This is an open thread.

50 Replies to “News Roundup: Only a Trickle”

  1. Armory site sounds like a great place for dense housing, next to all of the new jobs that have been brought in with no thought for where workers will actually live.

    1. When large employers want to help their employees find places to live, with a minimal commute time, the City Council says No! They scored cheap anti-big-business political points, but what was the point? That ordinance was the brainchild of “my” councilmember.

      1. Employers helping employees find places to live? Knock me over with a feather, why don’t you. I gotta hear about this legislation.

    2. Some of the largest employers in the region are the City of Seattle, King County and the University of Washington. If our local government agencies give no thought to where their new hires will live, why should Amazon?

      1. @ Sam

        First thing that comes to mind, Amazon is a private company, they do things to attract the best employees. The other three you mentioned are government agencies, with little to no incentive to do any such thing, their survival doesn’t depend on it. That’s the difference.

    3. I’m not sure how they’d get it done, but I’m hoping at least a good chunk of the land is dedicated to a rehab/correctional facility to get people out of homelessness and off of drugs. There aren’t many 25 acre plots of land in Seattle anymore and this could be the chance for Seattle to take a major step forward in its fight against rising homelessness.

  2. Will STB do an article on the District 6 race? Mike O’Brien declined to run, and there are at least 12 candidates running. Most of the local press in the race has been about homeless issues, not about transit. Have you guys sent a questionaire about where they stand on 14th vs. 15th st. Ballard station; tunnel vs. bridge, etc.?

  3. For buses that board at 2nd and Washington, maybe what they could do is drop that stop, move Washington buses fo 2nd and Jackson, and for the Jackson buses, add a new stop SB on the 4th Ave viaduct at Weller “street” (really the Sounder pedestrian bridge and parking garage entrance).

    This would move all buses closer to Link and Sounder in the ID, including 550 riders that have a lot longer to walk without making use of IDS.

  4. > Ex-tunnel riders not thrilled to be waiting at 2nd & Washington.

    That’s a super sketchy block, with a lot of anti-social behavior. The short-term solution is definitely to boost police; longer term, the plain vagrancy needs to be addressed….

    1. Why doesn’t Metro do what ST does, and place permanent security around stations? I mean, obviously not every stop, but there are some big ones with problems that could use a permanent presence. Sound Transit gets really high marks for security/safety, with dodgy-character free safe-zones for a reason. If there was ever a blaring difference between ST and Metro, this would definitely be it (shirtless drunk dude panhandling on a 10pm-ish 8 last night…would last about 1 minute before ejection from ST facilities, but allowed to linger indefinitely on Metro – you can text ST security about a problem, and they respond really, really fast, no such option on Metro).

      1. The biggest issue with this is that it doesn’t solve the problem, it just moves it to another area. The streets are way bigger than a single tunnel.

      2. I’m with you a hundred percent on this one, Felsen. The moneyed interests and political forces that demanded transit’s removal from the DSTT owe passengers whatever police presence necessary to give DSTT passengers replacement of the safety and comfort they’ve now lost.

        If this means two extra police stations for Third Avenue, can’t think of a dime better spent in the Convention Center’s whole budget/ . For the heaviest segment of our transit system’s most important corridor, civilization’s worth whatever its price.

        Mark Dublin

  5. Yikes, I was all for density until that rendering of Interbay made it look like a nightmarishly bad 1970s public housing development, even with that goofy, forcing-it styled public square thing. Better to say density, and not show it in such a triggering way. In the future, just photoshop something out of Paris’s Arr. 1-4 and call it good.

  6. If you look closely at that Interbay rendering you can see the potential green space linkages to the north with the Interbay natural area that borders the golf course itself. Also to the south there could be a linkage over the BNSF tracks that would open up the whole Seattle waterfront. As it stands, the maxed-out rendering still does not look appealing for a sense of connectedness to the north and south.

  7. Does anyone know how Google Maps does the subway station layouts for NYC? I’ve found that really helpful to get around, knowing where the entrances and exits are. It’d be nice if we could get that here.

