Post 100

Logo Party-01-01Nearly two years have passed since the inception of The Northwest Urbanist, and with this 100th post I’m celebrating the grand journey it’s been so far. But firstly, I wouldn’t be writing about local planning and design issues if it weren’t for readers like you. Thank you for your comments, your subscriptions, and your deep interest in the urban issues that affect all of us in the great Pacific Northwest. You are what inspires me to research, attend press conferences, and dive into civic debates. This all comes after another milestone, post 50. Similar to that post, what follows is a brief recap of what’s happened so far and what the future might hold.

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Planning with Grassroots Media

IMAG3167_editIn April I had the pleasure of presenting with fellow urbanists and writers at the 2015 National Planning Conference in Seattle. Our panel, “Planning with Grassroots Media”, sought to enlighten city planners on how local blogs and neighborhood websites can greatly improve planning processes and boost public participation. The audience was spilling out the door and we had some great questions, so the presentation and audio recording are now being made available in this post.

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Posted in Editorial, Event Writeup, Government, Public Participation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Park My Viaduct’ Heads to the Ballot Next Year

DSCN5283Last week the Seattle City Council reluctantly approved forwarding the Alaskan Way Viaduct preservation effort to the August 2016 ballot. Formally known as “Park My Viaduct”, the Initiative 123 campaign will seek voter approval for a public development authority (PDA) to build and operate a mile-long elevated park on the Alaskan Way waterfront. I was one of the first local writers to cover the campaign in depth. Now that it’s headed to the voters new details are available, but I will reiterate my position the idea is against the public’s best interests.

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Posted in Parks, Public Space, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

King County Council Receives Recommended U-Link Bus Restructures

MapOn Tuesday King County Executive Dow Constantine transmitted his recommendations for connecting new light rail stops with Seattle bus routes to the County Council. The recommendations come after nine months of public feedback and detailed input from a community Sounding Board, on which I sat. The goal was to come up with a refreshed bus network that will complement, and not duplicate, light rail service and provide more frequent service to a greater number of Seattle residents. Previous alternatives were narrowed down to this proposal. Some sacrifices had to made in geographical and temporal coverage, and some issues like inconvenient transfers remain. The King County Council is now accepting feedback on the final ordinance that will put the changes into effect early next year.

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CascadiaCast Episode 4: Patty Lent

Lent Headshot CroppedOn this episode of CascadiaCast I chat with Patty Lent, Bremerton Mayor and former Kitsap County Commissioner. Bremerton is the largest city in Kitsap County and home to the strategic Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Lent shared that she strongly believes families, Millennials, and the Navy are key to Bremerton’s future success as a regional economic and cultural hub. She highlighted the importance of school-to-job pipeline programs and the city’s capitalization of its downtown waterfront. We also discussed her vision for high speed ferry service to Seattle (and how to get tech companies to pay for it), a recent surge in housing developments, and the lost battle to bring NASCAR to the Pacific Northwest.

iTunes | RSS Feed | Download (right click and “save as…”) | Stream below

Map of Bremerton.

Posted in Biking, Buses, CascadiaCast, Demographics, Government, Housing, Land Use, Parks, Policy, Schools, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tale of My Epic Transit Failure


“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads”.

If you saw a large good-looking man with a duffel bag sprinting through Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood in desperate search of a car2go on a crisp morning in April, that was me. That the car wasn’t where it was supposed to be was just one in a comedy of errors I experienced over the course of two days as I tried and failed to travel car free in the Puget Sound region. Inconvenient transit schedules and my own ignorance led me to (brace yourself) rent a car to get to Bellingham. What follows is the tale of my great struggle and how we might prevent it from happening again.

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Posted in Buses, Cars, Ferries, Rail, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Future of Shared Use Mobility

DSCN4755Last week the Intelligent Transportation Society of America hosted a symposium at the University of Washington on the future of transportation and “shared use mobility” services like bike share and Uber. Leaders in the local transportation industry, on both the public and private side, debated how these new modes reflect demographic changes and how they will impact transportation modeling, planning, and funding. They also discussed the ramifications of emerging technology like autonomous vehicles and networked vehicles.

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Mayor’s Housing Committee Proposes Modifying Seattle’s Single-Family Zoning

Increasing rents have become a hot political issue in Seattle. Photo by the author.

Rent increases and housing affordability have become a hot political issue in Seattle. Photo by the author.

On Tuesday afternoon the Seattle Times’ Danny Westneat broke the news (in an inflammatory manner) that Mayor Ed Murray’s committee on housing may recommend making changes to the city’s single-family zoning. If the idea lands on the committee’s final set of recommendations, and makes it through the political wringer of City Council politics, it has the potential to improve many of the city’s neighborhoods. And if done well, it could greatly reduce the housing equity crisis and stabilize skyrocketing rents.

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Posted in Density, Housing, Land Use, Policy, Residential | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments