Pioneer Square Station
wings777/flickr

This is an open thread.

115 Replies to “News roundup: designed to get your attention”

  1. Is there a written rule about King County Metro making stops outside of the normal route when buses are on snow route? I’ve had a driver tell me that drivers are not allowed to make stops outside of the normal route when on snow route (this after I asked to be dropped off at a bus stop). This after being picked up by a B Line earlier in the day on its snow route on Bel-Red road.

    I also recall from last year when the ESN was in place that the F-line has a snow route on 42nd Ave S *for the purpose* (as stated my the driver) of picking up passengers that route 128 has to skip on its snow route. So nothing is clear, and AFAIK there is no list of buses that can stop on their snow route.

    I think the fairly obvious rule should be that if the bus on the snow route drives by a bus stop, the bus can stop there. Seems pretty simple, and obvious that it’s safe for all buses to stop at a bus stop. Plus a lot of routes don’t make any sense at all without stops, like the B Line, which is making stops on Bel-Red road which are normally only served by the 226. It seems like the worst time to confuse riders and needlessly abide by rigid routes, when buses can’t do the regular route anyway.

    1. I had the same thing happen to me on a snow-routed 10 bus in Cap Hill. The bus driver refused to stop anywhere between Pine and 15th and 15th and Harrison, skipping over the transfer to the 8 bus at 15th & John. I’m curious what KCM’s response to the complaint I handed in will be.

      1. Forget Customer Services. Address all your complaints to your elected representative, and don’t ease up ’til you get the attention you’re entitled to. Tell them you’re not going to get off those tracks until that voice is off the air.

        Also that you’ll consider bad bus stop information evidence that system’s gone fare-free. Large number of union members will thank you for word from the governing body that information to drivers will be powerfully updated.

        Keep your communications civil with the transit operating personnel who are trying their best, and hate bad information worse than you do. Would like to encourage drivers and supervisors to use Seattle Transit Blog to communicate what they need to get it right.

        News video from places from Hong Kong to Tehran is starting to show the power of a population who’s run out of patience.

        Mark Dublin

    2. It sounds like the opposite of past practice. The bus might as well not run at all if it doesn’t stop. They do skip stops on the sides of hills, preferring to stop at the top and bottom of hills. But it sounds like the driver gave you a different reason. There may be some half-thought-out guidance going around this year.

      1. He said it was a rule. The other bus driver might have chosen to broken the rule [to stop at bus stops on the snow route], but he wasn’t going to break it.

        The blame lies at the top. There is no reason at all for this ridiculous rule. Metro even explicitly allows buses to stop at places that aren’t bus stops between 8pm and 5am (called “Night Stop” service). So it does have cases where it allows stops that normally can’t be done, but it just doesn’t apply that standard to snow routes.

      2. Different drivers have different interpretations of the rules, or are following what a rule used to be. This has been an issue for decades. You can’t just take one driver’s word for it. The thing to do is ask Metro whether it’s really a rule and if so why and when it was changed, and point out that it significantly hinders the routes’ effectiveness. If several people do that, and especially if elected officials do it, then Metro might respond.

    3. Of course drivers should stop at bus stops on snow reroutes when requested. Not sure what they are told to do when the reroute has no bus stops at all. I doubt there is a snow exception in the rule book to never making stops outside of bus zones (except for the night stop exception). I imagine it’s up to the driver. If you’ve gotta jerk driver, he won’t. If you have a nice one, he will. The 255’s snow route through Kirkland takes it down Lake Wash Blvd. There are zero bus stops between Carillon Point and Kirkland TC. I asked a 255 driver to let me off at an intersection that had no bus stop, and he did. I don’t think there’s a rule that spells out he has to do that. I think he just did it because he was nice. But, yeah, if there was a bus stop there and he refused to stop, I would complain.

      What would help is if that rule were announced over the bus by the control center during times of snow, so everyone, including the driver, can hear it. I heard an announcement reminding drivers to stop out in the street, and not pull over to the curb, so they don’t scrape off their snow chain. A similar announcement reminding drivers that they are to stop at bus stops on reroutes would be helpful. Just putting that in the rule book (if it’s not there already), which is probably filled with thousands of other rules, isn’t effective.

      1. So Metro announced that drivers *should* stop at bus stops outside the regular route, apparently against the written rule (assuming it is written)?

      2. No, I am suggestion that kind of announcement would be helpful. Let’s say it’s already rule. Well, when you have thousands of drivers, and thousands of rules, many drivers might not be up to date on that rule. Metro coordinators make announcements for other things … don’t drive over 30 mph with chains, don’t pull too close to the curb … judging by complaints, maybe they need to start making announcements reminding drivers that they are required to stop at bus stops on reroutes. If it is in the rule book, apparently, that isn’t enough.

      3. A reroute implies the stops should move with it; that’s obvious on its face. Usually it’s not an issue becauase the new street has bus stops and the bus uses them. If the reroute is preplanned Metro even goes and puts temporary bus stop signs up, and signs saying where the new stops are. In a snow reroute, especially one that happens at the last minute, that may not be possible because there’s not enough personnel and they’re busy with other things and can’t get to every place fast in the snow.Maybe the rules need to be clarified but this has never been a problem before. When the 75 is rerouted to UW Station, it uses the stop at UW Station. It doesn’t stop between 45th and the station because it’s a highway with no place to stop. That doesn’t apply to the streets on Capitol Hill, and the OP says the driver skipped actual bus stops.

      4. This is obviously better. And pre-planning temporary stops on the pre-planned snow route seems like a no-brainer (assuming there aren’t any bus stops on the snow route already). On the posted route map, put “X”s along the snow route where the bus can stop.

        Then when the time comes, a supervisor can ride along on the route’s first run and drop some “bus tow away zone” signs that they always use for temporary stops. But even before those are placed, riders can see the location of the temp stops on the posted map and wait there. And if drivers are instructed to be more lenient about exact locations rather than less, then buses will be worth running in the snow. Honestly the rules as they stand seem like Metro assumes that Seattle never gets snow, so it doesn’t really matter.