    Google Maps navigation doesn’t seem to be aware of certain DSTT entrances not marked on the map, like 2nd/James for Pioneer Square (you’re always directed to the entrance at Prefontaine Place) or the University St station entrance at 2nd/University on the west side of Benaroya Hall. However, it seems to know where all the Westlake station entrances are, even if they’re unmarked.

    1. I would love that function. Kakao Maps in Korea has an insane amount of detail on the Seoul subway stations; they are all numbered in real life and the app shows that as well. Many businesses and points of interest advertise by telling you what station and exit number to use – they are well-signed in the station and it makes it quite easy to get where you are going.

      1. After some searching it appears that the building owners have to provide the floor plans to Google. It would be really helpful for wayfinding if Sound Transit were to do this. I’ll put in a suggestion.

      2. I agree – I still have trouble remembering which exit to take leaving Westlake Station to make my bus transfer to get home.

    2. Apple maps of all things does really nice station maps. They specify between elevator and escalator/stair entrances. I haven’t noticed any missing.

  8. At 400 respondents, it’s hard to take the Crosscut/Elway poll that serious. In particular, the differentiation based on years in Seattle could easily have sampling problems since each category could have as few as 100-150 respondents (with 200 respondents the average in each category). I wouldn’t say it’s a survey that proves much.

    1. Agreed. It’s worth the read I guess but I wouldn’t make much of the results. Plus the Crosscut write-up was rather odd, as if they themselves had a narrative they wanted to tell regardless of the survey results. There was this section:

      “Poll respondent Sarah Bland is one of those longer-term residents who has a glass-half-full view of Seattle’s growth. She moved to Seattle with her husband and daughter in 2010 because the job opportunities were much better than in the Olympia area.”

      Arriving in Seattle in 2010 makes this survey respondent a longer-term resident? Huh?

      Oh well. I’m filing this one away as sort of interesting for the survey’s original objective but not all that informative in its findings.

      1. Cool, I am a longer term resident, lol. FWIW, John Cristello (sic) the guy who did the murals about ridiculing Amazon techbros taking over Cap Hill (and was even interviewed in Anthony Bourdain’s “The Layover”) has been in Seattle for even less time (he came from Brooklyn)

  9. I was listening to Democracy Now! yesterday and they discussed how Uber and Lyft drivers are making less than 3 years ago. At the same time the top 5 Uber executives took home $143M last year. From the ST story, it mentions that a Lyft driver makes $20/hr in Seattle–does that include their expenses like car, fuel and let’s not forget the entire amount of their Social Security and Medicare taxes that Uber/Lyft don’t have to pay because they classify their drivers as independent contractors.

    Despite the love shown at STB for them, Uber and Lyft are a race to the bottom. In short, supporting these companies is effectively exploitation.

    I would like to see nothing better than their IPO go down in flames, but sadly, I don’t see that happening.

    1. 30% to the driver seems way low although it’s typical for corporate contracts. Uber says it’s just a driver/rider matching service so a fair commission on that would be more like 30% rather than 70%. But instead most of the money goes to the corporation as if the driver and car were just an ancillary detail of the service.

      1. My suspicion is that they reduced their drivers’ pay 3 years ago and started exploiting them to make for a good IPO. In the long run, this is unsustainable for Uber and their workers and they are placing their bets that driverless cars arrive before either Uber loses it’s shine or (more likely) until the executives cash out.

    2. A colleague’s cousin used to drive for Uber, but he got hired to be a Metro bus driver and now does that full-time. Essentially he’s doing the same job (professional driver) but earns a lot more money.

      Just wondering why more Uber drivers don’t do the same – it seems like a poor situation that just gets worse there. Metro is paying $24/hour to start, and although that’s part-time to start it isn’t at risk of fickle Uber policy changes.

      1. Barrier to entry most likely. Being a professional requires certified training and a back ground check. Uber/Lyft requires neither and you can start today. Not saying that all of them would be rejected for a professional job, just that it requires more effort to get them.

