1. Opponents of a potential 900-stall Northgate parking garage weren't allowed to speak at yesterday's Sound Transit board meeting (although board members discussed the garage, it wasn't on the board's official action agenda), but they still showed up in force to watch agency staff and board members discuss the proposal.
Thursday's briefing was one of the first times the board has explicitly acknowledged that a "600 to 900 stall parking garage" is its "preferred parking mitigation strategy" — preferred, that is, to alternatives supported by environmentalists and transit advocates, such as additional bus routes linking the Northgate station to neighborhoods, or a pedestrian bridge connecting North Seattle Community College to the station. (Although Sound Transit's presentation called the parking lot the "consensus" choice of the Northgate steering committee, light rail executive director Amhad Fazel had to correct that during the meeting, and Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray now says that the committee merely plans to "continue talking in hope of reaching a consensus.")
Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick says the 900 new stalls, which would be shared with Northgate Mall owner Simon Properties, would merely replace a surface parking lot owned by Metro nearby, which will be used for staging during light rail construction. Sound Transit says that after rail is built, the lot will be converted into a mixed-use development; however, there's no guarantee that it won't simply go back to being a parking lot. And overall, garage opponents point out, light rail will only permanently displace about 100 parking spaces. Ironically, Sound Transit's own presentation concludes that just 10 percent of riders who board rail at Northgate will drive to the park-and-ride; the rest, the agency estimates, will get there by biking, walking, or transit.
2. Immediately before the packed board meeting, Sound Transit board member Paul Roberts, a member of the Everett City Council, took testimony on the impending (September) elimination of the Seattle downtown Ride Free Area. The subject has prompted many heated comments at meetings of the King County Council, the governing board for Metro, but the fact that Sound Transit customers will also lose free bus service downtown has gone virtually unnoticed.
Indeed, just three people turned out to testify on the elimination of the fare-free zone yesterday — one opposed because he uses the free buses, one in favor because Metro's "pay as you leave" policy slows buses down, and one opposed because requiring fares upon boarding will make bus operations in the downtown transit tunnel even slower.
3. We gave yesterday's winning Jolt to lefty groups that protested Amazon, prompting the company to withdraw its support for ALEC, the conservative lobbying group. One thing we didn't mention: Just one candidate for state office — 27th District state Senate candidate Jack Connelly, who's been criticized in lefty quarters for his arguably anti-choice, anti-gay-marriage views — showed up for the protest.
4. Add architects to the chorus of voices supporting Mayor Mike McGinn's proposal to lift minimum parking mandates on new developments within a few blocks of frequent transit service.
In a letter to the City Council this week, the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects urged council members to adopt the controversial change, which would give developers more flexibility to build less parking in dense urban areas.
"We support letting the market decide how much parking is appropriate, rather than requiring one-size-fits all parking quotas," the group wrote. Noting that parking mandates add cost to developments and often lead to bad design, the letter continued, "this change will allow developers to fine-tune the amount of parking provided, tailoring each project to the demographics, commercial uses and neighborhood patterns where they're located."
Earlier this week, the council's planning committee punted on the parking proposal, putting off a vote until at least mid-June after neighborhood activists complained (and The Seattle Times emphasized) that lifting the parking mandate amounted to "eliminating parking" around the city.
5. The 46th District Democrats (North Seattle) made their endorsements last night and went with recently appointed incumbent state Rep. Gerry Pollet over his young, ubiquitous, formidable challenger Sylvester Cann; and they went with whirlwind, longtime activist Sarajane Siegfriedt over transit green Jessyn Farrell, the only other of the handful of candidates who made it through to the second round of voting for the Postition #2 seat being vacated by Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney.
6. Jason Bennett, a longtime consultant and former chair of the 36th District Democrats who's working this year for 36th District state house candidate Seattle Port Commissioner Gael Tarleton, routinely faces conflict-of-interest allegations within the party about his dual role. As a district executive board member this year (and chair in the past), he's able to vote on (and help influence) district endorsements while simultaneously working for the candidates he's voting to endorse. Those allegations came up again at this year's 36th District endorsement meeting.
However, Fizz submits the following counter-argument: In addition to his $500 contribution to Tarleton, Bennett donated $250 to Mike O'Brien aide Sahar Fathi, Tarleton's rival. "She's a buddy of mine," Bennett says, "and I really respect her a great deal." Fathi and Bennett worked together at the Institute for a Democratic Future, a sort of training camp for young future Democratic Party candidates.
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