King County Metro Breda Trolley 4201

This is an open thread.

51 Replies to “News Roundup: Hiring”

  1. I’ll just post here a link to all the comments submitted regarding the Paine Field Commercial Terminal proposal: https://www.scribd.com/collections/17052841/Paine-Field-Commercial-Terminal-Comments

    Two of which in the Scribd collection are mine and obviously are transit-centric. Another comment is from Everett Transit (at my prompting).

    Finally there’s the City of Mukilteo that says, “An over-all plan for development of the terminal that through mandatory location, planning, and facilities standards avoids the obvious mistakes of the past reflected in passenger air facilities elsewhere and instead, for example, requires access by public transit while strongly discouraging if not eliminating direct access by private vehicle”

    Really amazing Sound Transit is putting the game of Paine Field in the hands of capable Community Transit Boardmember Jennifer Gregerson and Everett Transit staff. I hope you all will please join with me in supporting Team Transit on this one!

  2. Sammamish complains they are getting “reduced bus service” but it looks like they are talking about bus being truncated at light rail stations, not a service reduction in Sammamish proper. I think what the Council isn’t anticipating is that a 2-seat ride to Seattle with light rail across Lake Washington is going to be more reliable than the old one seat ride, plus the service truncations by ST Express and Metro enabled by ST2 and 3 will allow for the agencies to invest service hours elsewhere, i.e. Sammamish.

    1. Sammamish is getting a lot more service, but it’ll be Metro RapidRide. For a city with land use so bad it doesn’t even support all day service today, that’s pretty good.

      But they’re unhappy that Issaquah rail won’t serve the Sammamish-Seattle commute well. They should perhaps have had a more timely conversation with Fred Butler about that.

      1. Where else would the Issaquah station have gone? There could be an argument to end the line at Eastgate or to extend it further into Issaquah, but I’m not sure how one would argue to move the station if that will be the ST3 terminus?

        Sammamish will have two access points to light rail – SE Redmond and Issaquah TC. Redmond will be “direct” to Seattle, but Issaquah TC will probably be faster for most Sammamites*, illustrating again how 1-seat rides are not necessarily preferable to 2-seat rides. If they want good connections to Seattle, they’ll need to work with Metro to ensure those bus routes are well timed for Link transfers.

        With ST2, 1-seat bus rides into downtown Seattle will disappear for all the suburbs. I hate that this is used as an objection to ST3.

        *Sammamians? Sammamers?

      2. Sammamishites?

        Yeah, one of the perils of being a small city that doesn’t want to grow is that the world won’t revolve around your particular needs. Nobody was going to optimize the network to prioritize riders out of Sammamish over other more dynamic cities.

        That doesn’t make ST3 a bad deal for people who live in Sammamish. Everybody there who is employed works elsewhere because it’s a nearly pure bedroom community. They should recognize that they are invested in the region’s success whether they personally ride the rail or not.

      3. RapidRide? Metro’s long-range plan has an Express route in #2025, from East Link’s terminus in Redmond (and moving with it), to 228th Ave NE, to the Issaquah Highlands P&R, and Mercer Islands Station. (It appears to bypass Issquah TC.) The definition of Express routes is 30-minutes minimum all day, although a Metro rep told me some of them might still be peak-only depending on demand. So that would get Sammamishites to East Link two ways, as well as to Microsoft, and via Redmond to Bellevue.

        There are also four Local routes in Sammamish (30 minutes or less frequency). #3304 west Pine Lake to Redmond; and to Issaquah Highlands. #3090 Sammamish to Redmond and Woodinville. #3184 Sammamish to Klahanie, Issaquah Highlands, central Issaquah, and some obscure place in southwest Issaquah. #3185 Sammamish to E Sammamish Pkwy, Issaquah TC; and to Fall City, Snoqualmie, and North Bend.

        Of course all this is unfunded at this point.

