Community Land Trusts in the City

Mid-Town Center, photo by the author

Mid-Town Center, photo by the author

One of the more interesting developments in Seattle’s recent building boom has been the conversation among some residents of the Central District to attempt to organize in the face of displacement. The community is looking to purchase the Mid-Town Center property on the Southeast corner of 23rd & Union. CHS and The Stranger have covered the issue recently. Here’s a quote from The Stranger’s piece, in February:

Among the possible solutions: buying the property. Bangasser has offered to give the Union Street Business Association (USBA)—a small group composed of people who care about the black business community—site control, kind of like a down payment, for just 10 percent of the asking price. (Bangasser is currently the USBA’s director and treasurer, although he said he’s being replaced given his conflict of interest.) And at the community meeting, the total cost to purchase the property was put at $16 million, but Bangasser’s response to that number was, “I don’t know where that came from.”

“The USBA is now trying to come up with the money,” said local architect Donald King, who’s an adviser to the USBA. “If it’s successful, it could be a model for not only other neighborhoods in Seattle, but other neighborhoods across the country.”

CHS adds that “a Public Development Authority or a land trust [are] still on the drawing board.” Indeed, a land trust would be an interesting model for a large, urban site like this. While rent control and zoning restrictions are usually ineffective in combatting housing affordability, and may even exacerbate it, land trusts are a proven model for permanently affordable home ownership.

In a nutshell, land trusts work like this: the trust acquires land. It then enters into an agreement with a buyer (pre-qualified to meet the necessary income requirements) whereby the buyer purchases a house on the land at an affordable rate. When the buyer is ready to sell, they agree to sell to the another pre-qualified buyer, allowing the seller to earn a reasonable return on their purchase. By sharing the cost of purchase, the trust is able to acquire land less expensively, and the buyer knows they won’t be evicted because they “own” the property.

Occasionally entire neighborhoods can be acquired by land trusts, as was the case with the Dudley Street neighborhood in Boston.

In an effort to learn more about land trusts, I spoke with Erika Malone at Homestead, the largest land trust in Washington State. Homestead receives about 300 applications per year from would-be homeowners and has a waiting list of 700. They currently have 2- and 3BR houses within the Seattle city limits for around $200,000. And since they only require a 1% down payment, it can often cost less up front to buy a home from Homestead than it would to put down first/last/deposit on a 2BR rental.

“Some people think it’s a scam,” Malone joked. It may not be a scam, but it is something of a rarity. Homestead had 36 house transactions in 2013. “Our challenge is supply,” she said. “We need capital and land like any other developer.”

On the plus side, the joint relationship between the trust and the homeowner can help keep the property affordable for the long haul. Today’s affordable housing can become tomorrow’s unaffordable housing as soon as it’s sold. Homestead’s renewable 99-year leases keep the property affordable, theoretically in perpetuity.

For a multifamily development, the land trust could be even more powerful. One reason we don’t see more small condo buildings in Seattle these days is that condo owners have an almost routine habit of suing the developer. Developers have generally decided that it’s not worth the risk unless the building is a large tower. In the case of a land trust condo, the developer and the buyer would jointly own the property, thereby making the relationship more cooperative than adversarial.

Like any developer, Malone says they’re attracted to fixed rail because it offers a sense of permanence, which is important when you’re thinking about a 99-year lease. She said they’d like to get more involved in transit-oriented development, but they “aren’t in a position financially” to take advantage of opportunities around LINK in places like Othello Station. One wonders what a land trust might have done with a free piece of land right next to Roosevelt Station.

While Malone stresses that land trusts are “not a silver bullet,” they are a useful tool in the affordable housing belt, preventing displacement and building equity in a sustainable way.


Two New Reasons to Honor Passes as PoP: LIFT & the Proposed Day Pass

The ORCA Joint Board will be holding a public hearing this coming Monday, April 13, at 10:30 am, in the 8th Floor Conference Room at 201 S. Jackson St, on its proposal for making the ORCA regional multi-agency day pass permanent, and adding a Regional Reduced Fare Permit version of the day pass. Details of the proposal were covered here. Comments will be accepted at until meeting time. Action on the day pass proposal is scheduled to follow the hearing.

