Earlier this week, the Mayor-elect asked us to reach out to you for your thoughts on how they can succeed in the coming few months. He asked three key questions:

1) How can they build the strongest team possible?

The incoming mayor has strong values and a set of policy objectives that became clear throughout the campaign. McGinn noted when meeting with us that someone had compiled all of his policy papers into a list of 93 particular campaign goals – their work is cut out for them. So who can best help make these goals happen? What can the transition team do to ensure that the people they choose are successful at being inclusive and ensuring that the way these goals are achieved is best for the city?

2) How can they build public trust in the new administration?

This is an incredibly difficult question to answer concisely – but I’ve seen lots of comments about transparency and process that would be great to mention here. The new mayor’s office already has the trust of many, but how can they ensure that grows, and how can they ensure that their actions and policies improve it?

3) What do we view as their greatest challenge – and what should they do right away?

This is where I’m starting to think in a transportation mindset. The other two are more about process, and more high level – but here’s our opportunity to say “Here’s a big thing we’d like to see done better” or “here’s where money should be going immediately”.

Your responses don’t have to be transit-related, of course. We’ve been asked to compile the responses into a sort of executive summary, so there won’t be room for everything. With that in mind, if you like an idea, definitely reply to it to say so! On Sunday I’ll be putting them together.

89 Replies to “McGinn Wants Your Ideas”

  1. Free: Adjust city code as necessary to allow ads on bus shelters.

    Cheap: – Have SDOT work to get more signal priority for transit, especially on the Central Link corridor.

    – Give Metro some money to buy more TVMs for RapidRide.

    Expensive: Have SDOT start developing plans to replace Central Link crossings with underpasses.

    1. Yikes! Underpasses on MLK would necessarily extend a half-block or more into the neighborhoods on each side of the undercrossing.

      Hugely disruptive to construct, and while perhaps useful for motor vehicles, they would be ugly and scary for pedestrians, especially during evening and nighttime hours. As an urban design feature, this is right out of the 1950’s.

      Please delete this one, Ben!

    2. I agree with the first three, but I think the last is a bit much. Frankly I don’t think any of the crossings are heavily trafficked enough to really justify such grade separation. Really aggressive signal priority solves most of the problems with the at-grade MLK Central Link segment.

  2. A way to help with the ‘greatest challenges’ and something to do right away:

    – If we’re going to build a municipal broadband network and it requires laying fiber, do it in major bus corridors first, and ensure it’s usable to provide realtime arrival information for buses in those corridors. You could get broadband work and transit work done in the same program.

    1. Combining projects (broadband, underground wiring and utilities, enhancing bus stops at transfer points w/ tvms, etc.) so thet disruption is not spread out over months or years. The left hand department should know what the right hand department is doing – always! And Mike Orr is right, too – fewer new facilities, but continued support for arts of all kinds, whilst we catch up on the basics.

  3. I’d like Seattle to be known as a city that gets the basics right rather than having the latest stadiums or symphony hall. Potholes, sidewalks, maintenance, and public health clinics have been raised repeatedly over the years as things that get neglected or cut.

  4. I’d like to see the city look at Metro’s Trolley system to see where Metro, SDOT (or even Seattle City Light?) could partner to add relatively small amounts of wire to strengthen the trolley network. With advances in low floor buses, BRT, off-bus payment systems, and potential signal priority for transit, surely there’s some combination of investments that can be made to leverage the existing 40+ year investment in trolleys. Spreading existing costs over a larger fleet would be a way to bring down operational costs.

    This shouldn’t be viewed as a Trolley vs. Streetcar debate. If a streetcar makes sense for an existing trolley line, by all means make the upgrade. (One possible example mentioned here: A lower Queen Anne Streetcar coupled with trolleys serving the upper hill.) But I’m sure, especially on steep hills, that there are places where trolleys would make sense – especially in areas where you only need a portion of the route upgraded with new wire.

    I still don’t know downtown routes well enough to make extensive suggestions – off the top of my head though the 48 seems like a good example.

    Does anybody have a pointer to the plan gathering dust somewhere on Metro’s shelves that had a large increase in trolley service for less than $500 Million? That seems like a no-brainer when people in Bellevue are arguing over whether to spend $300 Million for a tunnel in downtown Bellevue.

    1. A few thoughts:

      2 Express (install express wire)
      7 Express (install express wire)
      9 Express

      I also agree with the 48. Another idea would be to look at the old trolley network as a guide. While the 11, 15 and 18 would be difficult to re-electrify, perhaps the 5 could be re-electrified when the West Seattle rapid ride begins and the through-route with the 54 and 55 ends.

      1. Definitely the south end of the 48, plus the 8 and the 27 and extending wire north on 15th NE and west on NE 65th from the UDistrict to Roosevelt Link station. We will definitely and desperately need 250+ low floor electric buses by about 2015 regardless of what streetcar routes are approved and opened.

      2. Lloyd,

        Juicing the 27 has been proposed time and again. Like Madison Park, the good burghers of Leschi don’t want their lovely views of Lake Washington and The Mountain tainted by overhead. So that little bit of wire ain’t gonna happen.

        Why “the south end of the 48″? Do you want to break the route? It seems like a good one to me and has been around a long time. What value do you see in severing it, just to have part of it electric? You’re not gonna get wire on Green Lake Drive or Ravenna Blvd, so don’t even think about wiring it to Crown Hill.

        And why the #8. True, it runs under wire from 23rd and John to Bellevue, that teensy bit on 23rd Avenue and the terminal loop in Lower Queen Anne from Denny north, but the rest would be a lot of wire to hang. Not a good choice for so little shared wire and a relatively infrequent service.

        I also don’t get the extension of the 70. Why not turn it at Brooklyn? Do you think that there are numbers of riders between 45th and 65th that want to go down Eastlake? Enough to justify hanging wire? Just asking.

      3. So they’d rather have the sound of diesel coaches along with the extra emissions? If that’s what they want then fine… Besides, the 27 doesn’t appear to have much shared wire anyway – that’s what I’m looking for – small additions of wire to electrify existing heavily used routes.

      4. A couple things about the 8:

        1) The hills it climbs would be perfect for trolley operation.
        2) The 8 will have 15 minute service all day in the not to distant future.

      5. The not too distant future is next February for all day 15 minute service on the 8.

        The issue with the extended 8 aside from putting wire along MLK is crossing the trolley wire with the Link catenary at the southern end of the route. However, that special work can be eliminated if Metro orders trolleybuses with a battery backup. When a bus wants to turn across the wire, it pulls the poles down, makes a turn across the tracks and then at the next stop puts the poles back up automatically, kind of like how it worked with the tunnel buses.

        Why can’t Ravenna or Green Lake be wired? Similar streets like Beacon and Montlake have wires and the tree cover obscures the wires. And those streets don’t have their power lines put underground, either.

      6. a quick *woohoo* for all-day 15-minute 8 service. Been waiting for that since the route began.

        On the 48 – we split the 7/49 and as far as I know performance has been better for both halves of the route since. The 48 is always getting screwed at Montlake; if you could figure out a way to split it there, I suspect you would have a large number of happy customers, and the “Forty-Late” designation might gracefully retire.

      7. Kaleci,

        You’re certainly right about the hills on the #8 — at least, those at the north end of the route. But the bus goes all the way to Rainier Beach on MLK! That’s a lot of wire to hang (about five miles from Madison and MLK and Rainier and Henderson). I’ll let VeloBusDriver weigh in on the “lower the poles and battery around the turn at Henderson” proposal.

        If you propose to break the route, then continue to read. I think that breaking both the 48 and the 8 works, but one or the other alone is less desirable.

        It made sense to wire Rainier because of the frequent service almost around the clock. But including the mile between Denny and 1st North and Denny and Bellevue would make the 8 wiring total aobut six miles). For a fifteen minute service route that is simply not cost effective.


        You can’t wire Green Lake Drive because …. it’s Green Lake Drive! Can we have a little aesthetic sensibility on the blog, please? OK, Ravenna doesn’t have super views and if you rerouted the 48 to the 16’s route from Woodlawn and Ravenna up to 80th and Meridian, then you could wire to Ballard. But please do not put wire along Green Lake Drive. Don’t even advocate it; you’ll just be pissing people off.


        I’m not sure that splitting the 7 downtown is exactly analogous to splitting a belt route at it’s major traffic center. Now it might be that there aren’t that many people going from Crown Hill, Loyal Heights or North Green Lake to the CD or Rainier Valley. Certainly the world didn’t end when the 43 was split. And the 48 does share wire over nearly all of its route now that it only goes to Mt. Baker TC. So I can be convinced on that one, but the wired south end of a split existing #48 would be pretty short.

        If you do it, maybe the south end should become the #717 UW-Rainier Beach line mentioned in the Rapid Trolley publication, with #7 Express stops only on Rainier and connection points and apartment nodes only on 23rd.

        If you hung the wire for #717 (regardless of the Rapid Trolley Network adoption) you could then consider wiring/splitting the #8 and running the the diesel rump of #48 (the north part of the route) down 23rd to Madison (making limited stops), jog over to MLK and complete the south end of the existing #8 route. No additional wire is required beyond that needed to complete the link between John and Cherry and between Dearborn and Rainier on 23rd for the new “#50”. And, you keep the Ballard/Greenwood/North Green Lake to Rainier Valley service that at least some people surely use.

        Shift the spiffy new electric #8 to 23rd on the new spiffy electric #50’s U-District-Mt. Baker TC wire and on down the 7 wire to Rainier Beach. That would retain direct Rainier Valley to Capitol Hill and Lower Queen Anne service without hanging all that wire on MLK. The #8 would provide local all stops service along 23rd south of John while the #43 would provide all stops service north of John.

        Anyway, I expect that there is and will continue to be more development that houses people who might want to go to Seattle Center along 23rd than along MLK. But spreading service to and from the University over two parallel arterials through the apartment rich area of the CD would serve the student population better.

        Plus, 23rd is four lanes throughout while MLK is two lanes plus parking and a two way left turn lane. That’s better for trolleys which can’t move too far from their designated path.

      8. Anandakos,
        Thanks for the comments. The 8 wasn’t in my original list mostly for the reasons you cite. However, my following comments were just an attempt to try to justify wiring the 8. One scenario, and this goes way beyond the topic of the post, could be that when Link is extended to the UW, it might be possible to restructure the 43 so that it and the 8 end in Lower Queen Anne (providing a 7 to 8 minute service across Denny). People who ride the 43 from east of Broadway would be able to transfer to Link and people who ride the 43 west of Broadway could ride the 14 Summit bringing the ridership on that portion of the route back up to its pre-43 days. Anyway, that level of service across Denny Way might warrant stringing wire.

        Now, regarding putting wire along Green Lake Way, what if they used green wire? (j/k)

      9. I’ve been present for several discussions with Metro planners about splitting the 48. The problems:

        1) cost of layover time;
        2) the need for both component routes to serve the entire U-District
        3) availability of suitable layover space.

        All of these can be overcome with money, but we all know where it goes from there.

      10. Martin,

        What do you think about the idea of the diesel 48 running the south end of the #8 and putting the 8 on 23rd to save wire? The replacement electric “717” on 23rd would need layover space in the north U-district, but that’s not as hard to come by as is space at the south end.

