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Flickr user andrewjn_minn submitted this to the pool. Now we know who considers faster bus service a real priority.

85 Replies to “Prop 1 Voting Map”

    1. Have you walked around the neighborhoods north of 85th St to see why they would be swayed by David Miller’s arguments that there wasn’t enough money for sidewalks?

      1. Agreed. A targeted $20 fee for sidewalks would have had a much better chance of passing. Leave the word “bike” off of it and make sure it’s not viewed as “something from McGinn” and it would have been a slam dunk.

        The sidewalk situation north of 85th is purely atrocious. Something needs to be done about it, but Prop 1 certainly wasn’t it.

        But hey, when R+T was voted down we ended up getting something better (ST2). Maybe the same thing will happen here, but I’m not holding my breath given our current leadership.

      2. It costs something like $800 million to build all the sidewalks that Seattle needs – I absolutely think those sidewalks should be built, but I’d like to see how David Miller plans to fund all that work.

      3. There will never be sidewalks north of 85th on existing construction.

        “Too expensive”

        Especially when you factor in the fact you have to build drainage, fight landowners over easements, incorporate ADA requirements, and etc.

        Think of it as an affordable housing program. No sidewalks means cheaper housing…

      4. I betcha the $800 million figure is based on the assumption that sidewalks have to be built by taking a chunk of ROW out of homeowners’ front yards. The idea of shrinking a street to create sidewalk space is as foreign to our mindset as taking asphalt with parked cars and turning it into a transit lane (or a general purpose flow lane so that the inner lane can become a transit lane).

        If streets willing to give up street width get to be first in line for sidewalks, I bet there will be streets (or, rather, the residents thereof) who will be willing to take that bargain, especially on streets that wish to discourage through traffic, which describes a lot of far north Seattle.

      5. $800 million just gets sidewalks in the highest priority areas. It would cost billions to build out sidewalks everywhere.

        How were the sidewalks built in the areas of the city that have them? Did the rest of the city pay for the sidewalks or were they paid for by the landowners of the areas in question?

      6. The city’s built a couple of blocks of sidewalks over the years (mostly in North Greenwood, if I recall correctly). There’s been some serious pushback from neighbors. Building sidewalks could happen in a place with Chicago’s The-mayor-wants-it-so-it’s-gonna-happen culture, but not with Seattle’s let’s-be-sensitive-to-objections culture.

      7. Brent, the big expense isn’t ‘taking land from homeowners’. The big expense is drainage. It doesn’t matter where you put the sidewalk, you have to deal with drainage; we have some pretty serious ESA issues with salmon in the Sound. That’s where the big dollars come in, and why David Miller (and a $20 car tab fee) are wrong in believing we could make a significant impact on our sidewalk network with small dollars. We can continue to focus our resources on safe routes to schools, and arterials, and in another 50 years we’ll have the ‘Tier 1’ project list from the Pedestrian Master Plan built out.

      8. Bingo! That is exactly right. Drainage and surface runoff issues do drive the cost of new sidewalks way up, but this is also a very big opportunity.

        Dealing with surface runoff is a big issue, even with the current system of open ditches north of 85th. And solving this problem will take money, but that money will not come from the car tab fee – it will in all likelihood come from a different pot. This means that there is the potential of a variety of funding sources available to solve the combined sidewalk/drainage issue. And that is a very big opportunity.

        And I think it is a big mistake to conclude that the $20 tab fee couldn’t solve the entire problem and therefore we shouldn’t even start. I’d implement the $20 fee, pursue additional sources of funding, and start by adding sidewalks around parks, schools, and high transit use areas.

        $20 will get you something, so we should start and just keep working at it.

      9. Thanks for the response, JohnS.

        Could you explain, in layman’s terms, why building sidewalks creates new drainage issues? Consider whether sidewalks without curbs create those issues, or if it really is the curbs.

      10. Steve has a valid point about neighborhoods getting in the way of sidewalks. I’ve seen sidewalk money frittered away on some pretty fru-fru stoney paths that aren’t that good for pedestrians and are totally useless for mobility devices. This frittering away happens because that’s what the neighborhood decides to do with the money.

        If a neighborhood says no to a basic ADA-compliant sidewalk, the city should relent, not built it, and move down the list to the next neighborhood.

      11. The good news is when SPU is planning on redoing the drainage along a street without sidewalks we’ve got a great opportunity to put sidewalks in as part of the redo.

  1. Cool now I know where the sane neighborhoods are. So basically the young,hip neighborhoods made of mostly transient populations want to spend the rest of the city’s dollars on blank checks to Big Bike

    1. In defense of bikers (of which I am not one, as I don’t have a death wish), most visibly-identifiable bikers I saw at TMP meetings were advocating for filling potholes. I find that approach short-sighted, but that’s what I heard from the bikers.

