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Seattle passes measure for electric vehicle charging, Durkan still faces flack

(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan touted the passage of a measure to require parking facilities to carry infrastructure for electric vehicles on Monday, but still faced criticism on social media.

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The legislation requires that all residences with private parking include an electric vehicle-ready space. Multifamily buildings with shared parking, under the bill, are required to set aside at least 20 percent of spaces for the same purpose. That number dips down to 10 percent for parking garages in non-residential parking garages.

It also standardizes requirements for wiring and electrical outlets in EV-ready spaces.

“Seattle must continue to take bold action on many fronts to reduce carbon pollution and address the negative impacts of climate change. This includes investing in access to transit, bikes, and housing options near transit. This legislation is an important step forward to making sure Seattleites can reliably charge electric vehicles,” said Mayor Durkan in a news release.

The reception from the city’s green advocates, though, hasn’t been all positive, with many dubbing the legislation more of a half-measure than a solution.

“Bikes don’t emit carbon,” one Twitter user responded. “Investments in safe infrastructure would go a long way to reducing Seattle’s carbon emissions.”

“I’ll come back when you can toot your horn with something on mass transit or bicycle infrastructure,” another person said.

Many were upset when an updated version for the city’s Master Bike Plan appeared to significantly scale back plans to expand Seattle’s network of bike lanes.

“You know what would have constituted not even bold action but sensible, moderate action? A protected bike lane on 35th,” a third responder claimed.

The hope for this legislation is to ultimately decrease carbon emissions, while saving money by getting EV-ready infrastructure involved in construction as early as possible.

“We need to do more to reduce the number of vehicles on our roads and to move to electric vehicles,” Durkan’s statement continued. “It is significantly more cost efficient to include EV infrastructure in construction from the start. Our actions to reduce emissions from transportation will help create a healthier and more just city.”

It’s not the first time Seattle has made strides toward electrifying automobile infrastructure in the city. In 2015, the mayors of Seattle, Portland, Eugene, San Francisco, and Los Angeles met to discuss a range of carbon reduction plans and among them was a commitment to develop a “West Coast Electric Highway” or a “Green Wall.” Essentially, they wanted to create a system of EV charging stations along the West Coast.

In 2016, the city started “Drive Clean Seattle,” an effort to electrify the city’s own fleet. It also provides incentives for private parties to move away from fossil fuels. At the time, the goal was to have 15,000 electric vehicles on Seattle-area roads by 2025.

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