108 Replies to “Sunday open thread: Million Dollar Loan”

  1. One interesting thing I noticed about route 255 is that on Saturdays and Sundays, it has a “peak” frequency boost from about 8-10am and 3-7pm, where it reaches (with a bit of irregularity) 15 minute headways (midday it runs every 20 minutes). This is very common on weekdays, but I don’t think I’ve seen something like this on weekends. Kudos to Metro for finding creative ways to match service to ridership while keeping frequent service 7 days/week at the times that most people travel.

    1. You’re right. Even though that’s my bus route, I’ve never really noticed that, but it does make sense. Certainly better than an alternative world where it’s 15 minutes on Saturdays and 20 minutes on Sundays.

      One thing I do wish they had done is shift the weekend morning schedules over a few minutes during the 15-minute period to line up better with the Link schedule, which is also every 15 minutes. Weekend mornings, traffic on Kirkland streets is minimal, and bus service reliable enough that such schedule coordination makes sense.

    2. Given the fall of I-976, maybe more money will be available quickly to bump up 255 frequency to match Link. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it would be that much money. I’ll have more to say on that another day.

      1. Increasing frequency on the bus is always a good thing. But if Link increases frequency, then it isn’t worth bothering to try and time things. In fact, it could be worse. For one thing, you have to decide how to time it. Not everyone takes the same amount of time to get up from the very deep platform. Personally, I walk briskly up the escalators. There would be no point, if the bus is waiting for someone who just stands on the escalators and walks slowly on the flats.

        If the trains run every 15 minutes, then it probably does make sense to try and time them. You time it for the slowest walker, which means some folks have to wait 5 minutes. Better that, then sitting around for 10.

        But if the train runs every 5 minutes, it would be silly to try and time things. Not for a transfer like this. At that point, you just run the buses as if there is no transfer. Then it is a matter of individuals picking the right train, and that varies depending on walking speed.

        After the pandemic, 10 minutes midday should be the standard, although I hope we can get 8. (For perspective, Madison BRT will run every 6 minutes midday). When East Link comes on board, that would mean 4 or 5 for the main line, which would be good enough to not worry about timing transfers.

      2. Since ST is planning for a long pandemic (and humanity is behaving in a way that proves ST right), I’m really talking about frequency during the pandemic. Having 15-minute headway at least evens out the busloads, regardless of the time it takes to get between the bus stop and the platform. Worse than 15-minute headway on route 255 ought to be seen as a broken promise by the collective transit agencies.

  2. Remote working will reduce more of the projected daily commutes here than anywhere else in the country. Remote working is the great “decentralizer” — technology, financial services, administration, etc. employers now no longer have to provide worksites daily for the great majority of their workers. Around here we’ve got a greater proportion of such employers compared to the rest of the country. The significance of these factors to local land use and transportation planning (apart from our light rail and heavy rail systems being obscenely expensive white elephants)? First, too many dense small apartments and too much office space have been planned for the several dozen designated urban clusters. Second, the projected massive traffic jams at rush hours of workers trying to reach (and escape from) those several-dozen clusters isn’t the existential threat to business productivity envisioned by the planners in the 1990’s who set up our outdated land use and transportation model.

    1. And yet, despite working from home, we’re back to traffic jams that extend far outside even our extended peak travel periods pre-pandemic, including even on weekends. The construction on office towers and apartments continues. The UW isn’t going anywhere, which is like a mid-sized city with less parking than normal, and includes an uncommonly transit-dependent population of students.

      The geometry problem hasn’t gone away, nor has the climate change problem. Transit will be back, but I do wish we would stop subsidizing its competitors so much and start charging market-rate for parking, and introduce congestion charges.

    2. The 2018 election showed suburban sprawl having an interesting silver lining. Because of the district-based system used to allocate congressional and legislative seats, cities gain congressional representation far more easily by expanding outward, rather than upward. The basic pattern is you start with a mostly rural, reliably Republican district. Then, you replace farmland or forest with houses, resulting in a vast increase in population density. Many of the people moving in are Democrats that previously lived in the nearby city. Eventually, the area gets populated enough that what was a reliably red district becomes competitive, then lean-Democrat. It happened in our backyard last year over in Sammamish, and it happened all over the country. On the state level, the Democratic majority in the state house and senate like owes itself to suburban sprawl, as well.

      By contrast, when a city expands upward, you just end up with even more Democratic votes in an already lopsided urban district. The basic congressional map remains unchanged.

    3. Remote working will reduce more of the projected daily commutes here than anywhere else in the country.

      Really? More than Silicon Valley? In the case of places like Mountain View, we are talking about areas that are both expensive *AND* not that desirable. To be clear, the Bay Area itself is great. But way more people would rather live in San Fransisco or Oakland than Silicon Valley. This makes remote working more popular. Not only do you have completely remote working (e. g. someone from Michigan or Uruguay works there) but you have semi-remote work (people in Oakland, San Fransisco or Marin County work there, commuting in for big meetings occasionally).

      Anyway, tech jobs make up a relatively small portion of the overall workforce (way smaller than what most people assume). This article is a few years old, but about 6% of the workforce in the region worked in tech jobs (https://425business.com/washington-named-ninth-in-nation-for-tech-employment/). That has probably grown, but it still isn’t dominant.

      employers now no longer have to provide worksites daily for the great majority of their workers.

      That has been true for at least 20 years. Funny thing about tech companies — they are usually pretty good at technology. While your average, say, dentist didn’t have much experience with video conferencing, your average software engineer has been doing that for years. People could work from home. Some did occasionally, and others all the time, but the companies preferred that folks come in (and many employees — including me — preferred it as well).

      too many dense small apartments and too much office space have been planned for the several dozen designated urban clusters

      Wait, what??? Are you saying that apartments in the Seattle area will suddenly become cheap again? Folks will be able to get a nice two bedroom for $1,000 as vacancies plummet. Maybe I can buy a condo in one of those huge towers they are building for a hundred grand. Won’t that be nice.

      Boy I wish. Sorry, that ain’t gonna happen. Nor will office space in Seattle suddenly become as cheap as it is in Akron. It is common for fans of technology to exaggerate the impact of a new device. Television was supposed to kill off movie theaters. So was cable, VHS, and the DVD player. Now streaming is going to kill the movie theaters. And yet they are still there, and some are opening during a pandemic (yikes!).

      The vast majority of work will be done in groups in the future, simply because it is how we work best. Collaboration is much better when you work face to face. Right now I’m dealing with a couple grand kids and the remote learning experience is ridiculous. Folks are trying their hardest, but it is obvious that it is half-ass. Remote communication is wonderful — the telephone was a great invention — but it didn’t replace face to communication. Nothing will.

      1. Economic data suggest residents are leaving San Francisco in droves since virus lockdowns began

        “The California city has experienced a drop in public transportation ridership, weak online sales tax collection, a 20% drop in rent pricing, and an office vacancy spike over the past six months, which suggests a significant drop in population, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. ”

        One poll in SFGate suggests half the people plan to return after Covid. We’ll see. With rents coming down there’s less of a barrier for people to move to the city. But SF has a big budget deficit and that’s going to result in decreased public services, like transit, long after Covid. The squalor that’s been promoted in cities like SF, LA and Seattle is out of control. The social aspects that made city life attractive needs people to recover and people are less likely to return until it exists; creating a chicken and the egg problem.

      2. Don’t read too much into the San Fran data. Residential vacancies in San Fran and Manhattan seem to be behaving differently than most of US city centers. My read its the price premium in those 2 cities is so steep that in the absence of the amenities and job access that may those locations so desirable and therefore expensive, there are not enough people moving in to replace those moving out, whereas elsewhere in/out migration is still roughly netting out. Immigration may also play a role, where out migration always occurs and the in migration of international immigrants has temporarily stopped during the pandemic.

        If the same trend begins to emerge in the next tier of expensive cities (Seattle, Boston, DC, etc.), I think that is noteworthy. But right now, much of the migration out of SF is simply elsewhere in the Bay Area or to comparatively cheaper but still very expensive metros like Seattle or LA.

        I wouldn’t call it a chicken & egg. It’s a natural equilibrium, where it will eventually get cheap enough for enough people to move back in to make is vibrant again. The price premium for SF rents may ebb, but there’s a long way to fall before slipping into a Midwest death spiral.

      3. San Francisco rents also fell in the 2008 crash. Rents there are are in the three to four thousands, the highest in the country, so any little nudge would send people away, especially if they’ve gotten laid off. But why are rents twice as high as Seattle in the first place? It can only be because twice as many people want to live there relative to the housing supply, or they have a job or family there that makes them to stay even if they’d be just as happy elsewhere.

      4. Chicago’s population loss is in the south side, which is extremely neglected. People there just want to move to a normal and safe city.

