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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

January 16, 2015 at 6:00 AM

Relax, Seattle’s rental market is not in a crisis

Stories about tenants being priced out of their apartments are beginning to feel too familiar: An older apartment building trades hands, then the new owner imposes huge rental increases on tenants, some of whom are on fixed incomes or have been paying below-market rents for years or decades.

Brian Mandell, a resident at the Linda Manor apartments in West Seattle, where rents are going up. (Seattle Times / Erika Schultz)

Brian Mandell, a resident at the Linda Manor apartments in West Seattle. (Seattle Times / Erika Schultz)


Such a story graced the front page of The Seattle Times this week and metro columnist Danny Westneat vehemently reacted to the news.

While the story of an owner of a nine-unit apartment building more than doubling rents is shocking, it doesn’t represent the larger picture of Seattle’s housing market.

Rents rose about 18 percent in Seattle during the past two years and about 16 percent in the Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma Census area, according to apartment research firm RealFacts.

Despite the dramatic rent increases, Seattle remains relatively affordable. In addressing the issue of housing affordability, it’s more important to think about how to protect vulnerable tenants versus cursing landlords who want to maximize their revenues, which is in their right as business owners.

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January 15, 2015 at 6:25 AM

King County’s one-stop shopping for government benefits

Joshua Stanton stopped by a King County office yesterday to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. “I’m going to be able to get my teeth taken care of,” said Stanton, 30, who lives on Capitol Hill. By the time he walked out a bit later, Stanton got a check up for much more. The…

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January 8, 2015 at 10:15 AM

Replay: Video chat on how to meet our state’s transportation needs

Readers of Monday’s Opinion page heard from state Sen. Curtis King and Rep. Judy Clibborn, each with their own perspective on statewide transportation needs and how best to pay a multi-billion dollar price tag. King and Clibborn chair the Senate and House transportation committees, respectively. At noon Thursday, join them and two…

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Comments | More in Live chats | Topics: democrats, republicans, transportation

January 2, 2015 at 12:02 PM

Poll: Will you drive less in 2015?

I would love to see more people living in and around Seattle ditch driving in 2015 – and it looks like that could happen.

Heavy traffic is ballooning out of control resulting in two-hour commutes to travel 30 miles in the Seattle region. In addition, Washington prides itself on residents’ concern for the environment. Striving to drive less should be second nature in the Emerald City and Evergreen State.

Some good news: The Seattle Times’ Daniel Beekman reported that more than a million bikes went over the Fremont Bridge in Seattle this year. That constitutes a 10 percent bump in ridership. But wait, there’s more. The Seattle Department of Transportation plans to add or expand bike lanes from the Fremont Bridge to downtown and in South Lake Union along Westlake Avenue North and Dexter Avenue.

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January 2, 2015 at 5:45 AM

Map: Why measuring disparities in King County matters

Government can’t solve all of society’s problems, but you have to applaud King County’s willingness to put out its annual Equity and Social Justice report for the sixth straight year. Released in late November, this document is a fascinating read because it measures access to those opportunities that are necessary for people to be…

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Comments | Topics: health disparities, king county, map

December 31, 2014 at 6:06 AM

Some cities sour on traffic cameras

The last six weeks have been tough on traffic camera programs across the country. Whether it’s the 469 communities with red-light camera programs, or the 137 that use speeding cameras, backlash from disgruntled motorists and inconsistent impacts on safety have caused many politicians to abandon their use. Here are some notable examples: Nov. 17 – Auburn City…

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December 31, 2014 at 6:03 AM

Traffic cameras aren’t ideal for every municipality

The effectiveness of traffic cameras can be boiled down to a tale of two cities – in this case Seattle and Auburn.

Ealier this month, a divided Ohio Supreme Court again upheld use of traffic camera enforcement by the state’s municipalities. (AP Photo / Tony Dejak)

Earlier this month, a divided Ohio Supreme Court again upheld use of traffic camera enforcement by the state’s municipalities. (AP Photo / Tony Dejak)

In Seattle, where traffic cameras have been installed in up to 30 intersections since 2006, the program is considered a public safety and public coffers success.

“In general, where red light cameras have been put in … we have seen notable reductions in collisions,” said Mike Morris-Lent, senior civil engineer in Seattle’s Department of Transportation. “The cameras are doing what they are supposed to be doing, reducing … collisions which tend to be severe and result in injury.”

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December 29, 2014 at 6:20 AM

Who is your unsung hero of the year? Here’s mine

The media’s year-end “Person of the Year” ritual honors headline-grabbing deeds, good or bad. I’m more interested in the behind-the-scenes folks who did something amazing, without the public kudos. Who’s your unsung hero of the year?

Craig Adams gets my vote. As a Pierce County Superior Court commissioner, Adams single-handedly kicked off a court case that is dramatically reforming Washington’s beleaguered mental health system. He’s gotten almost no credit. In fact, he was second-guessed by state lawyers all the way to the state Supreme Court.

But he was right. A Seattle Times editorial on Friday criticized what’s known as psychiatric boarding. That wouldn’t have happened, at least so quickly, without the work of Adams.

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Comments | Topics: mental health, psychiatric boarding

December 25, 2014 at 6:02 AM

The day I stopped ignoring homeless people

I stepped off my bus Monday morning with a mission. The day before my church distributed gift packages for parishioners to give to homeless people.

I felt as if my church had entrusted me with a special task. The large Ziplock bag contained packs of raisins, crackers, band-aids, as well as a knit hat and gloves among other items.

My commute by bus takes me from West Seattle to Belltown and then I walk to The Seattle Times’ office in South Lake Union. I see at least a handful of people who look like they could use some help each day near my stop by Third Avenue and Lenora Street. I figured it wouldn’t be hard to find a worthy recipient.

People sleeping on the ground in Pioneer Square. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

People sleeping on the ground in Pioneer Square. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

The mission seemed simple enough: find a needy-looking person and hand over the package. Soon after of arriving at my stop, I saw an elderly woman with a walker and a cart.

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December 17, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Thanks for the sales tax deduction, but what about fixing the tax code?

In another example of Congress kicking the can down the road, lawmakers approved a one-year extension of a sales-tax deduction on federal income-tax returns. The extension gives some relief to about 28 percent of Washington taxpayers who itemize their tax return and claim an average deduction of $600, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. The certainty is…

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Comments | Topics: maria cantwell, sales tax deduction, taxes

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