Visiting to the Olympia-Final Post

Last Friday I went to Olympia to attend the hearing of that day. Although I did a little bit research on the bills that was going to be covered in the hearing, still didn’t realize it was actually going to be executive session, which I guess the debate part could be much more shorter than the regular one. 581788535

Feifei, Si and I arrived at the hearing room earlier before it started, it was a rainy day, but we were pretty excited to visit there.587246695

I talked briefly with a senior citizen,who just really cared about the bill about affordable housing and wandered how might it go in the end. The bill he was concerned also interest me, it’s HB 1797, which allows the city to receive one-time remittance of 4.37 percent of the sales tax on public purchase of the affordable housing development, or public infrastructures to support such development. Also providing cities and counties authority to use real estate excise taxes to support affordable housing.

I personally think this is a very wise bill in terms of giving the flexibility of using the excise taxes to better support affordable housing. And if I heard it right, it’s only cities within county that with a population over 1.5 million to have the authority. Also affordable housing must be rented by person who qualified as very low-income, low-income, or moderate low-income households. These preconditions also work well to make sure the bill is implied in the right way. Also Representatives at the hearing pretty much voted for the bill, although they still had different concerns. Fortunately, the bill was reported with do-pass in the end.

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The hearing was pretty short, so I then went to the office of Nicole Macri(State Representative, 43rd Legislative District). He was downstairs in the Caucus, so I just briefly talked with his assistant Curis Knapp(Legislative Assistant to Nicole Macri, State Representative, 43rd Legislative District ) about HB 1797 that just being discussed on the hearing, and some further talk about the importance of purchase on public infrastructure as well to support affordable housing development. He was actually pretty excited that I’m student of Landscape Architecture. Then I talked about my experience in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, how vibrant the public space is, and how connected and thoughtful the biking trails are. I knew that Seattle is also trying to improve the biking system, and we should probably have a quick take-away from “the Biking country”, improving the quality of relative infrastructures to a higher level, which will surely invite people to bike more.He was very happy to have a conversation with me, and gave me his email for further questions and information.

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Then I came to hear the Caucus debate on the first floor, and met a mom of the flag-bearer downstairs, she was so proud of her daughter! The debate about the medical use of Cannabis(if I heard right) in school was very sharp, which was pretty cool to hear.

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There were constantly groups of students visited the Caucus too, it was actually helpful for me to better understanding the process.

All in all, very interesting and impressive experience!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulalip

The casino..? The tribe.

Millennials are quick to hop on the twitter/facebook/instagram bandwagon of social justice topics. This reality is important in two main ways 1) social media can be a powerful tool for spurring large scale social activism, yet 2) as a result of this, local issues not in popular media can easily get swept under the rug at a time when these issues need just as much local support.

Recently I attended an event at the UW Intellectual House, hosted by the Jackson School of International Studies. A group of bachelor students presented their quarter long research project, which aimed to educate non-tribal millennials on the Tulalip Tribe and the larger topic of Native American treaty rights. They found that 81 percent of millennials in Puget Sound first associate the word “Tulalip” with the casino, and an additional 18 percent were unfamiliar altogether with the Tulalip Tribe. I myself was guilty of being part of the 81 percent.

What struck me the most about that evening was when a tribe leader stood up and made a commanding speech. She described the visceral relationship the Tulalip Tribe has with the environment; a stewardship of resources that is deeply ingrained in to their daily life. To the Tulalip, salmon is not just food, it is celebration, it is family, and it is tradition. Since she was a child, on a specific date each year her family would catch a salmon in celebration of harvest. 2016 was the first year her family did not catch a salmon that day.

Today the tribe counts about 4,000 members, and are one of dozens of tribes along the Puget Sound coasts. The Treaty of Point Elliot of 1855 was the first legal distinction made between the rights and ownership of a handful of Puget Sound tribes. Forced to give up large swaths of land, the Tulalip Tribe told treaty negotiators they wanted the reservation to be at Tulalip Bay because it had plenty of timber, creeks and fish. It was full of healthy salmon populations. Today, in the Snoqualmie and Skokomish rivers, which converge to form the Snohomish River just south of the Tulalip reservation, wild spawning chinook are down 53 percent compared to 1990 numbers. More than just food is at stake for the Tulalip Tribe; cultural heritage, education, and identity are at risk.

