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August 2017

News in Brief

  • Effective July 23, 2017, Washington drivers are prohibited from holding cellphones or other electronic devices while driving. The law prohibits motorists from holding an electronic device - including phones, tablets and other devices - while driving, including while in traffic or waiting for a traffic light to change. Governor Inslee signed the measure into law in May but vetoed a section that had the measure taking effect in 2019. The law was effective July 23, 2017. Under the measure, "the minimal use of a finger" to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of a personal electronic device while driving will still be allowed. Previously, state law only prohibited texting or holding a phone to the ear while driving.
  • For the second year in a row, Seattle has been named the crane capital of America, as reported by the Seattle Times, and no other city is even close. Seattle had 58 construction cranes towering over the skyline at the start of the month, about 60 percent more than any other U.S. city, according to a new semiannual count from Rider Levett Bucknall, a firm that tracks cranes around the world. Crane counts in major cities nationwide have dropped 8 percent over the last six months. During the last count, Seattle had just six more cranes than the next-highest city, Chicago. Now it holds a 22-crane lead over second-place Los Angeles, with Denver, Chicago and Portland just behind. Seattle has more than twice as many cranes as San Francisco or Washington, D.C., and three times as many cranes as New York. Seattle has more cranes than New York, Honolulu, Austin, Boston and Phoenix combined. At the same time, Seattle's construction cycle doesn't look like it's letting up. In the greater downtown region, 50 major projects are scheduled to begin construction later this year, according to the Downtown Seattle Association. An additional 99 developments are in the pipeline for future years.
  • Recently, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved an income tax on wealthy residents, a move expected to bring a quick legal challenge. The measure applies a 2.25 percent tax on total income above $250,000 for individuals and above $500,000 for married couples filing their taxes together. The city estimates the tax would raise about $140 million a year and cost $10 million to $13 million to set up, plus $5 million to $6 million per year to manage and enforce.
  • According to a new Inrix study, Seattle drivers spend an average of 58 hours per year searching for parking. That's the fifth worst of the 10 cities they studied. According to the report, drivers lose about $1,205 dollars annually in time and fuel. The total loss in Seattle, the study says, is about $490 million per year. Seattle Department of Transportation indicates that adding parking spaces isn't a solution, especially with ongoing traffic concerns. They do adjust parking prices for demand, trying to keep some spaces open. The long-term focus, according to SDOT, is other modes of transportation. This September SDOT will relaunch their "Park like a Pro" campaign, which shows people where they can find a parking spot for the best deal.