      5. If you are retired, and an apartment in Seattle costs the same as an apartment in Auburn, which one would you prefer? Same question, this time for Richmond and San Fransisco?

        I don’t think it is even close: people prefer living in the city. That is what is wrong with your theory. You assume that proximity to employment is not the only thing that drives housing demand. It is a huge factor, but clearly not the only one. There are places in Seattle that have quite awkward commutes (West Magnolia or Ballard) that are extremely popular, with million dollar homes, and expensive apartments.

        It also suggests a lack of imagine when it comes to modern ghost towns. If proximity doesn’t matter, than why live in Redmond? Wouldn’t Redmond collapse *worse* than Seattle? An apartment in Redmond isn’t much different than an apartment in Renton, Ken, Shoreline or Auburn, except for the fact that in Renton you are very close to very well paying jobs. If that no longer matters, wouldn’t everyone just move from Redmond to somewhere else?

        If the entire region sees a downturn, then sure, people leave from everywhere (will the last person to leave Seattle…). Absolutely. But if people can live anywhere, then there are at least a million people on the planet who want to live in Seattle, and yet we currently don’t have enough dwellings. In fact, the city artificially limits the number of places where you can live. In *most* of the city, you are stuck with one family on a very big lot.

        What is true for Seattle is true of San Fransisco. If houses in San Fransisco cost as much as houses in Saint Louis, you can bet your ass that there won’t be empty houses in San Fransisco.

        The are only a few ways these places can shrink. One is a major social breakdown (caused by a civil war, or something similar). Second is increased stratification. Rich people can buy up the land (this is common in places like Aspen or Monterey). A third is that a city can see widespread loss of employment (to the suburbs or another city). That tends to be temporary, unless there are fundamental problems with the city. For example, Everett could see decreasing population for a few years, but would likely rebound. A city like Seattle would at most suffer a small downturn, given its general employment diversity. It would no doubt rebound, simply because of the fundamental popularity of the place.

        But hey, if I’m wrong, then great. I do know lots and lots of people who wish they could afford to live in Seattle. If it turns out that they are the only ones, they will be thrilled when housing is as cheap as (most of) the suburbs.

      6. Whatever the reason since pandemic we’ve seen a net decrease in the population of many of our large cities. Whether or not the populations continue to decrease or stabilize at a lower number remains to be seen. Covid and work from home are only part of the equation. The cities that are experiencing the exodus have structural budget problems and real issues with public safety. Many of the businesses that have left aren’t coming back or getting replaced any time soon. How these issues are addressed will determine who decides city living is the life for me.

      7. Whatever the reason since pandemic we’ve seen a net decrease in the population of many of our large cities.

        What do you mean “whatever the reason”? The reason is the pandemic. Pretty obvious.

        At the same time, the housing costs have not gone down. Think about that for a second. If people are moving out permanently, then housing prices should drop. It doesn’t make sense otherwise. Apartment owners want to rent out every unit. If they are having trouble renting out units, then they drop the price, eventually to practically zero ($100 a month is better than nothing). That clearly isn’t the case. There aren’t any cheap places in San Fransisco (or Seattle for that matter).

        Thus it should be obvious what people are doing: they are leaving, but only temporarily. They aren’t getting rid of the place in the city, but are keeping it, with plans to return. That explains why no one else has moved in. They won’t let them — they are just going to live out in the boonies until the pandemic is over.

        . The cities that are experiencing the exodus have structural budget problems and real issues with public safety.

        What cities are those? I’m curious, because you mentioned San Fransisco and Seattle. Neither have budget problems and neither have crime problems. Both cities had much worse crime in the 70s.

        For years rust belt cities have been losing population because of a decline in manufacturing.

        And you think the same thing will happen to Seattle? Is that what you are saying? Let me get this straight:

        Tech companies will all become virtual, abandoning their current physical space, like some hippy-suburban dream (just work where you want, man). Cities that have lots of well educated workers will just collapse, as a result (why live in San Fransisco when you can live in Elk Grove, or Vacaville). The houses that are currently going for a million dollars — in the height of the pandemic — will go for a couple hundred thousand, or be plowed under. All those people who are paying more than last year for a house (and way more than ten years ago) will just be stuck with a white elephant — a beautiful house in a beautiful neighborhood rendered practically worthless, as the streets resemble Fort Apache, The Bronx.

