Friday Roundup: Self-driving cars, wage differentials, coal exports, foreign buyer tax

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Madrona Ventures Group: Convert I-5 into an autonomous vehicle corridor

Given the pace of progress, we are con dent that we will have a signi cant number of autonomous vehicles on our roads in the next ve to ten years, and we need to plan for that future now. We propose that by 2040, at the latest, all of I-5 be completely autonomous, and no human-driven cars be allowed on the highway. This would reduce congestion, reduce emissions, make it easier to platoon vehicles (enabling autonomous vehicles to travel at high speeds with little space between vehicles), and reduce tra c accidents and fatalities.  

We propose this transition being phased-in incrementally. The rst step would be allowing autonomous vehicles into HOV lanes, the next step would be dedicating a lane to autonomous vehicles, and the nal step would be expanding until all lanes are autonomous only.

Bellingham Herald: Wages in Bellingham remain below state average. Why is that the case?

The Peer Cities Report, released by the Center for Economic and Business Research at Western Washington University, compares Bellingham to five similar U.S. cities. The similarities include population, being a college town, recreation opportunities and being near major metro areas…

The report found that Bellingham was not doing as well as those cities in a couple of key economic indicators: Income and poverty…

The report does provide some clues for the community to look into further. One example is in the data about college degrees. In Bellingham, 40.7 percent of the population over the age of 18 have a bachelor’s degree, significantly lower than the peer city average of 48.9 percent and Seattle’s average of 58.9 percent.

Ecology’s decision last week to deny a water quality certification for Millennium was a lightning rod throughout the community. Dejected coal supporters worry about what message this could send to other industries interested in locating in Washington. How will Cowlitz County will claw its way out of the economic doldrums?

…“If you apply the Department of Ecology’s justifications for denial, such as dredging in the Columbia River, driving pilings, or increased rail traffic, etc. to all businesses and ports along the Columbia River, there would be no expansion of current industries or new business opportunities anywhere along the Columbia or the I-5 corridor,” said Mike Bridges of the Kelso-Longview Building Trades Council.

New Geography: Where America’s Highest Earners Live

In our 53 largest metro areas, barely 3% of full-time employed high earners (over $75,000 a year) live downtown, according to Wendell Cox’s City Sector Model, while another 11.4% live in inner ring neighborhoods around the core. In contrast, about as many (14.1%) live in exurbs while suburbs, both older and new ones, are home to 71.5% of such high earners…

Ranking first is New York County, otherwise known as Manhattan, where a remarkable 49.2% of all full-time workers earn over $75,000. That’s up from 40.2% in 2006. Other big counties with high concentrations of high earners include No. 3 San Francisco (49.1%), No. 7 Washington, D.C. (44.9%, up sharply from 29.5% in ’06), and No. 14 King County, Wash. (41.3%), which includes Seattle and its closer in suburbs.

Puget Sound Business Journal: Canada’s foreign buyer tax roiled the market. Here’s what Seattle can learn.

Seattle’s mayoral candidates are debating whether to tax real estate speculators a year after similar measures took effect in Vancouver, British Columbia.

In August 2016, just after Vancouver’s foreign buyer tax was implemented, searches for Seattle real estate spiked 143 percent on Chinese real estate website compared to the same month a year before.