I’m here with Andrew at Drinking Liberally, an every Tuesday event at the Montlake Alehouse, to talk about progressive politics. I don’t normally come to this very often, but today we have Pierce County executive John Ladenburg here to talk about his bid for Attorney General.

We asked him about his position on the 15 year package, and he was blunt. He said he doesn’t want to go to ballot unless they have 15 of the 18 votes. The maybes right now are von Reichbauer, from Federal Way, who is a likely yes, and Aaron Reardon and Deanna Dawson. With those three, he’ll be number fifteen, and we’ll be ready to go to ballot.

Ladenburg also mentioned that if this passes, he’d be interested in annexing part of Thurston County to run Sounder all the way to the capitol! This is a great idea – there’s track to get nearly all the way there, and this is something I’ve personally been looking at as a great next step.

31 Replies to “Drinking Liberally”

  1. Did he mean annexing part of Thurston County to Pierce County (which seems unlikely) or just adding that portion of Thurston County to Sound Transit’s taxing district? I can’t imagine that Thurston County would agree to cede that much territory to another county, particularly since it would include a large part of the county’s tax base.

  2. Noooooooooo!

    There are already enough transit-averse voters in the Sound Transit district!

    If anything, they should make the district smaller.

    1. While I’d say that right now, totally, I bet that after ST2, we won’t have significant further problems with votes. It’d be a matter of only including the people we’d actually benefit – not all of Thurston! Just a sliver who we could actually benefit with Sounder.

      1. Do you think that “sliver” would actually generate enough tax revenue to extend service all the way down there?

      2. After all, Pierce doesn’t even want to do a Dupont station because it’d really serve Thurston. So you’re looking at track and station improvements at several places, plus extra train sets because you can’t do as many second runs.

        You also further challenge the capacity of the system, meaning longer platforms, etc., everywhere. That’d come out of South King funds, where I’d rather spend the money on Light Rail and improving station access.

      3. The fact that Pierce doesn’t want to pay for DuPont is helping drive this. ST2 will get us four more round trips, likely – enough to bunch the schedules a bit closer and use frequency to combat overcrowding (rather than longer trains, past 8 cars).

        On light rail – ST3 South King funds are going to be building light rail through Federal Way. That isn’t going to tap out those funds – but there’s not going to be enough left over to do any light rail work in Renton or Tukwila – so I think Sounder platform improvements are already in the scope of the available funding.

        Getting Thurston into the mix would keep DuPont from taking a large burden by adding new funds. I don’t think it’s a good idea to do it until people like Central Link, though.

  3. Martin knows way more about this stuff than I do, and I respect the electoral logic. But as a Seattle to Olympia VPP (Van Pool Prisoner–which leads me to drive SOV most days of the month), the mere thought of Sounder to Oly makes me giddy. I’d be interested in knowing the numbers on Van Poolers that would vote for heavy rail to lacey in exchange for more flexibility on the front and back end timing of their commute-day.

    The rail stop in Lacey is a five minute bike ride to my office in Lacey. Oooohh! I am getting woosy just thinking about it. Finally some schedule-flexibility for my commute and the opportunity to integrate my bike into it!

    David, Kent Station to Lacey here we come!

    1. Tres_Arboles:

      Going Kent to Olympia, your options aren’t going to be that great. Right now, there’s only one reverse commute train. That number will increase with more ballot measures passing, but there’s a limit.

      Each reverse commute train is actually one that’s returning to Tacoma to do another run. If you extend the line to Olympia, you’re either doing fewer runs with a given number of train sets, or the ones that do two trips in the morning aren’t going all the way to Olympia.

      I haven’t run the numbers, but I’d guess you’d be disappointed unless your work hours were extremely flexible.

      Brian or Ben probably have more detail.

      1. If Sounder were extended to Olympia, the number of reverse commute trains will increase significantly, somehow, someway, just because Seattle and Tacoma state legislators (and their office workers) will want private trains. :)

      2. You make a great point on the increased length of trips reducing the reverse trips. I think that hitting Oly would make the reverse commute a bigger deal, though – we have a lot of pols up here who commute down there.

    1. He’ll only vote for it if it’s winning by enough that it will pass in the fall. His point is that if the board’s split, the measure will fail at the ballot. I think that’s short-sighted of him – nobody will care who voted for/against during the campaign, they didn’t last year – but he doesn’t want to be on the losing side of something at the same time as his AG vote.

      1. Maybe I’m still not understanding, but anything over 9/18 sounds like positive momentum toward a successful vote. Won’t he be on the losing side if he’s one of the 5 that didn’t go along with it and it passes?