        If so, aren’t the suburbs doomed as well? When I think of scary places in the U. S., I don’t think of Chicago or Baltimore, I think of East Saint Louis. Does the suburban town of Ferguson ring a bell? It is another suburb of Saint Louis. Why do you assume that the central city will collapse, and not take most of the suburbs with it, given there is nothing special about any of the Seattle (or San Fransisco) suburbs? Its not like Detroit, where the jobs moved to the suburbs. If physical location still matters, then those jobs will be in Seattle. If not, then why would Redmond not become a hellish ghost town, just like other suburbs of collapsed cities?

      8. What do you mean “whatever the reason”? The reason is the pandemic. Pretty obvious.

        The pandemic changed things. Changed things in cities and suburbs. Why are people leaving some cities and moving to suburbs? Riots and boarded up businesses are in cities like Seattle and Portland. Redmond, Bellevue… not so much. Schools? Seattle public schools are not horrible. All of the eastside schools are outstanding. Bang for the buck? This plays a lot into an expectation of extended work from home. For the same price say you can have a condo on Queen Anne or a home on Lake Tapps. Some people would go for the condo but more people now are opting for the big home in the ‘burbs.

        housing costs have not gone down.

        Yes they have. SF down 20%. You keep making these claims but never have any source that disputes the links I post. Links I’d add are all from liberal sources; not Fox News. I’d add that Seattle has the additional problem of the W. Seattle bridge putting pressure on rents and business viability in that “suburb” and the SDOT budget.

        They aren’t getting rid of the place in the city, but are keeping it, with plans to return.

        I heard one radio interview that said many of the rich people in NYC have simply moved out to country homes they already owned. That’s probably true. But the upper 1% is… well, only 1%. Rents don’t drop 20% if people are keeping their place in the city. I just got an email from a friend that lives on Long Island. He described a recent trip into Manhattan as visiting a ghost town. He’s lived there his whole life and never seen the city anything like what is going on now. FWIW he’s a life long Democrat and hates Trump.

        you mentioned San Fransisco and Seattle. Neither have budget problems and neither have crime problems.

        Delusional. The article I linked to spoke to SF deep budget deficit and Everyone but you seems to know Seattle has extraordinary budget problems… transit cuts anyone. SF 53% drop in brick&mortar sales tax vs 1% increase in online. Did you read the article?

        Cities that have lots of well educated workers will just collapse, as a result

        Stop making shit up. I never said anything of the sort. Your rants express a sense of desperation.

        Its not like Detroit, where the jobs moved to the suburbs. If physical location still matters, then those jobs will be in Seattle. If not, then why would Redmond not become a hellish ghost town

        WTF? If Detroit jobs moved to the suburbs they weren’t suburbs in this country. I drew a difference between the rust belt “offshore” experience vs what’s happening now. Microsoft is a Redmond based company. Arguably it started the tech boom in “Seattle”. Amazon has cooled substantially on it’s expansion in SLU. Take a blue tarp plywood window census. Try to understand that the Seattle liberal media talking about long 911 call response time isn’t fake news.

      9. San Francisco is one city out of dozens of cities its size and larger in the US. And as I said, it has uniquely high rents that would drive people away if they have the slightest other reason for leaving, because you can live in a good inner city for half the rent, you just don’t get the weather or the cable cars. Have Manhattan rents fallen 20% too? Not that I’ve heard. Unemployment and crime don’t necessarily translate into a significant loss of population. Many people live in Seattle or Pugetopolis because they want to, and it would take a bigger hardship than this to make them move.

        I thought Seattle’s population was still 730K but it has risen to a whopping 780K. I checked another source to confirm. So if 100,000 people left Seattle, it would still be fewer than the number of people who moved here in the past decade. That wouldn’t turn the city into Cleveland or Rochester, and it would give some welcome breathing room to housing prices.

        In the 2008 crash people did leave immediately, and every other building in Summit had a “For Rent” sign for a year or two. That hasn’t happened this time. People didn’t move away immediately because they thought the pandemic might be short or they still have a job here, and they aren’t moving en masse because they’re not sure how long the pandemic will last or whether it’s better to stay or leave, so they’re waiting until they’re more sure.

        The boarded-up buildings downtown and the few injuries that have occurred in conjunction with the protests are not the same as the city turning into South-Central LA. Things are fine outside downtown; the boarded-up buildings are a nuisance but only that; and many businesses are open even if their windows are covered. There are more tents around but they aren’t everywhere; a few here, a few there, mostly along freeways or other forgotten places.

        “If Detroit jobs moved to the suburbs they weren’t suburbs in this country.”

