1. The city council's planning and land use committee dove in to a Byzantine and frankly baffling set of proposed new regulations on so-called "small-lot" developments—single-family houses built on undersized lots, those smaller than 5,000 square feet, in single-family neighborhoods—yesterday afternoon.
Unlike an earlier proposal, supported by former city council member Richard Conlin, that would have allowed houses on lots that were at least 80 percent the size of the average lot on a block, subject to height restrictions (the so-called "80 percent rule"), the new proposals would restrict houses to different sizes depending on the size of the lot they're on and the length of its street frontage, and require public notice for development on any lot smaller than 3,200 square feet, on top of a long list of other restrictions on things like height, roof angles, and number of stories.
The basic goal, Department of Planning and Development land use planner Andy McKim told the council, is to "plug perceived loopholes" in the land use code that allow houses to be built that some single-family residents feel are out of scale. (A whole activist movement has arisen to fight these houses, which tend to be tall, skinny, and modern in design.) The committee will hold a public hearing on the proposed rule changes at its next meeting on Friday, April 18.
2. Irony alert: U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA, 3), whose dismal ratings from environmental groups include a nine percent lifetime rating from the League of Conversation Voters and who recently voted 'yea' on West Virginia Republican Rep. David McKinley's (R-WV, 1) amendment to prohibit agencies from considering the social impacts of carbon in the environmental review process, lectured EPA head Gina McCarthy late last week on the green and scientific pros of classifying biomass as a renewable, carbon-neutral energy source.
"You've talked a lot about science, and I agree that science should really drive our forest policy," Herrera Beutler, who has consistently voted with the oil industry for things like the XL pipeline, says as she makes the green case for the wood products industry, a major interest in her district.
3. The GOP doesn't have a monopoly on irony when it comes to the environment.
Gov. Jay Inslee, who backed a state transportation plan that prioritized roads over transit, 90 to 10 percent, was a featured speaker yesterday at a UW conference on climate change, where he lectured the audience on how and why Washington was leading the fight against global warming.