Life in downtown Seattle is slowed down with many businesses still closed due to Covid 19 shutdown.

This is an open thread.

103 Replies to “News roundup: TV star”

  1. 1. Am I right how much student debt that video games like the one shown will eliminate? Much looking forward to our region’s every community college offering courses in playing them.

    And same for our entire public school system starting in kindergarten. If this generation of kids isn’t already using its school-free and SAT-free time to already figure out for themselves. Could some kindly second-grader show me how the program works?

    2. Am I also right to thank Alon Levy for calling attention to the fact that our country’s Management culture has successfully reversed our Founding Fathers’ elimination of hereditary royalty?

    Hallmark of “Nobility” was to think that even a millionaire who earned their wealth by practical knowledge smelled bad. Applied to two Boeing 737’s in a row, the Royalists just killed over 300 passengers.

    My lifetime’s own example of Management By Working Knowledge, is Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle’s Transit Director Ron Tober, who chaired our Joint Union-Management Employee Advisory Committee on the Downtown Seattle Transit Project in the 1980’s.

    Coming out of Cleveland, he not only knew but loved streetcars. Don’t think his Base Chief even gave him any discipline for kicking off Tunnel operations by driving that bus through a sign. Didn’t even scratch vehicle paint. And it didn’t happen again.

    Heredity-Remedy? Shame that our Chief of State is problem personified, not the cure. But the impulse a lot of working people mistakenly see in him, is justified and decades-overdue.

    3. To the voters of Bellevue, thanks for providing the Puget Sound Regional Council with Claudia Balducci.

    Mark Dublin

  2. But even better…..not only can the Waterfront Streetcar’s essential replacement be electrified, with no trolleywire over BN tracks at Myrtle Edwards, but Seattle property-owner’s every scenic view is forever protected.

    Still advisable, though, for driver to get speed down to five miles an hour before driving onto the blue sign.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Good thing the Geneva Conventions forbid mentioning fare-zones. Let alone what COVID’s doing to schedules! And delays caused by The West Seattle Bridge!

      But at least Global Warming has overcome Siberian tab-payer’s objections to special lanes for jet-ski buses. Hydrofoil schedules will also easily include stops in Port Angeles, Seattle and Tacoma on their way to Olympia.

      Mark Dublin

  3. ST Express bus fares also return today, and without driver sneeze guards. Which leads to the question, if it was unsafe over the last couple of months to have riders board through the front door, why is it safe now?

    1. I know I’m a broken record, but can we at least get 20 minute weekend headways on link if we are paying full fare? I’d be good with 20 minute headways weekends until 9pm and the every half hour until closing.

      1. Yeah, it is ridiculous. I realize that ridership is way down, and the agency is short on money, but running infrequently hurts in more ways than one. The infrequent service hurts fare revenue, and increases the risk of spreading the virus. There is more time spent (in most cases inside) waiting for a train, next to other people. When you do get a train, you are more likely to be close to someone.

        This also doesn’t portend well for future lines or segments. Hard to see Issaquah to South Kirkland running often when ridership will be low most of the day. If the agency is willing to put people at risk, and lose ridership by cutting serving on an urban line, it is hard to see them running trains every ten minutes on long distance suburban lines and segments (even when things are back to normal).

      2. I personally prefer to do as much as possible of the waiting outside and only go down into the station when the train is less than five minutes away. With the virus, there’s no reason to be indoors longer than necessary.

        Agree that 30 minutes is rediculous. That said, I’m bracing for a future this fall where, right as Link improves to 20 minutes, the 255 is reduced to 30 minutes, and you now have the ugly connection between a 30 minute route and a 20 minute route, which implies just one trip per hour with a wait time under 10 minutes.

      3. No way the 255 gets reduced to half an hour. Maybe they drop it to 15 minutes at peak, but I can’t imagine half hour. I’m trying to imagine half hour off peak, but struggling.

      4. Well, Hayden, could any of us imagined 30 minute weekend link headways. Welcome to the new normal. I’m thinking 30 minute link headways are here to stay for a while.

      5. I made a rare train trip last weekend to check out what’s happening on Link. About half the riders are still not wearing face masks.

        As my train approached Angle Lake Station, the northbound train passed. Ah, so they really are trying to maximize the pain for non-destinational riders. Got it.

    2. Your assignment, Sam, is to get pictures of those ST Express buses charging fares, without an aspiration guard between the operator and the passengers. For the sake of public health, please don’t call it a “sneeze guard”.

      Of course, they are they to protect the passengers from the operator’s aspirations just as much as they are there to protect the operator from the passengers’ aspirations. This is one time I have to agree with the Sithdom.

      That begs the question: Why aren’t there apiration guards between rows of seats? Maskless riders keep sitting behind other riders and breathing on the backs of their necks for long durations.

    1. This is what Totem Lake Mall is being replaced with as well. Malls were built with great freeway access (prime for BRT). They also tended to be in areas where land around them was large parcels and relatively low value. This all makes them a great place to add density. Crossroads still does well with retail but it’s surrounded by multifamily housing and unlike the cookie cutter malls and bland national chains it has a lot of small local shops and has long been an activity center; music stage, chess, rock climbing, theater, etc.

      1. A few years ago when I happened to be over in the Factoria area, I took some time to go check out the mall there and was pretty amazed at how run down and empty it was on a weekend day. It immediately made me think of the mall in Totem Lake and I wondered if Factoria Mall was in the same death spiral conundrum. The whole mall just felt like a shell of its former self (pre-Target days when there was an Ernst Hardware, a Lamonts and a Pay-and-Save Drugstore and every retail space was occupied). Since I don’t get over that way too often these days, perhaps you can provide some insight into what the immediate future looks like for Factoria Mall. Is it destined to go the way of Northgate and Totem Lake Malls in the near term? Any development plans in the works at present?

      2. Factoria is a PITA to get to. It’s anchor tenants are Walmart, Target and Safeway. All of these stores are drive up and leave shopping; not a browse the mall business. Safeway & Target you have lots of other options on the eastside. The smaller retail stores are national chains that don’t offer any compelling reason to shop there. If I had to guess I’d say office space would be the most likely replacement.

      3. There are long-term plans to eventually densify Factoria, but it probably won’t happen until the Spring District fills up and developers run out of space there. Factoria/Eastgate is already denser than it was when I was in high school, but it’s all a mall and big-box stores and barely-transit-accesible towers-in-the-park.

      4. Ooops. I screwed up there with Pay ‘n Save’s name.(Sorry Mr. Bean.) I’m sure you longtimers knew what I meant anyway.

      5. Factoria the neighborhood has a bunch of housing, mostly east of Factoria Blvd, even if Factoria the mall does not. There’s a high school, middle school, and elementary school all within the neighborhood walk-shed (albeit up a hill for two of those), plus some really nice green space with Coal Creek park and is adjacent to future Eastrail, so I actually think it’s a great place for more housing. Richards Road flows pretty well during rush hour, and once East Link opens most of the neighborhood will be a reasonable 2-seat ride to Seattle. And it has excellent bike access to Seattle, particularly once the fancy new bike bridge is built across Facoria Blvd.

        I don’t believe there are major plans right now. T-mobile is throwing a bunch of money at it’s HQ, but I believe it’s mostly sprucing up the existing buildings, not expansion. The Spring acquisition will direct any headcount growth to the much cheaper and mostly vacant corporate campus in KC

        To me, Crossroads is interesting because unlike a Totem Lake, the mall is very vibrant. Overlake is being rebuilt now, and the strip malls in Overlake village will all be redeveloped pretty quickly, at which point the development activity should flow south of Bel-Red into Crossroads. Bellevue DOT will need to ensure the RR-B flows well, otherwise the transit connections are already solid once East Link opens. Will be interesting if the large apartments also redevelop. Crossroads is not within Bellevue’s growth areas, so I could see the city nudge Factoria and Eastgate to redevelop first.

        Eastgate has some pretty aggressive zoning … it will look like “towers in the park” because it’s a small slice of land between the freeway and Bellevue College, but given Eastgate TC is already largest transit hub on the east side not directly served by East Link, it’s a great place to channel the next wave of growth after East Link is built out.

        And downtown Redmond has a deep pipeline of redevelopment … presumably the mall itself will eventually get swept up, as it’s always struggled to keep tenants, particularly on the 2nd floor.

        Finally, Issaquah’s valley floor isn’t a ‘mall’ per se, but it’s basically a series of strip malls between 17th and 7th. Right now VMU doesn’t pencil out right now because rents are a notch below the Kirkland/Redmond/Bellevue triangle, but once rents climb (or costs drop), looks for rapid redevelopment in Issaquah.

        That’s my east side survey.

      6. @AJ — I think in general the malls that are succeeding are those that are closest to a big city center. I’m not surprised the Crossroads is doing well, as it is not that far from downtown Bellevue or the Microsoft campus. The only East Side mall that is doing better is probably Bellevue Square, which is pretty much in downtown Bellevue.

        Totem Lake and Factoria are the opposite. They fit the traditional mall model — quite convenient to reach by freeway, but otherwise isolated. It isn’t that far from Kirkland, but Kirkland has nowhere near the downtown that Bellevue has. Before the makeover, very few people walked or took the bus to Totem Lake.

