Morning Fizz

Friday Likes and Dislikes: Oil Trains, Megaphones, and Street Uses

Caffeinated news featuring the statehouse, the city council, and the Department of Planning and Development

By Josh Feit March 6, 2015


1. I LIKE that the Democratic house (with plenty of Republican support) passed strict guidelines on oil trains yesterday, 60 to 38. Both the oil and railroad industry had lobbied against the bill, arguing in part that providing advance notice of when and where oil will be delivered raised concerns about corporate privacy; some of the advance notice provisions were stripped out at the committee level.

But the bill is strong: In addition to making companies disclose the amount, type, and route of oil they're shipping by rail through the state and mandating that companies pay for oil spills and oil spill prevention, the legislation also increases and expands the oil-barrel tax on delivery from four cents to 10 cents per 42-gallon barrel—and now levies the tax on rail and pipeline delivery along with the existing tax on boats. 

The Washington Environmental Council applauded the bill sending out a statement last night saying:

Urgency around this bill has only increased through the 2015 legislative session, with derailments and explosions happening across North America, most recently in West Virginia and Ontario and today in Illinois. HB 1449 is an important step forward to update our laws and begin addressing the many risks communities and waterways across the state face today.

The Democratic house also, once again, passed a bill sponsored by state representative Louis Moscoso (D-1, Mountlake Terrace) dubbed the Washington voting rights act (LIKE) that gives local districts the right to revamp their election rules if minority voters can prove they are being disenfranchised; the remedy is to move to districted systems rather than at-large systems where minorities may face "polarized" voting.

Senate Democrats tried to force their companion bill to the floor this week as well, but lost on a party-line vote to the Republican majority. DISLIKE.

2. The trouble with city council member Kshama Sawant apparently? She uses a megaphone.

Twice this week The Seattle Times went with quippy quotes from Sawant antagonists (challenger Rod Hearne's consultant Jason Bennett and brand new challenger, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle leader Pamela Banks) that criticized Sawant for her "megaphone" politics.

Stressing stylistic differences (collaboration vs. agitation), Banks said in her announcement yesterday: “I’ve learned over my career that you solve more problems with a telephone than a megaphone.”

And Hearne's consultant Bennett told The Seattle Times: “The district...needs somebody to put down the megaphone and help fill potholes.”

I've got a message in to Sawant to see if she LIKES or DISLIKES the megaphone metaphor.

3. I LIKE that the city's Department of Planning and Development (DPD) wants to designate 37 neighborhood business districts that aren't all standard urban centers and villages as "pedestrian zones."

What does that mean? DPD would amend zoning rules in neighborhood hubs—such as 15th Avenue Northeast at 125th St Northeast, Aurora Avenue North just south of North 80th Street, two spots on Stone Way North, Beacon Avenue South at South Columbian Way, and Delridge Way Southwest at Southwest Roxbury Street—to promote pedestrian access by deprioritizing automobile access.

You can read DPD's Pedestrian Chronicles–friendly report about "activating the street," but the new rules would make it more difficult to get waivers from parking maximums, limit exceptions to ped-friendly street-use requirements, prohibit surface parking adjacent to the principal pedestrian street, and prohibit any stand-alone residential development.


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