Kirkland Listens: Today So Far
Kirkland is listening. The city just became the first in Washington state to try new camera technology that focuses on vehicle noise associated with street racing. The technology works much like red light cameras. Instead of detecting a car going through a red light, the cameras are fitted with sensitive microphones that listen for the sound of the vehicle speeding past. They then record data that an agent can use later to issue a citation.
The thing to know is that this is all in theory at the moment. Kirkland is experimenting with this technology, but does not issue street racing tickets from these cameras. The city cannot actually access the images or the data they contain. Instead, two locations in Kirkland are being used to test the technology for six months. After that, the company that operates them will report to the city, and officials will determine whether it is possible to use them to issue tickets. Read more here.
Washington State recently changed the way it deals with drug possession offenses, and it is not suitable for small towns in western Washington. They therefore enact their own laws.
Without going too deep into the details of the Blake decision, here’s what to understand. The Washington Supreme Court issued what is now known as the Blake decision, which said the state mishandled drug possession. The drug possession laws were therefore unconstitutional. So the legislature followed with new laws to clarify things. They made drug possession illegal in 2021, but unlike before, felonies were misdemeanors and new diversion schemes were introduced. It’s one of those goofy stories that a lot of people ignore, but it’s important and has had a lot of effect on our region.
With an increase in open drug use, thefts and other offences, the cities of Auburn, Kent and Federal Way have now passed new drug laws. In Federal Way, it is illegal to smoke fentanyl in public. In Kent, it is illegal to use drugs in public and to throw paraphernalia in public. Auburn has increased penalties in its “anti-drug focus zones,” which includes, for some offenses, a minimum of 30 days in jail. Read more here.
Can the Seattle Police Department be held liable for the way it handled a case? That’s the question posed in a lawsuit brought by six women against Seattle hip-hop artist Raz Simone. They all reported to Seattle police that Simone had sexually abused and exploited them for profit. The SPD refused to bring criminal charges, so the women brought a civil suit against Simone. KUOW reported on this last week.
Part of the case will determine whether the SPD is responsible for not pursuing the matter further. State law isn’t exactly clear on whether an agency can be held liable in this way. We will know as the trial progresses. A trial is tentatively scheduled for November 2023. Learn more here.
AS SEEN ON KUOW
The small town of Whidbey Island, Langley, has implemented a series of zoning reforms, intended to encourage the production of new homes. Langley has long allowed multiple families to share the high cost of land. Soundside dives back into Langley’s zoning approach to answer a listener’s question: what is a community land trust? (Joshua McNichols/KUOW)
DID YOU KNOW?
It’s Diwali! In fact, it is one of the days of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Vacations usually last about five days. If you’re like many people and know the most about Diwali from this episode of “The Office”, then here’s your introduction.
Diwali originated in India and is a metaphor for light overcoming darkness. Like many older traditions, it is set on a lunar calendar, which is why it is usually scheduled in October/November. You often hear that this holiday is associated with Hinduism, but it is also celebrated in Jainism and Sikhism, as well as by some Buddhists. Each tradition has its own twist on the festival, but the lights are the main attraction. Candles and oil lamps are lit in temples, houses, on the water and almost everywhere to create a dazzling scene. It’s kind of like driving through neighborhoods that really get into the Christmas lights, but a lot less campy, and a lot more artsy and pretty. I’m not comparing this holiday to Christmas, but there are similar themes of goodwill, parties, gifts, food for the poor, etc. Although I think Diwali is a bit high because gambling and fireworks are encouraged during this time.
According to CNN, Diwali is currently having a “mainstream” moment in the United States, with major brands and retailers joining in. There are Diwali Hallmark products and decorations at Target and Costco. Washington State is one of the most popular regions for Diwali as it has a large population of Hindus (approximately 79,000). About a third of Jains living outside India live in the United States, and there are Jain centers in Seattle and Redmond. And about 20,000 Sikhs live in the Seattle area.
ALSO IN OUR MIND
NASA announces team members for its UFO study
A group of 16 researchers will spend the next nine months studying Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), also known as UFOs, as part of a NASA team. The research, which will use unclassified data, will lead to a report that will be made available to the public next year.