneck. He lifts up a blanket to show me the baby, who is cute, pudgy, and sleeping. He doesn’t say too much else, but his happiness is palpable. You feel him growing into himself.

Then, last night, a scattered group was boarding at Mount Baker Transit Center.

“How’s it goi–Heeeyyy! What’s goin’ on, dude!”
It was him again. My what’s goin’ on was spoken slightly slower and with emphasis, as if to say, “it is you, and boy, has it been eons!”

He returned a silent smile, closed but wide, which on his stoic face meant, “heeeeeyyyyy!”
“Good to see you!”
Bone-crushing handshake, one stroke, up and down.
“How’s your kid?”
“Good. He’s good. Two years old. He’s big,”
“Nice,”
“And getting bigger. Birthday on the fifteenth of next month!”
“That’s so awesome! That’s fantastic!”

I wonder when I’ll see him again.

South Bellevue Final Design

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North_entry

On November 6th, Sound Transit held an open house for the final design of East Link’s South Bellevue Station. East Link is a light rail project that will link downtown Seattle to Bellevue and Overlake (home to the headquarters of Microsoft) via I-90. The South Bellevue station will be the first one in Bellevue that riders go through when traveling eastbound.

The station will feature a 1,500-stall park-and-ride, which is triple the capacity of the current one. Sound Transit expects 4,500 daily boardings at the station, which means that 3,000 people will take a bus, walk, or bike to the station. The station will also have generous bus layover space, a kiss-and-ride area, and bike cages and racks.

Bus_platform

About half of the focus of the open house was on construction. The current park-and-ride will close when construction begins–though buses will still stop at South Bellevue. As a result, Sound Transit is looking at other options for the current users driving to the park-and-ride. These include directing people to under-used park-and-rides, leasing more lots (like churches), or even creating a brand new lot–the most likely location being at Mercer Island. Sound Transit expects a mix of these options will make up for the lost parking at South Bellevue.

Utility work will also require some street closures. Bellevue Way will be reduced to three lanes between 112th Avenue SE and the park-and-ride, with an alternating middle lane that switches direction based on the time of the day (similar to the I-90 and I-5 express lanes). Some complete weekend closures are also planned. 112th Avenue SE will be reduced to a lane in each direction from Bellevue Way to SE 8th Street. However, work will be completed faster than on Bellevue Way.

BoardwalkThe other half of the open house focused on art and the station design. The sidewalks and other pedestrian paths are going to be designed like a boardwalk. A concrete path will be poured and crossed by many evenly-spaced gaps to remind people of Mercer Slough. Additional trees will be planted throughout the site, thanks to an effort from Enatai residents.

Two artists for station art were also selected, although they could not make it to the open house.

Katy Stone will be the principal artist to design the facade of the new parking garage. This art will include a large, perforated screen that covers the entire height of the garage, which is approximately 50 feet, as well as a screen on the last level. Passengers will get a glimpse of this screen from the platform or when aboard a stopped train. Both screens will consist of green tones, a nod to the park environment of the station. However, the screens will be differentiated. The top most screen will feature an image of cattails while the perforated screen below will feature an image of a weeping willow.

Garage_south

Vicki Scuri, on the other hand, will take charge of the artistic design on the station itself. Columns at the station will feature leaf images. From close up, these leaf images will be made of hexagons. The station ceiling has changed color from plain concrete to a bright orange to give more life to the station. Leaves are the focus for the screen on the platform, which superposes many giant leaves varying in shades of green. The leaves will also be made of small hexagons like the ones on the columns.

The once and future street, and how it defines us

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A week’s residency in Glasgow, Scotland returns a 2011 essay to the forefront, and its message: In the post-freeway world, recall the important, organic landscape of neighborhood, towers and spires, lost before we can remember.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 17.45.23

 

Among the more memorable aspects of my professional residence in Glasgow, Scotland this week are the readily ascertainable contexts of different streets from different eras. Dramatic contrasts emerge in a walk west from the remains of the historic, medieval High Street, across the pedestrian shopping promenades of Buchanan and Sauchiehall Streets, to the channeled traffic and amplified sounds of the M8 motorway system that transformed Charing Cross.

