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This is an open thread.

108 Replies to “News Roundup: Under Construction”

  1. Pump it up: California to get 100 new Hydrogen stations by 2024

    Governor Jerry Brown is reportedly set to sign into law Assembly Bill 8, which would extend existing fees on motor vehicles, boat registrations, and new tires in order to fund the construction of the 100+ stations. Additionally, the bill extends the authority of local air districts to impose vehicle registration surcharges in their areas to achieve emission reductions from vehicles and off-road engines.

    These extended fee structures initially rolled out some 10 years ago and are designed to encourage the turnover of older vehicles while also increasing revenue.

    1. China Asks For Fuel Cell Buses

      [Beijing]… By the end of 2017 the government will cap the number of cars on the road at 6 million. Beijing also aims to reduce total vehicle fuel consumption by promoting the sale of new energy vehicles – including the use of subsidies – while also encouraging people to drive less frequently.

      Earlier this year, Ballard signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with our partner, Azure
      Hydrogen Corporation of Beijing, extending our partnership to include fuel cell buses in order to
      help address the air quality issue in China.

    1. The issue is: how do you mitigate the issue of crossing the offramps, considering they access the express lanes from both sides and all offramps are heavily used by cars and buses?

      1. Yeah, under the current configuration a trail would be unworkable due to the ramps. The I-90 Trail works so well because it doesn’t interface with any freeway ramps in Seattle, and has decent interfaces with the on-ramps on Mercer Island. An I-5 express trail would only work with a rebuild specifically for bikes and/or two-way transit. The ramps downtown are on the west side, the ramps in the UDistrict are on the east side, the Ravenna and Lake City Way entrances are on the west side, and the Northgate entrance is on the east side. No trail configuration I can imagine could make that work under the current build. Besides, even a perfect trail would place you in between 8-10 lanes of highway traffic, with 100db of noise and awful air to breathe. At least on I-90 there’s a lake on one side!

      2. I’ve thought about this, as well. But don’t give up yet!

        I imagine a west-side trail would probably work best, and people on the trail would not be able to access the east-side ramps. But there are options for new trail-only entrances:,-122.323045&spn=0.003888,0.008175&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=47.657699,-122.323045&panoid=q9SDnhklWzXgbyYTbhWDKw&cbp=12,110.78,,0,-1.77


        As for the ramps, my guess is that the trail crossings would probably need to signalized. And this probably means the speed limit would need to be lower, like 40-50 mph or something (right now it’s 60, at least on the Ship Canal Bridge). But 40 mph on I-5 is still super fast compared to the crawl it usually goes.

        But maybe someone has a better idea.

      3. There won’t be any more buses in the express lanes when the Northgate and Lynnwood extensions open, so HOV lanes for buses would be temporary.

        Do the express lanes really close at night? I thought they remained open northbound all evening and weekend. Traffic dies down 90% at night, as those of us who live next to I-5 which never closes on the west side of Capitol Hill know.

      4. Zach,

        For bicycles it would not be difficult at all to add a looping exit to the west opposite the 42nd exit. There’s no street right there and plenty of room under the bridge between the landing and the 40th street right of way. There’s already a MAJOR informal walking trail that loops under the bridge. By formalizing it, a bicycle trail could connect beautifully with the Burke-Gilman at 7th NE.

      5. Mike Orr said:
        Do the express lanes really close at night? I thought they remained open northbound all evening and weekend.

        Communities around the Ship Canal Bridge asked WSDOT to reduce the neighborhood noise by closing the express lanes at night. WSDOT studies showed that this would decrease noise levels by seven to ten decibels, without causing traffic congestion.

    2. We have an I-5 trail north of Seattle, its called the interurban. Its also completely separated from I-5 which is the way it should be. Mixing bicycles with 60 mph cars is a recipe for dead bicyclists.

      We should be spending resources continuing to fix up our existing N-S corridors and adding more E-W access which is what we lack the most of in this city.

      1. The Interurban works between Algona and Tukwila as far as segregating bikes from cars which I favor as well. The crossings are manageable because they are few and far between and because many of the crossing lights are set to immediately change when the pedestrians or walkers cross. That said, I was witness to at least one deadly crash when a motorist ignored the flashing cross walk signs!

        Going further north to Seattle a bike path could hug the rail corridor, but the street crossings will take its toll on riders unless lights are set to favor bicyclists…and then, at what speed?

    3. Have you ever actually crossed I-5 on the Burke? The vertical distance is pretty large. Any connection would be pretty long and steep. Instead, why not fix the surface routes? The U Bridge already has excellent bike facilities; it’s just that everything south of there needs a lot of work. Pretty much the whole Eastlake corridor has stuff worth biking to along it, and plenty of residential density.

      1. +1 for fixing existing routes.

        We have a lot of good existing routes that need maintenance.

        I would like to see more work to make our existing east-west streets a bit more bike friendly though. Especially the ones that aren’t already heavily utilized by cars. There are a few fairly sleepy I-5 crossings that would be great for bikes if they were connected a little better with more friendly pedestrian and bicycle crossings at the major N-S arterial streets…

      2. East-West has been my bugaboo as well, but North-South around here tends to be on a level surface, whereas East-West involves steep hill climbing. I’d like to see either more transit or transit alternatives (like inclines, cable cars) that are available 24 hours and for free to assist where short halls are needed (up Kent East Hill for example).

      3. The U-bridge itself is good but, in both directions, the area immediately north of the bridge has issues. Both directions have bike lanes that abruptly disappear and re-appear a few hundred feet later. The wide turn onto campus parkway also encourages high speeds, which makes the right hook somewhat of a concern.

        Southbound, the bike lane between 42nd and 45th is entirely in the door zone and has not-so-great pavement, compared to the regular travel lanes. You’re also coasting down the hill at 20+ mph when the bike lane ends and you have to abruptly merge. The bike lane between 42nd and 45th is a case where they may as well have just put in sharrows. As it is, I routinely ignore the bike lane through that stretch and ride in one of the car lanes, to avoid the high-speed merge, rough pavement, and door zones. Since it’s downhill, I can practically keep up with the traffic anyway.


    I live a block from here. I received no notice of permit application and apparently they got to skirt most of the design review. Odd that a 4 unit townhome has to go through the whole process plus notifying the neighbors, but apodments get a pass. Even more worrisome is the impact that this will have on Ballard’s aging infrastructure and already inadequate transportation options, neither which the developer will be required to mitigate (nor any of the other development in the city).

    Even better is that the developer claims “he’s proud to bring affordable housing to the neighborhood”. A quick back of the napkin calculation shows that he’ll be making at least three times more he would with the 6 unit condo/apartments that are typical of this neighborhood. I highly doubt that “affordable housing” is his goal. And I’m sure he would fight tooth and nail if someone built one of these next to his waterfront home in South Seattle.

    1. I lived in Austin, TX for 10 years. Our eventual answer to the age-old question of whether to discourage or encourage denser development became a Preferred Preservation Zone (the outskirts, especially in the hills), and a Desired Develpment Zone (the growth corridor).

      The myopia I see among some in Seattle is their inability to think outside the city limits. The whole War on Growth fails because it is easier to get through the permitting process outside of Seattle than inside. So, development is going to happen. The question you have to eventually answer is: Do you want the developers to build up in Ballard, or do you want them to build outward in Sammamish?

      Complaining about straining the transportation system impacts is also short-sided. As ridership increases on the bus routes serving Ballard, so, too, will frequency. Bus riders in Ballard have everything to gain by siding with more density. Densification is your friend, RapidRIder.