        Yes they did. The big automakers moved their headquarters to the suburbs and most other jobs and retail followed. Some of those jobs were in transit-inaccessible areas so inner-city workers couldn’t get to them. Detroit’s economy was too dependent on a few big companies; it had a severe case of white flight after schools were integrated; and the suburbanites have most of the wealth and won’t allow their tax money to save the central city; they’d rather let it rot and pretend it doesn’t exist. We have a resident export on Detroit so maybe he’ll chime in.

      10. Mike, actually not twice as many people. As little as 10 to 15% “surplus” population can double rents IF compensation covers the costs, because there are always excluded bidders in any auction.

    4. Well, Anon, from time immemorial, whatever the color of the pachyderms or other animals onscreen, Obscenity has always been in the eye of the beholder. And our olfactory receptors too.

      My own Content-X channel is the one that presented this morning’s little STB musical. Whose offering made me cancel my subscription. Little “Word-To-Da-Wiseguy” from the world of Chicago CTA, the New York City Transit Authority, and those streetcars in Ukraine…

      Stiff the wrong lender and you end up submerged in a smartly-tailored business suit of finest concrete. Lot of what gangland Brooklyn knows, gangland Russia is still giving courses on ZOOM. Or maybe just on “Splash gurglegurglegurgle.”

      But since the [TOPIC] is [OBS], would my readership please make everybody under 70 leave the room while I announce my winning XXXXXXX entry:

      ST-district’s every foot of US “Interstate” which an entire neighborhood had to be destroyed to build. So Jeff Bezos, cue your regional fleet of driverless 5 mph motel rooms. Your hour has come and your Oscar’s yours. (HeyWhoTold EverybodyI’mReally)

      Mark Dublin?

    5. Three-quarters of the workforce can’t telework: nurses, construction workers, electricians, barbers, retailers, lifeguards, janitors, apple pickers, truck drivers, etc. Tech jobs are still a niche. There’s a movement to lower-density areas but it’s too soon to say how large it will be, and even if thousands of people move Seattle will still look similar to what it is today. When Link was planned in the 1990s Seattle had 500K people — 220K fewer than today. Bellevue had 41K fewer, not including annexations. The need for robust grade-separated transit has existed since the 1970s at least. The number of people who might leave Seattle is surely less than 220,000. Those who remain, in both Seattle and the Eastside and the rest of the ST district, even if a lot of them telework, will still need to travel to another neighborhood or city several times a week. That’s hundreds of thousands of people each traveling for dozens of reasons throughout the day. Part of why we’re building the transit network is so that more of those tens of thousands of trips can be done on transit.

      The commute is around 50% of pre-covid but traffic has returned to around 80%. The maximum number of people teleworking are teleworking now, because some will return to the office either full- or part-time. So commuting will go no direction but up. And people are still moving to the region, having children, graduating high school, and getting divorced, and climate refugees may eventually flood into the northwest, so the population will continue to grow long-term and the transit network had better keep up with it.

      That doesn’t mean such questionable decisions as extending Link all the way to Everett and Tacoma might not come under increasing strain. It’s possible that their job markets will start to decouple from Seattle’s. That would just be returning to the pre-1990 situation. Before 1990 Seattle’s job market really only extended to Lynnwood, Redmond, and Kent. The number of people coming from Tacoma, Issaquah, or Everett was tiny. The only reason people commuted to Everett was Boeing, and if it goes away, those commutes will disappear. It’s hard to see another company as large as Boeing drawing so many workers from King County to Everett.

      The number of units planned for the urban centers won’t even alleviate the housing shortage, much less be excess. The biggest problem will be that some of them are in isolated areas without a larger center adjacent to them, particularly Totem Lake, Issaquah, and Federal Way. Those apartments will become the least desirable ones.

    6. I have to push back a bit that remote working will certainly be a population decrentralizer. Here is why….

      When people worked in offices, they were surrounded by others. They sought homes where quietness rules to contrast the vibrancy of working in a big Downtown or crowded suburban office building.

      When working from home, that energy is missing from one’s day. There’s no coworker to share lunch or coffee with unless it’s a video call.

      So the quiet and isolation gets oppressive after awhile. When people get away from their desk, they will seek ways to interact with people more.

