A BBQ on 2nd Ave
A BBQ on 2nd Ave

This is an open thread.

131 Replies to “News Roundup: Taking to the Streets”

  1. I read with interest the problems that Link is having with people walking out in front of trains at the stations in the Rainier Valley. How big is this problem in reality? Here in Portland, at some stations build like this, they have spring loaded gates that force people to stop before crossing the tracks. Has something like this been tried yet at these stations?

    1. We have spring loaded tactile mats, that bounce you back where you belong, unless the train is sitting there.
      We’re way better at this technology stuff than Portlanders are.

      1. Yes, I see them on Google Street View there, on the south side of the road. That’s very similar to what they have at some of the MAX stations. It makes people stop before they go running out onto the tracks and get run over.

        Not that it is a perfect system at all, but it seems to help in some locations.

    2. I think most of the problem is that street rail has only been running a few years, certainly beyond the memory of literally everybody.

      In both Oslo and Gothenburg, a few hours apart on Europe’s northwest coast, streetcar drivers told me that pedestrian accidents are fairly rare.
      Even though in both cities, in Gothenburg where jaywalking is deep in the culture, and Oslo’s waterfront plaza where 70′ cars sail through a large pedestrian plaza, marked only with grooved rail, catenary, and some paving stones elevated a few inches to mark car clearance- people don’t even need warning signs to avoid getting run over.

      A tap on the bell, and Europeans know by reflex to step clear- with no panic about it, and usually not even a glance. A few considerations help:

      1. Really Affordable, really good Health Care removes the pressure to sue for most reasons US transit needs so many attorneys.

      2. Every European, from earliest childhood knows what grooved rail, catenary, and a bell mean.

      3. Both the law and massively agreed understanding dictate that steetcars have the legal right of way over literally everything. Like any force of nature like wind and rain. Or in the US, cars.

      Major enforcement not really needed. Everybody just agrees by experience and habit that this is a good idea- which is really the reason the whole thing works.

      So best thing, in addition to getting medical care equivalent to Sweden’s, is to run the trains as capably as we can, and keep Harborview in good condition. And also, a lot of school field trips to meet train drivers and safety officers. Kids love trains, and will learn to cooperate with them.


      1. It’s not any different from New Orleans, where people jog on the streetcar right of way all the time since it’s easier on the knees. Of course, the streetcars are generally not going as fast.


    A significant health issue relates to the scourge of Mental Illness. There is convincing evidence showing adverse mental health consequences from increasing density.

    A monumental Swedish study of over four million Swedes examined whether a high level of urbanisation (which correlates with density) is associated with an increased risk of developing psychosis and depression. Adjustments were made to cater for individual demographic and socio-economic characteristics. It was found that the rates for psychosis (such as the major brain disorder schizophrenia) were 70% greater for the denser areas. There was also a 16% greater risk of developing depression.

    The paper discusses various reasons for this finding but the conclusion states: “A high level of urbanisation is associated with increased risk of psychosis and depression”.


    1. The article you linked to mentions “green space”, something we have a lot of here, and something we probably won’t lose even as we become more dense.

    2. Hmm. Social services to those who need them most tend to get located in the city [this is certainly true in the USA, is it also true in Sweden?], so people who need to tehse servcices congregate in cities. That would almost certainly explain the psychosis finding, without density being a meaningful causitive factor in psychosis. The depression finding is less significant, and contradicts the results of other studies I’ve seen referenced here.

      1. The Swedish study does ask whether mental health services are available to rural residents and it appears that rural residents in Sweden actually have slightly greater access to mental health care than urban residents. I think that rural communities tend to ostracize their “odd-balls” more than urban communities, which over the long-term, leads to a congregation of “odd-balls” in urban areas.

    3. I’ll agree–writing as the father of a free-spirited teenager–that much of what I see being proposed to increase density in Seattle has me cringing in fear for the future of urban children. Denser Seattle may be a panacea for young, urban hipsters who can live their lives in small containers, but raising a family requires much more space and community resources than what is being talked about in Denser Seattle. I hope that Denser Seattle will realize that density alone doesn’t create a better community.

      But I do think that many of the density advocates are aware that good schools, public safety and adequate health care are important parts of a better, denser community. The question is whether the resources needed to actually build a denser community that provides opportunities for kids and takes care of the elderly will be forthcoming. When a community works for kids and the elderly, it will work for everyone.

      Most of the studies cited in the newgeography piece are focused on older European communities where living patterns have stratified over centuries. I don’t think that those conclusions are directly applicable to an evolving Denser Seattle. (Depression and schizophrenia in Sweden–ever seen a Bergman film?) There are plenty of studies showing that suicide rates and accidental injury rates are significantly higher in rural America than in urban areas. What are the causes of those problems?

      Density alone isn’t the key to successfully creating a better Seattle. If Denser Seattle doesn’t make a commitment to supporting a diverse spectrum of people, it won’t succeed.

      1. I’m a parent too. Schools, safety, and health care are problems regardless of whether a community is dense enough. Meanwhile, density increases the tax base for solving those problems, and will generally improve health outcomes.

        So while there are other components to quality of life, density is part of the solution, not part of the problem, and should not be modulated by public policy.

