A press release from Mayor Nickels’ office today – an apt comparison between the Eastside Transportation Association (essentially developer Kemper Freeman’s anti-transit front) and the Wizard of Oz – just wanting to click their heels. “Auntie Em, There’s no place like open roads!” isn’t solving anything:

We know who is behind the curtain of the Eastside Transportation Association – the same people whose only answer to the problems of climate pollution and congestion are more freeways, more traffic, and more frustration. Under Sound Transit’s new proposal, light rail would be extended to Bellevue, as well as Lynnwood and Federal Way. Those who are lining up against this common-sense measure are stuck in their own personal Oz, a place where our most pressing challenges can be wished away by laying more asphalt. This November, we look forward to presenting our bus, commuter and light rail solution – a way forward that will cost the average driver the equivalent of one tank of gas a year. Because we know building a better future takes more than clicking your heels and hoping our gridlock will go away.

We know that “ETA” has no real plan. The $11 billion expansion plan for I-405 will carry a fraction of the people ST2 will. Light rail is far more cost effective, and we’re dreaming if we think adding more lanes will help us deal with gas prices. It’s nice to have our mayor leading the fight this year!

29 Replies to “Nickels Calls Out Kemper Freeman on Fantasy Ads”

  1. I wish Nickels was this aggressive in his duties as Mayor. I love his bulldog approach!

    1. He seems to be. I think he knows how to pick his battles – he avoids getting bogged down in individual, small fights, and works to change the policy that created them in the first place.

      Most of the complaints I’ve heard about him, when viewed from that standpoint, seem moot. You see him appearing to cave to a developer on one hand, but then the same developer rebuilds public housing for him on the other.

  2. “We know that “ETA” has no real plan”

    Actually their plan is for BRT, they are in the “rail is more expensive and less flexible camp”. I don’t agree but there are plenty of people that do, and plenty of people that will oppose any new tax.

    1. They don’t even have a BRT plan. They just wave their hands and say “more buses”. How do those buses deal with the congestion in downtown? On I-5 in Seattle? On Bellevue Way?

      1. Suggest you go online at our website, http://eastsideta.com under “What’s New” and take a look at our plan before you say that ETA does not have a plan.

        The ROD on I-405 has both BRT and 1700 van pools. It was signed off by 27 agencies including Sound Transit.

        Sound Transit has not even done an EIS on bringing light rail across I-90. I would suggest they need to complete an EIS before they take a proposal to a vote of the people. No reputable business would take on all the risks identified by the COR panel to bring LR across the floating bridge.

      2. Here are Kemper’s outlandish 27 freeway projects he wants to use locally-approved transit tax revenues to build:


        Kemper’s plan has been gathering dust for many years, and is a running joke in the transportation field…starting with their “top priority” project: double decking I-5 through downtown Seattle. Even WSDOT Secretary Doug “pave the planet” MacDonald wrote that one off years ago. (it would help Kemper and his small group of henchmen if the highway department thought his plans were feasible).

        Also on the list: I-605, which Kemper Development Corp minion (ex-Senator) Jim Horn lost his seat over. (welcome to Transit Land, Jim) If you don’t know where the Horn-Freeman 405 bypass bypass was proposed to be built, take a scenic drive through the farmland of the Snoqualmie Valley. Kind of ironic Jim Horn lost his seat doing Kemper’s bidding, no????

        In short, Kemper is nuts. Several of his more experienced minions know he’s nuts, but they’ll take the money he doles out (to a number of shell organizations and think tanks, as well) to pretend “the big guy” smart about transportation.

        If you go to Horn’s website, you can see that ETA’s latest initiative is to build a downtown Bellevue transit tunnel. ETA delivers a new laugh every year. As with all of Kemper’s other crazy proposals, there is no identified funding source. (actually, Kemper was pretty adamant that the entire state should pay for the build out of 405 before any other projects were funded…this is what we call “responsible” policy.)

        Btw, Kemper is boxing himself in, building all these high rises with free parking. Word is that the city of Bellevue has run the traffic modeling, and it shows complete gridlock downtown in the next decade, if current building trends persist. If they don’t do light rail, of course. Yeah, Kemper could do BRT to Bellevue. And you can be assured of this: Kemper and his henchmen at ETA (including Emory Bundy, Dough MacDonald and John Niles) will NEVER propose the removal of SOV road lanes to make BRT work on and off 405, I-90 or any arterials.