In 1974, during the Pacific Northwest fish wars, a landmark court decision called the Boldt Decision asserted the rights of Washington tribes to co-manage fish with the state and continue traditional harvesting. The Boldt Decision not only protected fishing rights but mandated the tribes get their fair share of 50 percent of the harvestable fish. Today that fair share is threatened. As the Standing Rock Sioux continue to fight the battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, similar battles of different complexion and scale are being fought across the country.

Fortunately, Washington State government and a large number of private organizations put treaty rights and salmon population health as a top priority. For every estimated $1 million spent on watershed restoration, $2.2–$2.5 million is generated in total economic activity. The efforts and research are being to manage this issue in an attempt to restore and improve the quality of life for all. Millennials are poised to boost these efforts as we join the work force with strong environmental and social justice principles. Urban, agricultural, and industrial pollution and development are the greatest threats to further deterioration of salmon habitat and disregard of treaty rights. And before we read the next social media post on our phones, we should take an extra effort to read the local paper or join a local event that we might not otherwise consider, because the outcome of doing so can enlighten us in ways we had not imagined.

 

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Links:

1: State of Salmon in Washington project:       http://stateofsalmon.wa.gov/

2: WA Government Involvement:  http://www.rco.wa.gov/salmon_recovery/index.shtml

3: Jackson School Project Link :            https://sway.com/wluV0qRyoGiK3J80

4: Billy Frank Jr and the Fish Wars:  https://www.sos.wa.gov/legacy/stories/billy-frank-jr/

5: Salmon Cycle Info:  http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/pugetsound/species/salmon_cyc.html

 

 

The Matter of Public Educating

Looking at the biggest environmental issue of Beijing in the last a few years, it must be the heavy haze that caught the most attention. Data shows that vehicles, which contribute 31% of the PM2.5 air quality index is one of the major causing factors. People are wearing masks anytime when they are out in the air, but the numbers of vehicles driving on the road did not decrease even a little. A lot of people don’t really believe in this PM2.5 condition is because of the number of vehicles, just like a lot of people don’t believe in climate change. While the truth is, first of all, suppose there are 6 million vehicles out on the road in Beijing per day, then each of the 6 million vehicles will all be like a “dust raiser”; Secondly, the low-efficient traffic that caused by too many cars results in the “cold start” of the engines, which further produces up to 20% of ambient particulate matter; Last, and the most important one, a lot of the automobile emission is nitrogen oxides, 80% of which becomes PM2.5 after second reaction.

Sometimes numbers aren’t strong enough to work as a warning sign. Here comes the issue of public awareness and public education. There were plenty of projects that incorporated the process of public educating within the design solutions. Visualizing the process of water purification process, letting people engaged in the process and learning from it is the most handful one. The idea is still being tried out on different scales, during which process a lot of people don’t see our living environment should necessarily functioning that way, but I say, especially with this case in Beijing, the most powerful way to awake people and take actions is to visualize it. Just take the PM2.5 as an example. If we could have an absorbing tank inserting on both sides of the roadway(or maybe the green buffer in between), it will definitely absorb huge amount of dust every day. Then compress the absorbing tanks after several days(maybe even longer) to a brick-like shape(or other interesting shape). These “bricks” could be used as a kind of art installation in exhibition, or just using them in the landscape-people sitting on the benches made out of their automobile emissions!

The issue of PM2.5 in Beijing is so complicated and will not be solved by single policy or idea, it needs a system that facilitate the process in a positive way. When I was studied at Beijing, I really knew how did it feel to either stuck in a super crowded subway, or stuck in a super slowly moving crowd of cars on the street. The issue had already been so severe that everyone knows about it, and talk about it, but there is still a gap there between the public understanding and that feasible and positive system. And at this point, it’s time for this educating to be powerful and required, and some sort of revolutionary and leading action is needed to guiding the public.