        As you mentioned, Factoria is a little bit better. They have surrounding housing, a school, and some office buildings. When I worked at Attachmate (in what is now the T-Mobile buildings) I would occasionally walk down there for lunch. Remaking Totem Lake (and adding housing) looks to be a huge success. Hopefully Metro (and Sound Transit) follows it up with improved transit options. Factoria could use the same makeover, and as you mention, things will get a lot better from a transit standpoint once East Link is added. I could see the 241 (or something like it) becoming a lot more frequent. Eastgate, Factoria, South Bellevue and downtown Bellevue means a lot of good two seat rides (Seattle, Issaquah, much of the East Side) as well a couple good one seat trips (downtown Bellevue and Eastgate/BCC). Adding housing there would be a great idea.

      7. Correction: When I worked at what is now the T-Mobile building, I used to walk to the strip mall across the street from the Factoria Mall (that area sure has a lot of malls — making adding housing the obvious thing to do).

      8. Factoria Mall has a really good and underrated film house – The AMC Factoria.

      9. Yeah, that’s fair – Crossroads (and Bel-Red in general) definitely benefit from lunch and evening traffic from the techies. The lunch scene is really good if you know your way around the strip malls. When I was in downtown Bellevue, lunch places were either quick or fancy, so we’d drive over to Bel-Red or Crossroads if we wanted to sit down and have great food without fancy napkins.

        “Hopefully Metro (and Sound Transit) follows it up with improved transit options. ” – what more is there for ST to do? Stride will service Totem Lake, but aside from off-board payment the improvements are pretty negligible, as the freeway station already exists.

        Presumably opportunity for improved locale service, but I don’t know my way around that neighborhood well enough to opine.

      10. “Stride will service Totem Lake, but aside from off-board payment the improvements are pretty negligible, as the freeway station already exists. ”

        How about frequency? The proposed operational plan of running every 10 minutes peak, 15 minutes off-peak is far superior to the 535, which, I think is every 15-30 minutes peak, 30 minutes weekday midday, hourly evenings/Saturday and no service at all on Sunday.

        Also, being able to get to Lynnwood without having to sit through the Grand Tour of Bothell along the way.

      11. “Hopefully Metro (and Sound Transit) follows it up with improved transit options. ” – what more is there for ST to do?

        I would start with a bus from the main UW campus to someplace off I-405, north of Totem Lake (like UW-Bothell). That would make it much easier for someone in Totem Lake to get to Seattle.

        Service to Redmond needs improvement. The 225 is infrequent, and doesn’t serve the main downtown Redmond area. I would add another bus like so: This provides service to Bastyr, and the apartments across the street (as previously proposed The bus would run every half hour, opposite the 225. Someone headed from Totem Lake to Kenmore (or Juanita to Kenmore) would have 15 minute service. Totem Lake would have a direct bus to downtown Redmond, and 15 minute service to Link as well as the B Line. This would also increase the number of buses to the freeway, an important consideration given the roughly ten minute walk to 405 BRT (and the express bus to Seattle).

        I would also get rid of the little loop through the Totem Lake Transit Center taken by the 225. If you are trying to connect to the 239, you can transfer on 120th Avenue. If you are trying to transfer to the 255 or 930, you can transfer on 128th street. Looping through the “transit center” is a waste of time for that bus.

        It is also a waste of time for the 239 and 930, but to fix that problem they would need to add a couple bus stops on the street. The only bus that should stop there is the 255, because that is its terminus. But if possible, I would look for layover space in Totem Lake. Again, that would increase the number of buses running from the apartments to the freeway. It would also make for a one seat ride from Totem Lake to Juanita and various parts of Kirkland (for those that don’t want to walk ten minutes).

        These are fairly affordable changes. A fifteen minute express from UW-Seattle to UW-Bothell would likely be very popular. The half-hour bus running by Bastyr would remove a “transit desert” as Representative Dembowski calls it. Extending the 255 would be trivial, as long as layover space could be found. Since many of the riders would otherwise walk to a Sound Transit bus, the fare revenue alone could pay for the change. This would dramatically improve transit for the area without spending a fortune.

      12. OK. Again, don’t know the area well enough so I’ll trust you on those local operational improvements.

        Regionally, a UW to Totem Lake route is interesting; any local route through Kirkland will work well for southern/central Kirkland but would be quite slow going all the way to Totem Lake. A freeway bound route would be nice, but 520/405 interchange is a mess with zero HOV features. Running it as a shuttle between UW campuses is good, but if I’m going to connect UW to Bothell, I think I’d rather go through Lake City/522 given all the density in between. Therefore, if I’m trying to connect Totem Lake to UW, I think I’d stick with Stride to Bellevue TC and then 271 or Link to UW … it’s slightly out of the way, but the high frequency on both legs should make for better travel, particularly all day.

        The way I’ve read the network, if I’m in Canyon Park, Kingsgate, Totem Lake, or Rose Hill, I don’t get a 1-seat ride to Seattle because I have a strong transfer at Bellevue.

        @asdf2 Stride should fix both the frequency and the ‘grand tour.’ My hope is that while 85th station may be delayed, the rest of Stride can start in 2024~25 as an improvement over existing express service.

      13. Ross, I’m not sure why you think a bus along Juanita by Bastyr would perform well. There used to be a bus taking the same Juanita route you’ve described in the form of the 935. It was not a very successful route and was cut in 2014. Far and away, the most popular route in the Juanita/Finn Hill neighborhood has historically been the 234. The 644 was popular when it ran express from Totem Lake to Overlake, but when it got replaced by the 244, it started running local along Willows Road, making it slow and unpopular. I’m not sure how the 225 is faring, since it started up around the same time as the pandemic.

      14. A freeway bound route [from I-405 places to the UW] would be nice, but 520/405 interchange is a mess with zero HOV features.

        Which is why it would be an all-day route. The irony is that right now, the only fast service from Totem Lake to Seattle is during rush hour (with the 252/257). The rest of the day, someone in Totem Lake has to deal with a slow 255, even though the freeway is moving extremely fast.

        Running it as a shuttle between UW campuses is good, but if I’m going to connect UW to Bothell, I think I’d rather go through Lake City/522 given all the density in between.

        Except that if you are actually going between the two campuses, the express would save you around a half hour. Meanwhile, Bothell Way has the future BRT, which means that the fastest and most frequent way from say, Kenmore to the UW would be with a transfer to Link. That leaves Lake City, which should be dealt with by creating a much shorter bus route. A truncated 372 (like the weekend version) is going to have way more ridership per mile than anything that goes to Kenmore, let alone Bothell.

        If I’m trying to connect Totem Lake to UW, I think I’d stick with Stride to Bellevue TC and then 271 or Link to UW … it’s slightly out of the way, but the high frequency on both legs should make for better travel, particularly all day.

        It is quite a bit out of the way and requires a transfer. Neither East Link nor the 271 are likely to be that frequent in the middle of the day. It is much slower to the UW, and even slower to downtown. For downtown you could go to Bellevue and then take Link, but that is still slower, especially if you are headed to Westlake (Link’s most popular stop). If you are headed to Northgate or Capitol Hill, that means either rounding the horn (on Link) or making a three seat ride (on top of the ten minute walk). Yuck.

        To be clear, this doesn’t work if the bus is infrequent. I have in mind 15 minutes, but 20 might just work. This would make sense as an ST route, since it is a regional connector. It would work well with the BRT routes, and tie together various areas. It would likely be one of the most cost effective routes for ST, given its relatively fast operating time, and reasonable demand (with two good anchors on either end). In the middle of the day, it is a 20 minute trip, not counting bus stops. That means the whole thing can be done in less than a half hour (there would only be a handful of stops).

        I think UW-Bothell would be the best northern anchor, but there are alternatives. The bus could go to Woodinville, for example, to make up for Woodinville not being part of the 522 BRT project (if that bus goes to Canyon Park or Brickyard). That would probably be a welcome trade for Woodinville, since it would still enable the connection to 405-BRT, while providing much faster service to the part of Seattle they want to visit (UW, Capitol Hill, downtown). If the 522 BRT line ended at Brickyard, you would still have a fast two seat ride from UW Seattle to UW Bothell. Likewise, this would provide a frequent two seat ride from Woodinville to the 522 BRT line.

        I’m not sure any of this will happen. But my point is that like much of East Side, Totem Lake has poor transit, and will continue to have poor transit even after East Link and the BRT lines go in. They can get places, but it takes a long time (or they have to wait a long time). For a relatively small amount of money, they could have fast and frequent transit connecting them to the rest of the region.

      15. OK, yeah. And I can see how a bus serving campus directly would be much preferable vs the walk from either Link station.

        But I do think East Link will have strong all day frequency, so rather than diluting the 405 corridor with multiple 20 minute routes midday, it might be preferable to just ensure Stride has strong frequency all day? I guess is all depends on whether this route would have enough ridership to support 3 or 4 buses an hour.

      16. East Link maxes out at 6 minute frequency. Realistically, I expect it to have 10 to 12 minute frequency in the middle of the day. Let’s go with the more optimistic frequency (10). 405 BRT promises 10 minute frequency during rush hour. I’m guessing it will be 15 outside of it. Likewise, the 271 runs every 15 minutes, and I’m proposing another 15 minute line (UW Bothell to UW Seattle).

        Now consider the trips maximum wait time. From Totem Lake to the UW, the express bus means a worst case wait of 15 minutes. Using 405 BRT and the 271, it is 30 minutes. Using BRT and Link, it is 25 minutes.

