• A drive-through recreational marijuana dispensary has arrived Auburn. Located in the Muckleshoot Bingo Hall (2771 Auburn Way S), Joint Rivers is the first business of its kind in Washington state.
The dispensary is located on Muckleshoot Tribe reservation, making it exempt from state and City of Auburn regulations that limit the municipality’s number of dispensaries (currently at its two-dispensary limit). The tribe went through the permitting process on its own and has an agreement worked out with the state to share tax revenue from the business, similar to the arrangements drawn up for tribal casinos. Auburn Reporter
• After years of planning, three quarters of a mile of separated bike lanes will run along either side of core city thoroughfares such as 108th Avenue Northeast between Main Street and Northeast 12th Street in Bellevue. The lanes, which protect cyclists from vehicular traffic by dividers like planter boxes, temporary curbs, and sign posts, will officially open on July 31.
The project, funded by the voter-approved Neighborhood Safety, Connectivity, and Congestion levy with an estimated cost of $365,933, is part of the City of Bellevue’s broader effort to build out its multi-modal transportation infrastructure. It adopted a pedestrian and bicycle transportation plan in 2009, and has improved or added three miles of bike lanes annually. In 2017, city staff 17 miles added nine miles of bike lanes, and they’re reportedly on track to add another 19 miles in 2018.
There’s high demand for the bicycle infrastructure. A community survey of more than 1,000 Bellevue residents found that 57 percent of respondents felt unsafe riding their bike downtown, and 63 percent of drivers felt unsafe driving near cyclists.
Additionally, the city is finalizing the permitting process for private bike share companies to an make initial 400 bicycles for public use, with the intent of increasing that figure to 1,200 by the end of the year. Those permits should be ready by July 31. Bellevue Reporter
• Lawyer moms and progressive activists held a nationwide day of civil disobedience on July 6 to protest President Donald Trump’s highly controversial “zero tolerance” immigration policy of separating undocumented immigrant children from their families when detained at the border. Locally, they protested outside of Republican Congressman Dave Reichert’s office in Issaquah.
In addition to protesting outside of Rep. Reichert’s office with colorful signs and chants like “families belong together,” the demonstrators delivered a open letter to the congressman calling on him and other representatives to pass legislation that immediately reunites immigrate children who were separated at the border with their families. It also asks for the federal government to stop detaining migrant asylum seekers and ensure that migrant families remain together.
The protest was organized primarily by Lawyer Moms of America, a emerging organization that boasts a 10,000 person membership nationwide, as well as groups like Indivisible, a network of progressive activists that have been mobilizing against the Trump administration. Issaquah-Sammamish Reporter
• After decades of inaction, the clean-up of a industrial waste site near Kent that threatens the Clark Springs Watershed—the city’s primary water supply—may finally get underway. Local leaders are urging the state Department of Ecology (the agency responsible for the clean-up) to step-up their efforts.
Between 1969 and 1978, private companies such as BNSF Railway and Palmer Coking Coal dumped roughly 500,000 gallons of industrial waste—half in barrels and half right out of trucks—in a trench near the out of commission Landsburg coal mine. The waste included oily water, heavy metals, and paint waste. The site is located just east of Kent and is near the Clark Springs Watershed. The Washington state Department of Ecology eventually pursued legal action against the companies and won a settlement from the companies responsible for the waste requiring them to pay for the clean-up—to the tune of $3.9 million. After the settlement was secured, the state began implementing its clean-up plan.
However, Kent city leaders are now drafting a letter to the Department of Ecology demanding that they get information about the clean-up to the city quicker and increase their testing and monitoring of the site to ensure that the Clark Springs Watershed is not threatened. “[If we knew it was contaminated], we would switch to 100 percent Tacoma water,” a local city official said at a July 2 city council committee on the subject. “We would survive OK, but we don’t want to rely on one (source) for our water supply.” Kent Reporter
• A Vashon Island relay team has swam the 21-mile long English Channel to raise money for a local environmental organization. The four-person team departed for England on July 8 and had a designated window for making the crossing between July 11 and 19. According to the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation—the organization that oversees such attempts by swimmers—the boat that was accompanying the Vashon team reached France on July 15, meaning that the swimmers made it. (One of the swimmers, Katie Curtis, also posted on Facebook that the swim was successful.)
The swimmers were training in the waters just off Vashon Island, indoor pools, and gyms in the weeks leading up to the event, with the goal of having the strength and endurance to brave the likely 60-degree waters. The endeavour wasn’t strictly a personal challenge for the team—they also raised money for a People for Puget Sound, a program of the Washington Environmental Council that assists efforts to keep the sound’s waters clean, promote oil transportation safety, and protect orcas, salmon, and other species threatened by habitat erosion and pollution.
Only 3,500 successful attempts to swim the Channel have ever been recorded. But, in the run-up to the crossing, the swimmers were prepared for the difficulty of the task ahead. “It’s gonna be salty. It’s gonna be choppy. It’s gonna be cold,” said Heidi Skrzypek, one of the four swimmers. Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber