King County Metro 2015 New Flyer XT40 4381 and Sound Transit 2017 Alexander Dennis Enviro 500 91719C
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This is an open thread.

76 Replies to “News roundup: shear wave velocity”

  1. In a 6-3 vote yesterday, the WA Supreme Court has paused I-976 pending the lawsuit. That’s good, but I think there’s a good chance the court will ultimately uphold I-976.

    3 justices (Owens, Stephens, and Gordon McCloud) would have let I-976 take effect immediately. I suspect they will eventually vote that I-976 is constitutional.

    2 justices (Johnson, Madsen) previously ruled that I-776 (the previous $30 car tab initiative) was constitutional. While they did vote to pause I-976 now, that could just be as a routine bit of process. Maybe they’ve changed their mind since there are some issues specific to I-976 that didn’t apply to I-776, but I’m skeptical.

    So that’s 5 justices out of 9 that to me are likely to vote that I-976 is constitutional. I’d love to be wrong though.

    1. Even if the Court votes that its unconstitutional the Republicans will definitively get it on the legislators to do list and it will pass. To many of the democrats will vote yes to stave off Republican challengers using it as an election issue.

      The best out come is that maybe the legislator will carve out an exception for King/Seattle to maintain the fees it wants.

      1. Well then, why vote Democratic if that’s what they’re gonna do?

        We need to be clearly united on this: There will be no forgiveness for enacting cuts to WSDOT transit grants nor Sound Transit.

        Ought to as well clean the [expletives] place out and vote straight R in that tragic and hopefully unlikely event.

      2. That’s what happened last time but it’s less likely now. More likely we’d see limited legislation on one or two parts of the initiative, most likely the car valuation schedule which the legislators themselves have been debating for years. When I-695 passed it was in the initial ascendency of tax revolts in Washington and legislators were afraid of a paradigm shift in what the public would tolerate. Since then public attitudes have been mixed. Many people will vote for $30 car tabs because they don’t want to pay, but that doesn’t mean they put taxes above all other issues and will punish legislators if it doesn’t go through. Also, housing costs have become a much bigger problem than they were then, and congestion has gotten worse, and hundreds of thousands of people are living in the exurbs now, some by necessity rather than ideology, and they see the necessity of more regional and local transit. They may have voted for I-975 thinking they could have it both ways: $30 car tabs, and the government would figure out some way to replace the transit revenue; e.g., by dipping into their general funds.

      3. I agree with Mike. I think it is highly unlikely that I-976 will be adopted as written. I think the only part of it that stands a chance is the valuation schedule. Anecdotally, that seems to be what upset people the most, and it would make sense for them to adopt that.

      4. Ross, I’m not so sure that the valuation schedule is the nub of it, except maybe in Pierce County where people are considerably poorer. According to Tlsgwm, the initiative squeaked by in the Snohomish ST district, but the swing was only 4%. But the thing would have failed miserably had it only gotten the votes of disgruntled Pierce and Snohomish voters inside the District.

        No, this was passed by jealous, short-sighted, stupid yokels in Centralia, Longview, Wahkiakum County and east of the mountains who pay NO TBD tax to any municipality just to “stick it to the Libs”. They do pay the State level Police and Ferries add-ons, but even together those are a pittance.

        Some of them will learn the value of those missing State Police the hard way some snowy winter night.

      5. “According to Tlsgwm, the initiative squeaked by in the Snohomish ST district, but the swing was only 4%.”

        This is what I found when I culled the data for this subarea:
        YES 53.6%
        NO 46.4%

        YES 51%
        NO 49%

        So approving I-976 won by 7+ points, hardly a squeaker. If one was looking at the swing from a yes vote on ST3 to a no vote on I-976 that would be more than -4.5 points.

      6. I don’t know of any polling on the measure, but most of what I read on forums was about the valuation schedule. The Eyman editorial in the Seattle Times focused on that (

        Worth noting is that this wasn’t a landslide. It won with less than 120,000 votes. That means that if 60,000 people had switched, it would have failed. Those 60,000 could have come from Puget Sound. It is quite possible that the folks that are effected by the valuation schedule who voted for it were the difference. It is also quite possible that those people were swayed more by the valuation schedule than anything else. It is easy to look at maps of Seattle or Bellevue and pat ourselves on the back because we voted no. But 37% of Seattle voters voted yes. With a different valuation schedule, maybe that number is 25%, or maybe it is 8% (the number who voted for Trump). The same is true for Bellevue and all of King County (and other counties that voted no). If more people had voted no in those areas, then it would have failed. King County had over 250,000 yes votes — more than enough to sway the election. Pierce and Snohomish County had another 250,000 yes votes. Not all those folks are subject to the valuation, but my guess is somewhere around 400,000 yes votes came from people who are subject to the valuation. It is quite possible that 20% of those yes votes came from people who were pissed off about the valuation schedule (and only that) — more than enough to tip the election.

        Without a doubt this wouldn’t have passed without folks in other areas voting for $30 car tabs, but this also limited new car tabs. If you live in Spokane, your tabs went down $20 (or more*), but there would be nothing stopping the county from raising them again. The thing is, if they did, then they would at least be forced to follow a valuation process that more people find just. Again, that might have been the difference (it is quite reasonable for someone to say “the tabs aren’t that bad now, but if they raise them, I want there to be public vote, and I want it to be based on Blue Book, not some cockamamie thing dreamed up by some guy”).

        The unusual valuation schedule gave Eyman a political card that he played quite well. He could claim that government was not only being wasteful, but being unfair. Even in areas that aren’t effected by that schedule (like Spokane) that gets people upset, and more likely to take the effort to vote for it. Side Note: The no vote did better in Spokane County (46%) than in Snohomish County (42%) or Pierce (34%).

        The combination of a relatively close vote and one aspect of the thing (the valuation schedule) having no public support means that it is quite likely that the legislature will adopt that part of it, and nothing more.

        * The basic renewal fee right now is $30. But there is a “county filing fee” of $4.50, along with a “service fee” of $8. It isn’t clear whether those still apply. Various cities and counties (not just those in Puget Sound) have transportation benefit districts. Both Spokane and Wenatchee charge an extra $20.

      7. “The no vote did better in Spokane County (46%) than in Snohomish County (42%) or Pierce (34%).”

        Before Election Day I had posted that I suspected that I-976 was going to pass here in Snohomish County and potentially within the ST SnoCo subarea as well. I based that suspicion on my own anecdotal evidence gathered from conversations with other members of my community here in the SW UGA. Still, I was rather surprised at the outcome in terms of the strength of the support for the measure.

        What I kept hearing over and over is that folks were not happy with the current MVET valuation scheme because of its unfairness. That particular issue, and the legislature’s inability to address the matter post ST3, really seemed to resonate within a certain segment of this November’s electorate. Add in the lower turnout for an odd-year election cycle and you get the results we’ve seen in the SnoCo subarea.

    2. I’m still struggling to figure out why I-776 would be constitutional while I-695 would not be. On the surface, the two seem exactly the same. Is the only difference turnover in the state Supreme Court between the two rulings? Or is there legal substance to an actual difference?

      1. I-695 very clearly violated the single subject rule:

        Shall voter approval be required for any tax increase, license tab fees be $30 per year for motor vehicles, and existing vehicle taxes be repealed?

        I-776 appeared to violate the single subject rule:

        This measure would require license tab fees to be $30 per year for motor vehicles, including light trucks. Certain local-option vehicle excise taxes and fees used for roads and transit would be repealed.

        Should this measure be enacted into law?

        However, he WA Supreme Court ruled that: “Additional statements contained in the initiative were “policy expressions” that had no legal effect, the court majority said.


        Today’s Supreme Court majority also found that I-776 did not impair the contractual relationship between King County and holders of bonds the county offered for sale in October 2002, a month before the statewide vote on I-776.

        King County had passed a $15 motor vehicle excise tax that was added to the cost of vehicle tabs, and it pledged that money along with other revenues to pay off the bonds. But since potential bondholders were made aware that passage of I-776 might end that source of revenue, passage of the initiative did not impair the contractual relationship, the court said.

        The court did not resolve the question of how I-776 may impact the use of vehicle taxes to pay off bonds issued by Sound Transit to develop a regional mass-transit system. Those bonds were issued well before I-776 was proposed. Previous state Supreme Court decisions have held that laws cannot impair the contractual rights of bondholders.

        So I-776 was upheld on a very shaky ruling based on unclear initiative text.

        Fast forward to 2019 and I-976, which has the same stench as I-695:

        This measure would repeal, reduce, or remove authority to impose certain vehicle taxes and fees; limit annual motor-vehicle-license fees to $30, except voter-approved charges; and base vehicle taxes on Kelley Blue Book value. Should this measure be enacted into law?

        Based solely on legal precedence from the I-695 ruling, I can’t see I-976 being upheld no matter which way you look at it.

    3. I’m in favor of transit cuts to save tax payer money. I voted in favor of I 976 and hope the courts rule in our favor. Sound transit and Metro are far too bloated. I see plenty of empty buses and trains. Let’s right size transit and be responsible stewards of tax revenue

      1. It’s easy to say that if you have a car or can afford a lyft/uber to go place. I don’t have a car, since I’m disabled with a permanent disability that limits my ability to drive. There are people who rely on public transit because they have no other option and are trying to have productive lives and not be stuck at home cooped up because they can’t go anywhere because of lack of access to transit.

      2. Actually, the affected bus service is in almost entirely within Seattle, where King County Metro is most productive in terms of $/passenger.

        If you don’t live in Seattle, you aren’t paying Seattle’s taxes, so it shouldn’t matter to you. If you do live in Seattle, you are outvoted, as an overwhelming majority of Seattle voters support it’s bus service.

        Even within Seattle, bus service is only a small percentage of the total car tab bill.

      3. The reason why some buses aren’t as full as others is described here:

        Walker is a national writer, but as look would have it, he picked this area for an example:

        So if we were talking about Seattle’s King County Metro area, for example, a ridership-maximizing service plan would probably offer no all-day transit service outside the City of Seattle except for links to the densest suburban centers such as downtown Bellevue and perhaps some older, denser inner-ring suburbs such as Renton and Burien. Beyond that, the suburbs would have nothing but school services and express buses to Seattle at rush-hour. In the dense urban fabric of Seattle, on the other hand, you’d have buses or streetcars every three minutes on every major street, with lots of rapid-bus overlays, etc, etc.

        So, Mike D, it begs the question — do you want Metro to adopt this approach?

      4. @asdf2
        “If you don’t live in Seattle, you aren’t paying Seattle’s taxes, so it shouldn’t matter to you.”

