Mercer Island station under construction, March 2018

This is an open thread.

21 Replies to “News Roundup: Cars or People”

  1. In order to take a global perspective, simply reducing parking capacity has its limits. (But we definitely are doing our best to induce car ownership, with PRZ programs that merely charge enough to pay the tiny cost of administering the program rather than the much larger cost of maintaining the asphalt so privatized, continuing to mandate parking minima in most new buildings, continuing to prioritize lanes for cars over any lanes for bikes or adequate sidewalks, still having zoning that grew out of replacement of restrictive racial covenants, still having ridiculously low height restrictions even around light rail stations, and still tolling pretty close to nothing, leading every day to be like free-ice-cream-day at Ben&Jerrys’.

    However, if you want to deal with climate change, that can’t be solved just by more clever transportation policy. The population is still growing and growing and growing. Some think we can just wall off population growth. X. Some think we can zone out population growth. XX. Some think we can eliminate the carbon footprint of cars by making them all driverless. XXX.

    I’m not sure quite how to point out that this problem has something to do with the status of women (all women) without sounding stupid. Ironically, allowing women to own and drive cars may end up being part of the solution in some places.

    But for here in Seattle, where we can only directly raise the status of women who happen to live here, a little faster action on gender parity in access to higher-paying jobs and equal pay for equal work may have some magical effects that, although may not be obviously explained in simple steps, may nevertheless play a huge roll in climate salvation.

    Everyone deserves to have the tools to be able to make personal choices to live lighter on the planet. Not everyone has access to those tools.

    The city council has a strong pro-climate-change-for-the-status-of-all-people majority. Let’s not fritter that away with endless studies and process, in the old-money Seattle Way.

  2. Question about all-door boarding and fare inspection on buses: Will I also become a Fare Evader if I “Tap on” after failing to “Tap off” on, say, the C-line? If answer is “No”, two: requests for whoever wrote that policy for LINK:

    1. Tell us exactly why not, including the half dozen pertinent RCW’s verbatim.

    2. Post above explanation over every single TVM in every LINK station. Starting with an addition to specific warning about fined for “Tapping On” after you miss a “Tap Off.”

    RCW aside, I think Common Law says that what you don’t post, you can’t punish.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Well, we don’t post signs that say don’t murder – if common law requires informed consent – that will be in the fine print describing the fare system.

      1. When your ridership requires a subway, lost operating time will bankrupt you if you make a passenger read anything. So financial survival, and competition from cars and Uber, forbids you from making a passenger read anything.

        If turnstyles and gates, which worked just fine in New York City and Chicago for decades, are tooooo 1936 to keep, good thing ORCA gives us fully pre-paid passes that make “Tapping” a book-keeping courtesy. Where’d you get on or off? Who cares. Got pass- got it covered!

        Way past “interesting” to “felonious” that the wall-postings stress that if you don’t tap off, the system won’t give you back any money. Like our system ever put anything back on your monthly pass. Resulting fine for the next correct tap? Strangely unmentioned.

        Also, Fare Inspectors’ “reader” can verify that a pass is valid, can’t they? So shouldn’t be hard for max penalty to be turning your pass off- leaving District Court to deal with other kinds of petty theft. Just sayin’. And/or just adding any cost to the system to your next pass. Or for usual slip-up: have instrument just deduct any money owed from your credit card.

        But Pass Measure #1 above, one-phone-call to from ST Board to Enforcement and we’re done. Pre-paid pass means welcome aboard and thanks for riding. And between accidental tap-slip and murder- this is why Liberals should leave the Bible, History, and the Brain of a Gopher in the curriculum.

        Easy rule: “Anything you’d kill anybody and their whole family for a thousand years for doing to you, don’t do it to them.” A missed card-reader beep that complicates interagency fare the original Eye-For-An-Eye stipulation, worst system should be able to do is give your misplaced fare to the correct agency.

        But more Charleton Heston ominous: ‘Twas promised in the Book of Regional Transit Campaign Material in the year 1996 that the fare system should be “Seamless.” So a Transit Region over a major fault-line should best leave its new tweed jacket with my Grandmother the tailor’s ghost.


