Here’s where 10 Pronto bike share stations are planned for Capitol Hill

Screen-Shot-2014-05-25-at-10.11.00-PM-400x406unnamedThe City of Seattle has quietly begun notifying neighbors and neighboring businesses around ten Capitol Hill locations where planners have applied to place stations for the new Pronto bike share system slated to begin service across Seattle later this year.

UPDATE 7/22/14 4:50 PM: Pronto planners say the addresses listed in the SDOT permit database aren’t quite accurate. More at bottom of this post. UPDATE x2: Executive director Holly Houser tells CHS the locations we mapped did, indeed, have Pronto station permits filed with the city but that all of the locations may not end up being part of the service. “We applied for 75 permits for the 50 stations we need,” Houser said. “Some are secondary in case the first choice doesn’t work out.” She said the city has already come back asking for alternatives for around 10 planned stations that would “displace too much parking.” In addition to the SDOT public comment period, Houser said Pronto has an “outreach team” talking with businesses in the area of each planned station. “We’re going to every single business within a block radius,” she said.

A permit notice from the proposed station near 14th and John is below. The ten locations where permits have been submitted are spread across the core of the Hill with an apparent focus on grocery stores — four of the ten are located near Safeway, two QFCs, Central Co-op and a Trader Joe’s. There will be a station adjacent Cal Anderson Park but not Volunteer Park.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 11.35.32 AMWith concerns about how an open, point-to-point bike share service will perform on Seattle’s hilly terrain, seven of the ten planned Hill stations are located at Broadway-elevation or higher. All are planned to replace at least one street parking space to make room for the rental racks and service kiosk installations.

Boosted by a major sponsorship from Alaska Airlines, Seattle’s system lags behind programs in several other major cities. Seattle’s new system will begin with 500 bikes. Each station will have docks for 12 to 20 bikes and will feature a kiosk where non-members can sign up for 24-hour, or multiday passes, and or access bikes using a code. Those who pay $85 for an annual membership will be able to bypass the kiosk and check bikes out directly from their docks. In order for Pronto to operate in compliance with Washington helmet laws, each station will also have a “helmet dispensing” device, and a helmet return bin. Helmets will be available to rent for $2, will be sanitized after each use, and cycled out after a certain number of uses. A 24-hour pass will cost $8 or you can get three days for $16. Planners are collecting feedback on possible station locations from the community but have not yet announced the permit applications.

The permit notices include a September 1st start date.

UPDATE: Pronto director Holly Houser says the planned station addresses from the permit database we published aren’t completely accurate:

“Not only is it inaccurate in regards to specific locations,” says Pronto Cycle Share Director Holly Houser, “but it also shows both primary and secondary sites, so is somewhat misrepresentative of what the final network will look like.”1406070527-screen_shot_2014-07-22_at_4.03.20_pm

UPDATE 7/24/14: Pronto has released an updated list of planned Capitol Hill locations and a description of how the system will keep the community up to date on changes here:

Pronto! Emerald City Cycle Share, Seattle’s bike share system, has been authorized by the City under a program term permit. In accordance with the term permit, the non-profit operator of the system has submitted the following Street Use permit applications to install and maintain bike share stations in the right-of-way. Applications have been submitted for both primary and alternate station locations. Each station would feature bicycle docks, a solar-powered kiosk, and a helmet vending machine. Public notices of these applications have been posted at the proposed station sites in locations visible from the sidewalk. The system vendor, Alta Bicycle Share, has also conducted direct outreach with properties adjacent to the proposed bike share station locations.

The following tables are updated every Monday and Thursday afternoon.

Here’s the Capitol Hill portion of the table, below. We’ve updated our map at the top of this post and will add adjacent neighborhoods soon.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 4.59.23 PM

Say goodbye to the 47 as Murray’s Metro funding plan heads to November ballot

The-47-on-Bellevue-600x397The Seattle City Council has unanimously approved sending a measure to the November ballot to save King County’s Metro bus service, but it will be too little too late for Capitol Hill’s Route 47. The $45 million plan (PDF) would prevent several rounds of Metro cuts, but not before the 47 and several other lines are slashed in the first round of service reductions scheduled for September.

The measure, first proposed by Mayor Ed Murray in May, is basically a local version of the county-wide Proposition 1 which failed to pass in April. The Seattle plan would raise sales taxes by .1% and add a $60 vehicle licensing fee in the city.

The council rejected an amendment proposed by council members Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata that may have saved the 47 by replacing the sales tax increase with an annual $18 employee head count tax and increasing the tax paid by commercial parking lot operators from 12.5% to 17.5%. Those revenue streams could have been enacted by council before the September cuts took place.

On the plus side, Murray’s plan has a solid chance of passing. Over 66% of Seattle voters approved Prop. 1 and nearly 80% of voters in Capitol Hill’s 43rd legislative district approved the measure, which included road funding that the current plan leaves out.

After Eastside and rural King County voters torpedoed Prop. 1, CHS’s Bus Stop said this about the 47′s deep history in the neighborhood:

The 47 is Seattle’s shortest trolley bus line, connecting downtown with one of the densest census tracts on the west coast of the US. For 105 years, a bus or streetcar has come up the Hill from downtown, dropped passengers off on Summit Avenue as it headed north, turned around once it hits Lakeview Boulevard, and then headed back down Bellevue Avenue. Its frequency may have gone up or down as the years elapsed, and the 13 streetcar turned into the 14 bus to Mount Baker, which was eventually decoupled to form the downtown-only 47. But this bus has always been here. That looks about to change.

Council to consider creating voluntary Seattle ID cards

badge4ed6f40164f5327a9b8fd072d86739dfe794e1f5Until everyone is embedded with an RFID chip at birth or employed by Microsoft, governments are going to continue to wrestle with how to best outfit people with paper and plastic ID cards. Councilmember Bruce Harrell announced Monday that he would begin to explore the creation of a city ID card, citing serious barriers to acquiring identification from the state.

“A municipal ID card can provide a much more affordable and easier pathway for residents from diverse communities to succeed and more efficiently access critical services,” he said in a statement.

Several cities already issue city IDs, including San Francisco. Harrell said Seattle residents could benefit from the card in multiple ways:

  • The ID car would be accepted as proof of identity by all city agencies, as well as other institutions in the city
  • Thousands of Seattle residents could more easily obtain library cards, further education, get medical help, cash a check, sign leases, find employment, or open a bank account.
  • The identification card would allow many of Seattle’s most vulnerable residents such as immigrants and refugees, the elderly, the homeless and members of the transgender community better access to participating in civic life.
  • The identification card will allow members of the immigrant and refugee community to gain greater confidence and feel more comfortable when seeking assistance from law enforcement.

The city council will be discussing the proposed program at Wednesday’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee meeting at 2:00 PM.

Capitol Hill ‘Construction Hub’ designed to keep people moving through development wave

Living, walking, and doing business on Capitol Hill isn’t always easy amid the forest of construction cranes that sometimes feels like it has taken over the neighborhood. But the City of Seattle says it is working to coordinate construction project in key areas of the city, including Capitol Hill.

SDOT_Construction_Hubs_Boundary_Map4.8.14-1024x662SDOT’s Construction Hub Coordination Program was launched this spring to help keep residents and local businesses moving even with unprecedented numbers of construction projects underway in Seattle:

The hub team of project and on-site coordinators assess permitted construction holistically, across public and private lines, in areas with multiple simultaneous construction projects in close proximity—otherwise known as construction hubs.

Capitol Hill’s current hub boundaries are defined as a north-south rectangle from E Harrison to E Madison between Broadway and 15th Ave: Continue reading

Council considers two Metro funding plans, both include sending $60 car tab to ballot

In an effort to buy back $45 million in Metro bus services, the Seattle City Council will be considering two competing plans on Thursday. Both would include sending a $60 vehicle licensing fee to the ballot in November.