        That’s just not true. Since the STBD also includes a small sales tax component, anyone regardless of where they reside pays the additional tax on any taxable sale within the district where the goods or services are exchanged. As a SnoCo resident who works for a company located in Seattle, I frequently pay this extra bit of sales tax on all sorts of things. (Then I get to go home and pay my local rate of 10.4%. )

      5. Mike, I see plenty of cars with single drivers. I see plenty of cars in parking spaces, wasting room and slowly disintegrating. I see plenty of roads with no cars. I see plenty of sky with no airplanes. I see plenty of room to grow. I know that a road and a bus must both start somewhere, and they must start empty. I know that we can’t roll up the roads at night. I know that I can’t rent my car to other people when I’m not using it. I believe we should right size our transit to the maximum utility of the people.

      6. @Tlsgwm

        “Since the STBD also includes a small sales tax component, anyone regardless of where they reside pays the additional tax on any taxable sale within the district where the goods or services are exchanged.”

        If you look up the rates, Seattle actually has a lower sales tax rate than Lynnwood does. So, if you do your shopping in Seattle and pay taxes to Seattle transit, you’re actually saving money. In any case, unless you’re buying something really expensive, like a car, the difference is trivial.

        “No, this was passed by jealous, short-sighted, stupid yokels in Centralia, Longview, Wahkiakum County and east of the mountains who pay NO TBD tax to any municipality just to “stick it to the Libs”.”

        True, but for many, the motivating probably has less to do with “stick it to libs” than simply an ideology that opposes all forms of taxation, plus complete indifference to what happens to Seattle as collateral damage.

        Putting myself in the shoes of an eastern Washington conservative, I can imagine the argument going like this. Pros: Save $20 in car tabs right now (free money, why not?). Send a strong message to the legislature that taxes on car registrations are not welcome (supports Republican anti-tax ideology, so must be good). Cons: transit cuts to a city on the other side of the mountains (who cares – everybody has a car, so transit is a waste of money anyway), WSDOT cuts (who cares – WSDOT is a bloated agency, and anything truly critical, they will find some other way to pay for it).

        Even though I disagree 100% with the above argument, it is not at all difficult to imagine lots of people out in the boonies thinking that way. The “stick it to the libs” part isn’t even necessary.

      7. @asdf2
        Your reply indicates that you’ve missed the point of my comment entirely. I am certainly aware that Seattle has a lower sales tax rate than where I live in the unincorporated area just north of Edmonds (I actually stated my local rate above), but that fact isn’t particularly relevant to the point I was making. Your previous assertion, “If you don’t live in Seattle, you aren’t paying Seattle’s taxes”, is simply incorrect.

        Fwiw. I think you might be surprised to see what families spend on taxable purchases during the course of a year, even without any major buys, such as a vehicle. It’s one of the reasons why folks who standardized deductions on schedule A of their federal income tax returns were pissed about the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (which limited the deduction of state and local income taxes, state and local sales taxes, and property taxes to a combined total of $10,000).

        Nevertheless, people typically make taxable purchases in multiple jurisdictions during the course of taking care of their affairs day after day. As a result, those tax dollars being collected from a given buyer’s transactions are being spread around. So, yes, non-Seattle residents do indeed pay “Seattle” sales taxes.

      8. Are you in favor of rule by minority, where a small number of people make the decisions for all? Because that’s what it sounds like to me. Like 10 people want something and 5 dont, and because of people outside of that area dont like it so we dant have it.

      9. “non-Seattle residents do indeed pay “Seattle” sales taxes”

        Though only when they are in Seattle and therefore, by definition, taking advantage of Seattle’s transportation infrastructure (which they’re then helping fund).

      10. “Though only when they are in Seattle and therefore, by definition, taking advantage of Seattle’s transportation infrastructure (which they’re then helping fund).”

        Of course. If an individual makes a taxable purchase within the taxing jurisdiction, then the tax is owed and collected as part of the transaction. In the case of the STBD, the district gets its .1% sales tax on the exchange of goods/services. This happens all of the time whether the buyer is a resident of the city or not.

        It’s no different than when I travel somewhere else around the country, like Chicago or San Francisco or my home town of NYC, and make a taxable purchase. I pay the sales tax amount added to the transaction and the funds collected are ultimately distributed to the appropriate taxing jurisdiction. If some of that money is used to directly support transportation infrastructure improvements and/or related operating expenses, then that’s fine by me.

    4. With all my heart I want those that voted for this to suffer. For example, I-5 is basically a death trap in the event of an earthquake largely because of lack of funding, and the infantile expectation of voters (at least those outside of the Sound Transit tax district) that they can have fully maintained roads and bridges without paying for them.

    1. I’m in favor of kidding I-5, but lid I-5 and then put buildings on top of it and I’m a definite “No” vote. Doing so has to be the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, and it is no wonder they have to resort to nebulous terms like “total value” to make it appear to pencil out.

      Putting a lid over the freeway that is structurally capable of accommodating large structures is expensive – very expensive. A lid with a park is comparatively cheap. Spending big bucks to create expensive real estate to then convert to affordable housing is craziness.

      How crazy? Consider that Seattle has been talking about taking one of the Sisley properties in Roosevelt to creat a park. What if they instead took that same land to create affordable housing? How much more affordable housing could the city create per dollar that way as opposed to creating expensive lidded real estate for the same purpose?

      Na. Don’t be fooled by their use of terms like total value. What they aren’t telling you is that a lot more value could be created by spending that money elsewhere. That is what they don’t want you to know.

      1. Consider that Seattle has been talking about taking one of the Sisley properties in Roosevelt to create a park.

        Yeah, and that is a crazy idea. The area has plenty of parks. Ravenna/Cowen is very close by, and Green Lake is not very far. It makes way more sense to convert the reservoir north of there ( to a park. That park would be similar to the one at Maple Leaf. You would have a nice playground, some great views, and it would connect the various neighborhoods. The Maple Leaf reservoir park has changed walking in the area. In the past, you had to make a big detour, walking on busy streets, just to go a few blocks. The same is true with this park ( Capping the reservoir and adding a park on top is a much better value than taking land very close to the Link station, and turning it into a park. That land should be for housing.