  3. Before:
    APARTMENT FOR RENT. $2,000/month, single bedroom, parking included.

    Seattle: Hey Mr. Landlord, you need to unbundle that parking! It’s unfair to force people to pay for parking if they don’t want to!
    Landlord: Sure thing!

    APARTMENT FOR RENT. $2,000/month, single bedroom. Parking $200/month.

    Seattle: That’s…better?

    1. Most new buildings don’t bundle parking because they don’t have enough spaces to bundle with each unit. Lots of older buildings are the same way.

      The market was already sorting itself out with the parking-included apartments commanding higher prices than those without. I don’t think this regulation will change much.

    2. Renters: No f*ing way.

      APARTMENT FOR RENT: $1,900/month, single bedroom. Parking $200/month.

      Renters: This other building down the street is a better deal. Bye.

      APARTMENT FOR RENT: $1,800/month, single bedroom. Parking $200/month.

      Renters: OK. I’ll renew here or move in.

      My 2000-era building already had unbundled parking when I moved in in 2010.

      1. Unfortunately, in today’s Seattle, it goes something more like this:

        APARTMENT FOR RENT. $2,000/month, single bedroom. Parking $200/month.

        Renters: No f*ing way.

        APARTMENT FOR RENT: $1,900/month, single bedroom. Parking $200/month.

        Renters: This other building down the street is a better deal. Bye.

        *Goes down the street and applies for the available apartment unit, along with about 400 other people*

        Renters: Um hey, still got that apartment for rent?

        APARTMENT FOR RENT: $2,000/month, single bedroom. Parking $350/month.

        Renters: Do you take student loans?

      2. They can’t just raise rents to infinity. If they could charge $2000 now they would. But they have to keep it right at the point that it leases within an acceptable time if they want to maximize profit. This would be clearly price gouging and it would make some people move out, like at various times when my past landlords raised rent $200 or $500 for “utilities and taxes” or “water heater repairs”. (One, fees didn’t go up $600/year times 24 units, or show me the bills. Two, if the central water boiler is flaky, that’s a baseline level of maintenance.) We don’t know for sure what thousands of landlords will do at renewals, but it’s doubtful that all of them would just add a parking charge to the same rent and get away with it. Usually they’d do it by stealth: lower the rent now and then raise it back up over the next couple years when it won’t be as clear what it’s based on.

    3. Yeah, what Alex said. Most places charge extra to use the parking. It is rarely included with the rent. The difference is that now a landlord can charge other people to use that spot.

      I have no idea what the overall effect will be. In areas where parking is in high demand (such as Capitol Hill), I would imagine the cost will go up for monthly parking, but down for hourly parking, as landlords make the switch. But for places like Lake City, it wouldn’t surprise me if the cost for hourly parking goes down. Anecdotally, I’ve heard landlords charge quite a bit, and are comfortable with lots of empty spaces. They know that folks don’t really have much choice (there is no nearby lot they can use instead). With this change, I could easily see a price war, if someone in place that has lots of parking decides to try and fill the lot.

      Anyway, the change is not meant to benefit tenants. It is meant to provide more parking. The other part of the law (no longer requiring the construction of parking) is designed to help tenants. Over time, it should (as the price of construction goes down).

      1. I am totally in agreement with this law. My comment was mostly supposed to be poking fun at the people that think that unbundling parking is going to reduce rents, as if real world economics follows what they learned in their Econ 101 class.

      2. I’ve been in five buildings over the past eighteen years. Three of them were prewar buildings that had no parking. One is a 2000 64-unit building with separate parking. The other was a 1960s 8-unit building with a bundled surface lot for every unit. The change in parking requirement applies to buildings with 10 or more units where the parking space isn’t intrinsic to the unit. It may be that most of the buildings with bundled parking are less than 10 units. That would explain people’s feelings that unbundled parking is widespread.

