st3mapIn a move that will surprise no one who has been paying attention, The Seattle Times endorsed a NO vote on ST3 ($), apparently less interested in quality transit than the Tacoma News-Tribune, among others. It is fundamentally insincere and dishonest about why they oppose the package. As usual, they apply arbitrary and vague objections they wouldn’t apply to non-transit projects. For a more authentic (but wrong) objection, see their 2007 anti-ST2 screed ($) that says rail is pointless and we should just widen highways. The current complaints are too incoherent to be real:

Voters should say no to this measure — appearing as Proposition 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot — which would commit them to a lifetime of taxation for a $54 billion project with unclear benefits and little accountability.

If only one of the largest concentrations of reporters in the state could have somehow, some way, figured out what voters would get from the ST3 package. What would constitute “clear” benefits? What’s the proper level of accountability? After all, the Times backed a giant highway package with zero public votes, and a deep-bore tunnel run amok with no voter “accountability”, so there’s no way they’re just expecting yet more votes?

Because ST3 establishes permanent tax authority, voters would lose the opportunity to periodically say whether its funding should continue or its course corrected.

Oh.

It is not good practice to stop giant capital projects in mid-stream, and default on all the bonds, at whatever moment the agency is least popular. Not a great way to get things done! If one doesn’t like how ST is going, one could always vote against the County Executives most responsible. But most of those Executives — and Sound Transit — are popular, so anti-transit forces would like to add as many veto points as possible. There is no real ideological commitment to “accountability.”

And by the way: the permanent tax authority is only what’s needed for operations and maintenance. But they won’t tell you that, because the Editorial Board of our city’s largest newspaper exists to deceive citizens and make them less knowledgeable about issues. Or perhaps the Times objects to operating and maintaining rail lines we’ve already built?

Yet ST3 would provide little direct benefit for most residents. Many won’t be around to enjoy the system’s full benefits, which wouldn’t come until around 2040.

ST3 will start delivering real benefits in the early 2020s, but apparently nothing’s worthwhile until rail gets to Issaquah. Benefits to young people and future generations are, of course, simply irrelevant. But yeah, it takes a long time. Better hurry, no time to pause!

Pressing pause would not doom the region to traffic hell nor would it kill transit.

Well then! Traffic is solved, everyone! Never mind, South Lake Union!

Remember, voters rejected ST2 in 2007 because the original proposal was too big and unwieldy. That didn’t kill transit. Voters pressed pause, leadership produced a more reasonable plan and ST2 was approved the following year.

So many things are misleading here:

  • The Times Editorial Board has read the minds of 2007 voters and told us why they voted no. I don’t have access to their telepathic powers, but let’s just say… there are alternate theories.
  • The “more reasonable” plan was less “big and unwieldy” because they stripped out the highways, not because the transit scope was much smaller.
  • That still wasn’t good enough for the Times, which still found a way to dislike something not as “big and unwieldy”.
  • Not a mention of the larger pro-transit electorate in presidential election years, the most obvious alternate theory of success. A loss this year would cost us at least four years, not one.

Onward!

Huge increases in transit use and capacity are now coming with or without ST3. Most of those increases will be handled by ST2. The $54 billion for ST3 would bring relatively minor, incremental increases in transit usage….

ST3 extends the system to less dense areas and largely duplicates current bus routes within Seattle.

They’re singing the praises of an ST2 package that they opposed in 2008. Perhaps their adoration for smaller transit packages is, um, insincere?

By the way, the “less dense areas” include the first rapid, reliable service to Uptown, South Lake Union, Ballard, Alaska Junction, Downtown Redmond, Downtown Everett, and Downtown Tacoma, plus additional capacity in Downtown Seattle and Bellevue. As for duplicating bus routes, I’m not even sure where to begin. Does the speed and reliability of a transit line not matter?* Should we build rail lines where there is no demand for even a bus route now? And the “incremental” increase of the second downtown tunnel alone is 110,000-136,000 daily ridersBy itself, that would be the 4th to 6th highest-ridership light rail system in the US today. Overall, Sound Transit ridership with ST3 will climb from 358,000 per day in 2030 to 695,000 in 2040.

It’s as if the Puget Sound region already bought a minivan — ST2 — to carry its growing family. Now it’s being asked to max out credit cards and get a second mortgage to buy a coupe that can carry a few more.

This analogy is not only silly, it proves the opposite of what they imply. If your family doesn’t fit in the minivan anymore (and you’re car-dependent), you have to buy another car to move everyone!

Anyhow, the takeaway is that a tax that is about as much as a Seattle Times subscription is equivalent to maxing out credit cards and taking a second mortgage. This hyperbole shows how deeply unserious this entire editorial is.

If my choice is to spend that money on having high-quality transit alternatives to most parts of the region, or on a paper that lies to me, the choice is pretty clear. It should be to you, too.

Spoiler Alert: As far as the Times is concerned, no.

90 Replies to “Times Surprises No One, Misinforms Its Readers”

    1. I would do the same except we need local news reporting and investigative journalism or we’ll be in an even deeper hole. I didn’t read or watch the news through most of my high school and college years because I thought it was all lies trying to mind-control us. But later I went back to newspapers and radio news and weekly/monthly news magazines (not all at the same time of course) and realized there’s a lot of good in them, and it’s better to be informed than not. Most of the news that TV and radio and magazines regurgitate comes mostly from newspaper reporters: they’re the big ground staff that actually find the news. They’re much more detailed than can fit into a TV or radio talk show or magazine article, and they’re usually more balanced and objective than the partisan talk shows and yellow-journal print media. Without newspapers like the Times with a large reporter base and relatively good editors (not the editorial board), we’d be at the mercy of whatever these TV/radio/magazine pieces say because we won’t have anything to compare them to, and we’ll have a much less complete picture of what’s going on.

      As for the Times specifically, if you go without it, or especially if it dies, then even though the remnants of the P-I, Crosscut, the Stranger, and the Weekly have good reporters and occasional investigative articles, all of them combined don’t have even a quarter of the reporting coverage of the Times. So who else can fill that gap? One of them theoretically could but they haven’t yet.

      The Times editorials are often awful, but at least the owners haven’t torpedoed the quality of the rest of the paper yet.

      1. Mike, how much independence The Seattle Times gives either its reporters in what they cover, including whom they interview and what they write, or its editors in the slant and content of their editorials?

        To me, chief fault in the coverage of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel was that nobody in journalism knew what questions to ask when evaluating, for example, an experimental bus. Also too bad they weren’t the only ones with that problem.

        I recall that both The Times and certain politicians that opposed mainly the existence of Metro Transit as an independent agency. The Times was not exactly neutral on the question of which agency would handle public utilities. So for all the fury over the weight of the buses, the lawn-mower motor pushing it made no headlines.

        On the other hand, many people in charge of the project had less knowledge and authority than the reporter, who really should have been played by Darren McGavin, with “Kolchak” for a byline.

        Though I think we would’ve gotten a better shake from “The Night Stalker” editor, who never believed there really was a mad blood-stealing civil war doctor in the Pioneer Square underground. Kolchak’s editor didn’t want the monster found, no matter how useful it would’ve been in the election.

        Mark

      2. There’s supposed to be a firewall between the editorial board (the paper’s owners) and the news department. That’s what makes the difference between a serious news organization and a yellow-journal rag. I don’t know how much constraints the news editor puts on the reporters. Often the articles and headlines seem to focus too much on the taxes and leave the benefits in a minor paragraph. I can’t tell whether that’s interference or it’s just reflecting what readers care most about (the impact on their pocketbooks, and they don’t understand the benefits of transit very well). Presumably the paper does polls on what readers care most about and what they’ll pay a subscription for, and that was the result.

        There’s also an “editorial page editor”, and I’m not sure which side they’re on (whether they work for the editorial board or the news editor). They’re supposed to put a variety of viewpoints on the rest of the editorial page, including sometimes those that say the opposite of the editorial. Which they did in this case: there’s a pro-ST3 commentary on the same page, written by Dow Constantine, Marilyn Strickland, and Dave Somers. In fact, it’s funny to compare the articles side by side: “Reject Sound Transit 3” and “ST3 is the Transit System Our Region Has Needed for 40 Years”.

      3. Don’t know how it works at the Seattle Times, but I’ve been told that reporters are paid based on how many comments their article gets on the web site.

        So, naturally, there’s lots of crap that generates comments.

      4. Mike, considering how the news coverage at that news outlet has now slanted to align with the editorials, I just can’t support that rag any longer. Sorry but those guys there have Sound Transit in the crosshairs almost as much as Alex Tsimerman… it’s been leaked that the Santa Clara Times has an agenda and it sure as hell is to back Kemper Freeman, Freedom Foundation (who had to weigh in on the ST3 Debate with an EASTERN WASHINGTON PUNDIT who will NEVER pay taxes into ST or ride the wave).

        Sorry because normally I’d agree with you the value of what was Seattle Times.

  1. Could be a price to pay, Joe and Martin. If the Times goes away, you’ll have to get used to fact that every time that guy at the Market catches the fish the other guy throws at him, and wraps it up for you, it’ll taste like either The Stranger or the Weekly.

    But need some information for a tactic that could be against the Geneva Convention. What measures are we going to have already in action whichever way the election goes?

    Because like I said the other night, nothing will demoralize the enemy as much as knowing we’ve got the alternative they’re advocating already completely re-thought. I don’t mind getting sent to The Hague. They’ve got great streetcars over there.

    Mark

  2. I think it’s important to do some minor fact checking on this post: Whether or not ST3 passes, ST will have the fourth to sixth highest ridership in the US once the ST2 system is in place.

    There is about 70K today on ST Link. Taking Link to Northgate and Lynnwood will probably add about 30-40K new rail riders (not already on link) in that direction, and East Link will add about 20-40K new rail riders in that direction. San Diego and Portland are running in fourth and fifth place currently at between 120K to 125K already (noting that those systems will also see some expansion soon). After that, it’s Philadelphia and Dallas about 110K, which are systems which have some expansion coming but frankly it’s not much — so that ST may pass one or both of these systems by 2021 to be in sixth place.

    1. I’m not sure what “fact checking” you’re trying to accomplish. ST2 is irrelevant to my claim; the projected ridership of the second downtown tunnel by itself (though fed from other stuff) would fall between 4th and 6th today. It’s all there in the links in the post.

      1. Martin, you stated that ST “would be the 4th to 6th highest-ridership light rail system in the US today” after ST3 passes, implying that the ST3 system had to open before Link achieved this ranking. I’m simply noting that this ranking will be the case regardless if ST3 passes or fails. It really is a minor point — but one that I thought needs clarification.

      2. Martin, at least 30 to 40 percent of the new tunnel ridership is coming from the Green line riders going to the Rainier Valley and SeaTac. Another percentage is coming off of surface buses. These are not all new transit riders, and not even new rail transit riders. Both you and the Times appear to both be correct.

        I think a more persuasive argument is presenting travel time savings per rider and in the aggregate rather than just total riders. Saying that I can ride from IDS to Seattle Center in under 10 minutes versus the 20-25 it takes today seems much more powerful, for example.

      3. Al S.: Martin says that the second downtown tunnel, the one planned for ST3, would rank among one of the highest-ridership systems on its own. This is separate from the existing system, which is the point you are making. The second tunnel won’t exist without ST3.

      4. And the “incremental” increase of the second downtown tunnel alone is 110,000-136,000 daily riders. By itself, that would be the 4th to 6th highest-ridership light rail system in the US today.

        I am not sure how you extracting from those sentences the meaning you are inferring.

      5. It’s pretty obvious that:

        1. Riders going between U-Link/Northgate/Lynnwood to Rainier Valley/SeaTac will transfer at Westlake rather than ID, because that’s where the train lines will cross and there will be one less station between Westlake and UW. Sure, these could move to IDS to Sodo, but I’m speculating the forecasting is likely assigning these transfer as Westlake because it’s one less stop.

        2. Any riders from most of Downtown Seattle above Third Avenue going to Rainier Valley/SeaTac will use this route, rather than the current tunnel (which they use now and will after ST2)..

        3. Any riders that transfer today or will transfer at Westlake or University St after ST2 — places like Ballard, SLU, RapidRide D and E corridors — will switch to the new line.

        My simple point is that the new tunnel riders are not new light rail riders. Probably 30 to 40 percent are coming from the current tunnel if we didn’t build a new tunnel. That’s not incrementally new riders!

        My other point is that ST does not articulate to the public about these overall transfer patterns, details or components of this great ridership in any documents. The Seattle Times, the No on ST3 group, Seattle Subway or Mass Transit Now have only anecdotal information about any of this because it’s not even in the published ST study documents. We can all speculate about these things, but the burden is on ST to show us the details.

  3. A data issue: The “incremental” term on downtown tunnel ridership is vague in this post. When that tunnel opens, the line from SeaTac (40K today and probably 50-60K in 2040) shifts to that tunnel. Meanwhile, West Seattle riders will go into the current tunnel, and ST says that’s 32K-37K. The current tunnel will apparently have lower ridership if ST3 is built.

    It’s also unclear if incremental means versus the base year or versus ST2 completed versus ST2 completed in 2040. The term incremental should be described as more riders, not just 2040 riders — and the comparison is not clear here..

    It’s also unclear if incremental means light rail ridership or all transit ridership. Surely, riders from Ballard and SLU will move from RapidRide and other transit services if ST3 is built.

    So what does incremental mean?

    1. The connotation the Editorial Board is interested in is “small”, and it is anything but small.

    2. If the volume in the first tunnel goes down because of the second tunnel, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s disagreement over whether a third line could fit into the first tunnel without overcrowding it or displacing needed future capacity. The most certain thing a prudent person can say is that it might be just barely below or above the tunnel’s capacity, and we shouldn’t get that close to the physical limits given the uncertainty. If you have an eight-ounce glass and twelve ounces of hot chocolate, it’s better to get a second glass and fill them both two-thirds, or one full and the other a quarter, than to try to crowd the entire amount in the eight-ounce glass. The excess capacity will not only absorb unanticipated future spikes if they occur, it also leaves room for adding another line later. ST1 was lucky the DSTT was already built so that it didn’t have to add it to its price tag: that could have sunk the project. Likewise, if we get a second tunnel now, it will be easier to get another line approved in it in the future.

      1. Statistical argument with The Times is worse than time consuming and ineffective. Most voters “shine them on” anyhow.

        Much better would be to stay on the question of exactly who’s going to lose his view along with his house to widen a freeway.

        Also, if problem is project taking too much time to deliver, ask who can start delivering passengers faster, the transit systems or WSDOT? Meaning, though that transit needs to show it can be off the block with the starting gun.

        In the time left, might be best for our side to have some plans and information about them in front of the voters, for service as improved as we can make it while the “chads” are still hanging.

        “Chads? OMG, is that that other trio besides the Kingston one? Where’d they come from, Bremerton? Oh, Uncle Mark, you are SOOOO 2000 Election! You still believe in hubcaps! Bad enough you can’t get your screen out of “DOS”!

        OK, sweetheart, but you still can’t blame Ralph Nader if ST-3 loses!

        MD

  4. (From the. Times) “The Sound Transit 2 project now under way extends light rail from Seattle to Lynnwood and Federal Way…”

    ST2 doesn’t go to Federal Way, it goes to Kent-Des Moines road. Unbelievable. This isn’t even a matter of opinion, hyperbole, and exaggeration, this is outright lying.

    1. More sloppiness than lying. It’s easy to forget when Link has been truncated and re-extended and the 320th planning is now in ST2 but not the construction, and most people would have to look at a map to know where the Federal Way border is. Of course, newspapers are supposed to be more diligent than the average person about these kinds of details. But still it strikes me as more of a mistake than a lie. Would it really have made much difference to readers’ opinions if it had said Des Moines rather than Federal Way? Only to Federal Wayans, who are a small number. The rest would say, just a few miles difference, it doesn’t change ST3’s goodness or badness much. A lie would be something like “ST2 Link will go to Everett so we don’t need ST3.”

      1. Federal Way is a significant milestone I think (I do live in Federal Way though so obviously I’m biased). Also, calling s. 272nd street station “Federal Way” is technically correct but misleading, because people imagine Federal Way transit center.

        But aside from having good suburban transit throughout most of the city, FW has a good commuter base and established connections to Seattle (off-peak/weekends every 30 mins, peak over 11 buses/hour with ST + Metro). There”s also an 1100 space garage that fills up quickly and attracts a lot of commuters from Pierce County.

      2. Or you can look at it as, Federal Way has a disproportional amount of transit service because it’s on I-5 and it’s perceived to be midway between Seattle and Tacoma, so it gets lots of peak expresses and all-day expresses that the rest of south King County doesn’t get, even Kent which is denser and has higher all-day ridership.and possibly has a greater proportion of poor and minority residents. But Federal Way which is next to I-5 and therefore important has been privileged and will continue to be privileged.

      3. William,

        Actually, “No”, those “established buses” won’t even go to Seattle. The enabling statute is clear: Sound Transit may provide Express Bus Service in a particular corridor only until rail service is provided in that corridor.

        Federal Way to Seattle is definitely a “corridor”.

        Now I expect that Metro will still run express service for the commuters. But mid-day you will be taking Link if you plan to go farther north than TIBS.

    2. The ST2 measure passed in 2008 plus the existing Long Range Plan clearly authorizes light rail to the Federal Way Transit Center with a Board vote and the identification of sufficient revenue. Note Projects S131 and S132 at http://www.soundtransit.org/st2.

      Getting that extension done with existing tax levels would be a matter of waiting for sufficient revenue to accumulate, likely aided with issuing bonded debt. Note that the ST3 financial plan reveals billions in pre-ST3 tax collection authority.

      1. John,

        If the only questions were Federal Way and Redmond, you’d be right: ditch ST3 and make the Pierce’ers transfer at FWTC. The fact is that ST1 just became a yuuuuuuge money spinner with the opening of University Link (and a yuuuuuuge cost saver for KC Metro). North Link to Lynnwood will save the Snohomish County hundreds of millions of dollars of operating cost over the projected lifetime of ST3. So yeah, the cream has been skimmed with ST2.

        But PSRC says clearly that by 2035 the DSTT will not have sufficient capacity for enough Link trains to handle all the suburban commuting to Seattle, and anyway what about SLU? It’s dogshit (excuse the French) bad to get to and from it, and the truth is, there’s not much Seattle can do about even if it make Westlake transit only. We need those SLU stations!

        And, unfortunately, because of your rural hayseed dominated party, we can’t get those SLU stations without building BART del Norte for the suburbs.

        If you really cared about “efficiency” in transit design you’d be down in Olympia haranguing your Repugnant Reps and Senators to give Seattle whatever it wants in terms of tax authority. But of course that would piss off Chuck and Dave and the tit would be withdrawn.

        We know what your angle is, dude.

      2. “And, unfortunately” really should be “But, unfortunately”.

        Another post victimized by the lack of an edit function. But, I have to take responsibility for my own lack of foresight.

        Stioo, doggone it, Frank, is there no way you can add one?

  5. I am a low-income pensioner who will pay $500 per year more in taxes if ST3 passes. These additional regressive taxes with no sunset provision are more than my extremely tight budget can accommodate.

    I have questions for the transit experts here:
    How much is the current public subsidy (net operating cost) per passenger trip for Sounder North? How much would it be expected to change under ST3 if Link is extended to Everett via Paine Field?
    What is the expected subsidy per passenger trip for Link from Lynnwood to Everett?

    Thanks in advance for any information that may be provided.

    1. As an economically disadvantaged person, how is your annual tax increase adding up to $500? Those two statements don’t go together. Please show your math.

      Re: Operating Subsidy: U-Link opening cut the subsidy per trip in half for Link – the farebox recovery is now almost 60% – it is now easily the best performing mode. The Everett Link extension looks like it will also perform very well on this metric.

      Sounder North is the worst performing line that ST operates, Sounder as a whole has 31% farebox recovery.

      1. What leads you to the conclusion that Everett Link would have high farebox recovery? I’d definitely believe that about Ballard-Uptown Link, but Everett/Issaquah/Tacoma seem much less obvious to me.

      2. They’re not “economically disadvantaged”. They’re low income with extremely valuable assets (property). That’s not the same as being poor; it’s a cash flow issue.

        I see no particular reason to have pity on such a person in comparison with someone that has no financial assets, but at the same time I can understand why they’ll vote no. As long as the legislature relies on property taxes without income exemptions, this will be a political problem. Whether it is an *ethical* problem in the way that regressive taxes are is a little less clear.

      3. William,

        You’re right, at least today. If, and I grant it’s a really big “if”, the municipalities served by the outlying extensions rip the lid off the zoning around their new stations, you will see decent farebox recovery. It’s kind of a quid pro quo. “If you want Link you need to make it possible for many users to walk to the station. That can only happen if the areas around the stations are upzoned and planned for pedestrian-friendly ambiance.

        The Municipalities and Sound Transit are engaged in a symbiotic renewal of regional land use patterns. If the cities don’t do their part, yes, the trains will run in and out of Everett, Issaquah and Tacoma pretty empty off-peak.

    2. @T.R.5000

      Don’t even bother to bring up the fact that you are low income pensioner or retiree on a fixed income and that the tax increases for this issue is more then you can afford because I have done that along with other posters and we were basically told too bad. In fact one poster told me just to move out of the city so that he and the other young people can enjoy living here in the future in Seattle. My response to that was you probable can’t afford to live here in the future because the taxes will be too high.

      No this group is just like other special interests groups who think that the taxpayers are ATM’s with unlimited funds.

      1. Spot on, Mr. Pittman – God forbid people whose income is fixed or doesn’t rise as fast as techies have concerns about taxes. These folks and Urbanist dot org supporters can’t wait to get rid of us, because their urban utopia doesn’t include old people or non-tech workers.

      2. I’m not going defend everything anyone has ever said to you here, but I’m not sure what the point of these comments is

        If the point is to expect some sort of absolution because you have valuable assets but bad cash flow, you will get little sympathy from people with no such assets. If it meant I would have to move, I might very well vote no myself, with regret that I was hurting the future of the city. But I have no idea why the opinion of people in a comment section would matter.

        It the point is that you expect people to vote no because it might force some other asset-rich people to sell those assets, people who really think education or housing affordability or traffic relief are important issues are not going to be convinced.

        That’s especially the case for “pseudo-NIMBYs” whose aesthetic neighborhood preferences are making it hard for younger people to purchase (or rent) any homes at all in the first place.

      3. My taxes have increased about $1000 per year in the 2 years that I’ve owned my house in Seattle. Part of that is due to levies, but only a small part; the majority of increase has been due to a massive increase in the assessed value of my house. The value of my house (as an asset) has increased about 17% per year. It’s certainly beating the stock market right now.

        It sucks that your property taxes are high, but it’s hard to feel sympathy when housing prices are exploding (and people are fighting tooth-and-nail any attempts to lower the value of housing). Your taxes are going to go up whether ST3 passes or not, as long as this region continues to be desirable. Want lower taxes? Cash out and downsize your house, rent, or take out a home equity loan. You can still continue to live in Seattle, unlike the people who can’t afford to buy or rent homes in Seattle any more.

      4. Even if we don’t build these, housing prices will still go up and you’ll be priced out, but it will be harder to get around. A good transit system is a basic necessity of a city, it’s not some frivilous thing like designer clothes or a vintage wine. We should have built it forty years ago when it would have been much cheaper, but we didn’t so we have to do it now, and the worst part is we can’t make up for the time people wasted without it.

      5. Jeff,

        Actually, the truth is that almost nobody who lives in Seattle outside Belltown, Magnolia, Madrona, Laurelhurst or Broadmoor will be able to live in the city in twenty-five years. That’s because the secret is out: Seattle is one of the nicest places in the world to live. That’s going to be dramatically more obvious in a dozen years when the Southwest and Midwest are burning up, the Old Confederacy is hitting 115 every afternoon in the summer, killing the oaks and Magnolias, and the Atlantic Ocean is lapping at Disney World.

        If you think that there are not 600,000 multi-millionaires in the United States who will want to be “climate refugees” in that time, you are whistling past the graveyard.

    3. Cry me a river. If your taxes are going up $500 as a result of ST3 you are sitting on property worth $2m. Wait, that’s before the elderly property tax reduction. So you property is worth then what, $3m? And how much other assets do you have?

      Take out a g-d reverse mortgage or something. Or just admit that this isn’t going to affect you in the least because you actually have a bit of wealth and you are just being a crybaby.

      1. To all you who make these critical comments about retirees and those who are on a fixed income.

        Remember all of you will become a senior citizen in the future and when that happens you will be then on a fixed income and when you do you will be changing your tune because then you will find out what we are talking about.

