Caffeinated News

1. There weren't many surprises in newly appointed city council member John Okamoto's confirmation speech yesterday.

He wants to work "collaboratively" with the other council members (including Kshama Sawant...who he name-checked twice), he wants to use data to determine which programs are working and which ones aren't, "especially for those who cannot think of possibilities beyond the challenging realities they experience every day," and, as a former Teachers' Union leader, he's all in on school funding (not exactly a city budget line item, though).

However, making a clear reference to Sawant's anti-Okamoto speech last week, council president Tim Burgess did get off this line:

"You will...find that we disagree sometimes. Maybe even vehemently disagree. But there is no need for personal attacks or disrespectful labeling that degrades our civic discourse. We see way too much of that in Olympia and Washington, DC. But here at the local level in municipal government, we offer the promise of a democracy that works."

2. The local civic discourse certainly got stormy yesterday after mayor Ed Murray announced in a speech to environmentalists at an annual breakfast fundraiser that oil rigs weren't allowed under the Port's current permit at Terminal Five.

If the Port wanted to host Shell rigs there, the mayor said, they'd have to reapply for a different permit (which they'd likely get, by the way). Murray said he was hoping his stall tactic would put the Port on the spot and force them to reconsider going ahead with their plans. (Editorializing here, but Murray's protest would be more credible if he had an antirig backup plan in place when and if the Port reapplies.)

Murray's protest would be more credible if he had a backup plan in place when and if the Port reapplies. Foss Maritime, Shell's partner company at Terminal Five (Foss is leasing at the terminal), issued a hot riposte, accusing Murray—who himself linked the oil business to "environmental disasters"—of jeopardizing Seattle's maritime economy.

Foss's statement said: "By giving a small but vocal group the ability to jeopardize the commercial relationships between our local maritime businesses and the Port of Seattle, the mayor is casting serious doubt on the future of the city’s working waterfront."

Murray fired off a second announcement later in the day disputing industry claims that the city's reading of the permitting rules put other terminal activity at risk (Murray points out that Foss's proposal is out of sync with the permitted work at the rest of the Port). "The city’s review of the activity proposed at Terminal Five is based on the facts specific to that proposal and the permits that have been issued in the past for Terminal Five," he said. "The city’s interpretation has no direct bearing on activities that may be occurring at the Port’s other facilities."

And then Murray doubled down: "Now is the time for the Port and the city to partner with the clean technology companies of tomorrow, rather than the polluting industries of yesterday."

I've got several calls in to the Port—and specifically to commissioner Courtney Gregoire, who, along with Tom Albro, have positioned themselves as critics of the Shell plan. 

Her voice caught on the word google.

3. As the special session in Olympia gets under way, one bill that's cued up, but has yet to pass, is bipartisan legislation making "revenge porn" a felony; currently, the pernicious phenomenon is not a crime in Washington state.

I've got a story in this month's Seattle Met about a victim of revenge porn.

From the story:

Her voice caught on the word google. Legal Voice’s David Ward put his hand on her knee to keep her steady as she shook and told her story.  She began, “I had to relocate my children to keep us safe. My ex was continuing to make it very clear he was out for revenge. Once I had moved and began searching for employment, I was turned down for a position in a very suspicious manner. So I decided to google my name, [and] what appeared right before my eyes put me in complete shock. If anyone were to google my name at that time, there is no way they would miss my naked body plastered all over the Internet—by a man I had trusted, that I had called my husband.”

4. I was excited last year when the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) added a fourth alternative to the pending 2035 comprehensive plan; the comprehensive plan is the blueprint for Seattle growth management, laying out an answer to the big question: Where do we put the 120,000 new residents who are expected in the next 20 years (and the 70,000 new housing units.)

Alternative four: Relatively more urban villages would be subject to increased growth and possible boundary changes.

The fourth alternative (in addition to our current policy, alternative one, of directing growth to urban hub villages; alternative two, which directs growth to downtown urban centers; and alternative three, which places growth along the light rail line) would guide growth to urban villages along transit. It's similar to the third option, but includes bus lines as well as rail lines.

Last year, I noted that the fourth alternative slated more neighborhoods (40) for growth than the other options.

DPD released the 394-page draft environmental impact statement yesterday (party!), and among lots of other analysis, it now explains the specifics of alternative four. 

Describing the transit option, DPD's report says:

"The greatest number of transit-oriented places—served by either bus or rail—that are preferred for growth. In addition to areas covered in alternative three, more growth would also be concentrated in other urban villages that currently have very good bus service. Relatively more urban villages would be subject to increased growth and possible boundary changes...." 

And DPD lays out these bullet points:

• Includes the higher-growth assumptions, expanded urban village boundaries of alternative three (to capture 10-minute walksheds), and the addition of other selected areas that have very good bus service. These include areas are located in the western half of the city (Ballard, Fremont, West Seattle Junction, and Crown Hill).

• Three of the four added areas are hub urban villages, which defines this alternative as having the greatest emphasis on growth in the hub urban villages.

• This assumes a smaller share of residential growth would occur outside centers and villages than all of the other alternatives.