On Other Blogs Today
On Other Blogs Today: Density, Parking, Bus Service, and Bikesharing
Our daily roundup.
1. A recent meeting at which Department of Planning and Development staff briefed West Seattle residents on a 40-unit apartment building that will also include five parking spots (you know, the kind of apartment building that, back in the '20s, they used to call an "apartment building") predictably devolved into a "beat-down" of DPD staffers by West Seattle residents unhappy that the city is allowing a developer to build a (perfectly legal) building without a parking space for every unit.
The West Seattle Herald reports that residents who signed up at the meeting were, to a person, opposed to the new building, which they said would add traffic, create parking problems, and result in a less safe neighborhood. One speaker said the small complex, which is located in a designated urban center three blocks from the Alaska Junction, would be "a lasting scar on our neighborhood"; another said 40 new residents would create so much noise that children at a nearby school wouldn't be able to study (during the day ... when most of those residents will presumably be at work.)
How bad has Seattle's faux-populist anti-renter xenophobia become? So bad that the developer of the apartments in question, Robert Dedon, had to defend his plans by protesting that the people who will live in his apartments—AKA the new neighbors of those calling their homes-to-be a "scar on our neighborhood"—"are not paupers by any means." And hey, they may even be choosing to live without cars, instead of simply unable to afford them. Imagine that.One speaker said the small complex three blocks from the Alaska Junction would be "a lasting scar on our neighborhood"; another said 40 new residents would create so much noise that children at a nearby school wouldn't be able to study.
2. Meanwhile, in NYC, Streetsblog (which brilliantly calls parking minimums "a tax on development meant to encourage driving") reports that Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a new housing construction plan that fails to eliminate that city's archaic and expensive parking minimums—something Seattle did, on a limited scale, starting back in the 'oughts.
Developers downtown and in other center-city neighborhoods don't have to provide parking, although they usually do, due to demand—though not always, and not always as much as previous parking minimums, which often mandated one parking space per unit, required.
3. Like the workhorse Route 7, which once linked far-flung Rainier Beach and the University District but has since been divided into two very demographically distinct routes, the 7 and the 49, the Route 8, which currently links Rainier Beach to Seattle Center via Capitol Hill, will be truncated in the Central District under Metro's planned service cuts (assuming those go through), eliminating yet another single-seat connection between the city's more transit-dependent South End and the north, Capitol Hill Seattle Blog reports.
South-bound riders will instead have to make the two-mile trek from 16th and John to 23rd and Jackson.
4. Meanwhile, in Houston, some innovative planners have proposed massively increasing the city's frequent transit network—bus lines that show up every 15 minutes or less—dramatically without increasing taxes. How? As Human Transit's Jarrett Walker, who helped design the proposed new system, writes, the "new" service comes from a combination of tough choices (eliminating or reducing low-ridership routes) and obvious ones (getting rid of routes that duplicated other bus lines).
The end result: More service for every part of the city, including low-income neighborhoods as well as highfalutin ones, and everywhere else throughout Houston Metro's 1,300-square-mile service area.
5. And finally, speaking of highfalutin: Petro Public Policy reports that Citi Bike, the New York City bikeshare program, may soon become profitable. That's the good news. The bad news is that with that profitability comes the need for future profitability—and that could, ultimately, mean that bikeshare stations never get built in lower-income neighborhoods.
Instead, they'll likely continue to serve "mostly ... white, wealthy males in the most upscale parts of the city"—folks who can afford to pay for (or expense) Citibikes without thinking twice about the cost. Meanwhile, "those trying to get from Elmhurst to Flushing, or Tremont to Washington Heights" are out of luck. Sub in "Rainier Beach to Beacon Hill," and Seattle, where a new bikesharing company called "Pronto!" (formerly Puget Sound Bikeshare) will be sponsored by Alaska Airlines, and you get some idea of what could happen here.