News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood

 

Councilwoman Debora Juarez’s top three tasks

March 20th, 2016 by Mike

Debora Juarez,  the Seattle city councilwoman representing virtually all of Maple Leaf, has posted this guest column over at CityLiving.com: A lot accomplished in first 100 days.

Specifically three things:

In our first 100 days in office, we set out with three goals to deliver on the promise of district representation. First, we aspired to create momentum around the three major capital projects planned for our district. Second, we planned district tours of major enterprises in North Seattle. Third, we opened a district office, where our constituents could speak with my staff and myself without the need to travel downtown to City Hall.

The district office is at North Seattle College, College Center Building, Room 1451, though I can’t seem to find a link to it on her web site.

The capital projects are:

1) The new north police substation at Northeast 130th Street and Aurora Avenue North.

2) The oft-discussed pedestrian bridge between North Seattle College and the Northgate Transit Center. From the city’s web site:

With the passage of the Move Seattle Levy, the Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge project has acquired full funding for the construction of the bridge. The project team will continue to refine the design of the bridge.

3) “Finally, I have been advocating for our district’s second light rail stop, slated for Northeast 130th Street and Interstate-5. This station would serve the Lake City, Bitter Lake and Haller Lake communities.”

There is no mention of Pronto, which surprisingly, continues to be a flash point over the city budget (see comments at link).

Her guest column is here. Juarez’s own blog features “Happy International Women’s Day.”

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What is Councilwoman Debora Juarez thinking?

March 14th, 2016 by Mike

Note that the original question – what went wrong with the March 1 vote? – remains.

The six City Council members sitting next to one another at this table on March 1 either could or couldn’t count to six.

Update: Councilwoman Juarez’s staff has sent me a statement (!). Here it is:

“After careful deliberation, today I voted yes on legislation which removed restrictions on $1.4 million of $5 million previously budgeted for the Pronto system by council vote in November of 2015. Today’s action allowed the Executive to purchase the bike share system’s assets from Pronto.

Had this proposal failed, the city would have been obligated to repay $1 million in federal grant money and the three thousand yearly members of our bike share system would be left without a service they paid into.

The introduction of the Pronto bike share system in Seattle has faced serious problems since its launch in October 2014. I share the concerns of Seattleites who look at our major challenges citywide and debate whether money should be spent on a program that has so far not lived up to expectations. This is why I also voted for the successful amendments to the final ordinance that significantly increase council oversight and accountability for this program.

I am looking forward to enhancing the transparency, service area equity, and overall vision of bike share in Seattle. Today’s action gives us the best chance at achieving this goal.”

– Councilmember Debora Juarez, March 14, 2016

Update: She voted “yes” to save Pronto. The full council voted 7-2 in favor, with Maple Leaf’s other councilman, Rob Johnson, also voting yes. Opposed were Lisa Herbold (west Seattle/South Park) and Tim Burgess (at large).

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On the first day of the month a Seattle City Council committee deadlocked 3-3 on bailing out the failing Pronto bike rental service.

Except it didn’t.

The record now reads that newly elected Councilwoman Debora Juarez, who represents north Seattle including virtually all of Maple Leaf,  actually voted to save the system.

That was not the vote announced at the meeting and heard by the six council members present, and by support staff.

What happened?

A week ago today, on Monday, March 7,  we emailed Juarez’s legislative assistant, BrynDel Swift (bryndel.swift@seattle.gov), to ask.

We’re following the Pronto vote and I’ve been keeping an eye out for Councilwoman Juarez’s statement on her vote last Tuesday. Somehow I’ve missed it, but am quite interested. Can you provide? Thanks.

No answer.

So two days later on Wednesday, March 9th, we forwarded the email to the rest of her staff, Mercedes Elizalde (mercedes.elizalde@seattle.gov), Tyler Emsky (tyler.emsky@seattle.gov) , Sabrina Bolieu (sabrina.bolieu@seattle.gov), and to Juarez herself (debora.juarez@seattle.gov).

No answer. And we haven’t seen it answered elsewhere, either. (Except, kind of, here.)

Our earlier post on Pronto, including updated links to other news organizations’ stories, is here.

In comments there, and elsewhere, Pronto seems to have become a stand-in for how the city prioritizes its spending.

An example: In Danny Westneat’s Seattle Times column last week on a Greenwood food bank closing for lack of city funding, one commentator wrote:

Explain how the city has millions of dollars to spend on a bloated failed bike share program which most citizens don’t want or use while this needed food bank program is shut down. Misguided priorities and lack of common sense.

And another:

OK Debora Juarez: Here’s where you show you’re the adult in the room. Instead of voting yes on that losing proposition Pronto how about using those funds to keep this food bank going? Things like food banks are important. Pronto is just a Murray dream that ends up being a nightmare for everyone else. I had great hopes for you when I cast my ballot for you but now I’m not so sure. So far all I’ve seen from you is more of the same council we had before the election.

The full City Council vote on Pronto is set for this afternoon.

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Update: Public transportation – and a new City Council

January 30th, 2016 by Mike

Update on Mardi Gras:

The Seattle Times has an opinion piece here. It’s not supportive of Pronto.

Update Feb. 4:

The Stranger has a Pronto story here.

The Seattle Bike Blog has one here.

Update Feb. 3: Josh Feit over at PublicCola has an update on Tuesday’s hearing on Pronto rental bikes.