        From Totem Lake to downtown, the express bus plus the main line means a worst case wait of 20 minutes (15 for the bus, 5 for Link). Using 405 BRT and East Link, it is 25 minutes.

        Obviously I’m making some assumptions here with the timing. But even if you make the trains or the BRT lines more frequent, there is still less waiting with the bus to Seattle (assuming it runs every 15 minutes or better). As I wrote before, increasing frequency on that bus is a lot cheaper than increasing frequency on the 405 BRT bus or the trains (for East Link to run more often, South Link needs to run more often).

        Then there is the travel time. From Totem Lake to the UW takes about 14 minutes*. To get to downtown Bellevue takes about 6. But the train takes 30 minutes to get from Bellevue to the UW. Meanwhile, taking two buses (the 405-BRT and the 271) is about 8 minutes longer than a direct bus**, or 22 minutes.

        For Westlake the two buses would be silly, but the other two options are worth considering. It takes 6 minutes to get from the UW to Westlake via Link, which means it takes 20 minutes using the express bus and Link. Westlake to Bellevue via Link is 24 minutes, which means a nice, round 30 minutes.

        So, here is the math, showing worst case wait times, and travel times (I hope the formatting looks good):

        Totem Lake to the UW:

        Method — Wait Time — Travel Time
        Direct Bus — 15 minutes — 14 minutes
        BRT + 271 — 30 minutes — 22 minutes
        BRT + Link — 25 minutes — 36 minutes

        Totem Lake to Westlake:

        Method — Wait Time — Travel Time
        E Bus + Main Link — 20 minutes — 20 minutes
        BRT + East Link — 25 minutes — 30 minutes

        To get to Westlake, you save ten minutes, and it is more frequent. To get to the UW, you either save an enormous amount of time (22 minutes) or you save 8 minutes AND save a lot of time waiting.

        The wait times are worst case scenario, but that doesn’t really matter. In every case, the bus is much faster, and the wait time significantly less. Cut those wait times in half (for average wait time) and the direct bus is still a lot better.

        But it isn’t just about the UW, or downtown. Any destination to the north, or even Capitol Hill comes out well ahead. Or how about Montlake, the Central Area, Fremont or Wallingford. The UW is a major transit hub — on par with downtown Bellevue, and only surpassed by downtown Seattle. A bus like this means that Totem Lake would have fast and frequent connections to much of Seattle.

        The time and frequency savings are staggering and reminiscent of Link. Except it wouldn’t cost billions of dollars, and wouldn’t even cost as much as any of the BRT projects. It would simply leverage the latter (as well as WSDOT work) to stop at various freeway stations. Totem Lake would be connected extremely well to Seattle as well as Bellevue. Yet this improvement for Totem Lake would simply be one of the many dramatic improvements created by this fairly cheap bus line — travel between the two UW campuses probably being the biggest.

        ** With no traffic, Google calculates the drive time between Totem Lake and the UW as 12 minutes. I start with that that because eventually the bus will go entirely in HOV lanes (other than maybe a tiny section over the bridge). I add a couple minutes for the two freeway bus stops.

        ** It takes about as long to get to Bellevue Transit Center as it does to I-405 and Hunts Point. The 8 minutes is to get from downtown Bellevue to that on-ramp via the 271. If the 271 was moved to Bellevue Way it would probably be faster, except then it would actually pick up riders along the way, so I figure it is a wash.

    2. Yaay! The biggest difference between malls and urban villages is the lack of housing. I would like to see housing on top of the one-story shops in U Village and Kent Commons. I understand it’s going into Northgate.

      1. Yes, I totally agree. We need far more mixed use applications to redeveloped retail locations such as these. I’ve always viewed the last makeover at U-Village as a missed opportunity.

      2. The biggest difference between malls and urban villages is the lack of housing.

        Malls tend to be built around the freeway. Urban Villages do not. The one exception is Northgate — which also happens to have a mall. The U-Village is exceptional in that it is not easily accessed via the freeway.

        Converting the otherwise wasted space of a mall to housing, along with opening up the streets is a good idea. But neither that, nor the urban village concept is a substitute for widespread zoning changes that would allow for more organic growth (the type of growth that people are attracted to). Places that tend to be very attractive and dense (Brooklyn, San Fransisco, Capitol Hill) all grew before the zoning kicked in, and artificial boundaries were made, saying “you build here and only here”. This approach — called by some a grand bargain not only results in a poor landscape, but high housing costs. The main benefit is to please those that don’t want increased density in their neighborhood.

      3. Why does the U Village top your list of malls that need housing, and not Southcenter? Housing at U Village would make a residentially dense area more dense. Southcenter housing would bring housing to an area that has none. And housing at the Commons at Federal Way would help a seemingly struggling mall that will soon be getting a nearby Link station. Housing at U Village solves a problem that doesn’t exist.

      4. “Why does the U Village top your list of malls that need housing, and not Southcenter?”

        Ah, Sam, another strawman counterpoint. Nice try.

        “Housing at U Village solves a problem that doesn’t exist.”

        Tell that to the thousands of folks who can no longer afford to live within city limits. Perhaps some folks, just maybe, would want to live near the area’s largest university and/or one of the region’s premier medical centers if there was more affordable housing. Imagine that!

      5. Yeah, any housing in the University Village area would be great. Housing prices are sky high. Transit service is good, and more people would make it better. Much of the land in the area is owned by the UW (and has student housing) — it is somewhat surprising the UW didn’t try and strike a deal for more.

      6. Tlsgwm, lots of new housing has gone up right next to Bellevue Square in the last few years, and rents are more expensive than ever. So, if more housing next to Bellevue Square didn’t make rents more affordable, why would more housing at U Village make rents in that neighborhood affordable?

        And, I remember reading about M. Lamont Bean a long time ago, back when they bought Schuck’s Auto Supply. And I remember there used to be an Ernst Malmo on the NE corner of Main and Bellevue Way.

      7. To be fair, they have been replacing some of the single story buildings in the village with taller ones which combine parking and shops, and even the older buildings are not all single story (though yes, some are). There was a plan to turn the QFC (technically not part of the village) into a two-story store around the mid 2010s but that fell through, I forget why. And there is at least one mid-rise complex built behind the QFC.

        I wonder whether it is likely that any housing built on top of the Village would be anything but high income/high price housing, given the character of the Village and its proximity to Laurelhurst.

        Regarding UW, I assume the interest is in the E-1 parking area and associated sports fields. Most of that area is on landfill, which is not super conducive to building highrise housing. I would personally be concerned about turning it all into cheap housing, especially if it takes advantage of insufficient code protections for the earthquake predicted to happen in our lifetimes.

        I am actually curious if TIsgwm would be willing to ask his spouse for advice on the code issue (or perhaps already knows from his legal career). I have been wondering about how big loopholes there are right now, regarding those sorts of conditions. Right now I mostly feel like I would not want to live in that specific section of UW land, but I tend to be pretty conservative (small-c) when it comes to earthquake issues, having lived in a building which underwent some major structural destruction during an earthquake.

      8. “Why does the U Village top your list of malls that need housing, and not Southcenter?”

        Because I’ve repeatedly looked at them and thought, “If only people could live here and walk to Kent Station or the 45th Street buses.” That’s just my personal experience. Southcenter is less transit-accessible so I’ve been there less. But I agree, it should have lots of housing, and given its size it should have high priority.

        The decades of car-centrism in Tukwila have torn me down, so it’s not the first thing I think of. Tukwila refused a Link station at Southcenter because it didn’t want the track going through a corner of Southcenter’s property and didn’t want it surface on 99 because it had just beautified the boulevard (for cars). Then it announced an urban village on Balker Blvd within walking distance of Sounder, but all it really amounts to is a couple buildings. They did make a nice transit-center like bus stop within a block of Macy’s and Baker Blvd so I’m glad about that, but that’s just a token amount of pedestrianism. Where are the apartments in the big-box lots acoss the street of the mall? Or on top of the mall. Or at 144th & 99 where Tukwila said it’s building a village. I looked at a senior apartment building there and it’s about the only mixed-use building, and no supermarket nearby. Why is Tukwila City Hall in a pedestrian-unfriendly location and up a hill from the nearest bus stop? If I lived in Tukwila and wanted to go to City Hall for a hearing, it wouldn’t exactly be easy. And I couldn’t very well live in Tukwila anyway because the only housing is a couple buildings on Baker Blvd, a few apartments around TIB Station, and the low-density, low-transit-service area west of it. So Tukwila has beaten me into despair that it will ever improve.

      9. “if more housing next to Bellevue Square didn’t make rents more affordable, why would more housing at U Village make rents in that neighborhood affordable?”

        You’re looking too narrowly. The reason to build apartments at U-Village is so that more people can live within walking distance of good transit service. Even if they’re rich. And if they choose a unit in U Village, they’re not competing for a unit in a lower-priced area. The reason rents in downtown Bellevue are so high is because the demand for housing in walkable/transit-rich/business-rich neighborhoods far exceeds supply. If housing had kept up while the population grew by half in the past thirty years, housing prices would not have risen much, If King County had a policy of building more dense, transit-rich, walkable neighborhoods in Factoria, Southcenter, Kent, and other areas like Vancouver does, then more people could walk to work and their errands. The issue of housing prices is regionwide; it’s not just in the urban villages. Downtown Bellevue is the highest in the Eastside because it’s the largest downtown and the most people want to be there. But the level or curve could be different. The level in downtown Bellevue could have been lower, or more people could live in convenient neighborhoods outside downtown Bellevue, if the land-use policies were different.

