1. When Weyerhaeuser announced it was moving its corporate headquarters from the suburbs to downtown Seattle two years ago, the news represented a milestone win for the urbanist movement. It clearly demonstrated that mixed use city environments where the corporate work day can overlap with transit, housing, retail, and nightlife are preferable to the traditional secluded suburban corporate campus model exemplified by Microsoft and ridiculed by Mike Judge’s Office Space.
Weyerhaeuser CEO Doyle Simons’ letter to staff, with its emphasis on attracting young talent and locating near transit, in fact, read like an urbanist manifesto.
The company moved from its sprawling 430-acre Federal Way campus to a seven-story building at 200 Occidental Ave. S. between Yesler and Washington this fall just around the corner from the Pioneer Square light rail stop.
Which is all to say, I was disappointed that the company walled off Occidental Park for four hours on Friday afternoon for its grand opening move in party.
I get that Weyerhaeuser’s nearly 800 employees wanted to toast each other and feel some intraoffice comradery, but it was a tone deaf message to the neighborhood and represented the old suburban values of isolation rather than the new intracity values of innovation that their big move supposedly embraced.
2. Speaking of urbanism, I’ve got two pieces in this month’s magazine: A Q&A on the future of transportation in Seattle with Kiersten Grove, a former SDOT nerd who Mayor Ed Murray moved up to the 7th floor (his office) to help design our transportation infrastructure, and a story about standoff between the Queen Anne Community Council and the city’s office of planning and community development over a proposal to add more backyard cottages into single family neighborhoods.
The common denominator between the two stories—and the surprise from the transportation interview that was intended to be about light rail trains and driverless cars—is that the key debates over the future of our city are about how we manage space. And if we’re doing it efficiently. Grove, for example, is all about re-envisioning curb space (not just for cars anymore.) Her official title, in fact, turns out to be built environment operations manager. And the backyard cottages story highlights concerns of neighbors whose expectations of living in single family zones is being challenged by the city’s future plans to retool land use.
3. The fight for control of the Washington state house has gone national.
Democrats, currently down 26-23, are pinning their hopes on a few key races, and President Obama weighed in on one the Democrats’ top priorities: the race in 41st Legislative District between Republican incumbent state senator Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island) and Democrat Lisa Wellman, a teacher and tech CEO.
In an (admittedly canned) statement, Obama said this morning:
“This election isn’t just about defeating extreme Republican candidates. It’s also about electing strong Democrats, like Lisa Wellman. I know Lisa will fight to defend the progress we’ve made over the past eight years. Our children need us to keep working to make this country stronger, fairer, safer, and cleaner, and Lisa will do just that.”
Wellman topped Litzow in August’s top-two primary, an encouraging sign for Democrats.