      1. Brent, I hope you’re right. But how long will it take for metro to act with 10minute intervals instead of the current 15 minutes for the 15X? Will the new density make ST choose Ben’s option 9?

        I realize you may not have the answers, but even those of us who support Apodments or are at least neutral towards them wonder when the various agencies will act in times of budget cuts.

      2. I welcome density in Ballard, especially building upwards. This, however, is not building upwards, but building inwards. Apodments are not responsible density and are nothing but a quick money grab by developers taking advantage of flaws in code, who could care less about the impacts on the neighborhood and city.

        If apodments are in such demand, why wouldn’t the new condo buildings portion off some of their building to have super dense units for less money?

        And regarding your transportation comment, ” As ridership increases on the bus routes serving Ballard, so, too, will frequency”: this has been said many times, again and again over the past decade, as the population in Ballard has increased and bus ridership has skyrocketed. Yet, we are still waiting on this “increased frequency”. In fact, we have lost frequency if you count the loss of some peak direction express buses. Sure there have been studies and promises of true mass transit, but again, those have fallen short over the past decade.

      3. The old 15 was 30-minute frequency all day (and more in peak). The new D Line is 15-minute frequency all day, and much more in peak. The 15X was kept in order to avoid having to buy more RapidRide buses just for a couple extra peak runs. I must say, I am jealous of your 15-minute peak frequency, even if I were to pretend you didn’t also have the 40 and D.

        The 40 would also go to high frequency if some weren’t insisting on also keeping low frequency all-day mostly empty service to the clifflines of Sunset, a mere 8 blocks from the 40.

        Ballard, like West Seattle, got years of extra service from the monorail money. Now that that money is gone, Ballard is having to re-adjust to the standing-room standards the rest of us have to live with. (That is to say, lots of riders will have to stand during peak so that off-peak service can exist.)

      4. Re: Density is our best friend

        Density normally leads to increased service assuming good political leadership; however, in the Seattle area, we get a shell game–more metro bus pullled out of the system and replaced by fewer rapid ride buses, which duplicate express buses to a large extent.

        If Murray gets elected, maybe all those consensus loving politicians that endorsed him will come together to bring more funding for public transportation expansion, including rail.

        Am I dreaming?

      5. The old 15 and 18 each ran every 20 minutes in the daytime and all day Saturday.

        And no matter how you contort the math or count the no-longer-staggered routes, Ballard has significantly less total frequency after 7pm than it did before the restructure. This is especially brutal in the late evening, when you find yourself waiting at 3rd and Pine for three times longer than you once did, for a bus that doesn’t even go anywhere near central Ballard. Why do you think car2go is such a runaway success up here?

        I’m fairly agnostic on the apodment issue, but facts matter. And the fact is that we have less, and slower, bus service than we did thousands and thousands of residents ago.

        The fact is that the promised association of development and transit has been repeatedly violated. The fact is that your bus is more likely to fight awful traffic because the vast majority is driving. The fact is that 5/8 of the rail proposals recently proferred will be too shitty to change that.

        It’s no wonder people are rebelling.

      6. RE mdnative’s concern regarding the peak service. Ballard has 18 (AM) and 21 (PM) peak service express trips. This is only 4 fewer in each time period than in 2012. A fair amount of peak service has been added to Ballard during the peaks on the D and 40, relative to 2012 levels. The D Line provides very nearby fast-ish local service for this microhousing project, and it is also located on the 58th Street Neighborhood Greenway; so it is a pretty decent location for this type of housing option. (I won’t argue with d.p’.s comment on evening service. But I’ll note there will be a slight improvement on the evening 40 that will start later this month.)

      7. @d. p. — I don’t see how you can be agnostic about Apodments. Apodments are an attempt to work around the ridiculous rules governing development in this city. These are rules that favor parking over the cost of rent. If you disagree, then feel free to rip my argument ( to shreds (you have had plenty of practice with my other arguments).

        @RapidRider — Same comment, same challenge. Explain to me why we should care how much the developer makes in the deal, if renters (poor people) come out ahead. Be prepared to explain how the supply and demand concept somehow disappears in Ballard (or the rest of the city).

      8. Well, again, I note.

        What people want is “more Seattle”.

        They do not want teeny apodments.
        They do not want gigantic ranch homes.

        They want the classic 1200 sq. ft Seattle Homes on a plot of land and somewhat near to recreational, commercial and work resources.

        With the expansion of transit, especially LINK, that becomes more possible, but I don’t think the mindset has come around to understand that yes, if you built smaller homes on the outskirts and LINK-ed it up with transit (even regular buses) they (might) come if you built Craftsman style homes and 2 bedroom ranches and split levels.

      9. Very good point, John, but I have to disagree. They do want apodments, otherwise they wouldn’t build them. Lots and lots of people want small apartments in Seattle, and the only thing they are allowed to build (in many cases) are these silly apodments. The developers would love to take the same building and add more bathrooms and kitchens, but they aren’t allowed to. So, people buy apodments.

        I see your overall point, though, and think it is a good one. Lost in the debate about density-by-apartments is the role that small houses on small lots can play. One of the big frustrations felt by people I know is that when they move to the suburbs (because they can’t afford the city) they often have to “settle” for a big lot. I know there are people that love this, but there are plenty that don’t, but don’t have much choice. Years ago, Nixon commissioned a study to look for ways to reduce the cost of housing. The researchers concluded that the best way to do so was to reduce the cost of the lot (not lower the cost of lumber, etc.). I think that is as true today as it was then (especially since the cost of development has lowered). Unfortunately, the zoning laws prevent small houses on small lots as much as they prevent apodments (or apodment size units with bathrooms and kitchens) in much of Seattle. We really don’t know what people want, because people are limited by the zoning, which is often guided by the desire to keep things “as they were” (with easy parking).

      10. @RossB

        What I would say is a lot of people want affordable apartments (and houses), but cannot get them. Given a choice between a large apartment, a house and an apodment at the same monthly price, I would be surprised if more than a few chose the apodment.

        But this goes back to my argument. What people really want (and need) is affordable Seattle neighborhoods. The real neighborhoods based on a small plot single family homes and some (nice) aPARTments.

        There is no way to do this in the current geographical area because demand. However, if we spread out and make more Seattle by carrying the small home, small plot design into the suburbs and rural areas, and also redistribute jobs and centralized services we could (and should) turn all of Washington State into Seattle (or seattles).

      11. The increased bus frequency that comes with higher density will only happen if there’s money to pay for it. To some extent, higher density means more people in a given area buying things and paying sales tax, which means more money for transit. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s enough more.

      12. Bailoman, you have to define what “more Seattle” means because I’m pretty sure it has different connotations to different people. The old single-family lots on N 80th, upper Queen Anne, Rainier Valley, and West Seattle are smaller than the lots northeast of UW or north of 85th, and I think the small lots are smaller than 1200 sq ft.

        In any case, I’d love to see the small lots built in the suburbs, with alleys and 2-lane gridded streets every block, and a supermarket within walking distance. But that’s where you suburbanites have to push your city councils to enact it, because they won’t listen to us city-dwellers. And you realize that would “increase density” in the suburbs, oh the horror. The biggest obstacle in achieving it is repealing the zoning laws that mandate large lots and wide arterials. The cities could also set a policy of discouraging cul-de-sacs.