      2. I’m not sure that density alone is all that evil, nor is it everything it is touted to be.

        Maybe two years ago, they did a study of a number of cities in Oregon. By the numbers, One of the densest in the state is the tiny suburb / farming community of Canby. It never lost its old downtown area, and is quite walkable. However, nobody does that there, and while free of charge the transit service is terribly underused because nobody there really considers getting around by any means other than driving.

        So, density alone doesn’t really change other living habits.

        Growing up in Oregon City, there was a mixture of families in apartments and in single family homes. The kids that came from families that lived in apartments didn’t really seem to have any sort of disadvantage, and in fact probably had significant advantages due to just being a staircase away from their friends.

        So I don’t see how density is such s huge problem for families, and in fact can see a number of advantages.

    4. How dense is dense? Seattle, Manhattan, and Hong Kong have vastly different densities but they’re all denounced the same. If there is a correlation between density and health, it may be linear, it may be a bell curve, or it may have several peaks. For instance, someone (Christopher Leinberger?) said that densities at a suburban-neighborhood level and an urban-neighorhood level both work, but there’s a level in between that doesn’t. He cited the Galleria in Dallas as an example (towers in the park: highrises and a mall with a highway and 6-lane boulevard between them), but we can also compare the area around the South Bellvue P&R and Factoria. My point is that health and happiness don’t just decrease linearly with density.

      Also, many of the factors cited in the article are not intrinsic to density. If it’s true that dense cities score worse on these measures, there are ways to improve the cities without significantly decreasing the density.

      Finally, it’s a Swedish study, and I find I don’t really know what Swedish density is. I imagine Stockholm is like Paris or Chicago’s north side, and the other cities are like northeastern US cities but with less highways and low-density neighborhoods. Yet at the same time I see pictures of libraries and things in Sweden and Norway that are hailed by the Scandinavians as excellent innovations, but they look as unwalkable and non-human-scaled as things in King County’s suburbs. So what is Sweden’s and Norway’s density really like?

      1. South Kirkland P&R, not Bellevue. Just east of it are office buildings and condos, which makes a kind of medium density, but there’s no community and nothing to walk to.

      2. Yeah, that’s the problem with correlation studies. It is really hard to tease out the key details. It reminds me of the “one beer a day is good, but two is not” studies. Why? Is there something about one beer that makes a person healthier, or is it that folks who never drink beer have other habits that are unhealthy. Maybe the folks that have one, and only one beer have great self control (which correlates with good health).

        I could easily see how density throughout the world gets a bad rap because of the nature of growth. In much of the third world, people live in very crowded, very poor neighborhoods. It wouldn’t surprise me if you are better off (from a mental standpoint, anyway) being poor in a rural setting, rather than an urban one, especially if you are surrounded by other poor, desperate people. But people don’t move to the city to be poor and desperate, they do so to be better off. Meanwhile, you have plenty of examples of dense areas where people are just fine. Japan and the Netherlands are great examples of this. I haven’t been to Japan, but Amsterdam was striking in how it accomplishes its density. It is the densest city in one of the the densest countries in the world, but a fifteen minute train ride gets you to farmland. The city is neither imposing, nor sprawling. I don’t know about the rest of humanity, but living there would be good for my mental health (although I would miss the mountains).

    5. Funny- in my first ten years on the Near North Side of Seattle, closest I ever got to involuntary commitment from depression was a week with relatives in a very suburban place. Condition swiftly cleared upon return, by train, to Rogers Park- and the “El”-add “ivated- the steam locals and diesel streamliners on the Chicago and Northwestern.

      Only downside was incurable propensity to drive the electrified Route 7 long past time when my seniority entitled me to Bellevue Annex for life. A really dreadful form of psychosis, though nowhere close to Pac Highway.

      Have also noticed from reading and travel that people in some of the world’s most crowded people, really love their lives, which size of our depression relief industry indicates how many Americans go nuts from ours.

      No surprise about Sweden. Traditional dream of many Swedes is a little house and a wood boat on an island inhabited with a population of them. Too bad that in spite of all the archipelagos, there aren’t enough for ten million people- okay, somewhat less than five million middle age men.

      But one main question calls your analysis into doubt, John: how many rebellious kids from Seattle run away to Bellevue? Rest my case.


  3. Has anyone here used the parklet on Capitol Hill? Do many people use it? I’m sure seeing a lot of negative comments about the one proposed in West Seattle. Of course people are upset about losing one parking space (in front of a fitness center, ironically!) But then people are talking about sitting out in the middle of car fumes, bus exhaust, etc. not being enjoyable. One person even said he/she was embarrassed to live in a city with parklets.

    It seems like a good idea in print though.

    1. It gets pretty good use. When done right it becomes a mirror of the activity from the sponsoring business and a way to enjoy the weather when it’s nice out. I think the only thing I would change is requiring some form of seating at all parklets. As always people will freak out about losing parking and then when it happens no one will notice.

      1. There are about 50 parklets in SF now, where the program seems very popular. They’ve become neighborhood gathering places, spots to meet for a bit before dinner or drinks, or to just sit and read with a cup of coffee during down time. There will always be disproportionately negative feedback in the comments sections of newspapers and community blogs, but there’s no reason the program won’t be equally popular here.

        One of the neat things about parklets is how they can introduce great (privately funded) design into public space. Here are a couple examples from San Francisco.


    2. I really don’t find them inviting. They just look like extensions of the businesses they’re in front of. Not unlike our “Privately Owned Public Spaces” program, which produces lovely windswept plazas that do their best to camouflage their existence.