      10. Why does the U Village top your list of malls that need housing, and not Southcenter? Housing at U Village would make a residentially dense area more dense.

        I think you just answered your own question. The relationship between density and transit, or density and low automobile use is not linear, it is exponential. If the number of people per area in the U-Village doubles, it will be better, overall, for society, than if the number of people in Southcenter doubles. Fewer trips by car, a better transit system. To be clear, I would still add housing in South Center — but it is not as important.

        So, if more housing next to Bellevue Square didn’t make rents more affordable, why would more housing at U Village make rents in that neighborhood affordable?

        Supply and demand doesn’t work that way. Rent is more affordable than it would be, absent those new units. It isn’t “Economics 101”, it is much simpler than that. More supply means lower costs — all other things being equal. More demand means higher costs — all other things being equal. The phrase “all other things being equal” is such a common phrase in philosophy that folks use the Latin for it, Ceteris paribus. It is an essential idea known to school kids everywhere, even those (like me) that never studied Latin.

      11. If I owned U Village, I wouldn’t want housing on my property. I’m doing very well just as things are, and if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. If I owned the Commons at Federal Way, on the other hand, I would very much want housing on my property. Same with crossroads mall. Housing, yes. Factoria, yes. U Village, btw, owned by a man who used to own QFC. Very under the radar type of guy.

      12. “If I owned U Village, I wouldn’t want housing on my property. I’m doing very well just as things are, and if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

        It is broke because thousands of people have to live further away with worse transit access and few businesses to walk to because of it, and travel across it to get to things that it pushes further apart. The owner of U Village may not care but I do. I don’t know exactly why U Village doesn’t have housing, whether the owner is just old-fashioned and can’t contemplate a mixed-use lifestyle center and more than one story. He may just be thinking about the profits from retail and not about anything else. I suspect the city could have nudged them with zoning to include housing. But the renovation occurred in the 1990s and urban villages were just starting to get popular then.

      13. The University Village has some of the highest rents for its tenants in the area and if there was housing the rent for those units would be just as high so it would not be the housing that the average person could afford to pay.

      14. There are two distinct but related issues.

        1. Build more housing in places like U Village so that somebody can live there, even if it’s only the rich. That way more of them who want to live where they can walk and take transit easily can do so, and they won’t be adding to sprawl further out, and won’t be competing for units in lower-cost areas.

        2. Extend the urban villages out in all directions so that they can have a lot more housing. If you saturate the market, that will shrink the price differential between inside and outside the village. The more units, the fewer people competing for each unit, and the less ability of owners to jack up prices. But the crisis is so deep that it’s not realistic for market-rate housing to solve all of it, so there needs to be a lot of subsidized housing too. That can go into the expanded urban villages as well.

      15. Adding housing on top of the Village would have at least one advantage over gentrifying more of the U District area, which is that there would be more cheap student housing left. There were a bunch of older apartments/buildings along 25th just North of the Village that got torn down in the late 2000s in favor of building the retirement community (one half) and more expensive new apartments with semi-“luxury” features (the other half). Roosevelt area is also gentrifying fast with all those expensive units renting for more than students should reasonably have to pay. And the U District (the West side, not the Village side) itself is building a lot more expensive units. So housing for students is becoming more unaffordable. It could potentially be a problem this year if the university decides to limit housing to reduce outbreaks – not sure how they’re going to deal with all the triple rooms they were setting up in some of the buildings. Would be interesting to hear from any UW students who frequent the blog if they know, actually.

        Having said that, Sam has an unfortunately good point that this is all moot, since the owner of the Village most likely will not build such housing on top of the existing buildings, and (to my own unfortunate point from earlier) UW probably will not build anything on top of the E-1 lot anytime soon, either.

      16. On 25th Ave NE across from the U Village there used to be a bank and motel that were torn down and there is now construction going on with new buildings that may be housing but it is hard to tell at this point as they have just gotten started.

  4. Seems like an excellent idea, Sam. Though we really should check both soils and land-use history to see if the homes can be arranged around food-crops and orchards. Which could provide residents with, in addition to residential beauty, both nourishment and a skilled-trade living as farmers. My niece manages it. Company vehicles she gets to drive are at least six tractors.

    Because the real question we now need to address though we aren’t, is the completely brand new economy our people will need to support ourselves in the much-changed world the Class of 2020 is inheriting through no fault of their own. We the transit-oriented need to investigate whether PCC streetcar blueprints are now public domain.

    Because even if battery buses can substitute for the Benson streetcars for the time being if given their own lane, it would do the Waterfront no harm to include some serious manufacturing, which tourists will also greatly enjoy being able to watch. Side-benefit: a Waterfront finally as Self-Supporting as it used to be.

    Mark Dublin

  5. Does anyone know of maps showing BAT lanes and bus lanes? WSDOT has a good map of the HOV lanes, but it just shows the freeways. I’m curious about buses like Swift and the E-Line — where does the BAT lanes start and end? Is it just BAT lanes, or are there bus lanes as well?

    1. I’ve always wanted this. I think I even tried crowdsourcing it once. Maybe time to try again.

      1. Of course a map would be ideal, but are there other sources for the information? When I’ve been curious, I’ve just looked at Google Maps, but that can be tedious, and I question the accuracy (sometimes the pictures are a bit old). For example, it looks like the main Swift line actually has very little in the way of bus lanes (well less than half) but that just doesn’t seem right.

  6. The waterfront consultants studied four modes for north-south circulation on Alaskan Way: vintage streetcar, modern streetcar, battery bus, and battery minibus. It recommended battery bus or battery minibus.

    There will be transit lanes south of Columbia Street for the West Seattle buses, which will turn at Columbia. The waterfront route will probably not use those. Additional transit lanes for the waterfront route isn’t going to happen. The city and state already agreed which lanes and other swaths would be used for what. When activists tried to get the part south of Columbia narrowed (I think it’s seven lanes), the state said the only thing it could take away is the transit lanes because four GP lanes and a ferry lane were non-negotiable and part of the agreement with the Port. The part of the waterfront north of Pike Place is Phase 3 and hasn’t been designed yet. That part is quiet anyway because the traffic switches to Western and Elliott Avenues away from the waterfront. (Or at least the Viaduct did; I assume the street connects them now or will.)

    Adding transit lanes would also run into the same problem as streetcar tracks: it would shrink the amount of space available for bike and ped trails and the linear bioswale/park. While it would be nice to have a streetcar on the waterfront, it would also be nice to have a large bioswale and nature returning to downtown. That would be pretty unusual among waterfronts and a tourist attraction in itself.

    1. Having spent whole afternoons in the magnificent park between Oslo city hall and the town waterfront, I’ve had streetcars pass me at 10 mph or so within about two feet at least several dozen times.

      And in Gothenburg, instinctively about to pull my controller back to slack speed due to a mother pushing her baby carriage at a pretty good clip toward the tracks in front of the 90′ streetcar I was driving, the Chief Instructor who to my surprise assigned me to the seat without warning, pushed my power-hand ahead.

      “Policy here. People expect we’ll ring the bell and keep rolling.” She slacked her step a notch, but didn’t look up let alone stop, as she let my train roll by. In a plaza situation, thing about streetcars is they don’t need lanes. Just tracks and a population who, literally from the day they’re born, know that a bell and a signature vibration mean “Slow Down While It Goes By.”

      So let’s admit it. Banning streetcars on our Waterfront isn’t about transit mode choice. It’s about letting cars spoil an invaluable piece of public property where they don’t belong. Meaning however tough the pile of cow-droppings is, fact we don’t have streetcars is exactly why those bus lanes are mandatory. Don’t like ’em, put back those tracks. Marshal Foster told me some utilities have been altered so we can. Any law says we can’t, that’s what special votes are for.

      Also got it on good authority that any more claims that what Norway does, we can’t, will result in Ballard not allowing Link to have a station there at all. West Seattle can still have theirs. But ST will have compensate those ducks for putting the station on their island in Green Lake.

      Mark Dublin

    2. There will be transit lanes south of Columbia Street for the West Seattle buses, which will turn at Columbia. The waterfront route will probably not use those.

      Why not? Is the plan to turn before Columbia (what is the plan, anyway)? I would think a waterfront line would go as far south as Jackson, if not King. I could imagine it looping around Pioneer Square, like so:

      I think the real challenge is at the other end. I don’t know if there is an easy way to turn around without heading up the hill. Heading up the hill would be great, if it wasn’t for the trains. I don’t know how they plan on solving that problem. The best bet is probably to turn around at Pier 69 (, unless there is a way to turn around at the pier to the north. That might mean working out some sort of agreement, but I think the port owns the land, not a private landowner.

      This is actually one of the few, if not the only place in Seattle where running a streetcar made sense. The streetcar stayed west of the tracks, and could remain west (by simply reversing direction at the north end). It used existing tracks most of the way, with only a passing track and the Pioneer Square section costing money (and the original section didn’t even have that). It managed to avoid bike hazards, like a European system. Either the bike path was isolated from the tracks, or there was a 90 degree turn. (At least I think this was the case — I’m not completely certain). It really was poor planning to abandon that, and then try and sink a bunch of money into something less sensible. They should have just extended it to Smith Cove.