      5. There’s a potential precedent in night owl service. Buses will stop at non-stops to let people off so they don’t have to walk as far in the dark and get mugged. It’s the driver’s discretion whether a certain block is safe enough to stop at. During snow days, 90% of the cars disappear, and the ones that remain drive more slowly, so it should be easier to stop at a non-stop block safely if it’s flat.

      6. Mixed messaging yesterday on the 372. The bus didn’t go up the hill onto campus. Instead it took Montlake to the hospital. The bus didn’t stop at the light rail station stop, but it did stop at the bus stop at Pacific/Montlake.

        Then again, the next 372 I saw that morning did go up the hill to campus. So no idea if this was a rule, or just 1 random driver doing their own thing.

      7. That is the snow route for the 372, 75, 62, and others. Seattle wasn’t on snow routes Monday or Tuesday (except maybe Tuesday PM), but North King County was, and the 372 is split half and half between Seattle and Northshore so there may have been confusion about what the 372 should do around UW. That’s one of those things that happens during snow. I took the 75 eastbound a couple times in earlier snowstorms, and the alert list said it was on snow route so I waited at Husky Stadium and let 65’s pass me up, but after half an hour of waiting I took a 65 to 45th and the next 75 came down from campus. So it’s frustratijng when the times snow routes start and end are not exact or have much notice. I’ve learned to go to stops severed by both the snow route and the regular route as much as possible, and to always take the first route going generally in your direction.

  2. Honestly I don’t wanna be rude, but that guys voice is awful. They couldn’t have found someone who had a more pleasant voice?

    One thing Sound Transit is really bad at is updating their announcements on trains and at stations. Looks like they will do that with the Siemens vehicles, but wording should be changed on trains to simplify things. Also announce different modes to connect to at the appropriate station like every other transit system in the world does ! Why can’t they figure that out ?

    1. “Why can’t they figure that out ?” – Because Sound Transit insists on constantly re-inventing the wheel as if they’re the first to do anything. This is an agency that built a brand new train line without real time arrival information and still, over a decade later, can’t figure out how to get it working.

      1. As I recall real time arrival info was part of the original plan but when they encountered major budget challenges in ST1 they cut that and only included the 2 minute warning, which is mostly an accessibility item.

        That being said, what is in place now is pretty inexcusable. I think they are planning a major upgrade but I’m not sure when it will be rolled out.

    2. I didn’t find the voice obnoxious. I was imporessed ST changed the onboard announcements to say exit left instead of exit right, or “exit left, transfer right”. The biggest thing that’s changed in the stations is the number of announcemnets has increased significantly, and there are more “Pay yourfare” or “Look for suspicious packages” messages that aren’t directly related to the train schedule. I assume it’s because ST assumed there would be more riders unfamiliar with the system. But it’s the number and loudness of these messages that get people really noticing them and being annoyed, and they’re taking it out on the voice.

    3. I don’t think he has a bad voice per se – but the intonations of the voices sound almost on the verge of angry. Almost like the ST employee is a long time rail operator since the most “annoyed” of the recordings is where it sternly admonishes people in advance to not to hold train doors open.

      But definitely too many announcements and repeated too often. When we have to stand on the platforms a lot longer nowadays its extra annoying.

      You can almost time how late the trains are by how many times you hear “proof of payment is required” barked at you. Which almost has to be the most useless announcement since if you didn’t know that – you wouldn’t know where to go.

  3. How long will Seattle chase DADUs until it realizes there simply isn’t demand for them? We’ve eased their regulations twice and fast tracked them once, and they’re still not being built. What makes the city think preapproval of their design is magically going to change things?

      1. So are you saying that DADUs are not housing, or a particular type of housing that people don’t want to live in. Either is a ridiculous statement — I’m just trying to figure out which ridiculous argument you are using.

      2. It’s not that DADUs that are built don’t have a willing supply of renters. The issue is that people who have spent big bucks to buy a SFH aren’t interested in having renters staring in their kitchen window or taking up valuable parking. Not to mention the fact Seattle keeps making onerous landlord restrictions that are shrinking the supply of homes for rent.

    1. Agreed, so much drama over a housing type that might house a maximum of a few thousand people over the next few decades. We need to be debating the real issue which is that duplexes and triplexes are banned in almost the entire city.

      Sure, maybe some people want to live in a tiny cottage in a stranger’s backyard (and vice-versa), but it’s obviously not going to be an option for the majority of people.

      1. Until recently, DADUs were essentially banned in most of the city as well. By the way, a duplex has the same number of units as a house and a detached unit: 2.

      2. Sure, maybe some people want to live in a tiny cottage in a stranger’s backyard (and vice-versa), but it’s obviously not going to be an option for the majority of people.

        If you don’t like living next to strangers, then I’m not sure what you would end up doing. Live on a farm somewhere?

        There are thousands of people that would love to rent out a backyard cottage, or townhouse (the two are quite similar). As to whether your neighbor is your landlord, that might be the case, it might not.

    2. Agreed. Most people wealthy enough to buy SFHs in Seattle probably want the yard for themselves and also don’t need the income from a DADU.

      Seattle’s increasingly tenant-friendly rental regulations are also not likely to encourage people to become landlords, especially when a bad tenant is literally in their backyard. DADUs that are built are more profitably operated as short term rentals and with lower risks – no tenant regulations apply.

      Let’s see more row-houses, duplexes, and small-scale apartments, along with moderately higher height limits. That would do a lot more for housing stock creation than DADUs.

      1. IDK, look a satellite view of the extremely wealthy Yarrow Point, you’ll see parcels that were formerly long, single home properties, that stretched from the road to the water, now having two to three homes filling that same long parcel. Wealthy people split those parcels up to become even more wealthy.

      2. Yarrow Point is so small that it doesn’t matter whether a handful of lots were subdivided; it’s within the margin of error of housing availability. The Points towns aren’t regular suburbs. When the first lots were claimed in the 1950s there was nobody there so they could form a long narrow shape without taking land from anybody or squeezing housing availability. Maybe later they decided the long lots were unnecessary and subdivided them. Big deal. I’m more interested in what Bellevue and Kirkland are doing for affordable housing and workforce housing. The Points and Beaux Arts are maybe getting an extraordinary privilege but they’re so small and peripheral it doesn’t make much difference. Only eastern Medina (84th, 12th) is really relevant.

      3. There is nothing noble about wanting to herd more and more people into affordable housing. As a society, our goal should be to get people’s incomes up so they can afford to live in non-subsidized housing.

      4. Wait, you want small scale apartments, but not really small scale? A row house is good, but not if the tiny house happens to be next to a bigger house? A duplex is good, too, but two units on the same lot is not?

        As for people becoming landlords, you do realize that is precisely what the change in the law was about right? Up until recently, you had to live in either the house, or the other unit. This meant that normal individuals were asked to be landlords. With the new law, someone can buy both units, just like they would by a duplex, and rent out both units. This means that professional landlords will buy and manage the property (just like professional landlords rent out houses).

      5. IDK, look a satellite view of the extremely wealthy Yarrow Point, you’ll see parcels that were formerly long, single home properties, that stretched from the road to the water, now having two to three homes filling that same long parcel.

        Good thing you brought that up. I think Seattle needs to reduce lot sizes as well. Typically when there is a subdivision, it is of the type you describe — from huge to very big. That is all good and well for Yarrow Point (a very suburban community) but it is crazy for that to happen in Seattle. In much of the city, the maximum lot size is 7,000 square feet. I would drop it, city wide, to 2,600. That is still big enough to house a stand alone house. It is also just a bit bigger than half of 5,000 (where some of the nicest houses in Seattle exist). Thus you wouldn’t see a typical Wallingford house be torn down to put in a couple skinny houses. But if a place has a huge lot, then instead of subdividing it into 7,000 square feet lots, it would be subdivided into 2,600 lots (more than doubling the number of new houses). Typically these are areas where people really don’t care that much about density — they just want things like sidewalks.

        It isn’t as far as I would go, mind you, but it sure seems like it would be pretty easy to pull off. Much of the city wouldn’t notice, but it would make a big difference in several neighborhoods (like mine). It would also call bullshit on the Seattle Times argument, that we are losing houses. This is one of the few policy changes that would actually increase the number of stand alone houses.

      6. “There is nothing noble about wanting to herd more and more people into affordable housing. As a society, our goal should be to get people’s incomes up so they can afford to live in non-subsidized housing.”

        That’s one solution. What’s your plan to raise the minimum wage to $33? It’s $25 in some European countries. Otherwise you’re offering a non-solution. We shouldn’t have allowed the housing shortage to get so acute that even an average apartment costs $1800, but we did, and now we need a solution for those falling into the gap betwee $600 and $1800. There’s no realistic way we can make it up with market-rate housing in the short term so we’ll need a lot of subsidized housing.

      7. Mike, increasing the minimum wage to a level high enough that two workers could afford a full-price Seattle home would just push the price of those Seattle homes higher. They’d remain just as out of reach to two-minimum wage worker families as they are today.

        It’s called inflation. If more money chases the same pool of capital goods, the nominal price of those capital goods rises proportionately.

        The only way to lower the price of capital goods is to increase their availability. For housing that means “build more”; the primary disagreement is “What is the optimum form by which to do that?”

        All of which is not to say “don’t raise the minimum wage”, because there are loads of non-capital goods which people consume, use and enjoy that they could then purchase. Just don’t expect raising it to solve the housing crisis.

      8. “increasing the minimum wage to a level high enough that two workers could afford a full-price Seattle home would just push the price of those Seattle homes higher.”

        I was going to mention that but didn’t to keep the comment short. Yes, raising the minimum wage might help more people get more housing in the beginning, if you don’t address the underlying problem of rising prices then eventually you’ll end up right back where you started. And the housing supply doesn’t automatically expand when you raise wages: with a fixed supply it doesn’t mean more people are housed but that it levels the playing field: lower-income people can more effectively compete for the units that exist. I was basically trying to make the point that raising income and lowering expenses are the same thing: the net result is more money you can spend/save.

        I don’t like the term “inflation” because it’s overused in misleading ways, but yes, “more money chasing the same amount of goods” is the same as “more people competing for the same number of units”, so it explains the price increases.

        What I disagree with is the idea that if the fed increases the money supply it automatically translates into inflation. Most people don’t know what the money supply is or how it changes, so it doesn’t affect their pricing/purchasing decisions. A large sustained increase in money supply may lead to inflation, but the relationship is indirect. Yet Austrian economists use it as a reason to kibbosh social programs to reduce poverty and inequality, as if people’s misery is completey unimportant.

    3. Even if it’s nominally legal there are still a lot of hurdles that deter people. That’s what the last relaxation was about. It takes years for the momentum to grow enough to be visible, for the same reason that bus/train routes take a few years toreach their ridership potential. First the homeowner has to find about it, then they have to decide to do it, then they have to line up financing. And if they’ve seen so manyfalse starts or even tried to build one before they may not really believe it’s easy enough now. As for fast-tracking, ha. If the city really had an effective fast-tracking and incentivizing you’d see units sprout up. Otherwise, why does it workinVancouver but not here? Are people really less willing to build or lease DADUs here or is it just the regulatory barriers are higher?

      Your speculation that people don’t want to live in or offer DADUs makes unfounded assumptions and is dangerous because it exacerbates the housing shortage. Even if many or most people don’t want them, some do, and in a city of 720,000 that would translate to thousands of units. Otherwise you’re saying not even 1% of the population wants them, which is implausable. Many people havn’t grown up with them and can’t see themselves in one until they actually see them on the ground or know somebody who’s in one.

      You’re right that evn if half the house lots get ADUs it will be a small number of units because there are a small number of lots because each lot takes so much space. But again it works in Vancouver. And Vancouver also encourages new duplexes and small apartment buildings throughout the city, it doesn’t only rely on DADUs. I would rather see lowrise allowed throughout the city rather than keeping most of it “SF+DADU”. But that’s not a good reason to oppose relaxing DADU regulations; it’s making the perfect the enemy of the good.

