108 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: The Bus is Cool”

  1. Tesla Motors Stubbornly Fights the Future of Green Technology

    Recently, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA ) CEO Elon Musk expressed, in no uncertain terms, his dislike for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, or FCVs. And why wouldn’t he feel that way? He’s the CEO of Tesla, a company that’s famous for its battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, the Model S. But is he correct in his opinion? Or was his statement simply an attack against a superior type of green energy?

    Despite claims that they’ll never be viable, FCVs are coming. At this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota Motors (NYSE: TM ) will unveil its concept FCV. And although it’s just a concept, Toyota plans to launch its FCV in 2015. In addition, Daimler’s (NASDAQOTH: DDAIF ) Mercedes-Benz, Ford (NYSE: F ) , and Renault-Nissan formed a partnership earlier this year with the goal of rolling out production of FCVs in 2017.


    1. If Toyota does actually manage to get that thing out the door for $50,000, it’ll be an accomplishment.

      After all the teasing, we have some performance numbers on it, but it’s not pretty. Horsepower suitable for a $12,000 subcompact, towing a chassis that looks to be ~50% heavier. They still haven’t announced numbers on the weight, but they’ve cut back the range projection by 150 miles since 2011 (300 miles is not bad though).

      1. The ix35 is around $88,000 in fuel cell trim. Toyota is claiming they can do $50,000. Meeting that price goal will impress me.

        People showed with the Prius and the Leaf that they’ll pay $30,000 for subcompact levels of performance. I’m not sure if that’s still true at the $50,000 mark, but it’s at least close.

      2. These vehicles are desperate attempts by the fossil fuel industry to prevent widespread adoption of battery-electric technology. Hydrogen is almost entirely generated from fossil fuels — and has a particularly wasteful well-to-wheels profile. Even if generated from solar power it’s incredibly wasteful compared to using batteries.

        Anything to distract from the “electric revolution”.

      3. Hydrogen is almost entirely generated from …

        Hydrogen is a storage medium of electricity. It is simply a lighter, better and more easily used storage system than a battery.

        Hydrogen can be generated from water, using electricity.

        It can be reformed either in batch, or on demand from natural gas (or coal or other fossil fuels).

        Soon, It can be made directly from sunlight using Artificial Leaves and other light harvesting technology.


        Batteries are lossy, leaky and bad technology. You don’t need a crazy tinfoil hat to label the battery technology for what it is….as this story from today illustrates:

        Japan Airlines reports problem with Boeing 787 Dreamliner battery on Helsinki-Tokyo flight


    2. @John Bailo: Without trying to be an Elon Musk fanboy, I think this article is a bit simplistic in criticizing Musk. He claims it’s not about the money. For example, from the recent Smithsonian article on him: “Most people, when they make a lot of money don’t want to risk it,” he says. “For me it was never about money, but solving problems for the future of humanity.” [http://bit.ly/10qodPk]

      If you take Musk at face value, his objection to hydrogen fuel cells make sense. He took control of Tesla because the big automakers were pissing about with hybrids and he thought all electric made more sense. Do you think Toyota would ever have made a plug-in hybrid without Tesla on the market? Do you think we’d ever have seen the Nissan Leaf if Musk hadn’t forced their hand?

      1. I would answer yes and yes to both. From a consumer standpoint, the Chevy Volt is more impressive than the Tesla. The Volt is expensive, but not crazy expensive (not much more than your best selling cars). You don’t need a new infrastructure to fill up anywhere in America (which means you can drive it coast to coast and everywhere in between). Filling it up is fast. At the same time, it has very good electric range (enough for a lot of people to commute without worrying about charging it up at work).

        The Toyota plugin was in part a response to the Volt. The Toyota Prius is one of the greatest cars ever made. It isn’t that expensive, has proven to be extremely reliable, has very good performance even while getting great mileage (e. g. 40 mpg at 80 mph) and is quite functional. In short, it is as much car as most people will ever need. But folks wanted more — they wanted what the Volt has. So, slowly, reluctantly, Toyota responded. But it still can’t go as far on a charge as the Volt. Toyota would rather focus on simply making better hybrids, or better cars overall. For the environment, this might be a good thing (since the change from a low mileage car to a high mileage car is generally better than the change from a high mileage car to a really high mileage car, even if that really high mileage car runs on electricity).

        The Leaf is a different thing. It gives Nissan some “Green Cred”, which it sorely lacked. It is also a decent, affordable electric car, which the world lacked. But so far, no one is really following Tesla’s lead, because their cars remain extremely expensive.

        Also, just because Musk says he wants to change the world (for the better) rather than just make more money doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to make more money. There are plenty of people who risk it all, but then earn it again (e. g. Donald Trump). Meanwhile, there are also plenty of people who take the big money they made in business and try and change the world for the better outside of business (e. g. Bill Gates).

      2. RossB: I’ve followed the history.

        No, Toyota would never have made a plug-in hybrid without Tesla in the market, it’s quite clear from the history.

        Chevy would never have made the Volt without Tesla in the market — Bob Lutz actually *SAID SO*.

        Would we have seen the Nissan Leaf? Maybe, but key components of the current Leaf design are Nissan playing catch-up with Tesla, including the battery pack thermal management.

        Tesla is pursuing the Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (not actually a secret):

        The fact is that if you’re starting a new car company you have to start at the top of the market; this is how every single car company in the 1890s / 1900s did it, and it’s the only way to do it, because you have to pay off the high initial capital and R&D costs.

        As for hydrogen cars: still a joke. Technically inferior to battery-electric cars *and* more expensive *and* more dangerous.

      3. To forestall one obvious criticism: yes, Elon Musk has been ludicrously, delusionally optimistic with every single one of his predictions and everything he’s trying to do is coming out several years late and more expensive than he hoped. The basic business plan is still being followed though, and is working OK.

      4. But so far, no one is really following Tesla’s lead, because their cars remain extremely expensive.

        Being expensive was a marketing choice there. Nissan and Toyota can afford take a loss on a couple of downmarket everyman models just to enjoy the halo effect. Tesla has to actually make a profit on these things, and that means taking a bite out of the most profitable market segment: high-end luxury sports sedans. And they did it, vanquishing long established V8 powered Audis and BMWs on the luxury sales charts.

      5. The fact is that if you’re starting a new car company you have to start at the top of the market

        Like Tucker and DeLorean?

        Nope, all we need is a regular car, with a hydrogen tank and fuel cell.

        Done. It works now. It’s shipping in Europe.

        The only person who would oppose hydrogen is someone who favors air pollution.

      6. Making hydrogen via water electrolysis is not efficient and especially so if fossil fuels are used to create the electricity in the first place.

        It’s slightly more efficient to make it via converting natural gas but you still have to deal with the inefficiencies of a fossil fuel supply chain and it’s effect on the environment.