      I see people moving away from very tiny apartments, but I expect many will seek places that are not too remote. Having a village is going to have heightened importance to counter the isolation. Sure it may be a setting like Renton Landing or Downtown Redmond, but it will be less like Duvall or Ephrata unless it’s a lifestyle choice

      1. I agree Al S. Usually schools and safety are the main considerations about where to live if you have kids, along with the price of a single family home. I don’t see commuters moving to eastern Montana to work online. I am not sure I see them moving at all. I see them working from home, wherever that might be. Right now a lot of that is in the surrounding suburban cities, because of schools, safety, the price of a single family home. They commuted because they had to, not because they wanted to. Now some or many won’t have to. Very good IMO for a mom with small kids.

        To Sam’s comment, there is always going to be friction when developers try to upzone suburbia. That is basically what we spend out lives fighting about on the eastside. The master builder’s assoc. has been using transit and TOD and global warming forever trying to regionally upzone very expensive single family residential neighborhoods, like they did in Seattle. They and ST’s huge checkbook have infected all the regional organizations like the PSRC and Forterra who all come from Urbanism university programs.

        The reason they are working so hard on upzoning eastside stations years before they open, especially from Bellevue to Redmond, and not along original Link from the Rainier Valley to the airport is because the profit is in the eastside and white residential neighborhoods. They know that.

        The Urbanist might have delusions about a utopia of density and transit solving wealth disparities, global warming and racism, but the lack of TOD or basically any development along the original link line in the last 20 years tells you everything you need to know. You want to upzone land that is already valuable. “Gentrification” is a hassle and risk.

        If The Urbanist really meant it they would limit any TOD development at this time to the areas south of Sodo. Of course the developers would begin as far north as the zoning allowed, and gentrify basically the last Black neighborhood totally out of Seattle, like the Central District. Of course these properties are already zoned for this, but no one is interested.

        If there is one basic rule I repeat over and over, it is new construction is the least affordable of all, and for a builder all the money is in the furnishings, from appliances to floors to crown molding to cabinets to fixtures and so on. You don’t make a lot of profit building tiny or small affordable housing, even with a public subsidy.

      2. I agree Al. I think the movement to remote work will mostly reverse post-pandemic, but to the extent that it does remain I think it will be a boon for walkable neighborhoods that previously were a difficult commute to CBDs.

        In particular, most major metros have exburbs with really nice, walkable centers, a bit too far for regular commutes but close enough to go into the city for the occasional meeting or errands. Cities like Snoqualmie or Monroe or even small ones like Duvall could become much more appealing.

        But there will also still be plenty of people who will be happy to live in large home with a home office and a backyard, so fringe cities will also still have appeal.

    7. If we’re talking obscenity here, Q, don’t forget the pizza parlors. You need to forget about your “pave the entire Northwest” fantasies and #SaveTheChildren!

  3. Some intriguing math:

    Currently, 14 states + DC holding 187 electoral votes are all part of the Compact. That includes Washington State, but not yet Colorado, which is holding the second voter-initiated state referendum in its history over the issue. (Yes on 113 allows the law the Legislature there passed last year, joining the Compact, to go into effect. The referendum petition was pushed pretty much entirely by Republican politicians.)

    Every state in the Compact, as well as Colorado, is expected to vote for Biden/Harris by a wide margin. So are Virginia and Maine, which have not yet joined.

    Maine is one of two states that allots an elector to the winner of each congressional district. Its Second Congressional District went for Trump in 2016. Polls show Trump leading in that district, but not with a majority. I’ll get back to that rather important detail momentarily.

    Minnesota and New Hampshire went for H. Clinton in 2016. Polls show Biden a lock to win NH and a probably insurmountable lead in MN. Michigan is also trending heavily in Biden’s favor.

    Nevada (where the Democratic governor bizarrely vetoed the Compact bill last year) also went for H. Clinton, but is currently too close to call.

    The other state that allots an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district is Nebraska. Polls there show Biden likely to win the Second Congressional District. The First is also competitive. The Nebraska Legislature may come to regret allowing that system to remain on the books. Here’s why…

    Compact states (187) + CO (9) + VA (13) + ME (2) + ME CD-1 (1) + NH (4) + MN (10) + MI (16) + NV (6) + PA (20) + NE CD-2 (1) = 269 electoral votes.

    A 269-269 tie in the Electoral College sends the fate of the presidential election to the US House of Representatives. However, the mechanism for how the House votes to select the President is that each state caucuses and then casts one vote. It must have occurred to the founding freeholders that such a mechanism would have multiple states with an even number of representatives deadlocked. Keep in mind that political parties didn’t form up until after the Constitution, so they may have expected some representatives’ votes to be malleable. Regardless, the math favors the Republicans under that system unless the balance of power of a few state delegations shifts on November 3.

