This is an open thread.

75 Replies to “News Roundup: How to Fix Gentrification”

  1. The Aurora link leads to an article on kirkland, the Northgate link leads to the Lyft story, and the Clark County Council link doesn’t work at all for me.

      1. Not sure if I got Martin’s intended links correct, but all three should be fixed now.

  2. What are we going to do about WSDOT? How the hell do you not preserve bus lanes on Aurora? Here we have a bottleneck situation AND A SOLUTION TO IT IS TO ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO USE TRANSIT AND PROVIDE A LANE. Now everyone will sit and nothing will happen.

      1. And ;why would a Republican “tell WSDOT to treat transit as more than an afterthought”? Republicans hate transit! It’s in all their platforms; transit represents spending on the “takers”.

        Apparently because some public school teacher held you back in Third Grade or something you have this burning hatred for all teachers which you transfer to the Democratic Party because the teachers give it money. That is shortsighted in the extreme. You wonder why a Republican Congresswoman you supported would vote against Amtrak? Well don’t wonder; they’ve been trying to eliminate Amtrak since Reagan’s era.

        Dude, you have a disability; if it weren’t for the Democratic Party, government wouldn’t give a rip about you. There would be no bump strips on transit lines and cross walks; you’d be “expendable” if some car hit you because you couldn’t see it. Believe it.

      2. Anandakos, I don’t think you’ve met more Republicans than your hand has fingers. Furthermore, I hate the WEA more for their behavior of illegal teacher strikes than anything else. I’m a moderate Republican because I’m pro-national security and I think many Republicans have a place in their heart for disabled folk.

      3. Joe, if you actually support national security, you should oppose the national-level Republican Party completely. They’ve been a *complete, unmitigated disaster* for our national security for at least 2 decades!

        Seriously, sometimes I think people don’t pay attention….

      4. Nathaniel, this’s going very off-topic, but let me just say I strongly disagree with that assessment.

      5. Joe,

        I agree that the Christians in the Republican base certainly care for the disabled. But the “Libertarians” (e.g. the selfish rich) who fund the party and therefore set the agenda certainly don’t.

    1. SDOT is all too happy to shut down bus lanes too (see 5th Ave, for example). It’s no wonder the West Seattle people insist on LRT when they see how buses are treated.

  3. “WSDOT screws up tolling yet again.”

    Really? Is this description sponsored by the Tea Party? I love when conservatives anti-government advocates demand that the private sector take an increasing role and then use that to justify continued budgetary cuts for government agencies and then when the private contractor screws up it then becomes the government’s fault.

    WSDOT didn’t “screw up” their vendor did. Put the blame where it belongs.

    1. The contract monitor is ultimately responsible. If the vendor wasn’t ready for prime time, then WSDOT shouldn’t have selected them in the first place and/or they shouldn’t have gone live with the system until the vendor were ready.

      This is clearly another WSDOT screw up. They were in too much of a hurry to get access to toll revenue to worry about the details. They screwed up — no need to sugar coat it or cover for them.

      It’s an embarrassment.

      1. The procurement process doesn’t exactly work like that. It takes years for public agencies, like WSDOT, to solicit, select, and sign legal-binding contracts which are difficult to get out of. These private firms are supposed to deliver projects yet the contract accountability/enforcement mechanisms are weak at best. While the tolling firm may not have great engineers, they likely have great lawyers compared to WSDOT.

        That all said, WSDOT’s brand is the one hurting and the tolling system has been sub-par for years now. If I were them, I’d be upset someone is tarnishing my good name.

      2. The contract monitor (WSDOT) was the one that discovered the problem, flagged it with the vendor, and demanded compensation for the agency and the customers. They did exactly what they are supposed to do.

        The vendor is hardly unprepared for “prime time” as they work with numerous toll agencies throughout the country and world.

        I know in your view only government agencies screw up and every new product released by the private sector is perfect from day one.

      3. @Mike,

        WSDOT had trouble with the original tolling on the Narrows Bridge too.. You’d think that the agency would learn from their mistakes and do a better job the third time around. After all, SR-167 was what supposedly gave them confidence to go to HOT lanes on I-405.

        So, ya, I certainly do hold WSDOT responsible, and their recovery efforts and user support has been typically horrendous — even by government standards.

