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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Local Environment

posted by on June 6 at 10:07 AM

For a second I thought the Seattle Times was about to go for it this morning.

Their lead editorial today begins: “President George W. Bush is not fooling any of his G-8 colleagues in Germany with his belated call to set long-term goals reducing emissions related to global warming. The same is true here at home.

When they said “here at home” I thought they were about to take it to the 2007 state legislature for failing to act like it’s 2007.

Nah. Easier to bash George Bush, I guess.

Look, thanks to the fact that our state’s leaders chickened out on the necessary reality check, voters are about to vote on a $17 billion (or $37 billion, if you measure it in year of expenditure dollars) roads and transit package.

I wrote about this blackmail package two weeks ago and ECB’s got the latest coming out in today’s paper. And having just come back from a week on the east coast (transit options everywhere… as well as diversity, density, and good pizza people), I’ve gotta say, our inability to get smart about the environment is maddening, especially given the Dems’ control of Olympia.

Oh well on that. As for seizing Al Gore’s 2007 Academy Award–winning moment and doing something real about the environment? This is the supermajority’s biggest hoax this session. Under the guise of a “Strategic Framework for Action,” the Democrats held a press conference and passed a law calling to convene a panel to come up with a way to limit emissions.

Okay, I’m being a little unfair. They did pass an emissions cap governing power plants that enter into new contracts with utilities. I’m not sure how much CO2 this limited rule will actually capture, though, given that the cap doesn’t govern existing contracts. Nor am I sure how relevant reining in utility emissions is in Washington State. According to a February report from the state’s Department of Community, Trade & Economic Development, emissions from utilities make up just 16 percent of the 88.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, including CO2, our state produces annually. The real culprit, according to the report, is “transportation” (cars)—which makes up 45 percent of our emissions.

“It’s a little embarrassing,” one of the report’s authors told me. “Our overall emissions are lower than most states, but we’re on the high end for car emissions.”

True: According to the most recent data from the federal Energy Information Administration, 52.4 percent of the Evergreen state’s CO2 emissions come from transportation, making us one of the top five offenders, along with California (59.4 percent). Nationwide, the average is 32.7 percent.

On this score, the supermajority Democrats blew it. They not only failed to put a check on car dependency, they actually accelerated the problem. Rather than putting guidelines on the $7 billion RTID roads package they authorized—like demanding the projects assess transit alternatives (a bill that died in the house)—they officially made transit dependent on building roads, by linking RTID to light rail under one ballot title. Meanwhile, they approved another $7.5 billion roads package, including $915 million for work on the Alaskan Way Viaduct that may lock in a highway option there.

When the task force on emissions finally comes back next year with recommendations on how to lower CO2 their first suggestion should be aimed at the Democrats: less hot air, more action.

RSS icon Comments


Just don't take the bus.

Posted by tell me another one | June 6, 2007 10:17 AM

Well, at least we created an agency to clean up Puget Sound and gave it $240 million.

Posted by Gitai | June 6, 2007 10:22 AM

Yeah, at the same time the Governor allowed Glacier NW to move forward on strip mining Maury Island in the only dedicated marine reserve in Puget Sound...

Posted by tiptoe tommy | June 6, 2007 10:28 AM

I think the obvious problem is that the Democrats in the state congress aren’t our Democrats. A lot of those people are elected by suburban or exurban districts that have are actively hostile to transit planning appropriations. It’s one of the reasons I think we have to keep encouraging high-rise residential structures-- even the hated overpriced condos --near downtown. The state only has about 6 million people in it. The more people we can load into the urban core, the more likely we are to be able to ram sensible transit planning through the state legislature. Meanwhile, it’s just not realistic to expect a state rep from North Bend to vote for urban transit spending without attaching a roads appropriation. Even if the rep is a Democrat, they’re still answerable to their constituents.

Posted by Judah | June 6, 2007 10:30 AM

The reason our auto emissions are 52.4% of our total emissions, or 45% (you give both figures), is because (a) we live in the West, where driving is more necessary, and (b) we don't burn coal for electricity.

States that are in the West (and thus drive more) but burn massive quantities of coal, like Wyoming, have much lower percentage. The difference doesn't have anything to do with how "green" you are; it has to do with how much coal you burn. Look at Idaho: they don't burn hardly ANY coal, but they are even more car-dependent than we are; I'll bet their percentage is much lower than ours.