      4. Sammamish would have more clout if it densified and absorbed a larger precentage of the population.

      5. You’re right. Express rather than Rapid Ride (the perils of going from memory).

        Sammamish incorporated to avoid development – they thought King County wasn’t controlling development sufficiently. In fairness, it was the sort of mismanaged sprawly development that has bought them an interminable traffic mess. But now that it’s done, there’s no appetite for much more.

      6. With regards to ST 3, it’s not clear what Sammamish will actually be getting. The Issaquah line doesn’t serve them unless they drive to it, and it doesn’t look like they’re getting much in the way of new ST Express bus service, either.

        While transit demand in Sammamish is never going to high, there are still enough people living there that they ought to deserve some form of all-day bus service. An ST express route connecting Sammamish to Link would have been a good way to allow the people who live there to feel like they are getting at least something for their tax dollars. At best, ST3 will allow them to have more KC Metro service than otherwise possible, by freeing up service hours on other bus corridors, which ST 3 would replace with light rail.

    2. I assume that it would be a three seat ride to Seattle, and a two seat ride to Bellevue. My guess is the train that serves as the second seat will not run that often (not as often as the train that will connect Bellevue with Seattle). They have a point. ST3 doesn’t serve the subarea — or region — particularly well.

      1. Between Link and 405 BRT, all of the Eastside growth centers have stations. The historic downtowns that aren’t getting stations – Kirkland, Issaquah – are not growth centers.

        Serving the vast tracts of population in between will have to be covered by P&Rs and local bus service.

  3. Regarding the micro housing article-

    I have no objection to these small unit dwellings in and of themselves. I believe the marketplace will ultimately judge their success. However the earliest versions of these projects were, to be generous, exploiting ambiguities in the regulations. What has happened is that he regulations have now been clarified. Does this mean larger units? Yes. Ultimately however the newer units will likely be more successful, with lower turnover and lower overall upkeep and maintenance costs. In the mid to long term, I expect rents of the smallest units to rise faster than the newer, larger units once turnover expenses are factored in.

    1. Successful for who, exactly? The new regulations will price-out renters that can’t pay more than micro-housing prices.

      1. Yup. On the other hand, having people a ton of money to live in a glorified dorm room turned the Council off.

        If it was reserved for low or middle income residents, I wonder if apods would have had a better chance to survive (of course the NIMBY folks would come out in full force).

    2. “Ultimately however the newer units will likely be more successful, with lower turnover and lower overall upkeep and maintenance costs.”

      What makes you think they’re unsuccessful, have high turnover and high maintenance costs? My impression is that apodments are persistently full because demand exceeds supply. That’s success, and it means we need more of them. Some buildings offer 3-month leases so that’s intentional turnover, but that’s a good thing not a bad thing. It allows somebody who’s recently divorced or moved to Seattle to have a temporary place while they decide what they want to rent or buy longer-term, or if they’re waiting for something become available.

      “In the mid to long term, I expect rents of the smallest units to rise faster than the newer, larger units once turnover expenses are factored in.”

      Maintenance and turnover are landlord expenses. Rents are based on the vacancy rate and the average affluence of renters. The two are not the same. If the landlord thinks he can get an affluent person he raises the rent. If he thinks he can’t get anybody in 30 days he doesn’t raise it.

    3. I’m very glad the first generation of apodments exist, because they helped my kid sister move to Seattle. It suited both her budget and her minimalist aesthetic perfectly. She got to live right in the middle of Capitol Hill, where all the action is – just right for a young-20s professional woman. She didn’t have to buy a bunch of furniture she couldn’t afford and didn’t need, she didn’t have to throw in with a bunch of strangers to rent a larger place together, she just got an apodment and all was good.

      Whenever people complain about apodments, no matter what words they use, all I can think in response is “why do you hate my sister”?

      1. Yep. The “let’s strangle apodments in their crib” movement has two arguments that might, if graded generously, clear the bar of “vaguely coherent.” First, the argument from an imagined right to take away other people’s housing option to reduce competition for a scarce public resource, parking, and second, “I wouldn’t want to live like that so no one else should be allowed to.”

