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City Council Notes | First Hill ‘prototype parks,’ smart meters, ‘No Construction Parking’ signs in Pike/Pine

Walking your cat through the First Hill Public Realm

Walking your cat through the First Hill Public Realm

Here’s a look at this week’s Capitol Hill-centric highlights from the Seattle City Council’s chambers:

  • First Hill Public Realm report: The council’s transportation committee will hear an update on a program to create more public spaces in the densely-packed First Hill neighborhood. CHS reported on the First Hill Public Realm plan earlier this year. Tuesday, representatives from SDOT and Seattle Park will tell council members about what comes next for the initiative — including two “prototype” parks on University St:Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 2.32.35 PM
  • Pedestrian report: Tuesday’s transportation committee meeting will also include a briefing on the latest annual report from the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board. Looking forward, the board report says the body’s focus on 2015 is on the big picture: “The update of the Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP) will occupy a substantial share of the board’s focus and activity in 2015.”
  • Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 2.48.07 PM‘No Construction Parking’ signs: In SDOT’s March update to the council, the report notes a small improvement for residents and businesses pinched by ongoing construction in central Pike/Pine — “To keep parking open for businesses, we collaborated with contractors working on 10th and 11th Ave between E Union and E Pike to manufacture and install ‘No Construction Parking’ signs”
  • Smart meters update: Wednesday’s meeting of the energy committee will include an update on the $94 million program to build an “advanced metering” system in Seattle to replace the outdated manual process used today to determine energy consumption and billing. The council will hear that negotiations for a vendor to build out the system are expected to begin in April and that the current plan calls for residents who might have concerns including privacy or health to be able to opt out of the smart metering program for a yet to be determined fee. Initial meter installations are expected to begin this fall with “mass meter deployment” (run, paranoid residents, run!) by June 2016.Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 2.52.54 PM
  • Another City Council candidate: James Keblas, former head of the city’s film and music office and currently working with Capitol Hill-based creative agency Creature, will run for an at-large seat on the council.
  • Pike Place Market expansion: Monday, the full council approved legislation from committees on a $34 million expansion of Pike Place Market and an ordinance updating the muni code to prohibit eviction of renters from apartments if landowners haven’t registered the property’s units with the Department of Planning and Development. The council also approved a clean-up of Seattle’s “cable communications” ordinance reportedly designed to better recognize changes in technology and address issues of inequity for cable customers:
    The new Code changes are intended to improve competition and customer service by eliminating cable franchise districts in favor of a more flexible provision that opens the entire City to competition. The Code also contains new requirements to ensure equity and build-out service to low-income households, enhanced call answering standards and reporting, and more flexibility and protections for residents and owners living in condos and apartments.
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jc
jc
5 years ago

University Street? Is that even part of First Hill? It won’t be convenient for many FH residents.

Wes
Wes
5 years ago
Reply to  jc

Umm, University street runs right through first hill. As a former first hill resident I wish these projects had been completed before i Left. It’s a pretty terrie pedestrian environment considering how few of the people there drive. Glad to see the days of seattle city council bending over for the interests of suburbanites coming to an end.

mike s
mike s
5 years ago
Reply to  Wes

Umm, saying that University street runs right through First Hill is certainly debatable and almost definitely false. The northern-most boundary of First Hill is Union. University is literally the next street down. And while I would guess that the majority of First Hill residents live north of Madison, it is true what OP said: that these parks will not be convenient to access for many First Hill residents.

Bob Knudson
Bob Knudson
5 years ago

The “no construction parking” signs are a good idea, but will they be respected by the workers? Somehow I doubt it, especially since there doesn’t seem to be any penalty (a ticket) for ignoring them.

Jordan Van Voast
Jordan Van Voast
5 years ago

Re: “Smart” meters. Citizens concerned about privacy invasion, increased fees, cost-overruns, municipal liability, fire hazards, health and environmental effects, grid security – please attend the meeting Wed. at 930am at City Hall. Sign up for public comment. An opt out (with a fee) is not a solution, but a license for government to practice extortion and harm you via the above effects. This has nothing to do with energy efficiency and carbon reduction and everything to do with corporate-government malfeasance and profit. For more information, visit http://safemeters.org/

etaoin shrdlu
etaoin shrdlu
5 years ago

Stuff and nonsense.

Phil Mocek
5 years ago

Regarding “smart meters” (a.k.a., advanced metering infrastructure, “AMI”):

I am unconvinced that the risks to health posed by these AMI devices is any more than that posed by Wi-fi devices, mobile phones, wireless doorbells, burglar alarms, satellite television, terrestrial television, FM radio, shortwave radio, and solar flares. However, I am wary of dragnet government surveillance, whether it’s conducted by tapping the Internet backbones, colluding with phone companies, or using devices attached to utility poles, a cop’s lapel, or my home. With the right meter systems and the right controls in place–technological, not just policy–more capable electrical meters would likely be acceptable. But that is not the option with which we are presented.