A further complication, which blows any attempt to differentiate between the states on this basis, is that electricity generation (and car driving for that matter) are not bound by state boundaries. Much or even most of the electricity that Wyoming generates with its coal plants goes out of state -- to California, to Idaho, presumably to Washington as well. Do you want to recalculate that statistic on that basis? I didn't think so.

If instead you want to whine that Washington isn't an East Coast state, I guess that's up to you. Are those states cleaner than us? I don't know, are they? You can see the "diversity, density and pizza people", but did you look at their coal plants?

Washington cannot be forced into New Jersey's transportation patterns, no matter how much you wish it was so. We're laid out differently. We're the size of NJ, NY, and MA combined, for one thing. The only way to achieve East Coast densities is to move 50 million people into the state. Is THAT what you want?

I'm not a road proponent, and I have consistently backed transit for about as long as you've been alive, but I get really frustrated at the wooly thinking on offer here. RTID has good points and bad points, but the percentage of the state's overall emissions that comes from cars isn't significant. Nor will more transit affect it much (more roads will, a little).

Posted by Fnarf | June 6, 2007 10:53 AM

Tiptoe Tommy @ 3:

I am right in the middle of this fight, and you're just a liar. If a bill that stops Glacier gets through the Legislature and to her desk, she'll sign it.

Judah @ 4:

At last the light breaks through. People in different parts of the state have different needs. BTW, the Legislators that represent North Bend are all Republicans.

But as to your notion that "the more people we can ram into the urban core . . ." don't bet on it. There are only so many people who want to live like ants in anthills, and only so much "vibrant" any sane human being can take.

Posted by ivan | June 6, 2007 11:01 AM
The only way to achieve East Coast densities is to move 50 million people into the state.

Poppycock. Density has nothing to do with overall population, it has to do with development patterns. Even rural settlements-- I mean places fuck all in the middle of nowhere --in Europe and the UK are more tightly packed than North Seattle because they were built during a time when the economic and social variables were different. Most of the Western United States was developed during a time when the economic and social variables encouraged sprawl, but there’s no reason why that has to continue, or even why the existing conditions need to stand. The economic/environmental realities of the cost of sprawl are only beginning to encourage denser development. The longer we resist those pressures, the more pronounced they’ll become.

Meanwhile, there is no practical reason why the 6 million people in the enormous state of Washington can’t be packed into comparatively dense urban cores and villages. It’s just a question of market pressures.

Posted by Judah | June 6, 2007 11:10 AM

True: According to the most recent data from the federal Energy Information Administration, 52.4 percent of the Evergreen state's CO2 emissions come from transportation, making us one of the top five offenders, along with California (59.4 percent). Nationwide, the average is 32.7 percent.

This is because most alleged enviromentalists are hypocrites who preach living green but drive everywhere.

It reminds me of when Al Gore's movie was showing at Guild and a bunch of people drove in on SUVs to see it. Asinine and clueless.

Posted by Gomez | June 6, 2007 11:10 AM

Josh: with all the great pizza, subways and diversity elsewhere, what exactly keeps you in our town?

What a whiner.

Posted by Beat It | June 6, 2007 11:12 AM

Here's a solution: Stop building new highways and roadways that are not primarily for Transit or HOV usage.


But that takes guts.

Even if it's what most people know has to happen.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 6, 2007 11:19 AM

You know, Ivan, I've seen you make that exact "ant hill" argument before, and it's just bullshit.

Market research conducted for the Puget Sound Regional Council in greater Seattle shows that while three fourths of people prefer detached houses to higher-density options, most people care more about the quality of the neighborhood and owning their own home than they care about housing type. In the right circumstances, more than 90 percent would trade low-density living for high-density neighborhoods— some would move into high- rises, others into low-rises, town houses, or detached houses on small lots. Where in-city town house and condominium development make homeownership more affordable, for example, buyers are already abundant.

- The Car and the City by Allan Thein Durning

Posted by Judah | June 6, 2007 11:26 AM

It doesn't take "guts", Will, it takes compromise and legislative process. Seattle lefties do not decide what happens everywhere in the state just because they wish they did. Seattle is only a small portion of the state. Those Democrats who "aren't our Democrats" are a solid majority. The Frank Chopp approach of trying to work with them, and with some Republicans, to achieve the POSSIBLE is a much better strategy than withdrawing into Fremont or Capitol Hill and saying "no compromise! no justice! no peace! while the majority does whatever they want without asking.