    4. However the earliest versions of these projects were, to be generous, exploiting ambiguities in the regulations.

      I’d put it rather differently: the regulatory scheme was ambiguous, and could plausibly be interpreted either way. Under such circumstances the choice to interpret it in a way that exacerbates the housing shortage, rather than the opposite of that, was deeply irresponsible.

      Ultimately however the newer units will likely be more successful

      What happened to letting the marketplace sort things out?

    1. If the trains are running less often, wouldn’t that mean there is enough spacing to run Red Line trains to Lloyd Center instead of Gateway? I know the shuttle is available on the Expo Line but it still seems onerous that to get from the Westside to a Red Line train on the Eastside, it involves 3 transfers.

      1. Yes, but that still doesn’t explain why on the Eastside they couldn’t have Red line trains to Lloyd Center. If there is going to be a service disruption, why not use the easiest solution. If it can be a train-bus-transfer at the north end, why not at the south end, too. (I am speaking to stops other than the airport.)

      2. Lloyd Center only has two tracks, while Gateway has three. It would be nice if they could make use of the stub end track going north but the switches on that track are part of what they are working on, and it enters the main going the wrong way. It would be nice to have the red line go all the way, but that means making some blue line trains not go all the way to Lloyd Center.

        There just isn’t that much turn back capacity at Lloyd Center.

        Blue and Green will be operating every 15 miutes peak / 20 minutes most of the rest of the day, so even if you’ve just missed one, the most you wind up waiting is about 7 minutes / 10 minutes. It will almost certainly be less than this.

        Also, Gateway is set up so there is a middle track, and so transfers will just be a matter of waiting at the two line platform that serves both the middle track and westbound track.

        Yes, it will be a bit annoying if you are trying to get to the 75 at Hollywood or the 72 or something, but with the limited turnback capacity at Lloyd Center there’s only so much that can be done.

  4. Facebook isn’t getting into the apt business because of a housing shortage. They are getting into the apt business because of the havoc they wreaked on rents and now try to fix the problem they, and other tech companies, caused.

    – Sam, The World’s Leading Transit Journalist.

    1. How could the tech companies have avoided causing this havoc? By hiring only a few people? By paying no more than the median salary in the region? Are these things they should have done?

    2. Facebook is getting into the apt business? How appropriate.

      [That’s what happens when you leave out your periods, Sam — you must deal with my biting wit.]

  5. So, Olive way freeway station, is it still going to happen? Now that I commute to Redmond in the morning, the problem is becoming pretty painful.
    I feel like the triangular island which hosts two trees immediately to the south of the freeway entrance would be an excellent place to establish a flyer stop at relatively low cost.
    Thoughts? Updates?

    1. its irrelevant, since Link is here.
      The 545 should stop the summit detour, and people should take Link.

      1. Link does not serve the shores of I5 to Redmond. The freeway stop at Olive and Melrose is long overdue.

  6. @Martin, I think you mean David Rolf arrogantly demonstrates his ignorance of the District Councils system at the behest of Mayor Murray…

    There is no such thing as a “neighborhood district council.” The 13 District Councils that are recognized by the City are made up of neighborhood councils, businesses, non-profits, and other community groups depending on their individual bylaws. As far as I am aware, none of them actively block any voice or representation at all as long as you are a recognized organization in the community.

    Neighborhood councils or associations may have much tighter membership restrictions and even charge membership fees. These groups don’t receive any direct support or funding from the City beyond what any other group or individual could ask for from City staff.

    As far as the DCs I have been involved with, we rarely ever talk about housing issues in the meetings, unless a City department has specifically come around to do outreach about something. DCs are generally focusing on parks, sidewalks, utilities, greenways, design review, neighborhood grants, etc. HALA was probably the biggest thing to cross the agenda in the area of housing in awhile. I don’t even know if the Housing Levy folks went out to all of the DCs.

    Again, though, this is mostly separate from some of the awful neighborhood associations that are full of angry, white homeowners threatening to sue projects, support “neighborhood” candidates for City Council, etc. They don’t get City funds for such things… and my guess is they won’t go anywhere whether or not DON continues to support a District Council system or not.

