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40 Replies to “News Roundup: War on Vacancy”

  1. Neighborhood Report Card: Hunts Point

    Zero pedestrian accidents in the last year. Zero bicycle Accidents in the last year. Zero car accidents in the last year.

    Grade A+. Even though large homes on large lots on dead-end streets without sidewalks are demonized, it seems like this low density, single family home neighborhood style is a formula for pedestrian and bike safety.

    1. Perfect illustration of how pedestrian and bicyclist infrastructure is really car necessitated infrastructure. When there is less danger from cars, the sidewalks and bike lanes/paths are less critical. In situations where we want/need to have lots of cars, the pedestrian and bicyclist infrastructure is needed so people don’t die. The cheapest, safest way is to minimize the car danger from the outset.

    2. Cute, Sam. Always trying to keep us sharp with your wild and crazy arguments.

      A little Wikipedia check shows that Hunts Point is a town with a population of about 400 people. That is roughly the size of some of those big apartment towers being built in the Denny Regrade area. I’m pretty sure that not one of those apartments have ever had a death due to automobile. I bet I can find various apartments where not a single collision has occurred on the premises! Obviously the answer is simply to live in a big apartment, and never leave the building. Safety first.

    3. Lots (most) of the large homes on Capitol Hill were/are rented by multiple roomates/family units. The downside of this quasi legal market solution is the infrastructure, which includes; parking, traffic control, water supply, sewer, parks, etc. doesn’t keep pace with the actual use. A much better approach than peanut butter rezoning would be for Seattle to actually address this on a block by block basis. Of course that requires actual work as opposed to soap box speeches. And, heaven forbid, actual change instead of “more study, we need more study!”.

      1. A block-by-block rezone is practically begging to get bogged down in endless Seattle Process. What an absurd proposition.

  2. I really really hope that somebody gets up at the next city council meeting and reads that NIMBY speech verbatim.

    1. Tempted to do that. City Council. Homeowner Association. Both Local Political Party meetings.

  3. Forgot to mention that First Hill Street Car ridership numbers are finally updated. I guess its a biannual thing. Looks like the numbers have gone up 500-600 since their last posting.

    Contractor appears to be in milk mode for the Roosevelt and Brooklyn stations. Once they hit trim work they stopped working Saturdays, and the crew now appears to be a bit skeleton-ish. All a good sign they will come in under schedule.

    1. Keep in mind that ST contracts all require paying “prevailing wage” (which is way higher than any real world rate) and requires 2X time for weekend work. If it’s happening then it’s most likely been approved by ST and not coming out of the contractors budget. In short, ST is managing the bad publicity of being late vs over budget.

      1. So in other words it’s actually a good contract that treats workers well, and we can’t have that?

      2. So in other words it’s actually a good contract that treats workers well, and we can’t have that?

        So actually, it’s a really bad contract. What you can’t have is higher than union wage (which “prevailing wage” is), super restrictive regulations and a project that is delivered on time and on budget. ST doesn’t actually build anything. The construction companies that win the “design build” contract all know the game and pass this cost+ along to the tax payer. It’s great for workers that win the lottery and get the prevailing wage gigs. But in the end it’s all trickle up economics.

      3. Here is what ST’s schedule has:
        UW to Northgate tunneling excavation complete 2016

        Northgate guideway construction complete
        Track slab installation complete 2018

        Rail installation complete ( completed as far as I know)
        New light rail vehicles acquired (received last week)
        Early system testing Elevators, escalators, and stairway construction to all stations complete (should be done this fall)
        Public artworks installed (fall)
        Roosevelt Station Complete 2019 (easy)

        U District Station Complete 2020 (should be done by 2019)
        Northgate Station Complete (tough to gauge from webcam)

        They should have Roosevelt exterior trim done by August. I can’t see what the interior looks like nor the status of the ‘vators. But they’ve had them inside for a couple months now so shouldn’t be that much left to do.

        U station exterior, at current rate of progress, should be done by October with station completion by end of 2019.

  4. Ending single family zoning is a great idea. How many luxury single family homes I’ve seen on busy thoroughfares and thought… who would want that? Most people with the means for a big luxury home don’t want to be at a busy intersection, but zoning forces some of those big homes to stay individual homes. Alternatively, back when I was a renter, and not dropping a massive amount of money on a down payment, closing costs, interest, etc, I simply wasn’t that picky about where I lived. Busy street? Whatever. Allowing multifamily development in ALL neighborhoods will lead to multifamily development along those busy streets & intersections where, quite frankly, most people looking for the house with the white picket fence won’t be buying.

    1. The crazy part is that many of those really big homes can’t be converted to apartments, even when the demand for apartments is great than that of a huge house.

  5. I wish the Sammamish microtransit pilot was with anyone other than Hopelink. Every service I’ve seen them run in this community is awful. Their in city service uses lanes of traffic for parking lots everywhere, and their suburban/rural routes are filled with drivers driving their stereo systems and using their cell phones while driving. Complaining to them does so little Metro is taking over their customer service.

    Can we stop throwing bad money after worse on subpar, unacceptable public/private partnerships like these “pilot programs”? They cost more to provide less, and once implemented are just rubber stamped years later with no concern about the actual results of the program. They’re hot trash, but Metro sure seems to love their hot trash.

    1. Looking at the map, the Sammamish microtransit pilot doesn’t even connect to the 554. It connects only to the 269 and, I believe, one or two peak only routes. So, to get to Seattle, you have to ride this, then the 269, then the 554. That’s too many steps. Extending the area just one more mile would reach Issaquah Transit Center. It should be a no brainier. Why is getting Metro to understand this so hard?