It happens to everyone eventually. My turn came a year ago, when I managed to tap an odd number of times between getting off and back on Link downtown. As has happened numerous times, my car was boarded by a team of Fare Enforcement Officers (also known by the unfortunate acronym “FOEs”). This time, I was given a warning for fare evasion, and threatened with a $124 fine if I did it again. [Click here for Sound Transit’s fare enforcement policy.]
[Read more…]

Portland-Eugene Cascades Service May Disappear

Mt Bachelor Trainset – ODOT Photo

Mt Bachelor Trainset – ODOT Photo

Despite spending $42m on two new trainsets just two years ago, ODOT might be forced to suspend Cascades service south of Portland on July 1. In the post-PRIIA landscape – in which states must fully fund rail corridors of less than 750 miles – Oregon needs $28m in the 2015-2017 biennium to keep the trains rolling. With $17.6m already set aside from a hodgepodge of sources including unclaimed gas tax refunds and custom license plate fees, a gap of $10.4m remains. Former Governor Kitzhaber duly requested the full $10.4m, but the legislature thus far has only proposed $5m. If the $5.4m gap isn’t closed by July, the service will disappear.

When ODOT purchased its trainsets, it also prioritized intra-Oregon travel, changing the schedule to enable day trips from Portland to Eugene for the first time and reducing daily Seattle-Eugene trains from two to one. The expected demand never materialized, and ridership has fallen by 9.1% since 2013. While the other train’s ridership is mostly flat, the added morning train from Portland to Eugene has been a disaster, with just 8,800 riders in 2014, or 24 people per train.

ODOT’s recent performance report to the legislature paints a similarly grim picture, with runaway costs, poor on-time performance, worsening freight interference, and dropping ridership:

On the route’s performance:

[Read more…]

News Roundup: Letting It Burn

Sounder Bruce (Flickr)

Sounder Bruce (Flickr)

This is an open thread.

To Get More Affordable Housing, Build More Transit

El Centro de la Raza - 110 Affordable Housing Units. Beacon Hill, Seattle WA

When Mayor Murray first announced his Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee, there was always a risk that it would be undermined by a lack of specifics. To get the committee on track for a May announcement, the mayor recently announced a goal of 20,000 affordable units over the next 10 years, nearly triple the current rate of production.

Funding these units will be difficult. (One would assume that the sometimes-maligned linkage fee, which Martin described last fall, will play a role.) Given that it costs $20,000 or more to build an urban parking spot, it would be counter to the spirit of affordable housing to spend scarce funds on private car storage. For the purposes of this blog, then, it’s interesting to consider how these 20,000 units might be oriented around transit and walkability, and what that might do to the transit landscape.

Ryan Curren, who manages the City’s Community Cornerstones program, told me that the city has financed “several really interesting affordable housing mixed-use projects at light rail stations” in the last few years, including projects at Mt. Baker Station (Artspace), Beacon Hill (El Centro de la Raza) and Columbia City (Mercy). All of thee projects feature limited parking and a mix of commercial and residential uses.

Financing and construction for projects like these would need to be expanded dramatically to hit the Mayor’s target. It would also mean acquiring more land near transit at a time when the cost of such land is at an all-time high.

“Land costs are an obstacle, specifically the escalating cost of land over time and land costs at stations relative to land located further out along corridors,” Curren said. Federal and state programs can help, but they’re limited.

Rather than chase the expensive land near current transit stations, the task force might consider how to bring frequent transit to more parts of the city. That would open up more neighborhoods to potential affordable housing. It’s encouraging that Prop 1 and Move Seattle, along with Metro’s long-range-plan, all nod in that direction. The housing task force could be another voice pushing for fast and frequent transit in more parts of the city.

15 Minutes or Better

This is a guest post.


Hello Seattle!

Neil from Detroit here. I am working on a project that you all may find appealing. It has a Seattle connection. More importantly, is has broad relevance for the entire public transit space.

The effort is called 15 Minutes or Better. It’s a series of short videos to highlight the fundamentals of effective public transit: coverage, connectivity, speed, span, frequency, accessibility.

To longtime transit enthusiasts, these elements are painfully obvious. Today, thanks to increased academic interest and a chatty internet, more and more people are describing themselves as transit enthusiasts. It’s a positive phenomenon – we need all the support we can get.

However, many newcomers are overlooking the core ingredients of effective transit. Essential service attributes are regularly dismissed as “too technical” – while the conversation drifts toward trendy sub-topics of transit: policy, technology, private financing, real estate development.