        Call me crazy, but I like leaders in politics, not afraid-to-act followers.

      2. It requires 12 to go to ballot. 15 is halfway from passing to unanimous.

  4. Gerrymandering is awesome. (sigh)

    So the feedback at the Obama party last night was:

    Build transit faster (people are concerned about getting their kids to school THIS FALL, not in 30 years)

    Add kiss-and-ride space at the park-and-rides for families/neighbors who carpool.

    NO pay for parking at Park-and-rides. (And NO ONE said they’d vote for ST2 if they knew paid parking was ever in the future)

    Better lighting at stops (again for the kids)

    Lots of people pro-toll roads.

    Some suggested preferred parking at PnRs for hybrids.

    Lots of people questioned why the Eastside Rail Corridor can’t be a feeder for the Eastside, and a rail link for us to the airport.

    Without forcing a show of hands, I’d say it was 40-60 against ST2. (There’s a big ANTI-microsoft contingent out here, and I’m surprised at how resentful they were. And I thought I was the angry one.) People view the Overlake route as short-sighted.

    And most of the guests were in their 40s, so you can imagine that their time horizon is different than younger voters.

    The most telling comment: “Ten years ago, this would be awesome, but now, I’m not even sure how I’m going to heat my house this winter. My house is worth 20% less and my taxes are going up. Money is really tight. I’m not looking for more expenses.”


    Glad there are the votes for a ballot prop this year. The voters will decide, as they should.

    1. Brad,

      Thanks for the report. Random thoughts:

      * It’s interesting to me that they’re interested in tolling; that would seem to conflict with the last comment. Still, I’m surprised that it’s politically viable on the outskirts of the Metro area.

      * I’m sympathetic with the wish for something faster, but the fact is a short time horizon is what’s got us in this mess. I say we suck it up and take the hit for future generations.

      * I’m honestly perplexed by the resistance to nominal parking fees, but if they like the status quo, more power to them. I moved to be close to light rail, so it doesn’t affect me!

      * Kiss-and-rides are a no-brainer. Let’s do it — 15 min. limit spaces. Of course, that means less parking, so there’s no free lunch!

      Your report certainly changes my perception of the politics out there, although of course an Obama party isn’t fully representative.

      Thanks again for collecting this data.

    2. I agree with Martin. Especially on “next fall” – we don’t have a next fall plan, and we never will.

      We have a plan that deals with the “next fall” that we’ll be worrying about in a few years. We can’t deal with that “next fall” then. We can solve it now.

      So the question for them is – do you want to worry about “next fall” every year?

      And I’d say their 60/40 probably comes from your making up parking fees for them to be afraid of. Thanks for campaigning against us by creating fear, uncertainty and doubt!

      1. Now Ben, I specifically asked Brad to make that point clear, and we can’t say if he did or not. I think he’s in better faith than that.

        I think if Obama supporters are 40/60 out at the fringes of the district, we’ll be alright.

      2. I specifically mentioned parking fees at the very end of the discussion, as I was walking out the door. There were literally people booing out loud. Paid parking is really regressive. That’s what nearly everyone said.

        And the toll issue was mainly positive because most people at the meeting didn’t have a daily commute or already rode transit. A toll on 405 traffic is pretty meaningless to most of us, for example. But it would affect lots of others.

        And another thing…. at least two people mentioned that moving closer to work/transit was not an option, since the housing values have declined so much that they are underwater.

        Houses out here just aren’t moving and lots of places are coming off the market because people can’t stomach cutting prices.

        It’s tough everywhere, lots of people hurting out here especially. I walked away feeling pretty fortunate.

      3. I didn’t mean the FUD comment that seriously, sorry. :) And thanks for mentioning it at the end.

        I definitely see the housing market decline as something that won’t change anytime soon. People are going to keep getting more underwater for the next several years – but by the time Link opens, they probably won’t be anymore. This kind of change does occur in waves!

        I don’t think we can do anything about housing – you could print your way out of it, drop the value of the dollar another 20% to keep everyone afloat. Personally, as a renter, I think that would suck.

    3. Rome was not built in a day, you know. People on the eastside are very actively and vocally campaigning against ST’s expansion because they refuse to give that inch to take the mile.

      It’s this “we aren’t Seattle, let’s do everything different from them!!” attitude that’s gotten us to this point. It had to come to a head at some point, and here we are. People are voting against emulating Seattle while trying to stop Seattle from getting any benefits, but see, the thing is: we are already getting them.

