Singapore’s housing policy and town planning goes hand in hand with its mass rapid transit planning.

This is an open thread.

37 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Singapore’s Public Housing”

  1. What do STB readers think will happen in the Seattle City Council District 4 race in November?

    As the primary votes have been counted, Petersen’s share has been dropping, and now sits at 40.6%. Scott’s share has been rising, and is now at 23%. The other 3 urbanist candidates (Newman, Myers, and Tuttle) have 1.2%, 12.8%, and 12.9% respectively, so the combined urbanist share of the vote sits just under 50%.

    For Scott to win, he’ll need to convince most of the Newman, Myers, and Tuttle voters to come over and turnout to vote him, and he’ll need to turn out a disproportionate share of voters in November. If people are voting based on transportation and land use policy, then Scott should have a shot.

    There were more ballots cast in this years primary election in District 4 than in 2015’s general election, so I wonder how much higher turnout is realistic. (The number of registered voters in D4 is up by about 10% since 2015 though, so the 2019 D4 primary turnout percentage is a little lower compared to 2015 D4 general, but it is way higher than it was in the 2015 D4 primary election)

    1. I think Scott has a good chance. Being a socialist probably hurts. Not because Seattle is afraid of Socialism, but because they don’t want another demagogue (like Sawant). He has the endorsement of lots of mainstream organizations (including Democratic organizations). If he picks up the endorsement of candidates who lost (e. g. Tuttle) then he should win.

      That being said, I think it will be close. I don’t agree with Pedersen’s positions, but he seems like a reasonable, well qualified candidate (unlike many of the people endorsed by the Seattle Times).

      1. Not being a frothing right winger is a really low bar to clear in Seattle.

        Pedersen is hopelessly out of touch with an increasingly younger and more diverse city and is a big fat zero on every issue that urbanists care about. Absolutely unable to visualize a city where people don’t drive everywhere. Against legalizing more housing. Against safe streets. A vote for Pedersen is a vote for the same failed, backwards policies that resulted in the city’s housing supply and transportation systems struggling to cope with the population boom of the current decade. I would sooner vote for a bologna sandwich.

    2. He needs to turn out uw students who were gone in the summer. Because of the quarter system, he’s only going to have about two weeks from when students arrive on campus to get them registered. Tough but not impossible.

    1. I kinda shook my head when one of the points he cited against the tunnel was a PEMCO Insurance Survey. Yeah, that is some shaky statistics your standing on to prove your point and doesn’t really hold water when you start to think about it. The reason why people don’t ride the MAX and Trimet, in general, is for 3 reasons: safety on the system and Downtown being a compete mess atm with the homeless issue, next is reliability with time wasted on the slow slogging train through Downtown itself marred by traffic and the functionally obsolete bridge connecting East and West Portland together, and coverage both in where it goes and for how long as TriMet seems to really like having routes that meander and have really random schedules in terms of when they start or end along with weekend service being schizophrenic in terms of who is served, the suburbs in particular.
      If anything, the tunnel could help change service along with reshape transit in the downtown core with the tunnel acting as through traffic for suburban commuters (S-Bahn Esque in light rail form) and you could see the current light rail malls become part of the Portland Streetcar system because there is at least some use for said rail even when the tunnel is put through Downtown as between service for less important or infrequently used stops along the current MAX route.

    2. He also left out some of the most highly used C-Tran routes in his bus ridership quotes. The guy definitely has a bias.

      1. He was only talking about the express commuter routes. But yes, he clearly has ADHD with his obsession to destroy transit. I wouldn’t want to ride on a United Airlines plane because he might be the pilot. He’s kind of crazy about this.

    3. “The newest bridge in the region is the $1.5 billion Tillikum Crossing Bridge in Portland, which is for light rail, bikes and pedestrians.”

      His article starts with this insane lie. This man is a degenerate liar, and I can’t believe this nonsense actually got published.

  2. Our own Republic’s survival depends upon a summary end to the massive lie that any enterprise owned and managed by us, the people, for our own benefit, has got to be lazy, mediocre, and ineffective compared to one owned and operated by a tiny private minority for their own enrichment.

    In addition to housing, we the People need a whole life’s assemblage of things that nobody can make an economy-topping profit delivering. Things we are perfectly able to create and operate for ourselves. Given one thing forever unmentioned: a public education system whose school day, from kindergarten through PhD. ends with at least a half hour class time learning and practicing Government.

    Because they’re the major party I’ve inherited from a family I greatly respect, my hardest words nowadays are for the Democrats, for years of letting my enemies have the floor unchallenged as they claim unquestioned that world-dominating armed forces can ever count as private enterprise. And are not by definition socialism. Ditto max volume for prisons.

