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Weekly Digest: September 26th - October 3rd, 2022


Here's a selection of The Urbanist's most compelling articles from the past week. You can catch up on other recent articles directly on our online magazine or never miss a story by adding us to your RSS feeds.

We are currently in the midst of our fall fundraising drive. If you appreciate the reporting, advocacy, and educational events The Urbanist provides, please give today! Donations are the primary source of support for the work we do and they are greatly appreciated. 

We also have some upcoming events for you to look forward to. Today we are holding a fundraiser at AMcE Creative Arts in Capitol Hill with guest speakers King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, clean energy podcaster and reporter Dave Roberts of Volts, and Move Redmond Executive Director Kelli Refer. A $75 donation is suggested.

On October 11th, we will hold our online  October Meetup with guest speaker Daria Farivar, candidate in Legislative District 46. Farivar will talk about her campaign platform and what she hopes to accomplish in Olympia. Register in advance to receive the Zoom link and submit your questions. 

Finally, The Urbanist's first book club meeting, Tuesday, October 18th, at 6pm, in which we will be discussing Skid Road: On the Frontier of Health and Homelessness in an American City with author Josephine Ensign. Pick up a copy of the book and mark the event in your calendar. We look forward to seeing you there!

Featured Articles

Highway Expansion May Hinder Plans to Reconnect South Park 
Momentum has been building around Reconnect South Park, a community-led effort to address how SR 99 slices through the neighborhood located near the Duwamish River in southwest Seattle, separating residents from their own community center, library, and elementary school. But one of Washington’s highway megaprojects, SR 509 “completion” project, part of the $2.38 billion Puget Sound Gateway could impact Seattle’s ability to reassess whether having an urban highway bisecting the South Park urban village is a decision that residents should continue to live with. Read

Elected Leaders Must Press Forward with Study of SR 99 and I-5 Everett Link Alternatives
Sound Transit has expanded the scope for Everett Link to study alignments along SR 99 and I-5 in the South Everett area. For years, elected officials have tried to foist the Paine Field deviation, a 6.75-mile loop that would deliver only a single station near Boeing’s plant, on the community. But these new alignments present a unique opportunity to serve natural ridership and speed up connections between community destinations north and south while also delivering service sooner and better achieving climate goals. Read

Despite Slowdown Worries, 2021 Sets a Townhouse Production Record in Seattle 
Last year, The Urbanist covered a Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS) report suggesting that townhouse development in Seattle might be dropping off a cliff. However, nine months later, data from the City of Seattle shows that townhouse production set a record in 2021 and that 2022 is outpacing many previous years as well. Read

Largely Status Quo Harrell Budget Puts Police First
Mayor Bruce Harrell largely presented a status quo biennium budget on Tuesday, but he is seeking to undo a few recent progressive policy wins, as he puts the Seattle Police Department (SPD) first and make cuts elsewhere. His proposal would move parking enforcement back into SPD after a brief sojourn in the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), which he claimed would avert a $5 million hit to the general fund due to overhead costs imputed to SDOT. Read

The Urbanist Podcast: Homelessness and Health with "Skid Road" Author Josephine Ensign
n this podcast episode, we discuss homelessness, health, and Seattle’s own significant history related to these topics with University of Washington Professor Josephine Ensign, author of  Skid Road: On the Frontier of Health and Homelessness in an American City. Professor Ensign’s book will be the topic of discussion at our first ever book club meeting on Tuesday, October, 18th, at 6pm. We were so fortunate to talk to her in advance about her work and her book, which brings these topics to life by highlighting the stories of real people who experienced homelessness, such as Edward Moore, the first homeless person identified in Seattle. Listen 

Seattle Redistricting Commission Votes to Unify Magnolia in D6, Split Fremont into Three Districts
Seattle City Council district boundaries must be adjusted to rebalance population levels ahead of 2023 elections, and just how to accomplish that is proving quite controversial. The Seattle Redistricting Commission first joint map proposed to send part of Magnolia to District 6 — a move intended to bring down the population of District 7, the most overpopulated district by far following the 2020 Census. Read

Take a Sneak Peek at Six New Parks Coming to Seattle 
On September 27th, the Seattle City Council, which serves as the Metropolitan Park District Board, passed its funding plan for 2023-2028 in a 8-1 vote, with Councilmember Alex Pedersen (District 4) casting the lone dissenting vote. While a few new amendments were approved before passage, the spending plan as a whole remained very similar to the latest package assembled by Councilmember and Park District Chair Andrew Lewis (District 7). Read

Harrell's SDOT Budget Pauses Thomas Street Safety Project, Keeps Center City Streetcar Alive
Mayor Bruce Harrell’s first proposed budget for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is undoubtedly the biggest window into how the nine-month-old Harrell administration views and prioritizes transportation issues. With the release of that proposal this week, all signs point toward an administration largely interested in keeping things headed in the direction they were when the mayor took office, with few sweeping initiatives or new projects. Read

Bellevue Poll Findings Show Broad Support for Bold Housing Action 
Two and a half weeks after the Bellevue Housing Research Coalition unveiled initial poll results showing broad dissatisfaction with the Bellevue housing market, the group has released a new batch of findings related to policies that could help initiate a course correction. The poll, conducted by Change Research, asked 475 Bellevue residents about their opinions on six housing policies that Bellevue City Council could enact to improve market conditions. All solutions had majority support, and three solutions were supported by three-quarters of Bellevue residents. Read

Snohomish County Leadership Squashes Alternatives to Paine Field Light Rail Routing 
In June, The Urbanist reported that Sound Transit had added two new alternatives to its study of the Everett Link light rail extension options, hoping the more direct routes might offer options that could open sooner due to their lower expected cost. On Wednesday, the Elected Leadership Group (ELG) charged to represent Snohomish County residents voted to summarily remove the SR 99/Evergreen Way and I-5 alternatives from consideration before any in-depth study could be done. Read

October Baseball Returns to a Changed Seattle 
The Seattle Mariners will be playing in major league baseball’s postseason for the first time since 2001. With a walk-off home run on Friday night, the team clinched its position in the championship tournament. Their appearance as a wild card team ends the longest active playoff drought in men’s professional sports. Read

Totem Lake Shoulders Kirkland's Transformation and Growth 
When cataloging development in Kirkland, it’s evident where the City has focused much of its development capacity: Totem Lake, a neighborhood defined by its strip malls, car dealerships, car services, light industry, and office buildings, is taking on the most growth of the city’s neighborhoods. The zoned capacity, and thereby scale of change, is peerless compared to Kirkland’s other neighborhoods. But is the City properly addressing all the neighborhood level planning needed to make sure the growth is livable for future residents? Read

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