        Musk’s vision is massive solar arrays coupled with battery storage as the solution for leveling power production and consumption. For example, his controversial Hyperloop proposal was in one respect really a ploy to build a massive 400+ mile long solar array that would supply so much excess power that it would light up cities along the way.

        The key to reducing green house gas emissions IS BREAKING THE FOSSILE FUEL SUPPLY CHAIN. Hydrogen as presently produced fails at that requirement.

      7. Musk, like many of the tech giants of the 1990s, is big, clunky and obsolete…like his car.

        In the 21st century, we operate…at the nanoscale!

        Light harvesting with many man-made leaves

        Scientists from Japan have harvested light energy using an exceptionally large number of light absorbers to relay photons via antennas into one final energy acceptor. This two-step sequence closely mimics natural photosynthesis, resulting in greater and more efficient energy transfer.


      8. You know John, many ideas are invented but then sit around for decades or centuries before they are made to be viable. The ideas that Musk implements are obviously not new, but he has singularly been able to innovate them into a practical solution. He is proving a larger point that the world can and must remove itself from fossil fuel carbon cycle. He is approaching the problem differently and perhaps not considering other issues like land use and urban density. –Which means he’s on your side in one respect.

  2. King County Metro won’t be driving at night this time next year without more money. So Metro won’t be cool anymore bummer. I for one liked the insurance of being able to get a bus even relatively late. The 150 will be cut off at 11 PM next year. Oh well, what can we do. Bummer huh?

    1. It’s too bad nobody would seriously consider stretching the platform hours on a route like the 150 by having it terminate at TIBS or Rainer Beach Station. One-seat rides are about to start dropping like flies, with no thought toward using Link as a safety valve.

      1. Or stretching the platform hours on Friday and Saturday night in exchange for ending service early on two other nights in the middle of the week. Friday and Saturday nights is when most people are out late for entertainment. This is when late night service is most important. Sunday night is similar right before a Monday holiday (but like a weeknight the rest of the time).

      2. Truncating the 150 at Rainier is not going to happen. For starters, keep in mind that many passengers already have to transfer at Kent Station to begin with. If you live in Maple Valley, it can take an hour just to get to Kent Station. And then the transfer to the 150 adds up to 30 minutes, and the ride is 50 minutes off peak. A transfer at RBS would add 30 minutes to all of that. So it aint gonna happen.

      3. I assume that truncating the 150 would be in conjunction with a ST restructure that would reroute the 578 to Kent Station (instead of Federal Way) and make the 594 stop at Federal Way TC. That way, the people who currently transfer at Kent Station to the 150 can transfer to the 578 express, which should take around 30 minutes from Kent Station-Seattle, thus shortening trip times. Although the 578 would be less frequent (only every 30 minutes), it should be faster, and hopefully timed-transfers can be made to most local routes there so that people who live beyond Kent Station can have a fast connection. Of course, people on the “local” part of the 150 would still have a longer trip, but it should not be that much longer and this could spare them from other cuts.

      4. John,

        Yes, a 90 minute ride sucks, and a 2-hour ride sucks more. You know what sucks even more than that? A bus ride that takes twelve hours, because you missed the last bus.

        In a perfect world, there would be an ST Express bus to Kent. In a world of 17% cuts, something has to give. Given the choice between forcing riders to transfer, and cutting certain buses entirely (like night service), I can’t fathom why you’d choose the latter.

        Also, for what it’s worth, those of us who have advocated restructuring Renton/Kent service (myself included) have generally assumed that most/all area buses would be restructured to connect to Link, rather than forcing a three-seat ride. As an example, in lieu of the 150, both the 164 and 168 could be extended to Rainier Beach Station, roughly along the 150’s route. You still have 15-minute service to Kent, and folks coming elsewhere still have a two-seat ride to downtown; they just transfer to Link instead of to the 150. As another example, the 169 could be extended to Rainier Beach station along the 101’s route, and upgraded to 15-minute service.

    2. I cancelled my subscription to Seattle Symphony this year, in part because I was disappointed with my late night transit options. I could take the Sounder in early, and grab a bite, but coming back it was the long milk run (with associated seedy characters). I did not like driving in because of the danger of accidents and the high cost of parking. I also tried driving to LINK in Tukwila, but that always seemed crazy since I live right near Kent Station.

      Again, I really wonder what we’ve bought for ourselves in the last twenty years if a guy 20 miles away from downtown can’t find a decent and safe way to get in and out for an evening’s entertainment.

      1. Where would you propose ST come up with the money to pay BNSF for that extra run?

        FWIW, I would love to see South Sounder regularly scheduled to run before and after major events (including, and especially, January 1, July 4, Torchlight Parade, all Portscum matches, and when Inter-Milan comes to town, as it will save lives), even on weekdays, but I don’t think the symphony rises to that level.

      2. JB – your best realistic hope is to lobby ST for a service restructuring that would reroute the 578 from Federal Way to Kent, most likely by adding a Federal Way stop on the 594.

        Due to sub-area equity, cutting the north Sounder to raise money for south Sounder is not an option.

      3. “Seedy characters” can take the train just as well as the bus, you know. Riding late-night trains out to where I grew up in suburban Chicago I once saw a guy have to be wrestled off the train by conductors.

      4. Al: seedy characters can indeed be anywhere. I’m more disturbed by the seedy characters who are out driving cars… unsafely.

      5. Seedy characters need a ride home somehow….and you build that train they will ride that too. You have the money to pay for that train which won’t get used? ST has more to think about than Kent-Seattle.

    3. The problem with rerouting the 578 through Kent is the loss of service in Federal Way. Most of the ridership on the 578 is in Federal Way, at least on weekends. During the week I have no idea as I never ride it on weekdays. Having hourly service in both Federal Way and Kent is less than ideal, as is service which duplicates other service. Also, Southcenter is a major transfer point as well, and you don’t propose the 578 to stop there? I just don’t see a good option. It would take 30 minutes from Kent – RBS, a 10 minute transfer to rail, and a 30 minute ride to downtown, plus whatever they had to go through to get to Kent Station. So bottom line is that while there are some changes that could be made, this change would not be for the best.

      1. John, any 578-to-Kent proposal also requires that the 594 add a stop in Federal Way, to replace the lost 578 service there. There are times of day when that may stretch 594 capacity… but if PT is really willing to operate artics again, that could easily make up the difference.

  3. Why is the road in the classic commerical so empty? If it has its own lane, shouldn’t the counter-peak lane, going the other direction, be filled up with parked cars?

