Last night at Sound Transit’s public meeting about their proposed parking garage at Northgate, it looks like more than 92% of the people who showed up (that’s the percentage that won’t use cars to get to the station in 2030, on stickers many attendees wore) had a pretty clear message – they don’t want Sound Transit to build a parking garage at Northgate. Instead, they want to allow Northgate the opportunity to become, as Craig Benjamin says toward the end of the KIRO clip, a “walkable, bikeable, transit-rich community.”
This is a pretty interesting situation. This site isn’t in the middle of an existing residential community, it’s next to a freeway in what’s basically still a sea of parking: the people at this meeting aren’t exactly NIMBYs. In fact, some of the attendees seem more like YIMBYs (Yes In My Back Yard), with a few saying they want to see high density development around this station!
Sound Transit made a misstep here – while engagement on the North Link station design has been ongoing for many years, even before Seattle Transit Blog existed, the inclusion of a permanent garage in that discussion is very new. A parking garage was included here as part of SDOT’s 1998 Transportation Strategic Plan, but that plan assumed that Northgate would be the northern terminus of Link. A lot has changed in 14 years – with RapidRide helping serve people farther to the west of Northgate, and with Link continuing north, there are a lot more options now than it appeared 14 years ago. Moving forward on a structure without seriously reconsidering it and engaging the public is a blunder for the agency, especially when there’s been a growing community effort to improve Northgate.
This is in itself something that I don’t think has come up yet. There’s a distinction between urban villages, of which Seattle has over 20, and an urban center – a place that’s expected to grow to be a major population center, not just a neighborhood. The city’s core of Downtown, Uptown, SLU and Capitol Hill is one of these. The U-district is as well. And Northgate is the third – the only one that isn’t already a dense, vibrant part of the urban core. It’s going to grow, and just as Northgate was the first mall in the country, it’s going to be the first to change, as a 21st century model for making car-oriented inner suburbs better for human beings.
There is a lot of money at stake here. A garage would likely be closer to $25 million than $40 million, but these are not small amounts, and this money is limited. State Representative Gerry Pollet came to the meeting and pointed out that many of the people parking at the station come from just on the west side of the freeway. A pedestrian bridge would reduce the number of people who need to drive around. Today, they don’t have an alternative. If we don’t give them free parking, they’ll consider one.
I’m not surprised at this reaction from the community, but I’m surprised at its strength. A lot of the people there last night have been involved in guiding Northgate for many years, and it’s been a shock to them that Sound Transit had gone so far in their work without involving the community. I didn’t, personally, realize opposition would be so strong – but now that Sound Transit has righted their approach and seen the reaction, I now believe they should go back to the drawing board and spend the time – even if it causes a delay – to find a better solution.
186 Replies to “Northgate Strongly Opposes Garage at Public Meeting”
While it’s heartwarming to see so many people come out against heavily subsidized parking like this, I don’t think it’s correct to call the attendees at this meeting “Northgate.” The people that show up at a meeting aren’t necessarily representative of the neighborhood.
Are the people who came out against the parking garage actually people who live in that neighborhood? Or, are they people who live outside the neighborhood, and just went to that meeting to meddle in that neighborhood’s business?
Meetings like this never are representative of a neighborhood. They just attract people with special interests — not the general public, who are too busy to attend dog-and-pony shows like these.
It’s sort of like the public meetings about cutting bus service. Everyone who rides the bus and doesn’t want their service cut attends those meetings. Everyone who doesn’t ride the bus and could not care less stays home. So, what do those meetings tell you? That people who ride buses don’t want their service cut. Do you really need meetings to tell you that?
There was a show of hands at the start of the meeting where Ron Endrich asked attendees where they were from. Nobody kept count, but it seemed like most of the people there were from the greater Northgate area, if you include neighborhoods like Licton Springs, Maple Leaf, etc. I think people living in these communities have a legitimate say in what happens at Northgate.
My impression is that a LOT of the people there were from the neighborhoods around Northgate. And I think the turnout would have been even better with more time. This was organized on very short notice so I didn’t receive notice from Sound Transit until Saturday, two days before the meeting.
And I think this is different than a meeting on cutting service. The people weren’t here to protest cuts to something they use. They were here to promote better alternatives for the long-term health of an area. A giant garage had been one of many options on the table and it caught us all by surprise to see everything suddenly else gone.
Northgate itself is a pretty small neighborhood, right around the mall. The meeting was at olympic view, which is pretty much on the border with Maple Leaf.
The only people who live in Northgate proper are the ones that can afford $1200+/month rent.
The rent for the townhouses are Thornton creek was like $2500 when I asked…
To be fair, Northgate is a small neighborhood, 15 min walk away from the Northgate Mall and you’re in Pinehurst.
It’s the closest measure we have…
I wasn’t there so I can’t say, but just as I usually argue that land use decisions around Link are a regional concern and shouldn’t be made just by those around the station, think this logic should also apply to parking.
Shouldn’t the market price parking? :)
Yeah sure, I’m all down for that but good luck getting the ST board to approve that major policy change in time to inform this problem. I think a year would be extremely optimistic timeline for a policy change like this to occur.
Anyone who lives north of Northgate should be involved in the conversation. I for one would drive to Northgate (or get transit) then take link the rest of the way. Parking or a transit alternative is my business.
[Grant] That’s actually a problem. Northgate can’t handle the car traffic of everyone from the north that might want free parking and a fast ride downtown, even if they built a huge parking garage. And I’m not sure why I’m paying for your free parking spot anyway.
That’s the point. You don’t get a larger say just because you use the parking lot. I leave near to the station and would like to bike there, but there aren’t enough lockers, for example.
‘representative’ is hard to quantify. I didn’t get a head count last night (although the room was packed) but compared to the total population of the neighborhoods around Northgate we had a couple percent at most, probably?
But the strength of conviction was clear.
I agree with Martin’s comment. I was there and didn’t see you at the meeting, Ben. Did you get a download from others?
There was strong neighborhood representation, but I would say about a third of the people in the room were interested parties from outside the neighborhood turned out by Cascade and others.
At the beginning of the meeting, Ron asked all attendees to raise their hands at various demographic questions. Most attendees in fact live in Maple Leaf, Pinehurst, Licton Springs – or ride transit from the Northgate Transit Center. This was significantly Northgate folks.
