From Oregon Public Broadcasting, news of a new trend in Portland: housing without parking. It’s a major boon for affordability: according to one developer, the cost of providing parking makes “the difference between a $750 apartment and a $1,200 apartment. Or, the difference between apartments and condos.”
And in more awesome news from the Rose City, the Oregon legislature has moved to allow Portland to create a network of slow streets – or “neighborhood byways” – with 20 mph speed limits. You’d think that letting cities reduce speeds in residential neighborhoods would be a no brainer, but a similar measure died in the Washington Senate last year, despite passing unanimously in the House.
To sum up: Portland does all the things Seattle won’t.
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It always seemed strange to me that even our water could be privatized, that corporations could own and commodify something so essential for human life.
But in my hometown of Anacortes, WA, the mayor has taken the liberty to promise Tethys—a beverage “manufacturing” company—five million gallons of water per day from the city’s natural source (he didn’t bother to check with the townsfolk or the City Council first). Thankfully there’s a hitch: building the “largest beverage manufacturing facilities in the country” would require conversion of a parcel of land from rural reserve to urban growth, a move which takes more than a rubber stamp from the mayor. On Monday night there was a City Council meeting and public hearing to discuss the project. (Watch the video here).
Ryan Walters has been a voice of reason on the City Council. He’s worried that nobody knows what Tethys really wants to do. And he thinks they may simply turn around and sell the contract to somebody else. As he put it to KUOW reporter Sara Lerner, “My concern is that it’s like The Music Man, somebody rolling in here to sell a small town a bill of goods.”
What does financial security look like? With daunting prices for childcare, healthcare, and college tuition, it’s no wonder middle-class and low-income families are struggling in this country. Thinking about how to pay for all this, I must say I envy my ex-pat brother living in France, where he and his spouse and kids enjoy access to cheap or free top-notch child care; solid, low-cost healthcare; and a university system that doesn’t break the bank. (And, frankly, considering all this, it’s no wonder all those Parisian moms—and their well-behaved babies—in the recent, ubiquitous bestselling book Bringing Up Bébé are so darned relaxed!)
A new study reported in the Christian Science Monitor brought my France-envy into sharp focus for me once again:
Childcare costs for an infant at a day care center may be more expensive than instate-college tuition, according to a new study. US childcare policy, says experts, is riddled with problems that exacerbate family debt, contribute to glass ceiling wages, and fuel the Mommy Wars.
Indeed, as Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, co-founder and chief executive of MomsRising.org, points out, having a new baby is one of the top reasons for a “poverty spill,” the term for what happens when your income dips below what’s needed for food and rent.
Sightline Daily featured a story this week about a Portland elementary school’s innovative garden and healthy school lunch program. (If you didn’t hear, it’s the project that got kids excited about eating Brussels sprouts). They’re working overtime at Abernethy Elementary right now trying to meet new school lunch guidelines After you watch this inspiring video about the program, you’ll understand how tragically ironic it would be if the new federal healthy school lunch regulations almost kill it. And, if you’re like me, after you dry your eyes, you’ll want to start the same thing up at your own local school.
On Millenials’ (hey, that’s me!) waning appetite for cars and houses, among other things.
Eric de Place
In defense of the Emerald City, Clark, I should note that Seattle already does allow new housing (in a few highly urban areas) to go up without parking. And, of course, Seattle’s recent regulatory reform effort did a bit more to rid us of of some of our unwanted and over-prescriptive parking mandates: http://www.sightline.org/2012/07/24/seattle-reforms-outdated-and-unhelpful-regulations/