        On the radio the other day, Mercer Island resident Dave Ross put it simply: “I never go to Bellevue Square to shop…the traffic is a mess getting in and out of there.”

        So, not only is Kemper Freeman trying to screw the rest of the region, he’s also shooting himself in the foot. But the guy is too much of a right wing dinosaur ideologue to know what a bullet through the foot feels like.

      3. “The ROD on I-405 has both BRT and 1700 van pools. It was signed off by 27 agencies including Sound Transit.”

        So, Jim – do you want to tell us how many new bus riders were identified in the 405 Bus “Rapid” Transit plan?

        Wasn’t it 2,000?

        Vanpools are great. If you live in a cul de sac in Bellevue, and commute to say…Boeing. And it’s 1987, and Boeing isn’t moving their workforce all over the place. Vanpools are fine: but they also aren’t mass transit.

        Keep in mind, when Jim Horn was chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, he fought user fees for freeways, bottling up HOT lane legislation. Which identifies yet another Kemper Freeman conundrum: they are against general taxes to pay for freeways (users pay only 60% of road infrastructure costs in the US) and they are against user fees. (in the end, all these dinosaurs are selling is political gridlock…I’m sure most of them know in the back of of their heads not of these outdated ideas will ever come close to flying)

        The magic Republican “free lunch” is always bought by some other unidentified set of tax payers. But then the author of the “free lunch” mantra – Ronald Reagan – went on to devolve the federal government. As in, they don’t pay for Jim Horn’s mega-freeways and Mercer Island lids anymore.

      4. When you haven’t any facts and data to support your position you rely on personal attacks. It would be nice if you would discuss the issues with supporting data for your viewpoint. I guess that is why you use a pseudo name of “EnemyAtTheGates” rather than identifying yourself by your real name.

        Jim Horn

      5. Keep in mind: Jim Horn (Mr. BRT) supported I-745 back in 2000.

        If I-745 had passed, it would have robbed locally-approved transit funds to pay for highways around the state.

        This guy has a pathetic record on transit. When people with pathetic records feign support for a given technology WATCH OUT!

        One transit technology Horn did/does believe in: Personal Rapid Transit. All the car and freeway nuts love that bad Nixon joke from the early ’70’s. The reason these right wing Republicans support PRT as a form of transit: PRT pods were like cars. That didn’t get stuck in traffic. Plus, with PRT, you don’t have to interact with people who don’t look or talk like you. As in, on the socialist train.

      6. Thanks, enemyatthegates.

        Mr. Horn, you’ve been at this a long time, and you’ve done absolutely zero to make this plan happen – or any other transit plan. Zero. You seem to be here only to push nice-sounding alternatives to reality, and we’re not having any of it anymore. It’s hogwash. Complete nonsense. It’s either something we’re already doing, or it does nothing.

  3. [Jim], What plan? I downloaded the ETA 2008 Transit Plan, and it just bashes ST2 for 2 pages. It does mention BRT, which it claims it can build for $200M in capital costs, plus $800M for more park-and-rides and offramps. Without actually detailing a plan (despite the title of the document), I assume this is just more busses stuck in traffic.

    1. Matt: Kemper’s minions a smart enough to NEVER propose an actual plan.

      They label their plans “conceptual.”

      If Kemperland (which hates all public transit, btw) or front groups ETA, WPC, etc ever mentioned actually got into level of service, or actual routes, we would have something to compare to light rail.

      Horn, MacIsaac and the rest of these transit critics want to take the most highly subsidized mode of transit possible, and turn it into some kind of all-reaching taxi service. You can tell they are very confident in their “conceptual” calculations.

      Sounds very affordable…especially when diesel prices get near $9 per gallon.

      But hey: a cheap ride on an empty, slow and unreliable bus from cul de sac to work? You just can’t beat that, right?

      I would absolutely LOVE IT if Horn and ETA walked the talk, and added some specifics to their ten years of beating around the BRT bush.

      When specifics were included in the 405 BRT plan, the numbers were absolutely embarrassing.