 

House Bill 1169/Final

This Thursday I went to Olympia to meet with one of my representatives of district 5, Paul Graves, to talk about house bill 1169 which concerns student loan default and revoking the license of professionals who default on their loans. The bill essentially does two things. Firstly, it creates a state funded hotline for people who default on their loans for free consultation on the next step and ensures that these consultants are from a nonprofit. Secondly, it changes the state law that allows governing boards to strip away someone’s license if they default on their student loans. For example, if you went to beauty school and got your cosmology license, which could be stripped from you if you default on your student loans. Representative Graves voted for the bill and it has passed on to the senate.

During our meeting I expressed my support for the bill in general, but that I did not think that at hotline of that sort was going to solve the problem. I suggested that a better way of consolidating student loans into a single account that would allow for a forecast of future payments for students would be very beneficial and bring to light what their loans will mean for future payments. When I expressed these I was very surprised that he did not voice an opinion on what I said but instead took it as someone’s opinion on a problem that needs to be dealt with.

Another issue that we discussed was k-12 education. That is a hot topic in Olympia and I expressed my concern that too much funding for schools comes from individual contributions from PTSA members. I explained that I went to liberty high school in the Issaquah school district and we felt left out and forgotten a lot of the time because the demographics in that area are more blue-collar jobs and less white-collar/tech jobs which leads to less funding from PTSA and less money towards the school. When I asked if any bills were proposed that addressed this issue he said there was a ton of things being brought out of committee that address multiple issues but he couldn’t list the bill number of the top of his head but a quick google search should pop it up.

Before I left I handed him my printout of house bill 1169 with my margin marks and opinions on the bill and he was very appreciative. However, I have not met someone who talks as fast as Representative Paul Graves in my life. Honestly quite impressive.

Overall the trip down to Olympia was and enlightening and not bad of a drive either. I left my apt at 7:45am and I was parked and in his office by 9:10am. In addition I have never driven around the capitol building. So for me I had to learn where everything was and how parking worked but it wasn’t very difficult to figure out. Once I was parked, the O’Brian building can be quite intimidating for someone who has never been to Olympia. Trying to find the right elevator that didn’t require a key card to get to the 4th floor to Rep. Graves office was a bit of a struggle but I triumphed after my 3rd elevator attempt. The trip definitely brought to light that the people who are working in Olympia as our representatives are genuine people who want the best for their respective county instead of incompetent idiots that it feels that most people thinks of all politicians.IMG_8256

Bill 5553 and My Future Involvement….

What a great opportunity it is for me to get involved with a subject I feel passionately about.  Thank you to AP for the assignment as I have never been politically involved (purposefully) until I found Bill 5553.

Below is a copy of the correspondence I have been having with my State Representative Senator Jamie Pederson.  An upcoming meeting with the Senator will be taking place, and I intend to stay involved with this particular bill and issue until it hopefully, and eventually, passes the House and Senate.  Bill 5553 “Preventing suicide by permitting the voluntary waiver of firearm rights” is sponsored by Senators Pedersen, Fain, Frockt, Takko, Hobbs, Zeiger, Kuderer, Darneille and does the following:

1)      Provides a procedure for the voluntary waiver of firearm rights and the revocation of the voluntary waiver.

2)      Requires entry of a voluntary waiver into the Washington State Patrol electronic database within 24 hours.

3)      Permits revocation of the voluntary waiver after at least seven days.

4)      Prohibits transfer of a firearm to a person who has a voluntary waiver in effect.

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I hope to help the Senator and our State make history with this Bill, and that rational minds will come together and agree that those who are considering doing harm to themselves should not be able to easily procure a firearm to do so.  I will go so far as to suggest to the Senator that therapists who are treating suicidal patients must offer them this waiver by law.  I look forward to assisting him in his efforts.  I will post a follow up after our meeting.

 

The Death of Pronto….Say What?

 

Last month the city of Seattle ripped the wheels off the city-wide bike sharing program Pronto!  In addition, they even canned the idea of an e-bike replacement program.  Sadly enough I was a proud Pronto Member their entire existence, having learned to appreciate the usefulness of such a program in Tel Aviv, where their bike share program “Tel-O-Fun” is a rousing success.  Granted the climate is just slightly different between our two cities, but why couldn’t Pronto work in our bike obsessed city?  Considering I don’t feel that bike ownership and bike-sharing programs really do affect one another, and the fact that with bike sharing you don’t have to be concerned about bike theft, why in the world couldn’t we as a city have done a better job in implementing Pronto to avoid this colossal blunder? 

