Boarded-up storefronts on Pine Street in Seattle during COVID-19 pandemic

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96 Replies to “News roundup: about to start”

  1. Some residents are curious about whether a shallow, immersed tunnel may work. Nickels calls himself “a bit of a skeptic” about trying heavy construction under the river, but said the group will listen to a range of ideas.

    Interesting since Nickels was part of the triumvirate that brought us the Deep Debt Tunnel. That project went swimmingly ;-)

    Oh, and “a seven-member technical committee of engineers, which will sometimes exchange information with the citizen group”. Other shit we’ll just keep secret because the citizen group is really just for show.

    1. Bernie, this isn’t about what Greg Nickels thinks, but what engineers know. Every single discussion needs a backdrop with a lot of section views as to stones and soils and underground streams.

      Unless Greg was actually in the control seat inside Big Bertha when decision was taken to move that piece of scrap metal with be cutter itself, he and the project are both “in the clear” as to quality of concept and workmanship.

      Proof, sadly, that individual workers certainly do count.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Actually, except for Hitachi’s faulty cutter head bearing design, it *did* go swimmingly.

      It’s asinine to propose here though: the bulk of the bridge and its approaches are still structurally sound, and would have to be replaced with new structures leading to the tunnel’s portals.

      Years of additional work and needless expense, plus lots of impact on fisheries (and stirring up PCBs and other goop) if you’re going to do an immersed tube.

      1. Thanks, Ron. Pretty much what I suspected. For me, the politics behind it were blatantly worse than the mechanicals. Hope we’re not going to be left with another car-oriented thing that won’t last half its shelf-life.

        Though that eventuality might serve the purpose of giving the West Side the kind of transit system it’s always really needed. Worldwide, the Chinese seem to be big into railroad building- which, along with the Irish, they accomplished a lot for us in the 1800’s.

        Based on Africa in modern times, they seem to know a few tricks. The Irish? When they join the Scots in declaring independence, could be some folk-songs with a work-related rhythm again.

        Mark Dublin, which a website lists as, along with Bernie Sanders, coming from Galicia in Austria Hungary. Would explain the streetcars and maybe also that 50 miles of bus wire in Crimea.

    3. Nickels was myopic over an existing state highway, but Gregoire was horrified that without the tunnel Pugetopolis would be left with just two north-south high-volume highways — I-5 and 405. Because stoplights are such a drag, man. Who wants to drive to the airport on a boulevard, or drive a freight truck from Bellingham to Oregon on a boulevard when I-5 and 405 are congested? So if I recall it was mostly the state that forced the tunnel through after Seattlites voted for a surface+transit alternative instead.

      In this case the state is saying “Not our problem”. The Deeply Boring Tunnel is done, and its construction performance and attraction to drivers are underwhelming. That will give all politicians pause before approving another automobile tunnel. Anyway, it’s not Nickels pushing the tunnel, it’s a local activist group, like when some STB commentators advocate a SODO-West Seattle gondola.

      1. Seattle didn’t vote for surface+transit. There was an election with a meaningless vote on two questions: tunnel or no?, and suface or no? In both instances, “no” won.

  2. The CDC’s new workplace guidance recommends that workers avoid using transit and drive alone to work and encourages employers to provide free parking for workers.

    This is going to make it very tough for any office-based employer to return to locations where workers cannot all drive to the office. Companies will be reluctant to go against CDC guidance for fear of lawsuits. Many of the other guidelines would make office work so uncomfortable that I can’t imagine many workers would want to return if given the option to stay working from home.

    This has implications for housing. I can’t keep working on my dining room table indefinitely. A larger home with 2 office areas isn’t affordable in Seattle without a major increase in our housing budget so we may have to consider the more affordable suburbs when our lease is up next year.

    1. I tend to agree. I used to love taking transit, but have only taken the bus once since March. I don’t see me using transit much this year.

    2. Wow, looks like we both managed to independently post essentially the same comment at the same time!

      I am seeing this first-hand, and I don’t like it. One thing I find particularly disappointing is the CDC’s car-centric view of the world. Even if transit is to be avoided, walking or riding a bike avoids it, just as much as driving a car does. Yet, here is the CDC promoting driving, ignoring the option to walk or bike to work altogether.

      At first glance, it seems like walking to work is free, and doesn’t need subsidies like parking does. But, in truth, for most jobs, it isn’t. Buying or renting a home within walking distance of a major employment center is very expensive, and you pay for it every month, through your rent or mortgage. The rent premium to live in, say, Belltown over the Ranier Valley exceeds the cost of parking a car in downtown Seattle. If employers are willing to subsidize parking, they should be subsidizing walking and biking too.

      1. I live ~6 miles from my office (so not walkable), but I am the closest to the office among the ~30 colleagues I know where they live. Every single one owns a car. With the office gym likely closed, biking isn’t too appealing either.

        To your other comment, completely agree that an anti-urban/transit agenda is almost too easy to push now. With Democrats generally favoring stronger responses to the virus, the CDC comes out with a very strong policy that just so happens to kneecap many of the elements that make cities function (transit, elevators, etc.). The CDC can couch that in a “taking every precaution” approach that makes it hard for Democrats to argue otherwise.

        Whether it is political dirty tricks or overly-cautious bureaucracy, I don’t know. But it feels like a low blow.

      2. The CDC has become inconsistent due to political pressure. It can’t publish the comprehensive guidance it wrote, and it has downgraded orders to suggestions, and has probably started omitting things. Those who want sound advice will increasingly ignore it and go with the stricter or more sensible advice from the WHO, several state models, and international models. Those who don’t take coronavirus seriously will say “They’re just suggestions” and ignore them, or decline to implement the incentives. It’s too early to tell whether this is short-term volatility in the CDC or a more consistent bias.

      3. I don’t think the guidance of avoiding transit is political pressure for the simple reason that getting people off transit is priority #1000 for this president, far behind increasing pollution, increasing profits for the rich, and getting a right-wing supreme court.

        No, I think the real reason is that the people who work for the CDC are just like the other 90% of Americans for whom leaving home for any reason without getting in a car is unthinkable, and the notion that people can walk or bike to work simply never occurred to them.

    3. Last report I heard on real estate sales was that what’s moving is larger homes precisely because people are looking for home office space. Naturally, those are going to skew more toward the ‘burbs.

      Work from home decreases the dependency on cars. Even if someone has to go in once or twice a week I see where a lot of multi-car households will pare down the number of vehicles. That 2nd car payment gets reallocated to the larger mortgage.

      There’s just not a very large percentage of households in the Pugetopolis area that don’t have at least one car. And a large number of those are people that can’t drive so they won’t be buying a car. Which begs the question, how do these guidelines play with the ADA?