        Since the 717 is in nearly all of the Rapid Trolleybus options it seems likely that those additional service hours including the layover time are baked in the cake. The #8 could terminate at Mt. Baker TC or go all the way down Rainier to keep the Rainier Beach to Seattle Center service depending on the budget. If it turned at Mt. Baker there would be no increase in service or layover hours.

      11. Anandakos,

        I really don’t understand what you’re proposing or what you’re trying to achieve, but in general I’d say that connecting riders with destinations is the important thing and trolleywire optimization games are very much a second-order concern, unless changes incur a lot of capital cost.

      12. Greenlake Drive had trolley wire until the 1960s. If designed carefully, new wires would bother very few people.

      13. I am looking out my window right now, directly across from the trolley wire for the #3 and quite frankly, it is not an eyesore. I have never heard of someone bemoaning the ugliness of trolley lines before reading this blog. Aesthetic concerns are important but we shouldn’t put trolley lines up to a higher standard than we do for other infrastructure. The roads themselves and the loads of ugly cars that fill them up are far more of a tired eyesore for people in our society than trolley lines. We can remind neighbors who protest the wires how everyone relies upon much uglier intrusions into nature- high tension power lines, cars, roads, airplanes, off shore oil platforms and on and on. Every proponent of transit wants to have the most attractive system possible but we can’t handicap buses from reaching across our city in an energy efficient 21st century style without giving away one of the only hopes our region has of curbing our fossil fuel consumption in any meaningful way.

      14. Routes 11, 15 and 18 would not be TOO difficult to re-electrify, just expensive. About $4 million per mile, plus the incremental cost of new electric trolleys over diesel. Not as bad as it seems because all three routes would use some wires that are already there. Could be a relative bargain that would prevent the incineration of several hundred thousand gallons of diesel each year.

      1. Yes, that’s it. That amount of new service for that kind of money seems like a slam dunk. If none of this sees the light of day then somebody in the system must really not like trolleys.

      2. Or Metro’s just a black hole from which information never escapes.

        To be fair, KC Metro is has been much more forth coming with information than ST which says on their website, “Not all Sound Transit reports and publications are available online. If there is a specific item that you would like to review, please contact us.” Yeah thanks, file a public information disclosure act action. Metro provides ridership data by route broken down into peak period, vs midday vs night and route justification scores. ST provides yearly data not even broken down by route number.

      3. Bernie, have you seen Sound Transit’s Service Implementation Plans?

        It has for each ST Express route, Sounder and Link: route history, a historical ridership graph, performance assessment data grouped by weekdays and weekends including daily boardings, passengers/trip, pass/revenue hour, cost/boarding and an assessment score, boarding activity broken down by time of day, and stop level boardings/alightings. The depth of information for each route is much greater than what Metro provides.


      4. Thanks, I hadn’t seen that. Silly me looking under news & events>reports>ridership reports instead of news & events>service news>service planning.

        The report has a lot of detail. Looking at the 2009 report (should have looked at 2010 since this is a “planning” report and 2009 uses 2007 data) there’s some interesting numbers for the 550. Eastbound and Westbound are relatively balanced during the commute, as I would expect. The data is hard to actually interpret without a 2007 schedule. For example for AM Peak they list more Pass/ Rev Hr Westbound but more Pass/Trip Eastbound. The numbers are pretty close and you can tell that eastbound buses are slightly more crowded but there’s a few more trips westbound. You can’t get an actual head count without knowing the number of trips but given that they have more service westbound there’s still more people going into jobs in Seattle than doing the “reverse” commute. Evenings there are more people going into Seattle than coming to the eastside which makes sense. What’s slightly surprising is that trend is true by an even wider margin for night service. I guess people take cabs home? But what’s weird is total eastbound boardings were 2,887 and total westbound was only 2,773. Which would seem to indicate people moving from their apartment on Capital Hill into their cubical at Microsoft at a much greater rate than expected :=

      5. Ah, could someone put in a reference to where this started? It appears this goes back no farther than “I think this is the plan you are referring to: http://globaltelematics.com….” The rest of the thread looks like conspiracy theory. I agree with the premise so maybe I’ll get out my foil hat and jump in :=

    2. Route 11 is a no-brainer to electrify. The entire 48 could be electrified, could be shifted off of Greenlake Drive if needed. Route 8 also a no-brainer. ST should pay for this (it passes Capital Hill Station) as they did with the new 36 and 14 extensions. Routes 15 and 358 rapidride could both be electrified and the diesel (diesel hybrid, actually, but what’s the dif?) buses moved to other routes. And how about the 124? The 16 is also a good candidate; it follows the 3 and 4 part way and could share some wire with a modified 48.

      1. The folks in Madison Park have resisted electrifying the #11 for thirty years. It was proposed back during the last expansion and shot down along with the Leschi service. Do you have any reason to believe they wouldn’t resist it today?

        Why would you want to electrify the very long 15 and 358 routes? I guess it’s true that 15 would share wire between First and Yesler and Queen Anne and Mercer, but that’s maybe eight or ten percent of the entire route. The 358 doesn’t share any wire with any other route although it is true that the Aurora Bridge was at one time wired.

        It costs at least $5 million per mile to hang brand new wire and the coaches are more expensive initially so you would have to save lots of money on operations to recoup the investment. Neither of those lines is considered in the Rapid Trolley Plan. I don’t think they’ll fly.

        So far as “ST should pay for this”, remember that ST is not your crazy uncle who randomly gifts you with sports cars. Because of the funding formulas “ST” in reference to transit service in Seattle is exactly the same people who fund Metro: north King County taxpayers.