  4. Everybody listen up. I am getting bored and I want to see something new. I can understand how a blog gets into a routine, but I want to see an original idea. Something unique and creative. A commenter could even do it and submit it as a guest post. Hopefully, it will involve getting out into the field, rather than just another post that’s simply commentary on some story found on the web. I want original reporting! One idea I have is that you will walk or bike the entire length of the future East Link line, taking pictures, or perhaps interviewing people along the way, then write a post about your experience. But make this your own. Think up your own original idea.

    1. But, Sam, repeating a video already used on the Sunday Open Thread is a first for STB. We do something novel, and you don’t even notice.

      1. Another idea I have is having all you commenters put what neighborhood you live in next to your commenter name. For example, Joe (Queen Anne), or Mike (Overlake), then I can give you assignments, like, Mike, I want you to go to Overlake Village this week and report on the progress of the old Group Health complex. Also, take pictures. Then submit a guest post to STB. Someone who lives in Issaquah I may ask to bike from Issaquah to Seattle and back, then write a report on the condition of the I-90 bike trail.

      2. Sam, I am assigning you to fly to Sweden and do some muckraking on the above video. Find the detractors, and run their story. Don’t come back until you’re done.

      3. I dont think anyone expects us to go outside of the region. And definitely not to go out of our way to do this. Just be observant of what goes on in our communities and share what changes are coming. Like me from Kent I could post on developments around downtown Kent and take pictures of course and comment on ideas of making transit better. Noone’s gonna pay me to go to Reno or Sweeden or Russia, but if i go there on my own i’ll share what i find.

    2. You even said it yourself: ” A commenter could even do it and submit it as a guest post”. What are you waiting for?

    3. Wait — What? You want reporting — look back a few posts to this one: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2013/11/08/a-closer-look-at-metros-cuts-seattle-and-north-king-county/
      There is better coverage here than anywhere else (and that includes the newspapers, both daily and weekly).

      You want ideas, how about this: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2013/08/19/your-bus-much-more-often-no-more-money-really/
      Again, no one else does this. No reporter, no columnist, nobody.

      1. I just got through reading this New York Times article (which I have proudly been reading since I was a toddler), about how urbanization causes suicide, unemployment, and mental illness, and I was struck by how the reporter managed to interview common citizens living in this small city, even though it is half a world away. Can you tell me the last time a transit rider was interviewed for a post piece?

        BTW, Ross, I have a homework assignment for you. I want you to travel the length of Aurora and assess the progress of the building of the Rapid Ride E line. The stops, the bus lanes, etc. No googling it. No going on Metro’s website. This is good, old fashioned journalism. You are going to go out and inspect this yourself, then report back to us.

      2. RossB, thanks for the plug!

        Sam, if you’ve been reading a New York Times article since you were a toddler, it’s probably out of date by now. Just a heads up.

  5. Really are buses like that all over Western Sweden, which really is sort of northern Denmark. Ad definitely demonstrates the right fighting spirit

    Somebody politically knowledgeable with a temper they can control, like Ben Schiendelman, for instance, please write in and tell us what we need to do to not only prevent predicted massacre, but also to create a transit system people will use by choice.

    Will save me a one-way Icelandair ticket.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I know it’s not my place, but…

      It is partly Ben’s shitty political instincts that just cost the mayor his job. “We just need to promise streetcars everywhere; who cares about the Metro crisis!” “Let’s insult those who have noticed downtown getting sketchier!” “Why preserve existing human-scaled density that people like, when we could zone for nothing but skyscrapers?” “Wow, polling inside this echo chamber shows a 100% chance of reelection!”

      As for the “temper they can control” part…

      1. And for the record, I quite liked our well-intentioned-if-somewhat-daft outgoing mayor. Murray is going to be willfully awful.

      2. Yes, If this blog hadn’t existed I’m sure McGinn would have changed all his policies and won.

      3. I think a lot of those things were silly (like the streetcars) but I don’t think it cost the mayor his job. A majority of the council didn’t like him — they endorsed his opponent, even though his opponent never made a policy distinction with him. Murray basically ran as “the guy who wants all of the things the mayor wants to do, but isn’t a jerk”. Maybe the “jerk” label wasn’t fair, but McGinn didn’t do enough to work on his relationship with the council (or the city attorney, or …).

        I voted for McGinn, but I don’t think Murray will be awful. I really don’t know what to expect from him — which puts in the camp of a lot of other people (including many of the voters who voted for him).

      4. Except that Murray actually is a jerk… a tantrum-thrower… an opportunist… a corporate stooge… a guy with a history of exploiting his office for freebies and special treatment… a legislator with great culpability for our structural revenue crises… an emissary of “Smug Seattle”… a person with apparent total disinterest in non-white Seattle (or, frankly, any facet of Seattle outside of his immediate personal experience)… and someone unable to express any sort of policy specific that doesn’t undermine the fundamental goals of liveable density.

        Mayor Murray is going to be the pits.

      5. But wouldn’t Mayor Murray, for the reasons you listed, be somewhat more interested in a Ballad to UW line than whatever Ballard to Downtown line option is chosen. (cheaper, cover more voters, etc)

      6. That’s what we need to convince all the politicians of, that a Ballard-UW line would be even better than a Ballard-downtown line as a first priority. With McGinn and his Ballard-downtown promises gone, there’s a window of opportunity. ST hasn’t committed to one or the other yet; the Ballard-downtown study just started first. Ballard residents who want an east line first need to be vocal, because the prevailing assumption is that they want a downtown line.

        We also need ST to confirm soon that U-District station is expandable for a transfer line, before the design gets further solidified. If it’s not, I don’t know what we do, because that’s critical for ensuring that Ballard-UW-Downtown is a viable alternative to Ballard-downtown.

      7. A UW to Ballard line makes sense, and should definitely be part of our long range plans. However, Sound Transit has made it clear that they think it can’t be done before we build a line from Ballard to downtown. They believe that it would put too much pressure on the system (too many people moving through downtown on the existing line). Many of us (including me) think this is bullshit — or at the very least, a problem that should be dealt with directly (by making steps to improve the trunk line). But I really don’t think we can win that battle, anymore then McGinn was able to stop the highway 99 tunnel (and in McGinn’s defense, stopping the tunnel was not a technological challenge, only a political one). I also think there is no way Murray would try and disrupt the current situation (he is much more likely to simply go along with what is already planned in this regard).

        So, if we build a line from Ballard to downtown, it will double the number of lines through downtown. At that point, a line from Ballard to the UW could be built. Like much of the system, it isn’t just about folks going from one end to the other (e. g. Ballard to the UW) but about people who go from various places on the system to another spot. Generally speaking, our bus system does a great job in getting you to downtown (regardless of where you are). It also does a good job getting people to the UW. But even though downtown and the UW are good transfer points, the frequency and speed of the buses are too slow for folks. For example, if you are in Lynnwood and want to get to Fremont, a line from the UW to Ballard is the difference between taking public transportation or driving.