        There are similarities with a freeway cap. I will say, though, that it might be possible to build in a few relatively short buildings at very little cost. It is worth exploring what the costs are for various structures (just park, six story wood, skyscraper, etc.). My guess is skyscraper would be very expensive.

        I’m not sure if it makes sense to put low income housing there, or close to Roosevelt for that matter. We are talking about extremely expensive land. The idea of building a handful of very expensive apartments for only a handful of low income people lucky enough to win the lottery doesn’t sound like a great use of public funds. I wouldn’t want to do the opposite (put low income housing only in the cheapest areas). A middle ground should be found. Section 8 housing type of assistance makes a lot more sense, where the subsidies go towards middle income housing.

      2. I think its incorrect to think of a project like this as necessarily building a lid upon which buildings will be built.

        It would, I think, be more feasible to essentially build a building through which the freeway runs. The building is anchored to the ground on either side of the freeway and in one or two strips in the middle. The freeway is kind of running through it’s basement.

        IMO lid parks are going to be pretty poor unless the lid is very big. Parks right next to a freeway are never very pleasant, and if its a small i5 lid it manages to have the busiest part of the biggest freeway in the state on *both* sides !

        An older Chicago example (though the freeway is not in a trench, it shows the general idea):,-87.6402469,3a,75y,81.93h,102.97t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s-mvKWd9iga3EBOvLkSFPZg!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

      3. We need to have a broader discussion about where tall buildings belong. The I-5 lid is not adjacent to Link, and even the Midtown station location is in a place where putting a lid is a complex idea.

        Meanwhile, we are designing a light rail system that is increasingly very peak-direction focused when it comes to new lines. Link is more productive when large numbers of people commute in both directions in the morning — which results in both overcrowding and suboptimal productivity. That’s why UW and Bellevue (and to a lesser extent Seatac, Overlake and Redmond) are such good places for stations.

        Going forward, we need to make the rail station /TOD policy go together. If an area feels it deserves a subway, it needs to allow at least 20 story buildings around each station (like for Ballard and West Seattle). Without a subway, buildings at least 8 to 10 stories should be allowed.

        By the way, kudos to Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace for pushing higher densities around Link. I think Kent and Federal Way will end up doing the same thing. These places deserve encouragement through good pedestrian design incentives and walkways, and methods to introduce paid parking to these and other stations.

        Finally, it’s easier to build a building over a Link line than it is a much wider freeway. That’s because the spans are not that far. Wherever we are building surface light rail should be up for “lidding” — especially near stations.

      4. “Putting a lid over the freeway that is structurally capable of accommodating large structures is expensive – very expensive”

        Recent articles have said it’s not so expensive. And downtown real estate has risen so far that some say it would actually be less expensive to build on the freeway than on surface parcels. The freeway is publicly owned and a master plan could give incentives for building needed land uses. Also, the buildings would probably be just a few stories tall, because tall buildings require deeper foundations, and a foundation in the air is more disruptive than a foundation underground. So the result might be more housing-focused than office-focused, the opposite of regular downtown.

      5. Parks right next to a freeway are never very pleasant, and if its a small i5 lid it manages to have the busiest part of the biggest freeway in the state on *both* sides!

        I disagree. I’ve played soccer and wandered around the lid park of Mercer Island (Aubrey Davis Park) and it is quite pleasant. Same with the lid over I-90 in Mount Baker (Sam Smith Park). Extending Freeway Park up to Denny would result in a park that is bigger than the one in Mercer Island, and about the same size cap as Mount Baker (with a longer park area).

        Even just extending freeway park up to Pine (essentially one block) would make a huge difference. There are thousands and thousands of people who walk up or down Pike every day, and the walk is dreadful. Cap it and it would be quite nice. Freeway Park really doesn’t have anything like it, because it has holes and the Convention Center itself takes up so much space. The area between Seneca and University is probably the closest thing to a similar section, but neither the walk on Seneca or University would be as far away from the freeway as a walk on Pike. That is if we only extend it one block.

        If we extended it two blocks — up to Olive — then the section between Pike and Pine becomes a very nice set of parks (one a trapezoid, the other a triangle) well away from freeway noise. The further up you go, the more the places in the middle become really nice. It would be the closest thing to a central park in the city.

      6. The i90 mercer lid park is something like 2000 feet long. The soccer field is about 100 feet from where the freeway goes under.

        So, sure, if a park went from the convention center to REI it would be great.

      7. The i90 mercer lid park is something like 2000 feet long. The soccer field is about 100 feet from where the freeway goes under.

        So, sure, if a park went from the convention center to REI it would be great.

        Yeah, and that’s the plan. But again, it doesn’t have to go that far to create something appealing. Like you said, the soccer field is 100 feet from where the freeway goes under. Just the extension to Pine would be huge. If you are right in the middle, equidistant from Pike to Pine, right over the freeway, you are 250 feet from the nearest freeway section. Cap the all the way up to Olive and you are about 1,000 feet away. You wouldn’t want to be close to the edge, but for most of the park, the bigger noise concern would be traffic on Pike, Pine, Boren, etc.

        For perspective, Roanoke Park sits about 250 feet from 520 and 400 feet from I-5, and it is a nice, pleasant little park. Acoustics can be complicated, so I don’t want to say this would be a slam dunk, but with a few trees used as buffers, even a relatively small addition could lead to a very nice urban park.

