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

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 running through Roosevelt 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 three 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

Finding the Burke-Gilman Trail’s Missing Link

The trail is especially popular during the warm spring and summer months. Photo by the author.

The trail is especially popular during the warm spring and summer months. Photo by the author.

On Thursday night the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) hosted an open house on the alternatives for completing the unfinished part of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard. The 1.4 mile “missing link” is the only incomplete portion of the trail, and advocates have been trying to build it for decades. Planning and design was finally underway until 2009, when a group of industrial businesses along Shilshole Avenue sued; they argue its unsafe for their trucks and trains to interact with bicyclists and pedestrians. SDOT is now moving to complete a $2 million environmental impact statement (EIS) of three possible routes by spring 2016.

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Posted in Biking, Government, Industrial, Land Use, Public Participation, Rail, Roads, Transportation, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Seattle Council Candidates Propose Citywide Streetcar System


The SLU line at its southern terminus. (Photo by the author)

Two at-large candidates for the 2015 Seattle City Council election, John Roderick and Alon Bassok, have jointly proposed a vision for a citywide municipal rail system. Documents released on Wednesday propose a 75-100 mile network built within a decade and funded with a $1 billion property tax levy. It harkens back to the streetcar system Seattle had before it was dismantled in the 1940s. The bold concept goes far beyond what any local transportation agency is planning, and until the election in November it’s uncertain  whether the idea can gain momentum.

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Posted in Government, Rail, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments