Next week on Monday May 6th, a second public meeting will be held to gather public feedback on micro-housing. Just five days from the event I have only now received official confirmation for the meeting.
Micro-housing is part of a larger set of solutions to increasing affordable housing options in Seattle and your voice of support needs to be heard. Micro-housing provides affordable market generated housing options in high opportunity neighborhoods close to high quality transit service. It lowers residents’ combined housing and transportation costs and provides a diverse housing choices in areas where they are most needed. Your voice will make a difference so please make time to attend and voice your support.
Meeting details below:
SEATTLE – City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen today confirmed that a second public meeting on micro-housing developments will be held. The meeting will be on May 6 at 6:00 p.m. at Seattle First Baptist Church on First Hill.
The first meeting was held in April in response to questions and concerns raised by residents of several Seattle neighborhoods where micro-housing units are being constructed.
The purpose of the second meeting is to hear from neighborhood representatives who will give their views and recommendations on the micro-housing projects. Representatives of the developers who build micro-housing projects will be present to describe the projects and the market for this housing alternative and their response to concerns they are hearing from the community.
In addition to Councilmember Rasmussen co-sponsors of the meeting include Councilmembers Nick Licata, Sally J. Clark and Richard Conlin.
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen stated: “A portion of the meeting will include an opportunity for the public to provide comments on what they have heard during the meeting and to provide recommendations on what, if any, regulations should be enacted for this unique type of housing.”
WHAT: Micro-housing development discussion
WHEN: Monday, May 6, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Seattle First Baptist Church, Fellowship Hall (downstairs), 1111 Harvard Ave. (on First Hill)
WHO: Seattle City Councilmembers and Council staff
Representatives from communities and neighborhoods
Representatives of micro-housing developers
“I want to see more affordable housing built in Seattle along with our residential neighborhoods accommodating housing options that contribute to their character,” stated Councilmember Nick Licata, chair of the Council’s Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee. “I think both objectives can be accomplished and I look forward to this forum providing an opportunity to hear suggestions on how to fulfill both.”
“I’ve visited some of these micro-units,” said Council President Sally J. Clark. “They provide decent, often attractive housing for a range of people who don’t need or want a lot of space. They’re also appearing in greater numbers and more rapidly than some in the surrounding neighborhood want. This forum can provide a good airing of people’s support, concerns and ideas for appropriate regulation.”
“Micro-housing can be an affordable option for people wanting to live close to work or urban amenities,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin, chair of the Council’s Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee. “They’re good for the environment and they can be good for neighborhoods too if we can find ways to preserve their affordability while ensuring that these developments reflect both the letter and the spirit of our land use laws. I look forward to working with stakeholders and the Executive to craft legislation to accomplish these goals.”
In the blogosphere we’re sometimes accused of hyperbole but this is not one of those cases. Many of the same people who turned out to try to kill Capitol Hill TOD and were outvoted by a margin of 2:1 because of broad and unusually representative community turnout at the TOD meeting, turned out unchecked to yesterday’s midday Apodment brownbag.
The city council’s transportation committee just held a group therapy session for opponents of micro-housing, or “aPodments,” who showed up in overwhelming numbers, rhetorical pitchforks in hand, to a “brown bag” discussion this afternoon to express their opposition to the affordable developments, which consist of small units arranged around shared kitchens. (We toured Capitol Hill’s Alturra aPodments last month.)
The battle lines on the council itself were clear in today’s meeting, where council transportation chair Tom Rasmussen—the council’s resident microhousing skeptic—spent much of the time before public comment asking representatives from the city’s Department of Planning and Development and Office of Housing rhetorical questions that had the effect of making aPodments look bad.
For instance: Rasmussen, who is almost certainly well-versed in the design guidelines that govern aPodments, asked DPD’s Mike Podowski whether an aPodment with 56 bedrooms would be subject to design review. Podowski responded that in most cases, it would not, but that of 48 microhousing developments the city has approved, “about half a dozen did go through design review.”
Rasmussen likened the new micro-apartment buildings to the single-room occupancy hotels of the 1970s, two of which burned down, killing dozens of residents. “Is our code up to date” to handle micro-apartments?, Rasmussen asked.
Podowski noted that the fire code has been updated since the 1970s (largely in response to the SRO fires), that the buildings have all the required sprinklers, and that the fire marshall has signed off on the floor plans. Incidentally. by Rasmussen’s logic, the city should ban all dorms and hotels.
And one woman testified that aPodments would quickly be overrun by mold, “meth addicts,” “wild parties,” people with “mental illness,” and men who will terrorize “our daughters.” (Then, in a classic case of concern trolling, she worried that microhousing residents wouldn’t be able to cook decent food, because they’d have filthy shared kitchens and in-unit microwaves that wouldn’t “even be big enough for a Hungry Man dinner.”)
One of the houses I lived in, converted into 3 apartments with 8 – 10 bedrooms total (via Google Streetview)
Over the last few months there has been a lot of talk about micro-housing. In most, if not all, the discussions I’ve had with friends, neighbors and acquaintances one common theme has emerged, personal experience. Whether it’s now or decades ago, many people have needed this type of housing sometime in their life.
Whether they are a transplants from Idaho trying to start a new life, an SU college student trying to make ends meet, a gay non-profit worker than wants to live close his friends in a community he feels safe and accepted in, or someone that simply would rather spend money on something besides space and furniture he doesn’t need, everyone has a reason why these types of housing meet their needs. No one is forced into them.
Personally, I care about micro-housing because for 7 years I lived in less desirable alternatives to it. In 2008 I was kicked out of the room I rented in a Capitol Hill townhouse for speaking up about tenant law violations, only to find out a year later from the Secret Service that my landlord committed identify fraud on multiple residents after me. Before that I lived in the house pictured above, which was chronically cold in the winter because it cost too much to heat in the winter. The house before that was even worse, shared with nine roommates; I could often see my breath in the morning. The kitchen, which didn’t have a dishwasher, was a smelly mess most of the time. Micro-housing would have much better met my needs, but it wasn’t available then.
Expanding professionally managed, newly-built micro-housing meets these needs and provides a much needed alternative to the sometimes poorly managed, sub-standard, unhealthy or illegal housing that up until now has been the only option for many people who have needed affordable housing.
What are your stories of how micro-housing adds an additional housing choice that either meets or could have meet your housing needs?
P.S. Today at City Hall starting at 11:30 the city will be hosting a brown bag on micro-housing.If you support this affordable housing choice attend and show your support because there will be lots of people that don’t.
The below action alert has been sent out by Transportation for Washington. I strongly encourage everyone to take a few minutes to send an email or call your legislator and get a few friends or coworkers to do so as well.
In the past 24 hours, more than 2100 emails have been sent to legislators to support local funding options for saving bus service and fixing our streets.
We only have less than 48 hours to get this done and we need you to speak up for transit TODAY .
Three bills — House Bills 1898, 1953, and 1959 which would save transit service in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties and fix our crumbling roads are awaiting a floor vote. If this bill does not get a vote before Wednesday at 5:00pm, we will lose our chance to save transit.
We need every single vote we can get, and our transit champions, including Rep. Marko Liias, Rep. Jessyn Farrell, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, Rep. Luis Moscoso, and Rep. Jake Fey, are telling us they need your voice of support right now to show legislators this is critically important.
You already know about the pot holes and missing sidewalks in your neighborhood. We’ve got to give cities and counties the ability to fix them.What has been especially tragic is the loss of bus service in our communities over the past few years. For example, King County Metro was temporarily spared 17% cuts in 2011, but that stopgap measure runs out next year. Pierce Transit has had to slash service 35% and will cut service even more this fall. And the recession has forced Community Transit to similarly cut bus service for thousands of workers, students, and families.
Besides being a good way to prevent congestion and save money, transit is also a lifeline for thousands of kids, seniors, and people with disabilities. We constantly hear heart-wrenching stories about how single moms can’t get to their jobs or families who can’t get to the grocery store because their bus doesn’t run on Sunday.
Quite frankly, the bus cuts, potholes, and unfinished sidewalks, are all unacceptable. That’s why we need your help to pass House Bills 1898, 1953, and 1959.
As discussions about a new statewide transportation package continue in Olympia, transit advocates need to make one point clear to lawmakers: transit supporters are the key swing voters when it comes to defending a statewide transportation package. Just because a package passes in Olympia doesn’t mean it would survive a public vote.
While transit supporters are the most likely to support new taxes for transportation investments, they are also the most likely to swing against a highway-heavy package. History has shown that when transit supporters are not happy with a transportation package, an odd coalition of environmentalists and fiscal conservatives (i.e. Tim Eyman) emerges to soundly reject it. This is as true now as it has ever been.
History bears this out. In 2002 Referendum 51 drew criticism from parts of the environmental community, failing in an incredibly lopsided (38%-62%) statewide vote. Three years later, Tim Eyman’s Initiative 912 — which would have repealed the 2005 Transportation Partnership Program which on a whole made necessarily investments in safety, maintenance and replacement – was rejected by voters. While the initiative had much more support statewide than R-51, King County was the decisive factor in its defeat, rejecting it by over 161,000 votes.
The 2007 Roads and Transit package and 2008 Sound Transit 2 measures also clearly illustrate this trend. Full of controversial projects (such as the Cross Base Highway) and with strong institutional and financial backing, Roads and Transit was nevertheless rejected by 56% of the voters in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. In contrast, Sound Transit 2 passed just a year later with 57% approval despite a shoestring campaign budget and the looming economic crisis (see map above).
As currently proposed, the House transportation package looks to repeat the history of R-51 and Road and Transit, with transit supporters opposed to the package despite the dire funding needs of transit agencies. What transit supports want is important, but what they don’t want is equally important, and their ‘yes’ vote cannot be assured simply by including their needs in an otherwise unacceptable package.
Key fixes to the current proposal to make it palatable to transit supporters include:
Ensuring transit agencies have a sustainable funding sources in addition to revenue sources for future growth, especially for Sound Transit;
Increased state funding for safety projects, especially Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School;
Robust local funds for counties and cities to maintain their deteriorating roads;
Fully funding existing projects like SR-520 and SR-99 over new projects and;
After four years of extensive work by volunteers, the community, the City and Sound Transit to develop a shared vision and development agreements for the Capitol Hill Link Station, a NIMBY group is slinging outright lies at the work in an attempt to kill it. The NIMBY group is trying to discredit the comprehensive and open process spearheaded by the Capitol Hill TOD Champion group that last September led to a development agreement between the City and Sound Transit, a first of a kind in the region and a model of what needs to happen in the future. At Thursday’s Capitol Hill Community Council meeting John Akamatsu and Lisa Kothari are up for appointment as the CHCC’s representatives to the Champion’s group, and NIMBY groups want to block their appointment in an attempt to stall progress on TOD.
If you support TOD at the Capitol Hill Station come join me at the Cal Anderson shelterhouse on Thursday, February 21st at 6:30pm to show your support these two appointees.
Agenda details are here. To vote on the CHCC you must live within the boundaries of Capitol Hill; own property or own or operate a business or nonprofit organization within the boundaries of Capitol Hill; be employed within the boundaries of Capitol Hill; or volunteer for an agency which serves Capitol Hill.
Central Seattle Greenways (CSG), in coordination with other greenways, ped-bike and neighborhood groups have been pushing over the last few months for a ped-bike trail on the SR-520 Portage Bay crossing from Montlake to North Capitol Hill. They have built up a lot of momentum for the idea and this post clearly lays out the argument for the connection and addresses some common questions and concerns.
It would not be hyperbole to think of north Capitol Hill as a topographic fortress. It is surrounded to the east, north, and west by very steep slopes. To the best of our knowledge, there is no ADA accessible route for walking or biking off of north Capitol Hill (check out the map below – compiled from city data and actual measurements). Complicating the situation, the streets that were slightly less steep were cherry picked to be arterials for car traffic. As a result, creating an all-ages-and-abilities friendly route between the “urban centers” of Capitol Hill and the University District, and further to neighborhoods in N.E. Seattle and to the Central District, is quite a challenge.
A Portage Bay Bridge Trail would bridge this topographic fortress. According to WSDOT, the Portage Bay Bridge Trail (PBBT) would have less than a 5% grade, be well lit, and be considerably more direct in getting to the “Montlake Hub” of regional trails and to Husky Stadium side of the UW campus. It would be the most direct and family-friendly route from the Montlake Hub to Capitol Hill by far.
Even in terms of getting between Capitol Hill and the East Campus of the UW, taking the PBBT would only be slightly longer than a Harvard Ave E route (1.89 to 1.63), but would be significantly less steep (4.5% to 8.7%), and more separated from traffic. Even amongst experienced cyclists, research has found that article “cyclists are willing to go considerably out of their way to use a bike boulevard or bike path rather than an arterial bike lane,” and that people will go over three times more out of their way to avoid routes with slopes of over 6% grade compared to those with 4-6% grade (click here to purchase full article). This affect would likely be more pronounced in people who are willing-but-wary. In other words, since the PBBT will be better separated and less steep than other options, people will choose to use it over routes that currently exist even if they are shorter. Let’s look at a few of the existing alternatives.
With corridor studies for rail from Downtown Seattle to Ballard and extension of Link south to Federal Way both moving forward next year, it looks likely that the Sound Transit board will move to accelerate planning work necessary for development of a Sound Transit 3 (or ST3) package. Yesterday, much of the board met at a workshop to answer three main questions:
How aggressively should ST push forward planning work such as corridor studies and the Long Range Plan update?
Should ST continue to focus on the light rail “spine” as their primary goal?
Should ST engage state level transportation funding and authorization issues?
You can see all of the meeting documents here. For those interested in background, I would suggest reading this.
On the first question, there was a general desire among the board members in attendance for a more aggressive schedule than what ST is currently pursuing. Three planning processes were presented to the board:
Status Quo – would continue the status quo and take 8-12 years
Corridor Study – would initiate accelerated corridor planning followed by the Long Range Plan update taking a total of 6-10 years
Jump Start – would incorporate corridor studies in the Long Range Plan cutting the total planning timeline to 4 years
Many board members felt that the more aggressive planning schedule, the Jump Start, was preferable – including WSDOT chair Paula Hammond, who said she’d like to see ST3 as soon as possible so it can be integrated with WSDOT’s planning. Some board members had reservations about shooting for a 2016 ST3 package and felt that a 2020 package was more realistic. Not only would 2016 be a very tight planning window, but it would also mean that voters in the region would be asked to vote ST3 before Lynnwood Link and East Link construction were clearly visible. The tight planning window could also complicate the process of getting additional funding authority from the state (more on that later). (more…)
Sound Transit has announced that a mudslide between Seattle and Everett has occurred and Sounder North service will be canceled until Wednesday evening at the earliest. Amtrak service will also be canceled.
Northline Sounder service between Seattle and Everett is canceled for the evening commute on Monday, 11/19 because of mudslides. Sounder northline trains will not be available until the Wednesday, 11/21 evening commute due to the 48 hour moratorium for passenger train service.
Following up on Bruce’s post several weeks ago about the side effects of not having a schedule for RapidRide, I want to share information I collected for my masters research paper. The paper is structured around a survey of transit information in 24 cities, mostly in Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. While my research touches on all aspects of transit information, I wanted to pull out the relevant information about transit schedules to inform this discussion.
The table below contains relevant schedule and service information for the routes in the 24 cities I decided to include in the survey. I purposefully included a range of service types from local bus to subway. The table below is sorted by minimum service headway and includes other service related information that impacts service reliability.
Glossary: Headway (time between vehicles), Tabular Schedule (metro’s current design), Clockface Schedule (arrival times repeat every hour at the same minute), ROW A (grade separate), ROW B (exclusive but at grade), ROW C (mixed flow), POP (proof of payment), PAYE (pay as you enter), PAYL (pas as you leave)
Sound Transit has a 6-minute survey they would like you to take. More information below.
Sound Transit is kicking off the process for working with South King County communities on options for extending high-capacity transit service. The effort will help shape alternatives for building high capacity transit from South 200th Street to Kent/Des Moines, as well as a shovel-ready plan for reaching the heart of Federal Way.
This is the public’s first chance to weigh in on this key regional project. There are several ways to give feedback, by attending and upcoming open house, or by taking our survey by Monday, Nov. 19.
Over the next year, Sound Transit will analyze alternatives to expand high capacity transit from the future light rail station at S. 200th Street in the City of SeaTac to the Federal Way Transit Center.
This project is known as the Federal Way Transit Extension. Right now, Sound Transit is in the early scoping phase of the project and is seeking public input on what alternatives should be studied. This is your first opportunity to comment and become involved in this project. This survey should take approximately six minutes to complete.
OpenPlans, which used kickstart to fund development of an Apple iOS6 transit app, posted an update of their progress late last week. Google has been rumored to be developing a stand alone maps app but nothing has yet been released. Update below:
+ finished wireframes and mockups.
+ developing the beta version of the app.
+ working on finding the best platform from which to deliver the beta version to testers, to make it easy to install and to send feedback back to us
+ creating the graphics, icons and imagery that will be used within the app.
The backend team is doing the heavy lifting with transit data and OpenTripPlanner –
+ developing the geographic router, which figures out which metropolitan area the user is in, so we can plan a trip using the local transit data.
We’ve still got lots of work ahead of us, but we’re excited about the progress that’s been made. In particular, some of the nifty new UI ideas that we’ve come up with along the way…. Stay tuned for more details soon.
After spending a few days in Montreal, with an extensive cycle track network and bike share system I’m more convinced than ever that the dense and densifying areas of Seattle needs a major investment in separated bicycle facilities. One interesting caveat about Montreal is that they use cycle tracks everywhere, even on low-volume residential streets as opposed to neighborhood greenways. If anyone knows why please chime in and let me know.
We are working with the City of Seattle to successfully leverage use of a new communication network being built by the Seattle Police Department. Delaying the implementation of the permanent ORCA card readers in downtown Seattle is saving Metro the considerable cost of building our own network. We considered using boarding assistants with portable ORCA fare collection devices for the RapidRide program during the interim period and have a test planned for October. The test, to be conducted after the initial transition period from the elimination of the Ride Free Area, will provide data on the achievable speed and reliability benefits. Of course, a cadre of boarding assistants with handheld ORCA readers would be expensive, so we would want to ensure the benefits outweigh the costs. We will have 35 permanent ORCA readers in place along the other portions of the lines when we begin RapidRide service, consistent with the RapidRide brand that improves customer convenience.
We will be using boarding assistants while the system transitions from the Ride Free Area beginning October 1. Because the DSTT is such a fragile operating environment, we felt there would be a significant benefit to providing boarding assistants in that location at the start of the service change. We will also have boarding assistants at five of our busiest Third Avenue bus zones, three of which are RapidRide zones, for up to two weeks at the start of the service change.
In preparation for the operation of RapidRide through the busy CBD, we have created a position in the transit control center to actively manage RapidRide. In addition to communicating directly with operators, the coordinator will have two cover buses available to put into service as necessary. During the peak periods, the cover buses will be staged just north and south of the CBD to provide extra operating insurance for the C and D lines. Other transit agencies have demonstrated the effectiveness of active service management, and we think this will be an important means of maintaining our reliability through downtown.
This is good news but obviously a firm commitment to providing long-term and ongoing mitigation for the lack of ORCA card readers for the C and D Lines and RFA elimination is much preferable.
Unlike Metro’s previous cost-benefit analysis related to elimination of the RFA, I hope that all of Metro’s future speed and reliability studies, include the one Kevin mentions, attempt to quantify the monetary time-value equivalent cost of degraded speed and reliability on riders, not just the direct monetary impacts to Metro’s bottom line. A high-quality, fast and efficient transit system is in the interest of both Metro and its riders, but without looking at both sides of the ledger, Metro has been missing a key part of the picture.
Next Thursday Transportation Choices Coalition (TCC) in coordination with a variety of other transportation and land use advocacy groups is hosting a day-long conference focused on transportation funding. The various panel discussions will focus the new funding environment created by MAP-21, local and regional funding in the Puget Sound region, what future funding might look like, and how to get Washington State to invest more. Full agenda here.
[Update 1:20] Aaron Pickus from the mayors office sent some additional details. “A few folks in the comments thread are asking about the cycletrack. I thought you may also be interested to know that the mayor’s proposed budget will include funding to create a Center City Mobility Plan. The Center City Mobility Plan will review how all modes of transportation interconnect downtown. As part of this work, we will begin planning a downtown bicycle network, using best practices, to build on the Denny Triangle cycle track. This study will help lead us to a safer and easier biking experience for residents and visitors alike in Downtown and beyond.”
Today the Mayor’s office sent out a press release with exciting information related to Amazon’s expansions plans with relation to public compensation for an alley vacation necessary for the development to occur. From the press release.
The overall proposal includes $5.5 million of support for the Seattle Streetcar. This funding will allow the City to purchase an additional streetcar vehicle and increase operational support for 10 years as a part of the Planned Community Development benefit package. In total, these benefits will increase street car service to every ten minutes during the workday. Alley vacation public benefits proposed by Amazon include:
Supporting a higher level of service for the Seattle Streetcar, including the purchase of a fourth vehicle;
Designing a new cycle track on 7th Avenue;
Enhancing pedestrian crossings at 8th and Lenora and 7th and Virginia intersections, consistent with the Westlake Avenue Concept Design;
Creating a shared use street along Lenora to enhance the pedestrian experience and calm traffic;
Providing green street enhancements, wider-than-required building setbacks, and enhanced landscaping and sidewalk improvements around all properties;
Providing additional overhead canopy between buildings;
Integrating art throughout the development;
Contributing to the future park at 8th Avenue, Westlake and Lenora. The Department of Parks and Recreation recently purchased property at this location.