That’s great that most attendees are from the area. That hardly makes them necessarily representative of local opinion.
I have been active in Northgate as a neighbor, community council member, Northgate Stakeholder, project leader, meeting attendee, transit rider, walker, parent and more for 14 years. The concerns I heard on Monday are consistent with what I have heard from my neighbors in that 14 years.
What I have heard from the people who live in Northgate is a desire to make Northgate more walkable, bikeable, and easy to get around in. They also want reliable, frequent, safe transit between their homes and the transit station. The pedestrian bridge to Licton Springs has been discussed for over a decade and has strong neighborhood support. Also, there has been concern over traffic in Northgate going back at least 20 years. Neighbors don’t want to make the traffic any worse. Having the improvements that have been discussed lead to all of this. Only focusing on a garage does not get us there.
Two questions come to mind:
1. What mode did meeting participants use to attend the meeting?
2. What is the current and projected mode split of the neighboring area?
It’s one thing to merely advocate using transit, its another to actually practice it.
That’s what the whole 92% thing is about. The mode split of people using the station is projected to be only 8% by car – and that’s skewed high by free parking availability. So spending most of the station access money on less than 10% of the users is silly.
How people get to the meeting is a total straw man. It’s not even at the station area. You know better than that.
Yes because if people are advocating for transit service it’s obviously good enough for them to use now.
since you asked, there were an awful lot of cars there :)
I think a lot of them were driven by Sound Transit and King County folks. :)
Well duh. You know how hard it is to carry posters, easels and boxes of literature on the bus? I’m surprised ST fit all of it in the back of one Dodge Caravan.
For the record: I took the 555 to Northgate and biked up the hill.
How many of the people at that meeting live anywhere near Northgate? Does Ben Schendelman live anywhere near northgate? Did Ben go to the meeting? He says there are a lot of familiar faces at that meeting. Familiar to Northgate? Or familiar to the pro-density [ad hom] who go to every meeting in every neighborhood and tell every neighborhood what they should get forced down their throats?
I also find it interesting that if the people who actually do live in the Northgate area don’t want a parking lot, Ben thinks these people should be listened to. However, when the people who actually do live near the Roosevelt Link station opposed taller buildings on some sites, Ben said those neighbors should be ignored.
So, neighbors who agree with Ben [ad hom] should be listened to a neighbors who disagree with Ben [ad hom] should be ignored. lol Pretty convenient philosophy, I would say.
I think what is going on here is obvious: Ben Schendielman, and others who love density and massively subsidized transit, think they know better than everyone else and think they should tell every neighborhood in Seattle what is good for them. Ben [ad hom] want to dictate to every neighborhood in Seattle what sort of neighborhood they should have.
Nearly all of them live near Northgate. Way to jump to false conclusions. Yes, I was at the meeting and yes, I live by Northgate and use bike/bus to the transit center a couple of times per wek.
Norman, I know I’m doing something right when you get so angry. :) Many of the people in opposition were members of the local community councils… and of course one of the representatives. The people from outside the area were pretty quiet, just there to watch.
Northgate didn’t get to be designated an urban center without the support of those who live there. The neighborhood organized to come out and oppose this.
I dispute that where the attendees live matters at all.
We’ll go to nortgate – when Link goes there – iff there is something there worth going to.
A ped bridge to NSCC makes the station more useful.
A large parking garage makes the station less useful, because we’ll have to walk around or through it to get to something more useful.
If Norm doesn’t say anything it’s because he agrees with you and you should probably rethink what you’re trying to accomplish! If he speaks up you’re probably on the right track.
@PSF: The problem is that the various agencies involved are required by law and contract to provide a certain amount of parking. Some for the mall because of land takings and some to P&R users because of funding requirements. Putting that parking in a garage means there’s less of it to walk through to get to the useful stuff than if it was all out on the surface. The parking garage is probably the best way for ST and Metro to meet their obligations.
“I dispute that where the attendees live matters at all.
We’ll go to nortgate…”
This is precisely why I went to show support. The locals seemed even more fired up than I was. I want investments so I can get around Northgate via bike/foot when I arrive by train. If I drive there, I’ll likely park in the mall’s lot – Something I hope SPG pays for and not Sound Transit.
+1 as well. I really hate this meme of “I live there so my voice is more important”. Yes, it sucks when someone who’s never been to an area has veto power over planning it (cf. Robert Moses). But the stakeholders in a neighborhood include many more than its residents. People who work there, play there, shop there, visit friends there, etc., all have reason to care. And since this is a public project, anyone whose tax dollars will be paying for this garage has a reason to care as well.
Norman, you’re finally onto solving a problem I’ve been thinking about for a long time- like every time I can’t get anywhere from my home by either bus or car because of the solid line of traffic on Market Street between Shilshole and Leary.
Since I doubt that more than a small percentage of these cars are anywhere near local to my neighborhood, I think it finally is time to re-assert Ballard’s former status as an independent city. Only this time, do it like we mean it: gated community in spades, with tire-shredders for cars without local transponders.
Yeah, the merchants, some of whom are friends of mine, would probably miss the business, but the older ones will tell you it’ll still be a better life than they had in Norway eighty years ago.
Only real problem I can see is that of the traffic that does live locally, a lot of them don’t live in my part of Ballard. Damn. More gates and shredders. Back to the drawing board.
Meantime, while I know Ben’s political skills are preternatural bordering on the diabolical, I think you’re giving him too much credit. Even with every elitist he can muster- and you can always identify us by the way we stick out our pinky fingers when we drink our espresso- we can always be (gasp!) outvoted.
Or just laughed at.
Goes with living in a city that’s part of a modern region.
Oh My! +1
Comment of the year.
The identification of who supports a pro-transit position, and who is against a pro-transit position is informative in this type of reporting.
The issues in Roosevelt, or Bellevue, for example, illustrate some of the pitfalls of entrenched local opposition. Its not so much that there is inconsistence as to when the local constituency should or should not be listened to, but that in this case even the local constituency is taking a pro-transit stance, making it very unclear whose interests sound transit is serving by continuing to support a parking garage.
This is a regional transit project that we’re all paying for, therefore we all have an interest in it and can feel free to keep our noses in all of ST’s business.
I live near northgate.