      2. The 15 and 18 will move to Third Avenue when RapidRide starts up, and could share wire the length of Third and through Lower Queen Anne. The 358 also would use Third Avenue wire. Service levels now (15 minutes all day and 5-6 minute peak) could justify trolley. Any new transit funding package would probably include a bump to 10 minute all day headways, making trolley more attractive.

        Regarding the 11 re-electrification, it was shot down along with the route 15 and 18 re-electrifications because Metro didn’t have the gumption to fight a small number of NIMBY neighbors. Besides, attitudes have changed and people in Madison Park want to fight global warming just like other Seattlelites…okay, maybe not exactly like other Seattlelites, but still…

      3. Not to mention the 11 is currently through-routed with the 125, which currently travels on the viaduct. I wonder what the transit plan will be with the tunnel?

      4. The 11 does not need to be through-routed with the 125. The through-route is too long (even though the connection between community colleges is nice, if it went away that could be mitigated by synchronizing the 11 and 125 schedules).

  5. 1) Build a team that has good ties to different civic communities who can communicate your message to a broader audience yet share the same core values. Like your doing now. You can’t do all the talking all the time to ensure you have a strong and diverse network of advocates and advisors who can help. Make sure those closest to you are good communicators in addition to strong minds.

    2) Be visible and transparent. Communicate often and directly, invite constructive means for people to express their opinions but not in ways that a small minority can obstruct positive progress. Have representatives at markets, fairs, festivals, etc. to answer questions and engage directly with voters. Encourage civic discussions among neighbors to bring forward issues of concern. There will always be dissenters, but they shouldn’t control the debate on the key issues facing the city. Any approach will negatively affect someone. Aim for the greatest benefit while minimizing, not eliminating impacts.

    3) Increasing the multi-modal nature of the city with public, bicycle, and pedestrian transit taking a stronger emphasis in the design of public infrastructure. Using Trolleys and light rail to link comfortably walkable and cycleable neighborhoods that provide goods and services locally. Ensure increased TOD development is zoned and designed appropriately to promote local businesses as anchor tenants versus the usual assortment of big-name franchises while also increasing density and diversity of the neighborhoods.

  6. This is a nice invitation, and here are my interests and concerns and what I would say to him that I hope you will pass on:

    1 OK, I guess it is well known to most readers here that the Mayor-elect and I have a different vision for the waterfront – well the transit part of it and I just hope that Mike doesn’t come in and immediately annoy everyone on the tunnel question. The election did not provide a mandate for his vision on the waterfront, if only because he took a leap and muddied his own message on it so that people who might otherwise have gone to Mallahan could come back to the fold. His concerns on the over runs are legitimate, but at this early stage, are not really worth derailing everything and everybody on. I just hope he looks at all of this pragmatically rather than swinging in with punches from left field.

    2 Keep up the good work of the outgoing mayor on the King Street Restoration project.

    3 Keep pushing for the Mercer Mess project.

    4 Please do not neglect Pioneer Square and work with the Pioneer Square Historical associations on further improvements.

    5 Maintain city arts funding.

    6 I like the outgoing mayor’s Green and Clean initiative and would like to see this carrying on under the new mayor.

    7 Maintain street cleaning, trash and graffiti removal.

    8 Continue work on the Seattle streetcar projects under discussion and review.

    9 Continue work on the Yesler Way renovation project.

    10 Maintain the progress on South Lake Union renewal.

    11 Maintain the 2012 vision for the Seattle Center so that major efforts remain on track for improving this jewel of a park in time for the 2012 50th anniversary.

    12 Continue to work with the Seattle Parks Foundation on park improvements.

    13 An effective transportation vision for Seattle recognizes the importance of light rail, streetcars, buses and cars coexisting in fruitful and productive ways, blending in seamlessly rather than in conflict.

    14 To recognize the Sounders as a major force in Seattle sports.

    15 Lastly, to work with Seattle garage owners to recognize that their structures constitute urban blight and that they need major restoration and clean up or they should go. There is little excuse for anyone to be driving downtown as it is!

    Thanks and good luck!



    1. Kill the Deep-bore Tunnel dead. The 4-lane Cut/cover is the better tunnel option in every important way. It makes a much stronger Seawall and more stable surface plaza and Alaskan Way Boulevard. It has a better emergency evacuation plan. It handles the 40,000 daily Ballard-bound vehicles that will be dumped onto the new Alaskan Way and Mercer West with the idiotic Deep-bore.

      Send the current Alaskan Way boulevard design back to the drawing board. Early designs had a frontage road on the eastside deemed as necessary to divide thru-traffic from motorists looking to park. Mark my words, the Wide Plaza WILL become a parking lot if allowed, just like San Francisco’s Embarcadero. A frontage road will allow enough curbside parking for Seattle’s ‘working’ waterfront and make it simpler and safer to for motorists and pedestrians to access the new Waterfront sans AWV.

      Downtown Seattle’s hills make driving hazardous, and yet the downtown bus system sucks. A trolleybus reconfiguration that utilizes their hill-climbing advantages is ideal. I’ve long suggested a ‘grid’ system to divide E/W from N/S trolleybus routes downtown, reaching the waterfront E/W and turning around on this frontage road, running N/S on 1st/3rd Aves between Jackson and Lower Queen Anne, all at 5-minute intervals, not that many trolleybuses. Run regional bus routes on 2nd & 4th. The mythical 1-seat ride is an abject failure; another reason why transfers must be incorporated into transit systems.

      Mayor McGinn has a lot on his plate. But Seattle’s most critical issue is the transportation system. SDOT director Grace Crunican should be fired.

      1. “The mythical 1-seat ride is an abject failure; another reason why transfers must be incorporated into transit systems.”