    3. I’m embarrassed to live in a city where someone is “embarrassed to live in a city with parklets.” ;)

    4. >> One person even said he/she was embarrassed to live in a city with parklets.

      She wouldn’t like Paris, then.

      OK, they don’t call them “parklets” (that part is a bit embarrassing). They just close a street (or part of a street) to cars.

      1. That’s not nearly the same thing.

        Closing a street to traffic is very different from building a wooden box for people to stand in as cars fly by at cruising speed.

        It’s also a lot easier of a sell when the city isn’t perpetually rainy.

      2. Paris has plenty of cars, as well as scooters. So do a lot of cities. These cities also have cafes that extend right to the edge of the street. Think of a “parklet” as simply an extension of this type of thing.

      3. “It’s also a lot easier of a sell when the city isn’t perpetually rainy.”


      4. Erm, yes? It’s a lot easier to convince people to sit outside when it’s not raining.

        I bemoan the lack of good outdoor seating in the summer, but we have comparatively fewer days for which it makes sense than Mediterranean countries do, which makes investing in an outdoor patio a tougher business prospect.

      5. We have completely dry summers with low humidity and mild temps. We have incredibly mild winters and beautiful, dry days scattered throughout the fall, winter, and spring. Our climate is perfect for parklets.

        Also, sponsors can design covered parklets.

        And it’s such a tough business prospect, why are Seattle businesses lining up to sponsor them? And why are they burgeoning and popular in San Francisco, another town known for its rain?

      6. We’re a bit rainier than Paris but not much… it’s pretty grey and miserable there all winter too. Annually, Seattle has 152 days with rain, 37″ total, 2,169 hrs sunshine, av high of 60. Paris has 111 days with rain, 25″ total, 1,661 hrs sun, av high of 60. So we get 40 more days with rain per year, and 500 more hours of sun.. not enough difference to make or break outdoor seating.

    5. I live right near there and I’ve never seen as many people using it as in that picture. A lot of the time there’s nobody there, especially in the daytime. In the evening there’s two or three people. But often there are a few more people congregated on the sidewalk, adjacent to the parklet but not in it. And it’s nice and pleasant to have a parklet even when it’s empty. I don’t like the design of that parklet, with its large spiral ramp that takes up most of the space and is not as inviting as it could be, but it’s a good first attempt, and hopefully future parklets will be designed better.

      “They just look like extensions of the businesses they’re in front of.”

      What’s wrong with that? Even if they look like outdoor eating areas, it’s still better than if they weren’t there and it was just an empty sidewalk that didn’t give people a reason to congregate. The parklet has a sign that clearly says it’s a public space that anyone can use. So it may “look” like an extension of the business, but that’s not a fatal flaw.

      Vancouver has some excellent pocket parks in the West End. Just a mini-park at a street corner, or in an intersection that have been turned into two right-angle turns to block through traffic.

      1. Yeah, Vancouver is, as usual, a good example to follow. Seattle has a ton of residual space that could be turned into small parks or even P-Patches with negligible traffic and parking impacts.

    1. “Tilikum Crossing is unique because it will carry light rail, streetcars, buses, bikes and pedestrians, but be off-limits to the automobile. Emergency responders can use the bridge when necessary. “

  4. Does every Link station now have to be some sort of large, open plaza for nothing to happen in? Why not go to the UW campus for open space? Or the canal? Or Montlake Cut (one stop via Link!) Or Gasworks? Then, considering the clientele that typically line the Ave 24/7, I’m not sure how many more International District Station or 3rd & Pike/Pine atmospheres we need.

    1. Some stations seem to have the plazas built in (like Northgate). Hopefully ST will plan to have something (like vendors?) to keep the space active.

      1. Except that there aren’t any hobo hangouts in Northgate now, not even in Northgate Park. I doubt a transit plaza will be enough to make them migrate to Northgate. Mt Baker station doesn’t have any hobos and it has been open for five years. Even in the U-District the street kinds hang around certain bus stops but not others, even adjacent ones.

    2. The problem with the proposed plaza at u-district station is twofold:
      1) it is the very definition of “windswept plaza” as the buildings in the area channel wind down Brooklyn Avenue.
      2) Unless the space is very active there is a real risk of ending up with a situation like Victor Steinbreuk park.

      This is really one of the best spots on all of link to do TOD right and idiots want a big old BART style plaza.

    3. I plan to fight the “plaza” idea in the U-District station to the best of my ability. How do we ensure this doesn’t happen?

  5. I just wanted to thank you guys. I have an interview to intern at KC Metro this afternoon (phone/skype), and I applied because you guys posted the internship. So thanks for the opportunity!

    1. Yes, and a real dandy. Yesterdays Seattle Times comment section had nearly 300 responses on their Prop 1 article by Mike L, outlining the Pro/Con arguments.
      No’s were leading by a margin of 10:1
      Margin of error is +/- 99%
      Go figure.

      1. If sockpuppets could vote, Ron Paul would now be a fourth-term president. And both Metro and Seattle would have been abolished.

      2. If you did a poll on people who actually subscribe to the Seattle Times, it would also be 10 conservatives to every rational thinking person. The Times comment thread isn’t representative of anything. Just like every comment from Sam and MIC.