Because they will. People outside the city think people in the city only care about themselves, and all too often they're right.

So, Judah, I assume your recommendation is to wipe civilization off the entire state and return to a pre-industrial condition, so that we can organically develop like "Europe and the UK"? Sort of like Pol Pot, right? That's what I'm hearing you say.

Because any ideas that don't recognize what we have on the ground now are all pretty much just like that. Wishing that we had developed differently doesn't make it so. There IS a practical reason you can't "pack them in": they don't want to go. You can try, but for every new person who is packed into Seattle, there are ten who move into a new house in the distant exurbs. Pointing and waving at unworkable European models, or New York City, isn't going to change that.

Posted by Fnarf | June 6, 2007 11:32 AM

#9 YES! Beat It, DC namby-pamby. Let's get local, people! Fnarf for News Editor!!

Posted by Here Here | June 6, 2007 11:37 AM
So, Judah, I assume your recommendation is to wipe civilization off the entire state and return to a pre-industrial condition, so that we can organically develop like "Europe and the UK"? Sort of like Pol Pot, right? That's what I'm hearing you say. Because any ideas that don't recognize what we have on the ground now are all pretty much just like that.
Ha! Are you fucking kidding me? Any ideas that don’t recognize the inevitability and permanence of existing infrastructure in the Western United States are tantamount to advocating for a repeat of the worst act of autohomeogenocide in the history of the world? That’s... awesome. Boy, yeah, you got me on that one. Well played.

Anyway, moving right along, the fact is that there are examples of mass shifts in population and abandonment of well-established infrastructure, even in the modern United States. Detroit, for example; huge tracts of urban single family housing were simply abandoned in Detroit during white flight. And that follows to various other company towns in the rust belt that have basically emptied out in response to shifting economic pressures. No killing fields, no genocide. Just a lot of empty houses and businesses.

And if governments were inclined to anticipate and encourage that sort of thing in certain areas, then the materials could be recycled and the land could be developed as a green resource for maintaining our watersheds and carbon offset capacity.

Posted by Judah | June 6, 2007 11:46 AM

All ye Poets of the Age!
All ye Witlings of the Stage!
Learn your Jingles to reform!
Crop your Numbers and Conform:
Let your little Verses flow
Gently, Sweetly, Row by Row:
Let the Verse the Subject fit;
Little Subject, Little Wit.
Namby-Pamby is your Guide;
Albion's Joy, Hibernia's Pride.

Posted by Ambrose Phillips | June 6, 2007 11:48 AM
You know, Ivan, I've seen you make that exact "ant hill" argument before, and it's just bullshit.

So you say, and so says your cherry-picked portion of a no doubt cherry-picked poll question.

But how much is enough, and where is the tipping point? Vancouver BC? Sao Paulo? Shanghai? Calcutta? And where is the tipping point for how many people?

I don't claim to know. The Puget Sound Regional Council doesn't, or shouldn't, claim to know. Josh Feit draws a paycheck from people who sell advertising space to businesses that pimp a certain lifestyle, so we can dismiss his opinion. And it's a dead solid lock that some little punk eco-Savonarola posting on a blog doesn't know.

But that tipping point is there. Make no mistake. As for me, I moved from somewhere one hell of a lot more dense to come to Seattle, and I moved outside of Seattle to a place that I made damn sure would stay at least semi-rural.

That's five-acre lots, Judah, because it's embarrassingly clear that you don't know what rural means.

Enjoy your anthill. Enjoy your "vibrant." Enjoy your "urban archipelago." Enjoy your new Calcutta. I piss on all of it.

Posted by ivan | June 6, 2007 12:16 PM

So, in one paragraph, I'm insane for comparing your apparent desire to see Italian hill towns in eastern Washington to Pol Pot, but in the next, you support it by calling for Detroit-style abandonment. Yeah, Detroit's exactly the model you want to follow here: economic collapse followed by population collapse in the center city, miles of abandoned buildings, numbing poverty, epidemics of violence, total regional control handed over to suburbs. I don't think the Pol Pot comparison is far off, actually.

Pol Pot wasn't about genocide. He was about wiping out the modern world and starting over. At one point, he had everyone in the country who wore eyeglasses killed, because you don't need glasses in a preindustrial condition. Or in a post-apocalyptic wasteland like Detroit....