      1. Five evening 554s Eastbound and two morning 554s Westbound serve Sammamish. Catching these seven busses is likely going to be the main use for this microtransit system.

      2. Only a few trips at random times. The vast majority of the 554 trips end at Issaquah Highlands, and the microtransit pilot doesn’t connect to them.

      3. Another perspective. Why are we running and all day microtransit service that only connects to the outside world 7 times during the day? If the other times don’t matter, why is the microtransit running at all, then. This smells like someone skimming the 554’s service map and not bothering to read the fine print.

        Saying that they can afford to run it 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, but can’t afford to have it go one mile out of the service area to avoid an additional connection to a half hourly bus to go anywhere (plus the grand tour of Issaquah), is rediculous.

      4. I wonder whether it is a city limit boundary issue where Sammamish is simply not allowed to go to neighboring Issaquah. An issue that plagues many municipality run microtransit systems.

      5. It looks like it’s run by Metro, contracted out to Hopelink, with Sammamish simply being the beneficiary of the service. HopeLink vans drive around all over the county (they operate Trailhead Direct, for example), so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to cross the city limit line.

        Also, FWIW, the old 927 DART shuttle that this service is suppose to replace *did* connect Sammamish to Issaquah Transit Center (the schedule timing with the 554 was horrible, which may partially explain why almost nobody rode it, but at least the connected existed).

        A bigger service issue regarding jurisdictional boundaries is the line between King County and Snohomish County. Sound Transit express buses cross the barrier seemlessly (one of the primary motivations why ST express was created in the first place). But, for local routes, you can’t cross a county line without having to change buses, even if you’re only riding a short stretch in a straight line.

  6. Does it feel to anyone else like there’s been a substantial increase in service interruptions on Link in 2019? I’ve been hit by a couple myself and I receive enough alerts of Link service interruptions from Sound Transit that I’m no longer surprised to see them them.

    If ST still provides reliability numbers, I’ll be interested to see how the first half of this year compares to the past couple years. (Or some enterprising soul could scrape one of the ST alert feeds and post their own analysis)

  7. The NIMBY speech made me laugh. And then I realized just how accurate it is. At every Lake Forest Park city council meeting I’ve been to where people spoke about redevelopment / zoning changes, the arguments against were of the form “I’ve lived here X years / my family has been here X generations, so I know what’s best” or “We need to preserve the character of the city” or “We’re not Seattle. We’re not even Shoreline or Kenmore. We shouldn’t copy them.”

  8. I commute daily by Link. I also get Transit Alerts by text. I did get a message about a service interruption, due to a mechanical issue, at 4:00 last Wednesday. It was immediately followed by a message telling me Link was serving only one platform at Columbia City Station. I arrived at the Pioneer Square Station platform at 4:30, just as a train was leaving. I got an alert about possible service delays. A few minutes later, a train arrived and took me home. If there was a “full system shutdown”, as KUOW reported, it couldn’t have lasted more than five or ten minutes.

    1. I was stuck at TIBS for over an hour during that service interruption. Northbound trains in South King seem to have been the worst impacted.

    1. “We’ve said from the beginning that the best way to save the Showbox is to find a preservation- friendly buyer…”

      Yeah, no kidding. Contrast this with what is happening with El Corazon (https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2019/06/21/40520678/a-mixed-use-high-rise-with-a-rowdy-rock-venue-el-corazons-owner-says-he-can-make-it-happen). The city basically lead with a stick in the case of the Showbox, and now it has to apologize to the owners, and beg them to put an arts venue on the first floor (or two). Meanwhile, the preservation folks have to explain to everyone how the Showbox wasn’t on their list to begin with, but now is suddenly worth fighting for.

      This sort of “We never thought of that” is reminiscent of the kerfuffle that followed the Roosevelt Station. People in the Roosevelt neighborhood wanted the station there, so they convinced ST to spend extra money to move it away from Green Lake, and towards their neighborhood. Except they then fought every effort to rezone. The city should have had the foresight to tell the neighborhood leaders that if they want the station, it will come with major zoning changes. Just like the city should have added the Showbox to the arts preservation list a long time ago if it really cared about it.

      1. Break through artists come from congregations surrounding cheap venues. If the Showbox were legally compelled to exist “as is, where is” it would simply become a Vegas Venue, not the genesis of the likes of Jimi Hendrix or Nirvana. How many great bands has Haight-Ashbury spawned in the last several decades?

        Where are these starving artists supposed to go? Easy, the City of Destiny. STB commenters, and certainly the folks running the show have been intellectually honest in saying, “let it go”. In looking at the actual history, the Showbox hasn’t really been that influential or historic. But it seems, to have any liberal credibility in Seattle you have oppose anything that might generate wealthy. It’s actually very NIMBY, “if I can’t have it then nobody should.” Pretty much the driving ideal behind most so called progressive activists.

  9. Regarding apartment ban land percentages, the Times article says they were only looking at purely residential zoning. They didn’t count zoning where mixed-use buildings with apartments were allowed.

    1. Right, and they also pointed out the reason for that is that many mixed-use zones have very little actual housing built in them.

  10. Wait wait. Giving the tunnel to link was supposed to fix this! Looks like st already has a new excuse. So much for increased reliability which was the only real benefit since they could not manage better frequency… Fan boys pile on in 3…2…1

    1. Removing the buses was supposed to fix the particular problem of buses delaying trains. The number of trains will double in a few years, which means even fewer buses could fit without disrupting, and even one bus delays trains when wheelchairs board. Third, the design of ST2 Link precludes buses: ST is installing a maintenance turn track for East Link that will somehow make the tunnel incompatible with buses.

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