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37 Replies to “News Roundup: Some Facts”

  1. Republicans vote to cut transit funding. This could be accompanied by various other disastrous headlines as well. Republicans vote to cut taxes on the rich, cut funding for education, strip away environmental regulations, gut the GMA, etc.

    Want to fight back? Join the Democratic Party. Get involved. Volunteer. Oh, the party doesn’t EXACTLY represent your values? Maybe it is because you aren’t there, lending your voice to the conversation. Come. Show up. Be heard. And, then, help elect people who do share your values.

    There are multiple chances to flip the Senate this year. This is your chance. 45th & 31st LD.

    1. Equally necessary to remind the country that if we wanted a Republican Party run by Southern Democrats, the Union would have lost the battle of Fort Stevens in 1864.

      Which should have been last time they got in range of Washington DC. Story is that Lincoln went up on the parapets in person, where an officer advised him, “Get down, you fool!” Which proved Republicans had qualities like creating Metro Transit, which was much less foolish than its dismantlement.

      His wife Mary wanted a rifle to nail her cousin and former boyfriend, Confederate Major General John Breckenridge. By his picture, jury wouldn’t have convicted. Who was very likely a Democrat.

      But dead giveaway that current Republican impersonators don’t want truth known:
      I don’t think they allowed a single Republican under The Dome to be named “Jubal”
      The fight to retake the Republican Party will make Cold Harbor look like a marshmallow fight. You first, Engineer.


  2. That’s unfortunate about the Talaris campus, it’s a very cool site. To put 80-90 single family homes on its 18 acres is a waste.

    Also, 80-90 single family homes on 5,000 sf lots pencils out to about 10ish acres, which is significantly less than the 18 acres the article states the site is. Are there wetlands or something else precluding building on nearly half the site?

    1. I think getting this property into a good state for people would require some regrading. I’m not in Seattle right now, so I can’t look at the property in person, but from looking at the map, this is what I’d do.

      1) remove all the roads and buildings currently on site and shift the ponds eastward.

      2) Extend 40th Ave NE across the whole property and extend the streets from the west till 40th Ave NE.

      3) Make a bike and ped road from 38th Ave NE down to Surber Dr NE.

      4) Zone west of 40th Ave NE for row houses or mid rise, as neighborhood negotiations allow.

      5) Turn the land to the east of 40th Ave NE into a nature park. There is already a community oriented park just a few blocks away.

      I would like to continue 44th, 43rd, and 42nd streets as ped and bike paths between 40th and 42nd Avenues, but alas, the houses on 42nd look too closely packed to squeeze that in between.

      1. Row houses would be nice to see. Hopefully the neighborhood can get on board with those as a “compromise” to allow some (very) limited density. Luckily, the traffic impacts for most neighbors will be limited. Since Laurelhurst is a cul-de-sac with no commercial areas, the new residents will have no reason to drive through the rest of the neighborhood.

        I figure up to 1 acre is needed for roads and sidewalks in the site. 8000 linear feet at 50′ wide is roughly an acre – it might not need that much, but that gives you an idea.

    2. So I knew about the ponds, but I always assumed they were artificially made and maintained, so could be filled in. And although Yesler Creek is in culverts through the property, I wonder if the City will require them to daylight the creek as conditions of any development on site.

      And of course, any road access and subsequent ROW will take some up some of the 18 acres.

    3. Would it be preferable to do a land swap, and convert this parcel to a park and take parkland elsewhere and convert that parcel to TOD? Jackson Park closest to 135th street might be a good option?

  3. Have you guys thought when, how, etc. you will reach out to the mayoral candidates? (e.g., will there be a cut off — top 3, top 5; talk to the candidate or their transportation expert, wait until the runoff, etc)

  4. Lindblom also has an excellent piece in the Seattle Times today on how Sound Transit overcame engineering challenges on the I-90 bridge.

  5. Re: Picture. The PSBJ quoted F5 as citing access to transit as one of the primary reasons for moving downtown from the current location in LQA.

    That bodes poorly for Expedia, which has only slightly bettter access to transit until ST3 gets built out

  6. For a change the NIMBYs are right. Hopefully they stop the Talaris property from becoming housing. Perhaps an educational or research facility, as discussed in the article, could preserve some of most of the site.