    2. Not scientific but better than the Seattle someTimes; KING5 news poll on prop 1. I don’t expect it to be anywhere near this lop sided. PT’s last vote for transit tax increases was essentially a tie and King County is much more willing to vote yes. It comes down to Seattle voting YES by a large majority and the rest of the county voting NO. I agree with others that the vote will be very close. I predict a NO vote but supporters should consider that a good omen since I’m usually totally wrong when predicting. A lot is going to come down to turn out which I have to say the YES campaign has done a much better job.

      1. The difference between Seattle and the suburbs is not that stark. More than a few people in Bellevue support transit and aren’t reflexively anti-tax; it’s not like Bonney Lake by any means.

  6. I have heard that the city is doing/has made adjustments to 3rd avenue near Denny to help with the bus commute home– could someone briefly summarize what is going on– and when will the work be done?


    1. We’ve covered this most recently here, in addition to several older posts on the topic (here and here). SDOT is also looking at prioritizing transit on 3rd up to Denny, but I think that is in early stages at this point.

  7. Do any of you [ad hom] know why the weekend F Line will be routed into Tukwila Station hundreds of times over Sat and Sun to serve only have a handful of Amtrak appearances over the two days, instead of serving the West Valley Highway with its numerous hotels?

    1. I heard they were re-locating Emerald Downs back to LongAcres at a future date. Just leaning forward, I guess.

      1. Emerald Downs only needs bus service when there’s an event going on, which is not anything close to all-day every day.

      1. “Standard and consistent routing.” Brian, I want logic, not a meaningless pat answer. There’s a choice on the weekends. Either don’t serve the road the hotels are on, or don’t serve a very lightly used and visited Amtrak station. Again, the F Line is detouring 200 times a weekend day to serve a station that’s visited only by Amtrak a few times a day.

      2. ” “Standard and consistent routing.” Brian, I want logic, not a meaningless pat answer. ”

        That is logic. Inconsistent transit routes are confusing for riders and depress ridership. I’m not saying the F line route is perfect or that Metro shouldn’t maybe make an exception in this case, but it’s an important principle.

    2. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this is the one time I actually agree with Sam. Delaying everyone to detour into a train station with no train to connect to accomplishes nothing except to waste everyone’s time.

      If any bus is to go to Tukwila Station, it should be a dedicated shuttle bus that only comes when there’s a connecting Sounder or Amtrak train. However, I’m not really convinced that there are enough users of Tukwila Station (excluding those who drive their own car and park) to justify even that.

    3. Looking at the RapidRide F line map
      it looks to me as though the RapidRide F line is supposed to go to that station on all trips, not just on weekends.

      That also agrees with the description of the route

      Is it supposed to be doing something different on weekends?

      1. Glenn, what I’m saying is I’m all for the F Line going through Tukwila Station on the weekdays, but not on the weekends. During the weekdays, the routes 110 and 154, Sounder, and Amtrak all serve Tukwila Station. During the weekend, though, it will just be the F Line and Amtrak. I’m saying it’s poor transit planning to have a bus route detour to a virtual ghost town of a rail station instead of continuing to serve the hotel-lined West Valley Highway, that, after the service change, will no longer have any bus service (to the best of my knowledge).

    1. But the suburbs still hold a disproportional amount of political power, so the suburbs will continue to get a disproportional amount of money for roads and sprawl.

      …back in the 2012 elections, for example, the GOP maintained a 33-seat majority in the House even though Republicans got 1.4 million fewer votes than Democrats.

      1. Careful with that sound bite, a significant part of the discrepancy is explained by the California districts where the choice was between two Democrats.

  8. The following paragraph in the article about the UW station struck me as laughable:

    The problem with the campus is that it’s not technically open to everyone. You can’t hold a protest or have a farmers’ market there, and homeless people are escorted off the property, Crocker said, adding, “It becomes a social justice issue.”

    You can’t hold a protest? What?!! It is a public university. If you can’t protest there, you don’t have much of a movement. I can see the protesters now “Oh no. We can’t protest there. We might get kicked off”. Wow, wimp city.

    Farmers Market? They have one every week nearby. Is there a problem with that location?

    “Homeless people are escorted off the property”. OK, so you want to build a new plaza for homeless squatters? What?

    Don’t get me wrong, I like parks. I think parks are very important amenities. They add a lot of public value to a city. Parks can convince otherwise suburban residents to accept more density (why worry about a backyard if a nice park is your backyard). But the park can be built elsewhere. We only have so many stations. Building a park next to one — sorry — on top of one is really stupid. People are willing to walk a few extra blocks to go to a park, but they aren’t willing to do the same to commute.

    But, he said, high-rise developers should be required to provide or help pay for amenities, such as open space and a new public elementary school.

    I think added public space is unneeded in that area. But an elementary school would be nice (I guess — I don’t know what the needs are for that part of town).

    1. I agree – plenty of open space nearby already. The UW Campus, Campus Parkway, etc.

      If this goes through, I have a feeling this will quickly resemble the freak show that is the 16th/Mission BART station in San Francisco.

  9. A couple things I don’t understand about the Bell Street Park. Aleks called it a woonerf, and the article says “curbs were removed to create a flat surface the entire length and width of the right-of-way that today is dotted with planters and street furniture along the new roadway”. It doesn’t look like that at all to me.