  2. What the heckfire are we doing to deal with Timmy Eyman and his bid for Governor?

    I suggest some of us take this a little seriously.

    1. I hope Counclmember-elect Dan Strauss is there.

      I also hope there are many Ballardites cheering Sound Transit!

      Sound Transit should build the Ballard Line first!

      1. Unless you somehow lead a coup against the ST Board and overthrow W. Seattle’s Dow Constantine, the Ballard line won’t be first. I expect some transit supporters may throw proverbial tomatoes at the 14th Ave. stop proposal and/or people pining after the 20th Ave. stop.

      2. We could always make the Sound Transit Board directly elected… so we don’t have a federated board with a Boardmember about ready to sue Sound Transit at the prompt of his county’s voters.

        There you go.

    2. I attended the open house. Thanks for announcing it. My table discussed the Ballard station area. The ST rep asked us where we go in Ballard; which destinations we think are most significant; which are the primary walking, biking, driving paths; what gaps we see in walking paths, biking paths, bus routes; etc. The map had two station locations, 15th and 14th.

      I learned from the residents that some things are happening east of 15th. The city has upzoned a triangle-ish area along the northeast quarter of Market Street and 14th, for 50′ apartments. That’s the same height as west of 15th, although maybe not quite as dense (they weren’t sure whether it would be the same density or the next step lower). There’s a 2-block park in the median at 14th & 60th. There’s a 15-year old master plan for a park corridor along 14th from 65th (Ballard High School) to the Ship Canal. That reminded me of Bellevue’s east-west corridor it’s planning. But there’s no guarantee the rest of it will get built. Aegis Living is going in a couple blocks east of the station, and something called KIDS Academy south of it.

      There was much discussion about the industrial district southeast of 14th & Market. The consensus is it will probably remain industrial, so there will be a gap between the station and the housing beyond it. The industrial district has parking for employees and other people park there, and it will probably be a big hide-n-ride area. There was concern that the industrial jobs must remain, although maybe not in the same configuration. One person mentioned a proposal for incubator spaces. That reminded me of New York where small industrial companies are housed together in multistory buildings with a walkable street grid around them and a subway station nearby, and how this co-location in one building allows the businesses to do jobs for each other and give each other ideas. For instance, a theater-set construction group and a metalworking shop. One person mentioned a zoning controversy in SODO, where the parcel owners wanted to build apartments and retail (“We’ll pay a lot more taxes with those”) and the industrial businesses were afraid of displacement. A couple people said some suburban-style retail places are getting into the industrial districts via a loophole in the zoning, and that the city should put a stop to it. That reminded me of the horrible freestanding Big 5 store in southeast Ballard and similar buildings around it. I said that’s not what we’re protecting the industrial zones for.

  3. Upcoming TOD in Kenmore:

    105 apartments in a mixed-use building with 10 townhouses behind it. Close walking distance to the Kenmore Park & Ride (some of the parking spaces in the park & ride lot are probably further away than this development will be).

    It will involve the removal of a building that once housed a popular Italian restaurant, which closed a few years ago. A few residents are unhappy about this, as you might expect. But I think they’re a vocal minority.


    Glad I don’t have to attend this meeting in person- it’ll “air” between one and three this afternoon. Many thanks to Heaven for Livestream.

    But especially interested in this book by Bob Wodnik: “Back on Track.”

    Because I’m wondering about how the author is handling what I think is most important lesson the whole effort to bring electric rail transit to this region has to teach.

    Namely how much that for an indecent amount of time we haven’t been able to perform with trains, our operating personnel were able to accomplish with buses. For years, sharing same tubes with trains.

    Whether it’s that exact thing or not, could be a habit of mind that’ll save fortunes, and years.

    Joni Earl deserves an immense amount of credit. But many times over, so do the hundreds of working people who literally kept the project alive and working damned well in spite of so much spite at the hands of History.

    The true “Takeaway” should be that what agencies can’t deliver now, individual people who believe enough in the work at hand can keep alive over the decades that History too often requires.

    One thing everybody can do. For transit and everywhere else, when you see somebody do something right at work….tell them. You could be the one to prevent the loss to the system of the one person whose destiny is to save it.

    Mark Dublin

  5. Kudos to the Metro bus driver who got off his bus to try to help someone who was being attacked in front of the courthouse last week. I’m sure he broke some sort of Metro policy or rule by getting off his bus to help.

    This leads me to car tabs. The “rules” say you still have to pay your full car tab bill, despite the passage of 976. I say, don’t just blindly follow the rules. Follow your own sense of right and wrong, like the good samaritan bus driver did. If you feel the right thing to do is to boycott getting new car tabs, then do that.

    1. That whole 3rd Ave/courthouse scene is messed up.
      They closed the building entrance for ‘safety’ reasons except for
      handicapped access, as it’s the only ADA door in the place.
      And, is Metro going to move the bus stop?
      I guess some need to be safer than others.

      1. I am not sure wher to put this comment so here it is. I recomend watching a documentory movie called Streetwise. It was something we watched in elementary school. It was and still is very informative about the condtion of the downtown streets in Seattle. Our situation is not new. It comes and goes a little each year. But just watch it.

      2. The experience of being a streetkid is probably the same but Seattle has changed dramatically. I was in high school then and had friends who were in an outreach ministry and knew some of the kids in the movie. If you asked the grown-up kids their impression of of downtown and Capitol Hill today, they’d say it’s “like Bellevue”. There’s a book at the library on the 20th anniversary of Streetwise, that might also be worth reading.

