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On Other Blogs Today: Fluoride, Housing, and a Setback for the Share Economy

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By Erica C. Barnett May 21, 2013



1. As Portland prepares to vote on a referendum over whether to fluoridate the city's water (Portland is one of just a handful of major US cities that don't fluoridate), the Washington Post reports on the battle over fluoridation that has raged in US cities for more than half a century. The nation's medical establishment almost universally supports fluoridation, which prevents tooth decay; opponents claim fluoride causes harmful health impacts.  

2. At Crosscut, Eric Scigliano issues a broadside on an issue that's near and dear to my Southeast Seattle-dwelling heart: Why hasn't light rail led to the kind of transit-oriented development Sound Transit planners promised? 

The short answer, according to Scigliano: City policy has discouraged private, market-rate development near light rail stations like the one at MLK and Othello, in the interest of promoting affordable housing in the future. "A little over a year ago, the city’s housing director, Rick Hooper, proudly announced to the Rainier Chamber of Commerce that it had secured a grant from HUD to secure key sites around the stations — 'to tie up property now while it’s just taking off. Eventually it will be used to provide affordable housing,'” Scigliano writes.  

And that's a problem. Growth begets growth. And as long as key sites around light-rail stations are occupied not by mixed-use developments but by vacant, hurricane-fenced lots, that growth is going to continue to be artificially stifled.

3. So much for the Share Economy: Fast Company reports that a New York State judge has ruled that it's illegal for state residents to rent out their homes for short-term stays, on the grounds that renting an apartment for fewer than 30 days constitutes operating an illegal hotel. The ruling, if it's enforced, could put a major damper on companies like AirBnB, which allow people to rent out their houses or apartments. 

4. Finally, light rail opponent and retired Boeing employee Bill Hirt has filed to run for Bellevue City Council against incumbent and prominent Bellevue developer Kevin Wallace—from the right. Wallace is himself a reluctant light-rail convert who received significant financial backing from rail foe Kemper Freeman, the Bellevue Reporter reports. 

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