      My other question is how does this play out with the Ubers of the world? I can see a return to the Plexiglass divider like most taxi cabs were equipped with. And once there’s a vaccine uberring starts to look pretty efficient compared to running empty buses on a fixed schedule.

      1. “Last report I heard on real estate sales was that what’s moving is larger homes precisely because people are looking for home office space. Naturally, those are going to skew more toward the ‘burbs.”

        I don’t know if that’s the reason specifically, but the fairly large homes that my spouse’s firm builds have been selling alright through April. This particular developer-builder typically constructs SFH on the Eastside, though they have built some apartment buildings and townhomes in Seattle. As an example, they are currently in the fourth phase on a development in the Redmond area that includes some 40 SFH units. For 2020, they are still on target with the homes bringing in an average selling price just under $1.7M per unit. Those sold units are averaging $447/sq ft. (Yikes!) By comparison and to illustrate just how much home prices have soared in our region, the homes in this development that were sold during phase one in 2014 went for an average price of ~$950K per unit. These earlier units averaged $268/sq ft.

        So, apparently there continues to be an appetite for larger SFH’s, at least in the suburban areas like Redmond, for whatever reasons folks who are in the market for a new home are basing their decisions on. And this is despite the high price tags to boot.

      2. I haven’t followed real estate too closely in recent years. But what always struck me is how much more you tend to get for “just a little bit” more. This doesn’t necessarily follow for luxury homes where money goes into details like an appliance package that costs more than a new car, master baths that resemble a day spa, etc. But the difference in price between a one bath 1,000 sqft starter home and a mid 70’s split level that’s got two baths and 2,000 sqft isn’t any where near double.

        I think higher end homes are selling because people that had good paying jobs still have them. People trying to just qualify for anything before the price escalates faster than their income are more likely to have one or both of their incomes slashed. So from what I’m hearing the lower end “starter homes” aren’t moving as well. Also, these tend to be properties that get bought as rentals or flipper and I don’t see people (or banks) jumping into that right now.

      3. Yeah, I think there are several reasons for this:

        1) Almost all the lots in Seattle as well as surrounding areas are really big. If you are building a new home on a big lot, then you might as well build a big house. It doesn’t cost that much more. This wasn’t always the case, but with construction techniques, very large houses can be built without spending much more than a small one.

        2) Smaller houses (e. g. 2 bedroom, 1 bath) just don’t work for some people. In years past, a couple would buy it anyway, and then remodel. But the backlog for remodeling is extremely long right now. It isn’t that a smaller house doesn’t get sold (everything gets sold right away right now) but it goes for a lot less, even though it is the land itself that is so expensive.

      4. lots in Seattle as well as surrounding areas are really big

        “Big” is a relative term. To me, “big” means more than an acre. But what I see happening in the Kirkland (Rose Hill) area is developers buying up several contiguous “small” lots that had 2-4 homes and then doubling the number of units after subdividing; the proverbial 6-pack which in my opinion is the worst of all worlds. It’s not dense and it’s not “suburban”. A couple of years ago I was surveying on an “affordable” housing development where they were offering units starting at 3/4 of a million dollars. I’m a cheapskate but that seems pretty rich to me. Our first home was a dump but it only cost 48k. That’s roughly half of what someone trying to get into a first home would need as a down payment on this affordable housing.

      5. “Big” is a relative term. To me, “big” means more than an acre.

        OK, yeah, good point. I would categorize lot size roughly like so:

        1) 2,500 square feet or less. Enough for a row house.
        2) 5,000 square feet or so. Roomy enough for a single family house, along with a good size front and backyard.
        3) 7,000 to 25,000 — Suburban lot
        4) Above 25,000 — Rural

        It is a judgement call, obviously. The lines are fuzzy.

        It is also common to have a very large lot mixed in with smaller lots. But if you have an area with lots of houses on an acre, the place is rural, in my opinion. It may still function as a suburb, but from a land use standpoint, I would consider the area rural. It is common for many areas in Puget Sound to be zoned that way to reduce sprawl. I personally have no problem with that, simply because most of those places (e. g. Black Diamond) can not possibly function as urban or near-suburban areas. Building a large subdivision there and hoping it will function like Shoreline misses the fact that it is simply too far away, with too little in between. Increased density there is bad for the environment and bad for the transportation system. Increased density should occur in Seattle and well, Shoreline.

        Which gets me back to the other categories. Very little in Seattle is in that first category. All of it should be. The second category is what most would consider “typical Seattle”. Places like Ballard, Wallingford and West Seattle. It makes up most of the old Seattle limits. Even that is an oversimplification. There are plenty of big, oddly shaped lots. There are also plenty of smaller lots, especially in older neighborhoods (like the C. D.). But in general, much of Seattle is zoned for 5,000 square feet, with matching lots sizes.

        But if you look at a zoning map:, you can see that lots of Seattle’s single family areas are zoned higher, at 7,200 and even 9,600 (although that is rare). These are typically in areas that were annexed to Seattle relatively recently, and don’t have sidewalks. Many of these areas have very large lots, from back when they were farms, and land was cheap. I live in one of those areas — Pinehurst. When a small house on one of these oversized lots gets sold, it is common for the house to be bulldozed, and the lot subdivided. This is where the higher limit comes in. The smallest possible lot is 7,200 square feet. That is a very big lot, which in turn leads to very big houses. For example, these: These were build a couple years ago. They all have five bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and over 3,000 square feet of living space (what I would call a huge house). They all sit on what I would call a suburban lot (above 7,200 square feet). This is a very common style of development in north Seattle (and I would assume, elsewhere).

        It might not seem like much, but this has a significant impact on density. It is common to focus on apartments when it comes to density, but if you look at a density map of Seattle ( you can see plenty of neighborhoods with very good density, despite having very few apartments. Some of that is because there are older ADUs there, but a lot of it is because the lots are smaller. If my neighborhood had 5,000 square feet lots, the new houses would be smaller, and there would be more of them. If they allowed 2,500 foot lots, the houses would be much smaller and there would be a lot more of them.

        This is the type of growth that should be the standard in all of Seattle, and its nearby suburbs.

      6. “But if you have an area with lots of houses on an acre, the place is rural, in my opinion.”

        You obviously meant to say “without lots of houses” here.

        Yeah, Seattle really needs to upzone large swaths of its current SFH zones if it wants to get serious about its housing affordability crisis. Of course that doesn’t mean that doing so will immediately result in a ton of new denser development in these neighborhoods. It simply takes time and existing property owners may be in no hurry to respond in any way. Nevertheless it is still the needed course of action because it gets the ball rolling.

        I’m particularly depressed about what I see, or more accurately, what I don’t see happening around Seattle when I compare it to what I see happening all over the area where live in SW SnoCo. These older suburban lots, many of which are .25 acre or larger, are not having megahomes built on them. Many of these areas have been upzoned by the county as part of its most recent comp plan update to provide for higher density infill. Thus, in many cases developers don’t even need to apply for variances to make their projects pencil out. They simply build townhomes with the orientation turned 90 degrees from the existing SFH that they demolished.

