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We’ve had a lot to blog about in transportation news and commentary lately…

This is, by far, the most exciting nugget we’ve had to share. While it is just a start, it is movement in the right direction:

A light ballot measure for westside light rail

Unbowed by the gloomy budget news he dispensed this week, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is still working toward his 2009 campaign promise to offer rail transit, linking West Seattle and Ballard to downtown.

The latest strategy, outlined in a letter from McGinn to a transit advisory group, suggests asking voters this year to approve just $10 million — enough money to complete 15 percent of the design for an 8-mile line. Taxpayers already are being asked this fall to double the Families and Education Levy right after a recession.

“The level of design work funded would allow us to seek federal grants for construction, as well as develop a timetable for a larger ballot measure to fund construction,” says McGinn’s message to Kate Joncas, Downtown Seattle Association director, and Ref Lindmark, a King County transit planner who helped plan the 2006 “Bridging the Gap” measure to improve city roads and bicycle-pedestrian travel.

via Politics Northwest | A light ballot measure for westside light rail | Seattle Times Newspaper.

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Here’s a great opportunity to join a crack team on an exciting mission to transform transportation across the State of Washington:

Volunteer & Internship Opportunities with Transportation for Washington

Address: 814 Second Avenue, Suite 500, Seattle, WA 98104

Great For: Teens, 55+, Groups (up to 10)

Interest Area: Advocacy & Human Rights, Environment, Politics

Date: This is an Ongoing Opportunity.

Minimum Age: 16

Volunteers Needed: 30

via Volunteer & Internship Opportunities with Transportation for Washington: Futurewise Opportunity – VolunteerMatch.

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Howard Norton Cook, “Steel Industry,” (detail) 1936, United States Post Office & Courthouse, Pittsburgh, PA. Courtesy of the General Services Administration, Fine Arts Program

During the Great Depression, our nation funded the arts through the New Deal. During the Boeing Bust, our local arts commissions were founded. Now, during the Great Recession, this is our moment for action.

4Culture – our region’s largest arts and heritage agency – is at risk of having their funding cut by 90% unless there is action in Olympia today. You can be a part of our local arts lore by showing up, signing in and being present at the Senate Ways & Means hearing on SHB 1997, TODAY at 1:30 pm in Senate Hearing Rm 4 — J.A. Cherberg Building. This is a monumental moment because it is our very best chance to secure funding for our regions’ artists, arts and heritage organizations.

Now, in our 7th year of advocacy, we come to our last public hearing. How did it get to this point? All along, 4Culture advocates have had the strong support of our state’s legislature. The reason 4Culture’s funding hasn’t been reauthorized is because key legislators have been unable to agree about what else should be in the package. We cannot let these disagreements stall the legislation again this year. Time has run out. We need action and we need it now.

We realize that dashing off to Olympia today might not be possible for you.

If that’s the case, please take a moment to simply complete this Washington States Arts Alliance action alert.

Later this summer – once the funding is secured – you’ll start to notice the 4Culture sponsorship logo on an astonishing range of cultural activities. And you’ll be able to say, “I did that, I did my part. During one of the craziest times in recent history, I took time to help save 4Culture.”

For breaking information and carpooling, please visit www.Advocate4Culture.org.

Cheryl dos Remedios is the Chair of Great City’s Arts, Heritage, Historic Preservation and Public Art committee. Great City is honored to be convening the Advocate4Culture Coalition, a group of more than 800 organizations and individuals dedicated to the preservation of arts and heritage in King County. For more information, please see the letter from King County business, arts and heritage leaders below.

March 28, 2011

As members of King County’s arts and heritage community, we are thrilled about HB 1997, a bill that proposes to secure existing visitor taxes and direct them toward economic development activities, including King County’s arts and heritage programs. Revenues for arts and heritage are managed by 4Culture, which is now the largest regular source of grant revenue for King County cultural programs—programs that create jobs, enhance our quality of life and enrich our communities.

