"We need to rethink how we live."
A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.
Bring businesses closer to the people with accommodation
Editor, The Times:
In "The solution to gridlock is affordable housing near jobs" [Times guest editorial, April 10], Steve Francks suggests that the government should support building more affordable housing near existing employment centers to reduce the amount of money we pour into transportation infrastructure.
I agree, but Francks should also have addressed the companion to his proposed solution: The government should also consider tax breaks for businesses that have a majority of employees living in close proximity, thereby encouraging businesses to move to where the people are currently living; or perhaps property-tax breaks to encourage individuals to live near their places of employment.
It would seem the lost tax revenue could be more than offset by savings in transportation expenditures.
— Tom Giese, Federal Way
This land is their land
Steve Francks' commentary on housing's impact on commuting spells out the root cause of our transportation problems around Puget Sound.
Fly over Europe sometime, look down: compact, densely built cities and towns; borders are clearly defined, surrounded by rural landscape. Quite different from American cities, where rings of suburban sprawl fan out, often absorbing the city centers themselves.
Therein lies much of our problem. As long as we're stuck on that suburban-housing model, our traffic problems have to compound.
Can we also talk about how our housing choices affect our need for oil?
We need to rethink how we live.
— Ken Mednick, Bremerton
This could be our land
A much different view of gridlock will lay much of the blame on our urban-growth boundary and the related Growth Management Act.
These laws should be revised with truly smart growth, emphasizing lower densities intermixed with 20 percent green space (parks, small farms, game preserves, sports fields, arboretums), purchased with taxes.
Just look out the window of a commercial flight entering/leaving a metropolitan area. There is plenty of land available to handle the increasing number of people now being packed into a fixed space.
Polls repeatedly show we prefer R-4 density (four homes per acre), not R-8 or R-12, which our shortsighted new-urbanist politicians want to see.
Would you put your 7-year-old into size 5 shoes, then tell them to tolerate the pain as they grow?
Only 3 percent use public transit, this country having developed around the car-highway system, unlike most European cities.
But the car bus, transporting the 8-foot-long electric microcar, is the way to allow us to continue our favored single-occupancy-vehicle lifestyle, yet retain the urban mobility we need, as we grow laterally.
Demonstrations of the car bus, sponsored by the feds, would show the way to end freeway congestion and dependence on foreign oil, while reducing our contribution to global warming from its present 31 percent to 15 percent.
— Dave Petrie, transportation research engineer, Des Moines
Felix and Rex
The faithful homebody
Once again, coyotes are in the news ["It's hard out there for a pygmy rabbit: 14 fall to predators," Local News, April 12]. I recently read a story about a coyote den that was discovered while installing a sewer line in New York. The den contained more than 50 cat collars.
Coyotes are predators. They prey on rabbits, mice, rats, moles and our cats. Without coyotes, we would be overrun with pest animals. Coyotes hunt to feed themselves and their offspring. We are seeing more coyotes because we humans have destroyed their homes; they are running out of places to go.
Can coyotes and cats coexist? No. We are heartbroken every time we see a "LOST" flyer attached to telephone poles and mailboxes with the promises of rewards for the safe return of a beloved cat.
Prevention and proper pet care by responsible owners is the answer. We all know that our cats aren't safe outdoors. Coyotes are everywhere — not just in rural settings. The solution is a simple one; be part of it by keeping your cats indoors, where they are safe.
— Marilynn Hendrickson, Bothell
Fit for a king
I am an animal lover and it saddens me deeply whenever I see a dog driven around unsecured in the bed of a pickup truck. The dog may appear to be enjoying itself, but transporting a dog in the back of a truck endangers the dog and other drivers as well. If the driver were to swerve, hit a bump, or suddenly slam on the brakes, the dog could be thrown from the back of the truck and injured or killed by a passing car or cause other drivers to have an accident as they swerve to avoid hitting the animal.
Another thing that concerns me occurs on summer days, when many dog owners are oblivious to the fact that their beloved dog, in the back of the truck, is suffering from heat exhaustion as the sun beats down unmercifully on the hot, metal bed of the truck, while the owners sit in the comfort of their air-conditioned cab.
What can be done to better-educate dog owners to end this cruel and inhumane practice? If this letter helps save even one dog's life, then it was worth writing!
— Randolph Lesser, Federal Way
Stacked against you
While looking at the new proposed ferry fees, I have to wonder what sort of math was used ["Ferry fares to increase 2.5 percent on May 1; 4 percent boost rejected," Local News, March 23].
On the Clinton/Mukilteo run, an increase of 2.5 percent on the multi-ride car and driver would equal a new fare of $109.10, not the stated $109.60,which equals an increase of 2.91 percent. I noticed this on almost all of the runs.
While the 50 cents on the Clinton/Mukilteo run is not much, when you figure how many of these extra 50 cents will be collected over the course of a year, ferries will be getting way more than what was approved. What will happen if all of the commuters realize they are being overcharged? The San Juan run increase is almost 8 percent; how did 2.5 percent become 8 percent?
I wish this kind of math were used at my company during raise time; imagine thinking 2.5 percent and really getting more. I really love this new math.
— Joe Freeny, Langley