    My understanding of a woonerf is a street where pedestrians and vehicles mix, like Pike Place. This looks like a road in the middle and sidewalks and planters on the side, the same as everywhere. I wouldn’t think of walking down the street even if I have no hesitation about crossing it, but I feel the same about other one-lane and two-lane streets.

    The sidewalk does descend to the street like wheelchair ramps, and there are still curbs (the cement frames around the planters). So what’s this about a flat surface the entire length and no curbs? These ramps and curbs are precisely what *doesn’t* make it feel like a shared space, but more like an unusually-shaped sidewalk-street-sidewalk.

    1. Agreed. While I appreciate the effort, it still falls far short of being a shared surface.

      I also still see drivers, particularly taxi drivers, speeding exceptionally fast down the street. If there was a goal of decreasing vehicle speeds it hasn’t been met as well as I’d like.

    2. I think there’s a bit of a contradiction on this street regarding traffic flow — if they want to emphasize local access on Bell, it should be possible to at least bike both ways on it, maybe even drive both ways. Instead it has a single, wide one-way lane.

      In general I think this approach compares unfavorably to the proposal document (I think made by businesses, it got a post on STB) for Pike and Pine downtown. On Bell they focused on a single street and overdesigned the hell out of it, making everything custom and specific to this one street. The Pike/Pine document actually suggests removing non-standard street elements gradually and using standard elements. The street network is the background, not the attraction. Streets and parks are not the same thing… even in cities with functioning public squares, public squares and parks are not the same thing.

      1. The original plan was for a woonerf. However, certain people involved in the planning didn’t do their due diligence before asking Council for an ordinance specifying that this park had to be on Bell Street. During design both Metro and the fire department demanded a dedicated travel lane, so this is what we got.

    3. I use Bell via bike each weekday, between 4:30 – 5:00. And this street is terrible most of the time.
      a) traffic backs up because so many drivers are using it to travel E/W and take a left onto 2nd southbound b) buses contribute to the backup further by using it to get to 3rd or 2nd…c) signage at 5th heading onto the street is confusing – is the right lane a left turn/straight or just straight ahead lane? I’ve seen all kinds of driver craziness here d) a cyclists cannot just circumvent traffic by (legally) riding to the right of vehicles any longer, the street zig-zags b/c of the curbs and so a bike can be “trapped” between a curb and a car with no where to go; I do more sidewalk riding here than ever before, especially when buses are lined up, creating a greater hazard due to the width e) the street is better for pedestrians, so much so that it’s created a great area for jaywalking on a “don’t walk” signal…I have to be very vigilant…just this past Friday, a young man carrying a cello waked on his “don’t walk” while I had a green and continued to filter up the line of vehicles and was crossing the crosswalk – it was a very close call.

      It’s a great street just not during any sort of heavy driving times.

  10. How is Car2Go working for return trips? I’ve never trusted it because I worry about going to a store or isolated area, buying a ton of groceries or attending an event, and then finding no car avaialble for the return trip. Are there enough Car2Go’s that there’s always one around, or how often does it happen and how do people deal with is?

    1. If you’re worried, you can always keep it checked out – a little like keeping a cab’s meter running. Obviously this gets expensive after a while. I’ve never been worried or kept it checked out and it hasn’t been an issue. I figure if someone else takes it and there isn’t another around, there’s always the bus or a taxi.

      Here’s a trick: if you’re going to be gone for less than 1/2 hour, tap out then use the app on your phone to reserve it.

    2. IMO Car2Go is used by most people as a faster but more expensive fallback to transit, not a replacement for transit. This is why I’m not worried that the survey indicates that Car2Go users are using transit less. I use transit less now because of Car2Go, but maybe by only 1 or so trips a week, probably less. And of the times I use Car2Go, it’s because I’m in a rush or need to carry something like a casserole which I could take on transit but wouldn’t be easy or fun to do.

      1. I’m sure it takes ridership from transit and cars, in the short term. But it’s pushed me further towards the possibility of getting rid of a car. It’s a great back-up for many situations, whatever your normal mode of transportation.

    3. I find Car2Go a great service. However, there the size of the home area is still a significant limiting factor in being able to use the service. I would like to see coverage of the entire city of Seattle, plus parts of Bellevue, Redmond, and other nearby suburbs. At a minimum, every P&R lot within the city of Seattle (and possibly nearby cities as well) should have dedicated Car2Go spaces. I would also like to see Car2Go work out deals with apartment complexes and local businesses. I can easily envision large apartment complexes or condominiums eager to get Car2Go on board, as it would make the units there more attractive places to live. There might even be some cases where instead of Car2Go having to pay the landlord for use of the parking spaces, the landlord pays Car2Go to have their property included in their service area!

      1. That doesn’t match their business model. Right now C2G’s are rented an average of 5x a day. Renting one to drive to your suburban home, then back to the P&R in the morning would be two rentals, and it would sit around for the rest of the day.

      2. I think you’re being way too pessimistic. Not everybody lives in the suburbs and works downtown. Many do the reverse. If the car moves from a suburban home to a P&R lot, then to a nearby office park (by a reverse commuter), then back to the P&R lot again, then back to a different suburban home, that’s already 4 trips per day.