Norman, I was there last night. I moved to Maple Leaf a little over a year ago. I don’t own a car and I bus or bike to the UW area to work full time. I also shop, visit doc & dentist at Northgate and nearby Northgate Way. I thought that this meeting was extremely useful for ST to hear from the neighbors about what development we want to see there.
I want to feel safe walking to the transit station or as I change from local bus to ST train. I’d like more density and walkability around Northgate. I want sidewalks and enough space on the streets to bike and be out of the way of drivers while I do so.
As far as I know the Maple Leaf Community Council supports greater density at Northgate. They want the area around the mall and transit center to be dense and pedestrian and bicycle friendly. There may be some disagreement over exactly how much and where, but the support is there.
At the same time they are generally opposed to anything that would encourage more car traffic around and through Northgate. They are not in favor of Sound Transit building a large garage at Northgate.
Imagine that… The locals are YIMBYs… Well, except for publicly subsidized parking palaces as Bernie likes to call them…
Since Northgate Way is a nightmare already, alternative methods of connecting the west side of I-5 to Northgate Mall, like the pedestrian bridge, should be the priority. Building more parking spaces just to have even more cars backed up waiting to get onto I-5 should be a very low priority.
As I’ve said before, we should be thinking bigger than the ped. bridge. We need a cut and cover transit/ped tunnel under I-5 at 100th. Turn 100th into a east west bus line from Holman Road to Lake City (via 98th). Getting transit off of northgate way should be a priority.
There was a woman last night from the Thornton Creek defense fund wondering about an underpass/tunnel.
Pedestrian underpass? That would be a murder/rape tunnel? That is not a good idea. A bus-only one might be smart, but don’t let people walk through there.
Is there a high incidence of murder and rape in the I-90 pedestrian tunnel?
The I-90 tunnel is not salient. Have you been around Northgate late at night? These are just ones I remember in the past few months:
Someone tried to mug me at knife point once at the transit centre parking lot at about 1 am around Christmas time. Fortunately I was in better shape than him and at ran him. I can’t imagine what it would be like in that tunnel.
She was asking about it in the context of the creek, which apparently flows north/south in the general vicinity (I didn’t get a chance to ask her for more details afterward). I’m not convinced such a tunnel would inherently be more dangerous for bikes and pedestrians than the current mess at Northgate Way under I-5.
Zed, that’s near my neck of the woods, and there have been occasional issues, but it’s not exactly a magnet for them either.
I was responding to Fil.
The creek runs NE/SW there:
This. Though it might be different for a high-usage tunnel, it might be tough to convince people to use it.
I don’t see why a well lit tunnel would be less safe than an overpass. Both have one way in and out and are the same distance. If the tunnel had busses in it it would be safer than a ped only overpass…
Boys…the women at the meeting last night said no way would they use a half-mile tunnel whether you think it is safe or not.
“I don’t see why a well lit tunnel would be less safe than an overpass.”
Eyes. It takes a pretty brave/stupid criminal to act in front of hundreds of cars passing below.
Matt is correct here. Also, overpasses are not pleasant places to hangout and wait for people to prey upon: noisy, windy, cold, wet, etc. Tunnels are not nearly as bad.
OK, lets be clear, I’m suggesting a new underpass at 100th. I see a two way transit road with wide shoulders/sidewalks for ped/cyclists. Not some dark ped only tunnel. Also this underpass would only be 500 ft. Not half a mile. It would be well lit and could have cameras. I don’t see this as being any more dangerous that just walking around the northgate area in general…
“Matt is correct here. Also, overpasses are not pleasant places to hangout and wait for people to prey upon: noisy, windy, cold, wet, etc. Tunnels are not nearly as bad.”
I love it. So your saying that the underground link stations are more dangerous than elevated ones? I’m sure with proper design this underpass could be made as safe or safer than the surrounding areas.
Underground Link stations have security guards. If you’re suggesting adding a security guard in the tunnel then yes, that should work. But I wouldn’t want that job.
A straight cut/cover through the freeway berm couldn’t be dug here because the center-running express lanes have a cut/cover exit ramp nearby. It would have to go deeper underground to avoid that. That’s a lot of excavation. And a lid over it that could support the freeway would also be absurdly expensive.
“The I-90 tunnel is not salient. Have you been around Northgate late at night?”
Have you been around Judkins Park at night?
…Apples and oranges
Have you had grapefruit?
“the women at the meeting last night said no way would they use a half-mile tunnel whether you think it is safe or not.”
Agreed. You couldn’t get me into that tunnel.
Replied to the wrong post, dammit. But at least I quoted what I was replying to. :)
how about a 500ft underpass? We could do an overpass for ped. and an underpass for buses…
I’m with litlnemo. I would rather walk the long way than take a tunnel on foot no matter how bright it was. A wide ped bridge with good line of sight would be better. something with a clear glass roof to keep us dry would be best.
OK, I get it. Ped underpass = Bad.
That being said, do you think a transit crossing at 100th has merit?
If that transit happens to be a gondola, then yes.
Gondola from where? NSCC? not far enough. No one seems to care that this station is wedged up against the freeway with limited options of attracting ridership from the west… greenwood, crown hill, etc…
I also agree that I would not use a ped underpass no matter how short it is, too creepy. Remember when Aurora used to have a pedestrian underpass tunnel, I think it was south of 100th? GROSS.
That said, I think the powers that be need to figure out a solution to the mess that is Northgate Way, it’s always clogged and the detour the buses take all the way down to 92nd is annoyingly time-consuming too. It’s part of the systemic problem of poor east-west connections in the city. So, I would support some kind of new transit connection east-west.
I don’t think they have to change the design, just the financing. Either pay cash up front for a 20-30 year lease on the minimum required number of stalls or use bonding authority to finance the garage secured by a deed of trust and repaid by SPG. This thing should be an investment that turns a profit not cost money.
You have a good point, Bernie. I am not sure it can run a profit, however. $30,000 a stall is a lot of money.
A 30 debt repayment with an interest rate of 5% works out to ~%160/mo Priciple + Interest. Average 21.66 workdays per month you’d have to charge $7.50 for all day parking. Parking DT is anywhere from $10-30/day but I don’t believe you have to start out charging $7.50. Just like WSDOT is doing with tolls you start out at a teaser rate and then raise prices. The other part of the equation is this is a shared use garage. Those empty spaces outside of commute hours should be worth something to the Mall operators. So in theory the break even price should be less than $7/day. Talking finance and pay to play is the only way to make the public aware that the parking subside is about 3X the amount of the per boarding subside on Metro buses and exceeds that of Link and ST Express. Or, to put it another way, P&R users are being given the equivalent of a free U-Pass every month.