        I agree with this in general, but the inner-city trolley routes are already so short that there’s little to be gained by splitting them. Every time you switch from an E-W to a N-S route, you potentially have to walk half a block and across two intersections to the other stop, and then wait as long as you’ve just been riding. Walking uphill to a bus stop is also difficult for some people. I’ve lived both on Capitol Hill and near Harborview, and I’m glad the buses turn on 3rd Avenue. I wish the 49 still did; now only the 14 does. Having the 10 turn around at 1st Avenue rather than 3rd has always been inconvenient for where I want to go at least. Queen Anne is also a very short distance, so what’s to be gained by requiring a transfer to the top?

        The way to optimize routing is to have all-day express buses going between the neighborhood centers. Then people merely have take a local bus to the nearest neighborhood center. Thus why we need faster trunk service between Ballard, Fremont, UW, Greenwood, West Seattle, etc. But that doesn’t really apply within the dense inner city, which I’d consider at least Lynn Street – 23rd Avenue – Jackson Street – waterfront. This area is so dense, the buses will never be fast, so the only solution is to make them frequent. Perhaps an all-day express to the top of Queen Anne would make sense, and people would want to transfer to it. But forcing people to transfer from a slow trolley to another slow trolley at Seattle Center, why? Would that really enable the trolleys to become more frequent for the same service-hours?

  7. Bring him the head of Kemper from the city of Bellevue, or the barricades on SR520 and I-90 start going up on January 1.

    1. Is there any way in which comments like this are helpful? Please, don’t provide ammunition to anti-transit folks who would love to discredit this blog as a place for intemperate obsessives.

      1. OK, no to violence. But yes to barricades.

        Let Seattle be like St. Petersburg and raise/open all the bridges from Midnight to 5am!

        And dump the damn 20/40/40 formula.

        Also, how about a city of Seattle gas tax to fund bicycle and pedestrian improvements?

      2. A city of Seattle gas tax is unconstitutional. We can change that eventually, but it’s important to recognize that we can’t just come up with new taxes, the legislature has to allow them.

  8. I love Mike O’Brien’s idea of having SDOT prioritize person-throughput instead of vehicle capacity on all projects. When streets are being worked on, implement changes to prioritize transit like queue jumps and traffic signal priorization, maybe even bus only lanes in certain areas. And everything in the bicycle and pedestrian master plans should be implemented.

    1. Person-throughput, seconded. That’s one of those things that’s frightening to think about doing any other way.

  9. Off the top of my head short wish list…

    (1. Eastside TVM’s! Pretty pretty please. At least one at BTC. (Obviously as Seattle mayor, McGinn’s only input on that would be through the ST Board.)

    (2. Rewrite the zoning code that currently requires the provision of parking on all new multifamily construction. Seriously, we don’t need parking anymore.

    (3. Promote a vision of a dense, transit-friendly Seattle that protects the mixed-age architecture of downtown and other areas, while transcending the ugly, homogenized, gentrified condo version of densification. (I’d rather have the whole city built to 3 stories than have skyscrapers and sprawl).

    (4. Work with the Port to better advertise Link at SeaTac. (I hear that advertising and signage will both be poor. True?)

    (5. Create tax incentives to reduce downtown commercial rents and bring down those high vacancy rates.

    (6. Implement year-round Water Taxi service sooner than next Fall.

    (7. Allow ORCA transfer credit for passengers boarding the ferries from a Metro or ST bus.

    1. I completely agree with Zach number 2. Near the intersection of Lake City way and 125th which this area is very walkable easily getting 80+ on walkscore.com and has very good bus service. They have plan to built to build a 86 unit apartments with 90 parking spots and a 175 unit apartments with I think 180 parking spots

      1. Patrick,

        Those numbers are pretty slim for apartments as far from employment as 125th and Lake City Way. There will probably not be more than five people occupying those units who walk to work. Unless they’re studio apartments intended for single persons only, one space per unit is pretty minimal.

        If this were Capitol Hill or lower Queen Anne, absolutely (and of course it probably wouldn’t be an issue because the developers probably couldn’t afford more than one space per unit, if that).

        You should be toasting the developers; they’ve gone pretty far out on a limb.

      2. No doubt it is good but when you consider that routes 41, 64, 65, 72, 75, 79, 243, 306, 312, 372, 522 all pass though that intersection, it is very easy to get to work by bus.

      3. You’re absolutely right that the intersection has superb transit service. But people who live at 125th and Lake City Way aren’t the same people who live in Fremont or Lower Queen Anne or Capitol Hill. If you have an average of 1.8 people per unit in those apartments (that’s not very many kids) and both adults work — absolutely normal for apartment dwellers — that means that .8 people per unit must ride the bus, walk or carpool to work. From 125th and Lake City Way, not exactly a thriving center of commerce.

        Is everyone who posts here except Bernie as Transit Fascist? If so, just block my IP because we’re not going to get along.

      4. Anandakos, I bet you are correct about the dismal employment opportunities in Lake City, but that’s part of the Urban Village strategy. The jobs are in Urban Centers. Bus and carpool already compete quite well for commute trips; because of traffic, transit takes about the same amount of time and is cheaper than driving alone. I’d be surprised if it’s not already 40% of commute trips (roughly equal to your .8 of 1.8).

        People who live in these new dense developments around 125th and Lake City Way are able to choose whether they want to drive, walk, or bike for everyday needs, though. If I remember correctly that area has a lot of restaurants, banks, park, a library, Ace hardware store, Fred Meyer, summer farmer’s market, etc. In other words, it would be completely reasonable to have one car per family or even go car-free and use zipcar. (I actually know one carfree person in Lake City.)

