Carless in Seattle: Today So Far
- Can you go carless in Seattle? Or can you go carless to commute into Seattle?
- Adrian Diaz picked to be next Seattle police chief. City Council still needs to confirm.
- Washington has a lot more registered voters, but there is an age gap.
This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for September 21, 2022.
It's official(ish)! Adrian Diaz has been picked to become Seattle's new police chief. If that name sounds familiar, that's probably because Diaz has already been on the job as interim police chief for about two years.
Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that he selected Diaz for the job out of three finalists. The City Council still has to approve the selection, so it's not entirely official just yet.
Amid the prepared speeches and handshakes (see video of that here), there was one moment that has been lingering with me ever since Tuesday's announcement — an unplanned, frank comment from Councilmember Debora Juarez. She was part of the police chief committee that selected finalists for the job and said that it was one of the most "honest, raw, emotional meetings" she has experienced while in office. She noted the committee addressed some issues that have been difficult to discuss over the past two years, such as "defund the police," rising crime, and homelessness.
"But I think the thing I was most impressed with, and made me proud, is that I felt — and I don’t always feel this way — that I was finally in a safe room where people could say what they really feel and believe because they love this city, without being called a name, without getting a death threat, without people coming to their homes. You can say, ‘I don’t want, and I am concerned about, homeless people,’ that doesn’t mean you want to criminalize the homeless. You can say, ‘I’m not happy with the police,’ that doesn’t mean you hate the police.”
Despite Seattle's passive-aggressive profile, a lot of names do get thrown around town, usually in place of a genuine, firm argument. It can be quite off-putting, even when we're talking about a serious issue or good cause. I don't think this is what Juarez was aiming for when she said it, but I'm not sure I've heard anyone really call us out on it.
“We did not want this to turn into performative gestures, politicizing it, virtue signaling, all that bullshit," she continued. "No, we want to talk about, ‘our city is hurting, it needs to be healed.’”
I know not everyone agrees with me on this, but another reason this comment has stuck with me is because it can be refreshing to hear an elected official, in front of an official seal, swear like the rest of us. I'm probably not supposed to admit that, so please keep that between us.
Read the full story on the police chief announcement here.
An interesting factoid came through KUOW's newsroom recently: 80% of Washington adults are registered to vote. That's more than a decade ago, so voter registration is on the rise. But here's the thing, a lot of this increase has been among people age 65 and older. There has been much smaller growth among Millennials and younger voters. Read more here.
This week is a Week Without Driving. At least, it is for a lot of elected officials who are being encouraged by Disability Rights Washington to ditch their car commute to really learn the ups and downs of carless living.
TSF readers have probably picked up a certain grumpiness I have with our region's mass transit. So this is an effort I can really get behind. It reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend who moved into Seattle and planned to use the bus for a trip to the grocery store. A few hours later, she decided to put her car back on the road for future trips.
Ever since moving south of Seattle, my eyes have been further opened to the difficulties of commuting. Is Seattle aware of how many people come into town from outside the city? That's a rhetorical question. Anybody who has looked at I-5 in the morning is aware of the out-of-towner factor. I know I said this yesterday, but when the Sounder train stops moving at 6:30 p.m., you're going to see a lot more cars coming to the city.
A Week Without Driving is more about an awareness of systematic barriers that people face when a car is not an option — older people, people who are disabled, or people who just can't afford a car. Soundside recently spoke with Anna Zivarts, director of the Disability Mobility Initiative at Disability Rights Washington, about this week-long effort. It raises questions like having to deal with weather, smoky air, getting around town with kids in tow.
"It's not just the easy trips, or the convenient trips that need to be taken without a car ... it's the trips that aren't so easy," Zivarts said. "Like trying to get home after a meeting that ends at 9 o'clock and the bus stops running at 8. Or trying to go somewhere on Sunday, or carry a bag of dog food ... what does it mean if you can't do big shops? Do you have to do more frequent, small shops?"
"There's also the big problem of affordability ... what we see more and more frequently is that people who need transit, who need a walkable, connected pedestrian network, can't afford to live in the places that have those things. People can only afford to live further and further out in places that don't have that kind of service."
Hear Zivarts' full conversation with Soundside here.
AS SEEN ON KUOW
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced Adrian Diaz as the new permanent Seattle Chief of Police during a press conference on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at Seattle City Hall. (Megan Farmer / KUOW)
DID YOU KNOW?
On this day, Sept. 21, 1942, the largest bomber in history (at that time) took its debut flight out of Seattle. The B-29, aka, "the Superfortress" was made by Boeing for the WWII effort. It was a four-engine airplane able to travel faster and farther than previous models. While it made its first flight locally, it was first used in military operations to bomb Bangkok, under Japanese control at the time.
The B-29 was a popular plane during its day. It was replaced by the B-52 Stratofortress in the '50s. People/history clearly liked one model more than the other — there are no bands or hairstyles named after the B-29.
ALSO ON OUR MINDS
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a "partial mobilization" of Russia's armed forces on Wednesday morning — signing a decree that will send Russians who have gone through military training to join the fight in Ukraine while stopping short of an all-out draft.