    1. It seems that she has no specific transit goals and doesn’t know much about the subject. So the first thing would be to educate her about the top priorities and see whether she agrees with them. There’s also the issue of who will be on the city’s transportation committee and ST board. If Sawant is not willing to be as focused on these issues as Conlin was, or if she wants to pursue extreme policies rather than a balanced approach, then we should look at whether another councilmember would be better for those positions. But I don’t know how the transportation chair and ST board positions are decided.

      1. Good question about the board positions. I don’t know how the positions are chosen either. I doubt Sawant would end up in those positions, given her lack of experience, so that begs the question, who would you like to see? My first choice is O’Brien.

      2. I believe the county executive gets to pick, although I’m sure he’ll do so in consultation with the new Mayor (whom Dow endorsed). I don’t believe it needs to be a Seattle person by law, but I would expect a Seattle appointment.

        My sad, pessimistic guess would be Tom Rasmussen.

      3. OMG, did nobody who voted for Sawant think about this? Those were the main reasons I voted against her. Sawant needs to replace a worse councilmember so that the overall council gets better. Not somebody who has a good understanding of transit and density and makes reasonably good decisions. We don’t want the next ST boardmember to be a regression.

      4. I thought about it a lot, Mike. I felt like she picked the wrong member to run against. Unfortunately, The Stranger doesn’t like Conlin, for reasons I still don’t fully understand. To be fair, they don’t like his handling of the 99 tunnel, which might be a legitimate complaint, but other than that, their coverage has been biased and weak. He is far from perfect, but with a little bit of investigation, you could uncover plenty to like or dislike about the guy. But they never did that. For example, he voted against the sick leave law — not because he opposed mandatory sick leave, but because he felt the law didn’t go far enough (it was a symbolic vote and he said if the decision was close, he would have voted for it because it was better than nothing). Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this town who don’t follow the particulars, and like the idea of voting for a socialist, or just vote based on recommendations made by The Stranger. Meanwhile, The Seattle Times, which did endorse him, has made so many wacko, right wing endorsements, that they have lost all creditability. If you didn’t know any better, you would assume that Conlin was a right wing Republican, and Sawant was the only liberal in the race.

        On top of all that, you have plenty of anti-density folks who vowed never to vote for Conlin again. In a close race like this, a lot of them voted for the socialist, who never said much about the subject (which was a shrewd political move).

      5. For example, he voted against the sick leave law — not because he opposed mandatory sick leave, but because he felt the law didn’t go far enough (it was a symbolic vote and he said if the decision was close, he would have voted for it because it was better than nothing).

        I happen to agree with you on this one. However, I do think that both interpretations are plausible. Actions speak louder than words. If you think that Conlin is the kind of person who shouldn’t be trusted, then you’re going to ignore his publicly stated rationale, and you’re going to pay more attention to how he actually votes. So what it really comes down to is that the Stranger doesn’t trust Conlin, not that they’re oblivious.

    2. We lose a fairly reasonable pro-density figure and gain someone who blows the NIMBY dog-whistle loudly and frequently.

      1. I would argue that we lose someone who has reliably rubber-stamped mediocrity in transit and development — with long-term negative repercussions — in favor of someone who couldn’t care less about established profit-motive constituencies.

      2. Alternatively, we lose someone who’s decent on transit for someone who’s far out of the ballpark and annoys potential allies.

      3. You get an unknown. It’s worth having someone sit down with her and attempt to explain the basics of public transportation.

      4. Why would you say Conlin “reliably rubber-stamped mediocrity in transit and development”? He wasn’t mayor. He was just one member of a committee. He has been a committee member for his entire political life. He has no interest in leading anything, but in proposing ideas, and trying to move things forward. Sometimes, they move forward. Sometimes, they don’t (because other committee members or the head of committees oppose him). But he has been the strongest, most accomplished person fighting for density in the city. I think he paid the price for that. Opponents of density will rejoice if Conlin loses.

        His accomplishments in transit are a lot smaller. He chose “to get along” rather than oppose what we have built. It is easy to say that the system we have built is a big waste and that we could have built something much better for the money. It is much harder to say that we could have actually done so, given the political realities that exist in this city. When asked, Conlin has basically said he is happy to see light rail because it seemed quite likely that it was going to fail, as it had failed many times before. In other words, it is quite possible that Conlin put up with the poor design of Central Link (which really should be called South Link) because he didn’t want to go back to the drawing board. He figured that if things got too controversial, and too expensive (while we built a silly line to SeaTac) then it would mean the death of future light rail lines, which would have essentially killed the thing. As for more recent particulars, he has fought for the right things, from what I can tell (e. g. a station at 130th, a bridge over I-5 at Northgate)

        As for Sawant, she either doesn’t seem to understand the issues, or believes that they can be solved by impossible means. For example, she wants “A Millionaire’s Tax to fund mass transit, education, and living-wage union jobs providing vital social services.” Great, but impossible. She also says “We need rent control!”. OK, not only will this not work, but again, it is impossible (illegal under state law).

        I can come up with more practical bullet point items that would have a much more positive effect on rent prices in the city (complete with exclamation points): “Get rid of the parking requirements on new construction! Base zoning restrictions on the size of buildings, not the number of occupants! Liberalize mother-in-law apartments!” Unfortunately, those sorts of changes don’t appeal to a lot of people (“Oh my God, more people will be moving into my neighborhood which means that parking and traffic will be worse”) while Sawant promises something for nothing (“Reduce military spending and end homelessness!). OK, that last quote was made up, but the other two are from her website.

      5. No. She’s an economist, and she’s whip-smart. She’s nothing like John Fox.

        The “environmentalists” who gave us Charter Amendment 19, on the other hand..

      6. She may be nothing like John Fox in other ways (I am only familiar with her through this campaign), but she appears to me to share his exact approach to housing issues. Privilege existing residents through rent control and development moratoria, try to reduce demand (i.e., turn more of the city into slums), and whatever you do, don’t do anything that might enrich a developer.

        Ooo, evil developers! Scary.

      7. If she’s “whip-smart”, then she has run one of the most deceptive campaigns for public office in a long time. Either she knows she can’t deliver on most of her promises (because they are illegal) or she isn’t that smart. I’m not sure which is worse.

        She’s not anti-density, but if her campaign is any guide, she will probably do little for density, but help pass misguided regulations meant to help the poor. She would be far less likely to encourage extra development, because that would mean “a giveaway to the rich”. I expect an interesting coalition between the anti-density crowd and her. She will vote for extra regulations aimed at getting us more low income housing while the same regulations (or, more likely, a continuation of regulations) require parking, limit the number of people allowed in a dwelling, preserve those sacred views of the Space Needle or the enchanting shadows you find in November, etc. In other words, we will see higher rents for the vast majority of Seattle residents than we would otherwise. But hey — a handful of lucky winners get low income vouchers.

