My old boss Skip had a great column on Crosscut the other day in which he took note of some recent stories (including in SW) about industrial-lands-nemesis Henry Liebman. Liebman's become the biggest private landowner in SODO, fueled by a federal government program that lets him tap the fortunes of wealthy, aspiring immigrants to fund his buying spree. His apparent plan now is to jack up the rents until industrial users are forced out and offices/condos take over. Skip's point: so much for the supposedly unstoppable tides of growth. Far from being a result of "invisible hand" market forces, the whole transformation is occurring because of a dumb government policy.
The same is proved by this week's experience on I-5. So much for the assertion, put forward by the Kemper Freeman crew and other highway backers, that single-occupancy driving habits are just an immutable force of nature and we should stop attempting some hopeless effort at "social engineering" and start funding highways. Turns out, yes, people can and will change their habits. (Just don't ask them to vote to do so.) We don't need to spend billions on new infrastructure, just manage what we have a lot better.
That's the point, too, of an anti-RTID statement put out yesterday by the Sierra Club. Says the club:
"Necessity is the mother of invention. Traffic engineers and city planners know there are a myriad of solutions to preventing congestion. All of these ideas combine to provide us a picture of how our transportation system can function, while avoiding costly new highways such as those in the RTID plan....When we see the cleaner, cheaper solutions in action, we can't help but wonder: is the RTID package really just a developers' wishlist, instead of a genuine solution to the problem?"