Here are Seattle Transit Blog’s endorsements for the November 8th general election. As always, our endorsements are meant to focus entirely on their transit and land use positions. Readers can apply other criteria as they wish.

Our editorial board consists of Martin H. Duke, Adam Parast, and Sherwin Lee, with valued input from the rest of the staff. We relied extensively on both an STB questionnaire and one from the Transit Riders’ Union. You can also consult the King County voters’ guide.

This post covers ballot measures, King County, City of Seattle, and City of Bellevue councils. We’ll follow up with other races in a few days.

BALLOT MEASURES

Seattle Proposition 1: YES. A $60 vehicle license fee doesn’t cover all of the city’s transportation needs, but it makes a sizeable dent. It will help to reduce the road maintenance backlog, improve bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and spend about 50% of the revenue on transit, making it faster, more reliable, easier to access, and less dependent on petroleum. It also takes small steps towards higher capacity streetcars on Seattle’s busiest corridors. Moreover, the VLF benefits the city’s poorest who can’t afford a car in the first place.

Initiative 1125: NO. There is nothing to like about I-1125. The initiative prevents variable tolling, doesn’t allow tolls to be used to fund transit, and blocks East Link over I-90. Adding further litigation and funding uncertainty to state mega-projects is counterproductive. It should go without saying that East Link is one of our largest priorities, and this initiative would kill it. Congestion-based tolling is the only way to tackle congestion in the long term. I-1125 sends us back to the 1950s in both respects. Tell Tim Eyman and Kemper Freeman that they’re out of touch with Washingtonians’ priorities by voting No on I-1125.

CANDIDATES

Richard Mitchell

King County Council, Position 6. Richard Mitchell is running against incumbent Jane Hague and holds a number of positions that we like, including support for long-term sustainable transit funding and emphasis on productivity; he’s also shown a firm grasp on the importance of land use in the transportation discussion. We are, however, very skeptical of his ideas on transit agency consolidation. To her credit, Ms. Hague did help broker the deal to pass the $20 CRC and eliminate the ride-free area.  Although she did the right thing in the end, she was still willing to accept draconian cuts unless her second-order concerns were addressed. That’s just not good enough with a strong transit advocate like Richard Mitchell in the race.

Joe McDermott

King County Council, Position 8. Joe McDermott has had a short but impressive term on the Council since he replaced Dow Constantine. His positions are similar to Mr. Constantine’s — solid support for preserving and reforming Metro service while proceeding with Sound Transit’s buildout. Mr. McDermott’s opponent doesn’t appear to have a transportation emphasis.

Bobby Forch

Seattle City Council, Position 1. Bobby Forch has experience managing capital projects for SDOT, is a strong supporter of the VLF, and has several interesting ideas for transportation improvements, like making 3rd Avenue transit-only all-day. The incumbent, Jean Godden, championed the least aggressive, most road-oriented version of what became Proposition 1.

Brad Meacham

Seattle City Council, Position 3. The incumbent, Bruce Harrell, has basically sound views on transit that are “centrist” by Seattle standards. Transportation has not been one of his areas of focus on the Council. That’d be enough for a pass in many cases, but Brad Meacham absolutely hits it out of the park. He’s been aggressive in advocating for more funding for transit, and his ideas make it obvious that he’s used transit for a long time and been thoughtful about his experiences.

Tom Rasmussen

Seattle City Council, Position 5. Tom Rasmussen is also basically a transit centrist by Seattle standards: eager to grow the transit pie, a little squishy on density, pro-tunnel, and so on. As Chair of the Transportation Committee, he’s the architect of the $60 VLF as much as anyone (for better or worse), and has had a positive impact on the recent Metro dramas. We yearn for more progressive voices on the Council, but opponent Dale Pusey is not it. Pusey opposes the VLF, demand-based parking fees, and is broadly anti-streetcar.

Tim Burgess

Seattle City Council, Position 7. Tim Burgess is a solid contributor on the City Council. He’s been a leader on upzoning, market-based street parking, and is supportive of Prop. 1. We’d like it if he were sometimes a bit more aggressive on our issues, but the fact remains that policy-wise he’s the second strongest Councilmember behind Mike O’Brien. Opponent David Schraer says a lot of wonderful things about density, but he seems very dismissive of the environmental concerns that led many people to oppose the DBT. Tim Burgess is an effective advocate for good policy and deserves another term.

Sally Clark

Seattle City Council, Position 9. Sally Clark won our primary endorsement as a positive force to improve Seattle’s zoning codes, although as chair of the land use committee, we think she could be much more forceful in that area. Her opponent, Dian Ferguson, opposes our values in almost every dimension: railing against density increases around light rail stations; emphasizing more government-mandated parking everywhere; opposing transit, bike, and pedestrian improvements; and so on.

John Stokes

Bellevue City Council, Position 1. John Stokes is running for Grant Degginger’s open seat, Bellevue’s most hotly contested position.  His attitude towards transit are consistent with our views: strong support for East Link, development in the Bel-Red Corridor, and more sustainable taxing authority for transit funding.  His opponent, Aaron Laing, is affiliated with Building a Better Bellevue, a neighborhood organization which has been hostile towards Sound Transit and East Link.

John Chelminiak

Bellevue City Council, Position 3. John Chelminiak has been a staunch proponent of East Link over his tenure on the city council, even authoring a guest piece for us this past May debunking a common talking point among B7 supporters.  His general positions on transit are fairly solid, including support for transit signal priority and minimization of cash-fare payment.  Opponent Michelle Hilhorst is being backed by developer Kemper Freeman and has not expressed convincing support for any positions that would be considered pro-transit.

Claudia Balducci

Bellevue City Council, Position 5. Claudia Balducci is Bellevue’s purest transit advocate and deserves another term on the council.  Her strong support for East Link and transit are supplemented by her impressive transportation resume, which not only includes a seat on the Sound Transit Board, but one on the PSRC Transportation Policy Board as well.  Her opponent, Patti Mann, has expressed opposition to ST’s preferred East Link alignment, has no public office experience and is endorsed by a slew of transit opponents.

106 Replies to “2011 General Election Endorsements (I)”

  1. Okay, I’m just going to say this: You go ahead and be a progressive blog like all the others.

    I will still read and contribute (mostly pictures) as I support mass transit, but will keep in mind this blog LOVES Spendocrats (aka Democrats) going forward. Faint praise isn’t fair to Councilor Hague considering the depth & anger of Republican opposition she had to stand up to.

    Off hot.

      1. In the primary of this very race, we endorsed John Creighton, who has a pretty solid history of donating to Republicans.

        Jane Hague chose not to respond to our questionnaire. That didn’t help her cause, although the wobbliness over the CRC was a real problem.

    1. That’s just silly… We’d all love to support pro-transit Republicans. There really aren’t any around here at the moment.

      Hague may have to stand up to Republican opposition, but passing the temporary $20 fee to help protect existing transit service overwhelmingly supported by her broad range of constituents should not have been a difficult decision.

      County Republicans who opposed the fee should be ashamed of themselves. Dunn, in particular, is the first to complain about lack of services to his rural constituents and yet seems to think that they can be provided with fewer tax revenues coming in to the county.

      Now maybe if we had more folks like say Rep. John Mica (R-FL) and a couple other Republican congressmen, that might be a different story.