Arts and heritage tourism is a vital part of King County’s economy, and has defined our county as a hub for culture and artistic innovation. Since 1990, a portion of hotel-motel lodging taxes has been supporting cultural programs in King County. 4Culture invests $4.5 million in more than 500 organizations, artist projects and education initiatives every year throughout Kind County, and each investment contributes to our diverse, authentic cultural fabric. These funds are also a powerful economic driver for local tourism and make King County an attractive and vibrant place to visit. According to a recently released economic impact study conducted by ArtsFund, culture in King County generates $1.75 billion dollars in economic activity; creates more than 29,000 jobs; and generates nearly $80 million dollars in state and local tax revenue.

As citizens, we support HB 1997 because it would secure the future for 4Culture’s arts, heritage and preservation funding programs. If HB 1997 does not pass, we face a devastating 90 percent reduction in funding for arts and heritage in King County.

Despite the enormous benefits, the lodging taxes that support arts and culture will expire in 2012 if our state legislature does not act now. While elected officials are facing considerable economic pressures, the stunning 90 percent cut to our County’s cultural programs can be averted. Right now the state legislature has an opportunity to ensure the continued funding of 4Culture by reauthorizing a small percentage of future visitor taxes for investment back into King County’s cultural industry.

For more information, please visit Advocate4Culture.org.

Weir Harman
Executive Director
Town Hall Seattle

Lane Czaplinski
Artistic Director
On the Boards

Tom Mara
Executive Director
KEXP 90.3

Josh LaBelle
Executive Director
Seattle Theatre Group

Bernie Griffin
Managing Director
5th Avenue Theatre

Gian-Carlo Scandiuzzi
Executive Director
ACT Theatre

Howard Wright III
CEO
Seattle Hospitality Group

Paul Schell
Former Mayor
City of Seattle

Paul Heppner
CEO
Encore Media Group

Suzette Cooke
Mayor
City of Kent

Susan Silver
Manager
Alice in Chains

Dave Dederer
Presidents of the United States of America

Chris Ballew
Presidents of the United States of America

Leah Baltus
Editor in Chief
City Arts Magazine

Steven Severin
Owner
Neumos

Andy Fife
Executive Director
Shunpike

Nancy Colson
Board Member
Auburn Symphony

Marya Sea Kaminski
Writer, Director,
Cornish Professor

Jennifer Zeyl
Theatre artist

Diana Falchuk
Arts Connect Program Director
Seattle Arts Commission

Jerry Everard
Attorney
Groff Murphy Trachtenburg

Brad Brotherton
President
Brotherton Cadillac Buick GMC

Cheryl dos Remedios
Arts & Heritage Chair
Great City

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Deeper into the conversation about transit service expansion and sprawl:

Seattle Transit Blog: Can Rail Cause Sprawl?

On Seattle Transit Blog today, Andrew Smith asks: Can rail lines between suburbs and cities actually cause the kind of sprawl transit is ostensibly supposed to help prevent?

The argument that it can, basically, is this: If you build rail lines out to sprawling suburbs, like highways, they’ll drive more people to live far away from cities, prompting expanded suburbs (and exurbs) with single-family, car-dependent development and zoning patterns that require people to own cars and drive just about everywhere. (Josh made a version of this point in Fizz the other day, when he argued that a state grant for commuter trains to Lakewood constituted a victory “for sprawl over density.”)

STB, however, makes a convincing case that in places like the Puget Sound region, rail is both necessary and unlikely to result in the sort of development that we would consider sprawl. (First Hill, STB notes, was considered sprawl in the Victorian era, and streetcar suburbs like Ballard would count as sprawl by the standards of the era in which they were built).

via Seattle Transit Blog: Can Rail Cause Sprawl? | PubliCola – Seattle’s News Elixir.

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Last month, Great City supported Transportation Advocacy Day in Olympia, sending several members to Olympia to participate in small group meetings with legislators and help launch a new statewide campaign. Here is an update on one of our shared Transportation Advocacy Day 2 for this legislative session:

Complete Streets bill passes Senate Committee!

One of TCC’s top legislative priorities, the Complete Streets bill, ESHB 1071 passed out of Senate Transportation today. Sen Haugen, the Chair of the Senate committee, asked for support of the bill saying it is a good bill that gets Washington, “looking at things in a more holistic manner”. The bill had bipartisan support with all members of the committee voting for the bill except Sen. Erickson (42nd). Now the bill will wait in the Rules committee until it is ready for full Senate action.

via Moving Ahead: Complete Streets bill passes Senate Committee!.

