1. As the controversial environmental transit development bill, which would up-zone areas around transit hubs, was queued up to get voted out of the local government committee this morning, it faced a last-minute hurdle from an unlikely critic: Environmental champion, Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-33, Burien).
Rep. Upthegrove, who less than 24 hours earlier had helped pass a carbon cap bill out of his own environmental committee—shooting down Republican objections by saying we needed to take dramatic action to stop global warming—voted against the green transit bill this morning because it would have gotten rid of parking minimums in developments around transit hubs.
It's not that Rep. Upthegrove is against the notion of taking minimum parking requirements out of the development equation, it's that he thinks parking should be a local issue.
Rep. Upthegrove explained his objection to PubliCola:
In many cases, minimum parking requirements don't make sense, but sometimes they do on some projects at some sites. My issue is with who makes those decisions. Locally elected city councilmembers should make those decisions, and the Legislature shouldn't impose a one-size-fits-all approach on every community. [The parking aspect] of the bill is a prescriptive, top down, trampling of local control and a perversion of the spirit of the Growth Management Act. The Seattle interest groups pushing for this stuff are tone deaf to my constituents and are having the effect of eroding public support ... for legitimate efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
I think if legislators want to do zoning and parking requirements, then they ought to run for city council. I signed onto the bill because I love much of the rest of it, but will unfortunately be voting and working against it if section 8 remains. It's not an issue of being green or not, it's an issue of local control vs. state mandates...and, quite frankly, common sense.
Upthegrove, who spent most of the hearing voting against a series of monkey wrenching Republican amendments (like an amendment mandating more studies on global warming and one for building more roads), eventually voted against the bill, which was sponsored by his Democratic colleague on the committee, Rep. Sharon Nelson (D-34, West Seattle, Vashon). Conservative Democrat Rep. Larry Springer (D-45, Woodinville) also voted against the bill. Without their votes, the Democratic majority on the committee could not pass the bill. It went down 5-6.
2. The senate version of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Chris Marr (D-6, Spokane), is getting its first hearing tomorrow.
3. Don't forget, there's a public forum on the bill tonight in Seattle—6 p.m. – 7:30pm, Langston Hughes Cultural Center Auditorium,
104 17th Ave. S.
4. UPDATE: Environmental lobbyists advocating for the bill say it's not dead and amendments will be made to pass it out of committee.