      1. As much as I like Reagan Dunn, this was an overreach and disappointing. He’s done great on elections accountability and law enforcement, but this one was a whoopsy on his part.

        Quite frankly, Hague did the right thing to reform & fix Metro against her own party. I hope when – not if – SKAT is in similar straits in a few years I betcha, we can get a plan up in Skagit County instead of pitchforks.

      2. We’d all love to support pro-transit Republicans. There really aren’t any around here at the moment.

        That’s a lie. McKenna opposes I-1125. If you had a shred of integrity you’d be saying all kinds of nice things about him. But you’re not doing that, because you run a liberal Democratic blog. Yet for some reason you think no one can see that, when it’s actually plain as day.

    2. For the record, Joe, John Chelminak is a Republican.

      There is more to the CRC deal than you know, the vote was a lot more provincially pro-Eastside for Hague and Lambert than it was to “save Metro”

      1. I think what we’ve argued on this blog is that transit shouldn’t be partisan and whether one’s a D or R isn’t really relevant. Chelminiak’s a good example in that sense that he sees the benefits of rail and is willing to publicly move policy in that direction.

    3. Considering two of the three people on this blog who vote on our endorsements have at times identified themselves as Republicans… you should start talking to your party about not being crazy, because if there were some who weren’t crazy, we’d endorse them.

    4. Spendocrats? Geezus such childish ignorant crap… especially when it is such a tired old rhetoric that isn’t remotely true. Facts mean something, not silly rhetoric. The truth is you will most certainly be ok with spending as long as it is on things that matter to you. Why is transit spending ok? Most republicans certainly think it is not.

      1. Just me getting angry – and unsurprised at such immature backing of the progressive, the progressive, the progressive. You can’t build bridges when you slap away the hand of the other side, no matter how long or hard the compromise was.

        As to, “Why is transit spending ok? Most republicans certainly think it is not.” Transit spending is okay because it’s mobility for disabled people, cuts down on congestion and good for the environment. More roads isn’t the most effective solution.

    5. this blog LOVES Spendocrats (aka Democrats)

      The only difference I can discern between Democrat and GOP positions at the national level has been the Demonicrats are all for tax and spend and the Repudiates are all for spend and spend. The lesser of two evils is pay as you go. On the local level it’s very different. It’s natural for this blog to endorse on a one issue basis. If you vote local this way you’re not really very smart.

      1. She wasn’t a hero at all. She was totally transactional. She has no apparent values other than to get money for her district.

      2. To be honest, I expect Hague to be primary’d out in four years (making the safe presumption she wins) due to multiple questionable personal & political actions. But I worry for Kathy Lambert… and the messages this race will send to transit advocates around the state.

      3. She has no apparent values other than to get money for her district.

        So, if you live in this district vote for her; if you don’t, go ahead and bad mouth. But, I’m still not clear on how paying $20 more per vehicle when the eastside already subsidizes Seattle’s transit is bringing money into the district?

  2. Is it not out-of-bounds for STB to take a stand on the Liquor Store issue? More privately sold booze will mean only one thing:

    More drunk drivers on the road.

    Alcohol is a drug and it needs to be dispensed by professionals, not glamorized though slick promotions and handed out by minimum-wage flunkies.

    1. Does Washington really have fewer drunk drivers than most states?

      In my mind it’s about removing unnecessary regulations.

    2. “Alcohol is a drug and it needs to be dispensed by professionals, not glamorized though slick promotions and handed out by minimum-wage flunkies.”

      bwahahaha the Liqour store clerk is a trained professional? bwahahahaha

      How about an overpaid retail worker who is part of a public union?

    3. We only take positions on transit-relevant issues and 1183 has no direct policy impacts toward transportation.

    4. Not that I agree with MADD’s opinion on anything, but according to their own ranking methodology, Washington state had the third-highest percentage of DUI deaths in the country (including DC) in 2009.

      Think of how our region’s lack of efficient, reliable, round-the-clock public transportation contributes to the number of drunks driving between Belltown and Bellevue every Friday and Saturday night.

      1. That’s a good point. Several European cities have night owl service to all neighborhoods and the nearest suburbs, at least Friday & Saturday if not every night. San Francisco, Chicago, and New York have half-hourly night owls a mile apart or better. We could do the same.

      2. I think the single saddest thing about our current land-use code is that we have minimum parking requirements for bars.

      3. If we really were concerned about ending DUI’s we would do this. So many communities could benefit.

      4. You may be near two grocery stores on a major commercial strip, surrounded by others who can walk to the supermarkets as well as lots of other amenities.

        Or your house might just happen to sit behind two grocery stores with giant parking lots in a sea of sprawl. You might be one of 5 houses close enough to walk to the stores, while 99% of customers drive.

        Neither of these things is true. I live in a single-family house in a residential neighborhood. Each grocery store is six blocks away. I frequently walk to them, and frequently drive. It depends on how much stuff I am buying. And there’s a third food store that isn’t a grocery store per se, also nearby. No “giant parking lots,” but there are modest ones. Do you hate parking lots?

        No, I think it’s pretty clear that you’re prepared to dismiss my point no matter what. Even if I satisfy all of your virtue criteria, you’ll then tell me that I’m only an anecdote. It’s a subset of the transit and bicycle types loving neighborhoods until it’s the wrong neighborhood having the wrong point of view, at which point they are racist, rich, old NIMBYs, like Roosevelt when they didn’t want to be as dense as McGinn wanted them to be.

        Meanwhile, you haven’t tried to explained why “Albertson’s, or Safeway, or Cash & Carry, or Trader Joe’s, or Grocery Outlet, or QFC, or Fred Meyer, or Wal-Mart” would have any incentive to do specialty items over high-margin volume items, or why they haven’t done better in California, leaving people to drive miles and miles to BevMo.

        Someone will do it, and it’ll be in more than one location. At present, I have to drive all the way to California to get the specialty booze that I like. If a new player comes into town and I have to drive, say, 10 miles for the specialty stuff I like but can walk to one of the stores I shop at now for the rest, I’m well ahead of the game.

        But I will not aid and abet the selling of my democracy to the highest bidder. And that’s all 1183 really is: Costco buying signatures, then buying voters’ minds, to enrich themselves at the expense of others. They’re buying legislation baldly, directly, and with no middlemen.

        So you won’t aid and abet Costco, which treats its customers and its employees well, but you will aid and abet price-gouging out-of-state liquor distributors in service of a fat, lazy state liquor monopoly. And you’ll call it virtue. Got it.

        Forget your opinions on liquor. If you care about democracy, 1183 should be an easy “no!”

        If this really mattered to you, then you’d be objecting to all of the special-interest money in all of the elections. But you’re not, for example, pissed about Microsoft’s contributions to the anti-1125 campaign, are you? Or the liquor distributor contributions to the anti-1183 campaign. Selective outrage isn’t outrage at all. It’s a tactic, and I laugh at people who try that cheesy stunt on me.

    5. I’m voting for 1183. I’d rather employ Costco workers than liquor store workers.

      I think it’s interesting that liquor store hours changed a lot since we started talking about privatization. And frankly, I think the liquor control board uses its power to abuse small businesses. I think they should be stripped and we shouldn’t have limits on where and when liquor can be sold. Regulate the externalities and take away licenses for drunk driving; don’t pretend you can keep it from happening with blanket regulations.