        My own property is a candidate for similar development. My once R-8400 zoned parcel is now zoned MR, meaning I am now allowed to build a dozen or so townhomes or rowhouses on my third of an acre if I so choose. Once my land value becomes double my improvement value then that probably will be my course of action. That situation may not be that far off.

      7. “But if you have an area with lots of houses on an acre, the place is rural, in my opinion.”

        You obviously meant to say “without lots of houses” here.

        Oof, I sure screwed up that sentence. What I actually meant to say was that if you have an area where almost every house sits on a really big lot, the place is rural. Black Diamond is like that. If you look at the parcel viewer you can see that most of the lots are huge (an acre or more), although you can see some new (and controversial) development that is more suburban (around 7,000 square feet). Anyway, you got my meaning — I appreciate the effort in deciphering my awkward prose.

        Many of these areas [in SW Snohomish County] have been upzoned by the county as part of its most recent comp plan update to provide for higher density infill.

        Yes, but it is really that much of the county? My guess is it is very similar to Seattle — only a small portion of the county (or city) has actually been rezoned. The map for Lynnwood, for example, is dominated by the single family zone (shown in yellow) and almost all of it is residential 8400 ( Edmonds is similar — mostly single family, with the smallest lot size 6,000. Reading the Edmonds map requires a bit of work, but here is the link: Mountlake Terrace looks similar as well (

        It is all the same approach, and it leads to high housing prices. It is common throughout North America. If the overwhelming majority of your land is zoned single family with large lots, you end up with high housing prices. The only way to really bring down prices — and, in my opinion, improve the overall character of a city — is to make widespread changes. If Seattle changed all SFH zones to SFH 2,500, there would be a dramatic change. Likewise if all SFH in Snohomish County was 4,000. I would go further in Seattle, and do what Minneapolis did — end all single family zoning. But just shrinking the lot size would go a long way to making housing affordable.

        Of course someone has to sell before new construction occurs. But that is the issue. If you only carve out a tiny bit of land and say “build here”, then the likelihood that you will have new development is low. Things are made worse by focusing development along major streets, where residential development is less popular (because of the noise) and existing commercial development is more popular. Much of Lake City Way, for example, remains used car lots, even though Seattle has gone through a huge housing boom. The owners of those lots are doing quite well, and have no interest in selling. If, on the other hand, you opened up *most* of the city, the change would come, bit by bit (as it did prior to Euclid v. Ambler Realty).

        Speaking of which, I think it would be interesting to challenge zoning laws, again using the 14th amendment. I wouldn’t try and overturn Euclid, but limit my attack on zoning density. It is perfectly reasonable to say you can’t build a nuclear power plant, or a strip club in a residential neighborhood. It is also reasonable to limit the heights of a building in the same neighborhood. But it is unreasonable to say I can’t build a duplex the same size as my neighbor’s house, with the same essential purpose (housing). I would argue that the limitations adversely effect people of color, thus violating the 14th amendment. But then again, I’m not a lawyer — I just know a few.

      8. @RossB
        Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed reply. I should have stipulated that I was only speaking about the areas that are actually under the control of the county, i.e., the unincorporated area in SW SnoCo. That’s where my home is and thus the area I’m most familiar with for the most part. Edmonds and Lynnwood, like Seattle, really do need to step up their game on the upzoning front.

      9. Interesting. I’m looking at the zoning map for the county, and there are a bunch of different zoning types (including “townhouse”) — It still looks like most of the residential land is zoned single family though (with big lot sizes). What zoning type are you dealing with?

        I think in general it is interesting that there is so much unincorporated land in southwestern Snohomish County. I get why the areas away from the city are unincorporated, but I’m kind of surprised that cities (Edmonds, Everett, etc.) haven’t swallowed up more of it. But I guess the same is true for King County as well: There are a few spots to the south that seem like they should be part of a city.

      10. The land use and zoning designations that the county uses are a little confusing at first. I think the easiest way to understand them is to refer to the matrix that the planning department provides. I’m not sure if you’ve seen this document yet so I’ve listed the link below.

        My own property has been upzoned twice since I purchased it some 15+ years ago as a result of the last two scheduled updates to the county’s Comp Plan. Originally it was in a neighborhood grouping designated as urban low density and zoned as R-8400 (SFH). Currently the grouping is designated as urban high density and it is zoned as MR. The matrix I referenced explains what residential density options are now available to me if I choose to develop the property in the future.

        The areas designated as urban medium density and urban high density on the FLUM are shown in a solid “mustard color” and a solid “rust color”. This aligns pretty well with the density infill that has occurred and is occurring in the area around the 99 corridor north of Lynnwood up to about Silver Lake.

        Regarding the annexation issue…
        Yeah, I found the situation with the large pockets of unincorporated county land in this area rather strange when I first moved here from Seattle. The state tried to remedy this kind of issue in 2007 when they enacted legislation that gave municipalities a sales tax credit of either 1% for annexations of unincorporated areas with populations of at least 10,000, or 2% for annexations of areas with 20,000 residents or more. The credit was good for a ten-year period and was intended to assist municipailities with the additional capital expenses they were taking on for providing city services (like fire and police protection) to these newly annexed neighborhoods. Lynnwood tried to do such an annexation in this area in 2008 but ran into a buzz saw when Mill Creek initiated litigation to stop them due to what the latter felt was a boundary overreach. That put everything on hold for Lynnwood and then the Great Recession hit and Lynnwood’s finances went into the toilet. And that was the end of their annexation plans. Lol. If you want to read more about that big mess, I’ve provided a few links here. (Sorry about the paywalls.)

        And here’s the promised link to SnoCo PDS’ Development Matrix-

      11. Currently the grouping is designated as urban high density and it is zoned as MR. The matrix I referenced explains what residential density options are now available to me if I choose to develop the property in the future.

        The areas designated as urban medium density and urban high density on the FLUM are shown in a solid “mustard color” and a solid “rust color”. This aligns pretty well with the density infill that has occurred and is occurring in the area around the 99 corridor north of Lynnwood up to about Silver Lake.

        Yeah, that makes sense. But from what I can tell, that is still a very tiny part of the residential land in that area. It is tougher for make that assessment — just because of all the colors on the map — but from what I can tell, the higher density areas are mostly between the highway and the freeway — a relatively small part of unincorporated Snohomish County. I would love to see a chart, though, listing how much land is in each designation.