    The Lord, literally and Personally, only knows what our politics will look like by Election Day next. What I’m hearing and reading on radio, TV, and Twitter, is ruining my health. So here are my national politics meantime. My support is to Elizabeth Warren running as this order of Republican. Demanding her party back.

    Effective set of “Optics”, as I think the term is now. Easy and fair solution on Civil War monuments. In addition to those lost in combat, the “Reconstruction” years after the Civil War saw thousands of Republican party members murdered by lynch mobs, sadly not all in the South. So if the issue is really remembrance of tradition and courage, leave the old statues where they are. Just restore the rest of the brave to their rightful company.

    Mark Dublin

  3. I wonder which would have a greater effect on easing housing prices and apartment rents surrounding Microsoft’s main campus … Microsoft building 5000 units of on-site, employee-only housing, or private homebuilders building 5000 units of off-site apartments and sf homes for the general public?

    And please, spare me the “Microsoft can’t build housing on their main Redmond campus because zoning laws don’t allow it!” If MS wanted the zoning changed, it would be changed.

    1. Right, when a MS employee loses their job, they should also lose their housing at the same time. It’s not enough that we tie health insurance to employment, we should do it for housing too. Bravo Sam, you’re a sociopath.

      1. People get angry over transit parking garages not being used 16 hours a day, but not a 72 acre office campus?

      2. Did taxpayers pay for the construction of the MSFT campus?

        That aside, company towns are a bad idea and you’re a sociopath for suggesting it.

      3. One development for 1/10th of its workforce in an area of 250K people is not a company town. The biggest question is, do Microsoft employees want it? Do they want to live in their work neighborhood, and have to move if they leave the company? And Pat, we’re not saying all employees at all companies should live in company housing, we’re speculating about a hypothetical option for a small fraction of employees at one company. We don’t even know if Microsoft is interested in it. Probably not because it hasn’t suggested it itself even though it has weighed in on the general housing problem.

      4. The point is, Mike, that tying housing to employment is a heinous idea. It’s already bad enough that losing your job means losing your healthcare. Making it so that losing your job also means losing your home is plainly ridiculous and anyone suggesting that employers should get into the housing business clearly hasn’t thought it through.

      5. In China the company housing is dorms, and the expectation is people won’t want to stay there when they leave the company; they’ll go back to their village or find something more appropriate for their next job. Microsoft housing would be better than that but it won’t be the 2500 sq ft houses in Sammamish that Microsofties are fond of, so it remains to be seen how many would want it. In any case, this is an option for volunteers, not a plan for the majority of the workforce. And it’s all out of Sam’s imagination, not something Microsoft or any company is pursuing.

      6. There should be a lot more housing near Microsoft campus, I don’t care who built it. Of course, it shouldn’t be tied to employment. It’s a shame that MSFT doesn’t publish their routes (they used to) but they go as far as Everett, Snoqualmie and Kent. Those are only places that the company think its convenient to service, I can’t imagine how many more people drive to Redmond in the morning.

        I see some apartments coming up near the future Link station, but we missed the opportunity to house all those people in a 10-mile radius, so they commute 1 hour each way every day. Overlake Transit Center is just a parking lot (coming soon a parking building) that didn’t have shelters for a full year.

        Taxpayers indirectly paid for an unsustainable campus by spending money on a monster highway that only gets wider as you pass the 2nd largest city in the county.

      7. In general, it’s easier to get people on transit when they have longer commutes, since driving all the way is more miserable and more expensive. Getting people to ride a bus when the entire drive takes 15-20 minutes is a much tougher sell, and Microsoft knows it. That’s why their Connector routes focus on the long-haul market.

        You can’t just assume that because there’s no Microsoft commute shuttle to Redmond that people don’t live in Redmond. There is a very real shortage of housing within walking distance of the campus, but there are plenty of employees who don’t commute 20+ miles.

    2. It’s hard to say. Housing prices are based on the number of people competing for each unit. There’s a lot of overlap but not 100% because some people aren’t interested in units that don’t have a view or are too small or too old etc while others can’t afford high-end units or believe small is beautiful or want anything walkable etc. So 5000 additional Microsoft units vs 5000 additional generic units; it’s hard to say. It depends who takes those units, how affluent they are, and what impact their non-presence has on the other units in the Eastside. My guess is probably none, because 5000 units is not enough to move the needle on prices when the backlog is more like 150,000, and those who want to live near Microsoft or Overlake and can afford to are already living somewhere close to it.

