Monica Spain

Mark Woods Photography

Two eagerly-awaited light rail stations open in Seattle on Saturday: one on Capitol Hill and the other at the University of Washington. This is the biggest game-changer in Seattle transportation for quite some time.

One of the first things you notice about the new stations is the art. At the UW Station, the art is intended to help get you acclimated on your journey underground.

Monica Spain / knkx

Neighbors in the Greenwoood area of Seattle spent the day in shock after Wednesday morning’s natural gas explosion. As of Wednesday evening, the area remains closed for business as fire investigators try to figure out what went wrong.

Sarah Cohn stood with her umbrella, a baby on her back and her toddler in a stroller.

“He’s wearing his little firefighter uniform because he wants to help,” she said. “He’s really concerned that the coffee shop is not there. He’s such a little Seattle kid – he’s like, ‘The coffee shop is gone!’”

Elaine Thompson / AP

Wood Smoke Photovoice Environmental Justice Project

In much of Pierce County — including Tacoma — special efforts are being made to reduce wood smoke, which is a significant cause of air pollution on an average winter day.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

When you bring it up with your neighbors, it can feel like a conversation about religion or politics —topics many people only wade into after careful consideration. But it’s exactly these sorts of conversations the city of Seattle wants people to have around Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

Courtesy of Dr. Quintard Taylor

More than 10 years ago, a New Zealand high school student came across a University of Washington website. It was meant for an
 African-American studies course. That discovery — from the other side of the world — revealed a demand for black history beyond the college campus.

When Professor Quintard Taylor got an email from New Zealand, he realized he was onto something big.

John Taylor via Creative Commons / Flickr

What’s known as “conversion therapy” — designed to turn gay kids 
straight — is legal in most states, including Washington. U.S. Senator Patty Murray is calling for a nationwide ban on the practice.

In this March 14, 2014, file photo, Jerad Bernard hands out cards to passers-by offering one free ride through the Lyft ridesharing service in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / AP

Ask any parent about their biggest challenge — it’s all about the logistics. How to get Suzy to ballet when Johnny has soccer? And your teenager won’t be caught dead in the car you’re driving. But there’s a tempting solution.

Moms of even very young kids find themselves joking about it, but some parents of older kids are actually doing it. They’re relying on rideshare companies — like Uber — to get their kids home from that party Friday night.

Tina Fineberg / AP

Pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. have been on the rise over the past 30 years. Lawmakers in Washington state are concerned that maternal deaths have gone unchecked in recent years. In Washington, the rate of women dying is 12 moms for every 100,000 live births.

Experts say up to 60 percent of those deaths are preventable. For that reason, state legislators want to reinstate a review panel of doctors to take a closer look at each case.

David Nogueras / KPLU

If you’ve been putting off buying health insurance to meet the terms of the Affordable Care Act, you have until Sunday night to select a plan.

Even if you have coverage, experts say open enrollment is the golden opportunity to make sure you have the best plan for your situation.

Dean Rutz / AP Photo

Seattle Police are searching for at least two people in connection with the shooting at a homeless camp south of downtown. Five people were shot Tuesday night in the unauthorized encampment known as “The Jungle.”

Seattle Police say they have leads and are interviewing witnesses in the shooting that left two people dead and three others wounded. But the perpetrators are still at large.

At a news conference, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said authorities believe the shooting was related to low-level drug dealing.

Washington Toxics Coalition

In 2007, the State Legislature banned certain chemicals used to fire-proof things like mattresses and children’s car seats. But a study from an advocacy group suggests the replacements may be more harmful than previously believed.

The study found the new generation of flame retardants are floating around in the air we breathe. They’re easy to inhale, unlike the now-banned substances which were primarily ingested through household dust. The findings could inform an important conversation this week – as legislators explore a bill on toxic flame retardants. The bill would shift responsibility for monitoring these chemicals to the Department of Health.

Monica Spain / KPLU

Seattle is gearing up to open two “safe lots” – places where homeless people who live out of their cars can park overnight. There’s hope that the city-sanctioned lots will ease some of the problems for both the homeless and neighborhoods.

From the Salty Dog Studio in the Ballard neighborhood, Artist Robert Williamson has watched as increasing numbers of RVs appear on the street, often moving a matter of blocks to avoid parking tickets.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Marijuana laws in Washington are evolving. And pot is still illegal at the federal level, creating more uncertainty for businesses in states where it is legal.

Some University of Washington law students want to stay on top of all the changes.

After recreational pot was approved by voters, it was clear to UW law professor Sean O’Connor that there would be questions about how to run a business.

Paul Sakuma / AP

Consolidation in the grocery business has workers uneasy about their jobs. Finding a new job isn’t straightforward either, as store chains compete and dwindle.