      The idea that selling whiskey at Costco is going to hurt children is one of the most offensive arguments I’ve ever heard for liquor publicization.

      Liquor stores, also, are generally shitty land use. They’re like post offices in their monolithic unlivability.

      1. Hmm, I think “mandated” liquor stores are silly, more a reflection of puritan control-freakiness than anything else, but what’s wrong with post offices? What does “monolithic unlivability” even mean…?

      2. Post offices are well known for being incredibly damaging to the urban form around them. They’ve got a lot of unnecessary big blank walls that stifle pedestrian uses.

      3. The Costco at Rosslyn station in Alexandria VA is. It’s right on the pedestrian bridge from the station, buried on one floor of a multistory building, like Northgate North. I was stunned when I saw it was Costco.

      4. Yo, Ben:

        I thought you, and the blog, were only going to address stuff directly related to transit. Woah, Nellie, I am glad I didn’t post anything related to the liquor initiative. Look out: the Wrath of Ben. And, look out. Post Offices are now fair game. They don’t meet Ben’s standards of urban/suburban design. Please don’t tell ol’ Ben Franklin, though.

        But, don’t you readers dare stray from the topic. You will receive the Wrath of Ben.

        Come on, Ben. Lighten up, Baby. Read your post above my reply. Were you even half sober when you wrote it?

      5. Most of the WA liquor stores I find myself in occupy storefronts in walkable neighborhood centers. That’s better than Rosslyn.

        They also provide their employees better wages and benefits than Costco, are relatively helpful (they’re not liquor connoisseurs, but they know what they have in stock and where), have better (less mass-market dominated) selections than all but the most specialty stores in most states.

        And they tend to be brightly lit, glass-façaded, and (now) open as late as most of their neighbors. 99% of liquor stores in MA, NY, or CA look like that sketchy smoke-shop at the 3rd & Pike bus stop. Ben’s “shitty land use” argument holds absolutely no water.

      6. They also provide their employees better wages and benefits than Costco

        Are you sure? I’ve heard from many sources that Costco is actually a fantastic place to work.

        And they tend to be brightly lit, glass-façaded, and (now) open as late as most of their neighbors. 99% of liquor stores in MA, NY, or CA look like that sketchy smoke-shop at the 3rd & Pike bus stop.

        Actually, 99% of liquor stores in CA look like Safeway or QFC. :) And that’s what will happen here, too. MA and NY have so many liquor stores because you’re not allowed to sell liquor anywhere else.

        I just don’t think the state is particularly good at running a retail store, any more than they would be at running a bar (for example). The fact that it took 2-3 signature-gathering campaigns to convince the WSLCB to keep stores open past 6pm is proof.

      7. Most of the WA liquor stores I find myself in occupy storefronts in walkable neighborhood centers. That’s better than Rosslyn.

        Hate to burst your bubble, but there isn’t a single state liquor store within walking distance of my house. But there are two 10,000+ square foot grocery stores that I routinely walk to.

        They also provide their employees better wages and benefits than Costco, are relatively helpful (they’re not liquor connoisseurs, but they know what they have in stock and where), have better (less mass-market dominated) selections than all but the most specialty stores in most states.

        One of the two grocery stores I shop at is unionized. The limited selection at the state liquor stores is much more dominated by major brands than out-of-state liquor stores, which are much more likely to carry lower-volume niche stuff.

        And they tend to be brightly lit, glass-façaded, and (now) open as late as most of their neighbors.

        There are two state liquor stores in my neighborhood, both of them far enough away to require a drive. One of them is the retail equivalent of a speakeasy — dark enough to have a furtive character — while the other one in on one of those fast, high-traffic streets featured in those new Seattle transit plans.

        Face it, you’re pimping for the state store grocery clerks union, and maybe have a touch of Women’s Christian Temperance Union puritanism lurking somewhere inside.

      8. Actually, 99% of liquor stores in CA look like Safeway or QFC.

        I’ve been in some pretty sketchy stores in SF/Oakland. I guess I can’t speak for how things work in The Sprawl.

        I’ve heard from many sources that Costco is actually a fantastic place to work.

        No question that Costco treats its full-time employees better than most any other business in its sector. (They also play up this “compassionate corporatism” enough that most don’t know of its glaring exceptions, such as “product-demonstration employees.”) We’re still not talking about raise-a-family-on-these wages and benefits of the sort that state jobs provide. Plus, we’re not looking at a 1:1 replacement of jobs; there’s no question that 1183 will be a net negative for employment.

        Hate to burst your bubble, but there isn’t a single state liquor store within walking distance of my house. But there are two 10,000+ square foot grocery stores that I routinely walk to.

        That’s useless information if I don’t know where you live. Do you live in an area with good land usage, which was the issue Ben raised? Or do you live in the sprawl, but are by luck located near some of the sprawl’s many sprawling mega-marts?

        We all know that there are fewer liquor stores than there are supermarkets; maybe there should be more. The question here was whether existing WSLCB stores tend to be “shitty land use.” The one in Lower Queen Anne, the multiple ones in Capital Hill (hey, that’s more than the number of subway stations they’re getting!), even the one in Magnolia Village… these are all as much walkable-neighborhood amenities as any other specialty shop.

        The limited selection at the state liquor stores is much more dominated by major brands than out-of-state liquor stores, which are much more likely to carry lower-volume niche stuff.

        Bull. Most out-of-state liquor stores are stacked wall-to-wall with Diageo, Fortune Brands, and Pernod Ricard’s greatest hits, placed according to advertising dollars. Grocery stores have no interest in carrying anything but.

        If a bar or restaurant in Washington orders a product (and this region is full of ambitious and picky bars and restaurants), WSLCB’s retail system will get it too. They do, in fact, have a system in place to spread specialty items around, though I will certainly admit that system could be improved.

        The true specialty shops in other states (source of much of the “grass is greener” talk) are great to have, but expect to travel much further than you currently do before reaching one.

        Face it, you’re pimping for the state store grocery clerks union…

        I just don’t see any good reason to exchange truly good-paying jobs and a steady state income for vague promises and more corporate profits. Especially with every independent accountant insisting that we’ll be paying more for our booze when all is said and done.

        …and maybe have a touch of Women’s Christian Temperance Union puritanism lurking somewhere inside.

        I’m drinking a small-producer, small-distributor Turkish rakı — an impulse buy stumbled upon in my neighborhood Washington State liquor store — as I write this. So, um, no.

      9. p.s. Despite lots of idiots’ claims to the contrary, QFC sucks at wine. 99% of what it sells is just plain crap. The other 1% invariably costs $5 more per bottle than it should.

        I can name you three specialty wine shops within 2 blocks of me in Old Ballard that will sell you better and more interesting stuff for less.

        Oh, but a liquor-oriented version of such a store would be illegal under 1183. What a lovely monopoly the megamarts have authored for themselves!

      10. I don’t know where you live. Do you live in an area with good land usage, which was the issue Ben raised?

        I see. If I have a single-family house with a yard in the city, then my perspective doesn’t count. But how is it that, with my single family house and yard, there are two grocery stores within walking distance, yet no state liquor store?

