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On Other Blogs Today: Vicious Cycles, Woonerfs, and Views

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By Erica C. Barnett May 6, 2013



1. Vicious cycle? Self-fulfilling prophecy? Whatever it is, KING 5 reports that cities in Pierce County are thinking about pulling out of the Pierce Transit system now that years of cuts have decimated service and reliability.

Losing sales tax revenues from cities like Fife (home to many car dealerships upon whose sales taxes Pierce Transit depends) and Puyallup would force more cuts to the system, which would damage service and reliability, which would prompt more cuts to the system. 

2. Three things we learned from this week's New York Times story about the growing popularity of woonerfs, the Dutch word for streets that are shared by pedestrians, cyclists, and cars: 1) "Woonerf" is pronounced "VONE-erf"; 2) The NYT has a section called "Motoring"; and, more importantly, 3) Areas that were converted to woonerfs saw, on average, a 40 percent reduction in traffic accidents.

In Seattle, the closest thing to a woonerf, something Mayor Mike McGinn talked about on the campaign trail back in '09, is Pike Place Market, where jaywalking is legal and cars move at a speed of about 3 mph.  

3. On his blog, Mayor Mike McGinn takes credit for the city council's vote today to pass "our proposal to rezone the South Lake Union neighborhood to support more jobs and housing."

Well, not exactly.

As we've reported, the council adopted some fairly dramatic changes to McGinn's initial South Lake Union upzone proposal, starting with the amount developers like Vulcan must provide in affordable housing dollars for each additional square foot of density. They also lowered maximum building heights along the South Lake Union waterfront to protect views—hardly the unilateral win McGinn describes in his blog post. 

4. On his blog, Roger Valdez (of Smart Growth Seattle, which promotes small-lot development) makes a cogent point about Seattle's housing debate that I've never heard put quite this way before: While deciding where to live is obviously a choice that everyone has to make, only in Seattle, it seems, do we spend so much time debating where and how other people live.

It's both an interesting reframing of the debate over density and an important point to keep in mind going into tonight's discussion over micro-housing: People who don't want micro-units, or aPodments, in "their" neighborhood, despite the fact that they aren't being forced to live in microhousing, are in effect objecting to other people's preferred housing options. 

5. According to the state Office of Financial Management, deaths from firearms (mostly suicides) exceeded deaths from car crashes in Washington state last year for the first time since 1934, the Columbian reports. The news comes at a time when lawmakers around the country are debating whether to impose additional restrictions on gun sales such as universal background checks. 

6. Deadspin reports that the NBA apparently got an even sweeter deal than previously thought from the Sacramento Kings, whose prospective owners apparently agreed to accept fewer revenue-sharing dollars while the team continues to play at Sleep Train Arena (!!) and to take no money at all once the team moves into a proposed downtown arena. 

In other Sonics news, the News Tribune reports that despite last week's setback, Sonics Guy—AKA Tacoma's Kris Brannon—is hopeful that Seattle will get an NBA team of its own. "It could be another team, it could be expansion," Brannon says. "I just have faith in the process."

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