    Not only do 80 SFHs do nothing for our housing shortage, no amount of multiunit housing on that site — at least nothing remotely to scale or politically viable — does anything for our housing shortage. Meanwhile, the environmental and social benefits of urban greenspace are myriad and well documented. A greenspace substantial enough to support wildlife on that scale is far more valuable than a few dozen or a few hundred housing units.

    1. Very well said. Especially since it’s close to — if it weren’t for a street, contiguous with — the even larger “East Campus” of UW which has a large wildlife reserve.

    2. How about we upzone the rest of Laurelhurst and leave that as a park amenity.

      The number of people in the region who want housing in Seattle is in the hundreds of thousands. Upzoning the rest of Laurelhurst would make a more meaningful dent in it than developing ten acres.

    3. Not only do 80 SFHs do nothing for our housing shortage

      I have no strong views on this particular site, and with more knowledge I might well agree with your conclusion, but this kind of argument proves way too much. A ton of how housing gets added is a density bonus here, an approved project there, a slightly more generous upzone in this neighborhood, etc. Until we get politicians with the courage to do citywide upzones and the like, the primary way to do anything about the housing shortage is one small and on-its-own inadequate step at a time. If we brushed off the benefits of every project because it (on its own) doesn’t make a meaningful dent in the housing shortage, we’d lose one of our best arguments for adding more units.

      1. Was “proves” a typo? Not sure I follow that sentence.

        Anyway, I think we’re actually pretty much on the same page. You can’t really take the text you pulled out of context, which was that we’re gaining utterly negligible housing at the cost of a demonstrably uncommon asset.

        You’re right that here-and-there development is an insufficient but better than nothing alternative to meaningful policy change. Here in the countryside (Upper Queen Anne) I’ve taken the pro-development side of debates time and again — from the new condos at 9th West and McGraw to the Aegis site at SPU.

        But how many of those haphazard upzones and density bonuses we value occur on such an uncommonly sizable parcel of greenspace, one both home to wildlife and accessible to grateful humans? Just scroll around Maps and look for similar sites. Yes to frequent height exemptions and extending urban villages, but there are other values, too. Greenspace lost is generally lost forever; Seattle has more than its share of parking lots and crappy low-density development we can go after instead. Or like Mike said, let’s just upzone Laurelhurst.

      2. I can’t think of any time urbanists have suggested converting a park to housing. Usually we don’t second-guess earlier decisions on where a park should be. If the park is badly designed and underused, we try to make it a better park. Normally I’d dismiss office parks as not really parks, but if this one has the potential for a nature habitat and wildlife as described, then we should think twice before paving it over.

        But we (the entire city) need to stop playing around. The need is tens of thousands of units. It’s both the “affrordable” market and the “workforce” market. There’s a huge gap between $15K (around the limit to qualify for subsidized housing) and $60K (the salary required to spend 33% of it on a market-rate unit). That gap probably covers half or more of the people in the region. 8 units here or 80 units there or even 800 units somewhere else is a drop in the bucket. Within the current zoning constraints we have no choice but to build to the maximum limit, but that’s still far less than adequate. We can’t fill the gap with one development in Talaris. The only thing that can scale to the size of the problem is to release the 60 percent of Seattle’s land where apartments are prohibited but McMansions are allowed.

        In recent years there has been a movement to convert one or two house lots into a mini park in residential neighborhoods. This is a loss of housing. But if the block is single-family zoned, then it’s really only the loss of one or two units because additional ones wouldn’t have been allowed anyway. Again, the loss of those two houses won’t make a difference. What makes a difference is all the houses around them. Can they be upzoned or not?

  7. Also, Engineer, clue to a good demographic to bring into the fight early on. Transit politics got me invited to a ceremonial breakfast at the Capitol. Guests of honor were all from high school student government.

    Young woman who was Class President asked the Governor: “We can’t vote. Who’s going to listen to us?” A guest at least college age asked Governor Lowery: “Would it make any difference in an election if all a district’s high school students worked for a candidate.

    “I could take any election in the State!” I’d go it one farther. This next election, Democrats’ leading plank should be voting age at 16.

    Which every tribal society, including this country’s logging, mining, fishing, and factory towns ’til all those things died, knew was Nature’s own age of adulthood.

    A huge amount of present 11:00 news-caliber problems with young people left the launch pad when the jobs disappeared that let a 16 year old walk out of school to the plant across the street, and start a family with their first paycheck.

    For starters, since at 16 the Law lets you be an adult if you kill half a dozen people, there should be some path to adulthood with a lower body count. Like winning an election.