        Bull. Most out-of-state liquor stores are stacked wall-to-wall with Diageo, Fortune Brands, and Pernod Ricard’s greatest hits, placed according to advertising dollars. Grocery stores have no interest in carrying anything but.

        Multiple choice quiz: Do you:

        a) Not travel

        b) Not drink

        c) Not tell the truth

        If a bar or restaurant in Washington orders a product (and this region is full of ambitious and picky bars and restaurants), WSLCB’s retail system will get it too. They do, in fact, have a system in place to spread specialty items around, though I will certainly admit that system could be improved.

        First off, I am not a bar or a restaurant. I’m just a guy who likes obscure Scotches, bourbons, and gins. The state monopoly doesn’t carry them. If they were to know in advance what to get, I’d be required to order a whole caseload.

        Secondly, the state liquor monopoly is so lazy and arrogant that, if you are a restaurant or bar, they won’t even deliver it to you. Trust me, the restauranteurs and tavern owners are all voting in favor of I-1183. So am I. It’s time to put these garden slugs out of business.

      11. There’s a fundamental constitutional issue here. Should the state’s heavy hand extend to monopolizing liquor sales? The liquor sections in California supermarkets are surprising at first, but I have no reason to believe they’re badly run. This is in contrast to the state (county) monopoly on transit, which the private sector can’t do without subsidies. Nor do I see any compelling reasons on public-health or public-safety grounds for keeping the monopoly, because states with private liquor sale do not have significantly higher burdens in those areas. Therefore, keeping the monopoly is unjustified, regardless of whether state liquor stores are more pleasant or better located or pay better wages.

      12. I don’t think it’s been mentioned here yet, but the 10,000 sqft restriction serves the exact same purpose as the 5 ng DWI limit in the proposed cannabis legalization measure. Both measures are designed to protect their initiatives against attack from “concerned parents” and similar groups. Nothing kills a substance-liberalization measure faster than “think of the children!”.

        From a land-use standpoint, I doubt you’ll find many people here in favor of mandating big box stores. But I think many of us are hoping that, if the initiative passes, changing it later to allow smaller stores will become much more feasible. In contrast, the failure of I-1100 last year suggests that passing the perfect measure from the get-go is very unlikely to happen.

      13. But how is it that, with my single family house and yard, there are two grocery stores within walking distance, yet no state liquor store?

        Luck. Or perhaps you made grocer proximity your priority when you bought.

        Most people in the sprawl have to drive the supermarket. Thus the gigantic parking lots. Most people in the sprawl have to drive to the liquor store as well. Most people in the sprawl have to drive everywhere. The fact that you happen to be able to walk to two grocery stores does not demonstrate anything at all.

        This is not about someone’s perspective “counting” more than others, but way to play the victim there.

        Multiple choice quiz: Do you:

        a) Not travel

        b) Not drink

        c) Not tell the truth

        Answer: d) Hate logical fallacies

        Do you ever wonder why BevMo is so successful in California? Why people drive significant distances to reach them? All those Safeways and Ralphs must be doing a bang-up job of servicing the specialty market, mustn’t they?

        Ditto Manhattan’s Astor Wines & Spirits. People will train it in from all over the city to take advantage of their selection of non-mass-market liquor. They must be wasting their time, because they could find the same products at the corner rotgut purveyor, right?

        I’m just a guy who likes obscure Scotches, bourbons, and gins. The state monopoly doesn’t carry them.

        I’ve had this argument before. You’re not by any chance an alter-ego of The Stranger‘s omnipresent blog blowhard “Fnarf,” are you? He just loves to claim that nothing he wants is available in Washington.

        Once, he even named four oh-so-rare, oh-so-demonstrative-of-his-exquisite-tastes items that he had wanted to purchase but had been unable to (woe is him). It took me all of 45 seconds of searching http://www.liq.wa.gov/LCBhomenet/StoreInformation/BrandSearch.aspx to show that 3/4 said items were in stock within 3 miles of his Walligford home.

        But I’m sure CostCo will do better.

      14. The fact that you happen to be able to walk to two grocery stores does not demonstrate anything at all.

        This is fun. First you wanted to know exactly where I live. Now you declare that it doesn’t matter. Why? Because I contradict your thesis. You just don’t want to be confused with the facts, which of course is typical of the whole Seattle transit crowd to begin with.

        I’ve had this argument before. You’re not by any chance an alter-ego of The Stranger‘s omnipresent blog blowhard “Fnarf,” are you? He just loves to claim that nothing he wants is available in Washington.

        Nope. But I see that you regard anyone who disagrees with you as a “resident blowhard.” Gotta love it.

        But I’m sure CostCo will do better.

        Or Albertson’s, or Safeway, or Cash & Carry, or Trader Joe’s, or Grocery Outlet, or QFC, or Fred Meyer, or Wal-Mart, or whatever new players come in. I don’t like the 10,000 sq ft provision, but they had to put it in because of the scare campaign run the first time around. I’m hoping they’ll eventually do away with that restriction once the monopoly is destroyed.

      15. First you wanted to know exactly where I live. Now you declare that it doesn’t matter.

        I never said that it didn’t matter. I said that you weren’t providing me any useful information about where you live.

        You may be near two grocery stores on a major commercial strip, surrounded by others who can walk to the supermarkets as well as lots of other amenities.

        Or your house might just happen to sit behind two grocery stores with giant parking lots in a sea of sprawl. You might be one of 5 houses close enough to walk to the stores, while 99% of customers drive.

        If you live in über-sprawl, it’s not at all surprising that you don’t live within walking distance of a liquor store. And while liquor at the supermarket might be nice for you, that 99% that drives to the supermarket experiences zero change in its ability to get booze on foot.

        Most of Seattle’s liquor stores are well located in walkable commercial areas. They’re good land use. Many of its supermarkets (large by definition) are not. In fact, closing walkable WA state stores would be a detriment to some.

        You simply can’t “prove” you’ve been wronged geographically without telling me which neighborhood you’re in!

        But I see that you regard anyone who disagrees with you as a “resident blowhard.”

        My apologies. Clearly you don’t read the blog and are unfamiliar with the person in question. He’s a very clever and engaging writer, but “omnipresent blowhard” is probably the gentlest way to describe him.

        My point was that he made the same argument as you: “All the specialty items I want aren’t available.” And it only took the laziest inventory search to prove him wrong. So I’m distrustful of that argument.

        Meanwhile, you haven’t tried to explained why “Albertson’s, or Safeway, or Cash & Carry, or Trader Joe’s, or Grocery Outlet, or QFC, or Fred Meyer, or Wal-Mart” would have any incentive to do specialty items over high-margin volume items, or why they haven’t done better in California, leaving people to drive miles and miles to BevMo.

        You also haven’t tried to explain your optimism about “whatever new players come in.” Costco has not only written 1183’s square-footage rules to favor themselves; they’ve written it to advantage themselves financially over “whatever new players” as well. From The Stranger (no enemies to liquor privatization)’s “no” vote endorsement: “On top of that, I-1183 imposes a 10 percent tax on liquor distributors but creates a giant loophole that allows grocery chains — the big corporations who are bankrolling this thing — to bypass distributors and buy liquor tax-free.”