  3. CDC guidelines are now formally recommending employers to offer incentives for private car commuting, in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. I was talking to one person the other day whose company is doing just that, making all employees sign a pledge to avoid public transit, and offering big parking subsidies near the company’s location, right in the middle of downtown Seattle. Needless to say, employees who choose to walk or bike to work don’t get the subsidy, even though, they too are avoiding public transit, and the rent premium for living within walking distance of downtown is at least a much – if not more – than the cost of a downtown parking space.

    I fear that if we are not careful, society is taking backwards steps towards car dependency that could be difficult to reverse later. Humans are creatures of habit and, even after the pandemic ends, the driving habit of those that switched from transit will become entrenched, not to mention the sunk financial cost of those who recently bought cars, or will soon so so.

    Is the conversion of bus/HOV lanes to general-purpose lanes, in order to promote social distancing, next?

    I’m concerned that legitimate concern about people picking up the virus from buses and trains has now started to give way to overreaction, and is providing an excuse for those who oppose transit to promote what they want to see happen anyway. My understanding is that if you reduce capacity, open the windows and make passengers wear masks, that riding a bus is actually quite safe.

    1. The problem is people are not wearing masks. The one and only time I took the bus in early May, some guy sat right behind me without a mask. I was pissed. I ended up getting off the bus and walking home for an hour. Good excercise.

    2. Forcing their employees to sign a PLEDGE not to use the public transit that both their employees and I are paying taxes to use and support!? asdf2, any chance you can safely tell us what company?

      Because I seriously my signature’s alone on my own pledge not to do a nickel’s worth of business with them for the rest of my life.

      What I said the other day about consequences of CDC Headquarters’ relocation to Trump Towers? Wonder which homeless-hating regular commenter it’s my sorry duty to set straight is really, like large percentage of our Federal Government, a Temp ’til the next Tantrum puts them out of work.

      Word to that whole sector, regardless if subject: “Tell me the truth and show me the proof!”

      Mark Dublin

    3. My understanding is that if you reduce capacity, open the windows and make passengers wear masks, that riding a bus is actually quite safe.

      You don’t even need to reduce capacity. Masks, air flow, and filtration are important, along with the understanding that viral load and exposure time are the most important variables. Just like how walking past someone on the sidewalk, even someone who coughs right at you, still has a very low chance of infecting you, the same is true for transit.

      The risks are much, much higher in spaces with far more people, less air flow, and staying around longer. Places like open offices, enclosed restaurants with closed windows, and gyms have been shown to have far higher transmission rates than being on a bus for 45 minutes.

    4. It is pretty laughable for the CDD to cone out with guidelines for making every potentially crowded situation safer, except for mass transit. Instead of, say, recommending hand sanitizer stations and mandatory mask use and operating at reduced capacity, and IR temperature cams, they’ve basically said to hell with anyone who can’t drive to work and to hell with any company or city that geometrically simply can’t provide free parking for everyone. It seems to be either politically motivated or just plain laziness, not the typical professional rigor we usually expect from the CDC.

      1. I’m also worried that if New York City goes all-in on cars and discouraging transit, it will be the death of urbanism in the US. New York gave us the most European-like city but it also gave us exclusionary zoning and urban freeways.

  4. Should read “seriously DOUBT”. New glasses still banned by quarantine. But for same reasons, all my information on real-time transit conditions is both second-hand and old. Does mask enforcement now fall to the driver?

    Anyplace confined, my mask always comes out of my coat pocket and stays on ’til I’m either well beyond social distance outdoors, or alone in my car. If I do have to leave my car at Tacoma Dome and board the 574 to Sea-Tac and Link headed north…..

    If somebody unmasked violates my space, would there still physically be room for me to get up and move to safety without being forced to de-board?

    Mark Dublin

  5. Going off the proposed redevelopment of the West Seattle Golf Course (Jackson Park). I wanted to point out that Bainbridge Island has two golf courses (why a city of 25,000 needs two golf courses is beyond me). But my point is there is clearly an excessive supply of golf course in and around Seattle. So redeveloping one of them is a no brainier in my book.

    1. Jackson Park is in north Seattle, not West Seattle.

      Up the zoning around stations first.

      1. Ah you are correct N.Seattle (not sure why I thought it was West. Maybe still thinking about the bridge.) As for up-zoning it is next to two stations. So developing the park would be the ultimate in up-zoning, no buildings > multistory buildings.

    2. Bainbridge actually has 3 courses. White Horse in Kingston is a destination resort. Like the cruise ships; it’s not about the locals that will use it. Wing Point Golf & Country Club is a private member owned facility with restaurant & pool. Think of it like the WAC or Seattle Yacht Club. Meadowmeer is open to the public but also privately owned. Obviously Bainbridge doesn’t need any golf courses. It’s a want and not publicly funded in any way.

      Seattle golf courses pay their own way and actually contribute back a small amount to the park system. Getting rid of open space when Seattle is densifying would be extremely short sighted.

      1. Oops, you’re right of course. Winslow is the Bainbridge ferry. I hate it when I get on the wrong boat :-/

        As far as golf course demand it’s true there is excess capacity. But Seattle’s Municipal courses are not part of the problem. Courses like Montlake Terraces’ Ballinger Park and Snohomish County’s Kayak Point have closed. Ballinger Park would be a great candidate for the City to bolster their bottom line by granting a long term lease to a developer that brought in sales tax generating business and provided something like senior assisted living (they turned the old club house into a senior center). As it sits the land has been left to go fallow and is a goose poop stinking mess. I could see Kayak Point following something like the Discovery Park model.

  6. The Urbanist article is quite interesting. With three of the City’s four public golf courses adjacent to future Link stations, it’s a conversation about land use and recreation/ open space that I expect that we will be regularly having. I don’t find the conceptual site plan for Jackson Park that compelling but it’s a reasonable starting point for the conversation. Keep in mind that Jackson Park has both a nine-hole par three course and a full eighteen-hole long course.

    In broad terms, it’s about how to balance recreational interests in a changing urban environment and transit system. Cities have repurposed golf courses and even cemeteries in history. It’s not “sacred land” (beyond its 4f status that can be revoked by a citywide vote to declare it no longer a park) even though it’s revered by its users.

    1. I love the Jackson Park suggestion. I think it should definitely include as much park land as possible (even if the total number of units drops slightly), but with so few stations in the city proper, and Northgate being botched with a hockey area, the chance to greenfield ‘do everything right’ is pretty compelling. And once seeded, hopefully it can spread to the neighboring area.

    2. A city maneuver to change the status of the park land, currently a golf course, would not preempt legal challenges to foregoing a section 4(f) evaluation for any project that involves federal funding that impacts the property. Over the last 50+ years there has been a boatload of cases around the country involving section 4(f) challenges, which by their nature are litigated in the federal district court system. To my knowledge, only once has such a challenge made its way to the SCOTUS (Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe, 1971). Nevertheless, the district and appellate courts are littered with cases centered around this particular exemption. Additionally, because of the process that’s followed during a section 4(f) evaluation, there are multiple points at which a legal challenge can be initiated. (See the flowchart included in the policy paper linked below.)