      2. You could probably make more money by renting out a few rooms. This is why some people do AirBnB. Last month I stayed in a guest room in Copenhagen that a retired man had listed on Booking.com.

      3. Remember all of you will become a senior citizen in the future and when that happens you will be then on a fixed income and when you do you will be changing your tune

        When I become a senior citizen, I will never have been wealthy enough to have ever lived in a $2 – 3 million house in one of the most desirable cities in the USA.

        The extra $500 a year in taxes gets you what? An extra 3 years of livability before you have to move out anyway due to increasing value?

        The injustice here isn’t something that a yes or no vote on ST3 is going to solve.

    4. If your taxes go up three times the median expected annual tax increase, it must mean you own three times the houses and vehicles and spend three times as much on taxable items as the median Seattleite. If that’s the case, I dare say it’s misleading to describe yourself as “low-income”. Perhaps you are, but then you’re still wealthy. In any case, you are certainly the exception, not the rule. Or perhaps you’re unaware the median tax increase is $169 per year.

    5. On the subject of rider subsidies, I discuss subsidies of the new projects briefly in a blog post I wrote for a class. Requirements were super easy so I neglected to cite sources and have since lost my notes, but I think it’s worth looking at. I concluded that the 30 year subsidy per rider would be $6.75. Before you jump on that, remember that that includes capital costs. Many of the fares in this system will exceed $3.38. Even though I’m entirely speculating with this, but this project could be getting 30% of it’s revenue from fares.

      For comparison, Metro’s operating cost per boarding was $4.27 in 2014 with a farebox recovery of 30%. That is without factoring in capital costs.

      Basically, from a financial perspective, the overall project is very much in line with transit already in our region.

      1. I damn well prepared very well for my retirement but I presume that you heard about the economic crash in 2008 where I lost over half of my investments so don’t tell me that I didn’t prepare.

        And Rob E you will be a senior citizen in the future and when that happens you will find out very quickly what it is like to walk in the shoes of a retired person on a fixed income and when that happens you won’t be so damn caustic with your remarks.

      2. The market has bounced back from the 2008 dip, and then some. Did you sell at the bottom? Are you withdrawing more than 4% of your assets each year?

      3. @ChrisI

        Oh really. My investments have stayed steady and I have been able to live ok but I budget very carefully.

        I just find it so interesting that many of you can” accept the fact that some of us are against this ST3 for financial reasons and when I express those reasons I have told to move out of city, have been told that I did not plan well for my retirement, been told that I should rent out rooms in my home, been told to back to work, been told that I must live in a million dollar home, that I have very valuable property, been told that I am better off then others, that should sell it and so on and so on.

        Some of you have tunnel vision when it comes to this issue and can’t accept that there are opposing views and that is sad.

        As I have posted several times and that is that all of you will become senior citizens in the future and then you will find out what that is like to live on a limited budget and income. You may think you won’t get old but you will.

      4. Jeff:
        Have you actually read anything that has been written above?

        There is no way to solve the high property tax issue other than to move out of the city. Your property assessment will continue its rapid increase because there is only so much land in Seattle. People are willing to pay a lot of money for it.

        Considering that, what to you actually hope to gain by voting no on this? You gain maybe a couple of years before you are back to not being able to afford the tax bill.

        Your only other solution is to try to get some sort of property tax assessed value increase limit passed. It’s going to take a lot more than a vote on ST3 to do so that.

      5. So Jeff, what about the transportation problems in the region, which will only get worse. If not ST3, then what? Nothing?

    6. Keep in mind, by the way, that one of the state legislators has already put out a statement saying that ST3 would be a bad idea because it uses tax authority that the legislature would really rather use to deal with the education funding shortfall.

      So, even if ST3 fails, you could very well wind up paying the extra property tax anyway.

      If you could figure out how to swing it, you could move down here. Oregon has no sales tax. There is an income tax but if you have limited income then you shouldn’t hit that too badly. We have property taxes too, but they have limits in escalation of value and tax per thousand of value. So, you might be able to do better here. Our property taxes are higher per thousand than Seattle, but the property values tend to be assessed lower.

      ….and if you miss Seattle too much a round trip train ticket really isn’t that much.

      As far as not having sympathy towards you, the tax problem for seniors is certainly an issue, but setting a tax cap based on the tax situation of several individuals (those who have little income but live in extremely expensive houses – which generally isn’t that many people) is hardly a good tax policy for everyone in an entire region.

      1. If the Legislature had wanted to use property tax authority to solve the McCleary court mandate, it would have done so by now.

        That particular legislator voted to allow ST to use some property tax authority, and is annoyed that ST decided to use it. His constituents should be mad at him for voting to spend $16 billion on freeways, without a vote of the people. He has no claim to fiscal responsibility.

        But he waited until after the primary election to publicly make his argument. I’m sure the road lobby loves his free-spending-for-what-he-likes ways.

        As for his professed love of public education, the anti-charter-school lobby doesn’t seem to be impressed with him, either.

      2. I think after the election some sort of levy swap deal will have to be brokered. They can’t remain in contempt of court forever, right?