        I’m certainly not anti-liquor, and I’m not even explicitly anti-privatization.

        But I will not aid and abet the selling of my democracy to the highest bidder. And that’s all 1183 really is: Costco buying signatures, then buying voters’ minds, to enrich themselves at the expense of others. They’re buying legislation baldly, directly, and with no middlemen.

        Perhaps it’s not worse than lobbying, campaign cash, SuperPACs, and the corruption of the Supreme Court. But it’s a line in the sand I can draw with a single mark on my ballot.

        Forget your opinions on liquor. If you care about democracy, 1183 should be an easy “no!”

    6. Always interesting to see what the left wingers say about I-1183. Never could figure out the people who love to get whacked out on pot but seem to hate those who want to drink, except of course when it comes time to tax the hell out of them.

      1. I am for liquor privatization but against 1183:
        * I don’t like that Costco is essentially trying to buy themselves a change in state law.
        * I don’t like that the initiative as written stacks the deck in favor of high-volume retailers who can go direct to producers and importers while avoiding many fees taxes and regulations.
        * I don’t like that small specialty retailers won’t be allowed under this initiative.
        * I don’t like that my selection of liquor, wine, and beer will likely be reduced if 1183 passes. Grocery stores will reduce the size of their wine and beer selection to make room for liquor. This will be at the expense of lower volume distillers, wineries and breweries. Sure there will still be specialty wine and beer stores, and a few of the largest grocery stores might match the selection of the largest state liquor stores. However it still will be harder for me to find the products I want to buy.

      2. I don’t like the 10,000 sq ft provision either. It’s there because the “No” side came up with every scare story in the book the first time around. I think it’d eventually be dropped once the monopoly is gone.

        The other reservations are simply inaccurate.

        * Costco is certainly the driving force on the “Yes” side, just as the big liquor distributors and the clerks union are the big driving forces on the “No” side. But I-1183 is not written for Cotsco. There are plenty of other big players out there that will benefit equally.

        * Your selection will increase, not decrease. All I can think is that you must not do any traveling, because selection is higher in states with private stores. It’s selection that is causing me to support this. The state stores, like any other monopoly, act by restricting selection and raising prices.

        The way I see it, there are two reasons for Seattle’s liberals to be opposing this. One is the puritanical streak that occasionally crops up. I recall the time when they tried to ban smoking in the parks because it would “set a bad example for the children.” The other, and more important, reason is that the retail clerks union is going all-out against it, and there’s considerable knee-jerk support in that direction.

        It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. For me, it’s essentially a matter of whether I get most of my liquor in California when I drive there a couple times a year, or whether I buy most of it in Washington State. Either way, I’ll live with it. But I do look at this as sort of a statewide I.Q. test.

      3. But I-1183 is not written for Costco…

        I-1183 is written by Costco. And it is custom-tailored for every aspect of their business model, especially the high-volume-discount loophole (that advantages them even more some of their closed competitors).

        You bet it’s “written for” them!

      4. …a statewide I.Q. test

        I agree. It’s about whether we’re dumb enough to have our democracy bought out before our eyes, and to willingly consent to the purchase.

      5. …a statewide I.Q. test

        The same could be said about I-1125. Tim Eyeman is not a traffic engineer, even if he plays one on his initiatives.

      6. I am for liquor privatization but against 1183:
        * I don’t like that Costco is essentially trying to buy themselves a change in state law.

        I don’t like that Costco wrote and funded the initiative. What I like even less is that our state legislature has proven that they are totally incapable of doing this the right way which would have been to sell off the State owned stores and sell licenses to construct additional stores using the same guidelines any franchise would follow. Since the legislature won’t act on their own the only way to force the issue is to push something through and then let them amend it in two years.

  3. Maybe the first thing to do would be to open the local transit market to any and all modes of competition. Jitneys, ride sharing taxis, corporations operating various bus routes, or just part-time operators of a small business all should be allowed after all in 1915 Seattle had 518 jitneys providing transit to 49,000 people daily. If private business men could do that then imagine what could be done today.

    1. The reason those private businesses could do that then is that we weren’t subsidizing the hell out of cars. They’re gone for the same reason the streetcars are.

      1. It’s more of a subsidy for roads than cars but be it pavement or vehicles that should make it easier for a private company right? Oh, except public transit doesn’t have to pay fuel taxes, weight fees or property taxes (all the things that “subsidize cars”) and gets an 80% subsidy on operating costs. Could that be why private companies can’t compete?

      2. The streetcars are gone for a number of reasons, but the Public Utilities Holding Act of 1935 really was a major issue. As for the jitneys, they were regulated out of business, thanks to the streetcar companies which rallied their supporters in city hall.

      3. Actually, private companies can and do compete on high-demand corridors. That’s why you see so many private airport shuttles, and why Microsoft has its own bus fleet.

        People are simply not willing to pay as much for some trips as they are for others.

        When you think about it, this makes sense. If you’re going to work, you’re going to pay whatever it takes, since you need the money. If you’re going to the airport, you’re already spending a lot for the trip, so what’s another $10? But if you’re going to the movies, then the cost of the trip becomes a much greater — and less necessary — expense.

        You can also see that carpooling has a much larger share of non-commute trips. Carpooling accounts for about 10% of commute trips, but about 50% of non-commute trips. This is partly because you’re more likely to go to social activities with friends, but partly because carpooling is a good way to save money.

        The point is, a fully privatized bus network would consist of tons of competing vans/jitneys for peak trips, and an almost skeletal all-day network. From the perspective of avoiding congestion, that’s probably okay, but from the perspective of encouraging TOD and human-scale land use, that sucks.

    1. Eyman is very much a realist. He makes a good living hawking initiatives; much more lucrative than selling in watches. The beauty of his marketing plan is that every initiative that fails (or better yet is deemed illegal by the courts) becomes a new opportunity. He’d be more than happy to run a pro-transit initiative if he had donors that were willing to pay his salary. Business plan: solicit donations to get initiative on ballot (but make sure it has provisions that assure it won’t pass or will be rejected by the courts), solicit donations to “promote” initiative, REPEAT.

    2. Eyeman might be “out of touch with ANY version of reality” (and I’m sure it gave you a thrill to write those fightin’ words), but he sure seems to win pretty often. I wonder who’s more out of touch.

  4. How many sidewalk blocks per year will Prop 1 actually fund? I have a friend who voted ‘no’ merely on the basis that we are only building nine blocks of sidewalks a year and he’s not willing to pay $120 for that. He lives a ways north of the University District so I assume he’s in one of those neighborhoods that was promised sidewalks decades ago. :)

    Are we only building nine blocks a year?
    If so, why so slow?
    Will Prop 1 improve it at all?

    I was for the prop regardless of the sidewalk part so hadn’t looked into that yet.

    1. Also I did look on the Streets for All webpage but I could only find a list of possible sidewalk projects but no indication how many could be built or how fast.

      1. Rachel, sidewalks are expensive in Seattle in most cases because we also have to provide drainage at the same time. Most neighborhoods north of 85th don’t have drainage in place, and digging up and providing it costs big bucks. Seattle currently spends about $15 million/year on pedestrian projects. New sidewalks can cost up to a million per block face with drainage, so you can envision what we’re up against.