        Furthermore, C2G vehicles would get some use along the highway between the city and suburbs. Granted, nobody in their right mind is going to take Car2Go from Eastgate P&R to downtown Seattle during rush hour. But somebody very well might do it in the evening when traffic is light after just missing a half-hourly or hourly 554 (due to a poorly-timed and/or delayed connecting bus). Especially someone whose ultimate destination in Seattle is somewhere other than downtown (which would require an additional bus transfer, as finding an available Car2Go downtown in the evening can be quite difficult). The way I see it, Car2Go vehicles at commuter P&R lots act as a kind of safety net that allows you to take the bus if it’s coming promptly, yet still get where you’re going in a reasonable amount of time if it isn’t.

        Even if the use is still not quite enough to make the cars pay for themselves with user fees, there are lots of opportunities for subsidies to make up the difference. Once the network effect kicks in, apartment managers will see it as an amenity to attract tenets and retail businesses as a way to attract customers. Employers will see the “safety net” of having Car2Go vehicles on-site as a way to induce employees to take transit to work instead of driving their own car back and forth. Many employers have a “guaranteed ride home” program, in which case, giving the employee the option to choose Car2Go over a taxi could save a great deal money. A company like Microsoft could even offer to outright pay for the trip if both endpoints are on Microsoft property, as a cheaper alternative to on-demand shuttle service. I would also argue that if it’s worth it to a transit agency to subsidize park-and-ride lots to the tune of $30k or more per space, it’s worth some amount of money to subsidize Car2Go service between such lots and nearby areas with reasonable density. The justification would be that Car2Go parking spaces can serve far more users per square foot than conventional spaces. This is partly because Car2Go parking spaces are much more likely to get reused by multiple people over the course of a day, and partly because the Car2Go parking spaces can be sized specifically to fit the Car2Go vehicles, allowing at least 50% more parking spaces to be packed into a given square footage.

  11. Two new residential buildings with NO proposed parking. They are both under 50 units, but it’s a start.

  12. Re open space in the U-District:

    “The problem with the [UW] campus is that it’s not technically open to everyone. You can’t hold a protest or have a farmers’ market there, and homeless people are escorted off the property, Crocker said, adding, “It becomes a social justice issue.”

    So the thing that other people fear — that open space would become a homeless hangout — Mr Crocker is pushing as a social justice necessity?

    1. More thoughts about a possible park there and parks in general. Here are some things that make a park worthwhile:

      1) Being big. Generally speaking, the bigger the better as far as parks are concerned. Sometimes this means making an existing park bigger.

      2) Improve accessibility. Parks become very nice pedestrian routes through an area. There are other ways to accomplish the same thing, but parks tend work really well for this, because they usually allow for diagonal walking or access to the middle of a street while avoiding busy traffic.

      3) Provide a special amenity, like a view. Fremont Peak Park is like this. It is a very tiny, but very popular park because you have a great view from there. The nice trees and flowers are just bonus. There are plenty of examples of parks like this around Seattle (Bhy Kracke and Kerry Park on Queen Anne, Victor Steinbrueck Park downtown).

      4) It is the only park in the area. Sometimes a neighborhood just needs a park, any park, to provide some semblance of public greenery.

      The recently expanded park at Maple Leaf is a great example of the first two things. The park is now much bigger. It also allows for pedestrian travel on 12th NE. I’ve walked those streets quite a bit in the last few years and the change is quite remarkable. That street is a lot more popular for walking then it used to be. Likewise, the park is a lot more popular (the growth in users exceeds the growth in park area).

      The thing is, a park on the top of the UW Station would provide none of these things. The area has plenty of parkland nearby (at the UW). It also isn’t that far to Ravenna, which is far nicer than any park that could be built there. A park there would be tiny, and not have anything special to offer (in the way of views, or access to a lake or saltwater, etc.). At best a park would offer easier accessibility, but as I said, there are other ways to do this. We could simply require the new buildings to have good pedestrian walkways.

      For the Capitol Hill station, at least, you have the possibility of expanding an existing park. I’m not sure if it is justified, but I think there is a more reasonable argument for it, especially if the city allowed really big buildings nearby. Given our growth pattern, I’m not sure it is necessary.

    2. I’ve got it! How about a U-District Station Parklet? That’s open space, and the homeless can use it, and it doesn’t displace TOD. Win, win, win!

  13. Nice photo of the street vendor. Would you buy food from someone working out of a stolen USPS basket, not wearing gloves?

    1. As long as he has a cool smartphone app and is considered ‘hip’. Sort of like the [deleted] cabs they call Lyft

    2. I can’t tell if you’re making a joke but he isn’t a street vendor. He was an apartment resident cooking for himself.

  14. “But, he said, high-rise developers should be required to provide or help pay for amenities, such as open space and a new public elementary school.”

    Why? The school benefits the whole city, and the open space (if it’s really needed) benefits the whole neighborhood, so why should one highrise developer (and his tenants!!!) foot the bill? Isn’t this what the city should be doing anyway, and taxing everyone equally for?

    1. Yes, but if I understand things correctly, this would be a roundabout way of doing so. Basically, Sound Transit sells the right to develop here. They should (in my opinion) ask top dollar. Then the money either goes into the Sound Transit system, or it goes to pay for other amenities (open space, schools, etc.). I think there are a couple alternatives:

      1) Not ask top dollar. This becomes a discount for development. This could lower the overall cost of space in the area (a little).

