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Peer into future after car ban -- it isn't pretty

Posted on 02/12/2007 11:12:33 AM PST by Sopater


Peer into future after car ban -- it isn't pretty

Monday, February 12, 2007


A longtime friend came up at a party last week, asking what it would take to get me on board the campaign that seeks to tear down the Alaskan Way Viaduct and not replace it.

I cited a prediction by Department of Transportation boss Doug MacDonald that the "street option" would mean 12 hours of daily congestion on Interstate 5.

"Good!" said my friend, once on the Seattle School Board. "Cars suck," added a woman chiming in on our exchange.

Inspired by her persuasive depth, here is the first in a pair of futurist columns on what our town might look like if its would-be social engineers, as it were, were to occupy the driver's seat:

The British Museum

Seattle, June 2077

After circling the barren Olympic Mountains, made snowless by global warming, our cultural anthropology tour landed in Seattle. We were whisked by van to a "control point" at the entrance to the city.

The Political Correctness Police (PCP) politely confiscated soft drinks from the group. Under the Butler-Wall ordinance, named for an early 21st-century school trustee, it is illegal to possess sugar or caffeinated soda pop in Seattle.

The PCPs were selective with literature. A copy of the "Stars and Stripes" was seized and burned, under the Hagopian law (also named for a School Board member), which prohibits possession or display of military recruiting literature within the city.

Magazines with pictures of male torsos were permitted, while the PCP removed publications displaying naked female bodies. It was part of a "Nickels rule" regulating display of the human body. Strip clubs are required to erect Plexiglas screens to separate dancers from patrons. Customers must wear monitoring devices: An electric shock is administered at signs of arousal.

The first impression of 2077 Seattle is of bicycles and mopeds, swarms of them, reminiscent of Beijing before China's emergence as the world's pre-eminent superpower.

The story of the city's transformation is well-known. A civic councilor named Peter Steinbrueck seized power, aided by radical school trustees, militant arts activists and a cadre of young Capitol Hill writers dubbed the "trust fund kids."

The city tore down its waterfront freeway and retreated into itself under a "new order." It is officially called "Coordination." Thousands left, many claiming to have been driven out. One major neighborhood, West Seattle, seceded.

The first stop of the tour was "Bronzed Prius" at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Belonging to the late Rep. Jim McDermott, the Toyota Prius was the last privately owned car permitted in the city. McDermott was allowed to keep it because of his "services to the movement."

We were driven along the Lake Washington Ship Canal, once dominated by small marine-oriented businesses. No more. Bike paths and upscale condominiums now dominate.

The "Bicycle Blockade of Ballard Oil" is a heroic painting that officials frequently show their guests from "the outside."

Ballard Oil was a business that defied coordination. Its owner insisted he had a right to drive trucks along the waterfront, to take on fuel at Harbor Island and to sell it to engine-powered boats.

In a city switching to leg- and wind-powered transport, that was deemed "anti-social." A mob, organized by authorities, converged on Ballard Oil. The mural depicts its chief agitator, the radical journalist Erica Barnett, in a Delacroix-like pose with a bicycle chain thrust into the air. Ballard Oil was soon sold to a sail-making firm.

Our third stop was an exhibit at the Seattle Center, transformed in the early 21st century into a green space surrounded, a la Central Park in New York, by tall apartment buildings.

"Driving the SuperSonics from Seattle" is a multimedia presentation on how the city became the first place in America to deliberately rid itself of a sports franchise. Glass-encased documents range from franchising contracts to speeding and DUI tickets given to players.

An oil painting shows the Seattle City Council in Continental Congress-like deliberation. The man speaking looks very much like Woody Allen, a comedian whose best work was exactly 100 years ago. It is Nick Licata, the firebrand politician who forced the Sonics to leave.

"Coordination" of sports is a sensitive topic, one that our official minders avoided.

Until the Seattle Seahawks decamped to Bellevue, the city saw clashes between moped-driving fans staging "tailgate parties" and the Political Correctness Police. Complaints of harassment abounded. Hot dogs were confiscated on grounds their ingredients were "detrimental to health." Smokers played hide-and-seek with the PCPs.

A historic confrontation took place on Seattle's First Hill. The PCPs showed up at O'Dea High School with a threefold bill of complaints.

O'Dea was all male. Its purple buses were of a color reserved for the city's gay, lesbian and transsexual community. And, most important, its sports teams were winning too many games, in violation of an "equal outcome" principle imposed by the city's new rulers. A Christian Brother allegedly struck a PCP officer on the wrist with a ruler. Authorities rushed in reinforcements. The school soon decamped to the suburbs.

(Wednesday: Everyday life in 2077 Seattle.)

P-I columnist Joel Connelly can be reached at 206-448-8160 or

© 1998-2007 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

TOPICS: Local News; Society
KEYWORDS: 1984; anticar; bravenewworld; climatechange; ecofascism; environment; greenweenies; gridlock; luddites; satire; seattle; socialists; transportation
Kinda funny, kinda not...
1 posted on 02/12/2007 11:12:39 AM PST by Sopater
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To: Sopater

Yahoo!!! West Seattle finally seceded! We tried that in the 70s with little to no success.

2 posted on 02/12/2007 11:17:09 AM PST by irishtenor (Save the whales. Collect the whole set.)
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To: Sopater

you forgot the masses of destitute poor who couldn't find jobs because there weren't any, and the vacant housing units becasue people couldn't afford the rents that landlords must charge.

3 posted on 02/12/2007 11:18:54 AM PST by camle (keep your mind open and somebody will fill it full of something for you)
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To: Sopater

Why can't the anti-car movement be more "pro-choice"?

If they don't want to drive (or ride) in a car, that's fine. Don't force everyone else to follow suit.

4 posted on 02/12/2007 11:48:58 AM PST by weegee (No third term. Hillary Clinton's 2008 election run presents a Constitutional Crisis.)
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To: camle
you forgot the masses of destitute poor who couldn't find jobs because there weren't any, and the vacant housing units becasue people couldn't afford the rents that landlords must charge.

Hey, don't rain on Joel "I'm trying to be more far left than Governor Queen Christine" Connely's socialist/fascist-promoting parade. You'll be hunted down by the PCP and "re-educated".

And please forgive Joel's temporary lapse from his normal left-wing insanity for even insinuating that leftist Seattle is anything but a worker's paradise! A veritable progressive Utopia. A Walden with a rather polluted Pond.

5 posted on 02/12/2007 12:44:40 PM PST by hadit2here ("Most men would rather die than think. Many do." - Bertrand Russell)
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To: Sopater
This is amusing, coming from uber-liberal Joel Cannole. It shows that he actually does get it (the sheer absolute stark raving madness of the left), yet finds it a cesspool he's content to swim in.
6 posted on 02/12/2007 1:30:00 PM PST by rockrr (Never argue with a man who buys ammo in bulk...)
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To: Sopater

Not to worry. The expected earthquake and resultant tsunami will scour Seattle clean.

7 posted on 02/12/2007 1:33:08 PM PST by blam
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To: rockrr
This is amusing, coming from uber-liberal Joel Cannole

That's what I thought...
8 posted on 02/12/2007 2:35:23 PM PST by Sopater (Creatio Ex Nihilo)
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