You can park in parts of downtown for as little as $5 (underneath the freeway in the ID is $5 a day).
“You can park in parts of downtown for as little as $5 (underneath the freeway in the ID is $5 a day).”
That parking lot is far cheaper since it is effectively a surface lot on surplus land unsuitable for many other purposes. Using the recent expansion of Brickyard park & ride by 200 spaces as an example, and using Bernie’s numbers, you come up with:
$2.1 Million cost for 200 additional spaces amortized over 30 years at 5% = $56 per month for each stall which translates into charging $2.60 per day to break even. Keep in mind that neither of these examples includes maintenance or security.
Metro should have never started to build structured parking garages before trying alternatives like parking fees, HOV parking, better bike facilities, etc… Charge for parking first, then consider building more if parking fees warrant it. Keep in mind, I’m not advocating removing *all* subsidy of Park & Rides, I just want to see some measure of trying to limit demand for “free” parking that comes at the expense of better transit service.
FYI: I found cost figures for Brickyard here.
It looks like the $2.1 million, $10,500 per new stall is only for the improvements. That’s expensive asphalt! The land the P&R is sitting on is appraised at $5.5 million. The entire parcel of land is 18 acres.
BTW: At $1,000 per bike locker, the amortized cost of providing a bike locker is $5.37 *per month*.
As I have said before many times, I think that structured parking around Link station with TOD potential a horrible decision. Northgate is the ultimate example of where more parking should not be built. What’s keeping me on the fence though is my concern about:
1. North Link being delayed by lengthy legal battles (ST/FTA or ST/SPG).
2. The future possibility that TOD will be stymied when King County tries to replace the surface lots without replacing parking. Lets just say I don’t think the council has a lot of back bone.
3. And because of 2. KC Metro will forced to build inferior TOD and bus transfer facilities that ultimately is a failure because of the need to build on-site parking.
If these concerns are address I’m fully onboard.
The FTA seems less a concern (couldn’t we at least *ask* about the RoD and see what they say?) than SPG. Even there, though, their issues are clear, and there *are* options/alternatives available other than the garage. Not as neat and tidy necessarily, but I’d like to see them discussed and handled in public (and in detail) before they’re taken off the table.
I totally agree as long at taking a look at everything doesn’t delay the project.
I’m okay with looking at things that delay the project. A year for an acre adjacent to the station? That’s a good trade.
I absolutely disagree and I’m frankly shocked that you would even say that over a difference of a few hundred parking stalls. We’re talking about about 10-15 million dollars of a 1+ billion dollar project.
I’ve been waiting 30 years for rapid transit and I’ll be 55 when it opens, already a year late. We don’t need any more delays. I’d rather walk around a parking garage than wait half an hour for a bus that gets stuck in traffic and stoplights.
When bandying TLA’s* about please define them for the rest of us. Thanks.
*TLA= Three Letter Acronym
FTA = Federal Transit Administration
RoD = Record of Decision
SPG = Simon Property Group
Yet another discussion that completely omits ST’s legal requirements. I happen to agree with you that no structured parking should be built at Northgate or anywhere else, but it’s irresponsible to write something with such a binary frame, omitting constraints the agency is forced to work within. Yes, ST bungled its messaging on this, but I can’t think of anyone in this region (besides perhaps Bruce here on STB) who has written responsibly about this issue.
ST has certain constraints they have to work within. It’s not that they just “want” to build a parking garage. They are proposing this because it is the most effective way to satisfy their constraints and move this project forward.
Both of you:
ST has obligations to the FTA that they are absolutely permitted to ask for exceptions for. They need to do that work.
They certainly should work with the FTA to revise the ROD but they ST also needs to figure out issues with SPG.
Those aren’t their only obligations, they have legal ones to private parties too.
This is just a distraction. Just have ST commit to “no net increase in P&R parking capacity” and get on with building North Link.
I understood that there is no net permanent increase in parking with this solution. So, doesn’t that conform to your criteria?
Also, how is this garage a FTA requirement rather than simply conforming to the laws related to eminent domain? e.g., if ST is going to take SPG’s property for construction or permanent occupancy, SPG has to be compensated. Since SPG has underlying obligations to tenants related to the property being taken, perhaps the best solution is to mitigate it by replacing the parking spaces being taken.
I didn’t get to ask if they had considered a temporary structure solution but that is something they should consider is if the extra parking would be mitigated by development up the line on “Lynnwood Link” , then why have permanent parking at Northgate?
I asked about the legal requirements at the meeting. The answer was 117. even this they can ask for a release of the requirement. Now to build something this small they would have to pay a little money for temporary loss of parking. But nowhere near what they would have to build a 600-900 person lot.
Sound Transit could negotiate with Simon Properties to arrive at a $$ compensation figure for both the permanently displaced and temporarily lost parking spaces on SPG land, then cut Simon a check for that amount. No ST-sponsored parking garage. Let Simon build another garage if it thinks the need is there and it can make the project pencil by charging light rail commuters to pay for parking. Time to unbundle the bundled-cost parking– really no such thing as “free” parking unless land is worthless– that exists in the Northgate area (and elsewhere).
I was at northgate last night waiting for a bus at about 9pm. I only go to northgate about once every 3 years. I was really surprised how many people were walking around considering the layout of the streets. Are there any plans to raise height limits in northgate? Is there any new projects that will add real density and improve the pedestrian experience?
The height limits are pretty generous already, 85~125 feet, much more than most neighborhoods in town.
Yes, there are a lot of transit users around there, too.
And yes, there are plans to upzone further. The neighborhood has actually been supportive of it!
Frankly I don’t understand why the vicinity of Northgate Station isn’t zoned like the Denny Triangle, 400 feet. I don’t know whether there would be development interest anytime soon for something of that scale, but I don’t see a need to prohibit it in what is already designated an Urban Center, which is located in a bowl, and currently contains mostly pavement. Vancouver BC would not hesitate to designate the Northgate Station as a high rise district.
A community of high-rise apartments with views a 13 minute ride from Westlake in 2021 with lots of local shopping and jobs sounds marketable to me. Would the quality of life in Northgate materially suffer from some high rises near the station? Or might it actually improve? High rises would give the area currently dominated by a (remodeled) 1950’s mall more of an urban identity.