      4. They were in too much of a hurry to get access to toll revenue to worry about the details.”

        Dude, you just marked yourself indelibly as a right-wing loon. From this point people will remember and ignore your posts.

      5. @Anandakos,

        Actually, I am far from right-wing, but i can recognize incompetence when I see it.

        There simply is no valid reason for WSDOT’s HOT lane tolling project to be this big of a disaster. WSDOT is under-performing the private sector and the bulk of the government sector.

      6. Lazarus,

        1) How have the I-405 Express Toll Lane and/or SR 167 HOT Lane projects been a disaster? Besides a one off vendor issue what are using as your performance metrics to qualify it as a disaster?

        2) How is WSDOT “under-performing” the private sector and government sector? What does under-performing even imply?

        All of the industry examples of failed tolling projects come from outside of Washington State. If you think a vendor glitch in toll rate charges is an issue try missing out on a bond payment.

      7. Lazarus,

        Read the Crimes’ comments or those on Crosscut about the tolling system. Dozens of them repeat this same meme. Dude, you’re spouting right-wing nonsense.

        Duly noted.

    2. Well the Department of Corrections and a vendor also are screwing up…

      It’s time to dump Jay Inslee. Primary the clown…

      Bill Bryant should be though told by STB leaders to come clean on this views regarding transit in all 39 counties. No free pass.

      1. You really think Bill Bryant has a “view” on “transit in all 39 counties”? I mean other than “It’s not the State’s business to subsidize any sort of transit”.

  4. On the gas tax – we raised it without much of a fuss last time. With gas so cheap we can raise it again. Or phase in the sales tax to apply to gas and diesel.

    I’d like to see a gas tax increase dedicated to maintaining local roads. That would free up some of the property taxes in Seattle to go towards transit infrastructure improvements, sidewalks, etc. And in areas where voters hate taxes, they can simply lower property taxes used to fund roads by the same amount and it is revenue neutral.

    1. Alex, “we raised it without much of a fuss last time” because Representative Jessyn Farrell backed down and wimped out of putting the gas tax to referendum. Which we should have to at least seriously question highway expansion and make it fair & equal with transit expansion.

      I am pissed about this. For an environmentalist governor and an environmentalist representative, Jay Inslee and Jessyn Farrell sure was/is happy to expand highways without a vote of the people and State Senate Republicans got some explaining to do… Me, as a moderate Republican, I would have started with road maintenance, more transit grants, and getting a multimodal version of 520 done.

      1. But but but we got the right to consider voting to expand transit at some point in the future! That should be enough /s

        The voting may not have gone too well: in 2007, the region voted on many of the roads contained in today’s gas-tax package, and we said no even when it was bundled with ST2 v1. It’s easier to railroad it though this way by holding Seattle hostage for money and trains.

    2. How about charging an energy tax instead that applies to electricity, gas, and all other sources of energy? That would cover the increased use in the future of electric and hydrogen cars (wink to John Balio).

      1. Don’t even try. People are installing their own solar panels and any attempt to tax energy generated at home by your own solar panels will be met with very strong resistance; it’ll be an unimplementable tax.

        Tax tires, as someone else suggested, and do it as a percentage of the tire price. Tire wear is proportional to road usage, pretty much, except that cheaper tires don’t last as long.

        Tires are also kind of an environmental nightmare so this would be a particularly appropriate thing to tax.

  5. …policies that support tollfree roadways, congestion relief, and free flowing private motor vehicles,” the resolution says. “In contrast to a ‘war on cars’ such as ‘Complete Streets’ agenda that seeks to force people out of their cars and worsening traffic congestion…

    Don’t ever change, Vantucky. Don’t ever let them break you. #spiritofthe50s

    1. You got it, Bruce! They want the 1950’s, with submissive women and Black folks at the back of the bus.

    2. Let’s remember there were some of us who wanted the CRC dead…. Ben and me when I endorsed Representative Jaime Herrera Butler, who then turned around and voted against Amtrak because some black box Tea Party corporate group was scoring her vote on it.

  6. If a big part of gentrification is renewal and improvement, why does that need to be fixed?

    1. No one is saying that renewal and improvement is bad (here, at least), but it needs to benefit everyone, not just the rich.