      2. Metro starts most or all of their drivers as part time with split shifts. Many of them have a second job until they can get full time. That second job recently tends to be another driving job like Uber or Lyft. Then when they get full time they cannot be guaranteed an area to drive. It is a good deal for most people but, but the scheduling does not make it good for all. I talked to an Uber driver once and asked that question. He said he liked his car better and he can drive when he wants. That was it.

    3. Uber’s IPO did tank today. It ended at about $41.50. But nobody expects Uber to make money until it can do away with human drivers and invest in autonomous vehicles.

      1. They will run out of cash before that happens. The next few years are going to be interesting.

  10. It is too bad about the mature trees that are being removed. That’s one thing that makes the area look nice…and green, is those trees. And just like everywhere else, they’ll mostly be replaced with deciduous trees, unfortunately. It’s a shame when evergreen trees are removed and replaced with deciduous trees.

    The trees are what makes the PNW beautiful, now we’ll be seeing even more concrete and less tall, mature trees.

    15 years ago the environmentalists would have been chaining themselves to trees. Wonder where those people went? Maybe they think light rails are more valuable than trees?

    Wish a different route could have been found to maintain what beautiful nature is left…or at least slow its demise.

    1. I agree. I have commented about this subject matter on a couple of previous posts about the significant impact on the I-5 tree line from the Lynnwood Link alignment, but it didn’t seem to resonate too much on this blog. I actually attended the Lynnwood Link project open house held at the Lynnwood Convention Center late last month and talked to Fred Wilhelm, Deputy Project Director, about the issue. I believe he told me that the evergreen/deciduous mix was going to be 60/40 but he didn’t want to be quoted on that. I think the figure in the linked article is the correct one, so the replantings will consist of a slight majority of deciduous specimens.

      If you really want to get into the weeds on this, no pun intended, you can find the complete inventory of the impacted trees in a consultant report ST had prepared back in Feb 2017 (HNTB/Jacobs, Contract No. RTA/AE 0010-15,
      “Lynnwood Link Extension Tree Removal and Mitigation Report”). There are hundreds of mature Douglas Firs included in the report.

      The original tree mitigation plan called for some 57,000 replantings but once the Lynnwood Link budget imploded a couple of years ago that plan was drastically reduced (via “value engineering” I suppose….lol). The narrative that ST is running with now that the plan calls for about 20,000 replantings is that they will be using slightly larger trees and will monitor them for an additional decade. We will see how that all plays out eventually I guess.

      The bottom line is that the mature tree line along I-5, particularly on the east side, is going to be drastically altered for years to come, perhaps forever in some respects. These trees serve as both a visual and sound buffer for the communities that abut the freeway corridor along this alignment. Those residents will feel the impact of their removal the most, especially where evergreens are replaced with deciduous trees.

      FWIW. My own property abuts a minor arterial in SW Snohomish County. As part of a road improvement project about five years ago, the county did a partial taking (condemnation action) on my property and as a result I lost an entire row of mature (10-12′) arborvitae that ran across the front edge of my parcel. The significant increase in traffic noise even inside my home was noticeable immediately after the planting buffer was removed and the road reopened upon completion of the project. I can’t imagine what it would be like living next to the freeway and lose this important buffer.

      1. “I can’t imagine what it would be like living next to the freeway and lose this important buffer.”

        Come to Summit or Eastlake and you can hear it.

      2. Lol. Oh I know that. I used to go over to Summit fairly often when I lived in Seattle because I had a friend from work who had a condo there (Arcadian Court, which has a Roy St address but faces Summit). All that used to be there back then besides the residential structures (before Top Pot and Single Shot and all that) was a small mom and pop grocery store.

        “I can’t imagine what it would be like living next to the freeway and lose this important buffer.”

        The key word there is “and”.