Those are all worthwhile matters. Taken alone, though, none can significantly improve the full experience of using transit. As such, 15 Minutes or Better intends to give proper due to the meat-and-potatoes of transit service. We’ll address each “technical” component in a fun, engaging and decidedly non-technical way. In so doing, we’ll equip the growing ranks of transit enthusiasts with a more thorough, more powerful understanding of the issue.

The project starts in Detroit because our transit conversation is astoundingly incomplete. Despite well-documented deficiencies with our transit service, the official discussion is revolving around secondary themes. We talk of apps and websites and TOD and attracting millennials – while practically ignoring route coverage and service levels. We know that other cities have effective transit systems, but we’ve failed to identify – or even ask – what makes those systems effective.

So we’re hitting the road. We are travelling to multiple US cities – including Seattle – to showcase effective transit service in its natural, everyday habitat. In each city, we’ll walk the viewer through an actual transit trip and point out what is working. The message is clear: the elements of quality transit service should not be taken for granted. If you want to improve transit in your city – Detroit or elsewhere – insist on this element!

In Seattle, our particular element-of-focus is connectivity – how transit can downplay political boundaries to link logical destinations. For example, we may start at the Tacoma Dome and travel to UW. Anyone can see why this trip makes sense: a big population center to a big university. In too many other places, transit couldn’t connect these dots because they’re in different counties. But Puget Sound gets it right. Let’s bring that to light – and set it as a precedent for all metropolitan areas.

And – you had to see this coming – 15 Minutes or Better will cost us to produce. We’ve figured about $45,000 to film, edit and compile the whole video series. We are attempting to raise $15,000 of that through crowdfunding – check out the campaign, along with the trailer, at Our first target audience is Detroit. Beyond the Motor City, our findings can help inform the national dialogue. We want to ensure that the transit conversation doesn’t forget to talk about transit.

We’d love your support – a small contribution, ideas for local transit highlights, even your knowledge on-camera as a “local host”. If you have any questions, please contact me directly.

Thank you!

Metro’s welcome update to its Stroller Policy

Much easier

Much easier

In the comments of my post last week it came out that Metro had actually adopted a new stroller policy about a week earlier, it just hadn’t made it’s way down to all employees or their website. Later that day we obtained the new operator bulletin confirming the change and outlining the policy. This weekend a spokesperson from the agency got back to us with some good background info.

Here’s the new policy:

• Once on board the coach, a child may remain seated in the stroller as long as the child is strapped in the stroller and the stroller is secured in the securement area. If the securement area is not available, the child must be removed from the stroller and held in the lap of the adult customer or in a seat alongside the adult customer. Customers with disabilities using mobility devices have priority in the securement area. (This rule does not apply to ADA Accessible strollers.)

• Folding strollers must be folded and placed under or between seats, unless the stroller is too full to do so or if the stroller is occupied and secured per above.

• Non-folding strollers:

  • Must not block the aisle or doorways.
  • Must be under the control of the owner at all times.
  • May be parked with the brake set in the priority seating area if space is available. Note that customers with disabilities and seniors have priority use of this area.

This is similar to progressive stroller policies adopted by Chicago’s CTA and L.A. Metro, and is a good common sense solution. Thank you Metro!

Below the fold, background info from Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer:

[Read more…]

Sound Transit Releases Lynnwood Link FEIS

Average Weekday Boardings, 2035, for Preferred Alternative with Options (p. 3-24)

Average Weekday Boardings, 2035, for Preferred Alternative with Options (p. 3-24)

Last week ST released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the light rail segment from Northgate to Lynnwood Transit Center, due to open in 2023. Mike Orr wrote up the Draft EIS two years ago (and an update here). The main difference is a formal preferred alternative, although it also refines estimates and describes mitigations in response to various public concerns.

As before, there are three segments. Segment A runs from Northgate to N 185th St. Segment B continues to just south of Lynnwood TC. Segment C is the terminus in Lynnwood. The “preferred alternative” is new since the DEIS, and contains ideas taken from many other alternatives. It has the following stations:

  • N. 145th St., elevated with a 500-car garage
  • N. 185th St., at-grade with a 500-car garage
  • Mountlake Terrace, placed to the east of the existing transit parking garage and therefore quite a bit off the freeway, closer to the planned town center
  • Lynnwood Transit Center, where the elevated train would take a very direct route and stop in the northeast corner of the parking lot, the choice closest to Lynnwood’s planned town center. This is the “modified C3” Lynnwood asked for, and arguably best in terms of placing the rail near future development.

