This is an open thread.

72 Replies to “News Roundup: Bad Reviews”

  1. Just a point of clarification on the West Seattle Transportation Coalition — there has been and remains no serious talk about not absorbing more density. Everyone is quite aware that the zoning et al is already done and in place. Using development licenses as a moratorium to extract concenssions laterally from Olympia representatives in a transportation package has been mentioned as a strategy, but it’s all been what if’s and could be’s level of conversation. “If Seattle issues an emergency moratorium new licenses until funding is in place, will this drive the construction industry to press Olympia to give King County it’s required funding?” That sort of thing. We have no official stance or position on it beyond discussing hypotheticals, before any perceived NIMBY nonsense comes up, as it did from an anonymous commentor on that article.

    1. Licence moratorium??? That’s purely nonsensical. Any such strategy should be opposed. Property rights should not be hampered by whiny neighbours.

      1. Property rights are granted by the state. In any event, it’s all just strategy talk. Any advocacy group would be foolish to discard options or ideas, is all.

      2. That’s not the path to go down, some things should be off the table. Punish developers because of growth? What about that second lot the some SFR owner has? Should they not be granted development rights? Or a property owner creating that ADU for their grandparent or their terminally sick adult child? No, let’s not put a moratorium for an essential need of the community. West Seattle folks make me sick.

    2. Joe, I appreciate the clarification. I tried to make the bullet point clear that it’s not WSTC per se.

    3. It’s actually not that crazy of an idea as long as it’s used to improve transportation and not to stifle development. The GMA has required transportation concurrency (i.e. a requirement that transportation facilities be in place or funded to be built within 6 years before development is approved) since the 90s, but it’s always been used only to maintian roadway capacity (in Seattle it’s mostly moot because we set our standards very low for automobile LOS so as not to preclude development).
      There have been recent moves to broaden concurrency to include other modes, including transit, but it’s tricky. Redmond and Bellingham have successfully implemented multimodal concurrency but to my knowledge they’re basically the only ones… and I’m not even sure how well it’s actually worked on the ground so far.

    1. PS, the top video on the KOMO site doesn’t seem to be working. Use the next video down on the page.

    1. I am really, really disinterested in who started it. I am interested in how to fix it, and if they don’t, how Seattle can profit from their policy mistakes.

      1. How to fix it is “Management” respecting the needs and wants of the workers and bargaining in good faith. In the case of BART, that is precisely the problem.

  2. And Sam The Sham claims to be the “Number 3 urban planner” in the United States. There’s so much technical excellence in these posts, I find the erudition overwhelming.

    Alas, though, he exactly meets the classic definition of a Troll: someone who posts completely off-topic provocations in order to wound people. He constantly props up straw-men by claiming that one post eleventy-leven months ago on STB is some sort of iron-clad “consensus” of the views of people who post here, jeering at the content and implicitly, the readership.

    Let’s all jeer at him.

      1. From the Comment Policy:

        There are a few regular commenters who annoy their peers by taking absurdist positions, setting up straw men, and not engaging in good faith discussion. While we don’t encourage such behavior, in general it’s permitted here. If you disapprove of one of these commenters, the best approach is to simply ignore the comment.

        Also, speaking personally, I’m less likely to moderate your trolly posts than those of some other trolls because they tend to be more entertaining. I had roughly the same policy when I drove for Metro: if you could make me genuinely laugh, I wouldn’t hassle you about the fare you didn’t pay.

  3. The Westlake development is exciting; that area has been a notable hole in the city for as long as I’ve been here. Even if it will probably result in my neighborhood chandlery having to relocate…

    1. Too bad a single developer remaking 1500 feet of street frontage in one fell swoop will invariably yield something visually insipid and congenitally pedestrian-repellant.

      Of course, the city could mandate skinny buildings with maximum frontage, or incentivize subdividing and simultaneous development of the lots by many parties. But that would require getting beyond the “bigger is always better” misconception and the delusions of market elasticity that drive so much of the development discourse around here.

      1. It’s a combination of “bigger is better” from one side, and “not that tall” on the other. There is really no one, except for fans of Dan Bertolet, who argue for anything different. Given the choice between the two, I would go with “bigger is better”. But it doesn’t have to be that way, as Dan points out quite well in his article (linked above). The Vancouver model is a great one. At the same time, it is perfectly reasonable to preserve existing structures. What isn’t reasonable, given the insanely high rents in this city are things like this:

        1) Mandating parking.
        2) Restrictions on the number of units (beyond the health of safety of the occupants). For example, you can tear down a small house in my neighborhood and put up a giant megahouse, but you can’t replace that house with an apartment, or duplex, or a couple townhouses even if that building is smaller than a megahouse.
        3) Overly restrictive rules on mother in law apartments. We are way behind both Vancouver and Portland in this regard.

      2. This could be cleaned up — even built atop — with the garage doors replaced by large, inviting commercial entryways. With a number of similar-width and varied-height structures as its neighbors (and maybe a legal place to cross the street without detouring 1/5 of a mile), it could be part of an attractive waterside commercial strip.

        But dollars to doughnuts that we’ll get 1500 consecutive feet of this instead.

      3. I agree — that should be preserved. If you look at what is preserved in this city, it is pathetic. At most, we save a small facade, and that’s it.

        What bothers me most is that when people talk about preservation, they often mean simply “preserving the style of the neighborhood” (item 2 of my comment below). This is ridiculous. My neighborhood (Pinehurst) is a great example. It is an older suburban style neighborhood that until recently, was working class. It had lots of tiny, cheap houses. Now those houses are being replaced by huge houses. This is ridiculous. At the same time, you can’t build a duplex, or town house, or anything else that is not a single family home. This policy is silly, as it doesn’t preserve the old style. In many ways, allowing town houses, or smaller apartment buildings would be more in keeping of the way things were twenty years ago, since folks moved there because it was more affordable then the obviously nicer neighborhoods to the south.

        Unfortunately, people who want to preserve the older building (whether it is an old house or an brick building) basically push for tougher zoning laws as a means of preservation. For example, if you were limited to building three story buildings on that block, then you would never tear down that pretty brick building. But that is a very crude weapon (and the wrong one) to wield in that kind of fight. As we’ve seen, it doesn’t seem to preserve much of anything, while at the same time fails to meet the demands of the area.

    2. Once again the most dense and urban of Seattle neighborhoods is still a lifeless crime ridden heckhole. But keep building vertical density. Eventually the whole thing will be a tomb.

      1. “Crime ridden?” Any support for that statement? Seattle’s online crime map shows almost no incidents in that location.

        This reminds me of your occasional attempts to persuade readers that Belltown, whose forest of construction cranes I’m looking at right now out my office window, is going bust.

  4. So how do we go about getting Vancouver like buildings in Seattle with our abundance of NIMBYism and oceans of lawyers to wade through?

    1. Let’s say you live in Carmel, CA. And I am a recent transplant to your beautiful small town, just having moved from Vancouver, B.C. And I announce that Carmel must be more like Vancouver. Taller buildings, greater density, etc. “Studies show it’s what’s best for the environment,” I say with a condescending smirk. And if you oppose me, I’ll demonize you by calling you names, like Luddite or NIMBY. Question. Who’s right in that scenario?

      1. If people want to live there, great.

        If people don’t want to live there, I’ve still no problem with a private party who wants to spend the money building a skyscraper on a lark. It’ll become a nice sight.

      2. Get a majority elected to the Carmel Village Council, and you’ll be perfectly within your rights to tear down the dense historic Carmel boutique district, and replace it with the Temple of Sam, wherein can live your followers from all over the worlds.

        Last time I was there, the Village charged a fee for bringing a car into town. We would never consider such a socialist idea here.

      3. The Carmel resident is right, of course, and I’m fully confident that there are enforceable covenants on nearly every property in the town that would fully back him or her up. Carmel is about as close to a gated community as you can get without the wrought iron. And, of course, if you miss the gates, there’s Pebble Beach right next door.

        This is nothing more another of your straw-man arguments; Seattle is not Carmel or Pebble Beach. It’s much more like Vancouver BC than a small seaside village on the California coast.

        Ever since they started going up around the time of the Expo, I have thought that the Vancouver solution is the finest example of intelligent and artistically pleasing urban planning in the world. The widely spaced checkerboard of narrow towers means that everyone has sight lines that open onto the North Vancouver mountains or Burrard Inlet, as was noted in the article.

        it’s true that too many of the first ones were built by a single developer who had an obsession with light sea-foam green, but the newer ones are more architecturally interesting and varied. Over time it’s likely that many of the green ones will be re-coated and add to the diversity.

        Nobody wants Seattle to become Hong Kong or Shanghai with miles of densely packed high rises. It’s location is way too beautiful to mess up — sadly, Hong Kong is too, but it was forced to grow up because of the limited space it had. But the tops of all the hills should certainly be studded with VanTowers, and they should be served by high capacity transit.

        If you don’t like what Seattle is becoming there are lots of places where you can find miles of single-family homes much cheaper than the ones along Puget Sound. Omaha, Dallas, Kansas City, and closer, Boise, Salt Lake City (though you might have to ride a train there) and Spokane are all bastions of SFH restriction. You would find many people of a like mind there.

        But the fact is that the sorts of folks who are increasingly moving to Seattle and Portland to fill the technologically sophisticated jobs they offer don’t want to live the isolated lives of suburbanites. And they have a right to have their needs met as much as any “born on Puget Sound” resident does.

      4. The Vancouverite is factually correct, but obviously rude. The Carmel resident who opposes him is rude in the sense that he favors laws that keep “undesirables” out, although he doesn’t have to yell at meetings to get his way.

      5. Recently, I was party to a semi-private conversation, in which someone asserted that one of the best things about San Francisco was its “unique” combination of single-family homes inside an otherwise dense city.

        Possibly outside of Manhattan, I’m willing to bet that there’s someone willing to defend the “unique” single-family housing in every single city in the United States. Of course, if I wanted to build a “unique” skyscraper in a suburban town, I’m guessing I wouldn’t get much traction. ;)

      6. Doesn’t hurt San Francisco’s density, usability, and charm that so many of the “single-family homes” the person was referring to are attached, on extremely small footprints, and coming up right to the sidewalk.

        San Francisco does have more very-high-density “single family” than anywhere else I can picture. The attached-house areas still have only slightly lower resultant density than the detached-but-adjacent multi-family dwellings in Somerville or across much of Chicago’s North Side.

      7. This doesn’t have to be a hypothetical. You haven’t seen NIMBYism until you’ve seen Carmel politics. Clint Eastwood ran for mayor (and served a single 2-year term) in part out of a desire to break NIMBY politics there in the 1980s. It didn’t last. Proposals have been floated to build more density in Carmel, density that few Seattleites would consider worthy of the name but dense nonetheless. Those were proposed by Carmel residents. They have all been shot down by those who insist their town remain a village in the forest.

        No, if you want density down there, you go to Monterey where local government is not terrified of the word.

        In any case it’s a poor analogy to Seattle. You’re setting up a dichotomy that sees pro-density folks as being outsiders shaking up a comfortable status quo. That’s completely wrong in any number of ways, the first of which is that those calling for more density usually live in the same neighborhood as, and sometimes next door to, those who oppose it. It’s not an insider/outsider thing but a debate within and among communities.

    2. Well, the first the we do is to stop taking photographs of Vancouver’s most lifeless results — the isolated fringe buildings abutted by acres of grass with absofuckinglutely nothing happening on them ever. (See photos #1 and #4 in the link.)

      Instead, we show how mixed heights can work together to create places where lots of people can living and walk and function in proximity, striking a balance between serenity and bustle, without lapsing into the hermetic and outwardly-desolate. (Photo #2 is a decent example of a quiet-but-not-standoffish mixed Vancouver block.)

      Even better, though, is to show where Vancouver really hits it out of the park, regulating that towers not become a lazy crutch to give up on the street-level experience, insisting that they remain part of places people might actually want to be.

      All NIMBY feather-ruffling is born of the perception that the NIMBY’s quality-of-life is under attack. Given Seattle’s habit of building crap like this, can you blame them?

      1. d.p.,

        In both #1 and #4 the grass is a park, not landscaping for the towers. Ya’ gotta’ have parks where people can congregate and play. And play they do in those downtown parks; in fact, the park in #4 is a “wide spot” in the False Creek greenbelt. It gets lots of use, both by the immediately neighborhood and by people strolling by on the waterfront trail.

      2. And, finally, Broadway, the street in your “places people might actually want to be” has been the “main street” of the Fairview and Kitsilano neighborhoods south of False Creek for decades. It has no vacant storefronts for miles.

        So “yes”, you are right that’s its a place “where people actually want to be”, and so it is largely “protected” from tower development simply because the land is already nose-bleed expensive from the three-story development along it.

        Do notice, though, that the towers are just one street back.

      3. Whoops. That’s Robson, not Broadway. Damn, they look alike!

        But the same is true. Robson built up its retail before downtown was redeveloped and is protected by the value of what’s already there.

        It might also be protected by the city for all any of us knows. There are large areas adjacent to downtown that are.

      4. Vancouver, life San Francisco, is really just another form of a Chinese “ghost city”. Not so much a place for living as a place to invest money in the hopes that it will keep its value more than other assets. Gold and bitcoin certainly aren’t working out.

      5. There has been plenty of redevelopment on Robson and on Broadway in recent decades, Anandakos. Those “towers just behind” are sometimes part of the same rebuilt project as the commercial frontage, and there is a late-’80s skyscraper touching the Robson sidewalk in my link.

        The difference is that Vancouver mandates skinny, deep, visually interesting, unbroken frontage on major streets. The project must conform to what the street needs, contrary to Seattle’s retail afterthoughts. In fact, Vancouver prohibits street-level setbacks — the very design feature that Seattle developers, politicians, and dittoheads love to extol.

        (I believe Vancouver has also, in recent years, fully prohibited driveways on major commercial blocks, while major projects in Seattle are often driveway über alles.)

        Take another look at my Homer Street link. Homer Street isn’t particularly renowned, or special. But that tower was built right to the corner, with no-step retail at its base, and occupying a tiny fraction of its block. It becomes part of its street; it doesn’t take it over.

        Now picture any ugly, block-dominating, lifeless Belltown high-rise. There’s your comparison.

      6. A certain amount of trial and error before Vancouver got a better model. First there were the buildings that had large 7 and 8 story podiums that people found oppressive at street level:,-123.124853&spn=0.001472,0.004128&t=m&z=19&layer=c&cbll=49.274198,-123.124853&panoid=Yh_TeZJePxdFK5cNYrUxIg&cbp=12,185.96,,0,-17.37

        Isolated, boring retail will never be that strong:,-123.13278&spn=0.005887,0.016512&t=m&z=17&layer=c&cbll=49.275375,-123.13278&panoid=rlrlO8vQ_DHWNKk7jl55YQ&cbp=12,187.66,,0,-7.19

        Tall buildings right against shopping streets weighs heavily on them:,-123.134235&spn=0.002943,0.008256&t=m&z=18&layer=c&cbll=49.28211,-123.133837&panoid=feLrSkskzL3suZOXPBOKkA&cbp=12,340.32,,0,-18.83,-123.129251&spn=0.002943,0.008256&t=m&z=18&layer=c&cbll=49.287283,-123.12893&panoid=7bVT562tSV0CIvonOn7i1g&cbp=12,320.87,,0,-14.68

        Which is why Robson Street has only low rises directly along it although there are towers just a block away.

        The current downtown south style is to have a lower podium in a townhouse style:,-123.126369&spn=0.002943,0.008256&t=m&z=18&layer=c&cbll=49.279608,-123.126369&panoid=Y8A2Rnqw3Tqbmc63y45Ubw&cbp=12,103.4,,0,-4.56,-123.124718&spn=0.002943,0.008256&t=m&z=18&layer=c&cbll=49.275561,-123.124718&panoid=tvLO9Uavz8q6j5DQ0Lv50w&cbp=12,265.85,,0,-4.8

        This is OK, but I actually wish some of these looked like real townhouses instead of just repetitive bays on a single building. Even if the townhouses were faked, different facades on a single building, it would be better (provided they were good fakes, not just different coloured brick).

        The repetitiveness of the towers being built led to the Olympic Village going to a different model, more breadbox and less pencil to use Dan Bertolet’s typology:,-123.106495&spn=0.005887,0.016512&t=m&z=17&layer=c&cbll=49.270977,-123.106694&panoid=8F8aFYKAiyg4jJDJfw4KGw&cbp=12,98.04,,0,-10.41,-123.110089&spn=0.005887,0.016512&t=m&z=17&layer=c&cbll=49.271592,-123.109345&panoid=M5kmrsH3K2DpJgllJEg5Zg&cbp=12,94.65,,0,-12.81

        This ain’t perfect either. In their effort to show how not anti-car they were, the planners incorporated too much on street parking which junks up the street. And because there is planting everywhere between the parking spots, it is actually a pain to get from the sidewalk to the street. A friend of mine lives right there and when I bike up, I cannot get from the road to the sidewalk where I lock up. I have to go around to an intersection and then ride on the sidewalk.

      7. Regarding the middle section… Maybe it’s my New York blood, but I don’t particularly find that some “tall buildings right against shopping streets weighs heavily on them”.

        The crucial thing is not to let tall buildings be the only ones setting the scale and sense of place at street level. You have to have a mix of heights and widths and ages and styles. Manhattan has plenty of beat-up utilitarian 2-story structures on major corners, sometimes flanked by skyscrapers.

        The Seattle pro-height faction’s obsession with uniformly tall buildings — often set far from anything else — is what makes the their desired form so potentially fatal to the city.

        (Nothing in your links was nearly so useless as this.

      8. (That building is called “Aspira”, FYI. Not far away, a South Lake Union billboard asks passersby to “redefine urban”. Whoever came up with that one has hopefully also redefined “employed”.)

    3. Let me ask this in a less trolly and more honest way. I know STB has tried to explain what is, and isn’t, NIMBYISM in the past, but I’m still not clear on something. Is NIMBYISM always a pejorative? Is it always a bad thing to be a NIMBY? If one day Link runs east to Issaquah along I-90, and there are calls to make the single family home neighborhoods of Eastgate and Somerset multi-family, would those neighborhoods be wrong to fight it? Is it always wrong for a SFH neighborhood to oppose change or growth?

      1. Sam,

        Thank you for an honest question. I can only speak for myself, of course, but in the same spirit of honesty I’d have to say “it depends”. If Eastgate and Somerset participated with Issaquah in asking that Link be extended and a station provided then I’d say “Yes, that’s NIMBY’ism.” if they then oppose an up-zone. A reserved right of way high capacity transit route to the CDB is an expensive and valuable amenity. They should “pitch in” to using it to its greatest value.

        But if they vote against the extension but it’s built anyway then I think they’d be completely justified in opposing a rezone to higher density.

        And neighborhoods which don’t get some form of HCT (I’d include RapidRide if it gets better in the future in that) and are not even on some potential future plan for it would be right to oppose a major up-zone. If there isn’t sufficient transit to chop the tops off the peak demand for road travel, they will be adversely affected.

        Which is why the region needs to do some things now that may look speculative at this time in order to accommodate the growth that is coming.

