Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. An intriguing green vs. green debate has started up between advocates for bicycle and pedestrian advocates and environmental activists about the the new SR 520 bridge: bike and ped advocates want to assure access and environmental advocates (and neighbors) want to decrease the size of the bridge itself.

The bike and pedestrian crowd are arguing for a bridge that could be as much as 16 feet wider than called for in existing plans and would include a shared-use path between Portage Bay and Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, neighborhood and environmental advocates are arguing that the state department of transportation (WSDOT) should keep the new bridge as narrow as possible to reduce the impact on the neighborhoods on both sides of the bridge and on marine life, such as salmon, that are impacted by things like runoff and shadows.

In addition to submitting hundreds of public comments, bike and pedestrian advocates showed up in force at yesterday's City Council public hearing to advocate for the separated path.

"Leaving it out of the design will leave Seattle with another Missing Link legacy to deal with," said Bicycle Advisory Board chair Max Hepp-Buchanan, referring to the "Missing Link" of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard.

The council will meet again to discuss the 520 bridge design in late January.

2. Speaking of testimony, the King County Council also heard from environmentalists yesterday regarding two proposals backed by Republican member Kathy Lambert that would allow development beyond the current Urban Growth Areas dictated by the Growth Management Act.

It wasn't just environmentalists who testified against the plan, though. Labor joined in. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 spoke against the proposal.

One plan, around Snoqualmie, would allow retail development in protected land. Futurewise Program Director Brock Howell told the council yesterday to reject the plan: "The law requires adjustments to the UGA boundary only be allowed after a comprehensive analysis shows that the existing urban area is inadequate to meet our population projections. The county’s analysis for this proposal shows it’s unnecessary [true—editors]. That’s why the earlier county committees have rejected it.  Now we need the council to follow."
 
And referring to planned meetings between King County Executive Dow Constantine and Snoqualmie city leaders that Howell believes already give the green light to expansion, leaving only the scope of the development in question, he added: "This proposal would send the Snoqualmie proposal to a back-room, unaccountable process with a pre-determined outcome led by special interests—instead of the data."

It wasn't just environmentalists who testified against the plan, though. Labor joined in. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 spoke against the proposal because by "retail" the plan reportedly means non-union big box stores such as Wal-Mart.

The other proposal on the table would allow developers in Sammamish to build housing on protected rural land.

The council may vote as early as next week. We'll keep you posted.

3. Following up on yesterday's Jolt, where we reported another casualty in local public affairs programming—KCTS 9 Connects with Enrique Cerna aired its final show on November 9—we heard from KCTS spokeswoman Hilda Cullen, who reports that Cerna will still be hosting and reporting for the public TV channel.

And she added:

"We’re currently in the process of developing and fund-raising for a new public affairs series. We recognize the decline in in-depth journalism, and are committed to providing insightful public affairs programming. We have an on-going partnership with InvestigateWest and are developing some new partnerships which will play a big role in our public affairs initiatives. We expect to announce a new Northwest arts and culture program soon, with an announcement about our new public affairs coverage following in the new year."

4. Here's one that belongs on the PubliCalendar: City Hall will open on December 9 to same-sex (or opposite-sex) couples who want to get married, after Washington State voters passed one of the nation's first marriage-equality laws.

Couples who wish to marry need to obtain a marriage license from King County (or whatever county they live in) on December 6 and RSVP to the city by December 8; weddings, which will take place in the lobby of City Hall, start at noon. 

5. And here's the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Tent City 4, a majority of whose residents opted to split from their parent group, SHARE, over SHARE's refusal to agree to weekly sex-offender checks (a SHARE resident under investigation for child sex abuse was arrested at the group's encampment in Kirkland last month): Dissident Tent City 4 residents, now organized as Camp Unity and living at a different church in Kirkland, have written a letter defending several advocates for the homeless who SHARE described in a blog post as "connivers" with personal "beefs with SHARE." 

"To denigrate such upstanding volunteers shows a lack of true care by SHARE for their supposed mission," the Camp Unity volunteers write.