      3. It annoys me that single-family areas get expensive sound walls because “people like us” live there, while dense urban areas don’t. I was referring to the entire Summit neighborhood. I lived in a studio between Melrose and the alley behind it at Thomas, and it was significantly louder there than on Bellevue Ave. My window faced the side so it was quieter than windows on Melrose, but still iwth the windows open it was loud except in the wee hours. I looked at an apartment on Eastlake & Mercer, Carolina Court, which I’d seen for decades on the bus and has a nice courrtyard, but it was so loud you could barely use the door phone and you wouldn’t want to sit in the courtyard. It was built around 1905 so long before the freeway. An ad from that era highlighted that it had parking for your “automobile” (apparently unusual then), and assured it was on the street “car”. Whatever that parking was, it’s long gone now. But anyway, sound walls seem to be built where people are already getting the most subsidies and the fewest people live.

      4. From that experience I surmised that one row of buildings makes the difference between loud and not loud. Although on Bellevue Ave it’s actually two rows of buildings because one block has two rows, so maybe that’s what you need. So after that I rejected anything right on the freeway and took something on Bellevue Ave, which also has good soundproofing (and likewise has windows on the side), and I can’t hear anything.

      5. “something on Bellevue Avenue”

        on the east side of Bellevue Avenue I mean

      6. Sound walls are most useful on flat terrain. When you’re up a hill – especially on an upper floor of a high-rise building up a hill, there will still be a direct line for the sound to travel, unless the wall is extremely tall (like 100-200 feet).

        When you’re below the elevation of the freeway, the terrain naturally attenuates the sound, and a sound wall is generally not necessary. For instance, the east side of Lake Union, near the waterfront is pretty quiet, in spite of being within a few hundred feet of I-5, as the crow flies, because of the terrain. Climb the Howe St. staircase and you’ll quickly observe that I-5 is noticeably louder as you pass through the residential block up above the freeway, even compared to directly underneath the freeway itself.

        The case of Summit, the only way to block the sound is to install high-quality windows. I visited the home once of someone who lives there are did it, and in their living room, the I-5 noise is almost gone, even though you can look out the window and see it right there. Unfortunately, high quality windows are expensive (nearly $10,000 for a standard two-bedroom apartment), and are difficult, if not impossible to get if you rent, rather than own. The issue is that when you’re touring an apartment for 5 minutes, the freeway noise doesn’t see all that bad, so it doesn’t really impact a landlord’s ability to find tenants enough to justify the expense. Only when you’re the one living in there day in, day out, for years, does the cost start to become worth it.

        Also, in response to your complain that single-family homes get special treatment from freeway noise, I urge you to visit Wallingford. Not only does I-5 have no sound walls there, but the noise from the express lanes bounces off the bottom of the upper deck, back down into the homes, making the freeway surprisingly loud, in spite of the neighborhood being at much lower elevation than the bridge deck. The only “mitigation” WSDOT provides is closing the express lanes late at night, but that’s only from around 11 PM to 5 AM, and people that live there have described to be a 5 AM roar that wakes them up every morning. There are also a few sections of Queen Anne hill that have similar issues from Aurora, including one lovely house, with a great view, that gets the full brunt of the traffic noise (and, maybe means that the home is only worth $1 million instead of $2 million).

      7. Asdf2 is spot on in his reply above. Given the topography of the west side of Capitol Hill where it abuts the I-5 corridor, a typical sound wall would do little to mitigate the freeway traffic noise levels for buildings that sit above it on the streets mentioned. I suppose you could build a wall along Melrose that might have some mitigating effect there, at least for lower level units. Of course those units would lose their views as well, so I don’t see that happening.

        “The case of Summit, the only way to block the sound is to install high-quality windows.”

        This is exactly what was done at my friend’s condominium building. All of the balcony windows and doors, which face west on his building, were replaced with a superior product to block out the sound.

      8. There is one treatment that can be done to I-5 that would provide significant noise mitigation to Capital Hill – capping it with a lid.

        There is a movement out there that is trying to build public support for it, and it would be very awesome if it ever happens.

