Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. Continuing with our must-watch video recommendations, Fizz thinks you need to watch Brent Toderian, the former Chief Planner in Vancouver, BC, speaking to the Downtown Seattle Association at their annual State of Downtown Economic Forum at the Westin last week.

Toderian, a rock star in urban planning circles, is a density advocate who helped Vancouver become the envy of green urbanists worldwide for their slim buildings, downtown density, and transportation planning.

His green message hit on all the points local planners like to hear about smart growth except around the 9:50 mark when he told the downtown establishment this: "It [Vancouver's planning success] started with the most important decision we ever made in Vancouver, which was saying no to the freeways. ... Here's what it would have done to our downtown and our waterfront," he said pointing to a slide of an imaginary Vancouver crisscrossed by downtown freeways, "lobotomizing the downtown in the same way your Alaskan Way Viaduct cut off your waterfront from your city.  I think it's wonderful, by the way, that you're burying the Viaduct, it's a very important city-making decision."

So far, so good. Yay us.

The pro-tunnel Downtown Seattle Association must have regretted giving planning rock star Toderian the mike.

But then the pro-tunnel DSA must have regretted giving Toderian the mike. He went on: "I only regret that you're putting them underground and spending all that money on them instead of just getting rid of them. What we've found in our city-building is when you get rid of them, the city doesn't still just work, it works better, we are the proof of that."

 You could hear a pin drop

2. Rep. Jessyn Farrell's (D-46, N. Seattle) bill to allow public agencies to sell land to affordable housing developers below market rate got a hearing late last week with everyone from low-income housing advocates, market rate developers, and environmental groups who dig transit oriented development all testifying in full support. Farrell's legislation is partially aimed at nudging Sound Transit to sell and develop its vacant land in Southeast Seattle.

Is there a fight brewing between ST and the city of Seattle?

At the conclusion of the hearing, the chair noted a long list of people who'd signed in favor of the bill, including Seattle's lead lobbyist Craig Engelking.

ST Board member Paul Roberts, image courtesy TVW

While Sound Transit didn't formally oppose the bill, ST board member Paul Roberts did testify, noting the agency's "concerns" that ST's budgeting assumes full market value for surplus properties and that "diverting dollars away from transit" could undermine their core mission of extending light rail.

Is there a fight brewing between Sound Transit and the city of Seattle?

 3. Seattle Times reporter Andrew Garber goes a bit longer on a theme we've noted a few times now: the grousing in Olympia about the slow start that Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee seems to have gotten off to.

Fittingly, Garber's Sunday feature followed a week when Inslee held two supposedly big deal press conferences—one in regard to his jobs plan and another in regard to a leak at Hanford—both of which seemed forced and neither merited much of a jolt in Olympia. 

4. Speaking of Jolts in Olympia: ICYMI, we filed a bunch of news late Friday (including giving Inslee our reverse Capital Newsmaker of the Week. As Niki put it: "This week's newsmaker ... might be more notable for the lack of attention he received."

Also on our docket: Democrats and Republicans in the house challenged the Senate's Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus by passing legislation aimed at saving Guaranteed Education Tuition, a program Sen. Rodney Tom's MCC is going after; and an interview with Yakima Republican state Rep. Charles Ross (R-14, Naches), who broke party ranks to support a Democratic DREAM Act bill because, as he put it, "removing barriers to state resources helps all students succeed."