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Friday, April 23, 2021

The Invisible Gardener Who Shaped Seattle Parks

“Green Lake and Lincoln Parks were developed entirely by [Umlauff],” a rare early notice observed. “Woodland, Volunteer, Seward, and lesser parks were transformed and improved vastly under his direction.”

Refreshing an Iconic Seattle Park in a New Context

It may not be great functional design. It might not even make sense in the new context in which the park sits. But physical spaces are also places of history, and of memory. Sometimes they also get a voice.

Your Utility Rates In A Challenging Climate

Seattle Public Utilities expects that for a typical single-family home, the monthly bill will increase $15 this year, with smaller increases in the following years. An apartment will see an increase of about $4 per month this year, with slightly larger increases in the subsequent years.

Seattle’s New Gem of a Waterfront Park

Perhaps my favorite element are the very comfortable bright yellow metal chairs that are placed around the site in discrete and aesthetically pleasing arrangements. The pier is also painted yellow. All this provides a note of dash and wit to the enterprise.

Realignment: How our Housing Rental Market is getting even Worse

The drops in rents we have seen in the past year have mostly happened in expensive markets where renters have been less likely to be burdened. Rents in markets that are both more affordable and have high rate of rent burden, have actually risen.

City Council debates Mitigating Seattle Police Budget Cuts

Advocates who were set on a $5.4 million cut to SPD's budget are unlikely to be happy with Lisa Herbold's attempt at compromise. But a bigger, looming question is what Antonio Oftelie, the court-appointed police monitor, will think.

Leaving Portland — One Couple’s Story

Portland had been transformed into a distinctively Europeanized city, but now it is afflicted by a chronic anarchism that the politicians seem unable to stop.

Has Seattle Become a City that Doesn’t Work?

It does appear that the Council is more a staging ground for the nation’s culture and ideological wars than for civic leadership on local problems.

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.