      2) Use the money for something else (like adding a station at 130th or a pedestrian bridge at Northgate).

      Given the way things are, I would vote for option number two. The city is willing right now to pay for schools (which is good). If we want more park land, we should buy it (we’ve done so in the past).

      1. I should add that the city doesn’t have an easy way to compliment Sound Transit’s funding. For example, there is no easy way (that I know of) for the city of Seattle to say “fine, we will build that station at 130th”. On the other hand, for both parks and schools, there is a mechanism, and we have used it a lot.

    2. He said deveoperS plural, as in all highrise developers. Not this specific parcel with its pecular Sound Transit ownership.

      1. Oh, OK. Yeah, in that case you are basically asking everyone who rents to pay for whatever you think the city should spend the money on. I agree, that is stupid.

        It is incredible, really, when you think hard enough about it. We have a housing crisis in this city (rent is too high). We also like business. So, we pay Boeing billions of dollars to build something here. How do they repay us? By moving jobs out of state. Meanwhile, we have businesses here who employ plenty of workers by building places for people to live. How do we repay them? By taxing them more, or somehow discouraging them (through regulation) so that they don’t build too many places for people to live (or open up new businesses). Lovely.

  15. http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2014/04/why-capitol-hills-big-mixed-use-developments-look-um-the-way-they-do/

    I have a few friends that work for Portland developers and they are just amazed at how little power the Seattle’s Design Review Boards have. It’s very clear if you walk around Portland, then come back and walk around Capitol Hill, Ballard or any other neighborhoods that are booming. Developers here can more of less brush aside the boards here and do what they want.

    The problem is that, in 10 years, we’ll still be stuck with these gaudy buildings, while the developers will be sipping Mai Tai’s on their waterfront properties, free from the threat of condos or aPodments.

    Of course, by wanting new buildings to not look like crap (literally in the case of a certain Capitol Hill building), I’ll be called a NIMBY and will be berated for not supporting our “Dear Developers” 100%.

    1. I agree, the design review process is crap. It basically encourages the construction of buildings that look a lot like the previous building (which make them ugly). But they also cost a lot, which doesn’t help things at all (unless you are a greedy landlord, and want to sip your Mai Tai while your tenants pay sky high rent). Meanwhile, you have folks building Apodments because they are one of the few ways that you can build enough units without having to jump through hoops. Here is what I would change:

      1) Get rid of the parking requirement everywhere.
      2) Get rid of the limitation on the number of units, beyond the health and safety of the occupants.
      3) Get rid of a lot of the silly restrictions governing low rise building. I’m OK with the height restriction, but why do they require a fence, for example?
      4) Replacing a building with another building that has fewer units would require special approval. I doubt this happens very much anyway, but when it does, it seems like a shame. You could apply it the square footage of the building being torn down, not the building being built. So, for example, if you tear down a five story skinny building next to a parking lot, you can’t replace the whole thing with a three story building (but you can build a three story building on the parking lot).
      5) Add some teeth to the preservation board.
      6) Liberalize the mother-in-law apartment rules.
      7) Do away with the design review board. It is doomed to failure.

      I’m sure there are other examples of well meaning, but failed zoning laws. In many cases, the rules are designed to force developers into building nice looking buildings, but they often make things worse (this is especially true with low rise buildings).

      I wouldn’t say that all of the architecture going up is crap, though. I think there are some great examples of interesting buildings in the city. I really like what has been built in the Cascade neighborhood, for example.

      1. I would do all your suggestions, except number 7. In exchange for allowing more density and higher buildings, I would give the review boards teeth, to make sure the buildings we are stuck with for the next 50 years, actually are worth looking at.

      2. Add 8):
        Allow single family residences to be split into multiple smaller units if the structure has been there for 20+ years, and the overall footprint is not allowed to change for another 10 after the division.

        This would allow the larger c. 1900s era homes to be preserved as multi-unit buildings where their sheer size is conducive to splitting up the floor plan.

    2. But a lot of the design reviewers want to ban apodments, ditch density, and allow nothing to change. How do you keep design review boards from becoming NIMBY veto boards?

      1. Well, Portland makes it work, somehow. Maybe only allow their decision on aesthetics, as long as all physical properties are up to code?

        But alas, I’m not an expert on public policy, although there’s got to be a better way than shrugging our shoulders and giving up.

    3. I really don’t understand what people are reacting to. So what if the new five-story buildings on Capitol Hill look similar to each other? That’s normal. Ten years from now there will be a new crop of new buildings, they’ll all look different from the current ones, and they’ll all look like each other, too. That’s what happens – at any given moment certain design elements are in vogue and others are out, and certain materials and finishes are economical while others aren’t. New fabrication technologies come along and everyone adopts them, because they’re better; the old techniques become high-end luxury finishes, because they cost more. That’s just the way architecture works.

      Let people build what they want. We need more, cheaper buildings, not fewer, fussier, more expensive ones; the alternatives are unaffordable rent and suburban sprawl.

      1. “New fabrication technologies come along and everyone adopts them, because they’re better;”

        They may be adopted because they’re better, or they may be adopted because they’re cheaper. In the best of worlds, they’re better and cheaper.

        “the old techniques become high-end luxury finishes, because they cost more. That’s just the way architecture works.”

        Or they might be perceived as cheap crap that worked for a while.

