City of Seattle

Craig Damlo / Flickr

Seattle consistently ranks high on top-10 lists for bike-friendly cities. But the keynote speaker at an urban cycling symposium taking place at the University of Washington this week gives Seattle a scathing review.

Craig Damlo / Flickr

Experts on urban cycling are convening at the University of Washington this week to talking about how to get more people out of cars and onto bikes. And the experts say Seattle is poised to get to the next level.

Seattle is about half way through its ten-year Bicycle Master Plan. An update is under way and expected to be approved by the Seattle City Council this fall.

DarthNick photo / Flickr

New buildings packed with dorm-like rooms for rent have been popping up in Seattle’s densest neighborhoods.

A grey area in the law is allowing these so-called “micro-housing” projects to go up without neighborhood comment. A brown-bag discussion on the issue of takes place at City Hall today.

Wonderlane photo / Flickr

The city of Seattle and King County will spend $1.46 billion on upgrades to public sewer systems aimed at reducing the amount of polluted water entering the Puget Sound and other waterways, according to a federal settlement filed under the Clean Water Act. 

Under the agreement, the city and county will also pay $750,000 in fines for dumping raw sewage into the Sound and several lakes. 

If you see a big bridge or stadium suddenly go dark tonight, don't be alarmed.

Seattle and Tacoma are joining thousands of cities around the world and turning out the lights for Earth Hour, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Landmark buildings will go dark for the hour, and residents are encouraged to take part by turning out all non-essential lights to support the ongoing fight against climate change.

Bellamy Pailthorp Photo / KPLU News

Seattle’s Duwamish River was once a meandering estuary in the heart of the city. A century ago, it was transformed into an industrial waterway and used as a dumping ground for decades.

Now it’s a Superfund site – and the Environmental Protection Agency has released a plan to clean it up.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

When you look around the streets of Seattle, you can expect to see less concrete and more greenery being put in over the next 12 years.

The City is planning to dramatically increase its use of green infrastructure to treat stormwater runoff.

Stormwater runoff is acknowledged as the single largest source of pollution in Puget Sound.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

Imagine you could predict crime the same way weather forecasters issue storm warnings.  

It’s happening – with new software recently deployed in Seattle and Tacoma. Police precincts in both cities hope it will help them allocate patrols more effectively.

clappstar / Flickr

Five years ago, Seattle adopted a Bicycle Master Plan. It aims to triple the amount of bicycling in Seattle by the year 2017. But until just a few months ago, there was no way to accurately count cyclists. That’s changing.

Courtsey Seattle Public Utilities

Global climate change is a reality that few people now deny. 2012 was the warmest year on record. So what about Seattle’s water supply? 

Managers say they need to speed up about $30-million of investment in a backup plan.

About two thirds of Seattle’s water comes from one of the most pristine sources in the nation. The Cedar River Watershed lies in more than 90,000 acres of protected land southeast of the city, near North Bend.

Courtesy American Forests

Seattle is among the nation’s top ten cities for urban forests. This might sound like a no-brainer, but many cities that take pride in their trees did not make the cut. 

The Washington, DC non-profit American Forests based the list on surveys of urban forestry programs in the nation’s fifty most populous cities.

Bellamy Pailthorp photo / KPLU News

It’s data that’s been collected and analyzed for several years now.

But predictions on how high tides and extreme storm events might combine to cause flooding in Seattle are seeming less and less like science fiction.

The City has unveiled a new map, showing huge areas that are much more likely to end up waterlogged during storms. And it says the estimates are no longer considered extreme. 

Bjørn Giesenbauer photo / Flickr

Imagine a future in which major areas of Seattle’s waterfront are flooded because of rising tides.

Businesses that front on Elliot Bay, including the famous Edgewater Hotel, or parks such as Myrtle Edwards or Golden Gardens, would have to adjust to storm surges more than six feet higher than we’re used to.

According to a new federal report on climate change, that future is just a few decades away. 

sadaton / Flickr

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and County Executive Dow Constantine say there’s not much they can do about gun laws. Past efforts to ban firearms in parks have failed because they’re preempted by state laws. But they say they can revive an idea last tried in Seattle twenty years ago: a gun buyback program.

They hope to get hundreds of weapons off the streets with a privately-funded effort.

Bellamy Pailthorp photo / KPLU News

It was one of the biggest outpourings of environmental activism that Seattle has seen since the WTO protests more than a decade ago.