      1. I’ve seen studies suggesting that you’re about half as likely to die in an hour of biking than in an hour of driving. My commute, during rush hour, takes about as long to bike as to drive, and biking I get to skip some of the more dangerous roads. YMMV.

        For what it’s worth, a lot of what the city does in the name of cycling is utterly stupid. Bike lanes in many road diets are little but a way to narrow general-purpose lanes on too-wide roadways… but unfortunately just shunt cyclists into the door zone, the most dangerous part of the road.

      2. As a bicyclist, I agree that filling potholes, and road resurfacing, crack sealing should be a priority. On one side, a rough roadway slows down traffic, making it safer to bicycle on, on the other side, if I hit a pothole, major crack, I’m likely to crash and end up in the ER with cuts, bruises or worse.

        And riding around Capital Hill’s back streets avoiding traffic and I can tell you that the road surfaces suck. Plus some minimal maintenance would go a long way to making those roads last longer.

    2. You’re troll has some kernel of the truth in it. Certainly it seems to argue for a very asymmetrical view that desire for dense transit follow dense population.

      At the same time, people on the outskirts don’t have that desire. The planners (or rather social engineers) answer seems to be to make everything dense, thereby justifying the transit. An alternative is to let form follow function, and build dense interior transit clusters with lots of external trunk routes and park ‘n rides to get inside.

      So, think of the interior city as Disneyland, and the rest of it as the Guests to Disneyland.

      1. Building a massive road network was just as much a social engineering exercise as anything planners want to do now. It was also a pretty massive environmental engineering exercise. The social results have been mixed, the environmental ones disastrous.

        When you label people social engineers you imply that the status quo is simply the natural, inevitable result of people’s free choices. That’s just not true. Where we are today is the result of both people’s free choices, the decisions made by planners, and the decisions we’ve made collectively. I believe we need to make vastly different choices going forward, but if you believe in maintaining the status quo, you can’t make an effective case for it by calling it inevitable or natural. You have to make a case for it on its merits.

  2. The map shows that the smaller, denser precincts (where people are more transit dependent) were usually in favor of more money to build transit infrastructure. The larger, less dense precincts (where people are more auto dependent) were less likely to want to pay $60/year for better transit. Not a real surprise.

    1. Or that map might show that the only areas of the city that were solidly “for” Prop 1 were the U-District and Cap Hill. Unfortunately that is not a winning strategy.

      1. Looks like Prop 1 did pretty well in Wallingford, Fremont, Ballard, and LQA as well.

        The neighborhoods just North of the ship canal seem to really want better transit.

  3. If you want to win more votes north of 85th St., build more sidewalks, especially where there are none to get to major bus routes.


    Having an actual mechanism to waive the tab for poor car owners would help a lot in southeast Seattle and Delridge, as well as close to the north city limits.

    But it appears John Fox had less impact than he likes to take credit for. The neighborhoods most into hating Paul Allen voted heavily in favor.

    I obviously failed to bring South Park’s votes, and I am sorry I failed. There really wasn’t anything in the package for my neck of the woods. It was too central-city-centric, and the results reflect that. South Park normally leans progressive on transportation votes.

  4. Well, truth had to come out sometime. A lot of people probably think that “yes” votes on Prop 1 were from caving in to “Big Trolleybus”, or from being fed up with “Big Oil”, “Big Car Insurance”, “Big Car Repair”, or “Big Spending-Half-A-Day-Stuck-In-Traffic.”

    But now the pathetic fact is revealed: the whole campaign was a sneaky trick spawned by Ballard’s desperate attempt to be seen as young and hip. Boy, is this ever embarrassing! Guess it’s better to get these things out in the open.

    Also a relief to know that BigDon’s ok. We were wondering when he was going to show up, but what happened was he’s been stuck in traffic so long his cell phone went dead.

    Mark Dublin

  5. It would be informative if somehow this data could be shown accounting for voter turnout in each precinct.

    1. Was just going to mention the same thing. Would also be worth comparing turnout for this election with other November elections – 2010, 2009, and 2008. I am guessing turnout for November 2011 was very low. Something more closely resembling 2008 or even 2009 might have produced a different outcome.

    1. Yes, a flat fee is “regressive” in the strictest sense of the word, except that it helps support the ability to go car free and avoid the tax. By voting down this “regressive” tax, you’re forcing car ownership and usage, which is vastly more regressive for the poorest segments of the population.

  6. I know people are discussing north of 85th, but what stands out to me is the vote in West Seattle and South Seattle in particular. Lots of lessons here.

    Seattle has a lot of transportation needs, and hardly any way to fund them. Figuring out how to solve that conundrum should be a top priority for transit advocates.