        The Ped Plan’s filters emphasize social equity and access to transit among other things. I would expect that we’ll see similar efforts to provide sidewalks on arterials and key routes to transit and schools with our limited resources, even if Prop 1 does pass. We simply don’t have the money to build sidewalks on every residential street in the City anytime in the foreseeable future.

      2. I think you’re missing my point. My objection isn’t “why doesn’t this proposition pay for all sidewalks needed?” but rather “about how many projects will this proposition pay for?” The Streets for All webpage isn’t exactly untruthful but it is misleading because it gives a big list of projects, a total amount of money that might be spent on those projects but no indication how far that money will go. From the cost numbers being given by you and others, it sounds like we’ll be lucky if one project (involving sidewalks) on that list could be done a year.

        For someone living where a bus is impractical for most trips, the important parts of this proposition are road and ped projects. It sounds like for the ped part, at least, they are paying around $20 a year to build a couple blocks of sidewalk (or some crosswalks) and some crosswalk signal improvements — likely in someone else’s neighborhood. But the campaign for it isn’t that upfront about that. It says “add hundreds of crossing improvements and new pedestrian countdown signals” which is pretty straightforward and clear. But it also says the ped funds will “double our city’s annual investment in new sidewalk” with no indication of how much we’re building now. It sounds from the cost numbers every one is giving that if Prop 1 will double our sidewalk building we must be building fewer even than the nine block faces my friend was angry about.

    2. I believe last time I looked into the “promises” for sidewalks in northern neighborhoods, it was found that no such promises ever existed. For some reason people in Greenwood pass down the story that annexation was tied to them getting sidewalks, but there’s no contemporary documentation of the same.

      Sidewalks cost money. I think we need more of them, but each dollar spent on sidewalks in a low-density residential neighborhood is going to affect a very small number of people relative to other ways of spending transportation money.

      If it’s the same friend, he just said that as someone who lives north of 85th, “We’re getting almost nothing.” I find that to be a really shortsighted way of looking at community investment.

      1. Well, considering I live in Beacon Hill with many transit-dependent neighbors and a large number of missing or inadequate sidewalks, I am pretty sympathetic to his outrage. It’s a common one for city residents in many neighborhoods.

        I would find it kind of shocking if we can only build nine blocks a year. Moreover, the Streets for All website is shockingly low on information on how much we actually can build. I don’t need to know exactly which projects — that would be absurd — but it would be nice to know that Prop 1 could fund approximately X% of these projects per year.

        I begin to understand why some criticize this measure as vague. Sure, it allocates some $44 million for sidewalk projects. Streets for All lists some possible sidewalk projects and mentions the Pedestrian Master Plan. I’ve sent about ten minutes looking at the Seattle PMP webpage and have no idea how many projects that could be. The link I get under Project Recommendations / Implementation is just a couple paragraphs!  Maybe it doesn’t have actual projects or their costs on this site and I’m looking in the wrong place.

        Poking around the Seattle Transportation Benefit District site isn’t helping either. The press release gives at least a nice schwag for road projects per year. This PDF gives some per year figures but I have no idea how much sidewalk that is. I found a summary of CTAC III proposal which has total dollar figures numbers but again I don’t really have a good idea what that buys. 

        I don’t have a car so will not be paying the car tab fee in any case but I’m beginning to wonder if I can in good conscience go out door-belling on Sunday: not because I feel bad advocating a tax I won’t pay but because I don’t really understand what it’s buying. I thought I knew but now I’m not so sure. I just spent an hour googling and following links on reasonable sites (STBD, Seattle City gov, Streets for All, etc) and I have no idea if that $44 million will buy one block of sidewalk or a hundred.

      2. Gee, Rachel, if you had “good conscience,” you might ask yourself whether it’s ethical for you to even think of stealing from others (motorists) to pay for your own goodies.

    3. 9 blocks is probably about as many sidewalks that fall in to disrepair every year. I’m sorry but the envisioned benefit is too little for the effect this fee will have on lower income residents.

      1. The part I don’t understand is, who are all of these dirt-poor people who can afford to own and maintain a car?

        According to the AAA — a group that is, if anything, biased towards cars — the operating cost of a vehicle is about 22 cents per mile. Thus, if you drive 15,000 miles a year, it costs $3,300 in gas, maintenance, etc.

        If you can afford that, you can afford an extra $60.

      2. Aleks, please consider spending some time a little closer to reality than simply relying on statistics from an organization that wants to sell products to the middle class. People get by by hook or by crook by deferring maintenance, by putting sub-standard retreaded tires on their cars, by doing the bare minimum to get them running. They don’t take their cars to dealerships if they can avoid it, they take them to the back yard shop in the neighborhood.

        For you perhaps and many people, the $60 is no sweat of their nose. But for many people, it is an unwanted expenditure that they would rather use for something else or try to save. And because the cost of living in Seattle is so much higher than it is in the boonies, and the fact than many poor people work night and grave yard shifts, public transportation just simply isn’t an option for them.

        You may think this fee is innocuous and trivial, but it could have the effect of further driving people to cheaper/farther away locals.

        And what happens the next time MORE money is needed when politicians “promise” that if we can just do this one thing our problems will be solved? (Bridging the Gap?) Because we have a horribly regressive tax structure in this State and we are too self absorbed to do the work to change that, we make do with these regressive schemes that continue to take money from the poor and leave the wealthy to continue to shirk their fair share. And here’s an example of many of us shirking our fair share… How many of you have ever purchased something online or mail order and not paid Washington State sales taxes? How many of you have travelled to Oregon to purchase a computer or other big ticket item and not paid Washington taxes on it? That is an example of our tax system that cheats the state out of millions in revenue and those that have the means take advantage of it, thinking it is not their responsibility.

        The right thing to do is for the city and region to coalesce its clout and push Olympia and the rest of Washington to change our tax system.

      3. Charles,

        I have a friend who’s on WA Disability Lifeline. She gets $197/mo in cash and $200/mo in food stamps. No other source of income.

        I have another friend who’s on federal SSI. He gets $674/mo in cash and $70/mo in food stamps. No other source of income.

        These people *already* can’t afford cars. Instead, they rely on the transit network for medical visits, government appointments, and everything else.

        And to make matters worse, Governor Gregoire is poised to cancel the state Disability Lifeline program, meaning that my friend — and the 21,000 people who rely on that program — will be completely screwed.

        I understand that there are many people for whom the fee will be an unavoidable hardship. But there are many other people — including the poorest of the poor — for whom the benefits of passing Prop 1 are huge, and the cost is nonexistent.

        Look — I’m a progressive. I want to replace the sales tax with a state income tax (I voted for I-1098). I want a MVET based on the value of the car, like we used to have. And I agree that we need to demand that Olympia give us better options.

        But for the time being, the MVET is the most progressive option we’ve got. And the benefits to everyone, especially the poor, far outweigh the cost.

  5. The proposal allocates $2.34 million annually to “Pedestrian Safety and Access,” which includes “Sidewalks, Crossing Improvements, Countdown Signals and Accessible Pedestrian Signals.” So that’s a lot more than just sidewalks. In fact, I think crossing improvements are probably more important than sidewalks, and can potentially cost more to boot.