      1. Sam, what needs to be fixed is how often, especially like places like Detroit, is that we’re really talking about tiny gated communities whose wealth literally stops at the gate. Leaving poverty to the horizon outside it.

        Beyond that, the topic article here contains some insultingly superficial paragraphs about the housing situation.

        One, the idea that people with lower income groups really like to eat groceries that are cheap (because they’re bad) is exactly like racists saying that black people just love chitlin’s and watermelon.

        And two, this conversation’s seeing only two categories: the rich, who are the only class from which the poor can benefit, and the poor, who will need help from the rich for their entire lives.

        What happened to the idea that in the United States of America, whatever our flaws and mistakes, in general people’s circumstances are supposed governed by their own labor and abilities?

        Best definition I can find for word “Poverty:” “Inability to participate in society as a full citizen for lack of money.” Restore the real income, generated by productive work, to people who presently don’t have either, and subject of this article will just go away.

        Say or act like this is impossible, and you can get a job on any of the many “money” programs on National Public Radio. Or become the reason the formerly working poor hate self-described “liberals”.

        Not “even” but “emphatically”: in places like Seattle, it’s both easy and accurate to say that this city was bought, involuntarily, from the people who built it but can’t afford to live there.

        Mark Dublin

        Mark Dublin

    2. Gentrification doesn’t have to be fixed — what has to be fixed is gated-community exclusionary behavior. Generally people don’t mind if their neighborhood gets richer… unless they’re completely forced out of it by a housing shortage.

      Zoning is the devil here.

    1. Meh, O’Brien has to fight the loud subgroup of Ballardites who want to jail the homeless.

      The article states that he got the second transit tunnel and he has long been on the record in favor of the Ballard to UW option. No slap against Johnson, but O’Brien is pretty good.

      1. By homeless do you mean the drug addicts living in RVs under Ballard bridge who stuffed a woman’s corpse in a shopping cart? Call me crazy, but if you want those kind of homeless, invite them into your home.

  7. There’s something not quite right about the Willamette Week Clark County article. It looks like it has two http:// causing an error.

  8. In today’s Anacortes American for your discussion….

    Taxi vouchers a good option

    This individual Skagit Transit Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) member, speaking only for me, fully supports using a taxicab voucher program for South Fidalgo Island as proposed in December.

    My fellow Skagitonians are involuntarily paying into Skagit Transit and as such deserve transit services in a cost-effective, creative manner. Giving Dewey Beach residents financial aid for a taxi voucher to link with Skagit Transit at $36,720 is incredibly cost-effective versus Skagit Transit pocket service at $70,570 annually as without a sales tax levy lift, Skagit Transit has limited resources to provide more service so Skagit Transit needs to be bravely creative.

    The CAC was not briefed by Skagit Transit staff on any proposed service changes, and I hope that oversight does not happen again.

    One issue I intend to raise in CAC discussions about Fidalgo Island service is the strategic need for Skagit Transit and Island Transit to permanently link at our borders instead of Island Transit begging state legislators every odd-numbered year for a special appropriation for a specific route no other transit agency gets from the state legislature.

    Hopefully the state Legislature will mercifully continue county connector aid to allow everyone to use state highways; but considering Island Transit’s subpar reputation with transit advocates and state legislators until Island Transit in 2016 charges fares plus receives a clean State Auditor’s Office audit; come 2017 another unique two-year state appropriation for Island Transit to provide Camano Island-Skagit-Whidbey Island connectivity is doubtful. I remain hopeful the Dewey Beach crisis furthers dialogue to create a fixed route from March’s Point to Deception Pass State Park, where Island Transit’s Board has desired to meet Skagit Transit and Island Transit’s Board Chair Rick Almberg publicly offering to compensate Skagit Transit for these services.

    As per CAC by-laws, this individual CAC member encourages fellow Skagitonians with concerns about Skagit Transit to please come to the Skagit Station Conference Room in Mount Vernon at 5:05 p.m. Jan. 12 and make public comment. Skagit Transit Route 40X from March’s Point comes within a few hundred feet of Skagit Station at 5 p.m.


    1. PS. Seattle Transit Blog commentors: Your comments/thoughts (up to you) influenced the tone of this letter. Greatly. It’s intended to be a rude awakening to certain individuals in both Skagit Transit and Island Transit the special treatment no other transit agency gets needs to end. Either everybody gets some state assistance or this tri-county connector situation finds another resolution.

