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September 30, 2013 at 6:00 AM
The residents and retailers of Pioneer Square don’t just want a public loo. They need it. The smell of pee permeating from street corners and alleys is truly unpleasant for visitors. Seattle’s most storied district should elicit fond memories, not disgust and wrinkled noses.
Seattle’s City Council is scheduled to vote Monday on a land use ordinance to allow developer Urban Visions to build a project at 200 Occidental up to a maximum height of 130 feet — or one extra story — “if a freestanding manufactured public restroom structure is acquired and installed.”
They should say ‘yes’ to the deal.
Months ago, Urban Visions offered to comply and purchase an environmentally friendly public toilet called the Portland Loo. (Not to be mistaken with the five $1 million German toilets the city purchased and installed in 2004. According to this 2008 Seattle Times news report, those proved to be disastrous.)
Transporting the Portland Loo to Pioneer Square is expected to cost about $100,000. The developer would be on the hook for the facility’s capital costs, too, bringing the total to as much as $250,000.
What makes this deal extra sweet is the Alliance for Pioneer Square is willing to pay the Portland Loo’s maintenance costs, at least for the first five years. Wish the association would commit to a longer-term deal, but that’s not out of the question. The council may have to revisit costs later, which are estimated to be about $17,000 per year. (more…)
April 12, 2013 at 6:40 AM
Washington’s political gridlock over replacement of the I-5 bridge across the Columbia River has even caught the attention of The Economist, Britain’s distinguished news magazine.
A headline on the article about the Columbia River Crossing expresses evident frustration with what it reports: “Sometimes it’s a wonder anything gets built.”
With droll acknowledgement of the gorgeous vistas, the article notes commuters stuck in traffic have plenty of time to take in the views.
The crossing’s role in the economy is duly recognized: “Thousands of Vancouverites commute to jobs in Portland, and the bridge lies on an important route for lorries bearing freight, much of it offloaded at nearby ports.” Indeed.
The federal government and Oregon have already committed funds for a new bridge, if Washington steps up. Most of the official obstinacy in Olympia about providing the state’s share of the replacement costs comes from lawmakers outside of Vancouver. Local support is strong, on both sides of the river, as I explain in my column.
A business story in The Oregonian adds another wrinkle to what might be a changing dynamic. Vancouver just enjoyed an economic development coup. A Portland telecommunications company, Integra, will relocate and consolidate 690 employees scattered around Portland to a long vacant former Hewlett-Packard Co. campus in east Vancouver. Almost half of the workers already live in Washington.
The other employees in Oregon, many of whom are used to riding light rail to work in northeast Portland, will have to navigate the traffic across the aged bridge. As the transportation realities in and around Vancouver become clear, the Columbia River Crossing debate is likely to gain new voices for change.