      There’s another reason to seriously support DADUs even if you think denser would be better. People need a wide variety of housing types to choose from. They had it in Seattle until the 1970s but it has since bifurcated into large expensive breadboxes or single-family houses, with nothing in between except the remaining pre-1970s buildings and nothing below a studio for the low-income. And the remaining pre-1970s buildings are what were torn down en masse in the post-2010 Amazon boom when the vacancy rate finally reached critical. Some people want a DADU or tiny house, others want a normal-sized apartment, others want a house. Some want a 2BR apartment or particularly large DADU because they have children or they like being in nature, etc. And some need something under $1000/month. We should offer all of them.

      1. My observation that DADU regulation relaxation does not result in the anticipated increase in DADUs is based in tangible reality, not speculation. We know when rules were relaxed and the predicted increase in units. We know that prediction has never even been close to being accurate.

        Seattle’s “missing middle” is a myth. It does not exist in Seattle because there is no demand for it. People living here and moving here want to live in condo/apartment complexes or SFHs. That is why they dominate the landscape. Real estate is a powerful lobby in Seattle and King County. If there was money to be made in duplexes and rowhouses, they’d be permitted and already built.

        Supply often follows demand. The housing that is demanded is the housing that is supplied. You can’t induce demand in many markets. Housing is one of them. Vacant houses don’t solve a housing crisis or make real estate owners any money. They don’t help solve the issues we face today.

        There’s only so much political power that can be wielded in a day or in an administration. I argue that wielding that power to support frequently failed housing modes, especially DADUs, is a waste of time and power. We can ill afford that wasted effort at present.

      2. “Seattle’s “missing middle” is a myth. It does not exist in Seattle because there is no demand for it. People living here and moving here want to live in condo/apartment complexes or SFHs.”

        That’s completely false! I’ve lived in a few small apartment buildings and a duplex, and I’d do it again. There are people who prefer something in between a single-family house and a large apartment/condo building, and it’s just false to say the demand doesn’t exist. What doesn’t exist is the supply, especially since 2010. Some people care mostly about cost, and small buildings have less construction/maintenance costs than large buildings. You’re confusing cause and effect. In every city that has a full range of housing types, all of them are well used.

        “Vacant houses don’t solve a housing crisis or make real estate owners any money.”

        Rents and home prices go up and down with the vacancy rate. In Seattle between the 80s and 90s you could look at an apartment, mull it over for a week, and it would still be available, and at a reasonable price. When the vacancy rate goes down, more people are competing for the same number of units and they bid each other up, or the owner simply raises the price because they can get an affluent person easily and everyone else is shut out. For owned houses/condos the equivalent is the time on market. In the 80s and 90s houses took six months to sell on average. Since the recession they’re taking six weeks or less, sometime; the average is less than a month. That’s why prices are rising so fast. It all goes back to that statewide report that Washington built 225,000 fewer houses than the population increased; and Seattle or King County now has a similar count of 250,000. The difference may be that they’re counting different things, but either way there’s a massive housing shortage that started in 2003 and really accelerated in 2011.

        “I argue that wielding that power to support frequently failed housing modes, especially DADUs, is a waste of time and power. ”

        The attraction of ADUs is they’re easier to get approved. People see ADUs and only grumble a little but about the character of the neighborhood and street parking. But when they hear about theoretical apartments they imagine they’ll be full of Section 8 drug addicts and brown people who will drag down the value of their house, and also take their street parking so it will be harder to find.

      3. People living here and moving here want to live in condo/apartment complexes or SFHs.

        That is absurd. I have a feeling you simply don’t understand what a DADU is:

        1) It is a detached building, similar to a single family house. Typically though, it is smaller (like a skinny house).

        2) Up until recently, you couldn’t rent out both units. You had to live in one of them. Now that has changed, which means that it is only a matter of time before houses are bought up for this exact purpose.

        These things don’t happen overnight. There are only so many people selling their house at one time. Those in the property management business are just getting started. They might have been renting out houses for a while, but aren’t sure about the costs of building a second unit, especially with the unusual regulations (which are still nowhere as forgiving as for building a regular house). This simplifies the process, so that a housing manager can just drop a second unit next to the first one. Of course someone who owns a house can do the same.

        It isn’t as big a deal as the ADU change (since it tends to be easier and cheaper to create an apartment from a house) but it is still significant. About 35% of Vancouver’s single family houses have an ADU or DADU. If we had the same ratio, we would have about 50,000 additional apartments, spread out throughout the city. Unlike a lot of the new apartments being built, these would not be next to the freeway, or Aurora — but in nice neighborhoods.

      4. I am well aware of what a detached accessory dwelling unit, aka mother-in-law apartment, is. Your second point and everything after it is speculation not based on regional evidence and at times cherry picked from other regions.

      5. Well, why do you think the other regions have build so many more ADUs and DADUs? Here is my theory: the laws are different. It is simply easier to build them there. Until recently, we had by the far the most restrictive laws. Even now our laws are more restrictive than they should be.

        Your theory seems to be that we have a bizarre dislike of certain types of apartments. Are there a bunch of vacant DADUs to support your theory? Of course not. They rent out the same way that other types of apartments rent out.

        You can’t expect a new law to result in new apartments overnight. It doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t work that way with any type of apartment. Just look around at the existing zoning. There are plenty of places that are zoned for apartments, but still have houses. That is because those houses haven’t sold yet. Sometimes it takes years and years before an area builds up apartments. This is for areas zoned for a building type that developers have experience with. In the case of DADUs, it is all largely new around here.

        Just read the article. They don’t even have any pre-approved designs yet! But somehow, you think that people are going to build a bunch of new places within four months of the new law? Do you even know anyone in the construction business? Go ahead, walk into JAS and ask them if they can build you a new DADU in four months. They will laugh at you. They have huge backlogs. Oh, they can do the addition, but it will take at least a year. That is after they deal with the brand new regulations. It won’t be cheap, either (for that reason).

