Isn't It Weird That

Isn't It Weird That ...

Some weird things we noticed about the McGinn narrative, and the McGinn narrative.

By Erica C. Barnett February 15, 2013


Isn't It Weird That...

Isn't It Weird That ... Mayor Mike McGinn is proposing a new (and currently unfunded) light-rail-only bridge across the Ship Canal to Ballard, at a time when the city's existing bridges are in critical disrepair; when the county's existing transit system is on the verge of massive cuts; and when the existing Ballard Bridge remains dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians?

As McGinn rolls out his plan to speed up planning for a new transit-only bridge across the ship canal, the city is still working on seismic upgrades to the existing Ballard Bridge, and has not yet identified funding for badly needed improvements to the bridge's notoriously narrow and dangerous joint bike/pedestrian sidewalk. not being replaced

Meanwhile, according to a study by McGinn's own transportation department, the city has a road and bridge maintenance backlog of $1.8 billion, with nearly one in three bridges in such disrepair that they're candidates for replacement.

Finally, King County Metro—which, incidentally, just added RapidRide express bus service to Ballard—is looking down the barrel at service cuts of as much as 16 percent by next year.

Given all those needs (not to mention more mundane stuff like potholes and sidewalks), it's weird that a costly new light rail bridge to Ballard is still at the top of McGinn's to-do list. 

Image via SDOT.

Isn't It Weird That ... Yesterday's front-page Seattle Times story—featuring the attention-grabbing headline, "City blinks on parking rates, hours—in one neighborhood, at least"—focuses exclusively on the International District (where the city rolled back nighttime parking rates from $2.50 to $1.50, and from 8pm to 6pm), when the truth is, the city changes parking rates in neighborhoods all the time? 

The Times reports that McGinn "has agreed to roll back parking rates in the Chinatown International District a year after restaurant owners and community leaders complained that the longer hours had caused a sharp drop in business." 

While it's true that neighbors in Chinatown complained (as they did in every neighborhood where rates increased), it's incorrect to say the city only lowered rates "in one neighborhood." In fact, since the parking rates went into effect in 2011, the city has lowered rates in 14 areas, including: Ballard, Belltown, Green Lake, Roosevelt, south Capitol Hill, and parts of Pioneer Square. That doesn't make as compelling a story as "mayor bows to neighborhood pressure," but it happens (unfortunately for the Times' relentlessly anti-McGinn narrative) to be the truth.

Moreover, as I've reported, the Times never bothered to verify those complaints, which are contradicted by data showing that restaurant sales in Chinatown actually increased after the new parking rates went into effect.

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