1. The UK paper The Guardian has what may be the most comprehensive (or at least the longest) piece yet about the battle for the $15 minimum wage in Seattle, focusing, as you might expect, on socialist city council member Kshama Sawant.
The paper (a bit credulously) gives Sawant sole credit for getting the minimum-wage issue on the city's agenda, and says her "success in pressuring Seattle’s political and business establishment to accept the principle of $15 an hour has set the stage for a struggle over its implementation that looks likely to prove the hardest part yet."
Sawant played a giant role in pushing the issue—as did the Service Employees International Union 775 and the fast food strikers. But Mayor Ed Murray, who endorsed the $15 minimum wage during last year's campaign and marched with fast food workers, certainly deserves credit (as labor leaders have given him) for bringing the parties together and hammering out a deal that has won broad praise from the left.
The Guardian predicts that Seattle's "Democratic party establishment will rally around [Mayor Ed] Murray."
2. Capitol Hill Seattle Blog has a really fascinating in-depth piece on a trend we weren't aware of: Capitol Hill landlords converting their subterranean storage areas, laundry rooms and, yes, parking garages (love the symbolism in that!) into new apartments.
Providing housing in a high-demand, expensive neighborhood where many people don't own cars in the first place.
As rents climb and vacancies remain low, it's a logical decision—adding two units to a 20-unit building, as one developer is doing, will pay for itself many times over in rent, while providing housing in a high-demand, expensive neighborhood where many people don't own cars in the first place.
3. Mayor Ed Murray announced this morning that the Seattle Department of Transportation will replace the bike lane we once dubbed "the worst bike lane in the city"—the unprotected left-side bike lane on Second Avenue downtown, which puts cyclists square in the path of left-turning cars, opening car doors, and cars pulling into and out of parking spaces—with a new bike lane on Second that would be physically protected from cars.
Seattle Bike Blog has the news.
The announcement "puts the city on a much faster track to start building its downtown bike lane network than was previously discussed, and the news seemed to surprise even many bike advocacy insiders" at the Cascade Bicycle Club's annual breakfast today, where Murray made the announcement.
Could we have a new bike mayor?
4. The Puget Sound Business Journal reports on what hopeful recreational pot sellers who didn't win the state liquor control board's pot-license "lottery" plan to do next. Basically, it seems to come down to three options: Give up; try for a medical-marijuana license instead; or sue.
The lawsuits, so far, sound pretty straightforward: Businesses that didn't win an LCB license argue that the lottery was unfair, because some applicants were able to game the system by applying multiple times for the same location, and because the liquor board changed the rules midstream—eliminating a requirement, for example, that a license applicant had to secure a lease before submitting an application.
The medical route is a bit cloudier. Currently, "It remains unclear what will happen to medical marijuana in Washington," but some applicants have apparently decided to make a go of it anyway, filing for a medical license while the state sorts out how (and whether) medical pot dispenseries can operate after recreational pot stores open for business.