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The American Society of Landscape Architects’ blog, The Dirt, asks What’s an Eco-City? You can find out or decide for yourself and explore the evolution of this concept through a new UW symposium “Next Eco-City.”

The University of Washington’s landscape architecture department has put together a symposium that will explore the idea of the Eco-City. In ”Next Eco-City,” a range of leading landscape theorists and practitioners like Kristina Hill, Affiliate ASLA, Pierre Belanger, ASLA, and Yu Kongjian, International ASLA, will cover how the Eco-City concept has evolved with increased urbanization and rapid globalization.

The conference organizers argue that “urban environments worldwide are in the midst of multiple shifts, driven by interconnected flows in capital, people, and resources at local, regional and global scales. It impacts not only cities but also the network of social and ecological systems well beyond their borders.”

Despite the fact that a true Eco-City has never really existed, the idea continues to have legs, and has persevered as a potential solution to global challenges. “In contrast to the complexity of today’s urbanization, the concept of the ‘Eco-City,’ arguably dating back to the ideal of the 19th Century Garden City, seems like an overly simplistic and utopian vision. Yet, the imagery and language of an idealized ‘Eco-City’ continue to shape the planning and design of contemporary cities while disregarding the vital complexity of contemporary urban conditions and issues.”  More…

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4. You know how the legislature supposedly favors elitist urban Seattle over “real” Washington like Kent and Tukwila and Sumner.

Hmmmm … The house transportation committee passed the transportation budget yesterday with an amendment that killed a Seattle Department of Transportation grant for a transit priority corridor on Market/45th St., swapping it out for more commuter trains to Lakewood.

Both worthy projects, but score one for sprawl over density and against Seattle.

via “So, Soundgarden at Your Campaign Kick-Off?” | PubliCola – Seattle’s News Elixir.

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Sail Away Art Installation

The “Sail Away” art installation, designed by Kristi Park began as an entry to the Seattle Design Commission’s Holding Pattern Contest in 2010 and was selected as a finalist. The project’s intention is to temporarily transform a stalled construction site located at 5th/Columbia in downtown Seattle into a public art installation. The sculpture is not intended to be directly accessed, but is specifically designed to activate the public experience of this neighborhood by taking advantage of the site’s environmental conditions to breathe life into the site. The project is intended to last from 1 – 3 years or until the economy picks up and and construction can begin on the future skyscraper planned for this site. The art installation is designed to be relocated and will seek a new home when/if necessary.

At this point in time we are actively seeking funding to construct the project – with a target installation date of late June 2011. Everyone working in this project is volunteering (with the exception of engineering and installation specialists). Funding will go straight towards raising public awareness, design development and materials/construction costs. Our hope is to enliven the urban experience with this project and inspire others to propose their own projects. We don’t have to wait for the economy to pick up to life in vibrant cities – we can enrich our city right now!

Please Donate! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/214077293/sail-away-project-seattle-wa

And/or… attend one (or both) of our fundraising events:

Silent Auction
What: Silent Auction to raise money for the Sail Away – temporary art project.
Where: Daniel’s Recital Hall located in downtown Seattle on 5th/Columbia http://recitalhall.fifthandcolumbia.com/
When: April 14th, 2011: 5p – preview items / 6 – 8p silent auction
Who: All are welcome!
Why? Because you are excited to transform a stalled construction site into a vibrant art installation!
Details!
-Light Refreshments will be provided by Matt’s in the Market http://www.mattsinthemarket.com/
-Suggested Donation: $10 at the door
For more information and to preview items: http://sailawayseattle.blogspot.com/
* Interested in donating an item/gift certificate/service? Please email park_kristi@hotmail.com

Benefit Concert
What: Opera Benefit Concert by Julianne Park, accompanied by Wade Digman Where: Daniel’s Recital Hall located in downtown Seattle on 5th/Columbia http://recitalhall.fifthandcolumbia.com/
When: April 14th, 2011: Lunch concert: Noon – 1p
Who: All are welcome!
Why? Because you are excited to transform a stalled construction site into a vibrant art installation!
Tickets: $15 at the door or pre-purchase on brownpapertickets.com http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/165911 or select the $25 reward on https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/214077293/sail-away-project-seattle-wa

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From the ULI:

Ron Terwilliger, chairman emeritus of Trammell Crow Residential, discusses the need for a balanced housing policy, especially in light of the country’s deemphasis on home ownership. Terwilliger states that a balanced housing policy will facilitate affordable rental housing for the workforce.