  4. A little peek into the Interstate Era dinosaur’s vision:

    “Lincoln Square offers 250 stores, 41 restaurants and 700 hotel rooms, and its 10,000 free parking spaces are equivalent to about a quarter of all the parking available in downtown Seattle. Furthermore, the center is linked to the older projects by walkways, creating a powerful concentration of retail and leisure. ”

    Yeah, lots of free parking you can’t get to. Sounds wonderful.

    I just hope Kemper pays his apologists well.

  5. ““I never go to Bellevue Square to shop…the traffic is a mess getting in and out of there.” ”

    Where does he shop? Many come to BSquare because it’s easier to get to then Seattle shopping (plus free parking), and I doubt he goes to Southcenter or Lynnwood…

    1. If ST2.1 goes through, they’ll be headed to Seattle in a decade. Enjoy your momentary non-glory, Bellevue.

      1. Like I’ve said before no rich person on the east side is going to drive to what, the south bellevue park and ride and take a train into Seattle? The other stations will not have much if any parking.

        Do you think any shoppers are getting on the 550 to they can enjoying spending all their money in Seattle? I’ve been on the 550 a number of times and never seen any shopping bags. A train is not going to change this.

        Assuming that people would always want to go to Seattle if they could easily get there is quite incorrect. I can only stand the smell of pee every month or so… :)

      2. The rich person will indeed use the park and rides. They’ll also consider buying a luxury condo in downtown Bellevue and not even getting in their car.

        The 550 is a bus. It’s not representative of a train. It sits in bad traffic on Bellevue Way, and stops at lights.

        Bellevue’s downtown evolved largely as a pressure release valve for downtown Seattle when Seattle had CAP. Now we don’t have CAP – and businesses are shifting their growth right back to Seattle as we build out office space.

        You realize that just the office square footage growth in Seattle in the next five years will be twice what Bellevue has total?

      3. (sorry for dropping this in an old thread but I had to respond)

        I think you’re wrong about Bellevue being a relief valve for Seattle’s CAP. Bellevue had the same lull in class A office construction during the 90’s/early 2000’s as Seattle did. Like Seattle much of the boom through the last several years was residential and hotel properties rather than office space. Some office space was built but not to the extent it was in the 80’s.

        Seattle also has the problem that CAP or no CAP there just aren’t that many sites suitable for building large office towers left in the downtown core. Sure in theory any site can be developed, but if the buildings there are either already worth a fair bit of money or are protected historic structures the project probably isn’t going to pencil out.

        In any case it is all probably academic as there is currently a glut of both office space and residential units in both Downtown Seattle and Downtown Bellevue. The market will have to absorb that space before any new large projects are likely to be started.

    2. I shop down the street, because I live in the city where I don’t actually have to drive to do my shopping…

    3. Kemper Freeman is really going to regret putting Bellevue Square on the opposite side of downtown Bellevue from 405 and the Bellevue TC. Bus service directly to Bellevue Square isn’t that good either—just the 240 and 271.

      1. I think you might be talking about something else; the Bellevue TC is only a two blocks from Bellevue Square. :)

      2. True, but Bellevue blocks are to normal (Seattle) blocks as dog years are to normal years. :P

        NE 6th is a nice pedestrian path, but it’s farther than many people would want to walk.

  6. Somehow I doubt Kemper has ever ridden a bus, much less during rush hour in the Seattle Metro Area.

  7. Kemper Freeman is systematically destroying what use to be a very nice downtown Bellevue. I’ve lived in Bellevue for 36 years, and to this day I envy Kirkland and their ability to create a town with character. Kemper wants to create Bellevue in some sick twisted image of Rodeo Drive, where only the wealthiest can live. Bellevue has become such a benign city to live in. The sidewalks roll-up at 6pm sharp everyday, unless of course you are willing to pay the outrageous prices for late night entertainment at Lincoln Square.

    As a Bellevue resident… please somebody save us from Kemper Freeman, because the Bellevue City Council doesn’t have the courage to stand up to him on anything. Nothing gets done in Bellevue without his approval first. He hates the idea of mass transit. He even said that getting people out of their cars and into mass transit is unpatriotic. He is such a tool.