    2. Didn’t you say last week that switching from coverage bus routes to taxi vouchers ends up costing counties more, but now you’re saying they cost less? Or would the taxi vouchers be paid for by someone else rather than coming out of the Skagit Transit budget? Or is Fidalgo in Island County, in which case why wasn’t Island County partially funding the routes in the first place?

      1. It depends on the situation, but I pointed out the situation with Twin Transit in Crntralia where they reduced regular bus service, and the overall operating costs went up because a huge number of people switched to the far more expensive per rider paratransit service.

        It’s possible that an area would see reduced costs with a taxi voucher system, but the point at which bus routes become cheaper isn’t that high.

        It’s only cheaper if the buses are, in fact, empty most of the time, which is the perception of those that have never used their local bus system.

      2. Mike, I didn’t say switching bus routes to taxi vouchers cost more. It seems to me Glenn did.

        Taxi vouchers are for Skagit County residents paid for by Skagit Transit, as Fidalgo Island is within Skagit Transit’s service area.

        I am helping raise the possibility of a permanent fix to a separate situation regarding Island Transit connecting to Skagit Transit. If Skagit Transit is going to be ferrying mostly Island Transit service area riders, then Island Transit should pay Skagit Transit. Since this service is so vital and other transit agencies with similar routes absorb the cost… then with a year plus to go before the grant runs out we transit advocates need to end the special treatment. Either all or almost all transit agencies get financial aid for these routes… or nobody does. I’m sick of this and safe to say most STB commentators are sick of the special treatment when Community Transit & Pierce Transit don’t get money + Sound Transit is now cut off from state grants.

  9. The numbers on the HOV usage are surprising to me. Assuming that is typical, it basically means that even if you ignore the bus users, the HOV lanes should be HOV3+ in areas where you have congestion. 43% of the personal vehicles have only two people in them. But fewer people are in those cars. Not counting the buses, less than a third of the people in the carpool lane are in a two person car pool. It just doesn’t make sense for a very small minority like that to screw it up for the majority of car pool users, let alone bus users.

  10. Northgate PR announce doesn’t say who is paying.
    However, the number of new spaces (140) appears to match what ST is required to replace.

    (from Bruce) In my last post on North Link, discussing the 30% open house, I alluded to the possibility that Sound Transit might construct a parking garage at Northgate, to offset the loss of park and ride capacity during and after construction of the Northgate Station and associated guideway. The Northgate P&R (which is actually a collection of different lots owned or leased by different agencies) has a total of a about 1500 spaces, and is currently close to maximum capacity. During the construction process, ST will displace about 450 spaces, and upon completion of the project, about 120 spaces will be gone permanently.

    Wonder if its still going to 30k per space.

    Or is that a separate parking addition as part of this.
    In addition to the station, this work includes a below ground parking deck in the southwest corner of Northgate Mall. Shoppers at the center will have access to the top level of this parking deck, which will be at ground level.

    This map is clearest about the lots.

  11. Does anyone know why route 3 is using diesel equipment on the weekends when other routes aren’t? Last weekend, I saw 1, 43, and 70 all running with trolleys (I didn’t notice other routes, like 2, so no data there.) I know why 4 isn’t, but 3 is unchanged by any recent construction so shouldn’t it still be a trolley?

  12. Can anyone explain the benefits and drawbacks of gridded transit routes as opposed to normal transit routes?

    1. What do you mean by “normal” transit routes?

      Portland’s streetcar lines, going all the way back to the era of the horsecar, were essentially set up in a grid pattern, with some routes crossing other routes. They did that because that is what the street grid did.

      From the one early map I have been able to find, it looks to me as though Seattle had its early streetcars and cable cars set up that way as well.

      The good thing about a really good grid system is that there are various options for a number of different trips. For example, I have a relative that lives near Gladstone, Oregon and I live near SE 97th and Reedway. There are about 15 or so options I could use to make this one trip.

      Let’s take a look at the TriMet Interactive Map:
      which shows the grid pattern through southeast Portland.

