PubliCola On Other Blogs Today logo
OOBT

1. Seattle Transit Blog's post on the impact next week's partial westbound I-90 closure will have on transit riders is worth clicking on just for the hypnotizing gifs, but they also give a realistic picture of what bus riders commuting to and from the Eastside can expect while I-90 is limited to a single lane.

The short version: Stage 1 closure, roughly Friday night through the following Monday, will be "a disaster" for bus riders, who will have to share a single lane with all other vehicles, with HOV lanes completely closed. Stage 2, when HOV lanes will reopen, "will be much better" for I-90 buses.

The bottom line for bus riders: Switch to a 520 bus if possible, time trips to avoid rush hour, work from home, or ride your bike. 

(Thank God for STB. The Seattle Times, discussing the closure with its readers this week, appeared to be unware that buses exist.)

2. Real Change follows up on the news that Mayor Ed Murray has proposed saving three Night Owl (2-4am) Metro bus service that was headed for the chopping block by repurposing some $250,000 in savings from a study of Ballard-to-downtown rail.

 

The Night Owl lines may have low ridership (15 to 25 people per trip), but they serve as a lifeline for many homeless people (not to mention late-night workers); in January, King County's One Night Count found 112 homeless people riding the Night Owl lines. 

"A vulnerable population of homeless people and low-wage workers rely on Night Owl buses, and they would be harmed by losing service, even if voters restore [other bus service] by passing a transportation funding package in November."

"A vulnerable population of homeless people and low-wage workers rely on Night Owl buses, and they would be harmed by losing service, even if voters restore [other bus service] by passing a transportation funding package in November, [Transportation Choices Coalition policy director Andrew Austin] said."

3. Bellevue's Spring District (the same part of town where Sound Transit is, despite longstanding plans for transit-oriented development, considering a new 25-acre light-rail maintenance base), appears, according to a story in Crosscut, to present an object lesson in the Smart Growth Seattle theory of incentive zoning: Namely, that it doesn't provide enough of an incentive for developers to actually build affordable housing.

The idea behind incentive zoning is this: Developers either build affordable housing on-site at new developments or pay into an affordable housing fund to build affordable housing elsewhere; in exchange, they get to build taller and more densely than their underlying zoning allows. 

That's the idea in South Lake Union, and it was the idea in the Spring District, too. But as Crosscut reports, "For Wright Runstad and Security Properties, the developer of the Spring District's first 320 units, the choice was easy: There will be no affordable units in the first buildings, according to Wright Runstad. Nor are there plans to build any affordable units in the Spring District's remaining housing units."

Wright Runstad did say they might be interested in investing in affordable units if Bellevue creates a multifamily tax exemption program, which gives developers a pass on property taxes if they pay for affordable housing. In Seattle, meanwhile, city council members have the value of our own similar program. 

4. The Seattle Times reports on yesterday's city council public safety meeting, where DOJ monitor Merrick Bobb expressed confidence in Seattle's new police chief, Kathleen O'Toole, calling her "a very quick study [who is] very sensitive to these issues, understands what’s going on and has a plan" to deal with them.

Bobb's remarks came as part of his third report on SPD's progress toward meeting the requirements of a DOJ consent decree, which mandates reforms to the police department to address allegations of excessive use of force and biased policing by SPD officers. 

Seattle Met and PubliCola deliver breaking news and essential updates from around the Northwest. See an example!