      If, otoh, the city develops a financing plan that doesn’t include federal funding, then this whole issue can be avoided (as far as NEPA and DOT regs conforming to the Transportation Act of 1966 are concerned).

  7. I see two people have already posted the bit about the CDC’s misguided guidelines telling employers to tell people to avoid transit. But I am exceedingly disappointed in all of the commenters who have not taken a few minutes to debunk on this. Countries with much higher transit ridership than anywhere in the United States are already reopening their economies, in response to much lower infection and new case rates, not “just because.”

    Take Japan, where that country’s chief virologist has specifically said that no outbreaks were traced to people riding transit:

    Reassuringly, they did not trace any clusters to Japan’s notoriously packed commuter trains. Oshitani says riders are usually alone and not talking to other passengers. And lately, they are all wearing masks. “An infected individual can infect others in such an environment, but it must be rare,” he says. He says Japan would have seen large outbreaks traced to trains if airborne transmission of the virus was possible.

    Beijing and Seoul are carrying 4 million daily trips while their infection rates have dropped to below manageable levels.

    Taking transit is not the problem; it’s what is at the other end that is the concern, along with lack of tracing and testing and mechanisms for squelching outbreaks before they flare.

    If we are truly advocates for transit, we have to push back on this idea that transit is unsafe, both in general and in light of this virus. It is not.

    1. I haven’t ridden transit in over two months, but seeing how empty the 255 is, nowadays, continuing to avoid it is starting to look more paranoid than sensible. Within Seattle, it’s a bit different. As long as capacity restrictions are in effect, whether strictly necessary or not, I don’t want to be the one that causes somebody else to get passed up, who needs the bus more than I do.

    2. Wes, who’s your State representative? Along with Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, nothing to lose by at least passing a State law forbidding an employer to threaten an employee for refusing to pledge they won’t use transit.

      Doubt this is the kind of thing their own PR people would enjoy defending in public. Also, how is the company going to monitor compliance? Pay snitches to ride around Takin’ Names? Because if violators dutifully wear masks as per the Law, won’t that conceal their identity from Personnel?

      Considering the Official who’s behind this one and the rest of its “stripe”of diversion, real question we should be asking is who all else is on his list of loyal residential laundry customers in Odessa?

      Like with their occasional gangland murders- these guys will slash your throat with a really expensive brandy glass- any statute limit on Articles of Impeachment?

      Didn’t think so.

      Mark Dublin

  8. I would LOVE a Bellingham to Orcas/Friday Harbor route. Seattle to Olympia would be great too. Bring back to mosquito fleet!

    1. And those “Flying Boats” for whom “Ground Effect” means riding on a self-generated air cushion. Honestly do think our new Waterfront, especially if it’s conceived as a ring of manufacturing all the way around Elliott Bay, would be perfect for these, both for transit and employment.

      And no, Boeing needn’t be forced to participate. Though please nobody kick a chair under the door if they’re that desperate to come up with another aircraft really really fast. Isn’t “MAX” already taken by Portland?

      Mark Dublin

  9. – If Barcelona, with a population of 1.6 million, can fit into an area 1/3 as large as Seattle, as The Urbanist points out, then a golf course isn’t the problem.

    – A post pic of boarded up windows. A post title that says it’s about to start. Is Martin talking about the H Line, or is he really hinting at tomorrow’s protests?

    1. The golf course is part of the larger problem. The other part is the sea of single-family houses that take up 70% of the residential-allowed land. It’s politically more feasible to convert a publicly-owned golf course to housing than to upzone the single-family blocks. If we can’t build more housing on 70% of the land then we need to build it on golf courses.

      The boarded-up windows are a coronavirus precaution. Several businesses that are closed have done this. Some have put murals on the boards.

      1. I’d observe that other denser cities often have plenty of single-family houses in them. It’s just that the lot setbacks are less. Seattle home lots consume lots of land by having required front yard and side yards. Zero or narrow setbacks are common for many sections of denser cities like New York City, San Francisco and Boston, in addition to many cities in Europe and Asia. The townhouse popularity in Seattle gets around some of these setback rules but there are still rules that are in place and take up land.

      2. The Jackson Park greenspace is a fraction of 1% of Seattle’s land. It’s not part of any problem, or solution. And doing the superficial thing because it’s easy and doable, and avoiding the smart decision because it’s difficult, that’s how lazy, unintelligent people operate. What’s next, should we pave over Green Lake, and replace it with affordable housing?

        Sam. Award-Winning Environmentalist.

      3. Sam, I feel like the issue isn’t how much land is taken for golfing inside the city limits, but how much land is taken that is adjacent to two light rail stations. It’s terrible public policy when the lowest density/activity recreational use is protected next to an expensive transit investment.

        There are conceptual options to relocate the recreational function elsewhere. There are courses that can be bought from private clubs — even just outside of the city limits. There is underutilized public or vacant land that can be converted to a golf course. In have never seen a golferusing public transit with golf clubs in tow unless it was a trip to an airport.

        The other theoretical option is to move light rail alignments further from golf courses. However, the corridors and stations have been promised and seem pretty hard to move further than a few blocks.

    2. My question, Sam, would be to ask whether, as an able-bodied citizen whose ORCA card already carries my June pass, is there anything I can show up and do to help keep things peaceful?

      Mark Dublin

  10. I see two issues with the Jackson Park proposal. First, green spaces, once eliminated, are almost never regreened. As long as Seattle is zoned mostly SFH, there are better alternatives than pave, baby, pave. Second, the design itself is very park unfriendly. By shoving buildings into every place trees currently aren’t, you end up with a park where there is no view without nearby buildings. It would be a much better idea to put all the buildings together in one clump and have all 100 acres of the park in one unspoiled chunk of land.

    I have no love for golf courses. I’d be happy with all the golf courses in Seattle gone. I do however cherish the existing green spaces for their value as green spaces. They do not need to be “leveraged”. I also find The Urbanist’s comment about “no shops, no roads” rather telling. This tells me the park will be less than 100 acres, and the buildings will be blighted with floor level retail. No thanks.

    This seems less like an affordable housing idea and more like an idea to turn land not making profit into land making profit. Land should be valued for something other than its potential capital creation.

    1. blighted with floor level retail

      Sorry, you lost me there. Floor level retail is by far the best thing you can do from a development standpoint.

      1. I expected that to lose some people. I disagree it is best from a development standpoint though. If the point is affordable housing, I’d argue floor level housing is better.