      I could walk 2 blocks north and get the 10, and then take the 75 to Milwaukie, and then the 33 or the 34 to Gladstone. Or I could take the MAX green line to Clackamas Town Center, then the 79 to Gladstone. I could walk a few blocks south and take the 19 to go west to the MAX Orange Line and south to the 33 or a 34. If I need to I could walk north to the 17 and take that going west as well and use that to transfer to the MAX Orange Line or the 75 or 70 and go south on one of those. Lately, what I have been doing is taking the 10 going west to a stop just south of SE Powell and walking 7 minutes west to the Orange Line. With the December schedule shakeup this has cut about 10 minutes or so off of the travel time.

      Just like having a street grid, a transit grid means you have a huge number of different options for how you get between places, and it also means that you can get to a wide assortment of places because the sheer number of connections that are available along any particular route. With the grid routes I can get to almost anywhere in southeast Portland, Northeast Portland, North Portland, Gresham, and many other locations with just a single transfer. Hit any number of north-south routes then transfer to any number of other east-west routes to get there.

      The disadvantage is that it has to be modified to fit the street layout. This is easy in the extremely waffle pattern of Portland. It takes a lot of effort to try to make it work in Seattle because the street layout is very constrained in places, but there are many places in Seattle where it could work. It would take a lot of adjustment though.

      It would be impossible to implement this type of system in parts of the Portland area that are west of the city of Portland proper. Washington County has a tangle of roads that were thrown together in a very haphazard fashion. Even there, parts of the system are sort of grid like, but when the roads were built with lots of curves simple for the sake of having lots of curves, as was the fashion in the 1960s housing tracts, it is quite difficult to have anything including transit operate in any sort of sensible fashion.

      The other problem with the grid approach is that sometimes there are just so many options that the trip planner isn’t able to sort through them all very well. Sure, you get a computer that sorted through several hundred possible options, but as I found with my 10 -> MAX Orange Line trip there are things it doesn’t find simply because it has too many options to choose from. It’s nice to have something to sort through the several dozens of timetables to produce a result, but sometimes you still have to sort through the timetables by hand to figure out if there is something that might work better.

    2. Gridded routes are the normal ones. :) Jarrett Walker explains the advantages of grids: The Power and Pleasure of Grids, Portland: the Grid is 30 Years Old… Thank a Planner!

      If all lines go to downtown (a radial network like the Chicago El), it’s easy to go toward or away from downtown, but going crosstown requires going downtown and back. (Chicago has a bus grid for crosstown trips.) If lines go from every major neighborhood to every other major neighborhood (Sydney has or had five-ish transit nodes, each one with routes to all the other nodes), it sucks up a lot of service hours so each route is infrequent and other areas around them have no service.

      In a grid, every possible origin/destination can be reached by a single bus in a straight line, or two buses in a perpendicular transfer. So it can serve the maximum variety of trips with the minimum service hours, which allows the buses to be frequent enough that the transfer wait is insignificant. The Chicago grid has buses every 5-10 minutes daytime, 15-20 minutes evenings, and every second or third route is a half-hourly night owl (thus spaced a mile apart). San Francisco is similar. In some cases SF has L-shaped routes that are effectively two grid routes interlined, although they may turn at the end of the city or the middle (near Van Ness Avenue or Market Street). Portland and Vancouver have similar grids although with less frequency.

      North Seattle has a wide, incomplete, and not-too-frequent grid, but nevertheless people do take the 44, 48, and 75 and transfer to a north-south route; and people in south Seattle and West Seattle wish they could do the same.

      The grid concept also applies to streets, and has a similar effect. With a street grid, pedestrians and cars can choose a variety of paths to non-straight destinations, and if one path is congested they can switch to the next one. But usually they are not congested because individuals choose different paths and there are so many of them. The creation of freeways unwittingly led to collossal congestion because everybody chooses the “fast” road rather than spreading out evenly to equal roads.

      Street grids go back to at least ancient Rome, but medieval Europe built more random roads going every which way, which much of California also has. Large citywide street grids seem to have originated in New York City, so are thus an American thing. Which is ironic because Europe has more comprehensive transit than the US does. Street grids have also been called “modernist” because they’re geometric rather than artistic or random. I think architecture and art has gone way too far into modernism, making everything look like it was designed by and for robots and leaving no room for humans and human feelings, but street grids are so human-friendly that I’d consider them an exception.