        I’m certainly not against using cars for out of town excursions or big shopping trips, but I do think the parking requirements have gotten out of hand. Parking is very expensive to build, which drives up rents. Many new apartments actually charge for parking spaces to recoup these costs.

      5. Joshua,

        Thanks for the temperate reply. And I admit that I no longer live in Seattle so my view of 125th and LCW is definitely out of date. It may in fact be possible for a two person family living there to have one car only.

        That said, Patrick sort implied that the number of spaces in those developments are decided by Seattle ordinance and that the developers would prefer to include fewer spaces if they were allowed to. Does anyone know what the mandated number of spaces for new apartment development in Lake City is? If so, can you please post it so we can see if in fact the developers are exactly at the mandated minimum or have exceeded it?

        That will tell us whether Zach’s proposal number 2 would have any effect. If the developers are going to build at least one space per unit anyway then sure, revoke the ordinance. But don’t expect any change to development patterns.

        I will say that if there is such an ordinance and it’s citywide, it probably should at a minimum be modified to reward non-car development in certain areas of the city that can support it.

      6. Anandakos,

        Doing some digging the land for the two properties are NC3-65 (“pedestrian-oriented shopping district”) From what I can tell per city code 23.54.015 in commercial zones 1 parking spot is required for each dwelling unit. Though I am not entirely sure how each of the projects has more parking spots then units and I am not sure what if there are any differences in parking requirements for “pedestrian-oriented shopping district” over auto oriented zones. Never the less there are many apartment buildings in commercial zones as city code allows this.

      7. I have to say I’m personally in favor of eliminating all parking requirements in the City of Seattle and even instituting parking maximums in some cases. I think the market is more than capable of determining the appropriate amount of parking for any new development. Remember in most cases developers will have trouble getting loans if they don’t include at least a certain amount of parking.

        I certainly don’t support maintaining excessive suburban style parking requirements in Seattle, which for residential is pretty much anything over 1 space per unit. The city parking requirements have much to do with the urban forms we’re seeing, everything from the “4-pack” townhomes to the “bread-loaf” 5 over 1 mixed use developments.

        I’m also a bit frustrated that parking requirements are one of the things that comes up whenever there is talk about expanding accessory dwelling units. If you require both the original home and the ADU to have off-street parking you greatly cut down on the number of properties where you can have a legal ADU.

  10. 1. How can they build the strongest team possible?

    First, be decisive about seeking decisive people. A team that has an attitude of constant deliberation, consideration, and fear of change will not lead this city well and will lead to an atmosphere of complacency and staleness. Consideration and debate are good things, but wise decisions are better.

    Second, demand excellence. The list of half-finished, stunted, and compromised projects in this city is too long to belabor listing. Politics may be the art of the possible, but Seattle’s politics is often the art of the barely-squeaking-by. An excellent mayoral team should be committed to seeing projects come to fruition in fulness. This will take tenacious, patient, and careful people that are committed to the vision.

    2. How can they build public trust in the new administration?

    Get Things Done. For all his missteps one thing Nickels did right was make things happen. The “listening and neighborhood focus” mantra of McGinn’s worries me because it seems likely to lead to an administration that respects every neighborhood’s wishes to not change anything, ever. So to build trust, they can set a big vision, focus the mind of the city, and start to make measurable progress. We need to feel like we’re going somewhere as a city, and even if we don’t think it’s perfect, we should know where it is and know that we’re moving towards it. Giving us a voice is one part to that trust, but don’t stop there. Move the bar higher and give Seattle a toothsome political identity.

    3. What do we view as their greatest challenge – and what should they do right away?

    I think their greatest challenge is low expectations. If we are to become the city we imagine ourselves to be, we must be bold. We must be unafraid to ask questions and take big risks. This is not going to be a popular attitude. They will probably lose some friends and endorsements. That has to be taken as acceptable risk. If they demand excellence and decisiveness from their administration, they will soon find themselves demanding it from their constituents. And this will be a painful, grueling process.

    Right away, they should set up some goals for the term and focus the city on those things. Set the tone to be one of progress towards real growth and measurement. Heavy hitters on that list from me:

    – Kill the deep-bore tunnel viaduct replacement. This is a great example of McGinn’s mindset and I think it’s served him well. I pray he continues to bear down on this issue and fight for a solution that will benefit Seattle more than those who would prefer to bypass it. This is going to be a hard, unpopular battle and a great opportunity to do something very visible and very long-term.
    – Westside light rail expansion. Ballard, Magnolia and West Seattle couldn’t be more ready for frequent, reliable transit service and if Seattle can fund it, all the better.
    – More expansive zoning changes. If we want those first two to work, we’ve got to be doing a better job at conveying to neighborhoods that the city is changing. Even in new-density Ballard resentment towards “all those expensive condos going up” runs high. I understand neighborhoods shouldn’t be overrun by generic developments, but I see a lot of resentment at shoddy workmanship that is really the work of neighborhood-driven zoning codes more than developer laziness. We should be out in front on this issue, not struggling to pitch it as maybe a good idea.
    – Renegotiate the Qwest fiber monopoly to allow municipal ISP service. That all my suburban friends have fiber in their homes while “high-tech” Seattle can’t get it is embarrassing.

    Maybe it’s cheating to put all that stuff down, but the point is the list. Make a list. Get people talking and set some expectations. Own up to what you can do. Fight for it. And get it done.

    1. “Renegotiate the Qwest fiber monopoly to allow municipal ISP service. That all my suburban friends have fiber in their homes while “high-tech” Seattle can’t get it is embarrassing.”

      Piping porn into homes at higher rates is not as important as getting sidewalks into neighborhoods and potholes fixed.