      2. Floor-level retail means more people going in and out all day, more people pausing to window shop, and more signs and decorations. This creates a lively pedestrian atmosphere that attracts people, and gives more “eyes on the street” for security. Residential-only buildings have fewer people going in or out — some only twice a day or staying in — and nothing except closed window blinds so the block is empty and dead-looking most of the time. This is the same problem as suburban front yards and excessive “open space” around buildings — it makes it into a boring place pedestrians don’t want to be. All of the most successful urban places like University Way, Ballard Avenue, Pike/Pine, California Ave SW, etc, have ground-level retail and in the best cases narrow storefronts.

        However, the nature of the businesses and the overall neighborhood also play a role. Unique shops attract people from outside the neighborhood. Duplicative chain stores don’t. A block with a wide variety of shops selling things a lot of people want is more robust than one with a few narrow-tailored shops. Everybody needs hardware: one person needs a hammer to hang shelves, another needs light bulbs, stove rings, a faucet, paint, flashlight, etc. But narrow club wear or dry cleaning or a real-estate office are irrelevant to a large percent of the population. And in some neighborhoods new retail spaces remain empty because the neighborhood doesn’t have enough pedestrian traffic yet. That’s the fault of past neighborhood planning for not keeping the neighborhoods continuous mixed-use as they were in the early 20th century.

      3. To play devils advocate, in Vancouver’s West End there are many mid rise buildings with no ground floor retail and it doesn’t appear to make them less vibrant. I do agree that there should be retail on main streets but it’s ok on the side streets to not have it.

      4. A park will provide plenty of pedestrian traffic on its own. There’s no need to incentivisze more, especially at the expense of units.

        Window shopping and kitsch are exactly why I don’t want floor level retail. Let the park be a park, not a mini Long Beach, Leavenworth, or Poulsbo.

      5. @MikeOrr

        “This is the same problem as suburban front yards…”

        I’m not sure what you mean here, Mike. Can you explain a bit more and why you lumped in suburban front yards? Btw, have you seen a suburban front yard lately in newer developments? It’s pretty much just the required setback based on the local code.

        Fwiw. I see lots of pedestrians walking or jogging, or walking their pets, or trying to keep up with their kids on their trikes or bikes, etc. going down the sidewalk that’s in front of my older suburban yard. They frequently wave or say “hi” as I’m out working in the yard or doing something else in the driveway.

      6. So the same group of commenters who just warned local governments are going to face revenue shortfalls, are planning a retail-free development at Jackson Park that won’t pay any property taxes?

      7. Mike is right. All great cities have ground floor retail. All soulless suburbs don’t. Of course you can find the occasional contradiction, but if you are going to build a brand new apartment building — over what is now a park — it is silly to just throw away everything we know about good urban design so that we can house a handful more people.

        Hell, some of the residents may want to eat and shop right in the neighborhood — without driving anywhere! Shocking, I know.

      8. @Tisgwm I’m glad you’re working in the front yard, but most front yards are empty most of the time. Nobody gardening, no children playing. Just dead space. I’ve grown to appreciate the trees/shrubs/flowers/vegetables some houses have — those are our fellow living creatures and more ecological than a blank lawn or concrete, but it still doesn’t make as lively a neighborhood as people do.

        The setbacks may be at the zoning minimum, but that indicts the minimum. To be sure, the minimums have shrunk and I applaud that. To see the worst examples, go to Magnolia (W Viewmont Way) and northwest Everett (Colby Ave). The latter has deep narrow lots with the house right on the middle, and you could fit an entire house in the front yards.

        Family members just don’t like to linger in the front yards exposed to the street, so it would make more sense to move the house forward and enlarge the back yard, as San Francisco does. Or better yet, build another row of houses in the front yards. And ideally, redesign the neighborhood to have smaller lots and blocks. The streets are also excessively wide, especially Colby Avenue. It must have had a streetcar. But the streetcar probably terminated further south in the commercial district, and the wide street may just have been extended north through the residential district for no good reason.

      9. @MikeOrr
        Thanks for your reply but frankly it feels like you’re trying to make a rather meaningless comparison between suburban and urban living with regard to how properties are utilized. If suburban lots were all designed like denser urban lots then there really wouldn’t be a distinction to begin with, other than where they’re located. At that point, the suburban community becomes an urban area in its own right and the suburban designation loses much of its connotation. Of course, this doesn’t mean that those responsible for suburban planning and future population growth shouldn’t strive to increase density, as well as mobility and accessibility to public and private services through smarter land use decisions. The area where I live is unincorporated SnoCo so it’s the county that makes these decisions for my local area. I think they are generally doing a decent job with the FLUM they are responsible for and planning for the employment and residential growth contained in their most recent comp plan update. Much of the area where I live has been upzoned for denser infill and townhome projects have become commonplace.

        “…but most front yards are empty most of the time. Nobody gardening, no children playing. Just dead space.”

        You could say the same thing about many, many lots in Seattle. I lived in Wallingford for a decade so I know that still holds true for that area as well as many other neighborhoods around the city (e.g., Beacon Hill, Wedgewood, Madison Park, etc.). But I don’t share your takeaway from these sorts of casual observations. I see residents utilizing these spaces in all sorts of ways, both on urban and suburban lots. Some folks use them for gardens. For some it’s part of their kids’ playspace. For others it’s where they work on home projects. Some put up a swing or a hammock for relaxation. Still others, the front yard provides an outdoor space for beloved pets. It’s the same in both urban and suburban settings. I wouldn’t describe these areas as “dead zones”. Now the parking lots and parking garages found at shopping malls, shopping plazas, big box stores, sports venues, etc., that’s a whole other matter.

        “so it would make more sense to move the house forward and enlarge the back yard, as San Francisco does. Or better yet, build another row of houses in the front yards.”

        Of course. But here’s the rub. Many of the more affordable townhomes being built now don’t have any yard to speak of, front or back. The developers are just putting in the minimum setbacks. I frequently think about the impact this has on a family with young kids who are now in the same boat as many of their urban counterparts and have to take the kids to their local park if they want them to avail themselves of an outdoor play space. Of course that may mean a parent, older sibling or other relative or babysitter needs to accompany them depending on the children’s ages and need for supervision. This is in stark contrast with the resident who has a bit of a back yard where the kids can play outside freely and still have an adult nearby.

        Listen, I get what you’re saying and in general I agree with a lot of what you’ve said on this blog about density and mobility. I grew up in NYC. We lived in a three-story home converted into a duplex with an upper and lower flat. We lived in the lower flat while our tenants lived in the upper flat. There were a bunch of kids among our two large families, plus there were a lot of other kids around our neighborhood. Our home happened to have a little yard in the back, which my mother was very thankful for. We frequently played there or just out in the street when we got a little older. Sometimes we just walked to our local park and other times we just took the subway to other places to play (like Central Park, which wasn’t anything like it is today in the 60s and 70s). The big difference here was that we had transit available to us to get to these places outside of our own neighborhood. In many suburban neighborhoods that’s not the case, the nearest park is rather far away and yards are disappearing with these infill developments.

