1. The latest Elway Poll shows overwhelming support for I-1351, the Washington Education Association's (teacher's union) class-size initiative.
The measure, which would put a cap on class sizes, is at 66-24, Elway's poll of 500 voters found.
And the support is bipartisan; Elway reports: "Support for the measure was uniform across typically divergent categories of voters. The initiative had majority support in every demographic category in the survey. What’s more, it had over 60 percent support in every category except Republicans (55 percent of whom were inclined to vote for it)."
Footnote: The Washington State Republican Party came out against I-1351, while the Democrats, with some reservations (it could add $1.4 billion to the already $5 billion McCleary tab), officially support it.
The measure, which doesn't come with any funding, would put class sizes at 17 in K–3, 27 in grades 4–6, and 25 in middle and high school.
2. In a flurry of clicking gears and clapping hands, city officials and bikeshare organizers formally launched Seattle’s new bikeshare program yesterday at a press event in Occidental Park.
The bike "share" (i.e., rental) program from Pronto boasts 500 seven-speed bikes and 50 automated solar-powered docking stations. It’s like a bike library. Or, since there's an annual charge, it's more like Car2go for bicycles: For $85 a year, members will have a card, bike key fobs actually, to check out one of the green bikes for a 30-minute trip and then return it to any location when they're done—hopefully thinning traffic and increasing green commutes in the process. Users will be charged $2 if they go over the 30 minutes. And after an hour, the charge is $7. (Pro tip: Return the bike and then and check it out again three minutes later, and you get another 30 minutes. Free helmets are also available to conform with King County's helmet law.) Nonmembers can also use the system for $8 a day, using a credit card.
Addressing a crowd of about fifty—lots of local office workers rubbing suit-to-jersey with Spandex-clad cyclists—Mayor Ed Murray promised that Pronto stations would not only cluster around business and tourist centers, but would also extend into less affluent neighborhoods including the Central District, Yesler Terrace, and Little Saigon.
The mayor's office bitched back at us that there's a bike share station at King Street Station, one next to the Marion Street pedestrian bridge by Colman Dock, and one adjacent to Westlake Center—three transit hubs.
We bitched yesterday that the Pronto system, by packing bike stations in downtown, Capitol Hill, the U District, South Lake Union, and First Hill, was missing transit hubs (map of the 50 docking stations here)—particularly at bus hubs and at light rail stops in the south end. The mayor's office bitched right back that thre's a bike share station at King Street Station, one next to the Marion Street pedestrian bridge by the Colman Dock, and one adjacent to Westlake Center—three transit hubs.
Like we said: clustered downtown.
To expand access, Pronto will also offer discounted memberships to some low-income residents, according to Pronto organizer Phyllis Porter. The details are still being hammered out, but people in Seattle's low-income housing programs will be eligible to pay an annual membership fee of about $25 to $30, Porter said. The idea is that Pronto will piggyback on Seattle Housing Authority's screening process to ensure that the cheaper memberships get to low-income Seattleites.
In addition to grants from King County and Seattle, corporate sponsors include, Pronto has corporate sponsorships from Alaska Airlines (logo on every bike) Seattle Children’s and Group Health. Additionally, REI, Vulcan and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are sponsoring docking stations.
3. In related news: SDOT Director Scott Kubly along with the director of University of Washington Transportation Josh Kavanagh, and a UW student will be at UW presenting a WASHPirg study this morning showing that it's true, millennials drive less than their predecessors; the recent data, they say, has not just been a function of the recession.
The study, WASHPirg says, "will show mounting evidence that the millennial generation's dramatic shift away from driving is more than temporary. While the 2000s saw a marked decrease in the average number of miles traveled by young Americans, the study explains why the lower volume of driving among millennials last decade appears likely to continue even as the economy improves. The study will cite the consistency of millennials’ responses to opinion surveys, data showing a continued reduction of millennials driving to work, and the continued decreases in per-capita driving among all Americans."
Generally, though, U.S. cities do not maximize their use of public properties. Walk through any city and you’ll find countless examples of where modestly sized government buildings have been plopped down onto prime real estate. In Seattle, for example, substantial public money has recently gone toward a new library, City Hall and renovated convention center, none of which exceed a dozen stories in an otherwise vertical downtown.
It is in compact cities such as Seattle—along with Boston, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.—where utilizing air rights would make the most sense. The returns would be substantial in such hot real estate markets, and besides, compact cities are best equipped to handle added density. After all, if proposed three-story schools, libraries and recreation centers could instead sit inside 50-story mixed-use towers, this would increase the supply of affordable housing and office space, further compelling people to locate centrally.