      Anyway, adding bus lanes along the waterfront would be a challenge. You could try taking the parking lane, but in some places there aren’t any and parking is used by a lot of companies as a pickup/dropoff areas ( You could just take a lane (making it one lane each direction for general traffic) but that seems like a tough battle to fight, for what is likely a relatively minor route. I could maybe see a few bus-only sections, but only after it has been there a while, and folks get an idea of the traffic pattern.

      1. If the Waterfront ever got PCC’s, the Myrtle Edwards Park end could use a turntable. Double-ended cars, either the block just south of the massive pedestrian bridge or the Victoria Clipper landing could work fine.

        If a rubber-tired replacement following former streetcar tracks from IDS through Pioneer Square could be electrified, as it should for oxygen’s sake, there’s a chance it could safely drop poles, cross the tracks on battery, and then loop back to Pioneer Square on First.

        Though I could understand hesitation of taking main-line transit of any kind across that serious of a railroad. Based on San Francisco, though….kids love turntables. If the bearings are good enough, driver might actually be able to back up to a rail and, walking backwards, swing a 60′ artic all the way around.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Double track, double track! The Benson streetcar was limited to 20-minue headways because of the single track. That was the biggest thing that made it less-than-useful, because in twemty minutes you could walk half the waterfront, and many trip pairs were within that distance anyway.

    3. “There will be transit lanes south of Columbia Street for the West Seattle buses, which will turn at Columbia. The waterfront route will probably not use those.”

      “Why not? Is the plan to turn before Columbia (what is the plan, anyway)? I would think a waterfront line would go as far south as Jackson, if not King.”

      There was a waterfront transit study at the beginning of the project; that’s what I was referring to. It’s probably buried somewhere at I looked but couldn’t find it as easily as I have in the past.

      The recommendation was for a battery bus or minibus from Intl Dist Station to Pier 70, with an optional extension to Seattle Center. There was no specific recommendation not to use the transit lanes; that was just an opinion raised a few times during the process. I think it was because the transit lanes wouldn’t have stops or they’d be away from the sidewalk, plus a bus would have to turn right and then left from the center transit lanes to the outer lanes where the bus stops would be after the transit lanes end at Columbia.

      But no decision has been made on what the mode or alignment will be or whether the recommendations will be implemented. That’s all for the city to decide, and it’s been taking its time.

      1. … plus a bus would have to turn right and then left from the center transit lanes …

        I didn’t realize the transit lanes will be in the center. Or are in the center. To be honest that part of town is still pretty much a mystery to me. I wanted to check it out, but of course, the pandemic hit, and that was that. Everything is a work in progress, and there is no hurry to check it out. Google Maps is also woefully out of date (they still show the viaduct).

        The recommendation was for a battery bus or minibus from Intl Dist Station to Pier 70, with an optional extension to Seattle Center.

        Yeah, that is the pier to the north of the one I mentioned (it goes from 69 to 70 — go figure, duh). So maybe a bus can turn around there — in which case, that is ideal. As nice as it would be to connect to the Seattle Center, you would pretty much destroy all reliability if you go past the railroad tracks. It isn’t worth it.

      2. The Viaduct is gone and it’s refreshingly quiet. You can get a good view from Market Park at Western & Virginia or the new market addition roof just south of it (although the latter is closed for coronavirus). The market addition is the first phase of the promenade that will zigzag down to the waterfront near the Aquarium. The street rechannelizations haven’t been made yet as far as I can tell. South of Pike Place Market the street is often reduced to one or two lanes or blocked off for construction so I haven’t been there much. Pier 70 as at the very north end next to the Sculpture Park and Myrtle Edwards park, so the bus would go as far north as it can.

    4. Do Oslo or Gothenborg have any streetcar likes like the First Hill Streetcar, in mixed traffic in a congested street?

      1. Where there could be conflict, way it’s generally handled is that those cars are kept out of the streetcars’ way. There and here, not a matter of wheels, but of will.


      2. That’s not a four-lane arterial packed with cars. it’s a residential street and likely low-volume.

      3. @Mike Orr: It is not, though you did not request that the example fit that criterion either. The requirement was “mixed traffic in a congested street”, and it is mixed traffic (as the picture shows) and I can testify that it was not uncongested when I was there, though I suppose that my definition of “congested” may not align with yours. It felt busy, the street car had to work with other traffic around it, speed of travel was generally fairly slow. Since Stockholm is pretty dense and it has a good transit network, this was not an issue, for me as a tourist anyway – I took the street car to the nearest metro station then traveled faster from there on to my destination.

        Hope this helps.

      4. I’m not used to Europe so I don’t remember everything like a lot of the streets are smaller and traffic is more dispersed. I’m sorry I can’t articulate exactly what I’m referring to. I meant, are there streetcars on streets like Jackson Street or Broadway or Eastlake? Is it for their whole length or only a small segment?

        I can’t see from the picture whether there are cars behind the streetcar, and if you swivel it around the surrounding streets aren’t very busy, including Birger Jarlsgatan around the corner which looks like a main street. Of course, I don’t know what time of day it is or what rush hour looks like. But on the main street the lanes are practically empty and a streetcar could run at full speed. That’s not what Jackson Street or Broadway are like for several hours a day.

      5. If you follow the tracks, Mike, you can tell that it heads out on a major street. There are parts that are separated, and parts that aren’t ( This is obviously a busy part of town, with density likely in excess of anything found in Seattle. That means that as in New York City, you are going to have vehicles everywhere, in many cases double parking. I noticed in that alley in that first picture, there is a truck parked on the sidewalk (I guess that is better than blocking the streetcar, maybe —

        So anyway, the point is, it isn’t that rare to see streetcars running in mixed traffic in Europe. The big difference is that these streetcars are large (bigger than a bus) and carry huge numbers of people ( Our streetcars, of course, are neither.

      6. Thank you, @RossB, for replying, as I had missed Mike’s question. Sorry about that.

        I was in that area almost 3 years ago so I do not remember very well anymore either, but RossB is correct that it is a pretty dense and busy street, but busy in the “mixed, very pedestrian-and-transit friendly” sense, not the “Aurora at rush hour” sense. There are definitely cars on the road, but there are also a lot of pedestrians, and I vaguely remember not having to wait more than maybe 5 minutes for a streetcar. I mostly took the metro to get around from the hotel to the conference center I was spending my days at, but when doing sight-seeing, it was easier to walk to most places, and it seemed that the locals were doing the same – but the street cars themselves were also fairly busy, on the few instances I was going far enough to warrant catching one (like from the Vasa museum back towards the conference center). In terms of specific comparisons with S Jackson in Seattle – I think that at least the larger streets would be comparable, but density is much higher, as RossB pointed out as well – it would be a bit more like Market St. in Ballard maybe? and even that isn’t a good analogy since the city is more uniformly built. But not as high density as Manhattan either though, I don’t think.

        I do not know when the picture was taken, either. I can say that when I was there in mid August the streets were pretty busy mid-afternoon (say 3pm or so), both with pedestrians and with the mixed traffic.

        Sorry again for not catching the questions earlier.

      7. Remember the issue is car density on the street, not apartment density or pedestrian density. Car congestion is what slows down streetcars. Apartment/business density may cause car density, but that is the question. I assume a smaller percent of those residents and customers came by car or have a car than a same-density American block, so they would cause less car congestion. People driving through is a more complicated issue, since it depends on the role of those streets in the city’s circulation. My impression is that since Europe has more small parallel streets instead of a few large arterials, and the car mode share is less, that translates to less traffic and thus less congestion on each street on average. In that case a mixed-traffic streetcar is more acceptable.

      8. New York is the most like a European city. A relatively small percentage of people drive their own car, especially inside the busiest parts (Manhattan). Yet Manhattan is full of vehicles. The cabs don’t go away just because you have a good transit system. Someone has to get stuff to the people, and that means a lot of trucks. Even if only 1% of the people drive at all, and those people only drive once a week, that is a lot of cars on the street.

        What is true for New York is true for European cities — their streets are very busy. The only thing they’ve done to reduce those numbers is start pricing congestion. This wouldn’t be needed if there weren’t so many cars.

        Big cities have congestion. That is because the modal share doesn’t go down that low ( Even in Tokyo (which has the lowest rate of driving), 12% of the trips are taken by car. With a city of 37 million, that is a lot of car trips. Smaller cities have larger driving share. It all balances out, since street space is largely the same, in every city. There are particular bottlenecks, or empty areas here or there, but in general, that is the nature of car travel worldwide.

  7. I have an idea for a Metro mask marketing campaign. Photoshop a mask onto a picture of Albert Einstein’s face, with the words “masks are smart” below.

    1. Sounds good to me. Of course these days people will say “damn socialist immigrant” (which he was).

      1. Pretty sure people said that about him in those days too. Resulting in thousands of equally intelligent people being sent back and mass-murdered, at the behest of Americans whose descendants, spiritual if not familial, are pointing at darker-skinned people and saying the same thing right now.

        After the nation at the peak and prow of the bloodbath had spent countless centuries renowned as the world’s most advanced and civilized in every single field. In my own people’s part of the world, reason so many people failed to escape was that of all the places where a Holocaust could happen, Germany wasn’t even on the list. As opposed to, say, Russia.

        Reason that, just like Napoleon, Hitler left his army to freeze to death at the enemy’s own gates, was his own assumption, with some justification, that because of the years of progress that had previously been Germany’s ongoing gift…..the average Russian would be as grateful to Hitler as their forebears had been to Peter.