But thanks for clearing that up. I was just going for the rhetorical point there, but it's good to know when you're talking to someone who wants to EMULATE what happened to Detroit.

Posted by Fnarf | June 6, 2007 12:21 PM

Another important thing to note:

When the task force on emissions finally comes back next year with recommendations on how to lower CO2 their first suggestion should be aimed at the Democrats: less hot air, more action.

But see, the Democrats drive cars and live the same environmentally unconscious lifestyle as the rest of the country.

How can you expect them to take concrete action to enact changes that alter the lifestyles of Americans... if they themselves aren't willing to make serious, positive, environmentally conscious lifestyle changes themselves in their own lives?

In other words, probably won't happen.

Posted by Gomez | June 6, 2007 12:23 PM

Ivan: So it's all a vast conspiracy. Check. Thanks for your input.

Fnarf: Dude... jesus fuck. You’re like the Energizer Bunny of bullshit genocide analogies.

Look, what happened in Detroit wasn’t anything like what happened in Cambodia because, for one thing, the events that transpired in Detroit weren’t the product of one person’s or one party’s explicit agenda of destruction. The events that took place in Detroit were precipitated by bad financial planning at the community level, and the current sprawling infrastructure of most of the west coast is a reflection of exactly that kind of poor planning. Most of the West Coast was developed with a lot of faulty assumptions about the future of energy and transportation; a lot of very short-sighted planning about the destruction of resources and how that destruction would impact our economy. So I’m saying that Detroit proves that even a modern planned economy like the Detroit auto industry and everyone associated with it can fuck up badly enough to cause mass resettlement of a huge population, and that we’re heading that direction on the West coast (gas at $3.50 a gallon? hello?); wouldn’t it be nice if our governments, instead of allowing what happened in Detroit to repeat itself here were to recognize that the economic viability of car commuting from North Bend is going to decline sharply in the near future and start planning for it? Yes it would. And you’re all, “Italian hill towns in Western Washington!” and “Pol Pot!” and shit. You sound like a fucking dust head, man. Take a breath. Fuck sake.

Posted by Judah | June 6, 2007 12:41 PM

Ivan asks where the tipping point is. He's talking about density, but the reality is that the real limiting factors are population, energy supplies, food supplies, and the world's ability to deal with the consequences of global climate change.

To deal with those very real constraints, we have no choice but to encourage more density now. One way to do that is to channel new development into already developed areas, trading sprawling suburbs for dense cities and villages. We don't have to dismantle existing development. We just have to stop new sprawl and convert some of the old sprawl into density where it can effectively be served by transit and other centralized services. The isolated pockets of old sprawl that are not developed and do not get upgraded services will become less desirable over time. Even if the current population remains in those places, the new population will choose to live elsewhere.

Dense neighborhoods do not have to feel like anthills. People who want to avoid creating neighborhoods like that would make better use of their time by affecting the quality of new density rather than opposing density outright.

In the long run, we need to develop for sustainability. We should be preserving sufficient farmland to support the projected regional population, so that if necessary we can grow most of our food locally if rising energy costs make imported food prohibitively expensive. Any agricultural land not needed at the current time could be set aside for future use, becoming a publicly owned buffer against unchecked sprawl. Out past the farmland, we need large swaths of wilderness to preserve local biodiversity. After both those types of land are preserved, we need to take the remaining acreage and encourage new development only in those areas that can be supported by public transit and an efficient allocation of utility services.

We can do all this, we just have to end the practice of building huge houses in rural areas without regard for the external costs of supporting those houses.

Posted by Cascadian | June 6, 2007 12:57 PM

Ivan @ 6

My understanding is that if the governor had said she wanted the legislation to pass that it would have. She didn't and they didn't.

Posted by tiptoe tommy | June 6, 2007 1:12 PM
We don't have to dismantle existing development. We just have to stop new sprawl and convert some of the old sprawl into density where it can effectively be served by transit and other centralized services.

See, the problem I see with that plan is that we would need to bring millions of people into the region to develop the current sprawl up to inner city density levels and, given what an economic monoculture this region is, I just don’t see that happening. But I can imagine that if the real estate bubble pops, inflation increases and gas prices continue to rise at their current rate, in ten or fifteen years people might end up just walking away from some of those split level ramblers in south Edmonds. Meanwhile, if we were going to try to increase regional food security (and I fully support that as a goal), much of the sprawl from the ‘90s covered some the best farmland in Western Washington and compromised our watersheds, covering over river valleys and wetlands. So there again, we would end up someplace where it might be worth our while and-- and line up with the financial interests of exurban property owners --to pull that infrastructure out of there and redevelop that land for agriculture.