Massive new parking garages adjacent to the station would perpetuate auto-dominated land use and use up valuable real estate that could be occupied by high rises, though it’s not inconceivable for paid public parking to subsidize its own construction cost in a high rise with a long enough amortization period. The future residents may not need parking or want to pay for it by 2021.
I agree, if anywhere is a good location for a third real high-rise district in Seattle, it’s Northgate. Anyone saying it’ll “ruin the neighborhood’s character” would apparently be a lover of huge parking lots and strip malls. Does anyone know if there has been real discussion of that kind of density there?
With 400′ it’s possible you could destroy the mall… Genius!
Awesome thanks guys. I’m happy with 125′ there but 400′ would be awesome. That’s really awesome that they are supportive of density.
This whole Northgate parking garage thing has become a major distraction. None of this “debate” should be allowed to impact North Link construction schedules.
ST should just declare a policy of “no net increase in P&R capacity due to ST action”, build the minimum size parking garage required to achieve that policy and legal obligations to the mall, and then move on to actually building North Link – because building North Link is far more important than a debate over one measly parking garage.
And the 8% argument totally misses the point. In rough terms, 5000 riders currently board at Northgate with 30% of those using the P&R. This equates to roughly 1500 P&R spaces. After construction it will be 15,000 riders with a 10% P&R share, or again roughly 1500 P&R spaces.
What does that mean? It means that the plan is to increase non-P&R access by 380% while holding P&R based access roughly constant. So isn’t that what we want? Doesn’t that represent significant improvement in a positive direction?
There isn’t a “legal obligation”, there’s a contract with the ability to ask for an exception, which the FTA usually grants.
You’re basically saying “isn’t this good enough?” No, of course it isn’t. How do you go farther if what you’re getting is always good enough?
I thought I remembered reading that part of the Northgate station project involves taking private land that is currently used for parking through eminent domain, that the law requires the owners to be compensated for their loss, and that building an equivalent number of parking spaces would be considered just compensation. Is that not actually true?
You are correct. It’s not just the loss of KCM P&R spots that ST needs to mitigate, but it needs to mitigate both the temporary and permanent loss of private parking too.
This situation is not as simple as most posters on this blog are attempting to portray it as.
A question on Just Compensation for the Taking of the Mall Parking spaces via Eminent Domain.
So the Mall looses access to around 200 parking spaces, lets assume Christmas when the parking lot is full, and lets assume a wildly optimistic 4 adults per vehicle, that is 800 bodies that link is keeping away from the Mall… How many people will be able to Ride Link to shop at the mall?
My guess is that the mall should hand thoes parking spots over, because their merchants will be making out like bandits
The problem is the money. $30,000 per stall is just too much to pay for this. It’s too expensive, and should be thrown out on cost alone.
Building things in a dense urban environment is expensive. $30K ROM is pretty much the going rate for a parking structure. We should just build the smallest one possible and move on to building Link.
I’m missing the logic where $30k per stall is to expensive, but a couple of billion for the rail line isn’t.
We subsidize transit, we subsidize roads, freeways, sidewalks and bike lanes.
Look no further than NY where a huge percentage of the population relies on transit….still a lot of cars and parking. The argument should focus on the end game – will this garage free up significant land to develop a dense walkable node in the context of how we really build stuff (you know, financing, codes, markets, etc.). In that context is it an efficient use of public and private money?
1) The station isn’t a “couple of billion”.
2) The parking garage is a small percentage of the total ridership expected at the station
3) The parking garage is a large percentage of non-station funds for ridership access to the station.
Just because a large project is billions doesn’t mean we should hold small projects that cost tens of millions of dollars to any scrutiny.
Anyway, the “free up the land” argument only holds if the parking is underground… so the land is actually freed…
Andrew, according to the information from the meeting, the garage would be situated on 1.1 acres of SPG property and would potentially free up 7 acres of p & r property for TOD development. That sounds like a valid free up the land argument.
Also, I would imagine if designed appropriately, it would be possible to have TOD on top of a garage structure. Particularly if zoned heights allowed are upwards of 400 feet.
I think this garage is a foregone conclusion and I think the energy of our community should be focused on integrating the decision making processes of the various sovereign agencies so that better overall solutions are crafted. It became clear that while individual ST staffers acknowledge the benefit of an I-5 pedestrian bridge, none of them felt it was in their agency’s purview to fund and build it. We need to change that.
We could for example encourage a policy statement that Sound Transit should maximize the walkshed to the stations and amenities such as foot bridges are an appropriate expenditure to accomplish this.
Note: TLA’s defined upstream.
Why is it in the agency’s purview to free up land for developers? Specifically, why change the established model of the Northgate Mall garage and Thornton Place garage where P&R spots are leased from private ownership?
You can “free up” publicly owned land that’s currently used for free parking by…(drum roll, please)… selling it.
I’m not sure why you have to build a garage to “free up” space for walkable urban uses. A quick tour of downtown, Capitol Hill, and the Bellevue Square area quickly reveals how garages tend to be islands of deadness whenever they’re placed in walkable urban areas.
Does anybody here acknowledge any obligation Sound Transit owes to SPG for taking their land? If so, what do you think is fair?
What is fair is to pay the market value for the land. Which is kind of low given that it is, you know, surface parking lots.
Actually Nathanael, because the land is encumbered by tenant leases, it is more than simply the gross land value, it is the legal requirement to service those leases. ST can’t simply buy SPG’s land. They must make whole the underlying legal obligation that SPG has to its tenants. ST would end up having to supply the parking regardless. This arrangement, while it is not what a lot of us would prefer to see, is in my opinion a reasonable accommodation given the circumstances.
You know what this reminds me of?
Remember when the turnout for Link opposition was high in these types of public outreach meetings? It wasn’t an accurate measure of the actual number who supported light rail. In fact, it was far from it.
Now I will say that I’m actually for a parking garage, because I believe that a P&R has the potential to change even more commutes. If people are on the highway and they’re stuck in traffic, it’s possible to put up a VMS sign that says:
TO DOWNTOWN SEATTLE
CAR: 20 MIN
TRAIN: 10 MIN
It’s done all over the Netherlands. It’s intra-modal transportation management. http://www.verkeersnet.nl//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Berm-DRIP.jpg
Of course this shouldn’t preclude TOD, so the garage should be built underground. But in order to satisfy both short-term (jumpstarting ridership as quickly as possible) and long-term needs (TOD), I think it should be built.