    The Senate votes on selecting the Vice President.

    But even with Trump leading in Maine’s Second Congressional District, that district is very much in play. Maine will be using ranked choice voting to determine the winner statewide, and in each congressional district. So, the nation will get to see three RCV elections play out, with potentially high drama over the outcome in CD 2. Maine won’t even begin counting transfer votes until all ballots are in and it is determined that nobody won a majority of first choice votes. The failure of pollsters to ask who voters supporting the Green and Libertarian slates plan to vote for as their second and third choices leaves the likely result a mystery.

    But don’t expect the Republican Party to sit back and wait. Expect the GOP to ask SCotUS for an emergency decision to not count the second and third choices, based on the same bizarre arguments that RCV violates the principle of one-person-one-vote that failed to carry the day in federal court two years ago when the representative from CD-2 tried to get an emergency injunction against the counting of transfer votes, and lost, and proceeded to lose the election on transfer votes.

    The GOP attempted a referendum against Maine’s new RCV-for-president law this year, and barely fell short. The state supreme court ruled the counting of signatures was proper. The GOP asked for a second opinion and the state supreme court said no again. The GOP lost their request for an injunction in federal court, and then asked for an emergency intervention by SCotUS. SCotUS has assigned individual justices to decide whether to take up emergency appeals for geographic collections of states. Stephen Breyer is assigned to Maine. Breyer said No to the GOP’s request.

    But when a new supreme court justice is appointed, the court may reorganize… and Breyer may no longer get to say no to a request for an emergency intervention in Maine’s presidential election. SCotUS doesn’t even have to say RCV is unconstitutional, though they may, and that would be horrible for the future of democracy. They just have to say that Maine should not have been allowed to use RCV, and that the referendum was improperly deemed short of signatures, and either call a new election or enjoin the counting of second and further choices from those ballots that picked someone other than Trump or Biden.

    This all supposes that none of Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Arizona, or Nebraska CD-1 are quickly determined to have gone for Biden. But it could happen. Who gets to be the next PotUS could swing on Maine’s CD-2 and whether a new supreme court justice is appointed before the election.

    1. I definitely want to see more ranked choice voting, and I think it would be especially useful for Seattle mayor and city council races, which often have a very fluid primary with lots of candidates.

      It is also possible to do a hybrid scheme like the one Alaska is currently considering, where the jungle primary race is a traditional “vote for one candidate”, but with 4 instead of 2 candidates advancing to the general election. Ranked-choice voting is then used to decide the winner in the general. The idea is to narrow down the choices before asking voters to rank, so that things don’t get overwhelming, while still keeping the number of choices large enough that the likelihood of any large faction being “shut out” of the general election entirely is very small.

      For a race like ME-2, polling RCV is very easy – just ask voters to choose between Trump and Biden and assume that those with a 3rd party candidate as their 1st choice will simply tell the pollster their 2nd choice. For a more fluid race where the top two candidates are genuinely uncertain, asking voters for their 2nd choices directly becomes important. Some pollsters were already doing this for the 2020 Iowa caucuses, since the rule allowing voters to “realign” themselves when their preferred candidate scores less than 15% is very similar to ranked-choice.

      1. The system Alaska is voting on is the one I now favor for Seattle elections. Having just three candidates means two can gang up on one. Four provides more balance. It’s also really simple to explain and administer. If there are two left-leaning candidates in the final, the right-leaning factions can’t just dig up dirt on one of them and get to win the election by default. Same with the left-leaning factions getting to take down both right-leaning candidates by resorting to the politics of personal destruction.

        That said, I’m pessimistic about the Alaska initiative’s chances. Both major parties are campaigning against it. The guy who put it on the ballot back in 2001, when it lost badly, was Alaska’s equivalent of Tim Eyman (though not necessarily focused on the same issues) and had other items on the ballot. The grassroots effort was pretty much nonexistent.

        Contrast that to Massachusetts, with a large grassroots effort for their initiative, but an initiative that keeps party primaries in place. Polling on that ballot item suggests a close race.

        Since parties aren’t on the ballot in Seattle city elections, the debates within the RCV advocacy community come down to whether to hold a primary at all, and if so, how much to winnow down candidates. Cancelling primaries with fewer than five candidates might still save the city a decent chunk of change. Winnowing down to four candidates, if there are more than that who file, ought to get rid of the ones who shout profanity, name-call their opponents, insinuate without evidence that the government is some sort of mafioso bandito conspiracy, and hide the fact they haven’t been paying taxes.

