Joshua McNichols | KUOW News and Information

Joshua McNichols

Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 2007

Joshua has been the "growing pains" reporter since 2015, documenting the region's growth and change. 

Joshua “took the long way” to radio, working in architecture firms for over a decade before pursuing his passion for public radio in 2007.

By "long way," he means he's also been a writer, bicycle courier, commercial fisherman, bed-and-breakfast cook, carpenter, landscaper and stained glass salesman. He’s detailed animal enclosures to prevent jaguars from escaping the Miami Zoo. Once, while managing a construction site in Athens, Greece, he was given a noogie by an Albanian civil war refugee in his employ. “You do not tell those guys how to place stucco,” he said.

All of which has no doubt made him the story-teller he is today.  

Ways to Connect

A postcard of Snoqualmie Falls, from the nearby gift shop
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle is surrounded by water. It’s one of the reasons why people move here.

But even in rainy, water-abundant Seattle, the region’s astronomical growth has given rise to new conflicts over water rights for people and salmon. 


A street sign on Aurora Avenue North, part of the historic highway 99
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Over the past few months, a team of KUOW reporters has explored the impact of growth along Highway 99 from North Seattle down to Tukwila. Reporter Joshua McNichols told Kim Malcolm why they followed this road and what they learned along the way.

Mike West has watched Tukwila change from his spot beside the (former) highway 99 since 1971.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Mike West likes to watch for someone from out of town to walk by on Tukwila International Boulevard. He leans out  the door of the auto shop he's occupied since 1971.

"Hey, you want to see something?" he asks.

He's semi-retired now, so he has a lot of time for this kind of thing.


Ali Jama stands behind the counter of Havenice Day Jewelry on Thursday, April 19, 2018, in Tukwila.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Meet Ali Jama. He owns a jewelry store with a clever name: Haveniceday Jewelry.

“A simple name that everybody can remember and say it without having any difficulties," he said. 


Commuters ride the E Line bus southbound on Aurora Avenue North, around 5:30 a.m., on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

It was standing room only on the E Line RapidRide bus when the man seated next to Sonnet Stockmar started talking to her. "Take your top off," he said in front of the other bus riders.


These three women are among hundreds of seniors moving to Tukwila International Boulevard, a stretch of the former highway 99 once known for crime and prostitution.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The city of Tukwila has spent years trying to turn a section of old highway 99 into a dense, walkable neighborhood. But it’s not easy to redefine a road. Now, Tukwila is getting some help from an unlikely population: seniors. 


Victoria Marshall is one of hundreds of seniors who live in subsidized senior housing just off Aurora. She has a view of the lake, but says she feels profoundly disconnected from civic and cultural life.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Victoria Marshall was born in 1945, and she’s full of stories. She can talk about the four years she was homeless, about raising kids, or about her deep knowledge of animals, which she sometimes shares with people at the zoo.


Men exit the Abu-Bakr Islamic Center after prayer on Friday, April 20, 2018, in Tukwila.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

For years, Tukwila’s stretch of highway 99 was known for its crime: drug sales, prostitution, burglaries and violence. Then one morning in 2013, hundreds of police officers raided the old motels where most of those crimes were happening.

Mohammed Jama ran a small shop next to the motels. He’s part of the large Somali and refugee community centered around the Abu Bakr mosque in Tukwila. 

He told us the raid changed his life.


De'Sean Quinn shows his prized possession: the key to one of the motels that used to dominate Tukwila's stretch of the old highway 99.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Everything had to work perfectly.


This stretch of 99 is looking more walkable today because Tukwila took it from the state.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

It started with street trees. Tukwila wanted to plant some along state Route 99 to slow down traffic and beautify the area.

But the state said no. Trees, it turned out, were not safe, at least not as safe as lamp posts. 


Tukwila International Boulevard, which was once highway 99, is at the heart of our Tukwila reporting.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Tukwila, a small city of about 20,000 people, punches above its weight.

That's partly because it's willing to throw elbows around, seizing property by any legal means necessary in order to turn an aging remnant of highway 99 into the dense, walkable neighborhood many officials want. The technique is effective, but it can leave bruises.


From left, Abdi Adan and Tawfik Maudah read over the  demands that they will make before entering Tukwila City Hall with community members and business owners on Thursday, April 19, 2018, in Tukwila.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Business owners and community members marched to Tukwila City Hall last Thursday to deliver a letter protesting a proposed police station and courthouse that would displace two dozen small businesses, most owned by East African refugees.

FILE: Starbucks location
Flickr Photo/Yukiko Matsuoka (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/emrGV5

Starbucks will close 8,000 stores late next month so employees can attend an afternoon-long training about racial bias. That follows an incident in Philadelphia where employees called police on two African American men who were waiting for a friend but hadn’t purchased anything.

So, will one afternoon of training work? We asked an expert.