    I don’t know how much the city pays to build sidewalks, but I’ve seen it listed for as much as $200 per linear foot elsewhere on the internet. At that rate, nine average city blocks would cost $679,000.

    1. Part of the holdup to building more sidewalks is the same default mindset that blocks HOV lanes. When I ask a transportation department employee about adding an HOV lane on this or that road, I usually get asked how would it be possible to take land from adjacent owners in order to add those lanes.

      Similarly, it seems assumed that sidewalks will be built at the expense of peoples’ front yards. It doesn’t have to be that way…

      1. “Similarly, it seems assumed that sidewalks will be built at the expense of peoples’ front yards. It doesn’t have to be that way…”

        Land they probably don’t own anyway.

      2. Not really, Brent. Neighborhoods that actually want sidewalks are well aware that the streetscape will have to change. The real barrier is funding.

        The Ped Plan’s Tier 1 projects alone would take over $800 million. Note we’re adding just over $2 million/year if Prop 1 passes, and that’s not all going to sidewalk construction.

      3. Let’s face it: If you don’t have a sidewalk in front of your house, you never will. Period. It might help matters if the promoters of the various referendums would just come out and tell the truth about that.

  6. There is nothing to like about I-1125. The initiative prevents variable tolling, doesn’t allow tolls to be used to fund transit, and blocks East Link over I-90.

    Nothing? Two out of three ain’t bad := I’m voting no anyway. Variable tolling absolutely is the right way to go on 520 and hopefully this demonstration project will be expanded. Maybe Eyman’s next initiative should be to force the airlines to charge flat rates on all the routes they fly? One of the best reasons though to vote no is that it is two out of three. State law requires an initiative to address only one issue, not two and certainly not three. If it passed it would not only be a huge legal expense for the State but free advertising for Eyman’s next initiative gig. If Costco puts $22 million behind an Eyman is a horses behind initiative I’ll buy a membership!

    1. There’s also the fact that it puts toll-setting in the hands of the legislature (though, curiously, they can’t be trusted with the freedom to set variable tolls). This would make WA the only state in the nation where the ability to repay construction bonds depends on the willingness of legislators to vote for politically-unpopular toll increases.

      (I’m scared to imagine what would happen if tolls somehow got folded into the 2/3 tax increase rule. Suddenly, a *minority* of legislators could singlehandedly stop our state from being able to afford major construction projects? That would be legendarily bad.)

      Bernie, I know your feelings on East Link, but I’m curious why you don’t using tolling to pay for transit. We’re not talking about something totally unrelated; we’re talking about using transportation revenue to improve transportation. Requiring tolls to be spent on the specific project where they’re raised strikes me as analogous to requiring cigarette taxes to be spent on cigarette advertising.

      1. I believe tolling should be returned to just financing the project for which it is collected. It worked paying for the first 520 sinking bridge. User fees should be just that; not revenue collection that can be used for saving children in Africa or what ever else our well meaning but misguided legislature comes up with. As far as cigarette taxes… health care. But seriously, vice taxes I’m OK with funding general funds because it’s just a targeted sales tax the same as exempting staples like bread, water and soda pop ;-)

      2. Requiring tolls to be spent on the specific project where they’re raised strikes me as analogous to requiring cigarette taxes to be spent on cigarette advertising.

        It’s more like requiring lottery proceeds to be spent on education, and cig taxes to be spent on health care. Neither of which have ever really worked out, given the fungibility of money in a state budget. But road tolls to fund construction are a special case. That’s something where you really can track it.

        Eyman is right about this one. You people are so blinded by your outright hatred of the guy that you refuse to even consider the merits of his proposal. But more than half the state’s voters will do so. Keep telling yourselves you’re smart if you want. I’m sure it’ll make you feel better!

    2. I’ll be voting for I-1125. Eyman is the only thing standing between us and tax-aggedon. I am fine with tolls, but not when they are general purpiose taxes as you people want them to be. I realize that, once I-1125 wins, you’ll be in court. But I doubt that will work out for you.

      See, here’s what’s probably going to happen: Proposition 1 will be swamped. Props 1183 and 1125 will win comfortably. Just about everything the Democrats wanted will lose, except for the union-sponsored home health care initiative, while just about everything the conservatives want will win.

      This will be a prelude to Washington State being swept clean by the Republicans in 2012. They’ll win the governor’s race. They’ll win the U.S. Senate seat. They’ll take control of the legislature.

      The message is going to be quite clear. For those liberals who have been listening only to themselves and hurling insults at everyone who tries to make a contrary point, the results will be bitter indeed. This will be especially true for those in the high church of wasteful mass transit.

      You’ll see. Winter is coming, folks. It’s going to be cold out there. Real, real cold. You’ll have a long time to contemplate just how badly you screwed up.

      1. Gas taxes and registration fees should fund freeway construction and maintenance. To the extent that this isn’t enough money, I’d support some tolling for construction, but not for maintenance. If the state can’t maintain a road, then it shouldn’t be built in the first place.

        Similarly, mass transit should be financed by its users.

      2. “For those liberals who have been listening only to themselves and hurling insults at everyone who tries to make a contrary point”

        Pot, meet kettle.

  7. I realize I didn’t really answer your question. Here’s why I don’t like “market based user fees” on freeways:

    We supposedly built them with our taxes, and our taxes supposedly go for maintenance. I have a problem with paying to use something that I partially own, and fix. To me, this smells like a general tax, and a penalty for driving a car.

    We already have “tolls” of a sort. We call them gas taxes, but the practical effect is to charge people for how much they drive. But it’s a flat rate, varying not by some “market rate” but by a car’s mileage. Among other things, it’s a fuel economy incentive.

    To the extent that the federasl highway fund is raided for mass transit subsidies, drivers already help out at the pump. Which, I might add, is something I don’t particularly like. On the other hand, I’d be all in favor of a 60-cent gas and heating oil tax to fund the various oil wars, on the grounds that they are part of the cost of driving and using oil, and a pollution remediation tax that would fund energy alternatives, on the grounds that pollution is an externality generated by driving and the prices ought to reflect what costs we can identify and quantify.

    But I don’t think drivers should be financing mass transit. If we want to subsidize it, then the mechanism should be different: something more general, like sales taxes and/or property taxes, identified as transit subsidy levies so people can know what they’re paying.

    In Seattle, where the population density argues heavily against fixed rail, I’d want to be sure that transit users pay a hefty price for their toy. This has been disguised by the various promoters, and that cover needs to be ripped off the ball. The various rail “modalities,” as you people like to call them, are hideously expensive. You’ve given us a Nieman-Marcus solution and attached a Wal-Mart price for using it. I am against that.

    Back to “market based user fees” for highways. I think tolls should be reserved for construction costs, and allocated to the project itself and nothing else. So, if higher peak-use charges were levied, then to the extent that the bonds were paid off early then maybe it would help reduce overall financing costs.

    But that’s not what your group wants. You want to levy higher peak-use rates in conjunction with obliterating the historic function of tolls, which is to finance construction costs. You want tolls to be general taxes, and behavior modification tools imposed by government. I quite strongly oppose both of those ideas, and I think I’m firmly in the majority on that, along with (gasp!) the Tim Eyman you so hate and dread.

    I don’t approve of back-door taxes, and I don’t think government ought to be trying to punish me for using my car.