Posted by Judah | June 6, 2007 1:14 PM

How about we just quit having so many kids? I stopped at one. Did you?

Posted by ivan | June 6, 2007 1:20 PM

@12 - "it takes compromise and legislative process. Seattle lefties do not decide what happens everywhere in the state just because they wish they did. Seattle is only a small portion of the state."

Wrong. Look, the margin of victory for Dems is determined by one district in this state - the 43rd - and it's ALL in Seattle. If we start voting down statewide measures, they die. Period.

And that, and that alone, is all that matters.

Just. Stop. Building. New. Highways.

Repair them. Replace them. Build new HOV lanes and expand transit lanes. But stop laying asphalt that worsens the situation.

TODAY is the middle of the Global Warming War. Not in a few years. We've been losing it for a few decades, and only starting to get a grip recently.

But it is NOW. Not tomorrow.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 6, 2007 1:26 PM

@13 - oh, and the day they make Fnarf News Editor is the day they make me one.

Which is when Hades freezes over.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 6, 2007 1:28 PM

Personally, I stopped at no kids. I do agree that's the single most environmentally-conscious thing we can do; one kid or no kids. But as to the other issues -

The Democrats elected in Wauconda, or Centralia, or Ritzville, are not elected to represent the denizens of Capitol Hill or Wallingford. Nor should they. If they started voting solely to fund urban mass transit and not for highway and other improvements in Ritzville or Wauconda, they'd lose their seats pretty damn quick, and rightly so. They're elected to represent a district. We don't have an at-large legislature here. If you don't think Quilcene has different problems than Tukwila, then perhaps you need to venture out of the city more.

As to more-dense living - one of the main reasons I don't live in a townhouse, condo, or similar shared housing is that I'm leery of the fees that get tacked on top of a mortgage for that type of shared housing. $500 or more per month for "condo association" fees is not at all unusual (I've heard of $2,000/month fees in condos costing less than $500,000, which is INSANE.) It's also not at all unusual to hear of owners suddenly being assessed a $5,000 fee for reroofing the complex, or residing, or similar maintenance. When builders get smart, and start building dense housing that does not have common walls, common roofs, etc., then people like me will start buying into townhouses and condos. I don't want a yard. I don't need a giant garage. I have zero interest in living in a "snout house" with the garage sticking out front and the deck/patio in back, hidden from view; I find that kind of housing very alienating and unappealing. But I do NOT want to end up paying for my neighbor's idiocy in not maintaining THEIR home. I have no problem with paying for my own roof, my own siding, etc. I don't want to pay for it for my idiot neighbor.

I've seen small, energy-efficient, space-efficient urban dwellings that did not have shared walls nor shared roofs, but we seem to be kind of all-or-nothing around here - either detached megahouses with huge lots (or worse, megahouses on mini lots), or Ivan's anthills. There's just not enough engineering smarts going into designing something better than an upholstered cave.

Posted by Geni | June 6, 2007 1:40 PM


It's great that you stopped at one child. If only everyone would do that. However, the world population isn't going to max out until it hits 9 billion people. In that environment, the American fantasy of owning a large house on a large plot of land is just that. A fantasy. There are too many people, too much demand for building materials, too much demand for land. Enjoy your isolated home in the country. We're one of the last generations with the luxury to afford it.

Posted by keshmeshi | June 6, 2007 1:50 PM

Geni 26, if your condo neighbor's neglect causes the need for a repair, they--not the condo association-- will generally be on the hook.

Posted by tell me another one | June 6, 2007 2:19 PM

Maybe we should all pitch in to buy a giant magnifying glass so when everyone lives in the Ant Hills Estates of America we can threaten them with destruction unless they pay...and pay BIG. So we can build a ranch.

Posted by local mf | June 6, 2007 2:22 PM

The world's population will max out right before the sea levels rise and start flooding out entire regions around the planet. Then nature will take over and that number should start to drop. It won't happen for a few decades, but it'll happen.

The US is fortunate that most of its land mass is far enough above sea level to be unaffected. Other regions won't be so lucky.