      13. Cul-de-sacs for cars is fine, as long as there are ample cut-through paths for pedestrians and bikes. Bellevue has several examples neighborhoods that are like this.

    2. One other note on paying for infrastructure: Infrastructure doesn’t stay in mint condition in perpetuity after it is built. Using development fees to pay for new infrastructure (new roads, for example) works great for getting it built. Maintenance needs a funding source that involves repeated pay-in. Hence, property tax. Densification should lead to the property value going up. So, the owner *will* be paying more to help mitigate permanently-increased costs on infrastructure.

      1. Why shouldn’t developers be required to chip in their share of mitigation? I realize this will get passed on to the eventual tenants, but at least this will be a cash up front for the city rather than a cash over time deal.

      2. I’m not saying permitting and other up-front fees should go away. But the infrastructure construction costs created by building in Ballard are much less than the infrastructure costs created by building in Sammamish. How much would you have the up-front fees go up?

      3. The fees get passed onto the tenants. You are right about that. Then this increase in rent increases the overall rent in the area. This means that everyone who rents pays this fee. With the higher rent that everyone is paying, it also increase the value of all property. This means that everyone who is considering buying a house or condo pays this fee (indirectly). The only one who doesn’t pay this fee is the person who owns their own property. Basically, it is a reverse property tax (or a form of a reverse wealth tax).

        That hardly seems fair to me.

      4. Replying to Rapidrider. I did a project 20 years ago where a transportation fee was charged by King County. The fee was based on infrastructure needs specific to the project location.

        My project was in an area with considerable infrastructure – so the fee was in the tens of dollars/dwelling. Elsewhere, the chart had fees in the thousands of dollars/dwelling.

    3. I am in favor of any increased density in the city because it will increase the value of our transit investments and (hopefully) bring down the pressure on the rent market so more people who work here can actually live here too instead of being a 1+ hour drive outside of the city limits.

      Personally I am fine with apodments. They may not be the ideal for young families, but not everyone in town has a family yet, and we shouldn’t force all development into the same box. That’s not to say we shouldn’t pay attention to infrastructure issues though. We probably need to start having a discussion in this city about how to pay for the infrastructure (plumbing/electricity/roads/transit) to support the population influx we are going to have regardless of whether we want it or not.

      I would much rather be having these growth issues though then the “hollowing out” issues other cities in this country are having.

      1. For the most part, the cost of infrastructure takes care of itself as you increase the number of people in the city, especially if you become more dense. More people means fewer taxes per person. For example, if the number of people doubles, we could double the number of cops on the street and not cost tax payers an extra dime. For certain things (like plumbing) it gets even better. An apartment dweller is going to use a lot less water than a home owner (less grass to water, etc.). Likewise (for the most part) with road and transit infrastructure. That doesn’t mean that it will be just as good, just that it will cost less (you bus might be crowded or traffic might be a mess, but the cost per person goes down).

        Things get more complicated with big projects. Certain limits occur (such as with the buses on crowded streets, the number of schools needed, etc.) and new things need to be built. But once these are built, they are built. Maintaining them becomes cheaper (per person) because we have more people.

        You are right, it is much better than the opposite. Detroit ran into a nasty cycle of decreased tax base, decreased services, people moving out because the services were so bad, decreased tax base, etc.

      2. @ J. Reddoch
        +1 for more three bedroom apartments. Not everyone wants or needs to buy a house out in the suburbs. Hopefully they also don’t run $3k/month….

      1. The article’s comment section is infested with lesser Seattle NIMBYs.

        I always find it amusing that local land owners seem to think that owning a house here gives them some kind of veto power over what their neighbors are allowed to do with their own property.

        “No! No density! I want that 100 year old house to stay here as long as I am here… its historic!”… at the same time making empty gestures about “the correct kind of density”. This extends past apodments to also include large apartment complexes that people call “too dense and blocky”, “just ugly”, and “too many people in one place”.

        I would really like one of these people to explain what they heck they mean by the “right kind of density”. If its not an apartment or a condo in the high 2 to low 3 digit unit range, its not dense enough to even begin to make a dent in the kind of demand for new housing going on in this city. What solution would they pose that wouldn’t involve just shipping all the people who can’t afford 2k/month in rent or $500k houses out of the city?

      2. @Charles B How about the old Denny’s condo building, chock full of low income housing? How about minimum low income requirements for all new large condo buildings? I can’t imaging poor people are going to be excited to pay $650/month to live in 140 sq ft. I’ll reiterate the “wrong kind of density”.

    4. @RapidRider — I’m not sure what you are objecting to. Is it the size of the building, or the number of occupants? It is my understanding that you could build a house the exact same size as the new Apodment, and not go through a design review. The same is true for an apartment building with 9 units. So, which part would you change? Do you want to limit the size of new houses or apartments? Should they have to go through design reviews? Should new houses or apartments have to go through design reviews if they are above a certain size? If so, I think this is a reasonable suggestion. You can build a house or apartment, but if you go above a certain size, then you have to get a review.

      Or are you objecting to the fact that too many people will be able to live in this building. This strikes me not as an objection to the outside of the building, but to the inside. An enormous house with one occupant is OK, but not the same size building with forty people in it. If this is your objection, then that is a strange objection. Like it or not, this is an objection to poor people. Those that can afford an expensive house (and believe me, a house that big with one occupant would be plenty expensive) are OK, as are folks who live in really big apartments, but people who live in small apartments are not OK. Or maybe you just don’t like people moving into “your” neighborhood. Well, sorry, you’ll just have to tough it out.

      Developers using the loophole is not what is bad. The fact that they have to use the loophole is what is bad. Zoning should be based on health, safety and exterior dimensions. I don’t want a huge building next to my house either — but I could care less if that building is full of apartment dwellers or just one rich guy. There is a reasonable balance to be made with the design and construction of such buildings. But limiting the number of people who can live inside a place (for reasons other than health and safety) is simply an attack on the poor (whether you want to or not).

      Oh, and I could care less what the developer made on the deal. This doesn’t change whether or not this is good for renters trying to afford a place. Oddly enough, it also doesn’t matter too much whether the units cost a lot or a little. It is just a simple matter of supply and demand. By building more places, you are increasing supply; doing so, all other things being equal, reduces the cost of all units in the area (and to a lesser degree, all units throughout the city). This is fairly easy to understand, but I can explain it to you (and I’m not trying to be condescending — I’m often surprised at the number of otherwise smart people who haven’t figured this out).

      1. Way less people objected to the nearby Compass Center (plus Urban Rest Stop) and the old Denny’s development (minus the lamenting about Denny’s being gone). Those are both excellent examples of low income housing, so the “attack on the poor” is a straw man argument. An apodment as low income housing solution seems like a tomb to shovel them into and wait until they die.

        What a lot of people are miffed about is the lack of transparency in all of this (the permit was issued back in 2007, but not one public notice) and the fact that you can create that many units without a public notice and design review.

        Honestly, I believe that anything that changes the current physical use of the property (SF > townhome; SF > condo; SF > apodment; etc), even if the zoned use has already been changed, should require a public notice and design review. Otherwise, why have design review and zoning processes at all? Why not just say screw it and take Houston’s approach?

        And I don’t understand why you (and others on this blog) poopoo-ing neighborhoods. Do you have some problem with people banding together and trying to protect something they love? Are you mad that you don’t live in a neighborhood with a strong sense of belonging? Just because they don’t agree with something you advocate (in this case apodments among SFH, townhomes and small apartment buildings), does that mean they are wrong and evil? Should we all just become a monotonous, amorphous city with no sense of identity or self belonging (again see Houston)? If you want your neighborhood to be a bunch of apodments, then advocate for them there, I personally don’t think they are a good idea and they are an answer in search of a question.