        I do wish we utilized the SF model which you’ve referenced more often with these types of infill projects. I also like the north end of Chicago model (think Edgewater or Andersonville). These low-rise three- and four-story buildings provide for a good deal of density and Seattle would be wise to rezone additional SFH areas to allow for such structures.

      10. “f suburban lots were all designed like denser urban lots then there really wouldn’t be a distinction to begin with, other than where they’re located.”

        What’s wrong with that? Some cities have outer neighborhoods and suburbs that are as dense as Capitol Hill. A century ago all neighborhoods were designed compact and walkable because the majority didn’t have cars. That’s what RossB was getting at that lot sizes have grown excessively large. If you have small lots, non-restrictive zoning, small blocks, and a commitment to transit, the rest happens naturally. There will still be a distinction between suburb and city center just as there was in ancient Roman times: the highrises, civic buildings, and bank headquarters will be downotown, and other areas will have less concrete and be more residential.

        “Much of the area where I live has been upzoned for denser infill and townhome projects have become commonplace.”

        I didn’t know where you lived or how it was zoned until now. I just knew you lived somewhere in Snohomish County. My perception lags somewhat because I react to what’s on the ground now: that’s what affects me and would affect me if I lived in the area. I don’t always know when unrealized upzones occur, and there’s always uncertainty over how many years will pass until they’re realiized.

        “Some folks use them for gardens.”

        I have grown to appreciate that in the past few years. It started with the book “The Master and His Emissary” by Iain MacGilchrist (highly recommended!) about the left brain’s and right brain’s attitude to the world. The right brain looks for what’s new and context and living creatures you might relate to; the left brain abstracts, removes context, and prefers its existing models over new realities. That’s a very brief description of a large topic. Western/American society has gotten into a left-brain bias and needs to get back into balance. When you realize this and stop looking at plants and animals as abstractions, you find an endless amount of new things in them — all the details, uniquenesses, and fractal design. This is what I see now in a good front garden. Especially if it gets away from formal English gardens with rectangles and “species zoning”, and toward more upright bushes and natural clusters and native plants and the like. East Columbia Street has become a bee-pollination corridor where several homeowners have installed bioswale-like gardens in their sidewalk strips and front yards. That made me realize those homeowners were doing something good for the environment, and even if the houses are lower-density than I’d like, at least something good is coming out of it.

        There are tradeoffs between the benefits of medium density and the need for yards, and I’m not saying there’s one right answer or I know what it is or it has to be the same everywhere. I’m just expressing the distress of excessive walking, gratuitous open space, residential-only zoning, etc. In different places I can walk ten minutes past:
        (A) a variety of businesses and housing units I might shop in or live in — an urban neighborhood
        (B) ten houses — a suburban block
        (C) one building surrounded by vast gratuitous open space — a half-mile wide block. (Like Great America Parkway in Santa Clara, or I’m told the Las Vegas casinos.)
        #1 is preferred. #2 is annoying. #3 is horrible.

      11. “I also like the north end of Chicago model (think Edgewater or Andersonville).”

        Chicago’s North Side is a good model. I can’t keep track of where specific neighborhoods are within it. But the whole area around Fullerton, Diversey, Belmont, and Lawrence, and along Clark Street, works well. Most buildings are 3-10 stories. Most places are within walking distance of a variety of businesses. The buses are ultra-frequent if slow. There are some row houses and basement apartments. There are even a few single-family houses scattered around.

        I’ve suggested zoning a large part of North Seattle like this, from the Ship Canal to 55th or 65th, and 24th Ave NW to 15th Ave NE. With taper-down in the couple blocks near Lake Union, as was done in SLU.

      12. “Nobody gardening, no children playing. Just dead space.”

        I should have said “Nobody gardening, no children playing, and no active garden.” What I’m trying to get at is blank lawns and mid 20th century space fillers. The lots became larger but nothing active went into the spaces: it was just more space and filler items to show off affluence. that’s exactly what’s wrong with mid 20th century designs.

    2. While a new Jackson Park vision is an admirable concept, the actual site plan that’s presented seems rather amateurish. If we are going to develop that much acreage, it needs to be planned as an actual cohesive neighborhood with activity hubs rather than a sea of universal mid-rise residential buildings. Oh, unless it’s an old growth tree, avoiding not destroying a few can be obsessively silly; arborists understand that most tree species have a reasonable life expectancy and replanted trees grow pretty easily here.

      1. Yep. It looks like something from the ’70s — a very bad era for development (but a great era for music). The “no cars, man” approach is also laughable.

  11. I can’t believe I’m not seeing any alerts from transit agencies to avoid travel to and through downtown tomorrow. Are they in denial? Am I an alarmist?

    1. Like everybody else with a sense of responsibility, Sam, I have to constantly take account of how many innocent people could die of the virus that I, like everybody else on Earth, might possibly be carrying right now.

      If a trusted source could give me accurate information as to who is threatening trouble, and where, I might accede to a request from someone in leadership of say, transit security, to ride the trains with my cell phone pre-set to 911, if I weren’t given two-way radio.

      Do we the public have a single name for the author of any threat? If not, speculation itself feeds the whole smelly lot of potential perpetrators without their having to lift a finger. So wherein lies the course of responsibility? Let’s all ask ourselves this:

      As is constantly pertinent all the time now, how necessary is it that we leave our homes at all? And if we do overhear or become aware of someone planning violence, whom in authority do we immediately call to relay what we know?

      And finish the conversation by relaying our contact info to the responders, in case something develops where our physical presence can save somebody else’s life, especially someone young.

      In the sectors whose presence is mainly detectable by the olfactory mechanism, the knowledge of our being in action could persuade them to take their act back on the road, saving Seattle a fortune in money, property damage, and blood. Sam, have you got a Source?

      Mark Dublin

      1. I’m pretty sure most of the smashy smashy is happening tonight. Tomorrow will be a peaceful demonstration.

  12. In Belltown ground floor retail space requirements in new apt., buildings has mostly resulted in new storefronts remaining empty for years. Why, because the spaces are too large. Where once were 3 or 4 lively small businesses now there is one empty, expensive, space no one wants. It is very sad and is contributing to a loss all around, even to the city via less sales tax revenue.

    1. I’ve wondered if developers just build the cheapest, least appealing commercial space possible to satisfy the ground floor retail requirement. If it leases, great. If not, they didn’t sink any additional money into the space.

      The fact that they stay vacant for years, however, is somewhat puzzling. In a normally functioning market the price for retail space would drop until tenants were found. A too-large space at a high rent may be more workable to a business at a lower rent. However, everything we hear from small businesses is that rents are too high and rising.

