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Weekly Digest: September 19th - September 26th, 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.

Also, get ready for 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

What Will the Legacy of the West Seattle Bridge Closure Be? 
Seattle’s long nightmare is over. Nine-hundred and nine days after the West Seattle Bridge was closed out of an abundance of caution around its structural integrity, it reopened Sunday without much fanfare. One moment a superstructure that once carried around 100,000 vehicles on an average weekday had closed, and seemingly just as quickly, it was open again. As traffic patterns start to look like some version of “normal,” many people would prefer to put the entire episode behind them. But the West Seattle Bridge emergency will undoubtedly leave a lasting legacy on the city and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). Read

The Urbanist Podcast Returns: Carfree Parenting with Kelli Refer of Move Redmond
It’s officially the second season of The Urbanist podcast and we are excited to be back. Joining us on this episode is Kelli Refer, Executive Director of Move Redmond and Urbanist board member. Most importantly for this episode, Kelli is a car-free parent whose experience with her young daughter has equipped her with lots of insights into the topic. Read

How the South Sounder Could Be Beefed Up to All Day Ridership and Service
Ridership on Sounder’s southern line has taken a huge hit since the pandemic started in 2020. Sound Transit moved to cut service down to the bone for a time on the S Line, which runs between Seattle and Lakewood. That likely depressed ridership even more than it otherwise would have been, but in the past year trips have been restored and ridership has slowly been building back. Still, the S Line is only at about 28% of pre-pandemic ridership as office workers continue to choose to stay home in droves. Read

Lewis' Increased Seattle Parks Spending Would Invest in Climate, Equity Fund, Off-Leash Areas
Councilmember Andrew Lewis (District 7) has released his six-year funding plan (2023-2028) for the Seattle Metropolitan Park District, the third funding plan made public following the proposals put forward by the Seattle Parks District Board and Mayor Bruce Harrell. Of the three, Lewis’ proposal is the most ambitious — and expensive — to date. Lewis, who serves as president of the Seattle Park District Governing Board, is seeking to raise the proposed tax by one cent from $0.38 to $0.39 per $1,000 of assessed real estate value, adding funding for items that featured prominently in public comment such as renovating community centers to increase their climate resilience, increasing equitable investment in parks, and adding new off-leash dog areas. Read

Seattle Freight Advisory Board Starts Fresh with Full Slate of New Members
Seattle is about to have a new set of voices advocating for increased consideration of how goods are moved around the city and the region, as the city’s freight advisory board is poised to be completely refreshed with new membership this fall. On Tuesday, the Seattle City Council’s transportation committee approved nine new members to comprise the board. Apart from the member on the board appointed by the Port of Seattle, the slate represents a completely new board. Read

Harrell Picks Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz to Head SPD
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell formally announced that interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz is his selection to permanently fill the vacancy created by former Chief Carmen Best’s resignation in August of 2020. Prior to being named for the interim position, Diaz had been Deputy Police Chief and worked closely with Best. The selection of Diaz by Harrell represents another choice to maintain leadership with professional history within the Seattle Police Department (SPD), despite the City of Seattle having undertaken a nationwide search. Read 

Chinatown and Transit Advocates Push for 4th Avenue Light Rail Station
As Sound Transit lays out 90 miles of new track, 57 new stations, and three new light rail lines over the next 20 years, the Chinatown-International District (CID) station is set to become the region’s key transit hub. There will be over 30,000 riders passing through the station each day and local businesses will be able to capitalize on this increased ridership. Until then, though, the community will have to bear the side effects of years-long construction and potentially destructive route choices. Read

Repaving Project Will Maintain Unsafe Walking and Biking Conditions on High Speed Ballard Corridor
The gaps in Seattle’s current complete streets legislation are becoming more apparent as the city moves ahead with a repaving project on one of the city’s busiest and highest speed corridors, with minimal adjustments planned to slow traffic or make space for other modes of travel like walking or biking. The repaving project, which will impact the bridge deck of the Ballard Bridge down to the Emerson Street interchange and up 15th Avenue NW to 57th Street, is expected to start construction in 2023. Read

Connect and Learn at the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict Community Forum
There are many things that make Capitol Hill stand out not only among Seattle’s neighborhoods, but also among other major American cities’ marquee neighborhoods as well. Few places in the U.S. offer the same access to walkable streets, shops, cultural venues, parks, restaurants and other amenities. All together, this makes Capitol Hill a fascinating place to study how public spaces contribute to — or detract from — public life, which is exactly what the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict has been doing since 2019. Now the EcoDistrict is ready to showcase what they’ve learned in a Community Forum, next Thursday, September 29th, 3-7pm, at Capitol Hill Station Plaza (918 E. Barbara Bailey Way). Read

Eastside Cities Consider Tenant Protections -- with Varying Outcomes for Residents
On Tuesday evening, residents, advocates, and rental housing groups packed into the physical and virtual chambers of Newcastle City Hall. Amid some minor code amendments and complaints about a recent street repaving project, councilmembers heard comments and criticisms of an ordinance meant to introduce several protections for tenants in the city. In addition to capping fees and increasing notice requirements for rent increases, the ordinance would have enabled flexible payment dates for renters on a fixed income and prevented landlords from using a lack of a social security number as a reason to deny a rental application. Had the ordinance passed, it would have introduced the widest sweeping set of tenant protections of nearly any city on the Eastside. Read

"A Life Less Ordinary" at 25 Years: Recognizing a Landmark Film 
Lovers that are literally star-crossed by the bureaucracy of heaven. Fate and art playing against one another over style and crime. Young performers and a director after breakout roles and on the verge of superstardom. That is “A Life Less Ordinary,” Danny Boyle’s 1997 follow up to “Trainspotting,” which stars Cameron Diaz and Ewan McGregor, up and coming stars at the time. The movie features all the signatures of an award winning director and his burgeoning celebrities, but it was missed by many at the time. Many things, from rock and roll bands to buildings to neighborhoods, get considered for hall of fame or landmark status once they hit age 25. Read

Puget Sound Energy Rate Increase Would Fund Harmful Fossil Fuel Infrastructure
Residential Puget Sound Energy (PSE) customers could see electric bills surge by more than 20% and gas bills by almost 17%. Later this month, the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) will hold a public hearing to determine if this for-profit corporation will be allowed to once again raise rates — a move that would provide funding to harmful fossil fuel infrastructure. Among the list of incomplete, unnecessary, and controversial infrastructure projects that PSE shareholders want guaranteed profits for is the Tacoma Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) refinery located at the Port of Tacoma next to the Puyallup Reservation. Read

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

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