It’s a walk worth taking, as shown above, for a ready reference to the ebb and flow of the urban land use and transportation relationship over time.

Most importantly, this walk from High Street to the M8 provided new relevance for some of my earlier essays. While written for general applicability, the one reproduced below (posted both here and in The Atlantic in September, 2011) seems particularly relevant.

 

Some of the best thoughts about tomorrow’s urbanism come from yesterday’s observations.

A case in point is a quick-read essay entitled “The Discovery of the Street,” by J.B. Jackson (1909-1996), one of the twentieth century’s most noted commentators on the American landscape.

Jackson tells us what is organic, wondrous and ethereal about life in cities, through a bittersweet history of public space, from medieval markets to the modern freeway.

No matter that the Jackson piece is “legacy” in form and only partially internet-accessible (preview here in Glazer and Lille, The Public Face of Architecture). Jackson’s classic writing spins a most relevant story, an ambiguous tale about the raison d’être of today’s urbanism: reclaiming the human and natural systems which underlie the city, as first principles of urban reemergence from within, rather than sprawl to afar.

According to Jackson, likely writing in the 1970’s, the symbol of the modern city is a collection of streets as seen from above, a mere “cartographic abstraction” of implied richness, because the bird’s-eye relationship between public byways and private space is how we now understand urban areas. In contrast, Jackson described the foundational and compact, vertical city of towers amid a landscape perceived by the medieval resident of long ago—who did not need to understand public streets and spaces—while living a straightforward human and animal-propelled life of short journeys to work, church, market and neighbors.

The medieval, vertical city, however imperfect, was represented by an idealized symbol of the divine (a religious construct), “miniature versions of a celestial prototype: a walled city divided by two intersecting streets into four quarters.”

Jackson’s essay came to mind in my recurring legal work over the past few years addressing responsibility for environmental cleanup and the nature of public and private ownership as related to highways, arterials, streets and alleys, and associated advocacy about who is fiscally responsible for assuring public safety adjacent to private places. I had consulted his work frequently long ago, in the context of my Master’s thesis and a later book chapter I wrote on neighborhood planning, summarized here.

His masterful narrative focuses on the 11th century, and how laws, which once regulated classes of people (e.g. feudal lords, citizens, traders and merchants), evolved to regulate places. From the dawn of the geographically delineated, regulated marketplace through the evolution of transportation technology, advances such as the harnessing of multiple horses and pivoted front wagon axle resulted in the surrounding city taking on a different shape. Jackson recounts how forms of public assembly further developed, and streets and squares changed to accommodate both commerce and necessary vehicular space. Land became a commodity as lots to be created, measured and taxed, with buildings to be designed and regulated:

Almost at once the town authorities recognized the street as a versatile tool for exerting control. In one town after another ordinances regulated the height of buildings, the pitch of their roofs, even their design, which had to be suited to the social standing of the occupants. City building plans were detailed… In the additions to existing towns the dimensions of the lot were prescribed, and all houses were taxed on the basis of frontage. The fact that each house owned half the width of the street in front of it encouraged each business or each household to expand its activities on to the street and to use the space for its convenience. As a consequence the civic authorities legislated questions of health and safety….

People learned to perceive a new kind of public space where previously there had merely seen a succession of alleys and passageways, a crooked interval between houses. Now they discovered a continuous space with a quality—and eventually a name—of its own…

The main point for invoking Jackson today, is that in order to achieve a successful city—a place of congregation in the social science, rather than religious sense—we must understand the backstory of organic human association. We must further honor Jackson’s inquiry as to why stones and huts—density based on human association and interdependence—evolved into public and private spaces with the associated loss of a human scale.

