Things that Annoy Me

Erica C Barnett at the Stranger wrote a piece lauding the Sierra Club for fighting against Prop. 1, and then turning around to lobby Sound Transit into put “station access funds” in place of park-and-rides for suburban stations. Station access funds could be spent on anything, including parking, but the use is decided by the local government and not prescribed by Sound Transit.

Nice idea, but I find this piece extremely self-congratulatory and completely off-mark, Erica wrote the piece as if Sound Transit 2 had passed already:

Environment Washington program director Bill LaBorde, who appeared alongside TCC’s regional policy director Rob Johnson at last week’s Sound Transit board meeting to praise the agency’s change of heart, agrees that “the Sierra Club has definitely been the most vocal” in pushing for improvements to Sound Transit’s plan.

Mike O’Brien, chairman of the Sierra Club’s Cascade Chapter, says the Club is “very encouraged” by Sound Transit’s statements at last week’s board meeting and is leaning toward getting behind a 2008 ballot measure, pending the actual release of a plan. Sometimes, it would seem, standing your ground is a better option than capitulating to the forces of “compromise”—even when your entire movement is lined up against you.

Most vocal of whom? Improvements? This could end up a complete waste of time, since it’s looking ever less certain we’ll get a ballot measure this year. In fact, I think the odds are slipping past even as I write this, if they haven’t already. I’ll congratulate the Sierra Club when they actually endorse a plan that passes.


  1. Bill LaBorde says

    It was definitely frustrating to have Sierra Club come out against Prop. 1 and they could have used a bit more humility in how they talked about the early ST2.1 proposals. However, they really have been engaged in a constructive way, particularly with regard to the station access funds concept.

    There is a real threat that ST2.1 won’t be on this year’s ballot. The blame for that lies not with the Sierra Club, but with the three County Execs. Their opposition is the biggest obstacle to placing a measure on this Fall’s ballot.

  2. Brad says

    I’ll take a contrary view on the ST2 ballot issue.

    What benefit is gained by announcing the details of the ST2 plan NOW? Why not wait until the last minute?

    The sooner the details are released, the sooner the anti-transitists will be able to start pooling their resources and rallying against it, chipping away at the YES votes until eventually the measure fails.

    Most people today would vote for nearly any transit measure. But thru negative spin, out-of-state sign-wavers, scare tactics, etc, the YES votes get eroded over time. (The idiots at Sierra Club don’t help either.)

    By waiting, ST gives the opposition less time to erode the support. To me, it is a no-lose situation. In fact, they (ST) might actually be learning how to get a measure on the ballot AND passed rather than just on the ballot.

  3. daimajin says

    I’m not bitter. Mike O’Brien’s a great guy, I respect what the Sierra Club does, and I think station access funds are a great idea.

    I just think the tone of ECB’s article was a little misplaced, as if a ballot measure was a sure thing.

  4. Anonymous says

    I used to have a great deal of respect for both the Stranger and the quality of ECB’s reporting. But she has been consistently wrong, or ignorant, or uninformed in her reporting on Prop 1 and ST2. Every article of hers is cringe-inducing in its lack of understanding of the basic issues.

    All she really understands is “well the Sierra Club is opposed, and I love the Sierra Club, so whatever they say just HAS to be right!” It’s stunningly poor journalism and is all the more shocking given how well she understood the Viaduct and surface/transit issue.


  5. Sam says

    Eric, you get about the same level of thought with some of the people on this blog. They chant the mantra “Rails good, Roads bad” and seem to be blind to any critical thinking. They try to sound like experts in the transportation field by using acronyms as much as possible. They hide behind a few scientific stats, but it’s clear their fervent following if faith based. To them, rails, no matter how illogical, is their religion, is their God. I think Erica is rational compared to some of the faith-based believers on this blog.

  6. Anonymous says

    It seems that some of your writers’ enthusiasm for rail on this site precludes respectful behavior when discussing issues with folks with differing viewpoints.

    I have also noticed that a few of the writers for this blog, on this site and in posts to other sites, use insults and vitriol instead of staying on topic.

    Your points are better received and more persuasive if you cover the meat of the subject, not someone’s age (older than you), background (where they live or how they vote), and if you are respectful.

    Try that.

  7. daimajin says

    I’m not against roads, Sam, I voted for prop 1, the largest roads expansion ballot measure ever written in this region!

  8. serial catowner says

    The Sierra Club demands that Barnett lists are a mixture of grandstanding and baloney. Let’s look at them critically.

    Consideration of future light rail on 520? WTF does that mean? Should ST spend $50 million preparing the University station to accept rails and traffic that might some day come across the 520? As desirable as it might be to plan and build the station with the extra tracks, signaling, and platform levels for new rails from the 520, it ain’t gonna happen, mainly because $50 million is probably a lot less than it would actually cost. So that “demand” turns out to be that ST would build a line if the public demanded it. Which of course they would.

    Second “demand”- an environmental study of greenhouse gas impact. What exactly will we learn from this? Are we going to find out that, by golly, it really is more environmentally friendly to use cars and freeways to carry goods and people? That, in fact, would not surprise me- figures don’t lie, but some liars sure can figure. In reality, though, there are only three possible outcomes- the grotesquely unbelievable conclusion that roads are the solution, the middle conclusion that nobody really knows, or the entirely foreseeable conclusion that you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and we need to build now to prevent future problems.

    Finally we come to the demand that ST fund circulators or development by rail stations instead of parking. Setting aside the entirely predictable storm about “takings” and “eminent domain” if ST were to start building stores or apartments by the stations, the fact is that if a community really wants circulators instead of parking, that’s probably what they’ll get.

    As if we didn’t know that what ST should be doing is buying large lots by the stations, and using them for parking, until demand forces the price up and developers buy the land from ST. But the bottom line here is that ST is only going to build to developed areas anyway, where the costs of land are too high to buy any extra, and getting ST involved in funding low-income housing or “economic development areas” around stations is obviously not a part of their function.

    The three “demands”, IOW, are just so much hot air adding complexity and expense to what ST is doing. From my point of view, they’re not being very helpful.

  9. serial catowner says

    Now, as for the commenters here who think roads just aren’t getting a fair shake in Puget Sound’s rabidly pro-rail environment, if they really believe that, I have a nice bridge I’d like to sell them.

    Oops! Sorry- that bridge has already been sold! I’m referring, of course, to the new Narrows bridge, the one built over the protests of the people forced to use it, the bridge where the state and the people pay the costs but a private corporation collects the profits.

    The interesting thing here is that the original Narrows bridge was the original bridge to nowhere, built solely and simply to satisfy the desire of the state to build a bridge, a task which, ironically, they weren’t actually competent to undertake, as demonstrated by the spectacular failure of the bridge within a few years.

    I think it would be fair to say that, in Washington State, roads have gotten their fair share of attention. Maybe even more.

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