    1. “As far as I am aware, none of them actively block any voice or representation at all as long as you are a recognized organization in the community.”

      This is exactly the problem. Folks have to be actively engaged in some community group and then seek to be included in the council. This is inherently noninclusive and keeps most city residents from even having a representative they voted for present.

      Its undemocratic and needs to end as an officially supported city body. Privately the members of these councils are obviously free to remain, but should recieve no special support from the city outside what any other community group would recieve on its own.

      1. I think you still misunderstand a few things here…

        “Folks have to be actively engaged in some community group and then seek to be included in the council.” — No, frankly anyone is welcome to show up, and I don’t think there is much that is ever actually reserved to voting by official reps. And some groups just dispense with even those and let anyone present vote.

        “This is inherently noninclusive” — If anyone who is a resident is allowed to participate in most neighborhood groups AND anyone can form their own community group, then this is demonstrably false.

        “Its undemocratic” — Again, I don’t know what this means. There’s no rights here or laws being written or tax dollars being spent. Even if you feel you’re not INcluded, I am not sure I understand what you feel you’re being EXclude from.

        The “official support” is that they get a few hundred dollars to community-build that usually gets spent of meetings spaces, and they have a City staffer there during the meeting who also helps with connecting City staff speakers.

        The only official capacity the DCs have at this point is really just voting to rank recommendations for neighborhood and transportation grants. But even those aren’t any sort of final decision. They are a good go-to space for City departments to do outreach to, but I would hope it’s not the ONLY place they do outreach to. And doing away with the DCs — which bring dozens of groups in an area together — just means potentially the departments now have to SEPARATELY contact each of those groups and possibly go to each of their regular meetings. That seems LESS efficient to me.

        Bottom line, the things that seem to have anti-neighborhood folks upset don’t get addressed at all by doing away with the DCs, and it potentially just pisses more people off about the causes those folks want to have support for.

      2. “There’s no rights here or laws being written or tax dollars being spent. ” I believe all the executive order did is remove funding for projects selected by the councils. So there were tax dollars spent, and now that’s stopping.

  7. Some recent real estate transactions found in the Daily Journal of Commerce:

    The Whitworth Apts., a nice old building near Group Health with 53 units, sold for $18.2 million ($343,396 per unit., Based on a depreciation schedule of 27.5 years, that means each unit will cost about $1040/month just for depreciation. For those of you who believe that all the new, costly construction will make older units cheaper to rent, this transaction should convince you otherwise. The new construction is raising the rent ceiling and the older units are rising into the vacuum.

    Are apartments further away from the red-hot commercial center going to be cheaper? Maybe. The North Creek Apts.–264 units in the Silver Lake area near Everett– just sold for $42 million ($159,000 per unit). But 2/3 of those units are in need of upgrades and Silver Lake is a long way from any convenient transit service.

    Some good news can be found in Tacoma, however. The Proctor Station project is open. The Proctor District is a pretty desirable part of Tacoma and this project has 7 units of ground floor retail and 151 apartments above. Construction cost was about $22 million ($145,695 per unit, including the GFR). That’s pretty cheap, but it’s not in Seattle and due to the lousy transit service in Tacoma, not an easy commute to Seattle.

    1. “For those of you who believe that all the new, costly construction will make older units cheaper to rent, this transaction should convince you otherwise. The new construction is raising the rent ceiling and the older units are rising into the vacuum.”

      Rents would have been higher without the new construction. New construction doesn’t automatically make old buildings cheaper; first you have to saturate the market with enough units for everybody. The reason the old building sold for so much is the price of land, and the reason the land is expensive is that the owners know there are a lot of affluent renters looking for a place, so they can skim off the highest-paid. The fact that rents are still rising rapidly five years into this means that we probably need twice as much construction.

      There’s another thing I’ve been thinking about. Rents froze in 2008, and with the “first month free” sales they effectively fell. This rapid increase started in 2011 when Amazon started building its headquarters in SLU and hiring like mad, and then Google and Facebook and everyone joined the rush. But what would have happened if the recession hadn’t occurred? Then the gold rush would have started a few months earlier, and rents would have gone from slowly increasing in the early 2000s to rapidly increasing in the late 2000s with no break in between.