Posted by Gomez | June 6, 2007 2:24 PM

Keshmeshi @ 27:

Isolated? Isolated is a state of mind, for which different people have different thresholds. I might value solitude more than you do, but I have never felt isolated in my life.

Luxury? I don't think so. I live within my means and do not spend money on things that a lot of people take for granted, so that I can sustain my lifestyle choice.

I telecommute and have cut my driving *way* down. I do all my own cooking and baking and will soon be back to raising a lot of my food. I recycle or compost everything, and my solid waste disposal expenses are less than $100 per year.

I insulated my house to the teeth and I burned 440 kilowatts of electricity last month, even with an electric range, electric water heater, and electric dryer.

I do not spend $1.50 for a fucking cup of coffee in any fucking Starbucks.

I could be making a whole lot more choices to make my lifestyle even more sustainable, and if I can I will.

So will one hell of a lot of other people, and chances are that many of them will be more skilled at it than I am.

So I am not so quick to agree with you that owning a large house on a large plot of land is necessarily a fantasy, or will be in the next generation.

You are free, of course, to base your lifestyle choices on those assumptions, and certainly for many people that will be the case. But a whole lot of others will find a way.

The adaptability that the anti-auto absolutists around here keep telling us we need to have cuts both ways, and experience tells me never to underestimate people's ingenuity.

Posted by ivan | June 6, 2007 2:32 PM

Judah, you continue with the economic collapse model. I don't understand it. You want people in South Edmonds (which isn't anywhere near the real sprawl zone, thirty miles out from there) to "walk away" from their homes, apparently because they are worthless. That's insane, and it is insane in EXACTLY a Pol Pot sort of way. Your imagined perfect future depends on spreading misery to millions of people, and having them lose everything, and walk away from their homes?

Will: you're backwards. The swing districts for the Democrats are not the 43rd or ones like it but suburban and exurban districts that can and do go either way depending on things. The 43rd needs them a lot more than they need the 43rd, or the 36th.

Posted by Fnarf | June 6, 2007 3:32 PM

I'm about as adamant a transit supporter and freeway opponent as could be:

  • I've supported light rail.
  • I've supported monorail.
  • I've opposed the new, expanded viaduct.

Moreover, I have practiced what I've preached, to a reasonable extent.

And the strange thing is, I'm finding myself becoming just as disdainful of Josh Feit and Erica C. Barnett (who are supposed to be on our side) as I am of the Joel Connelly, Bruce Ramsey crowd (i.e. the other side). I imagine, if I were an educated Palestinian seeking a better life, I would feel the same way about Hamas.

What's become clear to me is that Josh and Erica are what I would call transit fundamentalists. There is many a cause for a fundamentalist to seek out, and it just so happens that Josh and Erica have happened upon transit.

Why are Josh and Erica still so steadfastly opposed to the roads & transit measure, even now that the cross-base highway has been nixed and 520 drivers are looking at $6 tolls? Is it because they've made a shrewd calculation that if we kill this ballot, then we'll get a better one just around the corner?

No, that explanation fails to recognize the way the fundamentalist thinks. It is simply not in the nature of fundamentalists to compromise with the enemy; the enemy is evil incarnate. Expecting a fundamentalist to compromise is like expecting a tiger to start eating sprouts.

Well, not being a fundamentalist myself, I'd actually like to see light rail get built, I'd actually like to see HOV lanes on 520, I'd actually like to see SOV drivers on 520 pay a steep toll. Not being a transit fundamentalist, I'd actually like to see something good in the way of transit and tolling become a reality around here.

Posted by cressona | June 6, 2007 4:28 PM
You want people in South Edmonds

I didn’t say I wanted it, I said it seems possible given broad economic trends.

That's insane, and it is insane in EXACTLY a Pol Pot sort of way.

No, it’s not. Because-- leaving aside the patent ridiculousness of comparing anything I’ve described or suggested to the Cambodian genocide --again, I’m not advocating a massive economic shift; I’m just saying that such a shift seems possible and that the outcome of that shift, if managed correctly, could actually end up improving the economic sustainability of the region.

Your imagined perfect future depends on spreading misery to millions of people, and having them lose everything, and walk away from their homes?