        Finally, your supply and demand argument is questionable and it seems like you could use it to justify putting Wal-Marts on every street corner.

      2. Do you understand what a straw man argument is? I’m not so sure. Look it up and then read my post again. I simply, step by step, point out how restricting the number of units in a structure hurts the poor. If you limit the number of units, it hurts the poor. Do you oppose the number of units?

        How about arguing the merits of my argument. Again, I lay it out, step by step, but you never question it. Which part do you question? Just to be clear, whether poor people live here or not has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of my argument (as I stated before). Really rich people can move into these apartments and it doesn’t change the equation. We are building more units (supply) to meet the desire for more units (demand).

        Since when did I poo-poo a neighborhood? Jeesh, that sounds like a straw-man.

        With regards to Houston, there are trade-offs with zoning restrictions. I acknowledge that. Here are some things that you can gain by restricting zoning:

        1) Maintain the look of a neighborhood. This includes everything from building heights to the color of paint.
        2) Preserve parking.
        3) Keep traffic from getting worse.

        Any more? If so, I’m all ears.

        Here are the disadvantages of zoning restrictions:
        1) Renters pay more.
        2) New owners pay more.
        3) Lose out on the benefits of density (more restaurants, better economies of scale with regards to transit, etc.).

        Pretty simply trade-offs, really (feel free to question these trade-offs, as I suggested but you have yet to do). OK, ready now? Here goes.

        I am willing to trade 2 and 3 in the advantage column for 1 and 2 in the disadvantage column. Got that? As much as I love parking (and believe me I do — since I usually park on the street and hardly ever pay for it) I don’t think renters (who tend to have less money than owners) should have to pay for it. The same goes for traffic. Why should renters have to pay extra to try and reduce traffic (especially since they often pay for it by creating new parking spaces which just encourages them to drive more — oy vey!). No, that just isn’t fair. If we want parking, we should all pay for parking. Raise taxes to pay for parking. If we want to reduce traffic, same thing.

        Now, as to whether someone should be able to build anything they want (Houston style) or fill out a form if they change the color of their fence (Carmel style), I’m a moderate. As I said, I really don’t want to live next to a giant house next to me. But again, I could care less if that house has twenty people in it or two. Either way, I won’t like it. These are the compromises that a city (and zoning) should address. This is why, if a person wants to build a really big building (regardless of the number of people living there) then maybe a design review makes sense. Maybe the big building will be a great work of art — OK, I can live with that. But to say that the big building is OK as long as it is the same type of building (SF) sound crazy to me. In other words, you could tear down that lovely 1909 house and as long as you build another house, then it is OK. Build a giant, 500 foot tall purple and green monstrosity right up to the edge of the lot and everything is fine — unless of course, more than one unrelated person lives in the house, then, well, forget about it! Uff Da!

      3. Ross, I certainly don’t have problem with the population density that apodments bring, even in the context of Seattle’s pathetic lag in serving escalating transportation needs.

        But you actually stated my primary objection yourself:

        The fact that they have to use the loophole is what is bad.

        Many of Seattle’s problems stem not just from anti-urbanism, but from bad urbanism. We’re far from the least dense city in the western world, and yet so much of our urban-scape is ugly, pedestrian- and activation-repellent, and generally dysfunctional.

        I simply do not buy the line that development in the absence of regulation will be any better than development under lousy regulation or development that loopholes its way out of regulation. It’s genuinely weird to me that so many Seattle urbanists go Full Libertarian on this issue.

        They make the argument, facile and incomplete as all Libertarian arguments, that the great pre-auto-era cities were all built in the absence of regulation and tended to cohere into awesome and successful streetscapes. Of course, they ignore the codes and regulations put into place as early as the 1890s, in response to crappy construction and toxic living environments, but which also addressed the same minutiae about light and shadows and not running roughshod over your neighbors that we still debate today. They ignore the changes in building methods and the lure of economies of scale that steer unregulated developers away from the quality streetscape contributors of old. And they ignore the unquantifiable-but-very-real pride that builders once took in shaping their civic environments, a phenomenon all but dead and gone in an era when the money comes from faceless banks with little-to-no interest in the quality of your city.

        And most importantly, they ignore that the best cityscapes grew organically over many years, block by block and skinny lot by skinny lot. That will not happen in an unregulated present. Under an anything-goes strategy, prepare for a clearcutting of history and an eradication of human-scaled streets, replaced by endless blocks of identical cheapest-facade-we-can-get-away-with crap, with dead walls or Chase Bank branches or 100mph exhaust fans pointed like middle fingers directly at the sidewalk. Yes, like much of the new construction happening in Ballard anyway. But even worse. And everywhere. At the expense of anything that was ever worth keeping or replicating, and in the way of any well-regulated chance at a better urban future.

        We know how good cities work. It isn’t rocket science. You can even do it in post-apocalyptic from-scratch rebuilds (Tokyo, Berlin), or mandate it at the street level of skyscrapers (Vancouver). But it’s not going to happen in a Libertarian free-for-all!

      4. @RossB

        I (and other people in my neighborhood) are arguing about the many negative effects of the apodments. You (and other pro-apodment advocates) keep bringing up that being anti-apodment is anti-poor. This is not the case in this instance and has not been once brought up. Hence, the straw man comment.

        And d.p. hit the issue on the nose. It’s funny to see these pro Libertarian zoning attitudes on a pro Socialist transportation blog.

      5. It’s funny to see these pro Libertarian zoning attitudes on a pro Socialist transportation blog.

        As ideologies, “libertarianism” and “socialism” both leave a lot to be desired. But that’s true of most ideologies.

        Concretely, there are thousands of ways that government does less than it should, and thousands of other ways that government does more than it should. And there are thousands of other ways where government is acting at the correct scale, but doing the wrong thing.

        Recognizing that is evidence of pragmatism, not multiple ideology disorder.

      6. @RapidRider — “You (and other pro-apodment advocates) keep bringing up that being anti-apodment is anti-poor.”

        Just to be clear, I said “it hurts the poor”. I don’t mean to imply that folks who oppose Apodments mean to hurt the poor. Most of them are probably unaware of the complex nature of economics, and how it works in this instance.

        Some of them may feel it is the price we have to pay to ensure the other advantages of zoning (as I stated above). Fair enough. There are trade-offs with everything (as I mentioned). Want to raise the gas tax to pay for transit? Guess what, that hurts the poor. Want to raise the sales tax? Same thing.

        But to say “This is not the case in this instance and has not been once brought up” misses my entire argument. I painfully, step by step, make the case that restricting Apodments, or requiring extra regulation for Apodments, or restricting the number of units in general or requiring extra regulation for more units in general, ends up hurting the poor. It is true in this instance and every instance. If you don’t understand why, then please tell which part you don’t understand. If you think there is a flaw in my argument, then tell me. The quick summary is that regulations of this nature add to the cost of the units which all renters end up (indirectly) paying. The long version is in my comment above. The longer version is in the link I cited. I’m sure there are even longer versions somewhere on the web (you could fill a book with example, all of them coming to the same conclusion).

