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The Daily Troll: Gas explosion injures 5. Metro cuts, visualized. Public broadband prospects go belly-up?

Plus, the Comet Tavern lives again.

Natural gas explosion

Five people were injured in an explosion Monday morning at a natural gas facility near Plymouth, Wash., along the Columbia River. According to the Tri-City Herald, the explosion sent shrapnel flying into a nearby gas tank, which caused a leak and the potential for explosion in a 2-mile radius around the building. Nearly 1,000 residents and farm workers were evacuated across the river to Hermiston, Ore., and Highway 14 was closed between Interstate 82 and Paterson. — B.A.


Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2014/03/31/2904040/natural-gas-facility-on-fire-near.html?sp=/99/177/&ihp=1#storylink=c.  — B.A.

Did a clear cut contribute to the Oso slide?

Loggers and locals have long been conflicted over potential landslides in the Oso, Washington area. In 1997, the state Department of Ecology commissioned a new map of the unstable plateau above Oso. The mapmakers suggested boundaries for safe logging areas. According to a report in today's Seattle Times, in spite of praising the map and the accompanying report (created by geologist Daniel Miller and hydrologist Joan Sias), the Department of Natural Resources failed to take its suggested boundaries into account when, around 2005, it issued permits for a 7.5 acre clearcut.

The August 2005 clearcut, of land owned by Grandy Lake Forest, covered much of the area that would have been protected had DNR followed the prescription of the Miller map. The Seattle Times also notes that clearcutting appears to have extended beyond its permit onto restricted land. Less than six months later, in January, 2006, a landslide hit Oso, a landslide that looked eerily similar to this year's fatal hillside collapse — only smaller. — C.H.

Bus cuts, visualized

Those who haven't yet made up their minds about whether to vote yes on King County's Proposition 1, which would raise vehicle fees to avoid King County bus service cuts and fix local roads, have a new resource to consider. Seattle Transit Blog's Oran Viriyincy has created a visualization of how "frequent transit service" in neighborhoods (defined as routes that run every 15 minutes or less on weekdays before 6 pm) will be affected if the measure doesn't pass. Keep in mind, these routes will not be cut entirely, just run less frequently. Still, it gives a pretty bleak picture of easy busriding in Seattle neighborhoods. —B.A.

Broadband

Each time Seattle elects a new mayor, he or she (oh, wait, there hasn't been a she in, well, never mind) dutifully takes up the city's better, faster broadband drum and begins a slow, measured beat toward 'progress'. Though he brought fast Internet to Pioneer Square, former Mayor Mike McGinn's elaborate Gigabit Seattle ploy turned out not to have any financing.

Now, according to the Seattle Times' Brier Dudley, Mayor Ed Murray is planning to give phone companies free rein when it comes to placing utility cabinets — those big metal boxes so loved by street marketers and guerilla artists — on parking strips. Previously, the installation of new cabinets required written permission from nearby homeowners — a practice Crosscut writer Bill Schrier criticized as a roadblock to competing services like Google Fiber just last month. Now, Murray says he'll throw the rule out by the end of June, making way for 349 new cabinets in the first year. Progress, of a sort.

The big question, which Dudley raises, is about strategy. If Murray really, as he claims, wants a city-owned broadband network, why is he giving away one of his best bargaining chips to a corporate broadband provider (CenturyLink stands to gain the most) without any guarantee of a return? As Dudley reports, "The company and its lobbyist gave his mayoral campaign the maximum possible donations. He also received a $5,000 donation from the state broadband-providers association." — B.A.


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Comments:

Posted Mon, Mar 31, 3:49 p.m. Inappropriate

Dudley's argument is actually kind of silly. Strategy? Building out a municipal broadband network is likely going to take years when you factor in things like finding a way to fund it, environmental review, community feedback.

It's something we should talk about... but to keep communities like Beacon Hill, the Central District, etc. in the dark for another few years only to be used as a bargaining chip? That's just wrong. We've waited over 4 years for the city to open up the playing field so CenturyLink can play under the same set of rules as the cable companies. We needed better options for broadband years ago and we need to do something now.