        Just to be clear: the landlord owners are cheering not because she was elected, but because Conlin — a guy who thought maybe the free market (gasp!) could be used to provide some downward pressure on rents — might be gone. If I’m a city council member and I value my job, then I come away knowing two things: Don’t piss off the anti-density crowd and kiss the ass of The Stranger editorial staff. If The Stranger editorial staff (remember, these are the folks that supported Charter Amendment 19 and thought the monorail was just peachy) weren’t so stupid, then maybe the latter wouldn’t be such a big deal.

      8. In Sawant’s endorsement article in the Stranger, there was anti-growth/anti-density rhetoric everywhere. Every few lines it was ‘stick it to developers’ or ‘make developers pay for XYZ’ or ‘increase fees on new developments.’ At the debates and on reddit, she held up San Francisco as her model for sustainable and affordable development. How is copying one of the only cities in the nation where rent is more expensive than Seattle going to help anyone?

        Kshama Sawant thinks that the problem in Seattle is that the rich, greedy developers are constructing too many poor-quality expensive luxury apartments for other rich people, and not enough good-quality affordable apartments for the poor. She said, several times in different contexts, that ‘affordable’ apartments are a ‘different sort of good’ from ‘luxury’ apartments, and that only the ‘luxury’ apartments are currently being built. Somehow, rent control will increase the supply of the affordable apartments at the expense of developers. I wish I was making this up.

        She answered a bunch of questions here:


        Probably the best guide for what she believes, in detail and in her own words. Decide for yourself.

      9. No, density and affordability are not incompatible. But density policies do not imply affordability. Policymaking has to be geared towards developing neighborhoods that are affordable, humane, pedestrian and biker friendly, elderly and disabled friendly, with necessary amenities at walk-able distances and at affordable prices. And of course, a world-class mass transit system has to be part of the picture.

        Wow! What a density-hating, bad-transit-defending shrew! How dare she accurately identify some failed-urbanism outcomes born of recent development-policy implementation! Shame on her for noticing that on-the-ground experience sometimes pokes massive holes in perfectly-elastic-market theoreticals espoused on blogs!

        What a terrible, terrible world it would be if landlords had to demonstrate tangible capital improvements before jacking rent up 80% in twelve months! Sawant must be a city-hating and success-punishing monster!

      10. Wow, d.p., you surprise me. That is pure political fluff. Every “neighborhood activist” or “densinista” would say the same thing (“affordable, humane, pedestrian and biker friendly, elderly and disabled friendly, with necessary amenities at walk-able distances and at affordable prices”). But how do you get from here to there? Rent control? Illegal, and it has failed miserably in the past anyway. Force developers to build low income housing whenever they build something new? Great, except that it is easy to see that like rent control, that simply back fires. How about implementing the suggestions I made. They are radical (for this city) compared to the fluff that the socialist can actually accomplish. Let me repeat them:

        Get rid of the parking requirements on new construction. Base zoning restrictions on the size of buildings, not the number of occupants. Liberalize mother-in-law apartments.

        These are real change that can be made if we have the political will. Most of these go beyond what Conlin has suggested, but he has moved towards this more than anyone else in this city (with the help of the outgoing mayor). He has received plenty of blow back as a result, which may have cost him his job (it only takes a handful of people to say “I’ll never vote for Conlin because he supports Apodments” to swing a race this close).

        If you don’t think that we can possibly build our way out of the rent crisis in this city, consider that The Seattle Times has written several business articles about a possible apartment construction bubble in Ballard. In other words, they are afraid that too many apartments are being built, and that some landlord will not be able to get the rent they expected from the apartment that was just built. Being The Seattle Times, they painted this in largely depressing tones. Of course, what this could mean is some relief for the thousands of people in this city that pay sky high rent.

        Now imagine if the cost of building apartments just went way down because you don’t have to add parking. Also imagine if a lot more units can be placed in the same size building. I see all of this as a good thing. Maybe she supports this, but at best, it is crazy for her to replace the most progressive member of the council on these issues. At worst, she doesn’t think this is the way these problems can be solved — because evil developers don’t deserve to make big profits (and they would if these changes occurred) and besides, the state can solve everything if it just figures out how to make the proper regulations.

      11. Daniel, thanks for posting that AMA. It was very revealing.

        The theme of the answers was “increasing supply just rewards evil developers.” Despite being given many opportunities by commenters, she completely dodged the issue of what “inclusionary zoning” actually would mean or how she would solve the problem she identifies of insufficient affordable housing being built in Seattle. The defenses of rent control did not address most criticisms of rent control (only the one that it usually applies to only part of the rental supply). I came away with the following impression of her policy approach:

        1) Loudly complain about real problems affecting non-wealthy Seattle residents.
        2) Obfuscate any policy agenda behind voluminous rhetoric criticizing large corporations.
        3) ???
        4) Affordable housing!

      12. Okay, so let’s explore that Ballard “apartment bubble” for a second. Because that has already arrived.

        The AVA Ballard, occupying half of Market between 14th and 15th, is empty. Literally. Barely a light on in the place. And this shouldn’t surprise anyone, because no matter how many delusional commenters claim 15th as the “new center” of Ballard, no matter how many fake BRT lines you run up the 7-lane thoroughfare, the fact remains that someone with $1600 to blow on a one-bedroom is going to find a better place to live than next to the Burger King, the gas station, and the crappiest intersection in northwest Seattle!

        So why haven’t the asking prices tapered off, even by a little bit? Because thanks to the two-decade-stirred cocktail of crap policies that have dictated where and how upzoned projects in this city are sited, designed, scaled, apportioned, and then financed, they can’t. They’ve permanently dropped ugly, anit-urban, unlivable crap in the wrong location, and they can’t even afford to drop the price to where it might have a chance of finding demand!

        TL;DR — Oops, turns out real estate is not motherfucking elastic! D’oh!

        As you might have surmised, the laissez-faire-era Seattle delusion about how dense, sustainable cities actually look and actually work makes me roundly furious. I’m lashing out from a familiarity bias (and in a political direction) that is diametrically opposed to the one that drove the Charter 19 NIMBYs, but I can certainly sympathize with their anti-incumbent revulsion.

        For 20 years — a.k.a. the entire “Conlin era” — we’ve attempted to funnel all growth into a tiny percentage of the city, and we’ve pulled out all the stops to make sure the results are 100% inorganic. All zoning boundaries are hard and fast, even the ones that encompass only a single block’s width; there is no room in New Seattle for any blocks of mixed size, mixed form, mixed width, mixed age. Even Manhattan is marked by a mish-mash of places like this, but all Wholesale-Replacement Seattle gets is this.

