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On Other Blogs Today: Too Much Parking, Tiny Houses, Renters' Rights, and More

Our daily roundup.

By Erica C. Barnett July 29, 2013


1. As part of an ongoing series profiling the nine candidates in the Seattle mayor's race, the Seattle Times' Alexa Vaughn profiles planner Kate Martin, and, separately, "long-shot" candidates Mary Martin, Joey Gray, and Doug McQuaid.

Over the past week or so, the Times' five other election reporters covered the higher-profile candidates, including Mayor Mike McGinn.  

2. Speaking of ongoing series: Sightline has been doing a killer job documenting the perils and pitfalls of parking requirements—regulations that force developers to build parking even if it isn't necessary or won't be used. Today, Sightline director Alan Durning sardonically celebrates the fact that big-box stores offer acres of wide-open space for him to teach his adult kids to drive—thanks to parking spots that no one wants but that land-use codes so frequently dictate. 

For example, in the suburbs outside Seattle, codes dictate that developers provide, on average, about 0.4 parking spaces per dwelling more than residents actually use—a stunning disparity between supply and demand. That may not sound like much, Durning writes, but extrapolate it out to the regio,'s approximately two million apartments, and you're talking about 800,000 unused parking spaces—spaces that cost thousands to build and add to the cost of housing. 

3. How's this for a better use of a parking space? Earthfix profiles a new, three-unit hotel in Portland (of course) where you can spend a night in a tiny house (between 90 square feet and 160 square feet for the "mansion," which sleeps up to four.) Although they serve as a hotel, all are designed to be lived in permanently. In one, you have to move the bedroom stairs to sit at the kitchen table; in another, the toilet shares a space with the bathtub. Still, at $125 a night, we'd happily give any one of them a spin. 

4. The Seattle Tenants Union has answers to its candidate questions—submitted by TU Facebook followers to all the mayoral candidates—about tenants' rights. Their verdict: In a questionnaire where a "yes" represented a statement in favor of the TU's position on tenants' rights, four candidates (Peter Steinbrueck, Mike McGinn, Joey Gray, and Ed Murray) came out on top with six "yes" answers and one "maybe," while the rest of the nine candidates either answered "yes" fewer times than the top four (Mary Martin, Kate Martin) or didn't respond to their questions (Bruce Harrell, Charlie Staadecker, and Doug McQuaid).

Harrell is running as the social-justice candidate. Asked why he didn't respond to questions from one of the city's leading social-justice groups, his campaign spokeswoman Monisha Harrell says the campaign wasn't able to respond on the TU's tight deadline.

Asked why he didn't respond to questions from one of the city's leading social-justice groups, his campaign spokeswoman Monisha Harrell says the campaign wasn't able to respond on the TU's tight deadline.5. ¡Ay! Seattle Globalist reports that King County Metro is having to say lo siento to the area's Spanish-speaking community, after printing up bus schedules that included major translation errors, including two routes for which schedules stated, inaccurately, that no buses would be running on holidays or weekends.

(They were supposed to say that the Sunday schedule would apply on holidays.) Although Metro has since clarified on its schedules that buses will continue to run holidays, "the weekend error still remains uncorrected."

6. Even BFFs disagree once in a while. The News Tribune reports that former state auditor Brian Sonntag, a conservative Democrat whose powers were expanded by Tim Eyman's 2005 Initiative 900 (and who has been an Eyman ally in the past), has officially decried the serial initative hawker's proposed I-517, which would give initiative campaigns more time to collect signatures and create special "free-speech zones," protective bubbles in which they could not be "harassed," around them.

Sonntag and other opponents, including former state attorney general Rob McKenna, a Republican, say the initiative violates private-property rights and protects overzealous signature gatherers at the expense of people trying to do things like go to the grocery store; the pair co-wrote the statement in the voters' guide opposing the initiative.

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