Nichole Fabre drives the RapidRide E Line bus up and down Aurora. On a recent weekday morning, she started driving around 3:55 a.m., beginning in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The most congested bus route in King County runs down Aurora. It’s called the RapidRide E Line. The crowding on those buses brings all kinds of people together.


Owner of Little Amazon, Linh Nguyen, holds iguanas on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Originally, the Nguyens were fish breeders, supplying the region’s pet stores.

Aurora Avenue North was good for that: Highways are where you want to be if you distribute stuff. 


Yurie Crockett sucks up used fry oil for recycling into biodiesel. His employer will pick up congestion tolling on his work vehicle (and he commutes by bus), but believes it will hurt people struggling to stay in the city.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan proposed a new way to reduce congestion and pay for transit this week by tolling cars coming into the city. It’s called “congestion pricing.”

But the idea of increasing costs in this increasingly expensive city raises eyebrows. Maybe try better marketing, says one expert.


See that dumpster over there? A narrow space behind it is just one of the places David Wickingstad has lived along Aurora.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

David Wickingstad is homeless on Aurora. He gives us a personal walking tour of the spaces that help him survive along this neglected highway.


A worker in Boise puts together an apartment bound for Seattle.
Guerdon Modular Design

The apartment complex at Aurora and North 109th Street in Seattle was built on the cheap.

Cyanna DiRaimo runs for miles and miles. Sometimes, she runs along Aurora for a block or two (in order to cross), and imagines Aurora as an urban village.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

City officials have designated some parts of the aging Aurora Avenue as “urban villages” (dense, walkable neighborhoods near transit). But Aurora has a ways to go before it resembles a village. 


A mural commissioned by the Aurora Merchants Association is shown on Monday, March 26, 2018, near the intersection of Aurora Avenue North and N.105th St., in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Aurora Avenue North is a place where you can buy a car, sell a car or get fancy rims for your tires. If your vehicle has ever been towed in north Seattle, you may have written a painfully large check to Lincoln Towing so they’d release it. For decades, Aurora’s business community has been dominated by car-oriented businesses.

That time is coming to an end. And those businesses are fighting to maintain what influence they have left.


Angel Hackman leads Ruby Oswell (center left) and her friends across Aurora's new crosswalk at 92nd on their way to school.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Before there was I-5, there was Highway 99. 


Construction continues on a new apartment complex on Monday, March 12, 2018, at the intersection of Aurora Avenue North and 109th St., in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Commuters — in 43,000 cars every weekday — see Aurora Avenue as a river. Pedestrians trying to cross from one side to the other see it as a wall. 

In coming weeks, KUOW's Region of Boom team will explore how growth is changing State Route 99 from Shoreline to Tukwila.


Traffic is shown on Aurora Avenue North on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

What does Aurora mean to you? Al Jawann Johnson answered that question with a spontaneous poem:

"Aurora is to me the beast in the night. It is the beauty that I see in the streetlights. It is the wayward women walking to and fro. It is the depressed joy on the homeless as they go. It is the broad city lights and cars that drive by so fast. It is the backstreets where quiet streets and houses put their heads on the pillow at last."

KUOW reporters Joshua McNichols and Carolyn Adolph host 'That's Debatable: Amazon is Good for Seattle' on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

We recently hosted a debate to answer a simple question: Is Amazon good for Seattle?

And the answer is: We don’t really know for certain. But the debate did have a clear winner.


A community meeting on Mandatory Housing Affordability at Northgate on March 12, 2018
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Residents of north Seattle want affordable housing, but are skeptical of the city’s plan to get that housing built by encouraging more development. That was the dominant message heard at Monday night’s public hearing in Northgate.

From left, Anthony Banks, Zack Larson, Chris Chase, Devin Ottesen and James Kennemer laugh while working on a job site on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, on 38th Ave East in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The Seattle area needs more housing.

There’s not enough construction workers to build all the houses we need.

Meanwhile, ex-prisoners have a hard time finding work and a place to live.

One woman and her company found a way to tackle all these problems at the same time.


The Benson Trolleys, in storage
The Friends of the Benson Trolleys

Construction crews are busy relocating utilities for the new trolley line through downtown Seattle. The new line will integrate the shorter lines at either end of downtown into a larger system.

The trolley cars running on that line will have all the latest technology. But some civic leaders want to sprinkle some old, historic trolleys among the new trolleys.

Bike share bikes in Seattle
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle’s in the middle of a big bike share experiment, with bikes everywhere that you can rent for only a dollar.

It’s so cheap. So how do these companies make money?


Kyle Rowe wants bike sharing companies and cities to be true partners.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

This is a story about dockless bike sharing, but it begins with a story about Uber. Uber's complicated history with cities has made city officials more willing to push back.


Customers shop at Amazon Go on Monday, January 22, 2018, on 7th Ave., in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Amazon is the place where you buy stuff and then it magically appears at your front door. Or, more recently, it's the place where you go to buy a sandwich in a store and walk out without having to interact with a cashier.

There's an invisible side of all this: the cloud.


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