1. SDOT director Scott Kubly wasn't kidding when he told Fizz earlier this week that he was starting a new transit division within SDOT.
An ad for the new transit director position—"The executive [$93,500 to $154,000] will lead a team of 15-20 transportation professionals focused on delivering safe, efficient and cost-effective transit solutions for Seattle"—got posted yesterday.
Upgrading SDOT responsibilities such as "Work with regional agencies to define transit service for the City of Seattle; Develop transit related policy for the City of Seattle; Provide oversight for transit infrastructure design and construction; Plan bus, streetcar and rail station area and corridors" to exclusive division and executive status might give voters who picked Mayor Ed Murray over Mike McGinn pause. Didn't they vote against the supposed "War on Cars?" (Just a day before the posting went up, by the way, Murray and Kubly fast tracked a protected bike lane—with its own separate bike signals—on 2nd Ave. It's one thing to build a bike lane on Broadway in Capitol Hill. It's another—game changing, actually—to put a protected bike lane in the heart of downtown.)
Relaying a neighbor's complaint—"You're trying to get us to stop driving cars"—from a recent meeting about the 23rd Ave. greenway project, we asked Kubly to address the "War on Cars" meme.
Here's what he said:
"There are very few people in this city who have trips where they never need to use a car, whether it's somebody else driving them like uber or using Car2Go or diving their own car.
"But that being said, when you look at the amount of growth we're experiencing and going to continue experiencing. When you look at the things we're facing with climate change, we necessarily need to have more people taking transit, more people walking, more people biking. That doesn't mean that the expectation is that people never drive, but I think it's really about giving people a choice. When cities have given people choices, good transportation choices that go beyond the car, whether it's transit, biking, or walking, people generally do that. When you look at people that are happiest with their commute, it's people that are walking and people that are biking and then taking the train and then driving and then taking the bus. In that order. So, the number one thing is we've got to figure out how to make people happier taking the bus than it currently makes them. So, improving speed and reliability. But I think when people are given the choice of whether they want to walk or bike or take transit, they generally do."
Kubly, who's new to town, went on to relay the following anecdote: "I was talking to a guy here in Seattle about just this issue, and he was skeptical of it. He was like, 'Yeah, yeah, I get it, you have to say that, but people still need to drive.'
"Yeah, people still need to drive, some people still need to drive. Yeah, maybe they have kids. Maybe they have a job that doesn't have great transit access. [But] then he pivoted, and he started talking about his kids. And he's like, 'Yeah, my kids are 24 and 25, they live in South Lake Union, they don't even have driver's licenses. They've never had driver's licenses.' And you sit there and you say, 'OK, can you think back to when you were 16 ... and imagine not wanting to get your diver's license the day you turned 16?' There's a generational thing going on."
Kubly concluded by recommending a Louis C.K. video: "Louis C.K. has a really good meme going, a really good video going around. ... This isn't a safe for work kind of video, but it's really funny, and it speaks to a frustration of not feeling like you have a choice in how you get somewhere."
Louis C.K. beings: "When I'm in my car. I have a different set of values."
2. Speaking of NSFW. In case you missed it, we got Republican state Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-42, Ferndale) talking about cow farts yesterday.
3. Planned Parenthood organizer and former field director for 2012's gay marriage law, Halei Watkins, announced her candidacy for North Seattle's new city council District 5 seat this morning.
District 5 includes Maple Leaf, Lake City, Broadview, and Watkins' neighborhood, Northgate. No City Council members currently live in the 5th, under Seattle's brand new districted system.
“I’m running because I believe that Seattle is quickly becoming the tale of two cities: one city for the wealthy and one for the rest of us. Like many Seattleites, my husband and I wonder if we will be able to afford to continue to live here, to raise a family here, to grow here,” Watkins said in a press statement.
Watkins' husband Jaret is a grocery worker and member of UFCW Local 21, the leftiest union in town.