      Light rail, streetcars, road improvements, school improvements, population growth exceeding expectations, density, quality of life improvements and so on and so forth.

      The fact that people are campaigning against allowing Seattle to be the hub that it is is completely insane.

      1. I’m glad we agree that you should stop saying transit advocates want to impose fees on suburban P&Rs. Now about your notion that anyone who is pro-ST2 is from Seattle and the part where you imply people from Capitol Hill don’t know about sprawl…

      2. AJ-

        First, I’m a voter. You convince ME why I should vote for it, and I will. As a PCO, convince ME why I should campaign for it, and I will.

        Secondly, nowhere have I EVER said that anyone who is pro-ST2 is from Seattle. The evidence of past votes doesn’t support that, and remember I’M the one who wrote to and posted the reply from Mayor Marchione.

        Third, people who live in Seattle absolutely know about sprawl. The condo-fication of the urban area is exactly that. We are all sympathetic to the ugly townhouse syndrome. It’s the part where most urban dwellers say that transit shouldn’t be expanded to outlying areas BECAUSE IT INDUCES SPRAWL where lots of people are wrong.

        The evidence (full park-and-rides) shows that the need for expanded transit to the exurbs is already there.

        However, most of you have gone on record saying that ST should start charging parking fees. I can’t imagine it hasn’t been discussed at ST. They need to know it’s a non-starter out here.

        I agree that transportation influences sprawl, but not in the way you might think. Most homebuyers look for homes on weekends. They find a shiny new cheap home in Redmond on a Sunday. Traffic on a Sunday is totally sweet. The realtor shows them the half-empty park-and-ride and tells them there are buses available to get them to Microsoft or downtown.

        Then they move, and on that first Monday they are stuck in the worse traffic they have ever seen AND when they get to the park-and-ride, it’s full.

        That’s the reality. Yeah, they are dumb for getting in that situation. But these are families who are stuck, and they should be served. They are paying for it.

        Wanna slow sprawl in the urban AND suburban areas? Implement a $5000 transit fee on all new construction permits. I’d vote for that.

        You guys can poke and prod and get as pissy all you want. My neighbors taught me a huge lesson last night.

      3. As far as I’ve read from the Stranger and Sierra Club, most of the sprawl-induction is centered around the fact that many of the initial proposals included hundreds of P&R spots, which instantly sticks out to a lot of people as meaning incentive to kinda spread out from transit stations, i.e., sprawl.

        Sprawl is not truly within Seattle as densities and in-fill have gone beyond the traditional definitions of sprawl. Seattle may have some poor land-use decisions in its past (i.e. crowding immediate corridors with parking lagoons in an otherwise dense neighborhood like up Aurora), but it’s not sprawl by any stretch of the imagination.

        The reason we poke and prod and get pissy is sub-area equity. It means we have to convince you guys to go along for the ride for expansions within the city.

        Of course, if this streetcar thing takes off, who’s to say we’ll need a passenger in the future?

      4. The $5000 fee idea would encourage sprawl, because 20 years down the road, someone running the transit and local planning agencies would want to use it as a funding source and want more of it.

        And MOST of us? I’ve never even seen the parking fee comment, and I certainly don’t support it. I think if you heard it, it was thrown out as an idea – because this is supposed to be a safe place for ideas – but it turned out not to be that hot. I don’t think anyone’s advocating for it right now, although I welcome an advocate just to ensure we do hear that kind of thing.

    4. Kiss-and-rides and well-lit stops are no-brainers. Kiss-and-rides sound great, but current riders can always pull into the parking lot temporarily, drop off their loved ones, and

      Brad, I appreciate that your posts have been less, well you know, recently. I’m going to write a long post, but it’s not a flame — I think we just need to move past this paid parking idea.

      Like Ben said, you’re spreading FUD that can help sink ST2. Listen, it was something I suggested a while back — not Sound Transit, not even another blogger here. I suggested it, in the form of a question to inquire as to whether it was a good idea or not. You didn’t think so, but others did. Calgary doesn’t charge for parking, San Francisco does. I disagree with your position on it, but at least your position is the status quo and there’s no indication that Sound Transit will start charging for parking.

      So, I mean, seriously, as a plan ST2 has zero mention of paid parking spots. These are the facts. I’ve never heard a ST guy talk about. Even asking the question to a fellow Democrat probably implies that this is up for serious consideration, but it isn’t.

      But certainly not every decision can be made by asking people, “Hey, what do you think about giving the government some money every time you do x?” I mean, look, if you took a poll of Seattle residents do you think they’d prefer free parking or paid parking? What if you took a poll asking would they prefer free parking with a 0.1% sales tax to pay for it, or paid parking? It becomes more complex, right?

