*This post is being updated as the meeting progresses.
Within a matter of minutes, the city council will be briefed on a set of preliminary recommendations created by a 40-member panel of housing, energy, and sustainability professionals for the Seattle's Climate Action Plan, which will guide Seattle's goal to become carbon neutral by 2050. You can watch along here.
The recommendations fall into the categories of building energy, transportation, land use, and waste. Some of them (.pdf) aren't divergent from what's slowly being implemented in Seattle—like creating neighborhood greenways and investing in pedestrian, bike, and transit networks (which we should be doing with more gusto)—while others are pretty radical. For example:
- "We know what we want to do, we don't have the funding to do it," explains Jill Simmons, from the city's Office of Sustainability and Environment.
This is an incredibly forward thinking, brave idea—which is why I predict it has a kitten's chance in hell of surviving unscathed. I can hear the capillaries of car-loving commuters bursting from here.
Creating a citywide network of cycle tracks: The idea of cycle tracks (bikeways that are physically separated from motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic) isn't a new one—it's been proposed on several Seattle arterials, like Dexter Avenue, and then discarded for a less controversial paint job—but the idea of having a network of citywide cycle tracks within downtown Seattle, "with connections to and through Urban Villages," as the recommendation suggests, would be pretty transformative for bike commuters. The study also recommends implementing a bike sharing pilot program downtown.
Issuing bulk Orca cards for building residents: The panel concludes that best way to prioritize transit is by issuing Orca cards to all new residents of apartment/condo buildings in "participating transit communities," which would presumably be purchased Costco-bulk style by the building owners. I'm unsure what a "transit community" is but it seems like a pretty solid idea.
These preliminary ideas are simply being presented to council today, which means that they don't include implementation or funding strategies. There will be quite a few months for public comment (read: chances to bitch about tolls) between now and the fall, when the council is slated to adopt a Climate Action Plan that will hopefully include some of today's recommendations.