    1. You want tolls to be general taxes, and behavior modification tools imposed by government.

      Suppose you have 10 widgets, and 20 people who want one. How do you decide who gets them?

      One possibility is to use price-based rationing. You find the highest price for your widgets that at least 10 people are willing to pay.

      Another possibility is to use time-based rationing. You announce that you will sell your widget for $5 starting at midnight, and lots of people start camping out in front of your store. Thus, instead of paying in extra money, the 10 people who get your widget will pay in extra time.

      From an economic perspective, time-based rationing is very inefficient for both buyer and seller. For the buyer, it generally undervalues your time. If the choice is between paying $20 now, or waiting in line for 3 hours to pay $5, then you’re basically working for $5 an hour. And for the buyer, it would clearly be better to have extra money; all those people waiting in line do nothing for the buyer.

      If market-based tolling is implemented properly, it should dramatically improve driving for everyone who is willing and able to pay the toll. If you make more than $12/hour, why wouldn’t you want to pay $6 to save 30 minutes of idling in traffic?

      By using market-based tolling, we can ensure that the freeways are free-flowing 24 hours a day. If that’s punishment, then sign me up!

      1. If market-based tolling is implemented properly, it should dramatically improve driving for everyone who is willing and able to pay the toll. If you make more than $12/hour, why wouldn’t you want to pay $6 to save 30 minutes of idling in traffic?

        Three responses.

        First, I don’t believe that you want to “improve driving.” I believe that you want to punish driving.

        Second, if all proceeds are used specifically for the project where the tolls are collected, then I’m fine with tolls. If the road is full once the bonds are paid off, then continued tolling could be used to add lanes.

        Third, time of day tolling could pay off the bonds earlier and cut financing costs. But it’ll penalize a lot of middle class people who don’t have much discretion over when they drive. So I’m not s big fan of the mechanism. And, of course, I also strongly suspect that the intent is to punish people for using their cars, and/or to force them into using mass transit that they otherwise would prefer not to use.

      2. But it’ll penalize a lot of middle class people who don’t have much discretion over when they drive.

        To the contrary.

        Suppose that 100 people drive over a bridge each day in one direction. 80 drive over during rush hour, and the other 20 drive during the rest of the day. You need to raise $500 per day to pay for the bridge.

        One possibility is to have a $5 daily toll per user. Another possibility is to charge $6.25 during peak, and nothing off-peak.

        Flat-rate tolls penalize all drivers. During peak, they force all drivers to deal with congestion, since the road is underpriced. And off-peak, they force all drivers to overpay, since the road is overpriced.

        Lots of people have jobs which require them to use very nontraditional hours. Social workers, third-shift workers, construction, retail, medical, emergency services (police/fire/EMT)… the list goes on. These people all use the freeways during off-peak times. With a flat-rate toll, they’re potentially paying *way* more for that privilege, even though the roadway is practically empty. (In my example above, they’d have to pay $10 per day with flat tolls, or nothing at all with market-rate tolls.)

        Lots of other people have flexible schedules, and choose to work 9-5 simply because it’s convenient. Market-rate tolls would encourage them to pick different hours, which is good for them (they can save money), and for everyone else (since that’s one fewer car stuck in traffic).

        I don’t see how this is punishment any more than it’s punishment for airlines to charge more for tickets during Thanksgiving, or for stores to have sales on swimsuits after Labor Day. You charge more for things that more people want, and less for things that fewer people want. What’s the problem?

      3. A few things.

        1. No one taxes me to pay for the airplanes that the airlines use, or to maintain them. So the airline example is inappropriate. You’d be better off citing private toll roads in Texas and California. I’m not very high on them. Maybe they are more to your liking? I think public infrastructure ought to be publicly owned and operated, myself.

        2. A lot of people have little choice over when they drive. In fact, the less affluent they are, generally the less choice they have. You don’t seem to care about this. I have always thought that the pro-transit group tends to be elitist and uncaring when it comes to people of lesser incomes, and you’re not dissuading me.

      4. “1. No one taxes me to pay for the airplanes that the airlines use, or to maintain them. So the airline example is inappropriate. You’d be better off citing private toll roads in Texas and California.”

        Are you sure about that? Have you looked at your airline ticket receipts in the past few years? There are taxes galore that go to getting that plane off the ground, safely through the air and back on the ground at your destination. The Passenger Facility Fees, pay for the local airports to provide and maintain the infrastructure you use. The Federal taxes (e.g. not user fees) pay in part the Air Route Traffic Control System, the system of inspectors that keep you safer in your airline seat than in the car seat your took to get to the airport. The Federal Government also pays some airlines fees to provide “essential” service to some locations so that commerce is enhanced. (I’m sure that sticks in your craw but I digress…) That “essential” service might include the cost of acquiring and maintaining the aircraft on that route. But here’s a kicker, it’s not all ticket fees and aviation fuel fees that cover the costs the Federal and State governments spend on the aviation system in this country. Our general taxes also are used. Our airlines were given the gift of a few billion dollars just to stay in business shortly after 9/11. The idea that businesses operate in some form of magical vacuum, devoid of ANY government assistance is silly.

        What you advocate for roads has been described in economics as “The tragedy of the commons”, that you can use, and use and use the resources without regard to any responsibility for them that we should be able to clog up the roads, and “we’ll build more” is the height of self-centered foolishness. It is perfectly reasonable role for government to provide a mechanism to regulate the use of these facilities including limits on speed both for safety and for efficiency. If a market based toll can be used to mange the flow of traffic, then as patriotic citizens, we should be just fine with that. Demand for roads is elastic (as the tolling scenario empirically demonstrates). Supply for roads is not elastic as they don’t magically grow or shrink to meet demand at demands whim.

      5. “Stay Away” is unpatriotic and stupid? I don’t think so. I’m not sure that I agree with everything (s)he wrote, but I think the positions (s)he took were legitimate.

        I don’t think we can demand that mass transit fares pay for the system. I don’t think any system pays for itself on that basis. However, when general revenues are used, it also gives the general, non-transit-riding public the primary voice in what to build and how much to contribute to operations. Transit advocates don’t get to make these decisions themselves, and turning around and insulting those people, like “Stay Away,” who pay for the systems, is unfair and unwise.

        The same goes for Kemper Freeman, the financial angel of Tim Eyman’s I-1125. There is an interesting profile of Freeman in The Stranger. He’s not anti-transit, as commonly portrayed. He is anti-fixed rail, which I think is a legitimate position to take.

        I have voted for light rail a couple of times, but I regret those votes. I have come to the view that fixed rail is an expensive, inappropriate, backward looking approach, and should be abandoned before it drains all of our money. We should be fixing roads and concentrating on buses, automated car control, and conversion from gas to electric propulsion.

        There are viable alternatives to fixed rail. Opposing fixed rail doesn’t mean that someone opposes transit solutions.

    2. Incidentally, I don’t know who this “Jake” is. But the question was obviously addressed to me, so I answered it. Maybe “Jake” will too, whoever “Jake” is.

      1. Jake doesn’t need to answer. You’re doing just fine as his sock puppet. Saying the same things he would in exactly the same way.

      2. Well, the most of you say the same things in the same way, so I guess it winds up being the same then.

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