      And what if you asked the people at the Obama party, “would you rather have paid parking to develop more parking spots and extend light rail further, have free parking and develop more parking spots while not extending light rail, or have free but at capacity parking and develop light rail rail further?” surely the answer would be slightly more nuanced. Throw in feeder bus service and you get more nuance.

      On STB sometimes we talk about theory. Sometimes we talk about wholly unrealistic things like replacing the entire bus fleet with buses designed more for standing. Sometimes we talk about things we’d like, like seeing mybus.org stop ids on ever stop. Sometimes we talk about the future, like ST3 and Ballard. Sometimes we have a talk about solutions to problems, like P&R’s filling up. If we can’t have these conversations without worrying about people going to Obama parties and scaring the base, where can we have them? Seriously, it was a suggestion that you disagree with and you’ve used it to characterize this blog, nearly every Seattlite, and Sound Transit.

      It personally offends me because I’m the Seattle guy that you’re casting as out-of-touch and big-government, or whatever. Of course, I lived in Redmond longer than I lived in Seattle, and I do own a car like nearly everyone else. And I pay for parking! (Well, technically, my apartment parking is full at the moment so I have to hunt for street parking which can take upwards of 30 minutes — not kidding. Kind of like a P&R.)

      But brad, you’re not empirically right on this. It’s an argument worth having with the transit community here and transit/urban planners in the future. To bring it up as an issue to oppose ST2, oppose this blog, or oppose Seattlites as a whole is incredulous. This place is an open forum, you’re going to hear ideas that you don’t like. In the future, everyone here would begin to understand you a lot better if you responded to disagreements with your own thoughts, analysis, policy recommendations, and potential solutions — as opposed to using these political disagreements to say that everyone here is out-of-touch, delusional, or closed-minded. You’ve definitely held back on some of that rhetoric recently, but obviously it’s been pretty offensive over the last few weeks.

      PS, I saw Obama speak at the fundraiser in SoDo last year. It was great. He really gives me a smile when I hear him talk about health care and investing in our infrastructure. I’m a big Obama supporter and huge political junkie. How are we looking in your part of Redmond? Did your get-together raise some money for the campaign?

  5. brad, you might have a point in letting ST know that paid parking is a non-starter. However, the politics of the situation dictate a little more delicacy — this thing might be going to the ballot in 3.5 months. I’d rather have people vote based on the actual plan than on conjecture, you know?

    Most people obviously don’t read this blog or even newspaper articles regarding ST. If we keep on talking about paid parking to the average joe or even the casual reader here, we’re going to perpetuate a myth that it actually exists. I think those who booed should probably have been informed that, as far as either of us know, no one in the ST agency nor on the ST board has ever discussed paid parking at P&R’s.

    Now I’m not saying you should be for ST2 or campaign for it — that’s up to you. But the paid parking issue just has nothing to do with ST2.

  6. To be fair to Brad, both Martin and I have indicated our support for the idea. To be pedantic: I was talking about parking at Sounder stations. Again, to be fair, I don’t think either of our positions have changed because there hasn’t been much debate on the subject.

    Two things have gone wrong here:

    1) This idea has been used as a wedge to illustrate how completely out of touch I am/we are. I think that’s unfair to me/us. This is a legitimate policy debate worth having at some point as clearly other transit agencies across the world have had to deal with this.

    2) By discussing this with the non-transit geek public, it’s practically begging to spread misinformation. Almost everyone is a low-information voter when it comes to Sound Transit, especially at this early point.

    I mean, it’s not like charging for parking is a huge priority for me, but I would like to be able to think about how to solve Sounder problems without worrying about turning into the personification of all that’s wrong with Seattlites or having Obama supporters in Redmond think I eat arugula. I think these meme has gone way too far.

  7. as opposed to nominal fees for park-and-ride stalls at full lots, the non-starter should be costly structured parking provided for auto-access riders. parking stalls cost about $30K each and induce traffic on the same arterials upon which local buses must operate to bring riders to LRT. those funds have an opportunity cost; they could attract more riders if used to fund more frequent local service. an early post on this blog brags about the expanded Issaquah lot; it is a garage built upon a former lake on deep piles through the muck. that is very costly free parking. in a SMART card world, parking spaces could be blended into the fare structure. passes could be for seat only or a seat and a parking space; a bus ticket could be included for cash payment for a stall. commuter parking is only justified to create artificial density in areas on the edge — outside the ST district.

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