At Freeway Park, a giant balloon shaped like an asthma inhaler floated above a sea of red shirts and banners from the Sierra Club. There was also a giant salmon puppet accompanied by schools of ailing herring and a sad-looking polar bear. And a white-haired lady dressed like Santa held a sign that said, "SAVE MY NORTH POLE." 

The City of Seattle continues to build its case against huge new coal
trains that would rumble through town if an export terminal is built
in Bellingham.

The Mayor of Seattle has released a new study that ups the pressure on
the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Ecology, who are
responsible for the environmental impact study of the proposed
terminal at Cherry Point.

To close a loophole in state law and further control the growth of the medical marijuana industry, the city of Seattle is proposing to tighten its zoning laws.

The Associated Press

It’s 1970 and the one thing really bugging one Seattleite – enough to make him/her write a letter and, apparently, leave the city – was hippies.

“Seattle got so bad with hippies, I just had to get out of that city,” the anonymous writer told Mayor Wes Uhlman.

In addition to hippies, we found four other things really bugging people in the early 1970s on the Flickr stream of the Seattle Municipal Archives – communists, smelly busses, the United Nations and protesters.

The Associated Press

For some it’s the next big source of high-wage jobs; for others, an environmental nightmare: At least 9 trains a day could soon rumble through Seattle, carrying coal to export terminals in Washington and Oregon.

Cities from Missoula, Mont., to Edmonds have passed resolutions that call the idea into question. Seattle is now poised to join them with one of its own.

Courtesy Seattle Public Utilities

A more efficient way to fix one of Seattle’s most embarrassing environmental problems – that’s the promise of a proposed agreement on meeting federal standards for clean water.

The problem is untreated sewage that flows into our lakes and other waterways after big storms.

More than 20 percent of households and businesses in Seattle are opting out of phone books.

One year ago, the city implemented an opt-out program that includes fines for publishers that fail to honor opt-out requests.

Laurel Mercury / Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation

During the January snow and ice storm,  Seattle officials told commuters to stay off the roadways.  But the message caused confusion among the city’s own employees.

Courtesy james corner field operations and City of Seattle

Should the Pike Place Market be connected to Elliot Bay with new walkways?

That’s one of many expensive questions on the minds of landscape designers in charge of rebuilding Seattle’s waterfront.

In less than a week, the city will once again convene stakeholders and the public for help shaping the future of the city’s  “front door” on Puget Sound.

The group Waterfront Seattle is calling on the public to join in discussions that will help determine what the new waterfront will look like, after the Alaskan Way Viaduct comes down.

Florangela Davila / KPLU

It’s been a long running problem – how to keep and create affordable spaces for artists to live, work and perform in.

That’s the focus of Cultural Space Seattle, a two-day event beginning Tuesday at Town Hall. The City of Seattle is asking a wide range of people to roll up their sleeves to look for ways to preserve Seattle’s vibrant arts scene.

The Seattle City Council is considering a ban on thin single-use plastic bags at checkout stands. The ban will also include a pass-through fee of 5 cents for paper bags.

The council is holding a public hearing on the proposal tonight at 5:30

Bruce Irschick /

Vancouver, B.C. comes in 5th on Mercer's 2011 Quality of Living survey, while Seattle is ranked at 48 (just below New York City).

Dave Knapik / Flickr

Young people in Seattle are committing fewer violent crimes than they did a couple of years ago – especially in areas that, historically, have had the most juvenile offenses, according to a new city report.

The drop could be the result of a citywide effort to combat the problem.

Gwen Harlow / Flickr

"Paper or plastic?"

Seattle wants to take that choice away in order to save the environment and money. The city council is considering a ban on single-use plastic bags, because they are harmful to marine wildlife as well as to recycling machinery.

King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks

When you go to the grocery store, it’s easy to forget to bring a reusable bag with you.

But the consequences of just taking the plastic bags that are doled out at most grocery chains is devastating to the health of local waters and wildlife. That’s the message from Environment Washington – a group that has issued a renewed call for a ban on plastic at checkout stands in Seattle.

Charla Bear / KPLU

Seattle has selected a contractor to build its new fleet of streetcars. The city is gearing up to start construction of a route through First Hill. 

Officials say it could be the beginning of many more streetcar possibilities.