    3. Microsoft does provide a lot of employee housing. Granted, it’s short term relocation assistance but they maintain this investment long term. But I don’t think Microsoft has any interest in building a Company Town the way early timber companies did. There’s no need to. And well paid employees don’t want dormitory style living.

      Short answer, Boeing let private developers build a large portion of existing Seattle houses to meet the demand during WWII.

      Long answer, let Microsoft rezone part of their campus for high-rise mixed use development. Then Microsoft can lease the land to a private developer that builds and manages said mixed use property. MS does software, they know it’s better (for many reasons) to sub out stuff like transportation and housing. There is no Microsoft Contractor Division responsible for building the campus.

  4. Too bad it didn’t suit developer John Goodman’s business plan to sell us our decades-long home for a member-owned cooperative at the Route 44 terminal in Ballard. Would’ve let my taxes help pay for Sound Transit all these years since the end of 2013.

    Would’ve also been good to be able to choose a position at a member-owned cooperative to pay my dues. What real democracy demands, that nobody in our political or educational system feels easy discussing out loud, is that as much as possible, workers ourselves get paid and granted enough power that decisions on the work we do and the homes we live in belong to us.

    I wish, though, that it was only corporate greed separating workers from the control over work and residence we deserve. Truth seems to be that vast majority of people don’t feel like combining management decisions to our work responsibilities.

    Reason I also keep stressing that citizenship has to start in either kindergarten or family business, or both. It’s got to be one of those ideas people think with, instead of just thinking about.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I hope the driver of that white car stares at concrete and steel for ten years. At least. He must have been going 60 miles and hour and simply blew threw the red light without even tapping the brakes.

      1. I saw on Twitter this morning that they released him without charging him.

        How much do you want to bet he’s related to a cop?

    2. Traffic safety in the US:

      1. Fill cars with technology and safety systems so the drivers can survive insanely high-energy crashes.
      2. Continue to build high-speed streets with signalized intersections and on-road bike lanes
      3. Give a license to anyone with a heartbeat.
      4. Keep fuel taxes and emissions standards very low, encouraging larger and larger vehicles.

      This is why we have seen pedestrian/cyclist deaths skyrocket. Something has to change.

  5. A few comments on the Singapore video:

    – The city/ country is not opposed to high rises. Environments that dense reduce the need to drive because most everything other than work is very close.

    – The city/ country is well-known for strict codes of conduct so that bad neighbors can be harshly punished.

    1. Towers in the park like that are usually associated with a lack of community because people don’t want to hang out immediately outside the buildings and there’s no place else to go. So I wonder how Singaporeans feel about their living environment, whether they feel connected to their neighbors, and their mental well-being. Singapore may not have a choice with that many highrises because it has a large population on a small amount of land. But it could do something about the spaces between the buildings so that it’s not density-nothing-density-nothing — the essence of towers in the park. It could make the spaces in between more intimate and landscaped (not plain lawns) so that people want to gather there and half forget there are massive towers all around.

      1. I’m not sure how outdoorsy people feel there. After all, today it’s been between 80 and 90 with 60%+ humidity. I suspect that everything is air-conditioned.

      2. Look up “HDB void decks”. The ground floor of many flats are open-air common spaces for community use.

    1. That’s what happens when laws aren’t enforced. Write some tickets, even if it slows down traffic. A few $500 tickets and those bus lanes will open right up.

    2. I see cops – sometimes in groups of 2 or 3 – do this in HOV lanes on I-5 and 167 occasionally. Post a bike cop or two, with cameras and set them out to pull these people off to the nearest side street or garage and issue tickets. It will be a short-term gold mine and a long-term solution.

    3. The hero Seattle needs. Let us use her as an example, and not tolerate such actions in our community.

  6. I got a Sound Transit email this morning:

    ST Express Route 522, 550, 554, 577/578, 590/594, 592 & 595 riders can expect heavier use of bus stops on southbound 2nd Ave Ext S and southbound 4th Ave S in downtown Seattle due to a 24-hour experiment by King County Metro Transit (KCM), in which they are routing numerous KCM routes onto this stretch for evaluation purposes. This temporary reroute of additional buses will operate from 5:00 a.m. today (Thu Aug 15, 2019) to 5:00 a.m. tomorrow (Fri Aug 16, 2019).

    Does anyone know about this? I’m guessing it’s the West Seattle buses?

    1. Yes, there was a Times article ($) about it by Mike Lindblom. Metro will try rerouting them to 4th Ave S temporarily, and if it goes well they may move there longer term until the waterfront construction is finished.

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