There are also two “optional” stations: the much desired N. 130th St.($30-50m), and 220th St. SW ($50m)*, the latter west of I-5. The study says that 130th St. would largely cannibalize riders from 145th. If the study considered the likely faster bus access on 130th, a quick scan suggests it doesn’t say so except to acknowledge stakeholder comments to that effect. In fact, “I-5 access” is referenced as an advantage rather than an impediment.** It’s certainly interesting that the bubble chart above shows that 130th St. boardings overwhelm those on 145th when both are present.

[Read more…]

Bellevue Poised to Ban Some Affordable Housing Tonight

[UPDATE: Commenters are keen to make the point that this legislation might impact various non-traditional definitions of “family.” The original article makes clear that the Bellevue Council is very conscious of these unintended consequences and seeks to avoid them. What they’re not seeking to avoid is the broader impact on poor people, as that is the actual point.]

The Times reports that the Bellevue Council plans to ban large groups of unrelated people from living together ($):

Monday night, the Bellevue City Council is expected to adopt permanent regulations that limit to four the number of unrelated people who can live in one house.

The new rules require the adults to be sharing the entire house under one lease and not renting individual rooms on a short-term basis. Any nonconforming leases would have to be terminated within one year or when they next expire, whichever comes first.

The story says that “Neighbors had complained about traffic, noise and landlords not paying for garbage collection or keeping up the yard.”

I have little doubt that traffic, noise, and untidy grounds are sometimes a problem with boardinghouses. Indeed, homes occupied by a single family can also make noise and not keep up the yard. But Bellevue has hit upon a way to limit this that also happens to specifically exclude poor people from the neighborhood, which should concern anyone interested in social justice.

The fundamental argument for having subsidized housing in Seattle, as opposed to doing it more cheaply further away, is that it’s important for poorer people to have housing close to jobs.* The Eastside is the other major job center, and market-rate home prices are actually higher. Furthermore, Bellevue is commonly understood to have among the best public schools in the state, meaning that also limits access to quality education for small families of meager means. Bellevue residents that think this is a bad policy may want to let their representatives know today.

* Why it isn’t important for the thousands of households who can’t fit in Seattle due to zoning restrictions as a simple matter of math, or for the newcomers who may not be able to displace an existing household if we enact rent control combined with restrictive zoning, has never been clear to me.

Expedia Move Enables New Look at Bus Lanes

Google Earth

Google Earth

Expedia’s announced move from Downtown Bellevue to the Interbay Waterfront is likely a net negative for its transit accessibility to employees. Workers coming from arbitrary parts of the region will have to transfer downtown. Getting downtown is straightforward, but the last leg involves a slog through the (still general-purpose) 3rd Avenue through Belltown, time on the wildly unpredictable Denny Way,  a potential diversion through Lower Queen Anne, and a trip down Elliott, where a commuter to Interbay is “reverse peak” and currently unworthy of priority treatments.

As a regular traveler in this corridor, I can attest that 30 minutes to cover the mile and a half Lower Queen Anne to Westlake is something that happens a few times a month. When added to another trip to get to downtown for most people, transit is an unattractive option.

I asked Richard Sheridan of SDOT if the Expedia announcement would cause them to reconsider policy in this area. He told me that “SDOT is interested in adding off-peak direction operation to Elliott Avenue’s transit lanes. Given the recent nature of the Expedia announcement, we do not yet have a timeline for doing so.”

How About a Deal to Lower Youth and LIFT Fares?

These suggestions apply primarily to King County Metro Transit fares, but can also apply to other agencies.

Fare evasion by paper transfer is booming.

Fare evasion by paper transfer is booming.

1. In exchange for eliminating paper transfers, lower the LIFT (low-income) fare (currently $1.50) by 25 cents.

2. In exchange for requiring the use of loaded ORCA product to get the youth fare (for ages 6-18), lower the youth fare (currently $1.50) by 25 cents. (This would also please several school districts that are giving free youth ORCA passes to students furthest from their schools.)