Congressman Derek Kilmer is home in Gig Harbor talking with grocery workers about new legislation that would do away with non-compete clauses. Kilmer got involved earlier this year when Haggen stores were slated to close, putting the workers’ jobs at risk.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency in response to severe storms which have caused widespread flooding and mudslides across the state.

“There are people in need across Southwest Washington and the rest of the state and we’re here to provide whatever assistance the local communities require,” Inslee said in a press release. “We’re in this together.”

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

State educators want to know more about why certain kids get trapped in a cycle of discipline at school. They’re hoping new data out Monday will help cut down on suspensions and expulsions.

Statewide, discipline rates have gone down the past few years. But for some groups of students, that’s not the case. State officials won’t get specific, but they’re trying to figure out how principals and teachers think about different groups of rule breakers when they mete out punishment.

Monica Spain / KPLU

Brightly painted streetcars are running up and down Seattle’s First Hill. Though they aren’t carrying any passengers yet, it’s an indication that the next trolley line is close to going live.

Stepping onto a shiny new streetcar, it’s hard to believe that in the late 1930s Seattle scrapped an entire trolley system. People called it tired and decrepit; plus, it was in bankruptcy.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Recreational pot is legal in Washington, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to procure. New legislation could change that by making it legal to “grow your own.”

In Oregon, you can grow four plants. In Alaska, Colorado and D.C. the number is six. But here, that number is zero.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Transportation network companies Uber and Lyft have made it easier to catch a ride in Seattle. It’s also changed the landscape for drivers of traditional taxis. In fact, the competition has become so fierce that drivers see a need to organize.

Ted S. Warren / AP

The housing market may be going up in Puget Sound, but foreclosures are still a reality for many, especially in Pierce County. Now there’s a new effort in Tacoma to reach homeowners — before it’s too late.

Nearly 70 homes were scheduled for foreclosure in Tacoma alone last month. But there might be hope.

Seattle University, working with the city of Tacoma will go door-to-door in hard hit areas. Canvassers will pass out packets with information on free housing counselors and legal aid.


Pacific Lutheran University announced today it will sell KPLU public radio to the University of Washington.

Although the deal isn’t final, the two universities say moving forward there will still be two radio stations, but they will each have distinct programming.

Dan Schlatter

Technology experts are predicting that by the year 2020, tens of billions of devices will be connected to the Internet—not just smartphones, but sensors and chips that will communicate with other machines to do things like drive cars.

Mike Stewart / Ballard Chamber of Commerce

Nickelsville, Seattle’s homeless encampment, is getting ready to move — and they’ve set a date. Nickelsville is targeting November 7 for the move. This time, the tent city will set up camp on Ballard’s main thoroughfare, Northwest Market Street.

Campers are in the process of formally applying for the city permit, and getting ready to vacate their current site on South Dearborn Street.

Zyp BikeShare

Seattle has a year of experience with bike sharing. As the city awaits news on a $10 million federal grant to expand the system, it is poised to bring in the next generation of public transit with pedals.

With the planned city-takeover of Seattle’s bike share program, the mayor has earmarked $5 million in the budget to help bolster the federal grant. Most cities with bike share have done the same – including Boston and Chicago.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Since the gold rush, Seattle has had its booms and busts. With each population swell, there has been talk, and maybe some grumbling, about who is coming and what mark they will leave on the city. That has been no less true with Seattle’s latest migration.

AP Images

Aficionados of beer have known for some time the unique styles and flavors of Northwest craft brews.  It’s no longer a local secret. This week, an international beer conference is coming to Seattle.  It’s the first time the meeting has been held outside Europe. 

AP Images

Several advocacy groups are warning city officials throughout Washington to review their treatment of homeless people. The groups say bans against sleeping outside are unconstitutional if a person has no place to call home. 

The warning went out to Washington city attorneys, prosecutors and police agencies. It asks them to take a closer look at local laws that make it a crime to sleep or camp in public places.

One third of homeless people in King County live out of their cars.  People with large vehicles like RVs and even buses tend to cluster in industrial areas -- until they’re asked to move on. 

Jennifer Smith lives in her RV with her 15-month-old daughter, Willow. “Its basically got a bus back end and a truck front end,” Smith said.

Her vehicle has been parked in this spot in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle for three weeks, but she’s lived in the area along North Northlake Way since April. She was ticketed once and received several warnings. Legally a car can’t be parked in the same spot for more than 72 hours in Seattle.

But neighbors say some 15 RV’s have been parked along this stretch of Lake Union and they don’t seem to budge. Until a recent notice.

AP Images

What does your ideal commute look like?  Sound Transit wants the public to weigh in on the next phase of planning for light rail expansion.   

But act fast; the comment period closes on Wednesday. You can access a link to the survey on our web site,