PubliCola On Other Blogs Today logo
OOBT

1. The Seattle Times reports that the Seattle Department of Transportation finally, finally, finally has plans to recalibrate signal times along (incredibly dangerous) Rainier Ave. S. so that pedestrians actually have time to make it across the road before drivers jam back down on their accelerators.

Previously, SDOT's traffic-safety efforts along Rainier were limited to posting billboards (complete with a helpful URL for drivers to access from, I guess, their smartphones?) warning drivers that they really should slow down and not hit pedestrians.

One can only hope that the next step will be putting in some actual new traffic lights, so that pedestrians aren't forced to walk upward of a mile to cross Rainier legally (or break the law to cross at the avenue's many unsignaled intersections.) 

2. One stat jumped out at us in this Capitol Hill Seattle Blog post on the city's efforts to create a new strategy to provide affordable housing to Seattle's middle-and-low-income workers: At the current minimum wage ($9.23 an hour), a full-time worker would spend two-thirds of his or her income on a typical Capitol Hill studio (based on CHS' perusal of the 70 cheapest Craigslist ads for studios), or more than twice the 39 percent of income that's typically considered "affordable" under federal affordability guidelines.

Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour would make the same studio close to, but not quite, affordable by the same standards—one reason $15 proponents frequently note that even with such a substantial increase, the minimum wage still won't qualify as a "living wage" in Seattle.

13 SeaTac employees have filed complaints with the city, saying their employer is paying them substantially less than the $15 an hour mandated under last year's Proposition 1. 

3. Speaking of the minimum wage: Even a higher minimum doesn't mean much if your employer refuses to pay it. That, KPLU reports, is exactly what may be happening at an airport parking lot in SeaTac, where 13 employees have filed complaints with the city, saying their employer is paying them substantially less than the $15 an hour mandated under last year's Proposition 1. The complainants say many of the workers now make just over $10 an hour; the employer, Extra Car Airport Parking, counters that they're complying with the law. 

4. As Seattle (and many other cities) debate how, whether, and how much to regulate ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft (for a look at the regulatory hurdles facing such companies, check out this article in Government Technology), the Atlantic Cities reports on a potential alternative: What if, they write, we could optimize the taxi network in cities like New York so that people going to the same destination could share rides instead of hailing taxis separately?

According to a calculation by MIT's Sensable City Lab, 80 percent of 150 million cab trips in New York in 2011 could have been shared if riders were willing to go three minutes out of their way. 

I know Washington state isn't exactly diverse, but it's pretty astonishing that it took the state until 2014 years after the birth of Jesus to acknowledge the existence of non-Christian holidays. "That means a totally optimized taxi network in New York would produce 40 percent fewer trips, a similar drop in emissions, and far less traffic," the website reports. "That's 40 percent of all those trips that would just never need to be made." 

Obviously, there are some substantial caveats here. First, the MIT calculation assumes everyone would be willing to share a taxi with strangers, which almost certainly isn't the case. Second, it ignores the taxi industry's need to maximize profits—40 percent fewer trips translates to a much less profitable taxi industry. And finally, the study only looked at New York, the nation's most taxi-dense (and taxi-dependent) city; it's hard to know exactly how a taxi-sharing app would translate in a taxi-poor city like Seattle, but it's a safe bet that the number of potential shared trips would be much lower than 80 percent. 

5. Paging Rep. Reuven Carlyle: The Olympian reports that new state legislation, currently headed for Gov. Jay Inslee's desk, would, for the first time, allow public-school students and government officials to take two unpaid days off for religious purposes. Seriously?

I know Washington state isn't exactly diverse, but it's pretty astonishing that it took the state until 2014 years after the birth of Jesus to acknowledge the existence of non-Christian holidays.

The coalition that killed the CRC, the Oregonian notes, is now being called the "Green Tea Party" 

6. Now that the Columbia River Crossing is indubitably, decisively, and finally dead, the rail backers at Seattle Transit Blog are revisiting why they believe the new I-5 bridge linking Vancouver and Portland (which failed, in part, because Washington state refused to provide its half of the state dollars to fund it, destroying any hope of federal funds)—was a bad idea primarily, because it would have been a new "mega-highway" that would have exacerbated sprawl and put taxpayers at financial risk while diverting money from more worthy projects.

The coalition that killed the CRC, the Oregonian notes, is now being called the "Green Tea Party"—a group of unlikely allies from the fiscally conservative right and the environmentally liberal left who joined to thwart a megaproject both sides had reason to oppose—a project, in the Oregonian's words, that the coalition viewed as "a wasteful, bloated plan that was financially imprudent and promoted sprawl." 

For the latest on Seattle news and politics sign up for our Seattle Met Daily newsletter, subscribe to PubliCola’s RSS Feed, follow us on Twitter @publicolanews and @SeattleMet, and visit our News & Profiles page.