All the agencies in the ORCA pod except King County Ferries allow passengers ages 6-18 to pay the youth fare without an ORCA card. The West Seattle Water Taxi charges $3 on the youth ORCA, or the full $4.75 fare for young riders paying with cash. The Vashon Water Taxi charges $3.75 on the youth ORCA, or the full $5.50 fare for young riders paying with cash.

3. Eliminate the $5 charge for getting the youth ORCA, to harmonize it with the lack of charge for a LIFT ORCA, and in deference to the practical reality that nobody will lightly throw away a youth ORCA card, since it takes special effort to get one. Right now, the only incentive for young riders to pay with ORCA is if they have a monthly pass, or plan to ride a foot ferry. The youth ORCA also happens to be a lot more expensive than any adult bus smart card available in the USA (other than the regular-fare ORCA).

You can order a youth ORCA card through snail mail.

4. Freeze the youth and LIFT fares until the Regional Reduced Fare Permit fare (currently $1, for ages 65+ and riders with disabilities) catches up.

Mariners Back, with Sunday Sounder Service

Baseball season is back upon us, and with that the return of Sounder service to Sunday afternoon Mariners games.

The home opener is on Monday afternoon (April 6), against the Angels, with first pitch at 1:10. The full Mariners schedule for the 2015 season is here.

The full schedule of Sounder service to 2015 Mariners games is here, beginning with the first Sunday home game on April 19, against the Rangers. First pitch is at 1:10 for all games served by Sounder.

South Sounder trains to Sunday Mariners games depart Lakewood Station at 10:45 am and arrive at King Street Station at 11:58. North Sounder trains to Sunday Mariners games depart Everett Station at 11:15 and arrive at King Street Station at 12:14. Return trains depart King Street Station 35 minutes after the final out.

For the tourists, Sounder is probably not the train you are looking for, unless you want to ride it for the scenery. Your train is Link Light Rail from Seatac Airport Station, at the northeast corner of the airport parking garage. The station next to Safeco Field is conveniently named “Stadium Station”. Be sure to buy a ticket, day pass, or ORCA card at one of the vending machines in SeaTac Airport Station, as Sound Transit has fare enforcement officers roving around. Choose Westlake Station as your destination station, so your ticket or day pass will be good for the whole line, for the same $3 or $6 you would have paid if you had selected Stadium Station as your destination. Link Light Rail continues into downtown Seattle, where you can take in a lot of our tourist-trappy stuff, including beautiful ferry rides from downtown across Puget Sound, with majestic views in all directions.

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News Roundup: Retirings and Hirings

County Councilperson Larry Phillips

County Councilperson Larry Phillips

This is an open thread.

Last Night’s Meet-up

Meet-up photo by the author.

Meet-up photo by the author.

Great to see so many faces – especially some new ones – at last night’s Meet up at Rock Bottom.  We had about 50 people turn out to talk with Sound Transit’s Ric Ilgenfritz on a wide variety of issues from sub-area equity to Sound Transit’s evolution from a “start up” agency to the upcoming potential ST3 package that could go to the voters in 2016.

Assuming the bill passes in Olympia (write your legislators and ask for the full $15B!), we should start seeing potential project lists in June.

Did you make it out last night? Leave a comment with your thoughts or just introduce yourself.  More photos via Twitter after the jump.

Strollers III – Now It’s Personal

Future bus advocate; current bus hassle.

Future bus advocate; current bus handful.

[UPDATE: Metro changed their policy about a week ago, it just hasn’t made it’s way down to all employees or their website. Read the new operator bulletin here. Thanks to STB reader Kimberly for this tip.]

As reported by PubliCola, the topic of strollers on the bus reemerged at a recent SDOT hosted public forum:

“[O]ne audience member complained that buses weren’t user friendly for moms with strollers: ‘Your boss [the woman had identified herself as working for King County Metro] buys a lot of buses. Part of the problem is on Metro.'”

The topic is nothing new to the area. Seattle Transit Blog covered it here and here. What is new is that I’m now the father of a young child so have some personal experience with it.

I’ll be blunt. Any long outing with a small child involving buses in this city sucks. The current official policy is:

Baby buggies and strollers must be emptied and collapsed, while on the bus.  If a customer requests the lift or ramp, the drivers are instructed to deploy the lift as long as the zone is accessible. An adult must ride the lift to control the stroller. Once the child and stroller have boarded, the child must be removed from the stroller and the stroller collapsed and stowed.
Metro Customer Service email – Friday March 27, 2015

The reality is that many Metro drivers take pity on us poor souls and use common sense. If it’s not in use they’ll let you park a stroller in the wheelchair area and ask you to lock the wheels. But you never know until he or she waves you on or holds you up. I call it Metro roulette.