        If, on the other hand, you can walk into a place and they say “Sure, we can have a pre-assembled little house in there in a couple months. Let me show you some examples” it is a different story.

        The same that is going on with home owners is going on with companies that rent out houses. Building a new custom unit is expensive. Adding a prefab house isn’t. Until recently, no one had experience navigating either. It takes time before these are built. But when they are built, they will have no trouble renting them out (just as they’ve rented out the few that do exist).

        This idea that Seattle is so special — that we simply do things differently around here is what I find so frustrating. Somehow docked bike share won’t work here, even though it works in other cities. Somehow DADUs and ADUs won’t work here, even though they work in other cities. Somehow making the same sort of transit mistakes here won’t matter, because we are different.

        All of it is complete B. S. We are not that different. Our bike share system struggled for the same reason it would fail anywhere: lack of station density. We haven’t built DADUs or ADUs because the laws were draconian. Failing to look outside the little bubble of Seattle, and see what is actually happening in other cities is bad enough. To then freakout and say that we just don’t like DADUs after we start taking baby steps to be like them is nothing more than provincial ignorance.

      6. There’s only so much political power that can be wielded in a day or in an administration. I argue that wielding that power to support frequently failed housing modes, especially DADUs, is a waste of time and power. We can ill afford that wasted effort at present.

        I was suspicious of A Joy’s position but after this turn I am fairly certain they are arguing in bad faith due to a personal opposition to DADU’s coupled with an awareness that NIMBYism is a bad look.

      7. Nudging the policymakers to relax DADU restrictions doesn’t take much effort because there’s already some momentum for it. It doesn’t detract from the effort to overturn single-family zoning citywide, which so far doesn’t have momentum except among a few activists and the examples in couple other cities.

      8. I think people are confusion A Joy’s argument about demand. The housing supply advocates here are assuming A Joy means hardly anyone wants to live in a DADU. I think what she meant is that few landowners want to build and rent out a DADU.

        By the same thought process, there is no demand for duplexes and triplexes, because SFH residents don’t want to bulldoze their houses and replace them with duplexes and triplexes.

    4. As a Seattle homeowner with moderate income I am eagerly awaiting the pre-approved DADU designs. The easing of restrictions has made my property viable for what I want to build and I am hopeful to be in the position to begin construction before the end of 2020.

      The design and permitting process is a significant hurdle for many. Uncertainty makes it difficult to act. If I am going to start spending money on the process (application fees, surveying, etc.) I need to be reasonably confident that my investment will pay off or I can’t justify taking that first step.

    5. If I had the money to afford a single family home in a City, I would have the money already to not need the rental income and would enjoy a backyard urban oasis. If the home already had a DADU built, I would invest in some cheap Ikea furnishings and rent it out on AirBNB, where you can generate revenue of over $100 per day and not be subject to tenant-landlord law, and be able to block it out when friends or family members visit from out-of-town. As a former renter (my parents rented until I was 23 and they were in their early 50s, and I rented until I was 28 – so most of my life has been under the thumb of a landlord), I sympathize with tenant rights organizations, but am not personally interested in dealing with those headaches. I will someday probably have money to invest in a rental house or two, but probably won’t, because it will not be worth the time, trouble, or frustration.

      1. I have a feeling the vast majority of these DADUs will be AirBNB’d. It’s way easier and likely more profitable.

      2. “If I had the money to afford a single family home in a City, I would have the money already to not need the rental income and would enjoy a backyard urban oasis.”

        That’s you. Some people go into debt to buy houses, or they’ve had a house for decades and now it has increased in value so much that the property taxes are difficult. However, these aren’t the ones building DADUs. The ones who are building DADUs have enough money to do so and are essentially investing in a side business.

      3. DADU s could also be used for family, hence the term “mother in law” unit,or for downsizing if you want to rent out the main house and live in the DADU, which is a plausible option for those aging in place.

      4. AirB&Bs are a significant problem and the city will have to do more to discorage them. But we can at least hope that not all DADUs will become AirB&Bs, so there will be a few for families.

    6. Not at all opposed to reducing the bureaucracy and red tape associated with DADUs. However, I’m also not at all supportive of leaders holding back on more meaningful options (eliminating the condo/apartment ban in most of the city, developing properties to be sold on the market at cost, Singapore style, ect) while patting themselves on the back and pointing to DADUs as if it were significant progress.

    7. I wonder if there is a market for a DADU kit — like the Sears house kits from 100 years ago. In today’s online ordering and delivery mindset, it might work! Another business model may be like IKEA, with a large showroom demonstrating options attached to a warehouse that stocks them and a building crew that can install/ build them.

      I suspect that many home owners don’t pursue it because of the time and hassle and financial risk required to design and then build one.

      1. Such kits already exist on Amazon and at Home Depot. They were designed for the microhome and country prepper markets.

      2. There are companies that offer predesigned houses in Pugetopolis, that you can just order, the company helps with the permitting, and they slap it up or truck it in. My friend was looking at it to build a DADU for himself on his parents’ lot in Rainier View. He said the companies are reluctant to do it in Seattle because the regulations are more cumbersome than outside Seattle.

      3. Larger houses would be like regular houses. Tiny houses below a certain square footage run into the problem that they’re not allowed unless they have wheels like a trailer and are only used part-time or are temporary. So people that have them include wheels they don’t need, and pretend they only use it less than six months out of the year. This is a problem nationwide so most tiny houses are on wheels. The solution is simply to allow smaller fixed houses and full-time use.

      4. The most popular pre-fab micro-housing is RVs and trailer homes. But neighborhood associations hate them, and so push to have them banned or de facto banned.

  4. Sounds like Lime is on its last leg. Which really isn’t a surprise, the profitability of citywide dockless program was always questionable.

    1. They may have been all about the data, anyway. Now that they have enough, they can transition to a company that sells it.