    4. The last time we moved (2.5 years ago now), we chose a building that has no parking at all, since it was converted into apartments before parking minima were a thing. We don’t have a car, and not having to subsidize parking we’re never going to use was a mark in its favor. The rent was competitive with other apartments we looked at, but the apartment itself was much nicer. Now everyone has the freedom to make this choice, not just those who are lucky enough to be able to include grandfathered buildings or otherwise progressive landlords.

  4. When I moved here in 1996, parking was an extra $100 in my mid-grade Capitol Hill building, so having parking separated has been going on awhile. Now it’s just mandated.

    I’m sure that this will be a bit of a windfall for some landlords, but I would imagine most of them charge separately for parking already.

  5. Why not move Renton’s new ST3 garage to the Sam’s Club site?

    It seems like it would make for easier access ‘from Southbound 405’ and ‘to Northbound 405’, and ‘from northbound’ and ‘to southbound’ it’s hardly any worse than it would be from where they are planning for it to be.

    1. That would make more sense, but only if driving there from 167 is easy. Rainier and Grady is a big bottleneck!

  6. The new Metro line in Amsterdam that starts on July 22nd will be the 5th one as currently there are 4 of them. Three of them operate out the Central Station to 3 different neighborhoods in the outskirts of the city. Central Station is the major station for trains in the city and is also the terminal for 10 of the city’s trams and many bus lines.

    Line 51 goes to Westwijk, Line 53 to Gaasperplas and line 54 goes to Gein. The fourth line 50 goes from Amsterdam-West also to Gein and along the way it stops at 7 different stations where passengers can connect to the trains.

    Also on July 22nd GVB which operates the transit in the city will make major changes to the trams and busses in conjunction with the start of the North-South Metro line. These changes are controversial as some neighborhoods will lose direct tram and bus service.

    This new Metro line which will be numbered 52 will serve the area north of Amsterdam and will go underneath the IJ which is the major waterway serving the port of Amsterdam.

  7. Bruce, thanks for finding “Governing.” Since current Administration has destroyed this country’s establishment, training mandatory for every rebel to be able to put the desk and swivel chair back on their feet and start Governing before the hole their grenade blew in the office wall quits smoking.

    But strange there’s so little discussion of most important thing in today’s comment page. Discovery that worst obstacle to the regional transit we need is the number of people forced out of Seattle because they can’t afford to live where they don’t need a car.

    Over the five years since my own involuntary relocation from Ballard, it didn’t take long to dawn on me how briefly I’d have been able to stand the permanent company of the conspicuously car-free rich. Bad blood not really about car-possession, but refusal to fix the problem by offering the car-burdened a choice of civil service jobs that’d buy, or build them, a house where they too would never need a car.

    But I think real solution is not to fortify the cities, but rather replace “sprawl” – uncontrolled dispersal of development- with development along discreet transit-centered corridors, interspersed with farms and forest-preserves. With town centers including the small-scale industries to reorganize our decades-sickly manufacture. And most important measure:

    Rewriting laws to permit transit to do its own land development- as did many developers and commercial interests from real estate to amusement parks and cemeteries. Shaker Heights residential complex and its Cleveland car-line perfect examples. Of development as well integrated with transit as vast majority now are with automobiles.

    Meantime, as, I suspect, for many of us escapees, one really important use for my car: Recreational Revenge. My car gets 70 miles to the gallon on the two-lane roads I love to drive and know to the inch. And the map well enough I seldom see either headlights or tail-lights. Two ferry landings for Seattle, one to Edmonds and one to Vashon. So one more threat of a $124 fine for an innocent card mis-tap on LINK…I got alternatives.

    And history’s best precedent of all. The dictatorial compulsory “Company Towns”, and their folk-song- notorious stores, went under the wheels of a lot of miners’ new cars. So best to see these years as a period of adjustment. Aside from me, an increasing number of self-drivers’ love affairs have become a shotgun wedding with a collection agency’s finger on the trigger. And ST’s original papers said “Regional” for a Reason.

    Mark Dublin

  8. The car industry is a extremely huge market, unless the mayor companies start shifting majority towards electric cars, we won’t see a significant impact any time soon.

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