Seattle City Light plan build a wireless network of remotely-addressable, real-time, data collection devices on people’s homes and businesses. This is indisputable. Used by people with the best of intentions, for something as seemingly-innocuous as electrical metering, that might not sound so bad. But we need to think about how this technology can be used by people with worse intentions, because that is inevitably where use will lead.

Last I checked, nearly a year ago but well into SCL’s planning process, SCL had not established criteria for selection of devices, so while we have good guesses about what the devices are capable of, they’re only guesses. There are apparently no legal or policy limitations on what data can be collected by these devices about activities inside our homes, and it seems likely that the devices capabilities could be remotely-altered via firmware upgrade or by having someone open the device and plug in a new daughter card. SCL have apparently made no plans for penetration testing of proposed devices prior to selection of them. They seem to be either unaware or unconcerned about the privacy implications of foisting such sensors upon us.

People understand the value of keeping private the news of whether they are home or away. We install timers to turn lights on and off so that would-be burglars cannot simply troll a neighborhood looking for dark spots to target. SCL want to detect what’s going on inside our homes and broadcast it via radio.

SCL should measure my electricity usage once per billing cycle to determine what I owe. That’s all they need to perform the service for which we pay them. My allocation of the energy I draw from the system during a billing cycle is my business, not theirs. If real-time usage information is important, then they should facilitate *my* collection of the information, not stick a black box on my house to collect it and communicate it to anyone with access to some network with unspecified and undoubtedly poor access controls.

Given the proposal for a black box that collects and communicates arbitrary data about the interior of our homes, I would prefer to wait while we continue to use meters that can be polled each billing period to determine what each of us owes for our energy usage. If these devices are as great as some would have us believe, then surely limiting their capabilities to the uses that are acceptable to most all of us instead of taking the bad with the good is something we can achieve.

brian
brian
5 years ago
Reply to  Phil Mocek

If they want to collect my data, then why not pay me for it. I could care less if they used this to avoid having to send someone to manually read the meter, but for anything beyond that just create an opt-in program where you get some tiny refund on your bill for letting them monitor your usage.

etaoin shrdlu
etaoin shrdlu
5 years ago
Reply to  Phil Mocek

“Given the proposal for a black box that collects and communicates arbitrary data about the interior of our homes…..”

I’m pretty sure SCL has enough to do generating and distributing power that their interest in the arbitrary details of the interior of your home is rather limited.

Don’t you think? Or don’t you.

Phil Mocek
5 years ago
Reply to  etaoin shrdlu

Etaoin: I do think so, at least now, with current staff. However, we need to think not about what people involved now with the best of intentions are likely do but what other people, later, with the worst intentions, would be capable of doing. And we have a federal government hell-bent on collecting every bit of information about each of us that they can get their hands on, and storing it away in case it’s useful against us someday. I do not trust SCL or their equipment vendor to secure any information they collect about anyone or anything from the feds, their Five Eyes partners, or from Chinese hackers.

If we passed laws restricting what can be collected and with whom it can be shared, with significant penalties for offenders, I’d feel better. If SCL would publicly devise criteria for selection of the devices prior to selection, I’d feel better. If SCL would obtain a sample device and allow computer network security experts to attempt to breach its security, with the intention of rejecting those that are found to be penetrable, I’d feel better. If they would slow down and allow the city’s Privacy Advisory Committee to complete their work, including the “privacy toolkit” (privacy impact assessment process) they are to publish later this year, and put these devices–which *are* real-time surveillance devices to be attached to our homes, whether or not most people care about the nature of the surveillance–through the evaluation process, I would feel better. But none of this is the case.

Are you also pretty sure that the FBI have enough to do investigating suspected criminals and the NSA have enough to do spying on foreigners that their interest in the details of your and my phone calls is rather limited? If so, you are dead wrong.

If you’re unconcerned about the potential for abuse by American agencies, consider the implications of hundreds of thousands of remotely-addressable home electricity shutoff switches, sealed up so we cannot operate them, remotely-upgradeable like your mobile phone. Think of the mayhem that a foreign adversary could bring upon us with the ability to crack into that network of centralized control of those devices and reprogram the devices themselves. Think of how long it takes to roll trucks to take care of electrical problems now, and how long it would take to reach *every* home with the diminished capacity SCL would have years after doing away with regular in-person visits to everyone’s electrical meter.

etaoin shrdlu
etaoin shrdlu
5 years ago
Reply to  Phil Mocek

The “internet of things” poses a unique set of security risks, true. But the SCL advanced metering technology itself is quite limited in its functional scope and appears to offer several significant advantages over conventional metering.

http://www.seattle.gov/light/ami/benefits.asp

Mystic Kombucha
Mystic Kombucha
5 years ago

Hi. We’re can we pick up some of these No Construction parking signs for our block on 12th between pine and Denny were they are taking all the parking which causes patrons and residents to get unjust parking tickets?