        So, again, if you think there is a flaw in my argument, or you don’t understand it, then please tell me. If you think that this hurts renters, but that it is the price that renters have to pay, then that is very reasonable suggestion. That is simply a trade-off (a trade-off I acknowledge I am comfortable with in many instances). But if this is the trade-off you feel is necessary, what exactly bothers you about the number of people inside the unit? The increased stress on parking or traffic? Fair enough. As I said, I’m willing to put restrictions on development or add costs to development (which hurt the poor) to preserve the beauty of a neighborhood, but I’m not willing to do those sorts of things to reduce the impact on society that more people in a neighborhood have. It’s just not worth it to me.

        So far, I’ve yet to hear you state that are comfortable with the trade-off or what trade-off you are comfortable with. If you don’t believe that there is one, feel free to find flaws in my argument. But so far, you haven’t even addressed it.

      7. @RapidRider — Oh, and a straw man argument suggests a ” misrepresentation of an opponent’s position”. Basically, my representation of your argument was that you opposed an Apodment, but would be fine with another house being built here. I also suggested that you favor extra regulation based on the number of units. If this isn’t the case, then I’m honesty very sorry, and feel free to correct me.

        But if those things are true, there I never made a straw man, since I never suggested that your policy (or policies) extended beyond that. From the basic arguments listed above, I simply went on to list the unintended consequences.

        Here are some examples of straw men:

        Suggesting that I support “pro Libertarian zoning” when I clearly do not (read the last paragraph of The thing is, you never really destroyed the straw man, so that really isn’t being engaged in a straw man argument as much as inappropriately generalizing another person’s opinion or argument. Of course, since people often have negative attitudes about those generalizations, that might be considered a poor man’s straw man. I’ll let the philosophers haggle over whether that constitutes a “real straw man argument” or not.

        Other examples of similar misrepresentations:

        “And I don’t understand why you (and others on this blog) poopoo-ing neighborhoods.”

        I never did such a thing. I never have poo-pooed neighborhoods. This implies I do, which is a misrepresentation of my argument.

        “Just because they don’t agree with something you advocate (in this case apodments among SFH, townhomes and small apartment buildings), does that mean they are wrong and evil?”

        No, I never said they were. I am quite sympathetic to their concerns (which you can tell if you read my notes). Even if they weren’t, I would never make personal attacks, or pass judgement on people based on their beliefs.

      8. @d.p. I agree. That is why I don’t support going “full libertarian” with regards to zoning. I’ve never been to Houston, but I don’t think it the nicest place in the world (or even in North America, or even in the USA).

        As I stated, I am quite sympathetic to folks who want to preserve the look and feel of a neighborhood, or basically just don’t want ugly buildings being built. Or even tall buildings. These are trade-offs, and there is no simple solution.

        But I really don’t like zoning that requires parking or limits the number of units (beyond the health and safety of the occupants). Nor do I like tough restrictions on mother-in-law apartments. These are geared towards preserving parking and limiting traffic. I just don’t think that trade-off is worth it.

        I also agree that folks who assume that we will go back to building beautiful buildings once we get rid of parking restrictions are being too optimistic. I do, however, believe that it many cases, it increases the chances that we will. If nothing else, it would allow for simpler designs. I commend developers for newer townhouses. They have managed to make them a lot more attractive despite having to build the parking lot (now they put it in back, instead of in front). But I imagine they could make the places look even nicer if they didn’t have to build the parking lot at all. It would also likely bring a change in style, if nothing else. This is good. A mix of styles make ugly buildings (or buildings I would consider ugly) look interesting. Walking around the UW campus, I see a few buildings from the 60s and 70s that I think are hideous. But next to the rest of the buildings, they look kind of interesting. I am grateful that the style of buildings continued to change. I think the same thing could happen with regards to architecture if they eliminate parking requirements.

        Then again, if we let the market place determine parking, they we will probably get more parking garages, which are generally really, really ugly.

    5. I bet the developer’s home is located in a SFH zoned area, not LR, so someone couldn’t build an aPodment-style building next to him.

      While the units will be small, the building’s scale and design is not particularly different than townhomes across the street or the senior housing building a couple hundred feet north on 59th. Central Ballard for over a 100 years has been a mix of single family homes, and denser low-rise buildings (many with no parking). If you don’t like density or the potentiality of density, then don’t live in an area zoned for it.

    6. Several commenters said, “It’s the parking!” A few people are worried about boxy buildings or poor misbehaving tenants, but the most widespread complaint is the lack of parking. Which means they don’t believe the tenants will actually be carless. This is part of the growing pains of society switching to more carless households: people won’t believe it until the phenomenon is large enough that they know people without cars. But the pent-up market demand is there. The missing pieces are not only apodment-sized units, but regular apartment buildings without the built-in cost of concrete parking levels.

      1. I own a car, but rarely drive it. It’s kept in my private spot (so street parking is not an issue for me personally), although I wish I could get rid of it. Ballard is not quite to the point where a majority of people can live without a car, so your argument, while wishful thinking, is not rooted in reality. So the “growing pains” in Ballard are going to become “growing open wounds” over the next 5 to 10 years, unless something RPZ is implemented to encourage people giving up their cars.

      2. I think there are also people for whom the real issue is low income people moving in next door, and who will latch onto any more socially acceptable complaint be it parking, inadequacy of services, or asthetics of the building.

      3. Not “a majority of people” but “a significant minority of people”. A majority of people would mean New York City or London levels of non-drivers, and I’m not expecting that in my lifetime. Not even San Francisco or Chicago has achieved that. I lived in north Ballard without a car in the early 2000s, and I know somebody who lived in a house in the 1990s for a decade (at 70th & 20th; the center of the transit hole). My apartment was at 65th & 15th and came with a surface parking space, which I never used except when guests came. I left because I was laid off from my Ballard job and most of my activities were on the east side of the city, but the advent of RapidRide makes it a more desirable location than it was then. So it started with only a trickle of people but now it’s becoming a more sizeable minority, and it would grow faster if there were more inexpensive non-garaged buildings available.

        I also think the benefits of inexpensive carports and exterior hallways have been completely ignored in recent construction. Mid-century apartments have those and they work fine.

      4. Apodments aren’t “low income” because they’re not subsidized. Is somebody really objecting to their barista living near them, or the clerk at the library?

      5. And that’s why we need to issue tradable neighborhood street parking permits, capped at the number of cars that can reasonably fit on the neighborhood’s streets.

        With one simple policy maneuver, we can ensure that the residents of these new buildings will not be competing with existing residents for scarce street parking spaces. That would remove the major objection to new development.

        A small annual fee for each permit (basically a land tax) would ensure that permits get used productively, and would also provide a nice revenue stream for things like local street maintenance and improvements.

      6. @Mike Orr Believe me, the RapidRide did nothing to improve car free use in Ballard. Ignoring the schedule, you no longer have a direct link to Amtrak/Boltbus for one.

        @Aleks Back in my civil engineering school days, when we were doing transportation theory, street parking issues were brought up. One person suggested each property would be issued as many permits as they had parkable frontage adjacent to their property (assuming an average car length). Anyone with a permit could park anywhere within the zone, per current requirements (i.e., you didn’t “own” the spot in front of your property).

        Of course, that brought up “right to park” issues (does a SFH have any more right than a person living on the 10th floor of a condo?), feasibility of implementing and enforcement concerns.

