Thursday, January 16, 2014

Seattle Syndrome, Part II

Greetings again from San Francisco upon an early Thursday evening.  Point Reyes was beyond comparison for a mid-January week, with temperatures ranging in the low 70s F.  The elephant seal chorus was wonderful.  And we did three hikes in three days.  O my poor post-taxi body!

When thinking about the City of Seattle's regulatory response to the taxi industry I am beginning to feel that it is a mistake to take it personally.  As I suggested in Tuesday's posting, Seattle administratively appears to be mistake ridden, meaning the problem is ingrained, congenital, institutional regardless of who are making the decisions.  The examples are everywhere and I will list but only a limited number of errors.  I don't want to be here all night.

I'll start with all three stadiums, all lacking conclusive taxi stands and wheelchair van accessibility.  How can a city invest over a billion dollars and not provide the most basic of services  to its community?  Come to Seattle and they will show you how.

Months ago Aurora Avenue North (Highway 99) was temporarily reconfigured both north and south between the Battery Street tunnel and Aloha Street.  It is a modern labyrinth of narrow, twisting roadway.  I remember travelling northbound and nearly colliding with the newly installed concrete barriers.  Why?  Because of the failure to  install flashing warning lights, something that has yet to be done.  A mistake of this magnitude is nonsensical and dangerous, endangering pubic safety.  The lanes and the problem remains.  Come see for yourself but only during the daylight hours.

Another Highway 99 snafu occurred about a month ago on a Seahawk Sunday.  The one and only exit to Century Link Field off of southbound Highway 99 was closed all day.  Who knows how many people had to drive another two miles and turn around? Crazy!

During the just past Mayor McGinn administration, roadways were narrowed, miles of new bicycle lanes installed, and many other lanes were designated as "buses only" while overall bus service has been curtailed and zoning laws changed allowing bigger apartment buildings meaning more people and their cars.  All the while blocks of downtown parking have been eliminated while street parking rates throughout the city have raised exponentially.  While all these ideas within themselves hold some merit, McGinn was imagining the wrong city, perhaps Phoenix, AZ or Albuquerque, NM which have unlimited space.  Did McGinn not notice that Seattle is pressed between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington and all those rolling Cascade Mountain foothills?  What was he and his advisers thinking?  I'll leave it to you to speculate. 

What can you say about the Seattle Police Department and its reaction to the intervention by the US Department of Justice?  After years of obfuscation it took the election of a new major to appoint a new interim Chief of Police who will finally unquestionably cooperate with the Feds.  Thank goodness for that!

Have you, like I have, sat at a red light at 3 or 4 or 5 in the morning wondering why the signals aren't re-timed during lighter traffic hours?  You will find this happening all over the city, wasting your time and polluting the air.  And this is an environmentally sensitive city?

It is obvious then that the City of Seattle is just following its usual dysfunctional form when allowing first for-hire cars and limos and now ride-shares to operate illegally and unfettered for the past three years.  And what are they offering us in the  taxi industry for all of our misery?  Why complete and utter deregulation and freedom for our adversaries while keeping us firmly under their regulatory thumb.  This only makes sense if you are a City of Seattle administrator or working for a particular New Jersey governor.  At least his administration, however devious, was trying to manage the roadways.  He deserves some credit!  Or perhaps not.

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