      3. Glenn,

        If he hurries he can turn his $600K house into a nice one here in Vancouver for half that. Sure, Vantucky doesn’t have the cul-tu-ral nous that Seattle does, but Portland is a pretty darn good substitute.

        And, Jeff, you won’t have to pay income tax here either.

      4. Vancouver still lacks the forced property tax increase limitations we have. It shelters him from the wrong kind of tax.

        If your issue is lack of income but lots of property, you’re on the wrong side of the Oregon – Washington border. In Oregon property tax assessed value is fixed at 3% per year based on 1995 assessed values. It’s one of the reason property prices are nuts down here. We’re a perfect tax haven for those wanting to buy up vast tracts of land.

        See the City of Portland article on their web site entitled “Our Goofy Property Tax System” (by council member Steve Novick):
        https://www.portlandoregon.gov/novick/article/428020

        Of course, this is also one reason why Washington can buy much nicer public infrastructure stuff than we can.

        But, if you don’t care about having nice infrastructure or schools or anything because you just need a property tax haven, this is the place.

    7. Perhaps younger generations are taking a lesson from the short-sightedness yours showed by voting down Forward Thrust — twice! — and figuring it’s better to pay it now instead of paying much more later.

      1. Forward Thrust was in a different era and different time and at that time no one knew or had any idea the growth that this area would have.

        Oh and by the way I voted in favor of Forward Thrust.

      2. That’s not true at all — Jim Ellis and others knew the area was poised for growth, but too many people didn’t believe them.

        I know a lot of retirees, but have never known anyone that would expect sympathy for not being able to afford a $40/month tax increase on their $2 million house.

      3. Julie’s right – I voted yes, my parents voted no. They were part of the first wave of in-migrants to this area after WWII, and even with the second wave after the Worlds Fair, they refused to believe anyone would truly wish to live here. Their generation, and many in my Boomer generation, were wrong, and have been proven so without doubt again and again since 1980.

      4. @Julie

        Where in the world do you get the idea that retires like myself live in 2 million dollar houses. I damn well don’t and if sources are telling you that retirees live in those kind of homes you need to get new sources for your information.

        And I am also wondering if you were alive when Forward Thrust was on the ballot. I was so I know what it was like in those days and even though people like Jim Ellis has the foresight to look in future and see what was needed this was a different city in those days and some people felt like Seattle was a big city but one with small town views and they looked at the Forward Trust proposals and could not see the reason for them. Were they wrong? Obviously if you look at Seattle today yes but Forward Trust was some 30 plus years ago and it was a different city with different priorities at that time.

        Lloyd in his post gave a good summary of what Seattle and its residents were like in those days.

      5. The original poster (not you, I have no idea what your tax bill would be) said his taxes would go up $500/year but he was low income. Since he’s low income his sales tax and motor vehicle tax increase would be below average, so figuring approximately $450 of the $500 would be property tax, $450 divided by $.25/$1,000 of assessed value = $1,800,000, so probably $2,000,000 market value (at least) for his home.

        I was alive but not voting when Forward Thrust was on the ballot. I was raised in Oregon so I wasn’t around anyway.

      6. Jeff,

        Thank you for your vote for Forward Thrust. I moved to Seattle in 1974 and, so, missed out on the opportunity to vote for it. But I worked for three years for Metro during its ramping up stage (answering phones — e.g. telling people where to go and where to get off….) and saw first hand the agency’s commitment to service. As the “low man on the totem pole” after I got moved to full time, I had to work Friday/Saturday 11 PM to 7 AM, Saturday/Sunday 11 PM to 7 AM, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday 3 PM to 11 PM.

        But those late shifts allowed me to “meet” — at least audibly — the people of Seattle who really needed and used transit.

        I’ve been a Metro partisan ever since.

      7. I’m a retired “property rich” senior citizen on a fixed income. Fellow seniors and younger generations, please join me in giving the finger to ST (Times) and vote YES on ST3.

    1. I wont even go to a link for the online Seattle Times so as to not give them a click for advertising. I cant wait for that awful rag to go out of business.

    2. OMG, the future is a couple city hall articles and the arts listings and a lot of Beavis and Butthead type crap; Don’t say I didn’t warn you when that’s all the news there is.

      1. Someone will fill the void, and I’d argue than many already are (STB, Seattlish, the Urbanist, C is for Crank

      2. STB and the Urbanist are one-sided publications, so like the yellow journals of the 1800s. Seattlish I’ve never seen, and I haven’t read the C enough to evaluate it. The neighborhood blogs are somewhat more objective since their goal is to report on what’s happening in the neighborhood rather than advocating a position. But is any of them going to get such a large number of reporters and topic areas to replace the Times? There’s no sign of it so far. And I wish they would, because that would be valuable. This all comes down from the loss of the P-I as a full-sized newspaper; then it was a second opinion to check the times. But in this age I guess you need a billionaire to fund such a thing, as Jeff Bezos is doing with the Washington Post. I’d almost say can’t he start a paper here, except that would be a clone of the Times, and we don’t need a clone, we need something different.