    1. West Seattle is not a surprise. They tend to want to go against what the rest of Seattle is for. Building the monorail to West Seattle wasn’t about good transportation planning, but about getting the votes from an affluent neighborhood that tends to vote No if they don’t get to be at the front of the line. Just building the monorail to Ballard, where the density justifies it, would have been financially viable, but the heavy-turnout affluent neighborhoods of West Seattle would have voted No.

      There are those in the Admiral District who are still fuming about the city not building a parking garage for them.

      South Seattle, including Delridge, is a little bit of a surprise, but not that much. We really have been smug toward the role racial politics and class politics play in transportation politics, to our detriment.

      The first step toward better understanding of how activists in southeast Seattle feel unheard is listening.

      1. Brent,

        I am not sure I agree with your first two sentences. It would be interesting to see a map of West Seattle voting on ST2. And the recent Families and Education Proposition. Really now, West Seattle has not been a big recipient of any Sound Transit infrastructure spending, but I bet West Seattle supported ST. I know I did.

        I do believe it will be important for a future package to gain the support of West Seattle, like maybe offering a wee bit of light rail, perhaps.

      2. Some of my above comments are now out-of-context due to the hole in the middle.

        Nevertheless, I believe West Seattle was promised the 560. They didn’t read the fine print that they had to put butts in seats in order to keep the 560.

        Do you think West Seattle would vote for a Ballard light rail line on the promise they would be next?

      3. Thanks,

        I rest my case. Remember, West Seattle was offered very little specific to West Seattle from any ST proposal and we still supported it.

      4. Rod,

        IYHO, would a measure that included speeding up West Seattle buses with dedicated ROW and traffic signal priority likely cause more West Seattleites to vote for or against the measure?

      5. [Andrew] Wow, that map looks amazingly like the one above, if you zoom in on Seattle and roll back the percentages a few points.

      6. Brent,

        Honestly, I think many in West Seattle want to see light rail. We already have a bus lane over the West Seattle Bridge. If more dedicated ROW is made, I think most would wish to see rail on it.

      7. No offense, Rod, but I’m over West Seattle’s “gimme” attitude toward infrastructure and services.

        Most of West Seattle’s elective residents moved out there for the express purpose of escaping the bustle of city life, for retreating to their little hermetic hovels while still enjoying the advantages of proximity to city jobs and services.

        But when it comes to roads or transit, it’s always “me first” and “give us the best and fastest and costliest.” (Oh, and “don’t disturb our parking, too.”)

        But this map makes it clear that they’re not willing to pay their fair share for any of it.

        So screw ’em. And screw Queen Anne too.

        Build the North Seattle Spur: the map makes more more amenable to a Fremont routing than I’ve been (though Upper Fremont and Phinney voted generously as well) and wealthy-but-clearly-pro-transit Wallingford needs to be moved to the front of the line!

    1. It practically looks like a perfect correlation, doesn’t it? Either that or it’s correlated to the distance from Cal Anderson Park.

      1. Belltown and Lower Queen Anne are a lot denser than Central Wallingford.

        I wonder how it correlates with % of population under 40.

  7. So happy to be moving to the CD. As a fan of public transit and NOT DRIVING EVERYWHERE. Now to figure out BIke routes :)

  8. The map is beautiful, even if Oran can’t claim credit for it.

    The statement under it could use some reconsideration, as it reads like sour grapes (though I don’t think that is the author’s intent). I don’t think it is true at all that the outer neighborhoods don’t want faster buses.

    1. People in the outer neighborhoods have little reason to care how fast the buses are if they drive everywhere because their neighborhood is poorly served by transit.

  9. There’s no surprises in the chart: the areas that always vote for anything with “transit” in it did so again. Several side issues clouded the vote, so it wasn’t a straight up-or-down “more transit” or “no more transit” vote. Some “pro transit” people thought it was a good down payment on improving bus thoroughput, others thought it wasn’t large enough, others thought there weren’t enough new bus hours, and others didn’t want to “waste” money on a streetcar. So the pro-transit vote was diluted and split.

    The most noticeable thing to me is that West Seattle has no blue or teal at all. That bodes ill for rail in their near future.

    1. Come on, Mike. Prop. 1 was not about bringing light rail to West Seattle. It was a mish-mash of a bunch of stuff. But light rail to West Seattle was not part of the mix. Prop 1 failed at the polls badly, not just in West Seattle, for heaven’s sake.

    2. I didn’t hear anyone who was swayed by the disingenuous argument that there were “no new bus hours” in the package. But then again, we did no exit polling.

  10. All the red in south Seattle where the population is generally poorer, more transit dependent, and has lower rates of car ownership, tells me that the benefits of Prop 1 for these folks just weren’t communicated well enough.