        In 1984 there were a hundred prostitutes along 1st Avenue and the rest of Seattle was decaying from its one-story 1950s heyday. There were around 400 street kids a any one time. The punks who hung out on University Way were were not homeless, not streetkids, and not prostitutes. There were no adults sleeping on the sidewalks in those neighborhoods; that was a “New York problem”. It was only in the late 80s or early 90s that they started proliferating in the rest of the country. Most of the streetkids had been kicked out of their house because they were gay or didn’t follow their parents religion or something or were orphaned. Some were’t exactly homeless because they had family houses they stayed at part-time but they were turning tricks to help their family make ends meet.

        What’s changed is homelessness has gone up the social scale and affects a broader cross-section of Americans, and now there are a large number of families — parents with kids — who are all homeless, and people who have full-time jobs but can’t afford an apartment or live in hotels because they can’t come up with first+last+deposit all at once. And the police drove them out of 1st Avenue and pushed them out to Aurora and Pacific Highway, where they’re spread out so thinly they’re practically invisible. Then urban renewal made 1st Avenue and Westlake upscale.

        3rd & Pine has always been dodgy I guess. I don’t remember it being as intense as it is now, but that may be either defective memories or the rest of downtown was more like 3rd & Pine so it didn’t stand out as much. I also don’t remember how many homeless were in Pioneer Square; I’ve never been there much. But that whole area was run-down until the art galleries and loft apartments came in.

    2. So jurors taking Link or a 3rd Avenue bus now have to walk up a hill around two sides of the building to enter and exit it? This is not a burden? I’ve had jury duty twice there, and it would have been a burden to me.

      1. How about the Mayor of Seattle publicly declaring that as far as she is concerned, in Seattle’s current economy money is less than no object in securing the criminal justice system’s own chief transit station entrance. If she has to reconstruct the entire Third Avenue side of the building as a fort. Staffed 24-7-365 + Leap Year.

        And how about prospective jurors engaging counsel and publicly informing the Court that when they get off transit at Pioneer Square Station, they will enter the Courthouse on Third Avenue. As DSTT designers intended.

        Declaration that the City of Seattle and its transit system cannot secure its own main entrance to the station whose whole design intent rests on City Government itself….lot worse political damage here than mere recall-bait for Mayors and County Execs.

        Tell me convincingly why transit’s enemies won’t feature this business in bold-face every campaign statement from here on. This is Seattle. These are its politics. This is public transit and this, to its core, is what’s meant by a liberal. Which if we don’t get real loud to get that door protected and re-opened, us pro-transit liberals will richly deserve.

        So with all due respect would City and County Government please get that Divinely-condemned transit station entrance opened and secured, right-the-colloquial-term-for-a-common- horse-breeding- procedure-now?

        And Sam, if to you risking tax delinquency is same order of bravery as stepping into a punch or possibly a knife, do the truth a favor and don’t unilaterally call it a case of right and wrong.

        Mark Dublin

    3. I believe it was a route 40 bus driver. There’s video of it. The bus driver got off his bus and tried to help the guy on the sidewalk who was being attacked, then he got attacked in the process of helping out. I believe Metro’s rules says never to get involved. Stay seated. Phone it in. My point is, sometimes the right thing to do, and the policy or the law, are two different things.

    1. Using that reasoning, no one should ever feel bad about cheating anyone. Since they can be cheated, they are irresponsible with their money.

      Great thinking, Sam. You should have worked for Enron.

      1. No, I’m making a distinction. If someone demonstrates they are prudent with the money I give them, I will feel good about giving them more money. If they are irresponsible with the money I give them, I will be much more cautious about giving them more money.

      2. So, I guess the big takeaway is that you aren’t giving any money to the Portland government. Interesting. I think I’ll join you in that venture.

  6. If we dismantle I-5 between I-90 and 520, what would the last exits be? What would tens of thousands of cars do that are going to central Seattle? That’s enough to fill two solid lanes each direction, and the first stoplight would back up for miles. I like the concept in the lid I-5 article, restoring the street grid it tore up, but since I-5 was built two million people have moved to north and south of Seattle and the expectation has developed that they can go to central Seattle in their car on I-5, and this will be very difficult to change even if state/local politicians are willing to dismantle the freeway.

    1. If we dismantle I-5 between I-90 and 520, what would the last exits be?

      According to the map:

      In the north, it would be: 168A — Boylston Avenue, Roanoke Street.
      In the south, it would be: 164B — 4th Avenue South / South Atlantic Street

      My guess is, though, that they would turn the southern part of I-5 into a throughway. That means the southern exit would essentially be the collector-distributor lanes. You would probably have the ramps over Dearborn, but then that would feed into a new surface street, with traffic lights at King, Jackson, etc. The Yesler overpass would probably still exist, so it would be a fairly fast throughway.

      As I wrote in my comment on The Stranger, this would be a radical change, but one that we might have to make. The cost of repairing I-5 after a big earthquake could be enormous, and not worth it.

      What would tens of thousands of cars do that are going to central Seattle?

      Find alternatives. Some of the cars aren’t headed to central Seattle, but are going through, and those would go around. Others would slog through the city streets. Others would use transit. As I wrote on The Stranger, this wouldn’t cripple the city. The adjustment time would be difficult, but eventually people would find other ways around town. Vancouver doesn’t have a freeway running through town, there is no fundamental reason we need two. SR 99 would be more crowded, surface streets would be more crowded, get used to it. Things are already crowded now. We’ve long since passed the point where adding lanes helps (induced demand and all that). The opposite is true. I’m not saying it is going to happen, but it isn’t a crazy idea — the city would still be OK, just as Vancouver BC is OK.