        Stalin- his party name, not his Dad’s- wasn’t even Russian. “Grooo-ZHIEH!” was a Georgia without magnolias. Talking with an ethnic Russian woman about people from those mountains, who include the Chechens, her blue eyes went white all the way around as she told me: “They’re WILD MEN! And the way we know this is that very time we send soldiers up there THEY KILL THEM ALL!

        Peter’s sister Katherine said more than once that what Russia needed was fewer Russians and more Germans, but liking women of strength and style, the Russians thought she was GREAT too.

        “Brothers Karamazov” showed they ordered all their music, plays, and perfume from France. One Brother ended up confessing in tears that he had been responsible for his father’s death and his family’s ruin by bringing home…FRENCH IDEAS!

        Luckily, HIS brother fixed it all by marrying a girl named “Grushenka” who could’ve decked Ronda Rousey first punch, precisely because that made her Russian to the core! Honeymoon in Siberia, she already had the tickets!

        But had you approached Einstein for permission, he would have been the first to tell you what he told his own students: “Whatever your troubles with mathematics, I assure you mine are worse.”

        Mark Dublin

  8. Well, since Sound Transit apparently no longer desires to publish its ridership reports (there hasn’t been a quarterly performance report since the one for the third quarter of 2019 was published in November), we are forced to refer to other sources to get this data. The two I’ve been looking at are the quarterly data reports compiled by the APTA and the monthly reports maintained by the FTA’s NTD.

    For those here who are interested in these metrics, the following data regarding ST’s LR ridership is pulled from the NTD’s published figures for unlinked passenger trips as of their April 2020 update:

    4th Quarter 2019
    Oct19 – 2,025,321
    Nov19 – 1,790,922
    Dec19 – 2,052,787
    Full year total – 24,761,684*

    4th Quarter 2018 (for comparison)
    Oct18 – 2,148,232
    Nov18 – 2,029,617
    Dec18 – 1,790,370
    Full year total – 24,470,264*

    Thus the UPTs increased by just 1.2% over the prior year.

    1st Quarter 2020
    Jan20 – 1,958,745
    Feb20- 2,202,436
    Mar20 – 1,070,032
    YTD 2020 total – 5,231,213

    1st Quarter 2019 (for comparison)
    Jan19 – 2,219,086
    Feb19 – 1,960,679
    Mar19 – 2,199,818
    YTD 2019 total – 6,379,583

    The latest quarterly numbers reflect a decrease of 18% compared to the prior year period. This is understandable given the Covid-related ridership drop reported for Mar 2020.

    However, there was also a decline in UPTs reported for the two- month period immediately preceding:

    Jan and Feb 2020 total –
    Jan and Feb 2019 total –

    *Sound Transit missed its benchmark for both of these years.

    1. Don’t forget about the effect of the service cutback to 13-15 minutes for Link starting in January 2020 to install the East Link switching tracks (Connect 2020). That’s why January and February 2020 are lower.

      That said, I’m as bothered as you that ST has started not revealing its ridership data.

      1. “That’s why January and February 2020 are lower.”

        Oh, you’re right. I totally blanked out about the restricted period earlier this year. That probably does account for most of the noted decline.

        Thanks for pointing this out!

        I think the larger issue of the lack of reporting needs to be addressed to the Rider Experience and Operations Committee members so that it stays on their radar. Their next meeting is scheduled for tomorrow (July 2) afternoon. I doubt the issue will come up in the Chair’s Report or Reports to the Committee, so perhaps it’s time to force the issue by saying the hell with public comment protocol (i.e., agenda items only) and bringing the item up ourselves through an appropriately written public comment.

      2. It’s funny. If not for the virus, the big story with Link ridership would have been the decline due to the East Link work. It would have dominated meeting discussions, and used as a reason to (for example) add the NE 130th station sooner, rather than later.

  9. Wish this didn’t so much belong in this particular blog, but this morning’s news about the energetic self-destruction of liberal Democratic city government in Seattle can bode nothing but ill for transit. The other party lost Jim Ellis on 10/22/2019. No enjoyment of mine, but it’s late in the day and still left unmentioned.

    Taking my politics Regional wasn’t my idea. The speculator whose eviction notice changed my residence for me left me no other choice. My years in Ballard and on the 7 aren’t ever going to go away. Looking 3D at my Google street map, I can see the trolleywire that used to carry the Route 10 still in the air as it turns north from Pine to 15th Avenue.

    Glad it’s not a trolley line that the war took out. Good forethought to put service over to Bellevue Avenue and John Street on its way to 15th, Group Health, and Volunteer Park. Which features a beautiful little-known Union cemetery an easy walk from terminal. At my age, could be fitting. Even if it was diesel, shame about the 11. Which, like the Route 27, should get wire.

    It’s not Black Lives Matter’s fault that it can’t fulfill War’s own absolute demand on any Occupation, the more honorable, the more onerous: Where you Occupy, any murder’s on you. Fact that SPD can’t handle it either and neither can the Sheriff means it’s time for Jay Inslee to charter a brand new Socially-PPE bus and head north.

    In the Spaced company of about a dozen Washington State Highway Patrol officers, both genders and multiple ethnic extractions. To sit down with BLM, the Mayor, and the Councilmember to negotiate a mutually voluntary temporary arrangement whereby legitimately armed and uniformed authority can put an end to the deficiency. Like of the “perps” know when their welcome’s run out.

    “Service With Humility.” Guts like that make the gutless go ‘way.

    Mark Dublin

    1. What “energetic self-destruction of liberal Democratic city government in Seattle”? You mean the clearing of CHOP? Or Sawant calling for Durkan to resign and Durkan calling for Sawant to be investigated? 99% of the city is doing fine. I looked at the Times website to see if anything else happened today and it looks like the usual.

      I went through CHOP and the park yesterday, the third time since the autonomous city started. It was depressing. There’s wall-to-wall graffiti all over the stone walls of the fountain and all over the police building. There were so many tents it reminded me of San Francisco’s Embarcadero during the Occupy movement. The longer it went the harder it is to distinguish between protesters camping out to be near their plaza and a homeless tent city. The gardens are nice, but still, the park belongs to all of us and the decision of whether to have gardens there belongs to our elected leaders, not to one faction. Somebody (i.e., taxpayers) will have to pay to clean up the graffiti. Orr if they just leave it there for a while (likely because of the coronavirus deficit), it will look like a neglected place. And the 11 has been routed around it for weeks. One sign, “Black Lives Matter”, makes sense. Graffiti doesn’t, nor one faction unilaterally installing gardens.

      Still, it’s not a liberal city self-destruction. It’s just a tumult like Berkely in the 60s. When CHOP was swinging it felt like Haight-Ashbury II. (Or what I imagine it as, since I was two years old at the time.)

      1. I never opposed “The Clearing of the CHOP”. My own opinion was that from the beginning the occupiers lacked Occupation’s own life-and-death ability of being able to prevent violence. And for transit’s sake and all else political, professionals just do not “lose it” like the two elected ladies I referred to just did.

        The generation whose survival will depend on taking over from you and generally setting the world right, they’re owed better.

        But Great God, what an un-American sight my screen showed me! That wall of black is worse than naming US military bases after high-ranking pro-slavery officers whose commands killed thousands of American soldiers.

        Five minutes of viewing and I’m done with looking at people I arm to protect me, showing up for work in the uniforms last worn by the people the armed forces my relatives served in, saved the world by dropping in droves.

        SPD, Olympia City Police, King County Sheriff’s Deputies, I will not let your organizations keep disgracing you with History’s most Hellish association.

        It’s precisely because I do think so highly of individual police officers whom I do know, that I want every single one of those literally God damned black uniforms replaced with a blue one on every single officer’s hook when next they open their locker tomorrow morning.

        My own suggestion was that both sides agree to a settlement brokered by the presence of the Washington Highway Patrol. Whose uniforms are the same dignified and graceful blue worn by the Irish American Chicago police who kept bringing home my family’s fence-jumping dog.

        So an initiative to the Washington State Legislature is probably natural next step. “Resolved that no representative of law enforcement in the State of Washington shall ever be uniformed in black.”

        In memory of every American who died fighting the forces of Adolf Hitler, and for the support and encouragement of every person serving at arms in defense against his philosophy and everything like it, it’s the least I can do.

        Mark Dublin

      2. I still don’t know what you mean by self-destruction or two ladies losing it. I can’t understand two-thirds of what you write or what the allusions are to. You used to write more clearly and I could understand most of it.

      3. Yeah, CHOP started off fine, but it quickly became apparent why we do, in fact, need police, and what happens when you let areas descend into anarchy. The shootings were part of it. But businesses being looted were a big problem, as was Cal Anderson Park being overwhelmed by tents.

        While the police role of clearing out the homeless of often derided on the left, the reality is, without enforcement of no-camping rules, parks would, over time, simply become filled with tents, to the point where the general public effectively has no parks anymore. Yes, the homeless folks need to be given somewhere to go, but they shouldn’t be allowed to just take over our parks.

  10. I read “To Understand a City’s Pace of Gentrification, Look at Its Housing Supply”, I understood that Seattle is not really gentrifying any faster than the nationwide average. (High-income mortgages in low- and mid- income areas was barely higher than the national average).

    Did I misunderstand something?

    Or possibly we’re losing a bit of nuance by them grouping such a large metro area (Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma). I wonder how those stats would look for just the city of Seattle.