Require Orca cards to access the garage, or even charge for parking to discourage local use. But in any case, don’t vote down the garage just because some of you are fundamentally against cars. There are still ways to make it work and there are still proven benefits, so don’t let your emotions blind you.
ST’s policy is to put park and rides only at end stations. North Link will start soon*, and I’m sure they’ll put parking at the end station.
* well, depending on your definition of soon. but it is funded.
Ummm, what about Mercer Island, S. Bellevue, 130th in Bel-Red, and Overlake Village? ST is spending mega millions on the Parking Palace at Swamp Bellevue with zero chance of any development nearby ever. 5 out of 9 Eastside stations will provide free public parking. 6 if they decide on a more Wilburton location instead of Old Main.
You’re right. What’s that about? I can see an argument for Swamp Bellevue, helping out I-90 drivers*, but MI shouldn’t happen, and probably the same with others. We really need to at least start charging for these things.
* not that I agree with this argument, but it’s consistant with what I thought was their end-station policy.
Aside from 130th, all of those locations already have parking. How many new spots are going to be built along with East Link? I know there’s not going to be any new parking built at Mercer Island, unless the city goes through with it’s plan to build parking for residents only.
“ST’s policy is to put park and rides only at end stations.”
No. Seattle’s policy is no new P&Rs in the city. ST is just abiding by it. Almost every station from TIB southward and 145th northward will have parking. Northgate is in a funny position because it has an existing large P&R but is an urban center in Seattle. No other station is like that.
The locations “that already had parking” was the major decision maker in where to route East Link. At Swamp Bellevue the parking will increase from a little over 500 surface spots to 1,500 with most of it in structured parking in a peat bog. For reference Eastgate is ~1,600 stalls. IIRC, 130th is as many as 300 spaces. That’s the size of Bear Creek P&R; larger than Overlake Village or Overlake Transit Center. MI officials seem to now want more parking after fighting hard to make ST spend extra money to build fewer spaces below grade.
@Matt that isn’t accurate. As far as I know ST does not have any official P&R location/size policy.
“The locations “that already had parking” was the major decision maker in where to route East Link.”
Well duh, those transit centers didn’t just land there randomly.
Nothing is random except Brownian motion. Overlake Village was about as random a spot as KC could have chosen for their low income housing project that’s tortured transit routing for decades. It was cheap land because nobody really wanted it. Swamp Bellevue was cheap because no commercial development would ever have been allowed. Similarly 130th is sited for a surface lot not because muffler shops and self storage units are great drivers of transit but because it’s a cheap place to park cars. And private interests would have a harder time keeping Goff Creek as a storm sewer. Medium to long term it’s counter productive to create peak traffic generators in these locations. Spending transit money to build structured parking and giving it away is just plain stupid.
By the way, I’ll say to garage-opponents the same thing I said to Surrey Downs residents:
You should focusing on mitigation. Parking will be there either way. You either get a parking garage that you will absolutely hate (massive structure that destroys the planned TOD character), or you will get a parking garage that can be tolerable and still work within a TOD neighborhood (hidden underground).
Don’t waste your time like Surrey Downs.
Jason, from my very limited knowledge of the subject, aren’t we talking about even more $ per stall underground than aboveground? Why is ST going to be interested in something like that as mitigation when they’re not willing to pay for the above-ground bicycle and pedestrian improvements that are being asked for?
Surrey Downs residents didn’t want transit. These are people who want transit *and* want better, walkable land use. They’re our allies. Don’t lump them in with people who didn’t want trains.
Mitigation: that means a pedestrian bridge, minimum, doesn’t it?
I would have much less of a problem with building the garage if I knew they were going to at least consider charging for parking.
Free parking is a bad idea, especially if this area is to become a urban center.
What about charging on Orca $4 or $5, but make it a “ride” so you can “transfer” to any bus/train within a 2-hour window?
As I said in my earlier post, that would be an acceptable way to make this feasible. It would also make the project clearly ineffective, as people won’t actually pay that.
Why not? If you use a park and ride on a regular basis, all you theoretically have to do is tap your Orca card to gain access to the garage. Provide an incentive, maybe $2.50 with an Orca Card, $5.00 without (like SR 520 tolling). That gives an incentive for people to purchase the Orca card, and also generates revenue for Sound Transit at the same time.
Now the flip side is if people are on the highway and there’s a sign telling them that they can exit to Northgate and take the bus for a quicker trip, they can also use the park and ride. Cheap if they have an Orca card ready. That then acts like HOT Lanes, as if you’re paying a “toll” to gain faster travel time.
Jason, this isn’t about technical feasibility. It’s about Sound Transit’s willingness. That’s why we’re opposing the garage, to at LEAST force them to commit to difficult things like charging for parking. So far they’re unwilling.
What makes you think they won’t charge for parking? This revenue is probably one of the drivers. Kind of tough to charge a toll for a pedestrian bridge, much easier with parking.
Well, they don’t currently charge at any of the park and rides, there’s no mention of it in the Northgate documentation, and it was not discussed last night.
Other than that, nothing.
The bridges here used to be free too.
When 520 opened it had a toll. So did Hood Canal. In fact the Hood Canal toll was $1.30 for car and driver back in 1962; that’s over $9 today adjusted for inflation! Maybe they had a premonition that it was going to sink in only 17 years := The Narrows was 83 cents and the first Lake Washington sinking bridge was 50 cents back in 1940. That’s $12.76 and $7.69 respectively. So no, the bridges ’round here didn’t used to be free.
Of course, those were construction-bond tolls, not permanent tolls.
If only Roosevelt and Bellevue were like Northgate!
I’m pretty sure Roosevelt would’ve thrown a much larger fit about a 900-stall parking garage in the middle of the neighborhood than they did about the development.
One of the speakers said most of the P&R cars come from within 3 miles, with those west of I-5 the heaviest. A few cars come from Shoreline, and essentially none come from Snohomish County. Of course, some of these drivers come from places with no viable bus service (especially residential areas east of 15th NE), but others would walk/bike/bus to the station if improvements were made. ST should study this and quantify it.