Some point to the answer as being a structural, political, regulatory and geographical series of issues, but I have one very good insight as to why we will no longer be able to claim title to being one of the greenest cities in the country with an eco-friendly transit culture….the bikes themselves were positively horrible, specifically for the topography of our city.  Low ridership was also the result of having too few stations, I mean not having a Pronto station at Greenlake?  You must be kidding.  I mean no one is going to rent a bike for the day if they cannot even find a bloody station in Freemont of all places!

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The complete and utter mismanagement of Pronto by SDOT is embarrassing to our city, and just goes to show how our “wanna-be” green bike friendly city mentality totally overshadowed the proper planning and implementation necessary in a city with the scale of bike ridership we actually already have.  Now back to my otherwise clear insight into how the bikes they chose were lacking in functionality.  Anyone who rode a Proto bike noticed it had only 3 gears, was very heavy, and more importantly had a very awkward storage plate in the front of the bike instead of behind the seat.  Anyone who had been to Whole Foods and wanted to bike home on a Pronto had to do their best ET impersonation which made turning of any kind heavy and unbalanced.  How am I supposed to bike across town this way?  How is someone who isn’t in shape already able to bike around this way?

Well now I’m going to provide a little suggestion to the fabulous SDOT folks that gave up early.  DON’T SCRAP THE PROGRAM.  First, find a corporate sponsor who is willing to set aside the fact that the program is now cursed with bad press and do what is right for the city.  Alaska airlines is a great start, but why not bring in Tesla, Amazon, Microsoft or Starbucks?  Secondly, plan a re-launch a couple of years down the road with quadruple the station coverage and lighter redesigned bikes.  Finally, and most importantly, include a bike-share membership within the ORCA card membership program as well.  It just may get some of those folks who would normally take a bus to get outside in the rain and pedal for goodness sakes!

Capturing Architectural Value through LEED and Other Long-Term Sustainability Measures

Architects fail to capture much of the value they can create. For example, an architect who designs a building with an innovative passive shading strategy will yield substantial energy-cost savings for the building’s owner and tenants over the project’s lifetime. Or, if an architect designs an attractive workplace which attracts and retains employees for many years, he is helping the client’s bottom line by making the workforce more productive.

The standard contracts that architects use don’t contain any language to reward the architect for the additional financial value they create. Instead, their fee is often a factor of the total construction cost, and there is no mechanism for incentivizing the designer for how well the building performs over its lifetime.

Now consider that the during a typical 30-year building life cycle, design and construction costs make up only a small proportion of the overall building costs. Operational costs –particularly for energy – are far greater. And construction cost is dwarfed by the personnel costs an organization will pay in salaries for the workers that use a building over thirty years. By gauging their compensation to construction cost, architects are only relating their work to the smallest fraction of value they can create by reducing operational and personnel costs for the owners and tenants of their buildings.

Currently, if a building fails to perform in some way, the architect is financially liable for costs associated with latent defects, even years after warranties stated in the construction contract have expired. So, architects have long-term exposure to any value they destroy, but no exposure to long-term value they create.

Architects should be incentivized to create long-term operational and personnel value for their clients by receiving some of the cost savings their design achieves. To do this, an alternative to the age-old  architectural fee structure will be needed.

Thanks to LEED and other green building initiatives, building monitoring technology, and the benchmarking it facilitates, is becoming more widespread. Architects could play a role in monitoring the performance of their buildings on an ongoing, long-term basis. They could tie a portion of their fees to the higher performance levels that their buildings meet or exceed compared to an agreed benchmark.

Clients would be willing to accept these terms, since they will be saving more money in the long run and the architects’ incentives will be clearly spelled out. Since designing highly sustainable buildings is generally more work for an architect, this compensation model could be drive to far exceed their clients’ demands.

Architects are best positioned to design value into a project at the earliest stages in its development. By shifting their incentives, not only would they be motivated to design the greenest buildings possible, they would also have a fairer long-term source of income that would help the profession survive and prosper.