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Grown in the City is on a roll!  Check out this new map! Due to the popularity of the Interactive Food Sovereignty Map, GitC is launching the Interactive Urban Ag Zoning Map, to visualize how localities in different States are doing as they incorporate urban agriculture zoning ordinances into their communities. If you know of other localities [...] No related posts.

From Publicola:

There have been five applications—two approved, three pending—for sidewalk cafe permits around the city so far this year, in: Belltown the new Local 360 market where Flying Fish used to be; Capitol Hill Kanape, a cool new crepes spot by the Harvard Exit; downtown the Olive 8 on 8th; Pioneer Square Umbria, the Italian cafe on Occidental; and Ballard the 5 Corner Market.

via Spring Has Sprung, Sidewalks of Seattle Unite | PubliCola – Seattle’s News Elixir.

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From the Wall Street Journal here is news on a grant to study all the benefits of urban agriculture.
Last summer, the city’s community-garden coalition and city agencies battled over the future of urban gardens and farms and their place within the larger environmental landscape of the city. Out of that came a basic need to understand the present [...]

Out of India, where government investment can result in the conversion of agricultural land into office parks, comes a fundamental question relevant to the global smart-growth movement:

If the most fertile land in the country produces cars and chemicals, what do we eat?

via Don’t just develop land, develop future – India – DNA.

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It’s hard to talk about street food without referencing Portland, where pedestrians can easily eat every meal—breakfast, lunch, dinner, second dinner, drunk snack, Thanksgiving—on the street, with their fingers, if they so desire. We simply don’t have those kinds of options in Seattle, mostly because of a few poorly written, decades old laws that govern street food—laws that require sidewalk vendors to get written permission from the businesses they vend in front of, and basically limit their wares to popcorn, hot dogs, and coffee (really). But those rules are about to change.

More please.

  • James Callan via Flickr
  • More please.

This month, the DPD will introduce legislation to the Seattle City Council to vastly improve the city laws regulating where and how street vendors—both sidewalk carts and curbside food trucks—are allowed to operate. If passed by the council, the changes would apply to commercial areas of the city only (not residential neighborhoods). “We’re hopeful that we can get a new system in place before good weather sets in,” says Gary Johnson, a street use mastermind with the Department of Planning Development (DPD) who’s helped craft the new legislation.
If passed, the new rules would allow up to two sidewalk cart vendors per city block face (or eight per block), and empower the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to create curbside food zones where food trucks could park and sell.

…more, via: Seattle: One Taco Closer to Becoming a Real City | Slog.

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One way for emissions to be noticed as a part of a home's environmental footprint. Via HikersItch.com

We’ve said it before: green don’t mean a thing if it aint got that urban swing…

Where we live has an enormous impact on energy use, according to new research commissioned by the EPA. The report, “Location Efficiency and Housing Type — Boiling It Down to BTUs” finds that Americans use far less energy if they live in an apartment building in a transit-oriented neighborhood than if they live in a detached suburban house, even if that house has green building features and sports fuel-efficient cars in the driveway.

When it comes to this report, a picture’s worth a thousand words. As the graph above shows, the biggest energy efficiency gains come from living in transit-oriented neighborhoods.

A household living in a single family detached house located in a typical sprawl development uses an average of 240 million BTU British Thermal Units, a unit of energy output of energy a year, while the same household would only use 147 million BTU if the exact same house were located in a compact neighborhood. Make that single family house an apartment and energy use is down to 93 million BTU. …More: via Streetsblog Capitol Hill » EPA: Energy Efficiency Is About Location, Location, Location.

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