ST’s obligation is to mitigate the loss of mall parking, not P&R parking. That’s something around 400 spaces during construction and 110 permanent. If agreements with the FTA are waived, I think ST and Metro could cut the P&R spaces down to zero without legal repercussions. Any guarantee on the permanence of the existing P&R spaces is decades old by now.
Several people suggested paid parking, and one said ST should start charging for parking now and use the money for sitewalk/bike/bridge improvements. Endrich said ST has studied the possibility of paid parking at its P&Rs and the board is considering it. There may be a differentiation between Northgate and suburban P&Rs, because suburban P&Rs don’t have many buses to them so busing/walking to them is not as viable. However, Metro owns two of the surface lots around Northgate TC, and for Metro to start charging for its P&Rs would require a decision by the County Council which hasn’t even considered it.
The various KC Northgate lots, Northgate TC and TC extensions account for 744 parking spots. Privately owned spaces, Northgate Mall Garage and Thornton Place add 580 more. We’re well on the way to 100% leased spaces which is the first step towards private market rate parking. FWIW, the overall utilization is at 96% with only a handfull of spaces at Thornton Garage going unused. The agencies are called King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit. Leave parking and it’s attendant Parking Oriiented Development to the Kempers, Diamonds and Simons of this world.
I completely agree. And the replacement mall parking should be built in such a way as to give it the smallest footprint possible.
The other issue is that Northgate competes with Bellevue Mall – where parking is free. Probably an issue for the mall management and merchants. And given the fact that ST had to drive there to carry their signs, many shoppers probably drive because they have kids in tow and will have several shopping bags. Apologies for the reality intrusion.
The mall can still provide free parking. Just put up signs that parking is for mall customers only, and put a security guard or two watching people parking in the lot. This isn’t 100% effective, but it’s very common. I attended a university with expensive parking right next to a mall with free parking.
No rational person who lives in Northgate would drive to Bellevue just to save $3-5 on parking. The gas and bridge tolls would almost completely wipe out whatever money you would save. And even if driving to Bellevue comes out to be 1 dollar cheaper, surely an hour of your time for the round trip is worth more than that.
Since when do parents have time to spend with their kids? (just kidding)
I work on the weekends in U-dist and take the 75 home to Northgate/Pinehurst. Every weekend there are always a few Jr High kids on my bus talking about how they’re going to the mall. I know they’re not single handedly keeping the retailers in the black. But plenty of carless young people take the bus there.
Anyways, isn’t Target the new found favorite of young families?
Where is Roger Valdez to call those people a bunch of rich, white, upper-class NIMBYs who hate change and should be ignored? Where is Seattle Transit Blog to tell them that public participation is a bad idea?
Ah, hypocrisy. So nice to see it on such blatant display!
“Where is Roger Valdez to call those people a bunch of rich, white, upper-class NIMBYs who hate change and should be ignored?” On the contrary, they want change. Status quo would be parking.
“Where is Seattle Transit Blog to tell them that public participation is a bad idea?” Yeah, STB is totally anti-participation (rolls eyes). What I assume you’re referring to is the philosophy I and others have put forward that the public process is for informing decision makers, rather than having power over them. I don’t see any difference here. The ST board has the final say, and should do a professional job at finding a solution. The public spoke out, describing the reasons a parking structure is a bad idea.
Yeah, you’re all in favor of public participation when it agrees with you. When it doesn’t, you call it every name in the book.
Do I? Care to quote me? The Internet is easily searchable.
Cynic, public opposition to transit is bad. Public willingness to take a progressive position is good. Nobody here attacks public participation. We have specific goals and we advocate for them.
I, for one, have not had my opinion changed at all by this report or what happened at the meeting. You might notice, Cynic, that there are multiple bylines here and “Seattle Transit Blog” isn’t telling you anything.
Way to run away from your site’s own propaganda. It’s always good to have my cynicism rewarded and strengthened.
Roger Valdez described the concerns of Roosevelt neighbors in a upzone meeting as “the baying of angry people.” He also called them a “mob.” I’m assuming he would also call the Northgate residents at this meeting a mob, right?
And from this point forward, can we just refer to Northgate as Surrey Downs North?
Nope. The people at Northgate support transit and walkability, things we want to promote.
Yeah, so if they agree with you, then you’re all in favor of public participation. But if they disagree, then they’re a pack of hateful NIMBYs who ought to be shut out. Not that there’s any hypocrisy from your crew.
I would hope that ST and WashDOT will still look at a freeway-accessed only garage, perhaps built over the I-5 right-of-way that is similar to the Quincy Adams garage in the Boston area.
This would serve as an alternative to having cars continue into the city center, and would prevent those car-users from trying to park in the Northgate parking lot or the neighborhood around Northgate, which, trust me, they will certainly do otherwise.
That doesn’t make any sense. The cars using the P&R are primarily local. People coming from the north aren’t going to battle their way all the way into Northgate when there are several large P&R lots north of the county line. Links terminus at Northgate is only temporary.
The thing that is really noticeable is this. A whole lot of the cars come from the WEST. They have to cross the freeway bottleneck to get to the station. They want a parking lot on the WEST side of the freeway and a pedestrian overpass….
….but nobody is even considering this.
With the advent of self driving cars, parking becomes an anachronism.
Are these inter-dimensional cars that don’t require space for storage?
No, they fold into briefcases like on the Jetsons.
No, like taxis they go off to find other customers.
A few miscellaneous thoughts from a guy supporting Sound Transit’s plan to build its garage at Northgate:
Some future urban cars may turn out to be half as wide as cars today: http://www.good.is/post/a-motorcyle-car-hybrid-wants-to-be-urban-transit-s-next-big-thing/. Who knows? Just saying… repainting the stalls might happen.
ST’s Northgate parking garage should be built as flexible space, available to be converted to other uses as the decades go by and light rail ridership from the neighborhood soars (unlikely, but the public sector needs to be prepared for all eventualities!). Automated, multi-level bike storage? Coffee shop on the roof deck?
A few years ago, just after it opened, I walked around the empty top deck of the Federal Way transit center parking structure and marveled at the views of Mt. Rainier for a secondary use. But before Starbucks got the location, the roof spaces filled up with cars every day.
I presume you all know that City of Tukwila forced ST to expand the parking at the TIB Link station in an Administrative Parking Determination dated July 1, 2004. From 466 spaces when construction started to 600 today, as built. Now the two lots are often full.