        Have a beloved, thriving block of skinny, affordable commercial in your midst? Perhaps even in an older, architecturally-irreplaceable, already-dense mixed-use building? Well, fuck you, you’re “in the way of progress”! Of course, the old owners aren’t being “forced” to sell, except that they pretty much are, because all of the government incentives have been rewritten to force the eradication of the old so as to ensure “maximum advantage” is taken of the precision-guided clear-cut zones. Preservation credits or tax incentives to improve what already exists? Height bonuses for building around existing density, or for squeezing more commercial space out of less street frontage? What do you think this is, Commie Massachusetts!? Besides, building gargantuan crap from scratch allows us to better control for “view corridors” to the Space Needle!

        What Conlin represents, to me, is the criminal squandering of a once-in-a-lifetime chance to remake a city for the better. Even in “optimistic” (i.e. bubble-prone) Seattle, a sustained mass influx of jobs and residents can hardly be deemed inevitable. What Conlin leaves us with is a city littered with fenced-in “townhouses” with no “towns” to walk to, anti-pedestrian megablock buildings financed under such mistaken presumptions that they’re underoccupied and unfixable, “successes” like the Roosevelt Craftsman Bungalow $½-Billion Subway Boondoggle (now featuring shitty apartments by the highway!) and the First Hill White Elephant, and an “integrated transit system” designed upon the received wisdom of people who, like ST board members Conlin and Constantine, never have and never will use transit. And everybody driving everywhere in ever-worse traffic. All while the city gets uglier, more expensive to live in, and structurally more broken.

        So yes, I’ll take the woman who speaks (even in the vaguest allusions) of cities that behave as cities while respecting their own citizens, and of ideas that stray from the Free-Market-will-save-us-all dogma that has so dramatically failed us.

        (p.s. You won’t win any points pulling out your “rent control” bogeyman argument, in which all possible forms of rent-assessment restrictions are falsely equated with the arbitrary-winners-and-losers-system seen in New York and San Francisco. Aleks has already thoroughly incinerated that strawman.)

      13. What rent-control straw man? That is one of her bullet point items. along with over a dozens other ridiculous items (Unionize Amazon and Starbucks). Again, even if rent control worked fabulously (which it does not) it is illegal. Might as well propose an income tax (oops, she did that too).

        You seem to hate the way Seattle has become ugly. Fine. Get in line. Remember all the ugly buildings that went into Ballard in the 1980s? Of course you do. That was long before Conlin was elected. A nice, pretty neighborhood full of nice, pretty houses replaced by ugly duplexes and quadraplexes. Pretty, interesting landscapes replaced by cement and an occasional rhody. All Conlin’s fault, of course. Shame!

        You seem to decry the housing structure of Seattle, and blame the guy who has fought against it. “funnel all growth into a tiny percentage of the city …” That is because they won’t let guys like Conlin have his way and encourage growth in other areas of the city. The same is true for just about every one of your complaints. If you want to blame someone for the ugly growth, blame the rest of the council. If they let growth happen more organically, in a more aesthetically pleasing manner, then it would. But they are more focused on preserving the right to park, or the right of neighbors to be free from living next to too many unrelated people (horrors)!

        I’ve posted my suggestions twice now, d.p. Let me do it a third time: Get rid of the parking requirements on new construction. Base zoning restrictions on the size of buildings, not the number of occupants. Liberalize mother-in-law apartments. Feel free to tell me how those suggestions will make Seattle ugly, or less affordable.

        Care to guess how Conlin would vote on any of these? It is pretty obvious given his history (he would support all three). How about Sawant? Anyone’s guess, really. That is what worries me. She has an entire web page dedicated to “issues” and none if it is as clear as what I just wrote (and I’m just a yahoo commenting on a blog).

        I guess you can believe that none of this make a difference. That landlords will just let apartments sit idle for years, increasing the rents each year, rather than stoop so low as to keep prices the same or (gasp!) lower them. Developers, meanwhile, will refuse to build new housing even if the cost is dramatically lower. Because these rich bastards really don’t care about money, they just want to stick it to poor people. Or something. Crazy thought, d.p., but maybe the landlords in Ballard haven’t dropped the price because they figure it is just a matter of time before the market catches up to their prices. Given the last election, it is a reasonable assumption.

        Hey, we can blame various people for the mess that is Seattle all we want. But all things being equal, we both know that if developers don’t face extra restrictions on development, rent will be lower. It is just simple supply and demand. Some of us in this city know this, but figure it is just the price we pay for preserving the pretty neighborhoods that we enjoy. I get that. I walk around this town quite a bit and love old Seattle. But let’s not kid ourselves. This costs those that rent (or are looking to buy) quite a bit. It also adds to sprawl. Some people know this, but a lot of people don’t. Those that don’t find it easy to oppose guys like Conlin, even though they call themselves liberals or environmentalists (or socialists). Which is not to say she doesn’t understand this, but she somehow thinks the problem can be solved without making the tough decision to actually encourage developers to build more housing.

        Your third to the last paragraph is so ridiculous, I don’t know where to begin. Let me just grab a few words and phrases, here and there. “once-in-a-lifetime chance”. Please. Seattle has been growing like this since the end of the 19th century. It goes up, it levels off, it goes up again. I’ve lived here for fifty years and the growth and change in this city is nothing like what occurred in the 1980s — it is much better. Like I said, the buildings are much prettier than the ones built in the eighties. South Lake Union is ugly, but up the hill a ways (Cascade) it is quite nice. Perhaps you like the old fashioned feel of Uptown? Again, I think we could do a lot better. But Conlin is one of the guys fighting for better, while much of the city thinks we should just stop growing for a while.

        “underoccupied”? Bullshit. Seattle has a very low vacancy rate. The reason, as you alluded to, is the big jump in employment. This has happened before. Often it led to a huge increase in suburban growth. It also led to higher prices. The difference is that this time, the increase is high enough to be a substantial part of persons income. If your rent goes from $200 to $400 a month (in today’s dollars) then it sucks, but it isn’t the end of the world. If it goes from $500 to $1000 a month, you start thinking about moving to the suburbs (or, in some cases, living in your car).

        “Roosevelt Craftsman Bungalow $½-Billion Subway Boondoggle (now featuring shitty apartments by the highway!).” Seriously, d. p., we’ve been over this before. The election (and the board) wanted to put the station by the freeway. The folks in Roosevelt wanted to move it to their neighborhood. The mayor (so beloved by you) never told the folks in Roosevelt that a new station comes with density (this was the big fuck up). They got pissed off at the new zoning (did I tell you that a lot of people in Seattle want to preserve the single family neighborhoods? Shocking, I know). Some on the council wanted lower maximum heights. Conlin wanted higher ones. A compromise was reached and we got the mess we got. As far as buildings by the freeway goes, I’m sure they will fill those. It is a nice neighborhood (walking distance to Greenlake). If not, they will have to lower the price (unless, like I said, the landlords prefer to lose money).