Bottom line: Not much happened. Any vote was postponed as apparently only two transportation committee members were present – including the chair, Councilman Mike O’Brien.

To O’Brien’s frustration, SDOT’s presentation didn’t come with a specific business plan other than the immediate pitch to stabilize the program—there are currently 50-plus stations with 500 bikes and 3,000 members—and then have the city put it out to bid again in 2017….

O’Brien’s committee didn’t take any action yesterday (Pronto will go under in March if the city doesn’t bail it out); O’Brien reasoned that his other council colleagues are likely to have questions. Indeed, letters have been coming in to city hall suggesting that the $5 million could go to homelessness programs.

Feit tweeted about the meeting here.

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A month into Seattle’s new City Council – in which council members are elected neighborhood by neighborhood – we’ll get a look at what this might mean for local public transportation.

Specifically, what will the council members – representing their districts – say about:

* Rescuing Pronto bike sharing rental.

* The apparent disappearance of much of our direct bus service to downtown.

On Tuesday, the City Council will discuss whether to spend $1.4 million to bail out the failing Pronto public bike rental  system.

Fifteen months after launch, Pronto is insolvent. Also, no one is riding the bikes.

As the map shows, there are no Pronto bikes available in Maple Leaf nor, for that matter, in all of Council District 5 (north Seattle), now represented by Debora Juarez.

There was a proposal to put a Pronto station at North Seattle College, but only if the feds paid for it. The feds declined.

Our earlier post is here. The Seattle Times has an updated story here: Seattle’s Pronto bike-share nonprofit teetering, seeks $1.4M rescue by city. (Note to “terriance”, in the +300-plus comments on that story: We don’t know what an “enterprise producer” is, either.)

Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the Transportation and Sustainability Committee, said he was disappointed to see Pronto “go financially sideways so quick” and said he’ll have to carefully consider whether to fund it.

“Just barely a year into it we’re going to throw a million and half into it to keep it alive and see what the next phase is.”

He said he believed bike sharing could work in Seattle, but O’Brien said, “If we’re not going to make it work, let’s figure that out as soon as possible and not spend money on it.”

The Seattle Bike Blog has posted here: With Pronto in the red, city outlines takeover and expansion plan.

The Times’ Danny Westneat has a column here.

In its first year, people took 142,832 rides on Pronto bikes. That’s only 391 rides per day. It’s about seven rides taken at each station per day. Each station brought in only an average $30 a day in revenue.  These are terrible figures considering the bike stations are dotted around places like the Amazon jungle, which we imagine should be meccas of alternative transportation.

Also, helmets.

Also, buses.

With the coming of light rail to the University District, there are proposed changes in Metro routes – but we’ll be damned if we understand them.

We weren’t at the Community Council meeting Wednesday evening, but reports on “Metro’s” presentation were not illuminating. [Read more →]

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Questions and answers for City Council election

June 9th, 2015 by Mike

Update June 11: The Stranger has an update on the mayor’s $930 million proposed transportation levy.

In addition to the video of last week’s City Council forum, the Maple Leaf Community Council sent all local candidates a questionnaire, as it has done for every citywide election since 2011.

The questions, and the candidates’ answers, are now posted here.

We have delivered the questionnaire to all candidates for Seattle City Council in District 4, District 5, Position 8, and Position 9 who were registered by the city’s registration deadline…. The deadline for responses from the candidates was June 1, 2015.

The amount of work that went into this is considerable. Each of 18 candidate replies can be downloaded. (Five candidates did not respond.)

Reading the responses takes a fair amount of work, too. Some can be rough slogging.

Things to look for:

* Does the candidate rely on Mayor Ed Murray’s $930 million Move Seattle levy – the largest proposed levy in Seattle history – to fund improvements?

The city believes the levy – at about $300 a year for a half-million dollar home – will be strongly supported, but Crosscut talked to several experts who aren’t so sure. Seattle PI columnist Joel Connelly has a similar take.

* How does the candidate reconcile affordable housing with increasing density?

* Does the candidate believe it’s necessary for our neighborhoods to form additional taxing districts (LIDs) to pay for things like sidewalks?

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Don't forget about tonight's Community Meeting

January 29th, 2014 by Mike

The January meeting of the Maple Leaf Community Council kicks off tonight at 7 p.m.

On the agenda:

7:00 p.m. Call meeting to order and announcements

7:05 p.m. Political Changes

7:15 p.m. CleanScapes – A Really Neat Opportunity

7:25 p.m.  Bike Master Plan (http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bikemaster_materials.htm)

7:45 p.m. 2014 Maple Leaf Community Work Plan

8:30 p.m. Seattle School Board Member Sherry Carr

9:00 p.m.  Adjourn

The meeting is at Olympic View Elementary School, 504 N.E. 95th St. Free child care is provided.

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Don’t forget about tonight’s Community Meeting

January 29th, 2014 by Mike

The January meeting of the Maple Leaf Community Council kicks off tonight at 7 p.m.

On the agenda:

7:00 p.m. Call meeting to order and announcements

7:05 p.m. Political Changes

7:15 p.m. CleanScapes – A Really Neat Opportunity

7:25 p.m.  Bike Master Plan (http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bikemaster_materials.htm)

7:45 p.m. 2014 Maple Leaf Community Work Plan

8:30 p.m. Seattle School Board Member Sherry Carr

9:00 p.m.  Adjourn

The meeting is at Olympic View Elementary School, 504 N.E. 95th St. Free child care is provided.

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