There's plenty of community support. UPTUN has worked hard to get communities like the North Beacon Hill Council and residents from all around the city on board. http://www.uptun.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/SDOT-letter-July-2013.pdf

Posted Mon, Mar 31, 5:26 p.m. Inappropriate

I don't understand why Brier's shorts are in a knot over these cabinets. For one thing that he did not mention, Century Link is planing to apply decals to these boxes that will make them easy to clean off; plus personally, I don't see that graffiti is a big problem in residential neighborhoods, plus it hasn't deterred SDOT from installing lots of them as traffic light control cabinets -- and not underground either.

Heck, I would find a broadband cabinet a great trade-off for decent broadband, and a lot less ugly than the forest of cabling that festoons the "telephone poles" right now.

Furthermore, I don't see that allowing these devices would torpedo the muni fiber project; how do you get support from people who don't have any capability at all to speak of and can't develop an appetite for more.

Pay attention to Schrier; he was a "head screwed on right" anomaly in the Seattle City Government. Not nearly as worthless as Bruce Harrell, who is supposed to be our technology advocate on the Council, but who has said and done nothing to improve our pathetic situation. The city boasts of the region's connectedness while doing nothing to abet it, and as seen here, quite a bit to impede it.

Murray may be a breath of fresh air, and I might even forgive his back-pedaling on discipline in the SPD.

kmeyer

Posted Tue, Apr 1, 9:24 a.m. Inappropriate

Graffiti isn't a "big problem in residential neighborhoods" ??? Where do you live - Mayberry?

Posted Thu, Apr 3, 11:42 a.m. Inappropriate

Where do you live, the South Bronx?

kmeyer

Posted Mon, Mar 31, 5:39 p.m. Inappropriate

The problem with the "Transit Benefit District" is that it creates another unbridled taxing authority; it is a bait-and-switch ploy that includes a lot of money for roads in unincorporated King County that already dumps its social problems on Seattle; Tom Rasmussen will spend Seattle's cut of the benefits on his half-a-billion dollar "Bicycle Master Plan" to the detriment of auto owners who are paying for most of it, so as usual, Seattle's automobile owners will take it in the shorts for all of this beneficence to other people locally and in the burbs.

I liked the idea suggested somewhere that owners of apartments in Transit Oriented Development environs be taxed to fund the bus services which are focused on serving these developments.

kmeyer

Posted Tue, Apr 1, 9:22 a.m. Inappropriate

Taxing the owners who will pass on this cost to their renters, who may or may not be the riders of the transit. Why isn't it better to just raise the fares on the transit itself and let the direct riders pay the cost directly, instead of thru their rent???

Posted Mon, Mar 31, 6:07 p.m. Inappropriate

I will probably vote yes for Prop 1 but not because of the prospect of subsidized bus riders having to wait a little longer during peak commute periods (assuming that they do not have access to the various apps that tell them exactly when the bus will arrive). A map of routes losing service altogether would be more compelling.

WSDW

Posted Mon, Mar 31, 6:47 p.m. Inappropriate

You understand the government heads around here already tax far more heavily for transit compared to how it's done anywhere else in the country, right? They have not put forth any cogent argument about why they might need to hike sales taxes and car tab taxes again in light of the fact that they confiscate far more of that kind of revenue than any of their peers.

Let's hear your argument -- why on earth would you want the county to impose even higher regressive taxes on the households with the least economic means? Do you dislike the lower middle class because you feel guilty?

crossrip

Posted Tue, Apr 1, 5:25 p.m. Inappropriate

Crossrip, why should the productive be expected to pay for services they don't use much, if at all? It is one thing to implement progressive taxation for property-protecting/enhancing services such as fire, police, and under-grounding of utility cables. But why should the productive subsidize your bus/ferry rides, TV/broadband, or parks and recreational facilities?

If you are adamantly opposed to regressive taxes, then you should see the logic of supporting higher bus fares and park & rec facility fees. And if you don't, then you must think the costs to provide these services are too high - in which case you should be against public sector unions.

The bottom-line is that it is only fair that people pay for the services and products they consume. And if it costs too much, then people should focus on bring down the cost, not taking from the productive.

kevin22

Posted Tue, Apr 1, 9:13 p.m. Inappropriate

You picked a poor day to make sense about social policy.

Djinn

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