Morning Fizz

The Fizz is Dead. Long Live the Fizz.

By Morning Fizz May 10, 2012

Caffeinated News & Gossip. Your daily Morning Fizz.

1.The avalanche of emails, texts, and calls we got yesterday from journalists, US Senate offices, Democratic HQ, discreet Republican flacks ("I'm going to miss checking up on PubliCola every couple hours, but I will be following you on Crosscut"), transportation nerds, planning nerds, friends, and Cola readers was overwhelming. (In case you missed it, PubliCola is closing shop.)

Thanks for all the heartfelt messages. They meant a lot.

Local online pioneer has some exciting expansion plans—and PubliCola's voice and daily reporting figures prominently in their new vision. We're hoping it works out.

For now, starting on Monday, you'll find Morning Fizz and Afternoon Jolt at Crosscut.

2. The city council's land use committee heard testimony and debated a controversial regulatory reform proposal yesterday that would, among other things, remove minimum parking requirements for new developments near frequent transit service, allow more street-level businesses in residential areas, and increase the number of units that would trigger environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act.[pullquote]But here's a better message: Hey Kids, take the bus.[/pullquote]

Although the committee didn't discuss the SEPA issue, they did narrow down the options for the street-level business proposal, leaving two options on the table: one that would allow new street-level businesses, but not bars and restaurants; and one to restrict new businesses to arterials).

On the parking proposal, the committee agreed that, at the very least, major institutions in urban centers and station area overlay areas will not be subject to parking minimums---the compromise proposal made by the city's planning commission.

Opponents of the small business expansion proposal argued that new storefront and home-based businesses would destroy the character of neighborhoods, create noise and parking problems, and harm existing nearby business districts. Opponents of the parking changes, of course, argued that deregulating parking for new developments would clog city streets with new residents' cars.

Watch the whole discussion here.

3. Also yesterday, the council's housing committee voted to move forward with a mandatory rental housing inspection program, with Nick Licata, Jean Godden, Sally Bagshaw, and Sally Clark voting for mandatory inspections. Apartment owners opposed mandatory inspections in favor of a system that would prioritize inspections of properties with previous violations, complaints, or exterior problems, with random inspections at the bottom of the list.

4. Armed with a driving simulator (crash!) and scary stats (*texting while driving adds 70 feet to your break reaction time; *texting takes your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds, and at 55 mph, that's the equivalent of driving the length of a football field completely blind), Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell made the case to Garfield High School students yesterday that shouldn't text and drive.

Fair enough ... One in three texting teens ages 16-17, say they have texted while driving.

But there are two sides to the texting and driving equation. As Wired editor Clive Thompson, who argues that texting is actually a valuable 21st Century trend (and driving is a 20th Century hazard) brilliantly wrote:
When we worry about driving and texting, we assume that the most important thing the person is doing is piloting the car. But what if the most important thing they’re doing is texting? How do we free them up so they can text without needing to worry about driving?

The answer, of course, is public transit. In many parts of the world where texting has become ingrained in daily life — like Japan and Europe — public transit is so plentiful that there hasn’t been a major texting-while-driving crisis. You don’t endanger anyone’s life while quietly tapping out messages during your train ride to work in Tokyo or Berlin.

Even if you don't agree that driving is increasingly antiquated, there's some wisdom worth considering here—particularly for teens. Why should driving be a priority for teens at an inner-city school such as Garfield? I don't mean to besmirch Harrell's good deed addressing what is obviously a problem ... another stat ... people who send text messages while driving are 23 times more likely to be in a crash).

But here's a better message: Hey Kids, take the bus.

5. Down-ballot in the 2012 election, six King County Superior Court justices will be retiring, stepping down, or moving on. Of those, so far, four seats are uncontested, meaning they have only one declared candidate.

Of those candidates, all are men. In theory, all six positions---two of which are currently held by women---could be taken by men, which court watchers call an unusual situation.
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