    2. I wish the map were bigger so I could clearly see whether there are any new exits and what streets would be closest.

      Cities without freeways have wide boulevards to take people to the peripheral freeway, like Edgeware Road in London and Kingsway, Main Street, 1st Street, Granville Street, and Oak Street in Vancouver. The map appears to lack one of those. The widest corridor appears to be Rainier/Boren/Eastlake, but these look like the existing streets rather than an addition. The existing streets are already pretty full at rush hour.

      If there are no new exits, drivers may go west on I-90 to 4th Ave S, or east on I-90 to Rainier. Drivers from the north may get off at Lakeview Blvd, but that’s is practically a country lane and not designed for a large volume of cars. Again, 4th Avenue and Rainier/Boren are already pretty full; they won’t be able to handle a freeway’s worth of exiting cars concentrated into one street. Currently they’re spread out across a dozen downtown exits.

      I’m not sure what you mean by a “new thoroughway”, where it would go. Dearborn Street is certainly under capacity now that it’s no longer the I-90 terminus. I’m not sure how exactly guiding I-5 traffic to Dearborn would help though.

      If there were a desire to turn parts of the freeway into a boulevard, it would run into the problem that most of it is not on the surface but viaducts, and the surface is sometimes far below with a cliff wall on the side.

  7. re dockless bike share story with a high percentage of Lime bikes inoperable: to be effective, a dockless program has to ubiquitous; but if ubiquitous, its negative externalities are maximized. they include sidewalk clutter and obstruction, blocking curb ramps and bus stops, and even visual blight. the story does not mention the reliability of Jump (Uber bikes). on Election Night, I chatted with a man who was changing Jump batteries; he works to 5:30 a.m. each night. The SDOT video featuring Jacob Struiksma is nice. is this a new issue? what happened to walking?

    1. Yeah, that’s why big cities have moved to docked systems, and little cities prefer dockless. With a big city, you should expect high usage, with bikes everywhere. It makes sense to put them where people can find them, and manage them to avoid pedestrian conflicts as well as damage.

      With a small city, even if you do everything right, you aren’t going to have that many users (you just won’t have the density). So cutting corners (dockless without that many bikes) becomes a cheap alternative, even though ridership will suffer.

      Initially we made the right choice (docked) but then ran the program so poorly that the results were as expected (poor). Rather than look at the research, and adjust accordingly, we made stupid assumptions, like the idea that we had unique issues (hills, rain, etc.). They were on the right track with the expansion, but then that got killed. In its place came a dockless system, that is largely funded by venture capital (the type of thinking that lead to the dotcom crash). The companies manage to keep labor costs relatively low by “outsourcing” in the Uber/Lyft mode, which likely results in people making less than minimum wage (gilded age, 2.0). Even with that, they were losing money, so they jacked up the price.

      Now folks want scooters.

  8. Has anyone else noticed that Lime bikes are now 29¢/ minute? That makes even short trips add up really fast. I understand wanting to make the business mode sustainable but it’s still unfortunate.

    1. Once the rates went up to 25 cents/minute, I basically stopped using them, so I didn’t even know they went up again. The trips I used to use them for have been replaced with some combination of walking, jogging, riding the bus, riding my own bike, or riding Lyft/Uber cars, depending on the distance, quality of transit service, and time constraints. A one-mile “last mile” trip, I can jog in under 10 minutes for free, so it’s hard to justify paying $4-5 to ride a bike.

      On the level of city policy, I have become much less enthusiastic about allowing them on the streets – if they’re going to be this expensive, I don’t really see the public benefit to justify the space they take up.

      1. I’m confused, why does it take you significantly longer to bike a mile with an electric bike than it does to jog it?

      2. When comparing travel time between bike vs. jogging, the “bike” time isn’t just time moving. It’s also the overhead of finding a bike that’s in reasonable working condition (not trivial with 50% of bikes unrentable), walking to the bike, unlocking it, and adjusting the seat. Plus, once you do start moving, stoplights can negate much of the bike’s speed advantage. Jogging is generally superior on space-constrained sidewalks, where a narrow profile offers an advantage. For some trips, jogging also offers the option to use staircases as shortcuts, which you can’t do on a bike.

        Even a flat trip down the Burke-Gilman trail, jogging is a 6-minute mile, a Lime/Jump bike is a 4-minute mile (speed governed to 15 mph), a difference of just 2 minutes. Finding a working bike, unlocking it, and getting the seat adjusted can easily take two minutes, so for a one-mile Burke-Gilman trip, the travel time of bike and jogging is essentially a wash.

        For longer trips (e.g. Fremont->U-district), the travel time advantages of the bike over jogging start to become significant, but the cost of the ride also becomes very significant, and you start to ask whether it’s really worth $5 in bikeshare fares to avoid waiting for the #31/32 bus. If the bus isn’t coming for another 20+ minutes, it might be. But, if the bus is frequent, and you already have a pass for unlimited rides, it usually isn’t.

      3. I was referring to the cost you cited, which shouldn’t include the time to find the bike or adjust the seat since you can do those things before you start the rental.

  9. While I generally enjoy reading Mike Lindblom’s pieces in The Seattle Times, I think the piece in the TNT is more on point in regard to the findings from Sound Transit’s recently released commissioned report on the Dec 2017 Amtrak derailment in Dupont.

    To that end:

    “Sound Transit didn’t follow its own safety procedures, the new report concluded. The independent review was conducted by Oregon-based L & H Consulting.