        “First Hill White Elephant” — Again, the mayor’s baby, not Conlin’s. We both voted for the mayor, but think his streetcar obsession is ridiculous.

        “Conlin and Constantine, never have and never will use transit.” I have no idea if this is true, but somehow I doubt it. Somehow, I figure a guy who stops his regular work to comment on this blog, suggests that a station at 130th and a bridge over Northgate are great ideas (long before any other elected official said it and the only folks who are talking about it are yahoos like me) probably takes public transit. To be honest, I really don’t give a damn. It reminds me of the guys who criticized Al Gore because he pronounced “router” in a funny way, or, as an environmentalist, burned a lot of fossil fuels looking at all those monitors. Do what you want, Al, you would have been the most tech savvy president of all time, and the best president since Teddy Roosevelt for the environment. But hey — it feels really good to vote for a “Green” (or a socialist). Besides, things haven’t gotten much better, and they can’t possibly get worse, right, right?

      14. Everything RossB said. Verbatim. (Although I’ve only lived here for thirty years, so maybe I just need more experience to see the error of my ways.)

      15. Again, you missed the basic point of the AVA illustration. The prices are not high because of the quality of the building or its amenities, and not because there is any kind of demonstrated demand to pay that much to live in the place in Ballard that most resembles the San Fernando Valley. The prices are high because the completely back-asswards incentive and especially financing structure has arbitrarily set them that high. Largely owing to the obligations placed upon developers by their banks when they walk through the door proposing a mass acquisition and a total redevelopment from scratch. The economy-of-scale strategy has not remotely panned out, and it has left us with a horrible urban detritus, from the groves of four-packs to the block-wide “for rent” signs.

        So, yes, clearly, the developers would rather let these units sit idle than let them depreciate-from-use while still failing to cover their financing costs. And no, you won’t see cheaper projects built to competitively undercut them, because we have systematically eliminated the finance-able tools of good urbanism from our toolbox.

        Get rid of the parking requirements on new construction. Base zoning restrictions on the size of buildings, not the number of occupants. Liberalize mother-in-law apartments.

        I meant to respond to this, because I support all three. Any any number of other changes to code that would tip the balance from functional density to nominal density. But I don’t know why you would possibly think Conlin agrees, with his campaign coffers eternally lined with the contributions of those who wanted to prioritize the megadevelopment form they long presumed would best meet their aims.

        Seattle has grown, as you say, in fits and starts. The most recent burst is tied, like the ones prior, to an explosion in one particular industry. It’s idiotic to think that growth will continue at a constant rate. But our new shitty built environment is bigger and harder to fix or replace than the prior one, and thanks to the astounding greed and selfishness of our newist rich, we have less ability to fund infrastructural and other civic needs than we have after any prior growth spurt. This last boom cycle couldn’t possibly have been botched worse.

        Conlin guest-posting on a blog during an election cycle doesn’t absolve him of the crappy outcomes of tenure in office.

      16. But I don’t know why you would possibly think Conlin agrees

        If you investigated his record, rather than accusing him groundlessly of personal responsibility for everything you see as wrong with Seattle development patterns, you might find out why RossB thinks that.

        Conlin shepherded through the Council an actual reduction in parking requirements, just last year. He wanted to go further but this was the best he could do politically.

        Conlin has said on the record that he wants to expand ADUs, and that he wants to make the zoning code “less cumbersome.” He has also been the most consistently pro-microhousing member of the Council, fighting against the moratorium.

        Don’t perpetuate The Stranger’s smears, which are almost completely groundless, and which could have more correctly been directed at almost any other member of the current Council except Mike O’Brien.

      17. The prices are high because the completely back-asswards incentive and especially financing structure has arbitrarily set them that high. Largely owing to the obligations placed upon developers by their banks when they walk through the door proposing a mass acquisition and a total redevelopment from scratch.

        D.P. – This is interesting, but I’m not sure I’m following – not a finance geek. Can you elaborate?

    3. One old bone I’ve had to pick with Conlin is his vote to raise the cap on individual contributions to city council candidates, and let the cap hyper-inflate.

      The districters promised us the cost of running would go down (and maybe they actually believed it). If Sawant gets elected, one of her first actions ought to be to put a much lower cap – say $250 – and remove the inflation indexing.

      Yes, I know Citizens United presents problems, but some of those problems simply require better creative thinking. Given that the independent expenditures all require reporting, new restrictions can be applied to those who engage in independent expenditure campaigns, or at least donate to such campaigns above a certain threshold. If these campaigns can be fined (which has happened, in a big way), they can probably be taxed, and heavily. Corporations that participate in these independent expenditure campaigns could also find new regulations on their business dealings with City Hall.

  6. Damn! Turns out it was Ben’s advice that took down Mike McGinn. I thought it was mine! Or maybe that only reason voters didn’t elect Ed instead of Mike last time was that Ed wasn’t running.

    Maybe Ed, like a certain candidate with considerable recent experience at being mayor of Seattle, decided that with the economic trends being what they were, the job would be too much like the control seat of a bus going off a mountain in Peru.

    Critical comment on transportation in Sweden? Much of it has been privatized for years. Veolia recently lost the control of Stockholm’s system to an English company, Arriva. In Gothenburg and environs, pretty blue Volvo and Scania buses like the one in the video are run by a firm called “Nettbus” out of Oslo. Which runs even slicker buses with fewer seats, and all with leather upholstery.

    My own “take” on privatization was much like that of the drivers: when you answer to stockholders, things like maintenance and work hours take back seat to profits.

    On the other hand, private companies didn’t hire the Swedish mafia to seize that service. Government and its voters gave it to them a couple of decades ago.

    Surmise again, but my sense is that at a certain point, the public as a whole and politicians in particular decide that running something of their own is just to much work. Investigation might also place turning point at about the time that large numbers of young people decide they don’t plan on being full-time drivers for the rest of their lives.

    Good metric: what percentage of people in the transit world now would like to re-organize Metro as a worker-owned cooperative?


  7. And BTW, that’s “too much work.” Should start texting more. Would solve problem of how many “o’s” to put in “2 mch wrk.”


  8. The reason McGinn lost is that a lot of people have had it out for him ever since he was elected. They didn’t like his stance on the DBT, and they thought he was antagonistic toward councilmembers and the state. They continued believing this even as the facts lessened this and even contradiced it over time, because they don’t follow the workings of City Hall closely, and they just assumed “nothing had changed” and their earlier assumptions were still valid.