      3. I see your point; I’d argue that the presence of these one-off, clearly opinionated outlets indicates the market is right for something you describe. If everyone here is reading the Times because there’s no option, and then only begrudgingly, there is truly an opportunity for a well-funded online paper to blow them out of the water, unburdened by the costs of printing and distributing. I believe it’s only a matter of time before we get an alternative unburdened by a multi-generational oligarchy stuck in 1950. The demand is there.

      4. Or what about those free small commuter newspapers like Metro or 24? Vancouver has them, even Philadelphia. Our transit ridership must be pretty close to being able to support those newspaper’s business model.

  6. Already wrote a letter to the editor over this one. I found it difficult to avoid explicitly calling the editorial board lying idiots, but I think the message shone through. At the very least I found it cathartic.

  7. ST3 extends the system to less dense areas and largely duplicates current bus routes within Seattle.

    OK, fine. I want to see The Times use the same logic for highway projects: “Don’t build/expand highway X. It goes to a less dense parts of town and duplicates currently existing surface streets.”

    1. Can we use it as a good reason to ban autos from using Fairview? After all, Fairview just duplicates I-5.

  8. I take it Sound Transit 3 will never be polled. Is it too vast and complicated a package to adequately poll the way you normally would a candidate or an initiative/referendum?

    1. Quite simply, nobody wants to pay for it. It’s not hard to ask people if they support or oppose Regional Proposition 1……

  9. I’m voting no, and I’m suspecting quite a few will because it burdens far too many lower and middle-class income families with a large property tax increase (if you do the math, upper-middle class to upper class incomes get off easy on funding ST3; maybe this is the strategy all along?), and then when you start thinking about McCleary and other funding that needs to take place in the near/far future, it is scary to think how much money the state and other municipal agencies are going to come after us:

    – Education
    – Future I-5 replacement funding
    – Seattle parks & recreation funding

    And many others that are looking for handouts, such as housing levies, etc. Just too much for too long.

  10. Haven’t read all comments, but I’m close to reporters at the Seattle times and I myself have worked in newsrooms across the country.

    I can assure you that the editorial board has essentially no contact with any of the reporters. This seems to be lost on people as we move towards new forms of media, including the author of this work.

    And as far as I know, reporters are NOT paid per comment. They’re paid to let us know what’s happening.

    The reporters do good work, but it could always be better. The lack of articles on this stuff folks are seeing are most likely related to the declining revenue of the news business, so there are fewer people available to seek out these stories.

    But yes, this editorial makes no sense. I think ST3 should be better in many ways (timeline for one; if China can do an entire rail network in 4yr, why can’t we do it in 5-10? But 25years? Come on), but it’s the best we’ve got right now, and stalling out on it would be a terrible idea.

    1. In response to the final question: property tax limits. You can only do so much construction with so much money.

      The good news about the Seattle Times is that it is at least still a locally owned Seattle newspaper.

      East coast ownership of The Oregonian has produced a publication withonline quota bonuses and a few other things that don’t seem to have improved the quality of their reporting.

      1. Sorry to hear that about The Oregonian. I know what it’s like working under a huge media conglomerate (*cough*tronc*cough*). It’s not good for the industry, the communities these papers serve, or for the country for that matter. Local ownership really makes a big difference.

        Makes sense on property tax limits, but I would think if the contractors were less ‘already in the pocket,’ so to speak, for Sound Transit, costs could be driven down, and thereby timelines too.

        I guess for the record I’d hike my property taxes up as much as possible to get this thing done in less time, so it’s hard for me to understand the other view. I’d honestly pay for that increase over car payment and repairs any day.

  11. Sound Transit is poorly managed, construction projects do not allow for open bids. They only allow bids from a predefined bid pool, made up exclusively of union only bidders. In all cases projects cost more, take longer, and havery budget overruns. Competitive bidding is the only way of reducing costs and the bid is last and final, overruns are the bidders responsibility, with some exceptions. Exceptions could include, weather, design changes. Contracts should include bonus payments for early completion.

    1. Welcome to government process. Drives me nuts too. But this is same as with any government project today, be it roads, schools, military bases, etc.

    2. It’s interesting you say this as the several ST contracts I’ve had to go through with a fine toothed comb for my employer didn’t seem that unreasonable. I certainly don’t remember any strict union requirements. Then again, that part of things doesn’t matter to us as we are an equipment manufacturer.

      If you really want to see nutcase contracts, try looking at some of the stuff Houston or Dallas or a couple of agencies in California produce. They grab an industrial nurses association standard for exposure to certain substances, completely misapply and misinterpret it, and results in a clause that, if followed to the letter, means you are not allowed to use any substance currently known to build anything as it might in the future be deemed a cancer causing agent.

      It’s always some consultant that come up with most of this stuff anyway.

      What really screws things up are some of the FTA requirements at the federal level. The transport of all goods must be done in a way that prefers domestically flagged vessels is an interesting case in point. Go ask the electronics shop where you bought the device on which you read this to provide you with evidence it wasn’t transported to you on a foreign flagged vessel.

Comments are closed.