1. Opponents of a proposed cycle track (a dedicated, grade-separated bike lane) on Westlake that would link the Ship Canal Trail with South Lake Union are holding a fundraiser for mayoral candidate state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill). The Westlake Stakeholders Group is a group of businesses that opposes the cycle track because it would remove parking on Westlake and, as they put it in a recent email invitation to the Murray fundraiser, "absolutely have a devastating impact on the well-being of the Westlake Community."
The group of businesses opposes the cycle track because it would remove parking on Westlake and, as they put it in a recent email invitation to the Murray fundraiser, "absolutely have a devastating impact on the well-being of the Westlake Community."
"Now is the time to build a relationship with the man poised to replace the current Seattle mayor. Spend an hour with him over lunch (which is provided) and hear from him on how he will set a new course for the city," the invite continues. "This is a narrowly focused event. The sole focus should be around articulating the Westlake interests and the struggles (and hope) we have experienced."
We have a call in to Murray.
UPDATE: Murray says he doesn't know the specifics of the Westlake cycle tracks proposal, but says he's for cycle tracks in general.
"I support cycle tracks. I used them in Europe. If they think I am opposed, then they'll be surprised."
2. Few sparks flew at last night's Allied Arts debate between Murray and Mayor Mike McGinn, where the main topics were arts funding, the waterfront, and the future of Seattle Center. The only major points of contention centered, as usual, around transit (Murray accused McGinn of being wrapped up in "mode fetish"—a reference to his preference for light rail) and development.
Asked about the rise of small-lot houses (houses built on "substandard" lots that predate the city's zoning code), Murray—perhaps channeling his Lesser Seattle supporters like the Seattle Displacement Coalition's John Fox (and maybe his new anti-cycle track friends?)—said, "Something over the years has gone wrong with our zoning code. Obviously we haven't gotten it right. We see these huge houses ... these McMansion-type approaches, and that's something the city should step in and do something about through its zoning code."
Murray also said the city should "define where microhousing or aPodments can be. ... I think we should put density where we want density and not keep bleeding it out throughout the city."
3. The city council voted yesterday to approve a zoning change under which developer Greg Smith will build a so-called “Portland Loo” in Pioneer Square in exchange for 30 additional feet (three floors) of residential density. The public restroom, modeled on free-standing restrooms built in Portland, would be the city’s only publicly operated downtown restroom.
Council president Sally Clark, who supported an unsuccessful amendment proposed by council member Nick Licata that would have required Smith’s Urban Visions to pay to operate the restroom for 50 years, was the only council member to vote against the loo. The Pioneer Square Alliance has agreed to operate and maintain the loo for at least five years.
Clark said the deal would set a precedent of allowing developers to provide far less than what the city usually requires in the form of incentives, such as affordable housing. "I don't think it is balanced in terms of the public benefit in [exchange] for the added development capacity," she said.
Smith has suggested that if the city doesn’t give him the additional residential height, he would instead build a shorter (100-foot) office-only building.
The city estimates that operating the loo will cost about $18,000 a year—a cost council member Richard Conlin said amounted to “playing chicken with the developer and saying, we’re just going to try and see what we can get out of you.”