      2. Many we can survey all the anti-NIMBYs and ask: How much infrastructure is in their own backyards?

        Many anti-NIMBYs are really IOPBY (In Other People’s Backyards).

      3. Continuing the line of thought above to the Roosevelt specific.

        The original plan for Link was to have the Roosevelt station a few blocks west next to the Freeway. There is a nice wide right of way between 50th and 65th which the train could have used, albeit at the cost of a couple tenths of a mile greater distance. (North of 65th it gets sketchy, but the original plan was to run alongside the freeway. Bad plan because of the crappy walkshed, but THE plan.)

        Roosevelt asked specifically that the station be moved east to it’s “downtown”. That meant that more tunnel had to be dug and an underground rather than elevated station provided.

        Once they were on record as saying “This is what we want” I think the city and ST were absolutely correct in saying, “Well then, you need to allow us to recapture some of the additional costs by making the area more dense.” For the neighborhood to object was pretty hypocritical. The station isn’t just for people who live there now.

      4. “Is it always wrong for a SFH neighborhood to oppose change or growth?”

        Yes. To be perfectly clear, growth is inevitable, and all communities should absorb their share of it. If a community is trying to avoid that, it is being both selfish and shortsighted. And absorbing growth necessarily implies some level of change.

        That said, it is quite reasonable for communities to oppose change that would destroy their essential character. This is why the Peter Steinbrueck model of development — “urban villages” made up of monolithic 6- and 8-story towers, with every place else frozen in amber — is so tremendously harmful. The “urban villages” will have their character destroyed by that model, and the housing prices everywhere else will just skyrocket. It’s not unreasonable to oppose that sort of change, at all.

        The better model is incremental change. Upzone and densify in ways that don’t disrupt neighborhood fabric. Replace SFH with duplexes, townhomes, or rowhomes, or just subdivide them. Replace old duplexes and townhomes with rowhomes or tiny mini-apartment houses (such as Boston’s triple-deckers, but hopefully less shoddy). Replace small 2-story apartment buildings from the 1950s with modern 4- or 5-story buildings with commercial frontage.

      5. If you’ve got to take away our home for a good growth purpose (eminent domain), just give me serious fair market value and I’ll deal.

      6. It seems that everyone has one wish in common: don’t be cookie cutter. Mix things up; when redevelopment occurs don’t have everything the same maximum size. Instead use different methods to achieve density, like David mentioned.

        That would very likely overcome a lot of the fears that existing neighborhoods have that they’ll be overwhelmed.

        Maybe that’s too optimistic, but Vancouver shows it can be done given the willingness to learn from past mistakes and not react too strongly to them. A few architectural mistakes don’t ruin a sufficiently varied neighborhood. In fact, they can be interesting and stimulating if they’re not repeated over and over.

    4. I think you start by pointing out that we have a rent crisis on our hands. Even the Seattle Times, which talks about a “war on cars” understands this. Then you acknowledge that all zoning has trade-offs. You can’t preserve the city exactly the way it is and retain rents the way they are (or lower them) unless you manage to reduce the demand for housing. Reducing demand would be stupid, but I can think of several ways to do so (increase crime, unemployment, etc.). So, if you acknowledge there are trade-offs, it helps to have goals in mind, and state them. I can think of several:

      1) Preservation of existing structures
      2) Preservation of existing style (e. g. a single family home neighborhood being preserved as same).
      3) Increase parking
      4) Reduce congestion
      5) Have new buildings be aesthetically pleasing
      6) Reduce the cost of rent (or at least the rate of increase).

      I can appreciate every goal on this list, but I think we shouldn’t worry about 2, 3 or 4, because rent is just too high. I think 1 and 5 should be balanced by 6. In other words, in an ideal world, we build new buildings that look nice, while preserving some of the older, interesting buildings. I’m not sure exactly how to do that, but I think we should start with the following changes:

      1) Get ride of the parking requirement
      2) Apply restrictions on the size and placement of new buildings, but not the number of occupants (except for the health and safety of the residents).

      Just doing that would do a lot of address the rent crisis in the city.

      You could balance new construction with some preservation (of old structures) as well as some demand for decent aesthetics. As I said, I don’t know how exactly you do that. I’m not sure how Vancouver has done the latter, and I’m not sure how cities do the former. We’ve torn down some really nice buildings in this city (and put up parking garages) so we have a horrible record in that regard.

      1. You know what would help a “rent crisis”…having a high speed regional rail system to all the major employment centers.

        Oh, if only we had started building such a thing 20 years ago. Then today you could take a train from Seattle to Redmond and back again. More to the point you could live in a cheap suburb and enjoy the amenities of the central city without having to live there.

        Yes, if only we had built such a thing — either a … what is it called…”light rail”…quickly and cheaply. And maybe a monorail too, one that could speed like an express across the whole Puget Sound.

        Then there would be thousands of neighborhoods with the small cottage SFH and townhouses and low rise apartments that are what Seattle-types have craved.

        If only….

      2. A lot of the suburbs are expensive now. Part of the problem is that the lots in the suburbs are too big. This was fine when land was really cheap, but it isn’t anymore. If the suburbs had houses on a lot the size of a typical Seattle neighborhood, then it would be really cheap to live in the suburbs. But they don’t. As a result, the prices keep creeping up, further and further into the suburbs. Eventually you get to some cheap houses, but now the cost is low because people don’t want to live “way out there” even if they have a fast way to get into town.

        By “suburbs” I also include Seattle. The area outside the old city limits has lots that are way too big. However, the lots are preserved with single family housing even though plenty of people would rather live on smaller lots like the ones found in the older Seattle. This is really a poor design. They should allow for the building of townhouses, or the lots to be subdivided into smaller lots with smaller houses. As an example of that, look at the links on my previous comment:

        Those “tiny cheap houses” aren’t cheap anymore. What is true of Pinehurst is true of Shoreline, and rapidly becoming true of Lynnwood. In other words, if you are trying to find a cheap house by moving away from the popular center of the city, you have to go a long ways now. You will get “more house” or “more lot” when you go outside the old city limits, but you really won’t get a cheap house unless you go really far outside it. Of course, that is for the north end. Things get more complicated as you work with the previously redlined area, and the slow migration of poor folks moving south. Things get more affordable there, but it has more to do with the folks living in the neighborhood, rather than the size of the lot (I remember when the Central Area was almost all people of color, and the houses were cheap). There are other exceptions as well — people don’t want to live next to SeaTac, etc.

  5. I don’t think you can blame SF’s activists for what’s going on there. The elite and governing institutions of the Bay Area (including every city and county government from SF to SJ, many Silicon Valley tech companies, and the state and federal government) have caused a crisis there in housing affordability, availability, and quality, and in transportation. It’s ultimately the responsibility of governments and these companies to fix this problem.

    Activists have every right to pressure these groups to fix the problems as they affect their own lives. The crisis as it affects them is housing costs, and they’re targeting corporate actors that need to take real steps to improve their own backyards instead of turning SF into their bedroom community. Canning the shuttles doesn’t make any sense, but neither does running shuttles without addressing the greater land use and transportation problems of Silicon Valley.

    Seattle is miles ahead of the Bay Area on all this stuff. Sure, some of our relative calm is afforded by simply being smaller and less full, but we also have public transit agencies with a clear mandate to serve people that work in the suburbs (they have BART, but it can’t expand without costly infrastructure), suburban employers located in places that are essentially possible to serve with politically viable public transit, and at least one suburban city willing to house major office space in a reasonable location for transit (they have San Jose, but it’s really far from any non-parking-oriented development, and Oakland, which is massively inconvenient to access from Silicon Valley and has a reputation that scares people away, largely unfairly). To whatever extent we’ve done better by luck, their failures point to failures of their planning, and we should regard their failure as cautionary.

    1. Specifically, it seems no one there has a good grasp of the big picture, in part because the Bay Area is so sprawling with so many different sub-areas.

