Regardless of the result of today’s clusterduct vote, there’s going to be a certain amount of starting over come tomorrow.
Seattle City Council president Nick Licata tried in vain last week to set the stage for a “day after” truce with a letter asking 11 environmental groups to sign onto six guiding principals to serve as a starting point once the citizens have spoken.
In short, he got the cold shoulder. Eight organizations, from the Cascade Bicycle Club to the People’s Waterfront Coalition, were mum. The three groups that responded — Heart of America Northwest, Sierra Club Cascade Chapter and WashPIRG — all said thanks but no thanks to Licata’s six principles:
1. Increase public open space.
2. Decrease noise levels.
3. No increase in surface roads— limit increase in surface traffic.
4. Protect and increase salmon habitat.
5. Avoid or manage increased traffic downtown and on I-5.
6. Create dedicated bus lanes and/or bus corridors through downtown.
It’s not that there was any one deal breaker, says WashPIRG program director Bill LaBorde, but the touchy issue is capacity. “Every one of those other issues he raised are pretty much mom and apple pie,” he says. “I think what the environmental community is looking for in terms of capacity is no increase in automotive vehicle capacity. And very much a net gain in people capacity using transit.”
Still LaBorde says he appreciated Licata’s gesture. “I definitely appreciate that he’s trying to find common ground, as much common ground is possible, but there’s such a fundamental disagreement about the direction of that corridor between the environmental community as a whole and Nick’s vision for that area.”
Licata, reached by phone in D.C., (he’s at the National League of Cities conference this week), says he can't complain, all things considered.
“It was one of these things that I put together without really doing sufficient ground work with these organizations. If I had, I probably would’ve gotten much better response,” he says. “I sent it out as something to put in their bonnet so to speak, to think about it. I was pleased with the response I got. All the responses were thoughtful. It opened the door to thinking about final objectives, of talking about substance rather than form.”