The first plan, proposed by Mayor Ed Murray in May, is basically a local version of Proposition 1 which Eastside and rural King County voters torpedoed in April. The plan would raise sales taxes by .1% and add a $60 vehicle licensing fee in Seattle — a plan that would likely win voter approval in November. Continue reading

New head of SDOT a ‘bike-friendly’ leader

The city’s pick to head the Seattle Department of Transportation – on the left, above — is a bike-friendly dude.

Here’s what Seattle Bike Blog has to say about the appointment of Scott Kubly as SDOT chief:

“Scott is the visionary who will give transportation in Seattle the leadership it needs,” Mayor Ed Murray said during a press event introducing Kubly Wednesday. If confirmed by the City Council, Kubly will be the first permanent SDOT Director since Peter Hahn was swept out with the McGinn administration. Goran Sparrman has served as the Interim Director.

Kubly said Seattle’s challenge is to give people more options so people can continue to get around during a period of significant growth.

“We’ll give people choices, very attractive choices,” Kubly said at the press event. “People will chose to walk, bike and take transit because it is the most attractive to them.”

Kubly is clearly proud of the bike projects he has helped make happen, including a major role in launching Divvy in Chicago and expanding DC’s Capital Bikeshare. He also talked about creating protected bike lanes “for Seattleites 8-80″ years old.

“Scott is a transportation visionary,” said Mayor Ed Murray in a statement on the appointment. “He has a proven track record in Chicago and Washington, D.C. of advancing innovative solutions that address the full range of transportation needs of residents and businesses. He’s also a transportation renaissance man who’s virtually done it all: he’s worked on bikes issues, car share programs, traffic management and pedestrian safety strategies, rapid transit and street cars; he’s done long-range budgeting, strategic planning, cost reduction, major capital project development, and performance measurement and accountability. Scott is the transportation leader this city needs to take us to the next level in creating more livable, walking communities.”

Following the expected confirmation by the City Council, Kubly will earn an annual salary of $180,000. He is tasked with leading a department and planning process responsible for 750 employees and an annual operating budget of more than $400 million – in a city with the fourth worst traffic in the nation.

City Hall grapples with how to pay for downtown streetcar linking First Hill and SLU lines

The City Council put planning for one new transit project on temporary hold Monday and decided to quash a plan for public campaign financing in Seattle. Details on the vote — and non-vote — below.

Streetcar link-up
By 2018 Seattle’s street car system should be capable of shuttling riders from 10th and E Roy down to Pioneer Square, past Pike Place Market, and up to Westlake Center on a single ride. Add a transfer, and you’ll be able to ride back up to South Lake Union. The ride would be made possible by the Center City Connector – a proposed 1.1-mile downtown streetcar line along 1st Ave.

Continue reading

Hill’s rents continue to soar as Seattle delays affordable housing plan

E Denny Way's Pantages is featured in the city's report on affordable housing (Image: William Wright Photography)

E Denny Way’s Pantages is featured in the city’s report on affordable housing (Image: William Wright Photography)

From the Seattle Workforce Housing study

From the Seattle Workforce Housing study

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 8.16.20 PMHousing costs on Capitol Hill and throughout Seattle are reaching new heights as the most recent study showed average rents on the Hill have reached $1,557 a month. That’s up $162 from this time last year when CHS reported on soaring rents in 2013.

Escalating housing costs have created what many officials say is an affordable housing crisis in Seattle. In February, Seattle City Council member Mike O’Brien said there was a “sense of urgency” to develop an affordable housing plan as soon as possible. “Every day the challenge is growing, people are struggling to survive,” O’Brien said.

At that time, O’Brien said the council would have an affordable housing plan by the end of this summer following the results of three studies. At a special committee meeting last week to review one of those studies, O’Brien said the plan would likely not coalesce until September and legislation would not reach the full council until 2015. Continue reading

Seattle mayor announces public safety plan after wave of shootings

Dwone Anderson-Young, killed in a double homicide earlier this month, was 23

Dwone Anderson-Young, killed in a double homicide earlier this month, was 23

Saying the city had reached a “crisis of confidence in public safety,” Mayor Ed Murray called for a litany of public safety initiatives and reforms on Wednesday, promising to create citizen oversight of the police department, create 500 new summer jobs for teens, and to work with state officials to require background checks for all gun sales in Washington.