  16. You would think with Prop 1 about to sink, this wouldn’t be necessary from Bob Pishue of the WPC but figured I’d share: http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/blog/post/king-county-proposition-1%E2%80%99s-regressive-tax-increases-may-fund-stalled-union-contract

    I really wish Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 (ATU) would realize some of the blame for Prop 1 going down is going to be on… them and their members for letting their labor issues become leverage in this – to quote a great STB blogger, a “hostage situation” transit advocates across our great state want out of. I’m sure Curtis King is just rubbing his big, greasy hands together trying to figure out how LITTLE support he can give transit in his next transportation package.

    On that thought, oh how I hope I am so wrong about Prop 1’s chances………….

    1. What makes you think that Prop 1 is about to sink? If anything, I’m more bullish on its chances though I firmly believe that it’s going to be a squeaker. Either everyone I have talked to is humoring me because they know my stance, or I have a lot of well-paid coworkers and colleagues who planned to vote yes from the beginning or were convinced to vote yes after we discussed it. The question boils down to: Do you believe Metro when it says it does not have the money to pay for the bus service that it proposes to cut, and do you believe the County when it says it does not have the money to fix rural roads? Your answer is also your selection on the Prop 1 ballot.

      I am of the position that I believe the professional managers of the service that I use on a daily basis, not the analysis of an outsider with a history of looking for reasons to discredit Metro.

      1. To answer your question – and if not for a friend being cyberbullied, I’d have responded last night – I read a lot of hang-wringing from the pro side and a lot of aggressive tenacity from the con side.

        I hope I’m wrong about this. The consequences for our state are deep.

  17. This seems to me to be a pretty good summary of the politics of Prop. 1. At this point, I don’t expect it will pass, but who knows?

    1. I think it will pass, but I also think it will be close. The “yes” group has a lot more to lose from Prop 1 failing than the “no” group has to lose from Prop 1 passing. Further, the “yes” group seems to have a lot more of a ground game than the “no” group. I’ve seen pro-Prop 1 signs in places I never expected. They’re in Bellevue, around next to every TC in Redmond, in the Central District next to Ezell’s (that has to be some prime foot traffic visibility), near Northgate (though I think they’ve been removed in the past couple of days) and there are marquee-sized banners near every major transit point in Downtown that I’ve recently visited. “No” signs are also out though not nearly as many. I’ve driven around looking for them and found some but, in almost every case, they’re outnumbered by “yes” signs. If this doesn’t pass, it won’t be for lack of effort.

      It seems that the “no” group is contenting itself with hit pieces in back pages of the Seattle Times–a constituency that is predisposed to vote against Prop 1–and concern-trolling in various forums, including here. I think that we have to remember that the Internet isn’t the end-all-be-all of public discourse (thankfully, based solely on Youtube comments). There is a real, valid, and present case to be made for voting in favor of Prop 1.

  18. dense areas are more economically mobile, healthier and live longer.

    If this were true I think it’s due almost entirely to the economic status which we know has a strong correlation to life expectancy. I won’t dispute the point about economic mobility. You have a lot more chances of succeeding on merit. A list of the top 20 for longest living put Seattle at #5. That’s not bad but of the four that beat us only Bridgeport CT is higher in density. And at #1 San Jose is the least dense of the bunch. Fact is thought that all are very very close in the 6k per sq mi range. So, where do the big boys slot in. San Fran at #8, LA at #14, Miami #18. Chicago, NYC Boston, Philly, et al didn’t make the list. So it would seem there is a sweet spot and places like Seattle are it. Or perhaps an upper bound as Austin #16, Plano #12 and Lincoln #11 are half the density of Seattle.

    1. Since the city of Bridgeport is an economic vortex that frequently ranks as one of the most dangerous places in America, rather than the picturesque recreational-boating community pictured in your link, I’m going to venture a guess that The Daily Clickbait is ranking by broad Metropolitan Statistical Areas, thereby invalidating any attempt to use their list to determine the longevity of those living in urbanized versus auto-dependent communities therein.

  19. Honest question. Metro says that the 249 routes after 6PM will be cut if Prop 1 fails. What does this mean? I often get on the 249 at S. Kirkland going toward Overlake at ~6:54. It obviously starts days earlier at S. Bellevue P&R for it to get there by that time. Will it turn into a pumpkin somewhere along Northup or does “cuts to service after 6PM” mean routes that start after 6PM will be eliminated?

    1. Bernie, that’s unclear. My impression, though, based on all of the service changes is that the listed time usually means there will be one trip that leaves after that time. I would expect significant changes to all of the Eastside schedules if the cuts go through, but I would also expect the last 249 trip to leave South Kirkland after 6 p.m.

      I’m not sure how you’re getting on a 249 at 6:54, though, when they are scheduled to leave S Kirkland P&R at 6:26 and 7:30 in the Overlake direction.

  20. I don’t see how an open space by the station could even match, let along exceed what the UW has to offer. At best it would be like Red Square, but without the gorgeous Suzzalo library next to it. Big old conifers? Not for a very long time. Cherry trees — maybe, but they still won’t match those at UW. How about a nice long plaza, with beautiful buildings on both sides and a fountain framing Mount Rainier. Won’t ever happen. The UW is a jewel and it is everyone’s jewel. There is no way that a square (or whatever it is) will match it.

  21. Could we get some proper capitalization, please?

    republican != Republican

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