      1. 44 48 and 75?

        The 8 is probably the best example of a “grid” type route. It crosses a bunch of stuff going east-west, and then a bunch of other stuff going north-south. It never goes to downtown Seattle proper, but if it weren’t for getting perpetually tied into the Denny Disaster it could be a great alternative to going downtown to transfer.

        The modern Portland transit grid may be 30 years old, but if you go back into the era of the Portland Traction Company of 1912 you will find the origins of the grid to be closer to 100 years old.

        The best map that illustrates this is the 1924 map in the front cover of the book Fares Please: Those Portland Trolley Years but unfortunately that one is copyrighted and I have yet to find it on any web site.

        What happened 30 years ago was actually the rebuilding of the grid that had been previously abandoned because, during the 1960s, the privately run bus system concentrated only on suburb to downtown routes and the grid concept had been lost to a huge extent.

  13. About the Clark County Council, only important and very positive word is in the first sentence: “Outgoing.”


    1. Actually, Mark. They’re not going anywhere. What has happened is that two much more moderate Republicans have joined the previous one moderate and two ideological Republicans who were elected county-wide as “Commissioners” in the previous system.

      The council has only become somewhat more respectful of its constituting documents. The thrust of the policies will remain largely the same.

  14. With cars becoming more fuel-efficient, the has tax just isn’t going to cut it. All forecasts make this very clear. A usage-based (per mile) fee makes a lot of sense and is the more equitable option.

    1. It’s a more equitable option but it is also complicated to implement.

      A road sales tax on tires (which basically last longer based on how much they cost) might be a better way to go.

      1. A tire tax sounds pretty reasonable. You’d have to make sure that shops check for bald tires during inspections, though.

      2. We do have a tire tax of a sort. There is a tax on studded tires, but it’s probably not high enough to offset the damage caused to the roads by those tires.

        Nathanael, we don’t have vehicle safety inspections in the sense that some eastern states do. We do have emissions inspections in areas impacted most heavily.

  15. Here’s a thought. At least southbound, Dexter is insulated from “leakage” from a congested Aurora by the central median on Aurora. To get from southbound Aurora to southbound Dexter a car either has to use the “Ramp to Dexter” (e.g. “Dexter Way North”) or turn right off Aurora and take surface streets to one of the few streets which cross Aurora.

    So, IF buses can manage the twists and turns and low vertical clearance, how about making Dexter Way BUS ONLY during this construction period. SDOT can do this on its own; it owns Dexter Way. Yes, unfortunately the merge into the bus lane will occur before that ramp, so the buses will be hurt somewhat, but if they can escape just 1/4 mile into the kerfuffle it might make things better for everyone.

    People who use the southbound stops south of Dexter Way would lose service for the three week period, but everyone else would benefit, and Dexter will not be clogged with cars escaping via the “ramp to Dexter”.

    Whether SDOT does this or not, though, SPD should be mercilessly patrolling the red lane across the Aurora Bridge in order to allow the buses to get the longest jump into the merge queue.

  16. Has Sound Transit really moved the 566/567 to Bel Red Road, as their map shows? The traffic jams on the 520/405 entrance ramp are severe enough I could believe it southbound, but (a) the map says they’re using it northbound too, which doesn’t have any backup; and (b) they never said anything about it.

  17. “How to fix gentrification: either help poor people or preserve existing buildings, but you can’t do both.”

    So, we have a historic 19th century commercial masonry building in my little city of Ithaca, NY. It turns out when it was originally constructed, it was designed with an ultra-heavy foundation, because it was intended to have two floors added if the demand for them arrived.

    100 years later, the demand is here. Four stories are being added (because modern construction techniques are more lightweight), mostly apartments IIRC. The existing building is preserved and more building is being constructed.

    This is an extremely awesome example, but there are other examples. You can often add floors. When you have classic houses with wide spacing between them, you can always preserve the existing buildings while filling in new, larger buildings in the lots in between them. You can add backyard or laneway buildings.

    Or, you can convert “single-family” mansions into multi-family buildings. This has been done a lot in Ithaca; you can double the amount of housing and cut the rent without demolishing a single building.

    You get the idea. You can preserve your favorite buildings while still allowing for more housing.

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