    2. Yeah, I hope the imminent demise of Lime is enough to convince the Seattle Council to not bow to corporate astroturfing and vote no on allowing eScooters.

      1. RossB and RapidRider: amen. the best last mile solution is walking. the dockless modes have issues with clutter and inappropriate parking. they cannot be ubiquitous without enormous numbers; with large numbers, there is too much clutter. the disruptive billionaires should find more useful toys. how about producing more affordable housing?

  5. I was split between Seneca or Symphony. I’m just glad common sense prevailed and ridiculous names like “Downtown Arts District” and “Midtown” were rejected. It’s like they needed 6 options for the survey to appear as though they solicited public input but they really just wanted Symphony to win.

    1. Yeah, Symphony seems like a good name that will be easy to remember and stand out nicely. It might have also been a good time to try ranked choice voting, since the winner got 25%.

    2. I’ve always preferred Symphony Station and I’m glad it got the most votes. Beyond the fact that the Seattle Symphony is next door, it’s a relaxing, unstressful, cultured name. Other cities have stations named after famous poets; why can’t we have one named after symphonies?

      “Arts District” is useless because nobody thinks of it as the arts district and there’s nothing artistic there except the symphony and art museum. Seattle Center is the arts district. The city is now calling Pike-Pine-12th an arfs district, which is also a stretch, but it makes more sense than 3rd & University. I would rather call it “Art: than :Arts District”, for the same reason that “Symphony” can be seen as a concept rather than a place.

      I have reservations about making the vote binding. The board is responsible; it should be the one making the decision. I wish Boaty McBoatface had won in England but its not enough to make me believe stra polls should be binding.

      We could call it Linky McLinkface Station. That’s something people would remember, and it would make tourists think more highly of Seattle.

      1. “Symphony” would be my vote, just in recognition of the fact that the concerts and the station happen to be in the same building. Would also favor real-time concerts being fed to PA on platform and aboard trains.

        But it’s also dawning on me this afternoon how much Seattle Transit Blog is coming to serve the function that in ages past would have been the job of a transit column in a print newspaper. And how well suited it is to the job.

        Including on-going real-time contact between the system, including both its officials and its workers, and its passengers. Where I would concentrate would be inclusion of first line workers, meaning drivers, supervisors, and mechanics.

        Have to be careful about what I’m about to advocate, because of how long ago my driving days were, and how far away I live now. But would be really valuable to have equivalent of a regular column for this level of intense and regular contact.

        I’m not wrong, am I, that Management reads every posting and comment? Would really like to see some evidence of similar contact between the blog and STU Local 587. Or more accurately, the union members who really run the thing.

        Underneath it all, in the journalistic and communications world of this day and date, a “blog’s” whole purpose is to accomplish all the interpersonal and interagency contact being advocated here with such frustrated vehemence.

        Somebody enough younger than me to know: if I were still driving, could a credible and pointed criticism of mine from my cell-phone in my train cab ever be intercepted and get me fired?

        And if so, is there any cure? ‘Til I know, not naming names, but from all the years leading up, there are too many very knowledgeable commenters I’m long over due to read again.

        Mark Dublin

    3. I just want to see a name change happen! I think that the worst thing that could happen is for dissent to ultimately result in ST leaving the name as is.

    4. Symphony is a stupid name. It doesn’t say anything about where the station to someone unfamiliar with the area, and few are actually destined to that specific venue (unlike UWMC/Husky Stadium for example). Station names should not be done by public vote but by professionals with the necessary expertise to identify names that are clear and easily understood by all. Apparently ST does not have those staff….

      1. Symphony is as good as any. There’s no well-known name for the neighborhood. Some people call it the financial district, central downtown, lower downtown, or the government district (although that’s closer to Pioneer Square). Visitors won’t know any of those names. They’ll have an address near “Symphony Station” and that’s where they’ll get off. Likewise, Westlake Station doesn’t connote downtown, it connotes the west bank of a lake, and it could be anywhere. The problem with University Street Station is that there will be three stations with the word University in it, and visitors assume University means the University of Washington. That’s unique to that station; there aren’t multiple Westlakes or Mt Bakers, and while there will be multiple Lakes people are used to that as a generic word and look to the other word. But with University people think it is the main word, and refers to the internationally-known university that has the Huskies.

      2. I expect to hear recordings of the Seattle Symphony playing in the Symphony station, and between Pioneer Square and Westlake the trains should also play the symphony.

        it will be an oasis of beautiful sound…

      3. I’ve spent nearly my entire life in Seattle and I’ve literally never heard anyone call that part of town the “financial district” “central downtown” “lower downtown” or the “government district”. I don’t think that station area has any distinct neighborhood feel at all. Symphony is corny but at least it’s descriptive. Seneca St is the most logical to me, everyone knows where Seneca is, but none of the other names make any sense at all.

      4. That’s it, none of the names are common so the neighborhood has no well-known identity to name a station by. The most common one traditionally was Financial District, still it was only used a little bit, and it has waned in the past decade. Seneca Station was my second choice, and I could be convinced to make it first. Seneca is as good a name for the neighborhood as any.

      5. The distinction between “(central) downtown and “lower/southern” downtown depends on whether you see downtown as Yesler-to-Stewart, Yesler-to-Denny, orWeller-to-Mercer. In one case the Westlake area is Midtown/the Retail District; in the othercase University Street is midtown and Westlake is only the Retail District. Different people disagree on these.

    5. The Station Formerly Known As University Street is to be named Union Street/Symphony Station ($). Rogoff said it costs a fifth as much to change just the visible signs rather than also changing the internal acronym “RSS” that’s built into software and staff procedures.

      1. Couldn’t they have come up with another U-word than Union? There isn’t even an entrance to the station on Union!

        i.e. Underground Symphony Station, Upcoming Symphony Station, Ugly Symphony Station, etc.

  6. “SR 522/405 Transit Hub” now a thing? The Open House is very vague about the design, do we have any details?
    This is probably the most important open item left in the BRT capital project, as it will be a key transfer node, and the design for other stations like Bellevue TC and TIBS seem to have been sorted satisfactorily, at least from a capital investment standpoint.