      1. Wow, apparently all broadband is good for is porn?

        I can’t stress this enough – if you can get enough people broadband, the TV networks will start dying just like the newspapers, for similar reasons. All of these discussions get ten times as easy when you’re not fighting the attitudes of people who only watch TV news.

      2. While sidewalks in the neighborhood would be a good thing, I would prefer they focus on sidewalks on the arterials before they get to residential streets such as where I live. Getting people to slow down is tough enough without having sidewalks to get the pedestrians out of the way. And on the sections of the street where there are sidewalks, people tend to stay in the street.

  11. A real simple one that would make a big difference in increasing transit times through Downtown is ongoing enforcement of the “no cars” rule on 3rd Avenue during rush hours. The police did a great job initially but there seem to be more and more cars going more than one block and getting in the way of the buses.

    1. Seconded – may mean assigning some police on a more regular basis, but I think that’s a good thing. 3rd works a lot better when the cars follow the rules.

      On a related police note – how about seriously investigating SPD folks on Metro? I know the County runs the buses, but when’s the last time you saw a KC Deputy on Metro? The whole public safety issue around the tunnel struck me as more of a political p****ng match than a serious policy conversation. There are people who are scared to ride Metro – if we want to increase transit ridership, make people feel safe and more of them will come (along with plenty of other things that are listed above and below this comment).

      1. In addition to the undercover officers who ride the buses, I think a more visible presence with uniformed deputies would do a lot to reassure people that Metro was being policed. The rather visible presence of ST Police, fare inspectors, and security guards on Link and at the stations does much to reassure riders that Link is a safe choice. I also think all of the visible security discourages miscreants from acting out somewhat as well.

      2. I would agree that more uniformed officers would be great on buses and at stops. There was a deputy stopping by 3rd & Virginia every once in a while that made a big difference with the drug dealing.

    2. Increase transit times? Wouldn’t you want to decrease the time it takes transit to get through downtown?

  12. Drop the Anti-Gun BS. Nickels pushed it over the AG and SCOWAS b/c he was a founding member of that anti gun mayors club. The WA State Constitution is pretty clear, the AG has been clear, and SCOWAS has been clear. It isn’t going to hold up and wasting millions on Nickels ego after he is gone is just plain ridiculous.

    Give it to Metro instead. :D

  13. Work with SDOT, neighborhood groups, UW to form a coalition that makes it clear permiting to remove historic homes and fundamentally change the character of the Montlake neighborhood will not be permitted (permitted as in City of Seattle required construction permits). Pacific and Montlake are already maxed out with respect to vehicle capacity. The engineering design should only be considered a success if it simultaneously reduces the number of vehicles and increases the throughput of people. Roads for citizens, not cars.

    1. Right on Bernie! Again, Mike O’Brien (and others) have it right – design the system around moving people and freight. Cars are a mode, not a necessity.

    2. I’ll echo John, Bernie. “Roads for citizens, not for cars!” I like that motto!!!

      Cars are dangerously close to violating the three Laws of Robotics. Time to reign them in.

      1. Whoa, I’m not anti car. There’s places cars work OK and there’s places we can even build more lanes. Extending the HOV lane across the bridge is one of the places I support building more lanes. Bad? I have to concede that at best it’s the better of perhaps two evils. But the Montlake bulldoze is just bad for traffic, decimating to the neighborhood and a huge waste of the citizens money.

      2. I’m anti car if you want to call it when two conditions are met. First, the street grid is at capacity and second when ample transit options exist to preclude an overwhelming need to drive alone. I’m not advocating banning private cars over Montlake but just a change to HOV access from 520 7AM to 7PM. Even then single occupancy cars and trucks have several other options. BTW, that would be my very access route if I chose to drive in to UW. The last time I had to go in during the afternoon was a graduation cerimony at Hec Ed. It took the bus the better part of an hour from Redmond. I got off (along with about a 1/3 of the bus) and hiked over to Hec Ed from the flyer station and we we’re walking considerably faster than traffic.

      3. Bernie,

        I like to drive as well, and you’re completely right that transit just doesn’t serve even close to a majority of trips in our modern sprawling cities well. Cars of some sort will be necessary for the foreseeable future, assuming a technological civilization.

        By “reign them in” I mean rebalancing the relative power between cars and their operators and the legal system. There are enormous inertial preferences and tort biases in favor of autos and their infrastructure built into existing law and that needs to be changed. Speeds need to be more strictly limited in order to maximize road capacity (43 miles per hour is the sweet spot for that) and the penalties for negligence more severe.

        My best friends for forty years had their son killed about five years ago in a stupendous car wreck wherein a driver came roaring up NE85th from the Lake City Way valley to 15th NE, failed to stop for the sign, hit the rear quarter panel of my friends’ son’s car northbound on 15th with the bumper impacting above the rear wheel well — the jerk’s car was in the air — swinging the son’s car into the southbound lane just as another car was meeting and could not even put his brakes on. The son died immediately since the entire left side of the car was completely crushed. The driver of the passing car was also injured even with an air bag, as you can imagine.

        The guy in the car said “I didn’t see the stop sign because of the Sun”, but he worked in the neighborhood so he must have known that 15th NE is an arterial. Not to mention that he claimed to be blinded by the Sun. Maybe he should have slowed down as a result?

        He didn’t even get a ticket. That may be the result of shoddy, negligent police work, not the law, but whenever a driver is killed by anything except a leaving the road one-car accident, someone messed up and should be held accountable. If it was a mechanical failure unless extremely rare the owner of the failed vehicle should be responsible.

        To the point of the Three Laws: we have a looming legal nightmare coming from the proliferation of accident avoidance systems. What happens if a pedestrian or cyclist is run over or someone in another vehicle is killed because an avoidance system causes a vehicle to swerve on wet or icy pavement in a way that a human driver might not have? Who’s to blame? The driver? The car manufacturer? The maker of the electronics? All of them? It’s not going to be pretty.