      1. Maybe the vacancy helps lower the building’s property tax valuation, so they save money that way?

      2. They’re just soulless vapid retail spaces, barely even convertible into a restaurant let alone a bar. If they purpose built for bars I’m sure they’d be a lot fuller.

    2. Chain stores look for wide storefronts for high visibility, especially on two sides. That makes the store hard to miss, the logo more prominent, and minimizes competition on the block. For example, the Chase Bank on 45th & University Way. And phone stores that are excessively large for the tiny products they’re selling. National chains can outbid independent shops and are willing to pay higher rent and are a less risky tenant, so developers cater to what national chains want in hopes of snagging one. This leads to the opposite of the narrow storefronts that the most successful urban areas have.

      I’ve also heard that underground parking is often located right behind the storefronts and forces them to be shallow. This in turn forces them to be wide to have an adequate square-footage.

  13. If Elon Musk is a futurist and genius, why is much of his earth-bound transit focused on Tesla? Why isn’t there more emphasis on Hyperloop? If the future is public transit, why is he focusing on personal transportation?

    1. Sam, qualities like futurism and genius are only judged in relations to the results of the subject’s action, not the intent. Elon obviously knows how to build an automobile whose performance to date indicates if not proves its designer’s skill.

      Whose wisdom is truly proven by keeping a hellatious universe of over-complicated redundancy in its cage to be visited, petted, and given it’s own online following. Could be he’s also threatening his employees and stockholders with this example of what he COULD do to them if they don’t stay in line.

      Nikola Tesla himself, proof that what the World, especially Europe, needs most at this time is the rebuilding of the Austrian Hungarian Empire. But two priceless quotes:

      “The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.” See the name in bold-face above this comment’s time and date for confirmation of its truth.

      “I do not think you can name many great inventions that have been made by married men,” explanation is obvious. Their wives invented these things and then got bored with them and just left them lying around ’til the dog gnawed them into perfection which a crow traded for a patent.

      Have seen them trade roofing nails for cherries that fell off trees.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Elon is FAR from a genius lol. He got rich through blood diamonds, bought an internet payment company everyone hates and then bought a car company he had zero influence in. He’s a typical grifter and attention seeker.


        Safe to say that between him and Elon mechanically, business-wise, and politically, in its every generation, a Ford could handle a road that’d make a brillo pad out of a Tesla (the car, not the Serbian scientist!)

        Possible way to save our country by containing the damage: Tim or Elon, who gets President and who gets Vice? Contest, maybe: whoever gets the other one’s office chair out the door and into the van before the robbed party notices?

        Their family lives, probably kindest to leave that their own business, but the looks on both faces shown here would indicate clearly which of the two shown would really run the Republic. If we know what’s good for us.

        Think I remember Michael Moore on television challenging a car company CEO to change the oil in the latest model- and having his challenge accepted. Little harder than a chair-bearing, Tim.

        But luckily, the tie-breaker’s mine. If the Cabinet contains both the CEO and Chief Roaster of Olympia Roasters, and any Olympia Food Cooperative officer at random, we’ll at least be in hands that can power-wash hands and enforce Social Space tape down the aisle and around the corner all at once. While making sure the only way I can have my blend of coffee is grind the beans myself, so young third-world growers get their share.

        What the Country’s wailing for, not just crying. While simultaneously making sure I don’t drive my car off a curb that any fool except me can see is too steep not to dent the oil pan. Donald? Joe? Challenge is yours!

        Mark Dublin

      2. He’s definitely a futurist. And knowing that, I find it curious that a lot of his efforts in terms of transportation are geared toward personal transportation, not public.

      3. The better analogue for Musk is Thomas Edison, who never saw a good idea he didn’t try to steal.

  14. water borne transit has very very high operating cost and service subsidy is limited. Union Bay and Lake Union are limited to seven knots. we have two floating bridges; one is tolled; both should be; one will have Link in 2023. fish do not ride transit.

    if the Urbanist was going to fantasize about Jackson Park, why not include an urban street grid?

    1. eddiew, you know your buses backwards (in addition to the other direction) and you’ve been in transit politics for years. What do you think we ought to do about West Seattle?

      Mark Dublin

      1. Mark, Seattle is doing well: the correct modes have priority on the low level bridge; they are figuring out how to prevent a disaster and how to replace it. in the near term, the Seattle TBD needs to decide what to ask its electorate about in November 2020 (e.g., zero, one, or two tenths; the STB has discussed this) and what to ask the Legislature for in 2021 (e.g., TBD changes, direct fiscal help for bridges, sidewalks, pavement management, variable tolling). the transit network should be frequent, reliable, and well-connected. feed Link. the South Lander Street overcrossing may be ready this summer. ST should help more than they are by providing frequent off-peak service. 1st Avenue South was disrupted by the AWV replacement project in 2011; it is now ready for two-way all-day frequent service. Seattle and ST seem to be asking good questions about Link and bridges. kill the CCC streetcar and use its capital and service funds and rights of way for better projects and service networks. a well-connected network has very short walks for bus-Link transfers (see TransLink in Vancouver).

    2. if the Urbanist was going to fantasize about Jackson Park, why not include an urban street grid?

      Because the Urbanist often reads like the Suburbanist.

  15. For its part, Lime claims that it isn’t responsible for the thousands of Jump e-bikes seen being destroyed.

    I seem to remember a while back Lime being shamed into donating a bunch of bikes headed to the scrap pile. This is just another sign that Lime et al are really in the business of cashing in on an idea through both private and public “investment” and not ever providing a useful service with a profitable business model.

  16. Some, and possibly all Metro routes are being told not to enter downtown. For example, I just heard that the route 41 is to not to go any further south than Valley street.

  17. eddiew, the way I look at Central City Connector is as the middle link of a looping street railway starting in South Lake Union and ending at Broadway and Mercer. Generating activity that will more than pay its cost. Would you have refused to build Safeco Field to help pay for the Beacon Hill Tunnel?

    Mark Dublin

    1. Mark, Safeco Field and the Link tunnel were constructed by different governments; your analogy is sideways. All three segments of the Seattle Streetcar SLU, First Hill, and the proposed CCC were and are quite dumb. yes, they are loopy. it is not enough that ST and mayors Nickels, McGinn, Murray, and Burgess wanted a toy train. the governments should consider how best to maximize transit mobility, given limited capital, service subsidy, and rights of way. a local one-car streetcar is among the worst mobility investments available. to be useful, a streetcar has to have priority through traffic, use multiple cars, and be direct or not loopy. useful streetcars are found in Toronto and Europe. you have reported on them. today, the SLU and FH lines are sunk cost. the issue is how to use the available capital, service subsidy, and rights of way. it is a network choice, not a streetcar choice. the SDOT transit priority on Westlake is one good outcome. otherwise, it is a mess. yes, of course, 1st Avenue should have good transit service, but it need not be the CCC Streetcar.

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