On Other Blogs Today
On Other Blogs Today: Transit, Traffic, Parks, and Pot
Our daily roundup.
1. The Maple Valley Reporter has the details on the Metro funding proposal the King County Council adopted yesterday, which includes the already-planned September cuts, makes cuts in February as planned but leaves the details of those cuts up to a new ad hoc council committee, and puts off all future cuts, including those that were supposed to take effect in September 2015.
The legislation appears to simply put off the inevitable: Without additional funding authority from the state legislature, Metro has made it clear that they will have to cut 16 percent of its current bus service, although council Republicans (and one council Democrat, Rod Dembowski) are still pushing the agency to find more "efficiencies" and other spending cuts.
The legislation passed yesterday does not take into consideration the Seattle-only Metro funding measure (a 0.1-cent sales tax increase and a $60 vehicle license fee) that will be on the ballot in November.
2. Seattle Bike Blog offers some more reasons for the unconvinced to vote for the parks district proposal on the August 5 ballot. (The measure would create a new Seattle-wide parks district, governed by the Seattle City Council, that would impose a tax of 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or about $4 a month more than the expiring parks levy, to provide a permanent, sustainable funding source for Seattle parks acquisition, operations, and maintenance).
The need for parks in a city is obvious, the Bike Blog writes. Less obvious is the need for people to be able to get to parks, and for parks to be accessible to those with different levels of access and ability; not everyone, in other words, can drive their car to their neighborhood park's parking lot.
"Every home near a park should have safe and comfortable walking and biking routes so kids and adults with mobility issues can enjoy and feel invited to be part of these vital public spaces," they write. If the proposal, Prop. 1 on the ballot, passes, "the district will have the means to collaborate with SDOT on improving access to—and sometimes within—parks for people walking and biking." Rejecting the parks district means rejecting access to parks for some Seattleites, including some of the city's most vulnerable residents. So, to quote SBB again, "Vote yes on Prop. 1!"
3. Seattle Transit Blog's Martin Duke shares my incredulity at the notion that drivers who usually use I-90 to commute across Lake Washington should get a free pass on SR-520 tolls, simply because their preferred route has been narrowed to one lane this week for construction. Noting that making 520 free would actually drastically increase traffic on that route (one of the points of tolls, particularly variable tolls, is to keep traffic moving by encouraging people who don't absolutely have to use a certain route to choose another option), Duke writes,
The debate as presented [by Seattle Weekly and Seattle Times] reporters — and, to be fair, as framed by Washington State officials who are either unimaginative or muzzled – is basically that it would be great if we could grind 520 to a halt too by lifting the toll, but shucks, we still have to pay for the bridge. ...
The answer... is not to suspend the toll but raise the toll to whatever level keeps 520 free-flowing this week.
As an added bonus, the really poor people — that would be the ones on the bus — also benefit from normal operating speeds. In fact, anyone interested in a fast and inexpensive option would naturally gravitate to the choices that consume the least scarce road space, which benefits everyone.
Fortunately, people seem to have prevented this latest predicted "Carpocalypse" by doing what they always do during major road closures—stay home, telecommute, carpool, alter their driving times, take the bus, or ride their bikes.
4. Crosscut has a primer on what will happen to medical marijuana dispensaries now that recreational pot is legal. The short version: No one really knows, and local officials are looking to the state legislature for guidance.
It is unclear whether future legislation will preserve a place for dispensaries, or move medical marijuana sales into recreational shops.
"In current law there's no reference to dispensaries," [state Sen. Jeanne] Kohl-Welles said. "They're not prohibited and they're not permitted. It's a gray area."
The city passed legislation last year allowing medical marijuana stores to continue selling pot until January of this year without a state license; on Wednesday, the council's finance and culture committee will vote on a proposal to extend that exemption until July so that the legislature can come up with new rules during its upcoming session.