    Great to see Canyon Park will be a left hand exit for both north and south bound.

    1. I take that back, looks like South Renton is still a mess. Hopefully north and south 405 BRT will be operationally distinct

    2. ST was mulling over how to do Stride-to-Stride transfers and serve UW Bothell. It sounds like they came up with one and named it. The alternatives included having the transfer in the freeway interchange, having 522 Stride go off the freeway to UW Bothell or downtown Bothell, and maybe another one with 522 Stride I can’tremember.

    3. Agreed. Having to cross traffic to get on and off the freeway to get to South Renton is going to cause delays. It’s a problem.

    4. The map shows a New York City-style dumbbell “transfer hub” but NO information about how it is to operate. It appears that the 522 buses will be stopping northeast of the 405 buses’ stations. But that’s not possible; there is no roadway to the northeast of the interchange.

      Supposedly the I-405 BRT’s will drop down to the level of SR522 and cross it with stations to the north of SR522. The 522 BRT’s can stop at the same pair of stops.

      That would sort of work, because northbound to westbound and eastbound to southbound (e.g. Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and Bothell to/from Totem Lake, Redmond and Bellevue) will be the most common transfer. But the other westbound to southbound and northbound to eastbound (e.g. Woodinville and beyond to/from those central Eastside cities) will require crossing two roadways with stoplights and loads of traffic.

      Calling such an installation a “Hub” is pretty puffed up. Jes’ sayin’

      1. It appears that the 522 buses will be stopping northeast of the 405 buses’ stations. But that’s not possible; there is no roadway to the northeast of the interchange.

        Keep in mind that 522 is being completely redone. I don’t really know how it is all supposed to work, either — but things will be different with the new interchange.

      2. I think it will be triple stacked like 85th, but different order. Ground level through SR522 traffic and 405 HOV ramps, regulated by a regular stoplight intersection. 2nd level will be 405 through traffic. 3rd level GP flyover ramps between 405/523.

        So like 85th, it would be an unpleasant environment but efficient for both BRT routes to not deviate.

        Alternatively the transfer hub is at the 195th interchange?

  7. How to we convince ST to keep the center platform at Pioneer Square and build more at University St and Westlake?

    It seems like a no brainer, low cost way to increase station capacity and dramatically improve transfers. I could even imagine stairs from the Westlake center platform going down to the future Green Line/Ballard Link station. Talk about better transfers…

    1. ADA compliance and emergency egress issues are the primary excuses; I’d like to see more center platforms but there are probably better ways to spend that money right now.

      1. “ADA compliance and emergency egress issues are the primary excuses …”

        I understand why those reasons prevent continuing to use the center platform in Pioneer Square Station. I don’t understand why said platform needs to be demolished as soon as Connect 2020 is done. Keep it in place. Just don’t use it. Fence it off if need be, with the additional safety advantage that that stops people from darting across the tracks.

        Some day, when we have the funds to build the proper vertical conveyances, we’ll be glad we kept the platform in place.

    2. I don’t know. The center lanes were for bus breakdowns. That doesn’t apply anymore. I wish Sound Transit saw the value in center platforms and would retrofit the ones that weren’t built that way. It did make Capitol Hill and UW center platform, so it seems to have learned its lesson from Mt Baker and TIB. I can understand that surface stations maybe can’t be center platform so that people don’t have to walk across the tracks every time (but only half the time). But the grade-separated stations should be center-platform. ESPECIALLY where there are train-to-train transfers like future Intl Dist and Westlake. The problem now may be that ST3 didn’t include money to retrit the DSTT stations with center platforms, but then, it was ST who made that decision and didn’t prioritize it. Every passenger who turns around because they missed their destination or changed their mind, or are transferring to an opposite-direction train will curse ST forever. It should be a basic usability issue: make the most options easy.

      1. Because ST3 includes taking two lines from eight minutes at peak (four when combined) to six minutes at peak (three when combined) in the DSTT, an argument can be easily made that revising stations in the DSTT is eligible as an ST3 impact mitigation. The question is more if and how the Board interprets the impact.

      2. It’s not so much that it’s ineligible as it would cost a lot of money, and the ST3 budget was set at a certain level with certain deliverables. Using center platforms would require installing elevators and passageways, and those are expensive, especially in an underground station.

    1. The reason ferry riders are richer in NYC is because the ferry (obviously) only serves waterfront communities, which tend to be wealthier also for obvious reasons. The ferry is pretty much useless for commuting unless you work near Wall St or midtown (high paying job destinations). The residential areas served are Dumbo, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, LIC… rich areas. Meanwhile the bus goes literally everywhere.

      I imagine the breakdown is pretty similar in Seattle but probably not as pronounced as NYC, because nothing here even comes close to Wall St and midtown Manhattan.

      1. Midtown isn’t really near the water, so I doubt many people are taking ferries there. The Financial District in Lower Manhattan is right next to the water, but it’s declining as a job center, as most of the “trading” takes place on server farms in New Jersey, and most of the actual people working in finance now work elsewhere, mostly Midtown. Although I think it’s still a bigger job center than e.g. Downtown Seattle.

        The whole idea about ferries serving the outer boroughs was always idiotic, because unlike Puget Sound, it is relatively easy to build bridges and tunnels over and under the East River and the Harlem River. So easy, in fact, there are several of them already. What they need to do is convert car lanes on those bridges (and every connecting road) to bus lanes.

        The saddest thing about New York is that even there, where most people don’t have cars, where there is even a sizeable middle class without cars, just about everyone who is actually in charge of transportation has a car and drives everywhere. Quite different from every other American city, and yet still run by the same bozos as every other American city.

      2. “Midtown isn’t really near the water, so I doubt many people are taking ferries there.” – that’s literally the only reason NYC ferries stop at 34th street, why else would they stop there? It’s an easy walk or take the free shuttle that goes down 34th connecting the ferry with midtown.