    1. After Seattle threw me out, I started noticing that every time I came back, the buildings were uglier, the prices were higher, and the service was worse. This posting’s early observations on a management culture that loves grandiosity and despises personal experience is that Definition Royalty or what?

      However, the term “Gentry” isn’t the one that deserves the opprobrium. In our Founders’ time, these people were the successful whose wealth justly owed to their success in manufacture, banking, and commerce.

      Which convinced their Titled “Betters” who inherited their wealth, stole it, married it, took it out of poor people’s hides via rents, or won it in gambling ’til their own skill at it left them impoverished…..that if you were mere gentry you smelled bad.

      Good thing Boeing knew enough to trust their 737’s, which started out really good ships, to (you know, nobility thought “mechanics” smelled worse than the rest of the gentry) those who understood corporate priorities like delivery dates.

      Too bad “Titled Nobilitizing” has extra syllables….though if you sound it out, it really fits the town like a glove.

      Mark Dublin

    2. One article defined gentrification as prices rising in one neighborhood, but when prices rise citywide or regionwide it’s something else, it’s just a lack of housing supply for a growing population. Part of the price increase in the Central District and Rainier Valley was they suddenly became desirable and whites stopped being afraid of living there, but if that were all of it then the rest of the city wouldn’t be rising. And it’s not just a city-lovers’ thing because Tacoma is now rising too, and faster than Seattle. The prices are headed toward equalization, and that can only happen because there’s so much demand it spills out of the cities and most-desired suburban tract-housing neighborhoods (which are different markets) into everything else, including less-desired Delridge and Aurora and Tacoma and Lynnwood. If there were just a little demand or a lot of housing, only the most-desired areas would go up, and only a little bit.

      “Not gentrifying any faster than the nationwide average” is hardly a good goal. The nationwide average has gone from affordable in 2000 to difficult in 2007 to unaffordable in 2020. Prices rose faster than incomes, and a shrinking minority of people can find something for less than 33% of their income. It’s not just in the large coastal cities but has reached small cities, towns, and rural areas. The only places where housing is affordable and prices are either stable or falling are depressed areas with an inadequate number of jobs, or the population is shrinking like Chicago, or they sprawl as if there’s no tomorrow like Dallas and Houston.

      Almost everywhere has unrealistic zoning, with over 70% of the land locked in single-family density. When Seattle had 200K people in the 1920s and King County had 400K, then everybody could live in a house. But when Seattle is 720K and King County is 2.2 million, that’s no longer realistic. Yet still 75% of the residential land is excluded from duplexes, row houses, small apartment buildings, and large apartment buildings. Look at Surrey Downs, which was a big issue during East Link alignment selection. It was built in the 1950s when Bellevue had 12,000 people. Now Bellevue has 148,000, over ten times more, yet Surrey Downs doesn’t have to do one bit to accommodate the population increase. Instead everybody has to go around it to find housing or commute to work. And just one block west of Bellevue Square is the same. Part of a potential downtown walkshed, gone, because single-family neighborhoods have top political clout. Those residents are an ever-shrinking percent of the population, and because those houses cost more than an apartment or condo because they’re bigger and have a yard, only the richest people or those that bought them thirty years ago can live in them. So an ever-shrinking part of the population is demanding an ever-more extraordinary share of the resources while everybody else scrambles for what’s left.

      Other countries build housing and walkable satellite downtowns to match population increases, and have much more subsidized housing for those who can’t afford market-rate. That’s what we should do.

      1. One question: according to Bellevue neighborhood website, West Bellevue (which includes Enatai, Surrey Downs, Meidenbauer – pretty much all very similar in character), the population of that region is about 8.4k.

        Now, I am pretty certain that this area was part of Bellevue in the 1950s, so I imagine that one of the following must be true:

        1. the density in the 1950s was lower, and therefore Surrey Downs did contribute, though not as much as other regions (and how much they should contribute is a reasonable debate to have)
        2. they stagnated, but Bellevue added new neighborhoods which were not present in the 1950s, so Surrey Downs’ contribution was diluted by these new areas
        3. some other option

        Since I believe you lived in Bellevue in its earlier days, could you help provide additional historical context as to which of my options above is true, and, if #3, could you explain further? I am genuinely curious.

        Thanks in advance!

      2. All of downtown Bellevue was still 1-2 stories in the 1980s. The Paccar building and a few scattered ones like the one at 108th NE & 4th were slightly taller, but they were exceptions. So Surrey Downs and the part west of the mall were appropriate to that scale.

        Bellevue in the 70s and 80s extended west to Clyde Hill, south to I-90, east to Lake Sammamish, and north to the Redmond border. I’m not sure if the Bellevue-Redmond border has changed; it zigzags in a crazy way. I always thought Overlake (meaning the area around Sears and Safeway) was part of Bellevue, until I heard an announcement in Sears that mentioned “your Redmond Sears”. Clyde Hill, Medina, Hunts Point, Yarrow Point, and Beaux Arts were separate towns, incorporated some time before that. But Enatai was part of Bellevue, or at least as far as I knew. The later annexations were mostly south of I-90.

        My friend in high school said his father had come to Bellevue in the 1950s and the area where 405 goes was farmland then. There was a small downtown centered at Bellevue Way & Main Street, and I guess the rest was rural. Crossroads and the houses east of Northup Way were there when we moved there in 1972, but they had apparently just been built in the previous ten years. An apartment complex at 8th & Northup Way went up when I was in junior high.

        On 8th Street between 116th and 156th, the apartments by the golf course were there, as was the Alano Club and Odle Junior High. Stevenson elementary school looked larger this year than I remembered. The Milano apartments were built in the early 80s. 148th was desolate: there was only one building on the southwest corner; I think it was a restaurant. 140th had the Neighborhood Church, but the building in front of it (a drugstore?) was built in the early 80s.

        In Overlake in the 70s, Safeway was on 164th across from the large office-park lawn, and was much smaller. In the 80s it moved around the corner to where it is now, and the old space became Uwajimaya, and I think now it’s Trader Joe’s or a Pets mart? Fred Meyer was much smaller and was earlier White Front and then Leslie’s. The strip malls around the current Safeway and Sears were, I guess I’d say, fewer.

        The Bellevue library, city hall, and police department were at Main Street & 116th. There’s a car dealership there now. Barnes & Noble was the John Danz Theater, where junior-highers my age lined up for a block to see Star Wars. (I refused to give into the hype and didn’t see it until a year later. It was funnier than I expected. “I would rather kiss a wookie.”)

        So Surrey Downs and the part west of the mall (what I called “West Bellevue”) contributed appropriately in the 1950s. By “added neighborhoods” do you mean annexation or development? It certainly added development. I don’t know what the city boundaries where in the 1950s, just that in the 1970s they were almost as large as they are now. I would say that a city as populous as Bellevue is now should look like, oh, East Seattle? A mini Chicago North Side? There should at least be seven-story apartments between 100th and 92nd, and down through Surrey Downs toward the P&R, tapering down gradually to, say, 124th, 20th NE, and 16th SE, where 1-2 stories might start. In other words, what a pre-WWII city would do if it had population growth. There shouldn’t be large privileged pockets adjacent to downtown that all the newcomers have to leap over. Instead it should be more like a pyramid, with most people living near downtown.

      3. Thank you, this is very interesting to know.

        Regarding the question about what I had in mind, I was indeed thinking annexation; but it seems like it was more infill than I had expected.

        My sense is that the Enatai and Meydenbauer’s contribution probably extended at least into the 80s/90s; there are a number of multi-story buildings south of downtown along Bellevue Way (as I am sure you know), all of which seem to have been built up to around the early 90s. After that there were probably some town houses on the West side of Bellevue Way and the rest is single house properties.

        Surrey Downs is kind of a weird set up because there’s what, two streets that actually connect? Adding a lot of density there would realistically require additional ways in and out, not to improve traffic through the residential area but to ensure access during a disaster. Enatai is kind of similar but not nearly as bad – there are a few roads that connect, the only bad part is between 108th where the gas station is and 112th at the park&ride. But closer to downtown (where I guess it’s Meydenbauer, not so much Enatai yet) there are a number of apartments, somewhere on the back (West) side of Bellevue Way between Main St. and SE 8th. I walked through there a couple of times and was surprised to see it was as dense as it was.

        For better or worse, IMHO with the zoning Bellevue is going for, the bigger problem is not Surrey Downs (which is skipped by transit anyway, other than the 241 up on top of the hill along 108th) but the light rail alignment. The density in West Bellevue, such as it is, is on Bellevue Way; there should have been one more stop around 108th and Bellevue Way or SE 16th St. and Bellevue Way (for North Enatai) and then one at Main St. on Bellevue Way (for Old Bellevue area). That would have helped hit a lot more people, aligned with the density profile Bellevue is going for, and left Surrey Downs to be the isolated enclave they want to be. They’re down the hill from downtown and not really well served by transit other than the proximity to the Main St. station that is being built.

        I was not really paying attention to East Link design when it was going on so while I remember there were debates about the alignment, I don’t remember the reason why it ended up how it is; I just think it is really unfortunate that it did.

      4. I don’t quite understand what you mean by contribution, so I’ll just say what happened. I went to Bellevue High School in the late 70s and early 80s (my junior high was there too). For most of that time I took the 226 from east Bellevue; it went through downtown Bellevue and on to downtown Seattle. The last two years I lived in those apartments on 102nd between SE 3rd and SE 6th (and on Somerset and north Bellevue Way). A few years later my mom lived in the Commodore in that area.

