Morning Fizz: A Stopgap Measure Against Qdoba
THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH INFORMATION ABOUT THIS MORNING'S OIL TRAIN DERAILMENT. Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring Capitol Hill light rail, Pedro Celis and Rush Limbaugh, coal trains, and White House honorees.
1. Sound Transit released its Request for Proposals (RFP) on Tuesday to the nine developers who qualified to build on the five properties at the Capitol Hill light rail station, a block northwest of Cal Anderson Park.
The RFP comes with all sorts of urbanist requirements defined by Transit Oriented Development (TOD) theory. The proposal must include: mixed unit size and mixed-income housing—including one property that must be all affordable (at 60 percent of median income), along with a secondary requirement that the other sites participate in the multifamily tax exemption program that provides property tax credits for various affordability schedules; commercial retail spaces; bike racks (266 stalls); parking maximums (a 0.7 stall-to-unit ratio); up-zoned heights to 85'; space for community groups to rent out for events; pedestrian pathways; stoops; space for the Capitol Hill Farmers Market; and a green streetscape along 10th (why not along Broadway?)
Bonus points will supposedly be awarded to proposals that provide more affordable housing.
We do hope ST is mindful of the community recommendation about commercial retail space "to provide incentives for developers to include flexible space that accommodates a range of sizes..."—a wise stopgap measure against Qdoba and other bland corporate chain (like the nearby Panera) nonsense that can meet the higher rents, but can't, as evidenced by the chain outlets that have flopped on north Broadway, meet the demand for indie retail.
We do hope ST is mindful of the community recommendation about retail space "to provide incentives for developers to include flexible space that accommodates a range of sizes..."
The property slated exclusively for affordable housing (Site B North, facing John) is appraised at $166 per square foot. It's a heavily discounted rate, being appraised at the 40' rate even though it's being up-zoned to 85'—freeing up money to go toward affordable housing. Cool.
However, the remaining properties, appraised from $374 to $403 per square foot, are pricey for low-income developers, impeding their ability to provide the public amenities and raising the fundamental question: If the public is funding ST (which it is), shouldn't the public be benefiting from ST's land deals?
2. Pedro Celis, the lead GOP candidate running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA, 1) in the recently redrawn U.S. house swing turf district that stretches from the Microsoft suburbs north to Canada, has made much of his Mexican-immigrant status.
[T]he way the Republicans are looking at it is that they think that Hispanic immigrants are made-to-order conservatives. For some reason, culturally, they think that they're invested in hard work. And using the Cuban exile model, they're exactly right. But the Hispanic demographic, if you will, or population, has shifted. And the Cuban exile model is no longer the dominant model. The Mexican immigrant model is. And that -- they arrive with an entirely different view of America. And I'm sorry if this is offensive, but it's true.
Exhibit B: Defending Newt Gingrich for his statement that Spanish was "the language of living in a ghetto," Limbaugh said:
In my mind, there's nothing wrong with it. I don't instinctively know what's wrong with it. There is a language of the ghetto. There is a language of the barrio. And it's not good.
Celis has made a $7,000 ad buy—"What does the American Dream look like? It looks like Pedro Celis, a man who left Mexico with nothing more than a suitcase and a bag of books..."— on KTTH, in part, alongside Limbaugh's show.
3. The Puget Sound Regional Council is coming out with a report today on the transportation and economic impacts of the controversial Pacific Gateway coal terminal proposal today.
In the PSRC's run-up announcement to today's 235-page report, they noted the controversy: "The proposed terminal is expected to generate as many as 18 additional trains per day, each 1.6-mile long—primarily transporting coal for export and returning to mines in Montana and Wyoming."
4. In related news, an oil train derailed early this morning while leaving a North Seattle BNSF rail yard. According to the city's emergency operations staff, the train, which was moving at about 5 miles per hour, was transporting crude oil through Seattle. The locomotive and three cars went off the tracks; the three oil tanker cars (one carrying sand, and two carrying oil) were not the older, more vulnerable DOT-111 model, and they didn't spill any oil, according to a statement from BNSF.
5. In case you missed it, and we're bummed that we did, earlier this week the White House announced that it was honoring a crew of "Champions for Change"—different activists across the country who have fought against income inequality.
On the list of White House honorees: David Rolf, the president of the Seattle-based Service Employees International Union 775.
Rolf's union powered the Sea-Tac campaing for the $15 minimum wage last year, organized the pivotal fast food strikes, and was key—he was the committee co-chair—in brokering the $15 minimum wage deal in Seattle this spring.
The PI.com's Joel Connelly had the news on Rolf on Monday.
Josh did a feature story on Rolf in the magazine last Februrary as the $15 minimum wage talks began, identifying Rolf, rather than Kshama Sawant, as the BMOC in the movement.