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On Other Blogs Today: Downtown Density, "Lean" Management, Light Rail, and More

Our daily roundup.

By Erica C. Barnett September 11, 2013


1. The Downtown Seattle Association just released its latest density report, which concludes that although downtown represents just four percent of the city's land mass—the area is home to 41 percent of the city's jobs, 10 percent of the city's population.

Downtown density appears to go hand-in-hand with a lower carbon footprint: Only a third of downtown employees drive to work alone, and the rate of car ownership among downtown residents is about half that (0.48 per driving-age resident) of the city as a whole (0.8 per resident).

And savings: That lower car ownership rate translates, the DSA estimates, into $2,800 in savings (and 22 percent lower carbon emissions from transportation) per year. 

My .02—that citywide average is yet another sign that there's no need for minimum parking requirements for new developments in Seattle—not only do most single-family homes have room for more than one car to park off the street, a one-car—or higher—minimum actually outpaces the number of cars Seattle residents actually own, and that's ignoring on-street curbside parking.

2. The Olympian isn't impressed with the proposal Gov. Jay Inslee released yesterday to encourage more "efficient and effective" government, calling it "short on detail. " Inlee's proposal included plans to increase access to online high-school education, implement  so-called Lean Management to reduce the number of steps involved in government processes, and create a new online tool for residents to monitor how state government is progressing toward its goals. 

"Inslee has set down some specific goals such as boosting the state’s economy by a $26 billion value by 2015, adding 150,000 jobs, and increasing the percentage of high school students who meet exit-exam standards by 2 percentage points from 2013 to 2014," the paper writes. "But he also left a lot of blanks in his plan."

3. Seattle Transit Blog reports on some positive news from Sound Transit, whose Central Link light rail from SeaTac Airport to downtown saw major ridership gains for both June and July compared to last year. Sound Transit reported ridership increases, year over year, ranging from a low of 10.7 percent growth in weekday ridership between July 2012 and this July, to a 27.5 percent increase between June 2012 and this June.

Only Tacoma Link showed a decline (of 8.7 percent) overall, and a July weekday ridership decrease of 1.2 percent. 

4. The Spokesman-Review has news about two problems with the new legal recreational-pot law: First, some state legislators want to close medical-marijuana stores down, arguing that dispensaries aren't allowed to turn a profit.

State Rep. Chris Hurst (D-31, Enumclaw) says medical pot dispensaries are "absolutely illegal, criminal operations." Hurst and other medical-marijuana opponents argue that there are no regulations to control dispensaries; proponents of medical marijuana say it isn't their fault that the state failed to pass regulations. 

Meanwhile, businesses that want to open legal recreational pot stores, which are allowed under last year's I-502, face a different roadblock: Because they deal in a product that's technically illegal at the federal level, they can't open accounts with multi-state banks. If that problem isn't fixed, they'll have to run all-cash operations, making them ideal "soft targets" for robberies (and I would guess prime for off-book chicanery.)

5. Washington state legislators may not want to revisit the Columbia River Crossing, the controversial proposed bridge between Vancouver and Portland (controversial because it includes light rail, which Republicans oppose), but the C-Tran board of directors does. The Columbian reports that the Vancouver transit agency will resume work on the CRC, working with Portland's TriMet to come up with a plan to pay to operate light rail in Vancouver (if it ever comes there).

Although Oregon signed off on $450 million to pay for its half of the CRC this year, the Washington state legislature adjourned without passing a transportation package that would have both funded our state's half and secured federal funding for the project. 

6. Finally, the best and saddest and most heartbreaking thing I've read about 9/11 all day—written September 14, 2001 by a witness to the destruction of the Twin Towers. "It's like the blizzard of '96. It's like nuclear winter. It's not like anything."
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