A parent has two options. One, you risk it. There is a 50/50 shot the only disruption will be the use of the ramp or lift, and you hope no one who can’t or won’t move is sitting in the wheelchair space so you can park out of the way. Or if you don’t want to risk disrupting everyone you prep at the stop. This means unhooking your diaper bag and any other bags, removing the child, and then holding on the child while you break the stroller down and wait. So you not only have a folded up stroller and a couple bags (hopefully you didn’t pick up much of anything at City Target while downtown) you’re trying to hold on to, but a small child that is NOT tied down (and is upset at not getting to explore now that they are ‘free’). Lots of fun waiting on 3rd like that.

It sucks either way and is why I cut back on taking Isaac on any long outing that involves Metro. If we can’t get there by Link or Link + Streetcar, we don’t go by transit. Now that he can walk at a decent pace and doesn’t require 30 lbs of gear, we’ll jump on a 7 or 8 for quick trips within the valley but that is about it.

Not everyone has the benefit of living on a rail line or a spouse that drives. For their sake (and my convenience) it’d be nice if Metro had a more family friendly policy when it came to strollers.

Link Excuse of the Week: Plate of Nations

5th-PON-LogoDATESFive years strong, the MLK Business Association is holding it’s Plate of Nations promotion from March 27 through April 12. Similar to last year’s event all participating restaurants will offer $15 and $25 shareable entrees, but new this year every location will also have a vegetarian option. Grab a passport, get your stamps, and qualify for fun drawings.

This year’s restaurants:

Café Ibex (Ethiopian), Bananas Grill (Mediterranean and Middle Eastern), Huarachitos Cocina Mexicana (Mexico City), Huong Duong (South Vietnamese), Joy Palace (Cantonese), Momona (Eritrean), Olympic Express (Southeast Asian/Cham Vietnamese Halal), The Original Philly’s (American East Coast), Othello Wok & Teriyaki (Pan Asian), Rainier Restaurant (Vietnamese), and Thai Savon (Laotian/ Thai).

As can be seen on the map most are located within the immediate vicinity of a Link station.

Not all of these restaurants are as exotic as the theme suggests, but they’re all relatively inexpensive and quite tasty. Sometime in the next couple of weeks jump on Link and check them out!

2014 Link Ridership – Still Phenomenal

Photo by author. Taken at 5:12 p.m., Thursday March 12, 2015

Photo by author. Taken at 5:12 p.m., Thursday March 12, 2015

While the year didn’t finish as strong as it began, 2014 was a year of explosive growth for link. Fourteen percent growth for a mature five year old line. While I don’t think Link can maintain that kind of growth rate until U-Link opens (simple math) it will be interesting to see how high ridership can get. Will summer ridership this year be enough to require Sound Transit to move to 3 car trains earlier than currently projected? Keep in mind that 2014 Link ridership was 22% higher than the 2011 projections. Link continues to overshoot revised projections, so it very likely that peak ridership will necessitate expanding capacity before currently slated. The only question is when. If only there were money for the cars.

December’s Central Link Weekday/Saturday/Sunday average boardings were 31,671 / 22,469 / 18,592, growth of 6.8%, 7.4%, and 2.7% respectively compared to December 2013. Sounder’s weekday boardings were up 13.9% with ridership increasing on both lines. Sounder finished up the year with 10% weekday ridership growth. Tacoma Link’s ridership increased 0.3% with strong Sunday ridership making up for a weekday decrease. Weekday ST Express ridership was up 7.2%. System wide weekday boardings were up 7.4%, and all boardings were up 9.6%. The complete December Ridership Summary is here.

My charts below the fold. [Read more…]

No April Fools’ Tomorrow

You can rest assured that tomorrow’s posts will be as earnest and authentic as any other day’s.*

We’ve had some fun with April Fools’ posts in the past (you can share your favorite in the comments), but last year’s generated much more angst than it was worth. And in any case we’ve probably outgrown that kind of thing.

Besides, there’s too much news to write about anyway!

* I can’t vouch for what’s going to happen on Page 2.