      7. I noticed one of the comments said “It is about the parking, not the affordability! ”

        I couldn’t agree more. This is a trade-off. Very simple really. Do we want to raise rents in the city to preserve parking, or not. As much as I like free parking, I just don’t think it is fair to ask renters (all renters, and to a certain degree, all of those that aren’t yet owners) to pay for it. If we really want parking, then we should pay for it — all of us. Raise taxes, so that home owner like me pay for parking. Or, I don’t know, call me crazy, but maybe we should let the free market handle the whole parking thing.

        Oh, and for folks who maybe don’t see how it is that renters (and people considering owning) pay for parking let me give you a quick run down. Requiring parking adds to the cost of building a new unit. The builders either assume that people will pay the extra cost, or don’t build the new units. Either way, the relative cost of units throughout the area is higher. It is simply supply and demand. Parking requirements increase the cost of the supply. This is bad news for renters, but also for folks looking to buy. On the other hand, it doesn’t cost the folks that already own a place a dime. As one of those folks, I have to say the parking requirement seems like a terrible burden to place on renters and those looking to buy, especially since most of those folks have less money than the owners.

      8. Of course, that brought up “right to park” issues (does a SFH have any more right than a person living on the 10th floor of a condo?), feasibility of implementing and enforcement concerns.

        If the permits are tradable, then any “fairness” issues are only temporary.

        Let’s say that the market price of a Ballard permit is $100. SFH dwellers who don’t need their permits can sell them to someone else, and apartment/condo dwellers who do need permits can buy them from someone else. If someone with a corner house gets lucky and gets 4 permits, and sells them all, then they’re essentially $400 better off. If someone who rents an apartment happens to own four cars and buys 4 permits, then they’re essentially $400 worse off.

        Realistically, most people will probably buy or sell one permit at most. So no matter how biased this distribution scheme is, the vast majority of households will be no more than $100 better or worse off than they would have been under a completely fair system.

        In contrast, the current system gives homeowners an incentive to fight all new development. That means that a lot of housing doesn’t get built, and a lot of people don’t have somewhere to live. That bugs me a lot more than the fairness of distributing parking permits.

      9. There is a easy solution to the problem of existing residents complaining about how new people moving in will take up “their” parking spaces – call a spade a spade, make the neighborhood and RPZ, but only give parking permits to residents of existing buildings. Developers would still be free to build new buildings without parking (or with fewer parking spaces than residents), but residents of the new building would not be able to take street space away from existing residents to store their cars. If the new building doesn’t have enough parking, residents would have to rent space from a nearby garage. If people really won’t move in without either on-site parking or nearby street parking, that becomes the developer’s problem, not the city’s problem.

  3. The last two evening trips of the 187 will disappear this month. I am not so upset about losing the 11:14 trip (that is super late), but the 10:32 trip. I just used the 10:32 trip a few days ago, and almost again yesterday. Last winter, I had evening classes at HCC, and I had to use the 10:32 trip two days a week to get home. And Metro gave us practically no notice on a planning schedule that these are going to disappear. And we wonder why people don’t like to ride the bus.

    I wonder how long the 9:45 trip of the 903 will last. (sigh)

    1. Thanks for pointing out Metro’s September service change. I had missed that so far.

      I see that my route (120) and several others like the 40 are getting added trips, particularly in late evening and shoulder periods. Yeah!! d.p.’s complaints about late-night Ballard service won’t be so accurate anymore. But it proves the point made upthread about density: if people use bus routes in high volume, Metro will eventually find a way to provide more service. If a neighborhood doesn’t use their routes, they are at risk of cuts.

      1. In approving the fall service change, Metro also presented some administrative changes to the County Council (in April) to help with overcrowding and reliability. In order to provide that, a half dozen routes (including the 187) are losing a couple trips.

        One of those overcrowding improvements not listed on Metro’s website: the Route 44 (serving Ballard!) will now operate every 10 minutes outbound from approximately 4:00pm to 6:30pm.

        (Note that these changes are independent of the City of Seattle investments on the 40, 120, etc.)

    2. I figure that (and this is just a back of the napkin calculation) if they extended the last trip of the 181 that arrives at Twin Lakes P&R at around 11:30 pm, the cost in annual service hours of that trip doing one twin lakes loop that the 187 does (but 35th Ave first, then Hoyt Rd) would be just 65 service hours. That’s annual service hours. Some routes (rapidride, etc) might be using more than that amount per day.

      This would be like keeping the 11:14 pm trip of the 187, and delaying it by 4 minutes;

  4. I’ve been thinking about the new 592 from Olympia, and how to make it better.

    What has made the trip *to* Olympia something most people won’t attempt by transit is the awful transfer at the SR 512 P&R, the 3-seat ride that is often involved in getting from downtown Seattle to downtown Olympia, and the mish-mash of providers with poorly-interconnected service.

    If the 592 were to become an all-day route between downtown Tacoma and downtown Olympia, all three problems would be solved. Yes, it should continue to serve Lakewood, but that ought never be the terminus, except maybe during Sounder hours, if Sounder becomes 2-way to Lakewood.

    Olympia-Tacoma riders got short-changed in the process of creating the new 592. Theirs is still a 2-seat ride, for the sake of Olympia-Seattle commuters. But are there really more Olympia-Seattle commuters than Olympia-Tacoma commuters? This group of riders may be a prime ally in getting the 592 to go to Tacoma instead, and making all-day 2-way service between Tacoma and Olympia, without the dreaded 2-hour layover in Lakewood, possible.

    How to fund it? If it is 2-way, ST and IT could go in half and half, and hopefully continue to get state funding, since it is inter-county transit. With the route just coming from Tacoma, hopefully state electeds won’t be alarmed by the prospect of the Seattle hordes coming to the Capitol on bus.

    1. I would love to see this. I don’t think it’s necessary for it to go all the way to Seattle, though. But it could do this:

      Olympia, Lacey, DuPont, Lakewood Sounder, Lakewood TC, Lakewood 512, Downtown Tacoma, TDS -> transfer to ___ for ___:
      590, 594 for Seattle
      586 for U-District
      574 for Federal Way, Star Lake, Kent-Des Moines, SeaTac
      Sounder for Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent, Tukwila, Seattle

      And replace Olympia Express entirely.

    2. The existing Olympia Express already provides a 1-seat ride from Olympia to Tacoma on weekdays (although for some reason it terminates at Tacoma Mall on weekends…).

      Although frankly, instead of using a ton of service hours to provide peak-only service from Seattle to Olympia, I would rather improve the existing Olympia Express frequency to hourly (currently it’s every 90 min), and provide timed connections with the 590/594 at Tacoma Dome station (not SR 512 P&R). To speed things up for Seattle commuters, northbound trips should stop at Tacoma Dome Station first (timed connections to Seattle) and then continue to DT Tacoma, and vice versa for southbound. This should provide a more legible service pattern and should be more convenient for people who aren’t travelling during peak hours or people who are going from Olympia to Tacoma.

      1. Yes, considering all of the service that already exists in the peak from Lakewood/Tacoma to Seattle, I can’t fathom why they are giving Olympia and Lacey a one seat 60 mile ride to Seattle, when they are already running high-capacity (and new trips of) sounder trains to Seattle.

      2. “They” aren’t giving anything. Olympia or Thurston County obtained a federal grant to pay for the extension. ST asserted that it had empty seats on the 592 so it wouldn’t have to add buses initially; otherwise it would not have agreed to it. It will last until the grant runs out, and maybe by then ST/IT/Olympia will agree on a successor route. That route could potentially be truncated at Tacoma Dome if that makes sense.