    “Findings from the report included:

    ▪ Sound Transit staff wrongly believed that the state Department of Transportation, not Sound Transit, was responsible for overseeing Amtrak training and qualifications.
    A safety plan was not made for the Point Defiance Bypass.

    ▪ Fully simulated runs were not performed as required by Sound Transit policy.

    ▪ Sound Transit did not fully understand its responsibilities as the host railroad.

    ▪ Proposed hazard mitigations were not appropriately sent up the chain of command and reviewed. Instead, they were rubber stamped.

    “Safety hazards are not created equally. They go through various reviews and personnel at Sound Transit, based on severity.

    ” “If they are of a certain level of concern, they are elevated,” Rogoff said. “In this case, that process wasn’t rigorously adhered to.”

    “Rogoff himself should have signed off on hazards of the highest level.

    ” “That latter part didn’t happen,” he said.”

    Additionally, from the ST article it appears the so-called “sacking” was a demotion only as the individual at the center of the personnel matter remains on medical leave as of now.

    From the Times piece:
    “Al-Tamimi is currently on medical leave, but might be able to return in a lower-ranked position in another department, Rogoff said. Al-Tamimi, 57, spent five years as a division chief at a current salary of $203,824.”

  10. Wow. Reading the KOMO article on I-976 one’s immediately reminded of the fact it was taken over by the Sinclair Broadcast group.

  11. The idea of putting buildings on the I-5 lid is incredibly asinine. This lid is our last chance to have a truly great park downtown (which is a key feature in many world-class cities), and we will never be able to support a high level of residential density downtown without one. Yes, I am aware of the coming waterfront park, and no a very narrow park sandwiched between retail businesses and a very large, very high traffic roadway doesn’t count as a great park.

    Essentially all of the land east and west of the lid is dedicated to buildings…why on earth do we need to add buildings to the lid itself? An incredibly minor, all-but-unnoticeable upzone to the rest of the city could much, much more than accommodate the same number of homes, retail, and office as the lid (as could a very minor upzone to just downtown or Capitol Hill).

    You can always add more building to land that already has buildings on it, but you can never add park to land that already has buildings.

    I pray to god that Seattle doesn’t waste this once-in-several-hundred-year opportunity.

  12. Uh folks, we got trouble inbound. From Tim Eyman’s e-mail blastserv:

    * Tues, Dec 10, 3:00 pm, join me/us as we pack the Pierce County Council chambers as they vote on whether or not to intervene in the I-976 case. (Pierce County Council, 930 Tacoma Ave S, 10th floor, Tacoma). Email the council right away ( …

    It seems to me the Pierce County Council and Sound Transit Boardmember Bruce Dammeier (aka Pierce County Executive Dammeier) is going to come riding on in here. Which means I sure hope all you fans of a federated board who are oh so opposed to a directly elected board come to the shocking realization that at BART, they don’t have Boardmembers in court working against funding BART projects. Also transit advocates generally win election down there…

    Now if I could do down there and defend the repeal of 976, I would. But I have to be in two hours of important transit business in Skagit at the same general time.

    1. An elected board could have Eyman himself on it.

      And now much do we know about BART’s politics, how it’s funded, and how much it uses vehicle-license fees or similar culturally-sensitive taxes? Not to mention the thousands of people in the outer counties who commute on BART and wouldn’t like it to go away. Pierce County is in the position of still not having an extension, and the extension will only go to the very edge of the county anyway.

      I hope some Piercians do show up to show the public is not all one-sided. If it’s half and half you may get an interesting result, and not a hard run to the courthouse. Then Pierce can talk more sensibly about some more sensible alternative like possibly seceding from ST, and if so, how it would pay its share of debt, and how to get Tacoma/Lakewood the transit they need, especially considering they voted for ST.

      1. BART has a 75 percent farebox recovery for operations and gets property tax revenue. BART extensions have largely been funded by individual county sales taxes collected by individual countywide planning agencies of which BART sits on the board (BART will operate in five counties when the Santa Clara stations open next year).

        It would be like a new countywide sales tax agency for Pierce County (County, cities, WSDOT and operators on the Board) collects the money, and their countywide plan resulted in a Link extension as part of an overall countywide transportation measure.

      2. BART only collects property tax on properties in the BART district. Santa Clara (San Jose) and San Mateo (SFO Airport) counties which have BART extensions are not in the BART district and therefore have no representation on the BART board.

      3. I’m having a hard time picturing this structure. Is it good? It sounds like it gives counties the ability to choose their own tax rate and timeline, which would reduce some of the tensions we have.

        And how’s that going with San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties being outside the BART district? How much does it affect them to not have board representation? I imagine that they’re paying for all their extensions, and that the board wouldn’t do anything that affects them without their consent. Except maybe a reduction during recessions. Could this be a model for Thurston County? Or for north Snohomish and Skagit?

      4. Unless I’m mistaken, presently in our state PTBA’s do not have the tax authority to assess a property tax levy of any sort. So that part of the model could not be employed without a big ask of our legislators down in Olympia.

      5. 1) I would like to see us get out of the property tax business myself. I see a demographic bomb in our near future where property tax levies are threatening to force higher rents plus seniors & disabled out of their homes.

        2) I would prefer a directly elected board, keep the current Sound Transit District and a statewide rep. Now to keep the “Seattle” Supreme Court from quashing this, the statewide rep will cover the entire state – including the Sound Transit District. Hopefully that voice will be a voice for regionalism and proper parliamentary conduct.

        3) One or two dissenters is not a problem. No, the problems are not enough passionate folks on the Board and federated Boardmembers now about to hurt the agency’s goals.

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