    Should really be graduation requirement that every single student run for political office at some time in their high school career. Not necessary to win, but extra credit for it. And the worse the opponent, especially if incumbent, the bluer the ribbon.

    I think in last vote for Scottish independence, sixteen year olds could vote. As expected, most voted to stay in Great Britain. For same reason they’ll vote the opposite way next time, by way of joining Europe instead.

    At 16, the bigger the world the better. We really ought to start reminding anti-transit legislators of proof that the more light rail a place has, the more of their soon-to-be-voters run away to it.


  8. Whomever will be the new Seattle Transit Blog reporter is going to have more work cut out for him/her…

    as more information has emerged in the media, and as we have delved more deeply into
    Sound Transit’s practices, it is clear that legislation may not be enough. We are concerned that
    Sound Transit may have engaged in a systematic effort to confuse and misrepresent the impact and
    cost of the ST3 authorization to legislators and the public. Senator Padden’s suggestion during a
    floor debate as quoted in a recent media report that “the attorney general of the state ought to be
    investigating Sound Transit for consumer fraud” was not lost on us.
    . . .
    At a minimum, the actions described above require scrutiny from the Legislature. We are
    requesting that, as chairs of the Senate Transportation and Law and Justice Committees,
    respectively, one of you conduct investigatory work sessions and/or hearings on these matters. As
    we receive and review more Sound Transit documents as they are produced to us over the next
    number of weeks, it is certainly possible additional issues may surface and we will apprise you of
    the same on a timely basis.

    Read the whole letter folks. If we’re going to see hearings happen, then we need the grassroots transit fans to pack the buses & vanpools to the hearing sites!


    1. Pretty good imitation, both these guys. Bet they’ve been up to the Olympics to feed the marmots enough marmot-food to make them perch on their heads.

      Now all they have to do us say “Yuge” a lot, and and never forget to put “dishonest” or “crooked” ahead of every Sound Transit official’s name.

      And also search the State Constitution for non-existent powers to forbid people from districts that voted for ST-3 to cross the Olympia city line until they’ve been vetted. Boy, does the dog ever cringe every time I say that word!

      Not good to see one of those weird Russian double-propellered swept-wing “Bear” bombers on approach to McChord just now. But be prepared to be locked out of every session on the grounds that there aren’t enough seats for Tass.


    2. [obscenities]

      Sound Transit was quite clear that it was using the “old” depreciation schedule through 2024 when the ST1 bonds would all have been retired, in order to avoid creating two “classes” of debt backed by what is essentially the same funding stream. They’re clear that this was the counsel of their “Counsel”. If the bullies in the Legislature didn’t want then using the old schedule, they could have directed them use the new one, or come up with a third as they’re now proposing.

      This is just a bunch of posturing by people who want you to walk. You don’t “count” for them; you’re not one of “I call you my base” [G. W. Bush — 2004]

      1. Richard;

        Two thoughts:

        1) One reason I left the GOP was the knee-jerk reaction to investing in transit. We didn’t get to almost 50% in transit mode share for community to Seattle without serious investment in transit.

        2) Your thoughts just confirmed why I support these hearings. It might finally clear the air. Yes, [ot], but so too do state legislators because I would like to think, “Sound Transit was quite clear that it was using the “old” depreciation schedule through 2024 when the ST1 bonds would all have been retired, in order to avoid creating two “classes” of debt backed by what is essentially the same funding stream. They’re clear that this was the counsel of their “Counsel”. If the bullies in the Legislature didn’t want then using the old schedule, they could have directed them use the new one, or come up with a third as they’re now proposing.”

        Only hearings will clear the air and the earwax and find the truth. That’s not anti-ST, that’s pro restoring the luster of ST to the world.

        I don’t think supporting accountability of a public good/service is against the public good/service. Quite the contrary.

  9. Engineer, lead pic is another reason it’s good you’ve brought up politics. Symbolic graphic illustration of the changes in Seattle and the rest of the region which demand a lot of the political action you’re advocating.

    Transit’s worst enemy isn’t the State legislature, though they don’t help any. Nor is it our rapid economic growth by itself. It’s the fact that the people and entities who are making fortunes from the expansion are not repaying what their activities cost transportation. Especially public.