        Bellevue Way in the 70s and 80s had a lot of apartments, both north and south. It was the densest part of Bellevue. The closest rival was a smaller apartment cluster at Crossroads, and some on 140th Ave SE. Most of them were two-story buildings, but they were still apartments. Some of them on south Bellevue Way were added later, but at least half of them must have been there. I don’t remember how far south the apartments extended, whether they were south of SE 8th Street. The Pancake Corral was isolated, not much around it.

        The 226 and 235 both went to Seattle, the 235 on 104th, and the 226 on 108th. “Enatai” to me is the southern part of 108th near the beach, because that’s where the Enatai sign was. “Meydenbauer” I haven’t heard of, other than the building at Main Street and the beach park west of it, and some vague person in the past, and the later Meydenbauer Center.

        Re Surrey Downs, I’m not proposing any specific development, just a general concept. I’d like to have more housing within walking distance of East Main Station on the south side. There may be limited opportunity there due to geography, but 108th (north of 112th) is long straight street with opportunities on both sides. It’s hard to get to Link on 112th from there, but a north-south bus could take people to Link.

        I think Link should have been on Bellevue Way. And that was the original proposal. But Kemper Freeman threw a fit at having Link next to Bellevue Square, so it was moved further east. The remaining alternatives were 112th, the rail ROW, and 405. 112th won out because it was closer to downtown and had an opportunity at 112th & Main, and served South Bellevue. The rail corridor alternative skipped South Bellevue, and it crossed the Slough wich angered environmentalists and was a “negative impact” in EIS terms. One person threatened to sue ST if it crossed the Slough unless it was underground. So it ended up on 112th in a trench.

      5. Thank you again, Mike!

        Regarding the neighborhood definition, I think it’s a bit tricky to define precisely what Enatai is. Zillow and/or Redfin (I forget which) seemed to extend it up to SE 16th. Meydenbauer seems to be the bluffs area along the lake, north of SE 8th and back around to Old Bellevue, and a bit inland from there… but not clear to me what neighborhood the buildings right West of Bellevue Way fit under (at least the ones North of SE 16th). Then you have the Bellecrest and Belle-something-or-other along 108th, and this is what Bellevue neighborhoods seems to consider in aggregate “West Bellevue”, with the 8.6k or so people that I mentioned in an earlier post.

        Kemper Freeman has done so much damage to Bellevue with his opposition to Link running close to the mall. It’s very unfortunate. Alas, it is what it is.

      6. AM, can you provide a quote of Kemper Freeman saying he doesn’t want light rail next to Bellevue Square?

      7. @Sam: I strongly encourage you to read @Mike Orr’s post above, but if that is too much to ask, I will quote the relevant portion:

        “I think Link should have been on Bellevue Way. And that was the original proposal. But Kemper Freeman threw a fit at having Link next to Bellevue Square, so it was moved further east.”

        I was replying to him, and therefore my comment should be taken in that context. But if you would like me to rephrase it, perhaps I should have said:

        “It appears that Kemper Freeman has done so much damage…” etc. etc.

        If you would like an exact quote from Kemper Freeman, perhaps @Mike Orr can help, since he has much more information about this than I do. I was the one asking for information in the first place :) I was not too interested in East Link at the time, as I mentioned before. A cursory look right now finds more information about his attempt to stop light rail on I-90 altogether, rather than an attempt to redirect East Link from the Bellevue Way alignment.

        Hope this helps.

      8. I don’t have a specific quote; it’s just from my experience in Bellevue over the decades. Kemper has consistently been the most powerful anti-rail activist in Bellevue. He didn’t want Link at all and tried to persuade the City Council to oppose it, and he sued ST to block converting the I-90 express lanes, which would have scuttled East Link. [1] His solution to traffic congestion and non-car mobility has always been, “Widen 405, and BRT instead of rail.” I can’t say whether that goes all the way back to Forward Thrust because that was before my time. But that has been his impact in the past forty years. I think he’s one of those who favors BRT when rail is proposed, but when BRT is proposed he opposes it due to taxes and non-necessity. But I’m not 100% sure about that, or his position on 405 Stride.

        Regarding Link near Bellevue Square, the argument is that the affluent customers he targets come by car, and they don’t want to see ugly trains or have trains getting in their way.

        There’s a rumor that he doesn’t want Link near the mall or anywhere in Bellevue because it will bring “those people” from Seattle (i.e., black men who are supposedly shoplifters/gangbangers and would scare away his customers). This goes along with a quote that some interpret to mean he doesn’t want “Southcenter people in hair curlers” at Bellevue Square. But he denied this in a P-I article, and I believe it. He said he meant that people dress up to go to Bellevue Square in a way that they don’t do when they go to Southcenter. And as for “those people”, he surely knows that the 550 makes exactly the same stops as Link will/would: at the Rainier freeway station and right in front of his Avalon Meydenbauer condos where I think he lives. So any gangbangers have been able to make that trip for 25 years, and yet it hasn’t happened. Unless you think they’re more likely to do it with light rail, but that’s delusional and I can’t believe Kemper believes that.

        Also, Kemper owned the land the Montlake mini-mart was on that U-Link goes directly under. There was concern that he’d use that to block Link too. But apparently he retreated and sold the land to get out of that issue.

        [1] The argument is they were partly funded by the gas tax, and it’s consitutionally prohibited to spend gas-tax money on “non-highway purposes”. That was an amendment in the 1930s to prevent the robber-baron railroad companies from benefiting from gas-tax money, and also to support the buildout of car infrastructure over streetcars/trains. Most opinions say this includes modern light rail, although there’s some disagreement. But the federal grant that also partly funded the I-90 renovation in the 80s said that the center lanes were for long-term rail and the express lanes were an interim use, and the courts ruled that the federal grant agreement trumped the gas-tax prohibition. Kemper also filed the case in Kittitas County where he assumed it would get a more favorable ruling than in King County, but it backfired.

      9. Thank you very much, Mike, for the extra information.

        One minor correction, Avalon is an apartment rental company. If Kemper Freeman lives in one of the condos it’s probably Lincoln Square, which I think is the premier condo complex in downtown Bellevue. If it is a rental penthouse, it’s probably the Bravern – almost certainly not the Avalon units which are kind of less than great by current downtown Bellevue standards, if reviews are to be believed.

      10. I always felt the Bellevue Way vs 112th debate was overrated. Yes, there is some really great density in Old Bellevue, but the mall has always been at the edge of downtown Bellevue, not the center. Now that Bellevue is filling up with 40 stories towers on nearly every block, prioritizing a 2~3 story mall seems quaint. The city is working hard to decrease the 405 ‘dead zone’ with the Grand Connection, and the zoning east of 405 is almost as aggressive as west of 405. As Willburton gets built out, the ‘center’ of Bellevue will drift east and the alignment we ended up with look better.

        All that said, the SF zoning in Surrey Downs is ridiculous, and reinforced by the East Main station, which has excellent zoning in 3 directions and a glaring gap to the SW. The area between Main street and the park should have the same zoning as Old Bellevue, at least. Fix that, build some office towers at Main & 116th, and the 112th alignment will be good.

        Once the superblocks where the H-Mart, Sheraton, and Red Lion are redeveloped in the near future, it will be more density around Main & 112th than there is around Main & Bellevue Way. 6~10 story VMU is great, but 40 stories is better.


    If the French car industry was one of its own generals, it’d be stood up in a crowded public stadium, slapped across the face by a brother officer, who would’ve ripped off their epaulets and broken their sword over a shiny-booted knee. Before leaving for Devil’s Island.

    The country that provided the fantastic car portrayed here- ours was cream-colored- for its own survival NEEDS to be shamed into producing it again. Dirt road in the first frame stretched out in front of me at seventy miles an hour, across East Africa, potholes included. Pneumatic suspension let the wheels release an occasional vibrating shudder, which the driver heard rather than felt.

    Family of six, adults and children, fine comfortable fit. Through two years of motoring across a back-country that sent embassy-issued Chevy’s to the scrap yard on their first run.

    So French car industry, if your protest isn’t the joke I think it is…..

    And be sure your every DS has this programmed into the sound system.

    Mark Dublin

  12. And Mike and everybody else, apologies for completely “Losing It.” Those distressing references of mine…. sight of all that black-uniformed authority on my screen last night brought back true stories of REAL Ancestral-Demise be glad will never be yours. Across Europe, the SS were far from completely German.

    The life-and-death Occupation requirements that the Capitol Hill protesters simply could not fulfill, specifically the ability to stop violence, my thought was to bring in a professional police force whose uniforms do happen to be blue. Like the police of my childhood, whose precinct station really was on the Clark Street car line.

    “Service With Humility” which truly does express my own experience with the Highway Patrol when I needed them most, seemed to me to be the exact approach the Route 11, which runs under Route 10’s former wire, needed most. And I’ve no intent to write past-tense here. For both ill and good, this morning nothing’s over.

    Pretty much like COVID, while a cure could take awhile, in both Seattle and Olympia, thousands of good people in and out of uniforms from police to nurse to student to worker to elected official, are at this minute working on a vaccine.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Thanks, I understand now. I don’t associate black uniforms with the SS, but then I don’t have your background.

      The Clark bus connects practically all my favorite places in Chicago.

    2. The 11 doesn’t follow the 10 on Olive. It stays on Pine to Broadway, turns north to John, east to 15th, and south to its normal route.

Comments are closed.