    1. I’m sure it was a mix. I’m sure that some antagonism was due to image, like the fight between him and Holmes. From what I could gather, the antagonism was coming more from Holmes than from the mayor. At the same time, I think there are folks who, generally speaking, are more likely to get along with a mayor, but really didn’t like him. Bruce Harrell is a good example of this. I can understand him running against him (hey, if you want to be mayor, take a shot) but why endorse the other guy after you lose? I see very little gain from a political standpoint for that. McGinn has been pretty good with his Harrell’s supposed base (which is why he didn’t advance) so why not just abstain (like three members of the council). I can only assume that McGinn pissed him off, like he pissed off many. Just to be clear — I voted for the guy, and maybe the antagonistic image was exaggerated, but there was something there as well.

    2. McGinn lost because he started off on the wrong foot…..campaigning he would not oppose the tunnel and then opposing it as soon as he got elected. During the nadir of the recession, he goes out and hires a $90K per year bike consultant. And it was all downhill from there……rubberstamping water rate increases without questioning why they had gone up over 100% in ten years………..and making other missteps too numerous to list……..frequently looking sleazy in the process.

      The echo chamber in this blog loved him because he was pro mass transit and bicycle lanes and forgiving any and all flaws that might have been brought to this blog’s attention. There is considerably more to being a mayor than cheerleading mass transit and bikes.

      1. I agree. I thought he did start out on the wrong foot, but then got a lot better. However, that image stuck, and cost him his job. Well, that and he somehow made enemies with a majority of the council. I don’t ever remember a race where a majority (or even three or four) members of the council opposed a sitting mayor by endorsing his opponent.

    3. I knew McGinn’s reelection was sunk the day that his campaign representatives, along with Dominic Holden, spent a day on Slog insulting people for daring to find downtown sketchy… and then eight hours later a college professor was randomly stabbed to death on a busy Pioneer Square street.

      Voters will only put up with a finite amount of denial and out-of-touchness from a local politician.

      Sadly, Seattle seems to have a habit of blindly electing out-of-touch politicians in the first place. Murray is incredibly so, and it’s only a matter of time until he slips up in some way that irritates the wider public. I see another one-term mayoral tenure unfolding.

      1. In McGinn’s defense, the city council should have given him some deference they didn’t from day one (compare the cuts to his staff before he took office and the additional staff they just voted Murray before his election is even certified). And by deference, I don’t mean to the man, I mean to the voters who elected him. Frankly, had McGinn run against the entire council except Mike O’Brien, including encouraging particularly a credible challenge to Bagshaw, he might have made this a more interesting election. Trying to convince voters Ed Murray isn’t a liberal was a non-starter as a campaign premise.

        Frankly, while McGinn would have benefited from a term on the City Council before becoming mayor, Murray’s long legislative experience scares me. He has no executive experience and no real sense of how mayors operate. And his campaign missteps on simple things (like opening his mouth on the missing link, which is in his district, without knowing a thing about it) worry me what happens when it’s not a position paper, but something binding. Ed Murray has never been required to propose anything without the capacity to say “never mind” if it wasn’t well thought out. Mayors don’t have that luxury.

      2. I agree with your comments, d.p. The mayor seemed to suggest, in many areas, that things were just fine. Maybe they weren’t as bad as some people thought they were, but it is stupid to say that things are OK, when there are problems (like downtown sketchiness, or problems with the police force).

        I agree with your first paragraph, Breadbaker, but not necessarily your second. I am not as gloom and doom about the incoming mayor as a lot of folks. I think his transition team sounds really good. What I fear most from him is a lack of action. If you defeat an incumbent, there is a tendency to try and correct the mistakes of the last guy. McGinn tried to kill the 99 tunnel, but it was too late. I think Murray will simply try to get along with everyone. I expect him to be a care taker mayor, at least initially. That has been the campaign he has run. Unfortunately, I think we need real action on the zoning laws that are helping to force rents sky high. I just don’t see him taking on this issue, for fear that he might piss off fans of parking, or single family homes, etc.

        This is another reason why I really hope Conlin can keep his job. Murray will lean on experienced council members for advice. O’Brien was the only guy on the council to oppose him, so I don’t think he has much power now. Everyone else (including the five that endorsed him) are weak on density. I just don’t any relief coming for most renters in this city for quite some time.

        Then there is the press. The Stranger editorial staff lost all credibility in this race. I don’t think they understand the sorts of issues that involve a city like this. They are fine for covering national issues (hell, the smartest guy — Dan Savage — doesn’t even like Seattle) but they don’t understand a city that is essentially run by different shades of left wing ideology. The rich are not the problem in this city — ignorance is. The Seattle Times editorial staff lost all credibility years ago. Does the online Seattle P. I. even endorse people anymore? I really don’t know where to turn for decent coverage of local politics (except for a handful of blogs, including this one). This is probably the worst outcome of the election, although Charter Amendment 19 comes very close. Unfortunately, the latter was caused in large part by the former (19 was one of the few issues endorsed by The Stranger and The Seattle Times).

  9. On a different topic…

    I am getting laid off from my job. My last day is near the end of the year. I’ve enjoyed having a free bus pass for the past 14+ years. Taking the bus to work most days(drive on Sundays since there’s free parking) had it’s highs and lows. What I really loved was on my days off, I could use my ORCA card to go practically anywhere. I’ve spent a lot of time on LINK going to Columbia City, walking around Sea-Tac and even riding the various RapidRide lines just to see where they went. Reminds me of when I was an early teenager having just moved to Seattle. I loved being able to ride #26 to downtown and then picking a bus at random just to see where it went. I ended up knowing where so many things were in the area that even my relatives would ask me how to get to certain places. At least I’ve got a few more weeks to enjoy the transportation system without having to pay for each ride. Here’s to finding another job soon(hopefully another one that gives out free bus passes!).

    1. I particularly like his line about how cyclists should make it easier on the politics of this by simply obeying traffic laws. When I’m biking downtown and I simply stop behind a car at a red light instead of trying to get around it, I sometimes see drivers looking at me like they’re never seen a bike simply ridden like a car. And on Sixth Avenue at 6 pm heading north on a Friday, I can go exactly as fast as the cars because they aren’t going fast.

  10. So perhaps it’s time for urban democrats to take a page from the republicans/tea party and devise a strategy to hold hostage something near and dear to right wing hearts in exchange for the right of county citizens to tax themselves for their transit needs…

    1. Flawless strategy, except that strangling the workings of government is exactly what a significant minority of today’s Republicans wants to have happen. You saw what happened with the federal government shutdown; a solid 25% of the Republicans were positively giddy and expressed that glee on national television.

      Besides, hostage-taking is no way to run a government, state or federal. It pisses me off that people don’t expect their representatives to cooperate, just bully.

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