Caffeinated News

1. In case you had any doubt the tunnel was going to be an issue in this year's city council elections: Tammy Morales, the urban food system policy planner who's running in southeast Seattle's District 2 against  incumbent City Council member Bruce Harrell, was spotted at Zeitgeist Coffee in Pioneer Square yesterday hunkered down with Cary Moon.

Cary Moon is the original anti-tunnel crusader (I'm talking 2004!; in fact, back in the Mesozoic Age when I was news editor at the Stranger, I made up a new category for the alt weekly's genius awards—"Political Genius"—just so the paper could give the award to Moon for her anti-tunnel advocacy.)

Morales, according to a well-placed Fizz correspondent, was taking "copious notes" as she met with Moon.

Not only are city council candidates writing down what  tunnel sage Moon has to say, they're seeking her endorsement. Transit guru Rob Johnson, who's running in the fourth district against incumbent City Council member Jean Godden, was sure to note his Moon endorsement in the same breath as his King County Executive Dow Constantine endorsement.

This election year, the tunnel issue may carry more water.

There's no Moon endorsement for Morales just yet her campaign consultant tells me— "just getting more info on the tunnel."

Both Harrell and Godden, original tunnel supporters, were challenged by lonely and unsuccessful anti-tunnel candidates back in 2011; this year, however, the issue may carry more water.

2. House transportation chair Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-41, Mercer Island) felt compelled to issue a statement on Gov. Jay Inslee's carbon tax idea earlier this week, announcing:  “I appreciate the Governor’s forward-thinking remarks today about the critical need to pass a transportation investment package. The new funding mechanisms he has proposed, such as a cap-and-trade-system or a tax on carbon emissions, deserve serious consideration by members of the legislature. ... These tools should be part of our discussions moving forward ... all options need to be on the table."

Earlier in the day (Freudian slip?), Rep. Clibborn told KING 5 that the issue was "a non-starter," something Democrats had been murmuring behind the scenes for weeks. However, asked about pulling the carpet out from under Inslee's big agenda item, a Rep. Clibborn spokesperson insists the "KING 5 statement was taken out of context. She [Clibborn] was referring to Republicans not seeing it as an option," he said.

Gov. Inslee is pitching his $12-per-million-tons of GHG emissions charge on the state's top polluters—as a $400 million piece of his $12 billion transportation proposal.

3. Here's a follow-up to yesterday's item about state Rep. Gerry Pollet's (D-46, N. Seattle) bill to give neighbors notice about new developments: The city opposes the bill.

Pollet's legislation certainly sounds reasonable. Pollet says, "It would end a massive loophole. Currently, neighbors have 21 days to challenge a land use decision, but it is not required that they are given notice of this decision. It is important for community members in a neighborhood to be able to have this be a transparent process. "

Developers say Pollet is taking aim at perfectly legal, small lot developments.

However, developers say Pollet is taking aim at perfectly legal, small lot developments (two skinny houses on lots traditionally reserved for one house) that may upset Seattle's single family zone orthodoxy, but don't require advance notice because they're not "non-conforming"—and so the city can't deny the permits anyway.

"Of course they come across as saying all we want to know is what's going on in the neighborhood" says developer lobbyist Roger Valdez. "But what they really want is a chance to lawyer up and file appeals to slow or stop the projects and stop new housing."

And it's not the developers who have to defend the neighbors' Land Use Petition Act (LUPA) appeals in superior court, it's the city that's forced into court because it's city code that already allows such developments.  Which may explain why the city staff tells me the city "absolutely" opposes Rep. Pollet's bill and will be testifying against it at today's hearing on the legislation in the house committee on local government at 1:30.