Morning Fizz

Friday Likes and Dislikes: First World Problems and Rhetoric

Caffeinated News featuring the first week in Olympia and this weekend.

By Josh Feit January 16, 2015

Friday Likes & Dislikes

1. Fizz LIKES this chart that staffers at the state Department of Revenue put together this week which, defying GOP tax angst rhetoric, show that Washington State's tax burden as a percentage of personal income has plummeted in the last 20 years (we've gone from 11th highest tax state in the country to 35th in that time) falling far below the U.S. average.

The chart also shows why: The sales tax has been gutted by the economy and tax breaks; the property tax has been gutted by voters; and the B&O tax has been gutted by legislative tax breaks.

2. DISLIKE the entitled rhetoric that Seattle residents brought to Olympia yesterday afternoon testifying in favor of a bill to limit in-fill development in neighborhoods. (Footnote: I LIKE that the city itself lobbied against the bill which is being sponsored two Seattle legislators, Reps. Gerry Pollet, D-46, N. Seattle and Gael Tarleton, D-36, Ballard).

After one neighbor (who ignored the two-minute limit) waxed about the "regular citizens" on her "tight knit" block where "we've raised our families together" and "drop off casseroles [and] feed each other's cats, water plants, have block parties [and] kids run from yard to yard while parents sit on the steps and chat" complained that the six-to-12 new cars would "exacerbate" the traffic problem they already have, a second neighbor juxtaposed the "trash and run development" that has "shattered people's lives" by dividing lots and bringing in "skinny houses."

She complained about the "six different owners in two houses in nine years" who "I don't know because they drive into their garage and disappear and have no space for a garden, so I never see them." She said the new neighbors live in "towering monstrosities next to well-kept modest homes" in an "invasion [that has] ruined our very desirable [Fremont] neighborhood."

You can watch the hearing on the bill here. Rep. Pollet's opening testiomy kicks off the discussion about an hour in.

 3. Speaking of First World Problems, Fizz LIKES that a recent Nelson/Nygaard study found that Americans' complaints that they can't find parking (meaning in-front-of-the-store Parking Karma) doesn't jibe with the data that there's a major oversupply of parking (meaning on average, the supply exceeded the demand by 65 percent when drivers were willing to tap some Parking Dharma, i.e., a broader perspective, by expanding their search one or two blocks.)

Oh data.

The Atlantic's CityLab reports:

By looking at previous parking studies in these areas, as well as satellite imagery via Google Earth, they identified existing parking supplies and peak weekday and weekend demands.

Critically, the researchers also took into account the accepted practice of supplying 15 percent more spaces than necessary—a sort of buffer zone that reduces the congestion caused by drivers circling for spaces.

In all 27 districts, spanning places with 420 spaces to those with 6,600 spaces, Weinberger and Karlin-Resnick found an oversupply of parking over and above the buffer zone. The oversupply ranged from 6 percent up to 253 percent across the study areas (below, the highest over-suppliers). And in the nine areas that had believed parking to be scarce, the oversupply ranged from 6 percent to 82 percent.

Additionally, they note:

When we say we can't find anywhere to park, what we usually mean is we can't find a free or insanely cheap parking spot within spitting distance of our destination. As a nation of parkers we're all home run hitters who've forgotten what it's like to knock a single—or, as a closer metaphor, to draw a walk. The result is a misperception that parking is scarce despite the great deal of lots, street spaces, or garages that might exist a block or two away.

Some new research reminds us just how oversupplied parking really tends to be in American metro areas: in a word, enormously. Rachel Weinberger and Joshua Karlin-Resnick of Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates analyzed parking studies of 27 mixed-use districts across the United States and found "parking was universally oversupplied, in many cases quite significantly." On average across the cases, parking supply exceeded demand by 65 percent.

4. LIKE that Rep. Tina Orwall (D-33, Des Moines) has introduced a bill to address a real problem: that rape kits are not being used as evidence (Orwall's bill would require that every rape kit that gets submitted be tested within 30 days) juxtaposed against a GOP bill that addresses a phantasmagorical problem: THE U.N.!!

From Sens. Jan Angel (R-26, Kitasp) and Don Benton (R-17, Vancouver) "Agenda 21" bill

Since the United Nations has accredited and enlisted numerous1nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations to assist in the implementation of its policies relative to Agenda 21 around the world, the state of Washington and all political subdivisions may not enter into any agreement, expend any sum of money, or receive funds contracting services or giving financial aid to or from the6nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations defined in Agenda 21.

Sen. Benton fought against "Agenda 21" in 2013 as well.

Agenda 21 is a measure passed by the U.N. at the (prescient) landmark Rio conference in 1992 that called for a global effort to promote sustainability. It has become a centerpiece of anti-U.N. Tea Party conspiracy theories.

5. And (enough from the first week of the legislature) back to our favorite story of the week—our story on Mayor Ed Murray's cozy relationship with Vulcan and the Seahawks.

Yesterday afternoon, we asked Murray's office if the Seahawks or Vulcan (they're both owned by Paul Allen and Allen's Vulcan is currently lobbying against a developer fee that's being considered by Murray's affordable housing task force) had bought Sunday playoff tickets for Murray and his husband.

This time, it turns out, Murray bought his own tickets, though he and his husband are once again being hosted by the Seahawks and will be sitting in the same suite, the McCormack Boardroom.

There was one flaw, though, in my story this week—which questioned the ethics of the Seahawks gift: Football tickets hardly count as a gift if you're not a huge Seahawks fan. And as a recent Seattle Met Seahawks quiz showed, Murray isn't the biggest fan.

He'll be at the game, though.


On a serious note: The fact that Murray is spending his own money to go to the game raises questions about the explanation the Seattle Ethics Office gave me earlier this week dismissing the accusation that Paul Allen was giving Murray a "gift."

Ethics Director Wayne Barnett had told me that Murray needed to be at last week's game because there was a "ceremonial function" (Murray was expected to wave to the crowd at one point in the game as part of his job as Seattle mayor). Barnett reasoned that since Murray had to be there (rather than say out to dinner), no one was plying him with favors.

However, the fact that Murray is now spending his own money to be at the game when there's no official reason to be there, indicates to me that Seahawks games are in fact on Murray's personal To Do list.

Barnett maintains, though, that the two games don't have anything to do with each other. Murray was at last week's game for official reasons Barnett says, and he's "not expected to be there [this Sunday] as mayor," so he's paying his own way.




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