      1. They might do somewhat better simply if BART had a mandate to operate and build infrastructure for regional express buses the way ST does here. It’s always possible such an agency wouldn’t stumble upon a 545-analog (tech’s young, immigrant-heavy workforce is probably more keen on transit than average, but less politically connected), or that the distances are just too great, but I think it would have a chance.

        I think things like this would be more likely to happen with better relationships between private and public sector leaders. But I think there’s something different in the Bay Area culture… Microsoft and its prominent leaders are leaving a legacy on the world and on this city (broadly defined) that may outlast Microsoft’s importance. Apple is the polar opposite, its greatest leader determined to create a monumental legacy solely through great products. Google’s leaders are generally considered more altruistic on the world stage and in business (in its main business, search ads, it defines the code of ethics that allows it to remain trustworthy, similarly to a journalist’s ethical code… and like many journalistic outlets, it sometimes probes the boundaries of this code) but have made little attempt to leave a local legacy or even foster good relationships with local leaders. Meanwhile Amazon, a company often perceived, like its founder, as rigorously capitalistic, skeptical of charity, and cold toward labor, is building a Seattle campus reflecting its understanding of the network benefits afforded by the simple urban street network of a functioning city — its understanding of how it can benefit from a public good it contributes to.

    1. I’m not sure I want to live in a city that ranks highly on a “most exciting list”. Maybe I’m getting too old, but I don’t mind some calmness in my neighborhood.

    2. It’s an interesting concept for a list, but there’s no qualitative depth to the reporting, just numbers in an arbitrary formula and no attempt to verify its results are meaningful. I used to live in a small-ish town (just under 10,000) where I had as much fun taking part in its civic life and DIY entertainment as anywhere I’ve lived before or since. Small cities and small towns can be great. I left there, broadly, for a career opportunity here, so… there’s that.

      Of course, I’d quibble with calling Hoboken a “small city” — this list has nothing to do with governance, and aside from administrative boundaries it’s about like calling Ballard a “small city”. Same goes, in lesser measure, for the other “hip suburbs” of Lakewood and Royal Oak. Even a little bit of effort to weed out suburbs (suburbs and city neighborhoods are a different phenomenon, worth considering, but somewhere else) and college towns that have little going on away from campus would have gone a long way.

    3. How easy is it to live in them without a car? Some towns like Hoboken and probably Lancaster are compact. Others like Santa Barbara and Missoula are small enough that you can walk through most of it in half an hour even if the development isn’t compact. Then there are those that are spread out so it’s a major hassle. I remember taking Greyhound through the Tri-Cities and seeing a Gold’s Gym at the very edge of the city in a parklike building. I remember thinking, “God, that would be awful to walk to or bus to several times a week. I wonder if there’s anything comparable near the center.”

  6. US DOE Issues Request for Information Regarding Hydrogen Infrastructure and FCEV

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office has issued a request for information (RFI) seeking feedback from interested stakeholders regarding strategies for a robust market introduction of hydrogen supply, infrastructure, and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

    This input will augment financing strategies that DOE analyses for public deployment of infrastructure for supporting FCEV introduction in U.S. markets.

  7. Why put the Amtrak station inside Freighthouse square to begin with? It seems like it would work just as good to put it in that vacant block between C and D streets. OK, so itsn’t exactly vacant. It has a parking lot on it. Parking can be put anywhere, and the incongruity of having a surface parking lot right next to a very expensive multilevel parking garage built by SoundTransit seems a bit much.

    I think that eventually there will be a desire to have two separate boarding areas anyway, so that Amtrak and SoundTransit can board at the same time. I have been on southbound Cascades train 509 several times that has had conflicts with Sounder up until Tacoma. Once the lines are combined into a single platform at Tacoma this will become worse.

  8. Unnamed “attendees” at West Seattle Transportation Coalition meetings sure have a lot of excuses for why they can’t accept more density.

    Its our neighborhood……..don’t tell us how dense it should be.

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