Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. Neighborhood activists and density proponents lined up last night at a special city council planning committee meeting to testify for and against a proposal to create a new city zoning overlay called "transit communities"—areas within a ten-minute walk of frequent transit service. The new overlay would replace "station area overlays," which only encourage density around light rail stations, but don't extend to things like frequent bus service, jobs, retail, housing, and parks.



The entire Planning Commission, which is proposing the amendment, showed up (in matching t-shirts that said "Seattle Transit Communities" with a a map of the city's major transit lines) to support it—and to debunk what they called some misconceptions about the proposal that opponents have siezed on to say the idea would unfairly allow more density in single family zones.

"Let me just say that a transit community is not any old place with a bus stop," commission chair David Cutler said. "The proposed methodology sets a very high threshold of very frequent bus service, plus land uses. … This would not rezone any land. It's a guiding document."

The entire Planning Commission showed up to debunk what they called some misconceptions about the proposal.

Neighborhood activists, however, were undeterred, arguing in their testimony that the plan would flood single-family neighborhoods with new residents while failing to improve transit service.

Irene Wall, representing Phinney Ridge, told the council, "We don't have the transit capacity, we don't have the funding in place, and we don't see it [coming] in the future. … We should focus on Link Light Rail."

And she suggested that the places that really should take more growth are outside the city, where "our real investments in transit" are happening.

2. Here's a Fizz theory about why the Republicans in the state senate didn't, curiously,  pass a couple of pro-business bills—1) a bill Fizz refers to as the "reverse offset bill," which would have allowed utilities to meet a lower threshold on the voter-approved renewable energy mandate by buying ... coal;  and 2) a bill to fast-track heavy gravel mining on Hood Canal.

Olympia gets pretty sexy at cutoff time!

The environmental community hated the bills and in order to pass the bills, the Republicans needed a few members of the Democratic caucus to go along with them so that moderate members of the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus such as Sens. Steve Litzow (R-48, Mercer Island), Joe Fain (R-47, Kent), Andy Hill (R-45, Kirkland), and Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina)—who need green cred in their suburban Seattle turf—were freed up to vote against it.

However, after doing a little oppo, the MCC found out that the Democrats—even the labor Democrats who'd gotten orders from the unions that they'd better support the bills—were locked up against the bill in a bigger picture strategy to jeopardize Litzow and Tom's status with their constituents come election time. (Litzow does not want to be on record supporting coal.) Well played.

Or ... double cross ... maybe the Democrats hadn't actually locked up their labor colleagues (and really knew the bill could have passed without Litzow et al), but floated some bad intel the GOP's way for the next best option: Killing the bills. 

Olympia gets pretty sexy at cutoff time!

3. Yesterday's installment of "Isn't It Weird That" went up pretty late. We tried something new, polling lobbyists, legislators, and sources in Olympia to tell us the weirdest things they'd noticed about the legislative session so far as we hit the halfway mark with policy cutoff this week.

Isn't It Weird That

We got a lot of responses, but none as good as the zinger we received from one canny Republican.

Check it out.

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