On Other Blogs Today
On Other Blogs Today: Bellevue, Bikesharing, and Blaring Boaters
Our daily roundup.
1. The Associated Press takes a look at what freshman Gov. Jay Inslee managed to accomplish in his first legislative session, and they're not impressed. Although Inslee touts the agenda items he and Democratic legislators did achieve—$1 billion for schools, new water protections in the Yakima River Basin, Medicaid expansion under Obamacare—the AP's list of what Inslee tried and failed to achieve is much longer.
It includes: The failed Reproductive Parity Act, which would have required insurers that provide maternity care to also cover abortions; the thwarted $10 billion transportation funding package; a failed proposal to expand background checks for gun purchases; and the unsuccessful DREAM Act, which would have given young immigrants living in the country illegally access to financial aid for college.
2. In an oddly timed piece whose headline ("You want light rail? Your home has to go") reads like anti-light-rail propaganda, Q13 Fox reports some very, very, very old news: Light rail will displace a few houses in the Surrey Downs neighborhood of Bellevue. (PubliCola reported on Surrey Downs residents' opposition to Sound Transit's preferred light rail route through South Bellevue almost exactly two years ago).
While it's uncelear why Q13 considers these complaints news now, what is clear is that residents' gripes haven't changed: They don't want to lose their homes; they fear that light rail will decrease their property values; they don't like the way a noise-abatement wall will look. Sound Transit, for its part, says it's doing everything it can to minimize the number of houses it takes and to pay fair-market value for the ones it does.
3. One big hurdle in the way of Seattle's nascent bike-sharing program is the city's mandatory helmet law, under which riders can be charged a fine of $81 for failing to wear a helmet. Today, Streetsblog reports on an otherwise alarmist AP story that mentioned, in passing, that since Citibike launched in New York City (which doesn't have a helmet law), there have been 500,000 rodes—and just three reported minor injuries. Early, but promising, data.
That reported injury rate is significantly lower than the injury rate for NYC cyclists in general—crunching the numbers, Streetsblog finds that the injury rate among bike owners is 2.5 times higher than among bikeshare riders. That, again, is despite the fact that most bikesharers don't wear helmets—a stat that Seattle officials bent on preserving a policy that's sure to dampen enthusiasm for bikesharing should consider.
4. KOMO reports that the Seattle City Council is considering a new noise ordinance to address a nuisance that isn't covered by any existing law: Boaters who blast music from their on-board stereos on Lake Washington. Currently, the city's Harbor Patrol lacks the authority to cite obnoxiously blaring boaters, but the new proposal—up before the city council Monday—would give them that authority. The bill would bring the rules on Seattle's public waterways in line with rules on, for example, public sidewalks, where blasting a stereo will get you a quick citation.
5. The AP reports that a coalition including the state teachers' union, the League of Women Voters, Washington school administrators, parents and others have sued to have the state's charter school law, which voters passed last year, declared unconstitional on the grounds that it diverts public-school dollars to private groups that are not subject to public control. Additionally, the lawsuit says the law exempts privately run charter schools from some state standards that apply to public schools, and that it takes away the school superintendent's authority to oversee publicly funded schools across the state.