    2. Nothing will fix that problem conpletely. It would have been nice if families affected were given an allowance for some noise upgrades on their homes or apartments. Maybe some tees they could planted immediately in front of their house if there is room. Maybe a discount on insulated windows on older houses might help. None of these are perfect solutions but anything would be better than nothing.
      I had mature trees torn down due to safety concerns and one was rotting from the inside. I replaced some of them with trees and others with bushes. There are actually more plants in the yard than before now. It took about 10 years to get the shade back. After 12 years some are taller than the electric lines in the street. None are taller than the original evergreens I removed. They were probably 2x the height of the electric lines at that time, to get some perspective. I now have insulated windows so I don’t notice the noise difference any more. But I don’t live next to the freeway.

    3. I’m perplexed here – I find broad-leafed, deciduous trees much more attractive than evergreens, and was under the belief that that opinion was widely shared. Is the objection to the bare branches during the winter, or is this just a difference of taste?

      As for the environmentalists who during earlier times would have chained themselves to the trees, perhaps they realized that investments in transit and densification save dozens of trees for every one that is cut down?

      1. For trees intended to provide a visual/noise barrier, I think I’d prefer evergreens b/c they are always there, and generally a bit denser.

    4. I live next to I90 and have a tree barrier. I would be delighted if those trees were cut down because they block my view of the Cascades. I also have expensive windows which block out the noise – the trees do very little aside from providing a visual screen. A few paces further down there are no trees, which means blackberries, which are both invasive and delicious.

  11. I am really excited about this year’s Seattle Council races. Just turned into the Speak Out Seattle forum last night. Ann Davison Sattler is the heir apparent – to me – to Rob Johnson, only better as she’s stronger on security and very, very gung-ho for density around transit centers courageously talking of very tall buildings. Can’t wait for Ann’s interview with the Seattle Transit Blog Editorial Board… just hoping for better luck this August & November for those picks.

    I mean Cary Moon really cratered – and I tried to tell you guys that was gonna happen. Jessyn wouldn’t have so you can enjoy [ad hom]. You guys have gotta trust me a bit here please… just have an open, optimistic mind.

    You do not want Debra Juarez again – I mean where’s the density? Where’s the 1-year ban on Alex Tsimerman to put that issue away? Where’s the security for transit riders? Oops, can’t mistake Juarez for scooter-riding, Tsimerman-fighting, commons-defending superstar Lorena Gonzalez who needs a stronger team around her, a team with at least three big sacks of dead weight appeasing Tsimerman right now – BRUCE HARRELL! LISA HERBOLD! MIKE O’BRIEN! – it’s horrid.

    Af a future point, I might ask you guys to back Heidi Wills – Heidi’s carried the water for public transit all the way from a UofW student political career and got the precious Hillary Franz & Cindi Laws endorsements. Heidi’s got a clear path back to City Council, and some big wins as the Jessyn Farrell we wish we could have at City Council. I ain’t worried about Heidi as long as STB has Heidi’s back and in my opinion Lorena needs someone as strong as Heidi – not dead weight counting down the days to retirement.

    I won’t ask STB commentors to back the likes of Ari Hoffman – we know each other to know that’s just too much to ask most of you to back Mr. Law A. Order. Ari and I both really don’t need STB help to carry him over – he’s got a different strategy you’ll see on TeeVee & radio & social media & as we walk the streets of Seattle as Ari signs sweep Seattle and put the game safely away. At this point, only Martin H. Duke or Jessyn Farrell or a Sound Transit super-star on staff has a chance…

    We’ve also already talked about Safe Seattle’s #2 dream candidate – Brendan Kolding. Hoping for a urbanist miracle, 99% not happening – know you guys too well to take a hint and have a urbanist run for the bus, ask for regional help and copy-paste ideas from Heidi Wills. Heidi won’t mind, trust me!

    There you go. My heart is no longer on my sleeve but in STB comments.

  12. Hi All,

    Does anyone know of a good way to get passengers per stop data for Metro stops? I’d really appreciate knowing how to do so if anyone has any suggestions.

    Please and Thank you!

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