      1. You are correct that without new construction the old dumps would be renting for much higher prices than they are now, but my point is that the often-repeated idea that building expensive, new apartments will somehow make older units cheaper doesn’t seem to be true.

        On another subject:

        A phenomenon I’ve been observing lately is a kind of spinning the wheels on density. My childhood home was sold a few years ago and the lot was redeveloped with 2 square, modern boxy houses. The house I grew up in consisted of 5 people and we usually had 1 car. I still know some of the old neighbors and I asked them about the new construction and residents. Today that lot houses 5 people (in 2 houses) who have 3 cars, so the density is the same as before but auto usage appears to have increased substantially. The assessed value of the land and houses has likely quadrupled which is good for all the services funded by property taxes, but actual density hasn’t gone up.

      2. I’m seeing the same situation on my childhood block. The homes are bigger, with more bedrooms/bathrooms as they have been remodeled and expanded, but there are fewer and fewer people living there.

        There were 18 children living there when I was a kid. Today, there are 8. Even beyond that, density is shrinking even as homes are remodeled. A rental that was occupied by 5 people is now home to a retired couple (so, 5–>2), in part because selling is more lucrative than renting. Another retired couple sold their home to a single woman (2–>1).

    2. For those of you who believe that all the new, costly construction will make older units cheaper to rent, this transaction should convince you otherwise.

      Just to be clear, is your claim that if we had even less new housing, the Whitworth apartments wouldn’t be so expensive? I’d be fascinated to see you lay out the causal chain for this claim.

      “Only building 1/2 the units needed to keep up with increased demand, so I guess building new units doesn’t work” is a painfully silly argument–the kind that could only be supported by a cynical argumentative strategy like this–ignoring the extensive research conducted on filtering and saying “look! an expensive old building!”

      1. You are correct that without new construction the old dumps would be renting for much higher prices than they are now</b?, but my point is that the often-repeated idea that building expensive, new apartments will somehow make older units cheaper doesn’t seem to be true.

        How are the bold parts not direct contradictions of each other? I don’t understand.

      2. It’s a complex argument and speakers may not state or understand all the factors, and when the context changes it reveals other things. Making older units cheaper sounds like a distortion: it’s more accurate that rents would level off. But that assumes that you’re building enough new housing to absorb the population increase. If you’re not, then still that housing won’t be enough and rents will increase in the old buildings too. There’s also building displacement when an old building is torn down; its impact depends on the number of remaining old buildings and how dense they are (too much open space is bad). The only way to get out of the hole is to build enough new housing, and to have enough old housing in stock that lower-income people can go there. If there aren’t enough old multifamily buildings, then you’ll have to convert some single-family areas.

        Rents in old buildings will go down only if there’s a population decrease or jobs decrease for a sustained period of time. Prices are sticky on the way down because nobody wants to take a loss. That’s why it’s critically important too keep them from going in in the first place, by building enough housing to match population. And when there’s specific market demand for dense housing in walkable, transit-rich neighborhoods, we need to make particularly sure there’s enough supply of it.

        Density in single-family houses is going down because households have become smaller, often just one person or two adults. That plus the “building a bigger house or adding a room” phenomenon. And the McMansion phenomenon.

    3. In desirable areas, land is a huge piece of the acquisition cost. Comparing a purchase price (includes land) to construction price (no land) is a false comparison.

  8. If that Woodinville-Snohomish train takes the switch into Everett, it could very well be more than a mere tourist train.

  9. “but a car is a sign of middle-class status, and a necessary possession before marriage.”

    I remember when it was “three rounds and a sound” (clock, sewing machine, bicycle, and radio)

    “In the first 30 years of communist China, people aspired to own sanshengyixiang (三转一响), or “three rounds and sound” — a wristwatch, bicycle, sewing machine and radio: the markers of a modern man.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/06/the-bicycle-as-symbol-of-chinas-transformation/259177/

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