Dude, if I say, “The sky is blue,” and you think I said, “The sky is red,” and argue with me you might make your point, but you haven’t won the argument. Okay? I’ve tried to make my point in brief, but every time I do that you seem to think I said, “The sky is red,” so let me spell this out for you in language you will, hopefully, understand:

Economies, even large-scale planned economies, change. Resources run out. Shit happens. The reason people are talking about all this stuff with density and water and food is because most people believe we’re heading toward some very rapid, very heavy changes in the viability of extraction economies; farming, timber, commercial fishing, coal, oil, minerals, etc. Those changes are going to have effects. Past economic changes of lesser magnitude have resulted in the mass relocation of large populations (Detroit, Western mining towns, Manchester, urban manufacturing centers in the ‘60s and ‘70s, etc). The coming storm is likely to result in similar mass relocations. New Orleans is just the first and most dramatic example of this sort of thing in the United States. It’ll happen in different ways in different places. One of the effects of this sea change in population distribution is likely to be the contraction of settlement patterns-- not because it’s desirable for its own sake but because it is more efficient in various ways, and that level of efficiency may be necessary in the near future. And maybe it won’t go down like that. Maybe the real estate market will just drive more people into condos in the city, but the suburban and exurban infrastructure will remain in place, at increasing cost, and become luxury getaways for the rich. Or maybe me, and the climate change people, and everyone who’s making projections about our drinking water supply and peak oil and everything else are wrong, and nothing will change at all and the nice folks in south Edmonds can just keep on keeping on. But I’m inclined to doubt it.

And that’s not a threat, and I’m not doing a little dance about it. But even if I was, the predicate of my argument that you don’t seem to be able to grasp is that the situation I’m concerned about will happen (or not) regarless of what I want. I'm not "spreading misery"; misery is coming, whether I spread it or not. I'm saying there's a storm coming, and we're all going to get wet and shouldn't we plan for that, and you're standing there like a fucking asshole arguing with me as if I were planning on running around soaking everyone with a hose.

Posted by Judah | June 6, 2007 4:31 PM

33. As crazy as it sounds, I've gotta agree.

I think they're on a crusade to sway public support and stamp out the bill because they don't want to consort with those that they perceive as an adversary. They're stubborn and if things aren't absolutely done the way they want, they will oppose it to the death.

Posted by Gomez | June 6, 2007 5:04 PM

Cressona @33, you have perfectly summed up how I have been feeling about Josh and Erica's recent reporting. I have been a zealous supporter of transit and an opponent to many proposed road building projects, but compromise is necessary and this package is not that bad. It needs to pass and I hope the Stranger figures this out soon, because there are plenty of anti-transit folks planning to vote this down.

Posted by lanik | June 6, 2007 5:39 PM

I've said it before, I'll say it again:

I-405 BRT. The funding for added lanes is enough to get a seperate four-lane express toll roadway in the middle. Implementing rail-quality BRT to leverage the new East Link line would complete the "ring around the lake" regional transit needs to be useful to suburbanites.

Getting the rapid transit capacity in place leads naturally to density, if the zoning and tax structure is in place. Only Bellevue has really seized the opportunity, but Redmond, Tukwila, Renton, Lynnwood all could have thriving urban cores with a little push. Strip malls are not eternal.

Driving ridership through new development of a sensible sort is more productive than worrying about whether Joe Fiveacre gets a four lane arterial instead of a farm road.

Posted by Some Jerk | June 6, 2007 5:51 PM

@32 - pay attention to what I said. I said the MARGIN by which the statewide election is won or lost is the margin in just ONE Seattle Legislative District - I used the 43rd, but the 36th and 32nd are similar.

If we change our votes, the rest of the state has to do what we decide.

Regardless, the biggest personal activity you can do on an individual level is to:

a. walk or bike instead of drive;
b. take the bus instead of drive;
c. carpool in an HOV instead of alone.

All the rest has a lot less impact.

Building more roads just helps global warming increase. No matter what your excuse for it is.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 6, 2007 10:49 PM

To Ivan @ #6:

The Maury Reserve bill defeat is a scandal and the Durkan family name is written all over it. It's simple: 2 Durkans work for Glacier NW (lobbyist and lead attorney) and another Durkan was the Governor's attorney. Connect the dots...

Posted by Ethel | June 7, 2007 12:44 AM

Ethel @ 39:

Thanks, but that's hardly new news or any shocking revelation.

Posted by ivan | June 7, 2007 10:35 AM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 1:45 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 1:45 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 1:45 PM

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