1. Microhousing—apartments smaller than the standard-ish studio size of about 400 square feet, featuring kitchenettes and communal full kitchens—are controversial in Seattle (witness the recent complaint by neighborhood residents against the new housing option, which was shot down by the city's Department of Planning and Development). But they're catching on in Vancouver, B.C., where, the Vancouver Sun reports, the mini-lofts "could be the answer to Vancouver's housing crisis."
In Vancouver, as in Seattle, rents are rising at stratospheric rates. Micro-apartments—starting at around 300 square feet—are an affordable alternative, with rents ranging from $400 to $800 a month. The units feature space-saving features such as Murphy beds, fold-out dining tables, and under-counter fridges, and the developers cater mostly to millenials and retired folks who want to live in the city without the need to own a car (another aspect of microhousing, which often doesn't include parking, that has been controversial in Seattle.)
2. Food Safety News, the blog run by local food-safety guru Bill Marler (the guy who busted Jack In the Box back in 1993 and PubliCola's patron in late 2008), reports that Seattle and King County have agreed—after what was apparently a hot debate between consumers and restaurants—to publicly post restaurant inspection ratings on the outside of restaurants, as New York City does, by the end of next year.
The goal, King County's food protection manager told the blog, is "to have useful, understandable and accessible information that will give a true picture of a restaurant’s food-safety and cleanliness practices over time."
3. Here's a helpful reminder from Cascade Bicycle Club that bike riders aren't the only "vulnerable users" on the roads: Pedestrians and wheelchair users are also vulnerable not just to drivers but to folks riding bikes, so it's important for cyclists (especially on shared-use paths like the Burke-Gilman Trail) to make room for those folks and not intimidate them by passing too closely.
As their signs say (and as our former BikeNerd Josh Cohen pointed out four years ago), "Could you touch the person you just rode past? Slow down and give more space!"
4. Self-appointed civic curmudgeon Joel Connelly at the PI.com argues that the city should adopt a minimum wage that allows employers to pay less than that minimum if their employees receive tips or if they pay for things like health care, commissions, and "other enticements" such as discounts on meals, vacation time, or paid sick time off.
When you get a job offer, your employer doesn't say, "We're offering you $45,000—$30,000, plus health care, paid sick leave, and the free food that's left over in the fridge."
They offer you a pay rate, and any vacation time or sick time you negotiate (and, it should be noted: Sick time is actually mandatory in Seattle, and health care is now mandatory in the U.S.) is on top of what you make.
Why should restaurants, nonprofits, and other businesses (the new OneSeattle Coalition represents many organizations besides small businesses and local restaurants, and is seeking special credits for many workers who aren't tipped workers) be exempt from this basic rule? Of course they'd like to pay their employees less. But that doesn't mean we should let them get away with it.
6. Finally, in his latest (wonderfully wackadoo, and obviously tongue-in-cheek) video, rental-market guru Mike Scott of Dupre+Scott is super pissed about the Academy of Country Music Awards this year. As he notes,
First we were thrilled when four of the nine movies nominated for best picture at the Oscars were specifically about apartment trends in the Puget Sound region. But it was a huge letdown when we saw that none of the country music nominations had anything to do with apartments. Even worse, Toby Keith wasn’t even nominated for his brilliant discussion about Seattle development trends in his song.
There's also a lot of stuff in the six-minute video about the number and size of apartments that are being added, and are likely to be added, in Seattle, if you're interested.