Mayor-elect Ed Murray made some comments to leaders of the Asian and Pacific Islander community this week that will likely raise alarms with urbanists like Mike McGinn supporters who accused him of being a NIMBY during the election campaign. (Murray, in fact, recieved an endorsement from Seattle Displacement Coalition's John Fox, an anti-development icon)
At a luncheon with API community members at the New Hong Kong Restaurant yesterday, the International Examiner paraphrases, Murray said that "Neighborhoods need to have a greater level of control over the changes that are made," and that "the city needs to look into its zoning codes and correct what hasn’t been working for Seattle’s neighborhoods"—a vow neighborhood activists could read as code for "oppose new density near single-family neighborhoods."
As for light rail, Murray told the luncheon that whoever he appoints as permanent Seattle Department of Transportation director (Murray fired McGinn's director, Peter Hahn, and appointed SDOT deputy director Goran Sparrman as interim director earlier this month), he or she will be focused on "plan[ning[ transportation in a way that integrates its effects on a neighborhood level."
He continued: “The buses can’t go away simply because we’re getting light rail.” And he concluded: “We need to look at the most efficient way and not necessarily the flavor of the moment.”
This is likely to sound like fingers on the chalkboard for light-rail fans who insist (with justification) that only fixed rail will promote permanent transit-oriented development along transit routes.
Footnote: While this might seem to confirm fears that Murray is something of a throwback Lesser Seattle type, it simultaneously disproves another charge Murray's opponents made during the campaign—namely, that he was a shill for developers like South Lake Union's Vulcan, which contributed $22,500 to a Chamber of Commerce PAC that funded a pro-Murray independent expenditure campaign.