      3. Considering the huge distance that any Seattle->Tacoma or Tacoma->Olympia route would have to traverse to reach a connection point, combined with the potential for unpredictable, nasty traffic in either segment, I don’t think any timed connection for Seattle->Olympia thru-riders would be worth the paper it’s printed on.

        Ultimately, what we really need for this to become viable (at least in the northbound direction) is for the 577/594 restructuring to happen to convert Seattle->Tacoma into a 10-15-minute all-day service corridor. This way, no matter how much JBLM traffic the Olympia bus gets stuck in, you know your wait in Tacoma won’t be more than a few minutes. I also like the idea of making the Olympia bus go straight to Tacoma Dome Station to save time for people continuing on to Seattle.

    3. The 592 in its current form is an inefficient waste, even compared to Sounder. It costs 10% more than Sounder to run ($11.34/boarding vs $10.50) and it has been rated as Unsatisfactory in SIP after SIP. It’s deadheading pattern is insane: one single round trip for a commuter requires 8 hours and 256 miles of driving (Lakewood-Olympia deadhead, Olympia-Seattle in service, Seattle-Lakewood deadhead, Lakewood-Seattle deadhead, Seattle-Olympia in service, Olympia-Lakewood deadhead). Admittedly some trips layover in the Link yard, but many trips operate as described above.

      The 592 has considerable advantages from the passengers’ perspective compared to Sounder of course: it’s $1.75 cheaper, 10 minutes faster, terminates in Denny Triangle instead of King Street, and has a longer span of service from Lakewood (4am-8am instead of Sounder’s 4:45am-6:45am).

      But waste it is: 32 daily trips at ~4 platform hours each, 250 days per year = ~32,000 service hours to serve 1,000 passengers per day. I’ll leave it to the David Lawson’s of the world to figure out what that many hours could purchase if used more efficiently.

      1. A service as expensive than this, which directly competes with Sounder, should not be offering cheaper fares than Sounder. Doing so is simply Sound Transit trying to compete with itself. It makes no sense.

        Really, I don’t see why we even need Seattle->DuPont service at all. Everyone who lives in DuPont has a car, Lakewood has plenty of parking. Just let them all drive to Lakewood and ride Sounder.

      1. 1. It’s “Windows Phone,” not “Windows Fone.”
        2. This phone right here:
        is VERY inexpensive, and will drive up Windows Phone market share all by itself.
        3. This phone right here:
        is a great high-end phone, and is doing wonders for the Windows Phone platform.
        4. They simply need to port an app that they already have, which is less expensive than writing it from scratch. Sheesh.
        5. Those market share figures are from July at the latest. It’s September now, and Microsoft has acquired Nokia.

      2. The numbers haven’t changed since MS bought Nokia three weeks ago.

        Nobody uses Windows Phone. It is not worth developing for.

      3. “The numbers haven’t changed since MS bought Nokia three weeks ago.”
        Really? I am talking about farther into the future, where we will probably see new devices and better integration into Microsoft. You must have such a high standard of success for WP if you expect massive changes in only 3 weeks.

        I use a Windows Phone and I love it. The Nokia HERE maps is great, because I can download them for offline use, which is great for getting around by transit. There are at least 3 great transit apps: OneBusAway, Transit Seattle, and HERE Transit. And there’s also bus alarm. People are getting these $99 Lumia phones. They are targeting Apple’s weakness of not wanting to produce cheap phones. All this with a Trimet app would be amazing.

        I develop, too, and the tools for making a Windows phone app make it much easier than IOS or Android. Trimet needs a better excuse than “no one is using it,” because people are using it.


    Obviously this article is quite old, but it seems like it could apply to Seattle. If we do a quick calculation of the riders per station ratio of Link Light Rail (excluding Tacoma LInk) after ST2, we get:

    280,000 daily riders (
    34-37 stations, depending on how many end up being built on Lynnwood Link and South Link

    This results in approximately 7600-8200 riders per station, which is much more than Los Angeles and quite close to Vancouver’s figure of 8600, where they are installing faregates.

    So should we be planning to build turnstiles in our stations? For the stations that are not done, it should be relatively easy to install them if they are built into the design. Or does ST intend to use proof-of-payment forever?

    1. I believe the problem is the bus tunnel. Once buses are out of the bus tunnel they can talk about having pay gates.

    2. We were just in Vancouver, and watching the crowds leaving a SeaBus in North Vancouver, the faregates are an accident waiting to happen.

  6. At least some people in West Seattle are having some of the same issues and complaints as some people in Ballard. (I commented on the last open thread but was too late and filled with too much hyperbole–i was kind of upset after reading comments on the West Seattle Blog).

    There is a lot of anti-development sentiment, at least from what’s posted on the West Seattle blog. The main complaints are:

    1. West Seattle’s a peninsula, and there’s really only one way to get out of it to go downtown or north-the West Seattle Bridge. It’s already crowded and hard to get across in the mornings—what’ll it be after all the development and thousands more residents? (This is the one I’m concerned about too. )

    2. Buses are already at capacity, at least the C Line, and there are the potential 17% cuts next year. What’ll happen if the many of the new residents decide to take the bus, since with the bus lane it makes getting out of WS much quicker in the mornings. There won’t be any buses for them at all, especially if bus service is cut. (Again, I’m wondering this too.)

    3. Parking. For instance, a building near where I live will have 160 units and 16,000 square feet of retail space will have 160 parking spaces. There were comments that that’s not enough, but most of the developments have far fewer spaces. People doubt that there are going to be that many people who don’t have cars. (Of course, even if there was parking for everyone and everyone has cars, then there’s the problem with getting out of West Seattle).

    4. Of course there are the people who want WS to stay the same as it was when they grew up here or when they first moved here. That’s never gonna happen, and I think people know this if they think about it. People also worry that the restaurants and stores will be too full (not realizing that if business is that good, more people might open businesses). A

    5. Another one is that the new apartments are mostly luxury or fairly expensive, and that’s going to drive up rents in West Seattle so that middle class and working class people won’t be able to live here any more. (I thought if there was more of something, prices would go down–in this case prices would probably go down or not rise as much for apartments in the older buildings. Am I figuring wrong?)

    It’s really hard to support density if you live in an area where most people seem to not want it and feel that it’s being forced upon them against their wills, or even to vote for politicians who support density, if your neighbors don’t support it. Should we vote the same way our neighbors vote?

    There are also always the people who feel mass transit is being forced on them and they’re being socially engineered to take buses/trains instead of driving their cars,

    I really think the main problem for West Seattle and density is the problem of traffic on the bridge. If people can’t get to work on time due to traffic crawling on the bridge, they’ll lose their jobs.

    What we need over here is light rail, and I realize we’ll never get it if we don’t have the density to support it. But it’ll take so long to get it even though we are densifying, and people want solutions now.

    Should development be halted in West Seattle and it be left as it is since it’s an outlying area, and just have the density in closer to the city? I really don’t know what the solution is.

    1. An outlying area? The West Seattle Junction is just as far from (or close to) downtown as the commercial center of Ballard.

      1. Yes. Maybe density shouldn’t have happened in Ballard either, but it’s too late now. (I don’t really think so, but it seems a lot of people do, or at least some people are vocal about it.)

      2. No, neither West Seattle nor Ballard are outlying areas. They’re only six miles from downtown. We should have density here in West Seattle! It’s unrealistic to think otherwise. If people don’t come here, where will they go? Issaquah? Covington? Population growth isn’t not necessarily a bad thing either. We do need better transit service to support the population growth planned here in West Seattle, but that is a solvable problem.

