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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Seattle’s Downtown Needs a Strong New Narrative. Here Are Five Places to Start

Plan-averse Seattle's plan is not to plan but just to wait for the vaccines to bring back the boomtimes. Very risky. And there are some good ideas for building back better.

How Seattle City Light Made it Through a Texas-Sized Windstorm in 2006

In that Hanukkah Eve windstorm, we heard sad stories about cancelled events and ceremonies, about disabled customers who, without electricity to power elevators, were trapped in dark, heatless multi-storied buildings. Before power was fully restored, 13 people in the region died, mostly by carbon monoxide poisoning .

Ideas: A Seattle Experiment in Equitable Development

When Seattle leaders were updating the city’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan—the plan that envisions and directs Seattle’s growth—in 2015, they decided to do something unique. The city’s required environmental impact statement was accompanied by a racial equity analysis—which leaders say is the first one performed by any major U.S. city.

Master of Illusion: Seattle’s New Electrical Substation goes Online

The result is ingenious and well worth the mounting list of design awards and breathless reviews. The NBBJ design team, headed by principal Jose Sama, needed to wall off the substation while offering up favors—all within a single project budget.

A Plan to Help Low-Income Renters

This legislative session could have a silver lining for renters and advocates for affordable housing in a tax break offered to landlords who will freeze rents for six years.

City Council’s Black Brilliance Research Project Fractures

Back in December SCC Insight reported on the dubious contractual structure underlying the Black Brilliance Research Project: how the Seattle City Council bent over...

Warning From the Bench: Judge Robart speaks out

When it comes to what’s going on in Seattle these days, Judge James Robart has thoughts. And when you’re a judge, you can compel an audience.

Why Bellingham’s Waterfront Took So Long, and Why It’s a Good Idea

There are two huge elephants in this room. One is climate change, since the project is on low-lying shorefront. The other is the railroad, cutting right through the project. All in all, a good fit for "The City of Subdued Excitement."

Is that all there is? Bellingham’s Attempt to Reclaim its Waterfront

These ambitious waterfront projects normally deploy the resources of large cities. Even then, as in Seattle, these efforts are littered with setbacks, political stumbles, litigation, and misguided public-sector largesse.

Jane Jacobs’ Blueprint for Rebuilding Seattle

Seattle voters will cast ballots in important civic elections this year: two at-large council seats, a city attorney and a new mayor. The outcomes will affect how Seattle recovers from deteriorating conditions. Each candidate for office will have to address plans for the revitalization of Seattle.

Our Fastest-Growing State… Idaho?

No state has grown faster than Idaho in the past five years. The Mountain West, overall, has had strong growth since 2015, with Nevada, Utah and Arizona right behind Idaho in the growth rankings.

Open Letter to Mayor Durkan: Don’t Let a Lovely Tribute Park Get Trashed

The elegant Madison Valley park itself, given its small scale and the number of tents now lining the perimeter, is now essentially off-limits to Seattle citizens.

A Remade Pacific Place: Mall for a Market that stayed Home

The future of Pacific Place seems less certain, and more tied to the fate of overbuilt retail. Might there be some other ways to rejuvenate the building? Empty Pacific Place might be the perfect place to ease Seattle’s transition into the post-pandemic age—and help to save downtown Seattle once again.

Manifesto: A Vision for a Renewed Seattle

The urban theorist Richard Florida argues cities and surrounding regions will thrive as we move beyond the pandemic, just as they have following previous calamities: “Covid-19 is a once-in-a-century catastrophe, but it also hands us a once-in-a-century opportunity to rebuild communities to be more equitable and more inclusive, as well as more livable.”

Some Basic Steps to Reclaim Seattle Parks from Tent Encampments

The encampments that existed in the parks and greenbelts at the beginning of the pandemic were small and hidden and usually didn’t prevent other members of the public from using their parks. But in the months since the encampments have mushroomed tenfold with newcomers who cannot claim they are simply sheltering in place.

Meanwhile: Ideas for the Spaces between Engagements

Covid has created many empty lots, vacant storefronts (about 20,000 in London by one count), and offices. So why not capitalize on these neglected spaces and spur new enterprises?

Set Up to Fail? How to Help Make Seattle’s Leaders More Successful

There's no Jim Ellis or Warren Magnuson or Establishment to craft big political deals, so some group needs to convene peace talks to see if some win-win proposals can be forged and presented for public debate.

Seattle Parks: A “Spiraling Crisis”

An ill-starred combination of factors has left numbers of parks dangerous and chaotic at the precise time when people have the most acute need for getting outdoors and for recreation space.

The Grinches Who Stole Seattle’s Civic Mojo

Banks, Baby Bells, law firms, architects, Boeing, downtown property developers, media, financial firms, Safeco -- all now controlled by national owners, who apply standard formulas and bottom-line thinking. Seattle is a "province" again.

More Broken Bridges to Come?

The saga of the West Seattle Bridge, born in the aftermath of a catastrophic marine accident, is likely far from an anomaly. Seattle's bridges (somewhere around 124) are a threatened commodity.

Durkan: We’ll Repair West Seattle Bridge Instead of Replacing It

Community feedback, including from the Community Task Force that Durkan convened, was evenly split between the two options.

‘The 15-Minute City’: Desirable, But Not So Easy To Pull Off

In fact, this kind of community was built in many places in North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were called Streetcar Suburbs.

The Unlikely, Overdue Benefits of the Pandemic

One example of a benefit: Less commuting, since downtown offices are less needed. A related gain: less deification of density. Urbanism will spread from the hub to the satellite towns, redefining and spreading the attractions of humane density.

Truth About Consequences: The Proposal to Change Prosecution of Misdemeanors is a Bad Idea

The roadblocks to successful prosecution this proposal establishes will discourage police from making arrests, amplifying a condition that already exists today, and discourage prosecutors from taking cases to court.

Lazaro – The Protests Were For Him Too

Lazaro was six miles from the unrest. I wish he had been there, for the protests were for him too. His seventy-nine-year-old black life still mattered.

Everything You Need to Know About Mayor Durkan’s Proposed City Budget

So with no drastic cuts to any departments, how did the City Budget Office balance the budget? Through a combination of actions.

Q & A with the Director of Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability

What I do hope is that people do read the findings and they read your article and they read other articles that are out there and understand how complex these situations are. That they’re human situations, that they’re often five seconds, six seconds of decisions that are being made.

Seattle’s Waterfront Is Remaking Itself, With a Dramatic Overlook Walk to the Aquarium

The Overlook Walk will meet the edge of MarketFront, where a series of bridging structures will continue the switchbacks down a gentle slope to the roof deck of the Ocean Pavilion. On the way down, the path will cross over yet-to-be-built Elliott Avenue, the branch of rebuilt Alaskan Way which will climb the face of the cliff, carrying most of the northbound traffic toward Belltown.

A Rash of Fires, Some Deemed Arson, Rages Through Rainier Valley

Since the Rainier Farmer Market was burned most recently on August 20, there have been dozens of other fires in the Rainier Valley area, but SFD fire investigators have not been able to determine a cause for some of the largest ones.

Going Postal: Civic Lessons Offered Free

The Post Office is not only a great institution of democracy, it is a great leveler, a place where human interaction is polite and measured.