    And behind it all, the most depressing element is the unspoken agreement across the political spectrum that there’s nothing anybody can do about a serious and worsening emergency. Starting with calling it by its right name, for both response planning and funding. We’ve got an ongoing emergency that belongs in the Defense budget.

    Which is something that we can only bring about by getting our hands on our political system. Starting with ridding it of the very idea that our government itself is a wasting disease. Not a CEO in the world thinks that.

    If I’ve got a bulldozer or a construction crane, I’m not going to let anybody “drag it out and drown it in the bathtub”. Though for a ticket to watch Grover Norquist originator in action, I’d give the NRA the price of a rifle. Drown your own TBM, Grover, my Government is mine. Anybody wanna bet he can hold it under ’til it stops gurgling?

    Ideas, Engineer. Democrats’ worst vulnerability last year, but best reason for new voting age. Not really matter of leadership’s age in years. But for our whole political leadership, their ideas are at least forty years out of date.

    Like being an Earl or a Duke in their original sense, which usually got you killed in action, nobody wants to Employ anymore. But nobody “disses” His Excellency the Lord First Employer of Upper Northumberland. Reason our Constitution forbids a Title of Nobility. Thanks for the topic, man.


  10. With regards to Sara Bernard’s article, I have to say that the process and planning required to make that occasional trip that public transit doesn’t serve (or serves very poorly) requires a lot less planning that it used to. In the old world, you’d book a Zipcar days or weeks in advance, guess how long you need it, and if the one car near you is already booked for the time you need it, sorry, out of luck.

    In the new world, it’s gotten so much easier, and I’ve gotten much lazier. Many meetup hikes involve meeting at far-way P&R lots very early on a weekend morning. I now don’t bother to do any planning until the night before, then use either Uber/Lyft or Car2Go, depending on the distance and surge factor. Occasionally, I’ll get there and read a comment from another participant who really wanted to go, but couldn’t because their car broke down.

    1. Worst threat to ST-3 could be that if car traffic keeps on increasing at present exponential rate, average person will indeed find themselves stuck aboard both buses and cars for years.

      Saw article on closing Bellevue area Park and Rides while EastLINK gets built. And possibility that bus travel could become so slow many will be forced to take their cars the whole way to work.

      Would be good if this is fake news. May have read it in Seattle Times. But it sounds too much like my own situation. Infuriating that car traffic itself is making transit so slow that getting to work on time means a car and a lot of secret pre-dawn routes.

      Best hope could be that when nobody can move either direction on I-5 in anything rubber-tired, the public will be willing to support more bus-only lanes (car-pool lanes getting slower too) and a lot of signal pre-empt.

      I don’t know how much flexibility ST-3 provides to improve express bus service during construction years. But if the dual power DSTT program hadn’t been filling in for future trains all these years, people would never have held regional transit together long enough to do LINK now.

      What are facts about pre-rail for ST-3?


    2. The same area you’re driving through on the way to Angle Lake is the same area that’s trying to get ST’s MVET chopped or opt out of ST3 taxes. They don’t seem concerned about traffic. Or if they are, they think the only solution is more highways.

      1. Let ’em go; shrink the district to North and East King and Snohomish. Ross and d.p. were right that Highline CC is far enough south. It moots the need for a bypass and removes a whole lot of “No” votes. Maybe Tacoma can rejoin independently and use its taxes to pay for continued Sounder and 590 operation. I think most people down there think those are reasonable service.

        They can have their own local service to the stations, probably vans driven by non-union labor, but it would get a lot of dead wood out of the orchard.

        Then curtain toll the south end of Seattle.

      2. The No votes are in southeast Pierce, not Tacoma.

        As for the bypass, it’s ironic that the very people who would benefit most from it are the ones who haven’t asked for it and don’t have it in their priorities.

      3. Mike, that’s why I said that maybe Tacoma could rejoin on its own. It votes “yes” on transit reliably. Of course, without South King it wouldn’t get Link, but it would keep Sounder and (probably) STEX service to the airport at least.

  11. WRT the late night bus restructures coming in a few months, what does this mean

    “*Night Owl service on Route 62 would end at Roosevelt Way NE between about 2
    a.m. and about 5 a.m.”

    Does that mean it would only run south/west of there, or only run east of there. It’s a pretty useless description.

    1. South/west. It’s assuming people know the predecessor route (82) and which part of the 62 would have night ridership. Those may be bad assumptions depending on the context and readership. It could be one of those things where you know something and you don’t realize others don’t.

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