    1. I have to say, as a Seattleite, I do love Kirkland if I’m going to be on the eastside. There are some old brick buildings, and some decent restaurants! There’s also a wine place right next to the transit center. I don’t know if it’s still there…

  8. I think people are giving Kemper Freeman way too much credit. Bellevue’s trajectory is comparable to many other edge cities in the country, there’s not a lot of surprises. The fact is, the Eastside inevitably needed a hub, and Bellevue is where its at. Not saying Bellevue is comparable to Seattle, and it doesn’t need to be, but the Eastside is different culturally and nobody denies that. Bellevue does not want to become Seattle, that’s why people move to this side of the bridge if they can and not the other way around. Just sayin.

    Straight up, the Eastside has less riff-raff, better roads, and better public schools than Seattle. The Eastside as a whole is accessible, safe and scenic. Yes, it costs money to live there, but I would not call it a playground for the wealthy. It costs more to live there because it’s worth more. The Eastside is the high-tech hub of Washington no doubt. I think it has found a pretty reliable niche; it’s a place to work and live, and they are making progress in making it a place to play too. Kemper Freeman is just a name to most Eastsiders, and they know they don’t owe anything to him. His life is invested in Bellevue and ultimately he will cave in for the people. He does not speak on behalf of the “wealthy”. Bellevue is inevitably a build-up sort of place. Downtown of course, but it’ll slow down like it does everywhere else. Now they’re looking at Bel-Red (which I heard is to have light rail link as well) for redevelopment, which is a good idea since nobody lives on the Bel-Red corridor and it is huge and underutilized. Also Crossroads and Factoria, which regardless of development will remain ethnic and lower/lower-middle class enclaves, as they are essentially all apartments/condos of more or less upwardly mobile immigrants and young folks.

    Bellevue was made for cars. The traffic in Bellevue is nothing compared to the traffic in Seattle. Somebody made a comment about the “Bellevue Square traffic”. People from North Bend could probably get away with saying that, but Bell Square is really accessible. My guess is that non-locals who aren’t familiar with downtown are having troubles? BellSquare is accessible from all sides, and is what, 2 mile radius from three major highways? Other than Christmastime, parking is a total breeze. In all my years in Bellevue I’ve never had to wait to find a spot, and they have a ton of parking and its free. Bellevue is a car-friendly place, and should remain a car-friendly place but there is definitely a need for light rail as well. Bellevue will ultimately cave in to light rail. We need it. In ten years Bellevue’s daytime population will be double its residential population guaranteed – many of those workers will be happy to use a reliable rail service.

    I have a feeling most people don’t really know the real Bellevue unless they’ve lived there. Bellevue Square may be the “Bellevue” you know and recognize, but Bellevue is far more diverse than that. Wealthy Bellevue folks are hippies compared to wealthy folks from L.A. or the East Coast and the neighborhoods are far from Stepford

    Most people don’t really know Bellevue. Bellevue Square may be the “Bellevue” you recognize, but the Eastside is far more than that. Wealthy Bellevue folks are practically hippies compared to rich folk from LA or the East Coast. Sure, the extremely wealthy aren’t going to be taking the mass transit any time soon, why would they? We’re talking Medina here. The few buses that do run through the Gold Coast do service the hired help and middle school students though. But most people in Bellevue are not extremely wealthy, and are pragmatic folks who are willing to save gas money and time if its convenient for them, just like anywhere else. You look around South Bellevue Transit Center and you’ll see Lexuses and BMWs interspersed with Hondas and Subarus. The elitists divide isn’t as big as people make it out to be. There are also plenty of people who don’t drive a lot in Bellevue, for example the Microsofties, plenty of recent immigrants, and yes there’s poor people too.

    Anyways, Bellevue would benefit from Link Transit and Kemper Freeman’s bark is louder than his bite. Clearly the guy is interested in making himself some money, who isn’t, but I think he gets that Bellevue doesn’t belong to him. He’s a guy with money taking advantage of changing town. And no offense, but people who argue that Bellevue “used to be nice” aren’t getting a little full of themselves. The neighborhoods are exactly the same as they used to be. Downtown Bellevue never had a culture or anything like that, Bellevue isn’t losing anything from this development.

    1. “Yes, it costs money to live there, but I would not call it a playground for the wealthy. It costs more to live there because it’s worth more. ”

      This opinion is far from a universal truth.

      1. I’m not sure there is a “universal truth” when it comes to these sorts of things.

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