    1. What benefits?

      They clearly saw that the benefits would flow to the middle-aged white dude in spandex riding in from the North End…

    2. It’s a paradox in America that the working class and poor have cars now only because they trickled down after the 1940s, and they have to put an extraordinary percentage of their income into keeping the car so they can get to work (and in the affordable parts of Tukwila and Renton and Des Moines, just to get out of the apartment). There was a study of transit enthusiasm in Chicago neighborhoods, and poor neighborhoods with good transit wanted more of it, and poor neighborhoods without good transit (where they’ve been using cars for the past half century) cared more about better highways and didn’t want money diverted to transit. Part of it is fear of losing the mobility they have, part of it is the status symbol of having a car, and part of it is the machismo of driving a car. So even though transit improvements would give them more choices and take less money out of their pockets, they vote against their own economic interests.

      The same situation obtains in Seattle. Rainier Valley and West Seattle voted for Mallahan (pro-DBT, indifferent on transit) rather than McGinn (anti-DBT, pro-transit), “Save Our Valley!” came from there, and now anti Prop 1 votes come from there too. It almost makes you throw up your hands in despair. The people who would most benefit from better transit, and would be a powerful activist force if they chose, just say, “No thanks, we’ll stick with our cars.” That’s why I’m glad the Transit Riders’ Union has started up, and I’m hoping they’ll cause more people in the south half of the city to get interested in transit and in improving it. And I’m hoping that the TRU agrees that frequent-service corridors are better than half-hourly moderately-used routes. That’s the main stumbling point in getting better service for the same dollars.

  11. What’s with the small block of red just to the north of UW? It’s the most isolated bit of red on the map.

    1. A little bit of U Village? Ravenna? Maybe they like their cars just fine in their suburban villages and don’t use buses enough to support an increase in their tabs.

  12. So I’ve been making the argument that focusing transit service on the most heavily used lines in order to maximize ridership there at the expense of service to outlying neighborhoods is not only a false choice, but a politically disastrous path to follow.

    This map makes that argument far better than I ever could. There just aren’t enough votes in the most transit-using neighborhoods to support new investment. You have to give something to other neighborhoods too. It may offend some people’s emphasis on metrics and data, but it is also necessary to actually get the votes to pass new sources of money.

    1. It’s funny you should say that, since Prop 1 included improvements such as:

      – New sidewalks — none of which were in the blue areas (since those already have sidewalks)
      – Bus improvements on all of the corridors in the TMP, including West Seattle, South Seattle, and many others that are way outside of the blue zone.

      On a per-capita basis, the blue zones probably would have received less Prop 1 spending than the rest.

      If I were to hastily draw a conclusion, I would say that this map seems to suggest that the promise of better transit is simply not something those other neighborhoods seem to care about.

      1. Uh, no, those other neighborhoods do care about transit, just not as intensely as Capitol Hill and the hipster corridor do.

        The transit investment corridors were heavily central city. The streetcar study was all about the central city.

        The sidewalk money was chump change.

        There was little effort to communicate geographic equity to the edge city, to the extent that such equity existed.

        Announcement of routes to be cut in South Seattle was also poorly timed. Metro didn’t do the campaign any favors by unveiling that list when they did.

        It also didn’t help that the city had failed to devise a waiver mechanism, when there are simple criteria that can be used to do so, with straightforward documentation.

        I don’t blame the poor for receiving the wrong message. I blame the message for being weak and not directed toward a majority coalition of voters. That, and it is clear we don’t know how to do get-out-the-vote in our GOTV neighborhoods.

      2. Brent,

        I apologize for the sarcasm in my post, but in case it wasn’t clear, my “hasty conclusion” does not represent my actual thoughts on the matter.

        Will seems to have the idea that STB is on a mission to eliminate transit everywhere other than the blue areas of the map. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

        The point of my comment was simply that it’s incorrect to say that Prop 1 failed because it offered nothing to non-central-city residents. I agree with you that the poor message is a much more likely proximate cause.

  13. Creating accessible sidewalks has the potential to save taxpayer money ( a lot of money) simply by removing barriers that prevent people who have disabilities from using ADA paratransit for some (maybe all) of thier trips. Someone who needs flat even surfaces, curbcuts, and clear proximity from traffic etc. may be able to get to a near by bus zone that they are unable to reach due to the current barriers as a result of lack of sidewalk. Using fixed route for even one regular trip that would have alternatly been used for paratransit is a significant savings.

    for example:
    In 2010 average fixed route boarding cost king county $3.65 per one way trip

    In the same year, ADA required transportation cost king county an average of $39.17 per one way trip.

    If an individual has an accessible path to fixed route service and is only using paratransit for trips that have a barrier which prevents them from using the bus, the funds could be better spent to improve accessible service and/or possibly further development for more sidewalks!

    I suggest focus sidewalk creation in fixed route service areas where you find communities of people who would benefit greatly from them. Senior housing, Adult family homes, medical centers….

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