In one of his most impassioned speeches since taking office, Murray announced his “Compact for a Safe Seattle” before a special session of the Seattle City Council. The announcements come in the wake of several high profile shootings, and some that received less attention.

“It’s tough sitting down with a mother whose son was gunned down just blocks from her house,” Murray said Wednesday. Continue reading

City Council makes O’Toole SPD chief, sends universal pre-K to ballot

(Image: City of Seattle)

(Image: City of Seattle)

Monday was chock-full of Seattle civics excitement as the City Council voted in the first female chief of the Seattle Police Department and approved a universal pre-K plan to appear on the November ballot.

Following the council vote, Chief Kathleen O’Toole walked down the hall to take the oath of office, administered by the fellow Irish-blooded Mayor Ed Murray. Murray nominated O’Toole for the post in May.

O’Toole comes into the position with a wealth of experience following decades of police work in Boston, where she rose to commissioner, and more recent work in Ireland. More notably, she comes into the post with no experience at SPD, where the public and elected officials have called for major shake-ups among the department’s highest ranks.

Council member Kshama Sawant cast the lone “no” votes to O’Toole’s confirmation and her $250,000 salary. Sawant said she wasn’t convinced O’Toole would bring the deep reform needed at SPD and that no public official should make over $100,000. Continue reading

Pro-growth group tries to halt height rollback in Seattle’s lowrise neighborhoods

A pro-development advocacy group is taking a page from the slow-growthers of Seattle with an appeal of proposed City Council legislation seeking to roll back increased height limits in the city’s lowrise neighborhoods.

“Today Smart Growth Seattle filed an appeal of the City’s Determination of Non-Significance (PDF) for legislation that would roll back a decade of progress toward welcoming growth in transit oriented neighborhoods,” the organization’s director Roger Valdez wrote in a Thursday statement to media about the move.

In its appeal, Smart Growth Seattle’s contends that the city’s lowrise zoning is working well.

“If adopted, the currently proposed Lowrise Multifamily Zoning Code Adjustments would substantially restrict the development capacity in the City’s lowrise zones, eliminating thousands of housing units that otherwise could be built,” the appellant states. “Smart Growth Seattle’s position is that the current lowrise zones are working well, allowing appropriately scaled and a wide variety of multifamily housing that meets much of the housing needs in neighborhoods like Capitol Hill.” Continue reading

Mayor says deal in place for Uber-taxi harmony on the streets of Seattle

Seattle won’t be known as the city that rejected ridesharing after all. Screen-Shot-2014-04-28-at-10.09.00-AM-400x298Mayor Ed Murray announced an accord Monday in the ongoing battles between Seattle’s taxi companies and new-era car services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. The “historic agreement” will provide “a framework to enable all parties in the for-hire industry to compete fairly to serve the needs of the public,” a statement from the mayor’s office reads.

Here are the key components of the deal, according to the announcement.

·         Transportation network companies and their drivers will be licensed and required to meet specific insurance requirements.

·         The City will work with the industry to clarify or change state insurance law to account for recent changes in the industry, similar to recent actions in Colorado.

·         There will be no cap on the number of transportation network company drivers.

·         The City will provide 200 new taxi licenses over the next four years.

·         Taxi and for-hire licenses will transition to a property right that is similar to a medallion in other cities.

·         For-hire drivers will have hailing rights.

·         An accessibility fund will be created through a $0.10 per ride surcharge for drivers and owners to offset higher trip and vehicle costs for riders who require accessibility services.

The latest regulations must still be approved by the City Council. In March, CHS reported on legislation to regulate new services like Uber that set caps on the numbers of drivers who could participate. What followed was continued disagreements and legal threats. The proposed caps on the numbers of drivers allowed to operate with the new services were especially contentious. The new deal seemingly puts off any remaining legal threats to the regulations and should allow the new services to continue to operate in Seattle. For anybody tired of the historically poor service offered by the area’s leading cab companies, the agreement is a clear victory. For anti-corporate shuttle activists? Well, the agreement will give them more protest targets.