As his essay concludes:

It was in this tentative and almost unconscious manner that the street in our European-American model began a career that became increasingly spectacular and then culminated in the freeway. Imperceptively and over many generations our vision of the city shifted from the cluster of towers and spires to the perspectives of avenues and streets and uniform-sized lots. The celestial model, never easy to discern in the dark medieval spaces among stone walls and crowded huts, has been at last forgotten; the map, the diagram, the coordinates are what help us to make sense of the city.

In my view, Jackson’s subtle synopsis ends with an ironic, yet nostalgic judgment of a milquetoast, mapped reality, He implies missed opportunities to create more ideal, scaled spaces which look across and upward rather than down from above.

Jackson might have spoken more directly, but, in my opinion, he invoked a laudable, now familiar challenge to the post-freeway world—to recall the importance of the organic landscape of neighborhood, towers and spires lost before we can remember.

Images composed by the author in Glasgow. Prior photos also composed by the author in Seattle and in Fayence and Annecy, France. Click on the images for more detail. © 2009-2014 myurbanist. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy.

Community Transit proposes significant service changes for 2015

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Community Transit (CT) is proposing significant service changes for 2015 that includes 27,000 new service hours for the network. The agency is proposing to bring Sunday and holiday service back while adding more hours to weekday and Saturday service. This is no doubt very welcome news for riders in Snohomish County.

From 2009 to 2012, the agency was faced with hard decisions because of the Great Recession. 37% of service (160,000 service hours) had to be cut with multiple rounds of service reductions. Sunday and holiday service were eliminated, span of service trimmed, and routes deleted. With the economic recovery in full swing, sales tax revenues have been increasing quickly allowing the agency to add 13,000 service hours in 2013 and 7,500 service hours in 2014. CT also plans to add 7,000 new service hours annually from 2016 through 2019. Even with these service increases, the agency will still be 87,000 service hours short of its peak level of service in 2009.

So what are the proposed changes?

Community Transit Sunday NetworkThe 27,000 service hours will be split into primary categories: Sunday/holiday service and weekday/Saturday service. The agency proposes to spend 18,000 service hours on Sunday and holiday service while a further 9,000 service hours will go to weekday and Saturday service.

Sunday and holiday service will return on June 7, 2015, which means that the agency will be able to operate a 365-day service for the first time since February 2010. Precise schedules have not been established yet, but as you can see from the proposed network map on the right, Snohomish County will have a fully functioning Sunday and holiday service with a strong hub-and-spoke focus on Everett and Lynnwood.

16 routes are proposed to operate on Sunday and holidays, which essentially mimics the Saturday network–with the exception of Routes 115 and 201. The span of service is route dependent, but the overall network is anticipated to operate from 6.45am to 9.30pm. And, the preliminary frequency for routes will fall into three categories:

  • Every 20 minutes: Swift
  • Every hour: Routes 101, 105, 112, 113,116, 119, 120, 130, 196, 202, and 220
  • Every two hours: Routes 222, 240, 271, and 280

Community Transit designates six major holidays that it will operate: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day–Independence Day will be the first holiday that it operates under the new service plan. DART service will also be added and cover the same areas as fixed routes and schedules.

The new Sunday/holiday service is similar in geographic area as the previous one from 2009. However, the new scale of service is about 65% of the old with fewer routes operated. Community Transit will add additional service hours–as they become available–to Sunday service with the goal of having a consistent “Weekend Service” for both Saturday and Sunday.

The remaining 9,000 service hours will go toward weekday and Saturday service. Additional weekday trips to improve frequency and span of service will be focused on Routes 105, 112, 113, 115, 116, 119, 120, and 196. Commuter routes will also see a boost for a few peak-hour trips on Routes 412, 413, and 860. Meanwhile, Saturday will be focused solely on added span of service for Routes 105, 113, 115, 116, 130, 201, 202, 222, 271, and 280.