    2. The median income situation is temporary and arbitrary, while a long-term classist bias may or may not exist but you can’t assume it does simpl by the median income.

      My impression is that Sounder and Link riders are wealthier on average than local bus riders. Express bus routes are more like Link. Trains do have a cachet among Americans, and some people will take a train but not a bus, or only take express buses from P&Rs and not local buses. Some of it is social, but a lot of it is the belief that local buses take too much time to be a reasonable choice.

      I know little about Staten Island ferries or buses other than that I Love Lucy took the ferry in the 50s, and they weren’t wealthy.

    3. Ferries in NYC carry an extremely small proportion of total transit riders. Comparing that to buses to demonstrate class bias seems unreasonable. A comparison of rail to bus would be more relevant — and I doubt that is a pronounced demographic difference.

    4. There is a similar discussion about wealth and transit usage here as well: https://pedestrianobservations.com/2020/01/06/why-do-public-transportation-commuters-outearn-car-commuters-in-some-american-cities/.

      Everyone has their theories, so here is mine. In most cities, riders who take transit downtown are working at a nice job. Staten Island, for example, has plenty of middle class people — they just don’t take the ferry. They work at the local grocery store, hospital or convenience store. System wide, there are lots of people taking the bus for the latter type of trip, while the wealthy take the ferry or train in to Manhattan (or if they happen to live there, they take the train or just walk to work).

      In Chicago, the same sort of thing goes on, with wealthy suburbs having plenty of commuters riding the train, while poorer areas (like Gary, Indiana) have very few.

      I don’t know if we have the same sort of situation in Seattle. The trains serve areas that are largely middle class (e. g. Auburn, Tukwila) but maybe there are some really nice houses there and people park and ride. As far as the ferries go, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is similar to New York, just because office employment in downtown Seattle pays well above average (and living across Puget Sound is very appealing to some).

  8. In the I-976 case, I wonder why the “State can’t repeal an existing voter approved local tax” argument is just now coming up. There is definitely recent precedent, for example the state wide grocery tax ban couldn’t reverse Seattle’s existing soda tax. This seems to turn the case in to a more fundamental state/local separation of powers issue fitting for the state supreme court, versus a case in large part based on the misleading wording of the initiative. It will be interesting to see how this plays out!

    1. It was one of the arguments for the injunction; I remember the controversy.

      The plaintiff’s weakest argument is that the state can’t force localities to divert funds from other projects to make up the shortfall. Eyman’s position is that localities should delete services funded by MVET rather than backfilling them, or use sales tax for them.

  9. New York Times from yesterday. “Should Public Transit Be Free? More Cities Say, Why Not?”

    “Mayors are considering waiving fares for bus service as a way to fight inequality and lower carbon emissions. Critics wonder who will pay for it.”

    I like this quote from some dude on some Board. ““There’s no such thing as free. Someone has to pay.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/14/us/free-public-transit.html

    1. That’s misleading nitpicking. Even the woman at the beginning of the article knew that somebody was paying for the route, and if she thought further about it she’d realize she’s probably paying in her taxes. An advantage of paying it through taxes is the per-person cost is lower because it’s spread across the whole population. We think it’s a good model for libraries and parks, and there are arguments for applying it to transit.

      Tallinn has had free fares for several years now to reduce driving and inequality. (Specifically, the city buys residents passes, while non-residents still pay a fare.) But in the past two years a few other European cities have moved toward it specifically to reduce carbon emissions. Somewhere around France or Italy or thereabouts. I haven’t heard how many actually implemented it.

      Tallinn’s experience is it doesn’t really increase ridership much, maybe 10%. That 40% may refer to much smaller cities. There are also questions about whether it will really reduce carbon emissions if most riders come from walking and biking rather than driving. But still, comprehensive low-cost transit is a generally good thing, and there are arguments for free transit.

  10. This ADU discussion is interesting. From my experience of living in Seattle, first home I bought was a houseboat for $800 in 1965 on Portage Bay, and it’s still afloat but no longer mine, sigh!
    Anyway, I think a lot of single family homes in nice neighborhoods are owned by seniors who are scraping by to pay their property taxes. They are much more likely to get a reverse mortgage than hire a builder and go through the hassle of constructing an ADU and then have the hassle of being a landlord with the potential of receiving no rent through the winter, thanks Seattle City Council. Also, can the old sewer system handle the added capacity? Up on QA it’s an ancient system and can ADUs be built covering access to the sewer line in a garden?
    It’s just not that simple.

    1. Portland has shown that it is pretty simple. Here’s the great thing about allowing the free market to build housing that was previously illegal: if it doesn’t make sense financially, it won’t get built. Some properties aren’t ideal for it (like mine, because I have a sloped lot and limited side yard access). I still built a small unit to give my family more space. I don’t rent it, but it was worth the $5000 that it cost me to DIY build it.

      Many in my neighborhood, especially those on corner lots have built them. Some are long-term rentals, some are AirBnBs, and some are now primary residence, with the old house as a long-term rental. In most cases, the utilities already running to the property are sufficient (we’re talking an extra bathroom and a kitchen sink here, along with a 100-amp sub-panel). I believe the policy in Portland has been positive, overall.

  11. Well Sam, what do you want my city, county, State and Federal government to put at the end of my driveway to see to it nobody else has to pay for my car trip? Change box or one of those neat old-fashioned coin- collecting things?

    Somebody that knows, tell me the cost of one lost minute when a transit vehicle is standing still when Lord knows how many thousand people up and down its line need for it to be moving. Whether you’re a boarding or waiting passenger, or worst of all the driver, whatever the numbers say, it seems like more.

    Term “free” has nothing to do with responsibility or obligation here. It’s something we passengers have figured out how to get out of our way. Really says a lot, though I really hate to think what, how many Americans get their back up when they hear the word “free.”

    But present tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in DC has a solution for you, based on his finding that in addition to being dirtier than solar or wind power, coal and oil also cost a lot more. Even Texas thinks so.

    So what you need to do is call fare collection National Defense.

    Mark Dublin

Comments are closed.