Following up on that history, from looking at the Sound Transit map of where the parking commuters originate in the license plate survey at the Tukwila Station, Northgate light rail to downtown would likely have appeal to a wider P&R catchment area than the present bus-oriented transit center has.
OK rail fans, how about this: Think of the forthcoming Northgate P&R garage as a “Ride the Wave” marketing tool — it lets the car commuter not originating near the station exit the freeway and sample light rail easily. Then when he/she gets old and retires these samplers might be more inclined to move close to the Northgate station and walk to it for their frequent trips to the doctor.
Central Link certainly needs ridership help so far in its history … and is anybody still betting passengers will be jammed in the aisles when U Link opens? Not me. But there’s always hope.
I’m still waiting for an explanation of why ST should build, own and operate this garage. To be flexible in the future it should be privately owned just as the two shared parking garages at Northgate currently are. A lease provides ST the flexibility to negotiate for more, or less spaces in the future. Note the parking at S 200th when built will take the pressure off of TIB. The peak demand for parking at Northgate will only be for the few years before Lynnwood Link is operational.
Bernie: Good points!
As far as I’m concerned, if ST chooses to build, own, and operate the garage, that’s OK…. *as long as ST operates it as a for-profit enterprise and uses the profits to pay for transit and pedestrian improvements*.
If the garage can’t be profitable, it should not be built by a transit agency, given that it’s against City of Seattle policy….
Matt and Zed: Bailo is actually right on this one. The average airplane is in revenue service well over 50% of the time; the average non-fleet car is in service about 5% of the time. Self-driving cars can completely change those numbers, because you no longer need to leave a car sitting idle for 8 hours at work just so it’s around for you to drive home.
However, all that is predicated on self-driving cars actually becoming street legal in cities, which by any measure is a long way off. East Link might even finish before then ;-)
Very reasonable analysis.
It is really up to ST to get off its behind and step up the pace.
Will people come to free park at the terminus?
Reason: because they should have built 10 times the length by now and those folk could be parking in lots all the way to Everett.
Which brings up a point.
Contrary to the belief of STB urbists, the single most important destination asset for a transit station is not a TOD building or access to more transit or cafes and shops…its a parking space.
Evidence? Tukwila…which is the most successful remote station of all. What is at the Tukwila Station? Nothing. Except Free Parking!!
But rather than built on such things as evidence and data, the self interested ideologues in Washington skew and warp it all to some other contrived design elements that few if any would ever use.
Evidence? Seatac has three times the boardings that TIB does. How do you define “remote station”, something with nothing there? If so then yeah it’s not only number one it’s the only one. The only station even planned that is comparable to TIB is S. Bellevue. About half the boardings at TIB can be attributed to the parking stalls. The other half are from bus transfers. The difference is that the level of subside to the P&R boardings is twice the system average and will get more skewed as ridership increases. It’s also maxed out unless you build more $35k stalls and it’s largely unused outside of regular working hours.
Small quibble Bernie, TIB seems popular with airport workers needing a cheap place to park especially during night hours. I see them riding from TIB to Sea-Tac on Link and also on RR-A.
Looking at the more recent data it’s more like 2 to 1 SEA vs TIB. Southbound boardings at TIB is only 255 per weekday. Some of those people are catching flights which depart at all hours (one of the reasons an airport is a good station location). Relatively little of the employment at the airport is actually at the main terminal, especially at night. Virtually all airport workers in the freight and maintenance sector have free secure parking through their employer. If even half are employees parking at TIB that’s less than 1% of Link ridership. It would also mean the lot is 20% full overnight. That may well be but I have to wonder how many of those drivers are actually flying and skating around the 24 hour rule?
It’s not surprising that transit can lure riders with free parking and frequent service.. Most of the South area lots along the I-5 corridor are at or near capacity. But then there are the outliers which I can only imagine empty because of the level of service; Star Lake 540 stalls at 60% capacity, Twin Lakes 600 stalls at 14% capacity and the
winnerloser… Redondo Heights at 697 stalls only 7% full.
What this tells me is that Link is not the mode that makes sense south of 200th and the immediate need for more structured parking is also dubious. There’s 1,380 existing stalls sitting empty in just these three lots begging for more feeder service. Spending more money and encouraging more cars to drive to the already congested area around SEA is counter productive.
I wonder how many of the folks who showed up for the meeting arrived by bus? My speculation is: not many. I agree with Norman, Meetings like this never are representative of a neighborhood. They just attract people with special interests …” However, those in the neighborhood in many cases choose not to attend, it’s a matter of priorities. Chances are, they didn’t miss the night’s TV episodes.
It looks like at most 100 people.
There must be thousands who have an interest in this design but haven’t a clue what is being said here until the day they drive to “their” new LINK station and wonder where they are going to park!!!
Look, folks, the whole fixed-rail idea is grand-scale stupid, but now that the grand-scale stupidity has been sold to the public, it’s even grander-scale stupid not to put parking garages along the lines as you approach the edges.
You say you want Seattle to resemble an East Coast city. Fine. Then you’d better have a look at how real East Coast cities handle parking and mass transit. Start with Boston, why don’t you. The MBTA operates 50,000 parking spaces. If you don’t put big parking lots along the lines, you’ll wind up with Portland’s system, which is very quickly going bankrupt.
There are over 25,000 P&R spaces just within the King County Metro service area. Add in Snohomish and Pierce Counties and I wouldn’t be surprised if we have more P&R spaces than MBTA.
Northgate is not an edge it’s a middle. Traffic is already fracked long before you get to even the county line. I’m personally not against parking garages. Even though Northgate isn’t an edge case I still believe there’s a strong case to be made for ST and Metro to provide P&R stalls. What I’m vehimently against is free parking just to pad ridership numbers on Link or any other form of transit and I’m also an advocate of continuing the existing paradigm at Northgate where private developers build and operate the parking structures and transit money is used to lease spaces at the evolving market rate.
We agree that transit parking shouldn’t be free. They charge for it in the East, and they should charge for it here. But you can’t have a transit system without big park and ride lots. Northgate isn’t at the end of the line, but if you look at Boston, their park and ride lots aren’t all at the ends of the lines.
Seattle Times article
As of Friday night all of the comments are in favor of the garage and ped. Bridge. We should build them both.
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