Fare increase

Community Transit Fare ChangesRiders may not be so keen on a fare increase, but Community Transit is proposing one for 2015 in order to match increased costs and inflation. Adult fares for local and commuter routes would each increase by $0.25. DART paratransit, regardless of age, would also see fares raise $0.25 to $2.25. All other fare categories would remain unchanged. Fare increases are proposed to go into effect on July 1, 2015.

Route modifications proposed for 2015

Community Transit is proposing three route revisions, one route deletion, and one route addition. All four route modifications take effect in June 2015.
Highway 2 Service Changes

Service along the Highway 2 corridor is proposed to be restructured. This will help improve reliability, reduce transfers, increase coverage, and all-day service. Currently, Routes 270 and 275 serve the Highway 2 corridor. Route 270 provides service between Gold Bar and Everett with local stops between Gold Bar and Monroe and limited stops between Monroe and Everett. Route 275 essentially fills in the gaps by providing local stops from Monroe to Everett via Snohomish.

However, as part of the restructure, Route 275 would be deleted. A new Route 271 would be added in its place to provide better coverage to Monroe. New Route 271 would operate with limited stops from Gold Bar to Monroe and local service from Monroe to Everett. This service would operate seven days a week. Meanwhile, Route 270 would operate as an “express” service on weekdays from Gold Bar to Everett in the peak direction, morning and afternoon. Combined headways of Routes 270 and 271 would create a 30-minute frequency on weekdays to and from the Monroe Park & Ride.

Revised CT Route 270 New CT Route 271

Route 222 Revision

Route 222 is a local route serving the Tulalip Indian Reservation and Marysville. Its central focus is linking riders with neighborhoods and local shopping/employment centers like Quil Ceda Village and downtown Marysville. However, the routing is indirect and slightly like spaghetti. Community Transit is proposing to simplify the route by deleting the 4th Street-64th Street alignment west of 67th Avenue. Instead, Route 222 will proceed along Highway 528 to and from Highway 9 near the Walmart.

Revised CT Route 222

Route 280 Revision

Route 280 is a local, all-day route servicing the communities of Granite Falls, Lake Stevens, and Everett. Currently, the route provides limited stops between Granite Falls and Lake Stevens while the remainder of the route provides local service between Lake Stevens and Everett Station. Community Transit is proposing to extend the route to Boeing’s Paine Field plant for two morning and two afternoon trips. For these trips, one morning trip would begin in Granite Falls while the other would start in Lake Stevens. In the afternoon, the return trip pattern mimics the morning: one would terminate in Lake Stevens while the other would end in Granite Falls.

Revised CT Route 280

Get involved

Public comments on all proposed service changes (including the fare increases) are open from now through January 9, 2015. You can contact Community Transit directly via e-mail at 2015changes@commtrans.org and/or meet with staff. Four public meetings will be held throughout Snohomish County from November 19th through December 11th:

Wednesday, November 19
6pm-8pm
Marysville YMCA, Pilchuck Room
6420 60th Drive NE, Marysville, WA 98270

Thursday, December 4
4.30pm-7:30pm
Mountlake Terrace  Library
23300 58th Ave W, Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043

Wednesday, December 10
10am-2pm
Everett Station, Weyerhauser Room
3201 Smith Ave, Everett, WA 98201

Thursday, December 11
4.30pm-7.30pm
Snohomish County PUD, Monroe Office
120 E Fremont, Monroe, WA 98272

At the end of the comment period, the Community Transit Board of Directors will hold a public hearing on all proposals. The Board will meet at 3pm on Thursday, January 8, 2015 in the Community Transit Board Room (located at 7100 Hardeson Road, Everett, WA 98203). If you feel like attending that, you can take transit to get there by using Everett Transit Route 8.