        That’s not to say “don’t make avoidance systems”. On balance they will save lives. But there will be a few instances where they take them where otherwise the life would not be lost.

      4. in my world, there’s a crucial distinction to be made here. Being anti-car is over the top, as rural trips, the rare truly-needed cross-suburban trip, traversing the vast open spaces of the West, hauling goods on one’s own, etc…are best done with cars and trucks.

        My biggest beef with cars is not their existence but the regime of car ownership. Ownership of a vehicle and its associated costs (payments, insurance, gas, and maintenance) represent sunk costs and lost capital investment that severely damage the cost/benefit calculation when someone considers transit. The result is modal lock-in and incredible cultural inertia toward car ownership.

        For these reasons I’m a HUGE proponent of car rental. Zipcar and Enterprise have long been my friends since I last owned a car 5 years ago, and I’ve saved a ton of money. Driving only once or twice a month is really great, especially when I get the North Cascades hiking itch. =)

  14. Implement congestion pricing downtown. If this is not feasible, then at least implement market rate street parking, make parking costs vary based on time of day and nearby events. Street parking is using highly valuable real estate and the city essentially gives it away.

    Create festival streets like Portland has. Streets with low traffic already (like Terry Ave between Denny and John) would make good candidates.


    More bus only lanes downtown, or bus queue jumps.

    I second Zach’s comment, get rid of all minimum parking requirements for new development.

    If you must pursue municipal fiber, only run the infrastructure and let businesses compete for the service offerings (such as internet) on top of it. Also, charge for the installation roughly equivalent to the cost to bring service to that dwelling.

    I second Anc’s comment about trying to ban guns. It won’t actually change anything and is a waste of your time.

  15. I think every public agency of decent size should have a blog. The SDOT blog is a great example — it has news items, and it provides a forum for asking questions.

    Sound Transit has news letters, but those feel very 20th century to me. Bring on the blogs.

    1. Newsletters are just corporate rah-rah, even when the “corporation” is a public agency. The same personalities inhabit the PR units of all organizations. Sure, the folks at Metro and ST are pro-transit, which is a lot better than those at ExxonMobil, but they are still primarily interested in “the message”.

    2. It doesn’t take much work to convert their existing PR work to a “blog” format. Then the director or secretary can write blog posts about significant decisions, public comment periods, or what the agency is doing. And the format would also encourage staff to blog about more mundane things, or things which may be coming in the future. Things that they don’t write a press release about now. And of course, the public feedback and Q&A would also be helpful.

    1. Who should pay to build all of this “free” parking? Especially since a lot more of it would be needed. What would you do about all of the extra traffic all of that “free” parking would attract because more people are bringing cars into the city rated than taking transit?

      Personally I’d rather see the city spend money on transit improvements rather than more car storage.

    2. What’s missing is a view of the whole metropolis, and the differing expectations/needs of different people. We may want to nudge everybody to a transit/walking-centric future, but that’s a long-term goal requiring infrastructure improvement, education, and expensive gas. A linked article earlier said that cities and suburbs need to work together for the good of the entire metropolitan area, not treat each other as enemies. Perhaps the most polarizing issue is parking. This requires out-of-the-box thinking.

      I don’t have the answer, but the first step is to recognize everybody’s expectations/needs. Suburbanites will shop at the malls if they have to pay for inner-city parking. Seattle businesses are right that they suffer because of this (maybe?). And sometimes city dwellers do have to drive somewhere, or want to invite their relatives/friends into town for an evening without a $10 parking bill. And handicapped people who can’t walk far or uphill are another issue.

      Almost everybody is obsessed with free parking, including city dwellers. They circle for half an hour looking for an on-street space (free after 6pm, and always cheaper than the pay lots). I lowered my stress by sometimes being willing to use a pay lot, and to pay for my suburban friends’ parking when I direct them to such.

      So clearly the problem is the “free parking” mentality. But on the other hand, $10 for a few hours is a lot of money. So a reasonable compromise would be $1-3 everywhere. Of course, we can’t dictate prices to private lots. And there remains the fact that the suburbs have free parking everywhere, and it’s seen as a basic right.

      I live in a 1920s building with no parking, but I think that building new condos with no parking is totally unrealistic. If 5% of Lake City residents don’t drive regularly, putting in 5% fewer parking spaces than units is a reasonable compromise for now. On Capitol Hill, residents regularly lease parking spaces in neighboring buildings if their building is full. That may be less feasable in less dense areas, but it’s a point worth considering.

      Re handicapped parking, all street parking is free with a disability permit. The city does this as a concession because there aren’t enough disability spaces. Some private lots have disability spaces but charge regular rates for them, as in the Seattle Center lot.

      1. On-street parking should be priced at a market-clearing price. If spaces stay around 95% full then you’ve found the market-clearing price. Of course this varies both by location and time. Meter rates really need to reflect the real market price of parking.

        I’d also say we have to really think about the true cost of any minimum parking requirements. For a development with an underground garage that is roughly $40,000 per space and an additional $400/year in maintenance costs. Should we really be asking anyone who wants to rent or buy space in the building to subsidize car storage if they don’t want it?

        As I said earlier, I’d be for eliminating parking minimums entirely within Seattle and even imposing parking maximums in especially dense areas with good walking/transit access.

        The worst thing would be to impose excessive suburban style parking requirements where a space has to be provided for every possible employee or customer in commercial space and every possible tenant over the age of 16 for residential. This leads to the sort of stupidity where a 1000 sqft restaurant has to have 15 parking spaces or a 3 bedroom apartment has to have 4.5 spaces available for use.

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