    2. In order:

      1. It’s true that West Seattle has a chokepoint. We already know the solution to that: more transit. It might also make sense to institute peak tolls on the bridge. It’s worked great on 520.

      2. If Metro has any clue what they’re doing, the 17% cuts won’t affect the C Line at all. Still, you’re right that the cuts will hurt. This just illustrates how ridiculous it is to be cutting service at a time when demand is higher than ever.

      3. As I mentioned above, I think the best solution is to issue tradable neighborhood street parking permits. The permits would be capped at a level so that there’s physically enough space for everyone with a permit to park. A small annual fee would keep people from hoarding permits. Most importantly, after the initial disbursement, the only way to get a permit would be to buy one from an existing owner; therefore, existing residents can know that the new residents of these new developments wouldn’t be competing with them for parking.

      5. Your intuition is mostly right. Why don’t other people observe this? First, as you said, newer buildings tend to be expensive buildings; today’s luxury apartments will be tomorrow’s cheap ones, but that doesn’t seem to help now. Second, somewhat paradoxically (or not), an apartment boom can also increase demand, which ends up raising rents. There’s no question that Ballard is a much more desirable place for “yuppies” to live now than it was 10 years ago.

      Of course, eventually it’s a zero-sum game; everyone’s got to live somewhere, and if they don’t live in Ballard or West Seattle, then they’ll live in Capitol Hill or San Francisco or Brooklyn and raise rents there instead. But if your only interest is in West Seattle staying cheap, then making it an undesirable place to live is *kind of* a way to make that happen.

      1. 1. Peak tolls would probably be a good idea but would probably create a huge outcry. Though maybe people would adjust? It’s hard to say.

        2. Totally agree.

        3. Tradable street parking permits would work very well.

        5. I wish people could realize that if we have more people living here, we’ll eventually get more good stuff. But since it’s so uncomfortable in the present (I’m talking mainly about the traffic problems), it’s sometimes hard to see how things could get better.

      2. I’m sure people would flip out about peak tolls, the same way that they flip out about having to pay for anything that used to be free. Alas…

        Regarding the last point, I’m willing to give folks the benefit of the doubt. I totally believe that there are folks in West Seattle who truly like it the way it is. There are folks who wouldn’t go to the restaurants or stores, and who don’t care about being able to walk anywhere, but do care about having quiet streets and suburban views and plenty of space to park.

        What gets me is that these current residents are vastly outnumbered by the potential future residents who might move into new developments. And yet those future residents get effectively no voice in the discussion. Developers are their imperfect proxy, and since developers are big and efficient, it’s easy for populists to paint them as the enemy.

      3. I’d gladly pay a toll on the West Seattle Bridge if it were used to help finance light rail over here! I’d also give up my one seat bus ride downtown for better frequency and reliability.

      4. 1. What is it about increasing road capacity using transit that exempts it from the usual arguments that increasing road capcity is a fruitless waste of money? I want to believe that there is a real difference here, but I’d like to understand what it is.

        3. I think there also needs to be zoning that allows new off street parking to get built when the marketplace decides that it’s necessarily, otherwise, you are artificially limiting car ownership in the neighborhood, which may end up having unintended bad consequences. Also, this only works to the extent that parking complaints are real rather than pretextual.

        5. It doesn’t seem to me unreasonable, given the current political climate both statewide and nationally, that any governmental savings enabled by economies of scale would simply be handed back to the 1% in the form of tax deals and corporate welfare, rather than being spent on improvements to local infrastructure beneficial to everyone.

        As for the private sector, we have to make sure that our zoning codes don’t create aritificial barriers to the opening of new businesses. To what extent is the absence of neighboorhood street parking [recall, it’s by permit only] going to make businesses more reluctant to locate somewhere?

      5. 1. Increasing road capacity is an effective (if not cost-effective) way of increasing mobility. However, it’s not an effective way of reducing *congestion*. Transit isn’t an effective way of reducing congestion for SOVs, but it does provide a congestion bypass for the people who choose to use it. Also, on the dense corridors where transit is most useful, it’s a more cost-effective way to increase capacity (especially peak capacity) than building more highways.

        3. Allows? In most of Seattle, there are *minimum* parking requirements, not maximums. Possibly outside of a small area in the CBD, I’m not aware of anywhere in Seattle where you can’t build any new parking.

        5. That’s a way of saying that we shouldn’t change anything, ever. I just don’t buy that.

        Not all parking is permit-only. On commercial streets (and streets that are close enough to attract shoppers parking), metering makes much more sense. Effective metering (with no time limits) should actually help businesses, since it discourages people from parking all day, but it also allows people to stay for the duration of their visit without having to stress about moving their car or feeding the meter.

        And don’t forget the multiple studies that have found that complete streets and bike lanes actually increase business. It turns out that most of those cars driving by are really just driving by, and that people who spend most of their money on their cars aren’t the same people who spend most of their money at stores and restaurants (who would have thought?).

      6. @Aleks. On 3, I understand that it’s usually pretty easy to build new houses with six car garages, provided that there’s space on the lot and a commercial demand. Likewise, it’s not too hard (although obviously insane) to build an apartment complex with 3 parking spaces for every apartment. Of course permeability requirements and height restrictions can make doing so artificially prohibitively expensive. But what if I want to put a 30 car lot in the middle of a neighborhood because I think it’s a commercially good idea. can I actually do so? [This is not a rhetorical question, I honestly don’t know the answer]

        On 5, that certainly isn’t an argument I want to make. On the contrary, I’m generally supportive of efforts to increase density.

        I mostly wanted to point out that even if you are conviced that economies of scale exist (and I certainly am) it’s not at all irrational for people to be dubious of claims that transit (or other similar government supplied infrastructure) will actually materialize to support the density. Not only are there good reasons to be cynical about the political process as a whole, but also government’s track record is far from exemplary.

      7. “What is it about increasing road capacity using transit that exempts it from the usual arguments that increasing road capcity is a fruitless waste of money?”

        It makes sense when you look at the fundamental question of why cities facilitate transportation, and what cities need to function healthily. A city’s economy, cultural life, and citizens’ health depend on people being able to get to where they work, socialize, shop, and take care of their elderly relatives. That’s what “mobility” means. We could have a top-down mobility (a ration of 40 trips/month), or a bottom-up mobility (as many trips as you like). Our freedom-loving society prefers the latter. It’s understood that people will make both necessary trips and lazy luxury trips, but there’s an upper limit on how many trips they want to take. So, that’s the desired mobility. Then the question becomes, what kind of transportation system can meet that demand, and meet it most efficiently? A transit-oriented system with HCT, bike lanes, walkability, and some automobile capacity sounds like the best bet. (Some automobile capacity is needed for emergency vehicles, deliveries, and workers-with-large-tools, and some extra luxury capacity beyond that is reasonable. But not a full-fledged everyone-driving-everywhere-and-parking-everywherre capacity.)

        There is an upper end to transit capacity reasonableness. Four lanes on the West Seattle Bridge sounds excessive, as does buses to every single-family street. But we only need two dedicated transit lanes for all West Seattle service. Likewise, The Netherlands has reached the limits of bicycle parking with its huge lots, and it now has to tax bicyclists to afford more infrastructure. So even bike lanes have an upper limit if 50% of the population starts using them, but Seattle is an astronomically long way from reaching that point.

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