ICYMI: New York City Implements ‘Vision Zero’

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Vision Zero Ad

Last week, New York City’s citywide standard speed limit dropped from 30 mph to 25 mph under a policy dubbed “Vision Zero“. About 95% of streets in the city had previously been designated 30 mph, so this represents a huge shift in speed reduction for New York. Every year, New York streets see approximately 4,000 people injured and 250 people killed in traffic-related accidents. But, dropping the speed limit by 5 mph increases survivability of pedestrians by almost double. Serious injuries and deaths for drivers and passengers also plummet. Vision Zero isn’t just about reducing injuries and deaths through speed limit changes. Safe street design implementation, education campaigns, and active policing are parts of the overall policy effort.

Survivability

In Seattle, we have standard arterial speed limits of 30 mph, residential street speed limits of 25 mph, and alleyway speed limits of 15 mph. Many streets in the city, however, exceed these standards by generous amounts. And, I noted last week, we have some bad street designs that could be improved.

It isn’t just Seattle that has a speed and safety problem. Plenty of suburban jurisdictions and other cities in the Puget Sound that have even higher permitted speeds for comparable streets and incredibly dangerous street designs. It’s an unfortunate problem, but one that’s entirely self-made and solvable. Given the recent spate of serious traffic collisons in Seattle, I think it’s time that we talk about pursuing our own set of Vision Zero policies to eliminate traffic-related deaths.

Introducing “Seattle in Progress,” a mobile web app for engaging Seattle in planning and development

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SeattleInProgress_map_logo

 

[Update: Seattle in Progress is now at www.seattleinprogress.com. The links below have been updated.]

I pass construction sites every day — it’s hard not to in Seattle — and every time I do, I wonder what’s being built. This question started to bug me more and more: in an era of rapid growth and enormous neighborhood interest in directing that growth, why isn’t it easier to get a clear picture of what’s being planned and built at any particular site? There are land use notice signs, but they give little more than an aerial outline of the building and are quickly covered in graffiti. The City publishes design proposals from the architects, but they’re burried in the depths of the City’s website, where few outside the official planning process will ever see them.

noticeboard_v_rendering

Two views of the same development. Left: Land use notices give you little sense of the project. Right: Design proposals are full of information and visuals, but neither the city nor the builder make any effort to bring public attention to them.

Seattle in Progress is my answer to this problem. It’s a mobile web app that informs and engages residents in local land use and building design decisions. All the basic information about a planned building is available with a single click on a map. And detailed design proposals can be viewed quickly and easily.

Here’s an example of the basic functionality of the app, showing the map view, a project description and a rendering from the design proposal:

 

screenshots

Left: Pins show every project that’s gone before a design review board recently. Middle: Clicking on a pin reveals basic information about the project, such as number of stories and units. Right: Clicking the thumbnail lets you flip through each page of the design proposal.

 

Give Seattle in Progress a try on the desktop or your phone at http://www.seattleinprogress.com/. Or use the shortcut http://nprgr.es for less typing on a phone. You can also receive notifications of upcoming development projects by following us on Twitter, @seattle_nprgres.

I’ve been using the app to learn more about my neighborhood, and I’m always discovering interesting developments:

Learn about planned re-builds long before construction starts: The Value Village building on 11th and Pine.

Linda’s Tavern will be surrounded by the new 714 E Pike building.

First Hill is getting a new high-rise to rival First Hill Plaza.

Seattle in Progress is just getting started. Looking forward, there are two big features coming soon. First, you’ll be able to follow specific projects or whole neighborhoods and receive email updates on any new activity or change in project status. You could, for instance, ask to be notified of any new construction or demolition within a mile of your house. Second, there will be more emphasis on voicing your opinion. There will be notices of upcoming public meetings and the ability to directly submit feedback to the design review board.

I’d love to get feedback on the app, or just general ideas on how technology could increase public awareness and participation in urban planning. I’m curious what professionals in the field–developers, architects, urban planners, contractors, real estate agents and others–wish technology could do for them. And I’m curious what interested residents, neighborhood activists, journalists and bloggers would like to see.

If you like Seattle in Progress, please follow us on Twitter, @seattle_nprgres, and help spread the word. You can send any feedback or suggestions to ethanpg@seattleinprogress.com.