What's in HB 1453 to better protect tenants?

I get a lot of political advocacy email. I got one asking me to comment in favor of Washington House bill 1453 to better protect tenants. It's primary sponsor is Nicole Macri who by all accounts is awesome and the advocacy group's summary sounded like a great thing for us to change, so I commented and expressed the sentiment that tenants should be as secure in housing as home owners are. Anyway, I couldn't find any articles quickly when I did comment, so here I am reading the full text the next day. :)

Excuses to use cast iron: dutch baby pancakes!

Some months ago a coworker mentioned their partner making them Dutch baby pancakes for a special day. I was intrigued and googled, stashing away this Alton Brown recipe. A few weeks ago I finally made it in a 9 inch pan for family breakfast (partner, kiddo, my mom and me). They were delicious but somewhat awkward to make seconds. I made up a batch, we baked it, divided into quarters and repeat. Awkward. But! I have tiny cast iron pans! They are adorable little six inch diameter pans.

Cars are regressive taxation

Okay, technically "cars" are't regressive taxes. Our focus on them is. That we prioritize and promote facilities overwhelmingly for private automobile use is a cost we impose on everyone, but for those who are poor they are a regressive tax.

November 2018 Ballot Guide: Voter for Clean Air

Seattle folks (and some online folks) may have noticed I've been a bit absent from politics, especially cheerleading folks to get out and talk to voters and so forth. The reason is simple: health. I've had a progressive (and so far unknown) eye issue. At first it was just my left eye and I dealt with it, but I gave up driving early in the summer and gave up biking a few weeks ago as my right eye got worst. I have surgery coming up next week where maybe they figure out what it is (and repair some damage), but there are no guarantees. It's been very hard to keep up with very many things, both due to actual physical (and variable) disability, but also the emotional and mental load of it. I eventually was able to make myself give a bunch of things up, at least for a while. It was hard.

Speed limit contradictions with the Seattle Parks trail pilot

People have been using "ebikes" on Seattle's multi-use trails for some time.  These are primarily pedal assist ones capped at 15, 20 or 25 mph. Our household recently got an electric cargo bike with this feature. It's great because it's insurance that you can get where you need to go, even if a little tired or the hills are bigger than you realized on the route you picked (a critical need in a city where we have not yet put protected bike lanes on major flat and direct arterial routes).

The period of maximum constraint is an opportunity

Seattle's Mayor, Jenny Durkan, announced a new interim director, for the city department of transportation (SDOT), Linea Laird. Urbanist twitter was aghast at this choice to lead SDOT as Laird's most recent project was the state highway 99 replacement: a tunnel with no downtown exits is useless for freight or transit. “Why are we choosing a car focused person to lead SDOT during the period of maximum constraint? It must be because the mayor only cares about cars!” – urbanist twitter. Alternately, the mayor may have just picked someone competent without noticing the message it sends. But I take this as a chance to remind everyone what we should be doing, even if the mayor seems uninterested. Our constraints force us to make hard choices.

Let's just try lowering speed limits now!

Seattle's Department of Transportation (SDOT) put up a new speed limit map last week. Seattle had a couple of years ago changed local law so that default speed limits for arterials was lowered to 25 mph and non-arterials was lowered to 20 mph. But, it will take a long time to officially change all roads because the process described to me in email involved evaluating a handful of urban village streets per year. But after looking at the data a bit and confirming there are large differences in speed limits across districts, I think a better and more equitable process would be to just lower nearly all arterial streets (per the intent of the law), then measure speeds and impacts, and adjust as needed.

Imagine Seattle Taking Action on Climate

It's 2032. The Mayor of Seattle – in 2032 a woman of color being mayor will be almost unremarkable – stands before the city council and distinguished guests to announce the completion of a program that marks Seattle officially becoming carbon neutral. While Seattle couldn't control all of its carbon emissions directly, we discovered that the vast majority were under our control and what little was left were fixed by state level action or by offsetting. Seattle, in 2032, led the nation in hitting its targets ahead of schedule, helping to make it more likely the United States as a whole would be carbon neutral by 2035 and allowing the world to hold the line to a difficult, but not disastrous, increase in global temperature.

I 💚 bike share! Please don't mess it up!

Seattle's city council committee devoted to transportation issues received a presentation last week on our free floating bike share program and then passed an ordinance out of committee. The current bike "free floating" (park anywhere) bike share program is still technically under pilot rules. Lime Bike is apparently currently "winning" – I'm not at all surprised as I use a Lime bike at least a couple times a week and their pedal-assist e-bikes are just enough and I love them.

Electric cars won't make Seattle green

There's still a window where we can limit global warning to 1.5 C rather than 2 C. As David Roberts notes in that article, that half a degree means saving hundreds of millions of lives, prevents inundations of some islands and coastal areas, not to mention the affects on the wider environment. That half a degree seems worth it to me.

Bike Plans: Aspirations & Actuality

The latest Bike Master Plan was adopted in 2014. There's even a map. But plans require implementation and that's where I sometimes feel we've lost our way. I've historically just accepted bike infrastructure as what it is, even being happy someone painted sharrows on a road to maybe warn folks in cars that people on bikes might be present. But since having a kid and really trying to bike regularly again – and experiencing how awesome the 2nd Ave bike lane is – I've realized that being happy to "share" the streets with cars isn't enough to get people biking. And if we can't change the default in cities away from half ton plus carbon polluting vehicles, then we're killing people in the short term and the long-term. So this blog is a bit about me looking at some bike infrastructure and realizing that we aren't doing a very good job of building it.

Pithy title about the head tax vote

I'm just declaring bankruptcy on clever titles about the head tax vote. Considering how much energy I put into the head tax (still a lot less than many), I feel I can post my own hot take on my own blog even if I can't come up with a good title.

Anyway, it was repealed. It was pretty inevitable after the last minute special meeting was called. I went to the vote anyway. I spoke. There will be more work to do. It's not like anyone is going to quit trying to fix things. But the "fight" shows how thin the veneer of fair dealing and "civilization" is right now.

Answering another Seattle budget question: how much have we spent on housing?

I previously looked at how much the city of Seattle has planned to spend in total every year since 2005 – divided by Seattle populated and adjusted for inflation to 2017 dollars. Another question is to ask how different departments spending has changed in that time frame. The big topic right now is homelessness and housing. I pulled the adopted expenditures for three departments:

Top Ten Better Uses of Time and Money than Working to Repeal the Head Tax

There's now a movement to repeal the tiny head tax passed by the Seattle City Council. Suddenly lots of folks are experts about how the city council could have just done something different and still somehow funded the massive number of homes we need to build in Seattle and King County in order to begin addressing homelessness for real and making homes affordable for all. Parts of the business community and local media have made this all about the minor costs of the tax and not the benefits.

Finding Bike Routes Home Again

I stopped biking to work regularly at about the sixth month of pregnancy. Almost five years ago! I kept trying to get back into it but with kiddo management and time, I just never did get into a regular cadence again. Since this is May, some coworkers of course organized and encouraged folks to get biking again so I've been trying!