    2. 538.com has looked at the possibility of a tie election for a long time. There are a number of ways to get there. But they consider it a long shot — less than 1%. Check out the “Weird and not-so-weird possibilities” towards the bottom of this page: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-election-forecast/. It doesn’t actually list the percent (just that it is less than 1). There is a much higher chance that the election hinges on a recount (which would be a repeat of 2000). Like Bush versus Gore, the Supreme Court would be involved. Fortunately, that is unlikely to happen (only a 4% chance). Those numbers could increase (if the race tightens) but they could also go the other direction (if it doesn’t).

      Personally, I think Biden has this thing rapped up. Something could happen (he could get Covid, or develop some other medical problem) but in general, he is in the process of “sealing the deal” right now. People dislike Trump. His popularity numbers have always been bad. All the two term presidents had better numbers at this point. Ford actually had better numbers, and still lost. Voters just want to feel comfortable with the alternative, and Biden is doing a very good job of making them feel comfortable.

      The real drama is in the Senate. It could go either way, along with a very good chance of it being 50/50 (and Harris deciding the votes). The makeup of the Senate will likely decide what kind of presidency Biden has. It is also possible — assuming Barrett gets confirmed — that the new Senate will get rid of the filibuster rule. With even the slimmest majority, there is no reason to pretend that civility exists — not when the other side ignores traditional decorum.

      1. Ross, I think you have your Presidential candidates confused. Kanye’s the “rapper”, not Joe. Joe may wrap things up, but he’s no rapper. ;-)

        Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be “Harris deciding the votes”, at least, not for organization of the Senate and not until January 20th for any regular business either. The Senate convenes on the 3rd of January unless the previous Congress sets a different date. It will probably be the 4th this year, because the 3rd is Sunday.

        I don’t know what would happen to the organization on the 20th if the Senate is 50-50. Do they reorganize with Harris wielding the gavel? It’s an interesting conundrum.

    1. Oh, no. They’re not going to have the station between 125th and 130th? If they are to build it strictly north of 130th, there better be plans to turn a chunk of the golf course into TOD.

      Heck, the whole golf course represents a large portion of the solution to Seattle’s housing supply crisis.

      1. The station is north of 130th. Roosevelt Way goes diagonally southeast from 145th, and that’s in the top right of the photo. So north is left, and that’s where the platforms are. The northwestern part of Roosevelt Way stops short of 145th, and is barely visible in the bottom left.

      2. I can understand why the station is north of 130th. However, it does highlight an issue that I’ve felt gets neglected — Setting aside the best possible infill station locations for possible construction later.

        ST3 added two more Link infill stations (Graham and BAR) that could have been anticipated just like 130th St when the line was built. There have been sketches that included a second Link station close to the new north terminal at Seatac. There once was talk of a S 133rd St station in Tukwila that could be attractive if Gateway Corporate Center became a large TOD. Cascadia HSR proposes a station along I-5 between I-90 and the Beacon Hill Link tunnel.

        I’m not sure how many other possible TOD infill sites exist. SR 104/ county line on I-5? Bellefield south of Downtown Bellevue? First Ave S at Spokane St? Milton? While these seem like a poor value in the foreseeable future, a radically dense new nearby development idea could change that.

        It certainly seems like a waste to build anything for stations that may not happen — but is there merit to having some designated long and flat stretches where a station platforms could later be added? If so, what additional cost is acceptable to incur to enable more possible infill stations by having these possible zones? Finally, are there other “zones” that need this kind of treatment?

        The ST2 projects are too far along in design and construction to adjust for more stations, so this is really only could be applied to ST3 projects. I do regret that the 130th platforms are too far north to be optimum though.

      3. There’s also 220th in north Mountlake Terrace. It’s been deferred as a possible future station if the office park around it grows.

      4. 220th is a designed infill station, which should make for a much cheaper/less disruptive infill station compared to BAR or Graham. ST3 includes several designed infill stations, similar to 220th.

        As for un-designed infill, I”d offer:
        Current alignment: 133rd/Gateway in Tukwila, 2nd SeaTac airport access
        East Link: 136th/NE 20th, to fill in the walkshed gap between 130 and Overlake Village
        FW Link: 260th? TOD west of I5, and east of I5 a better, non-freeway connection to Meeker onward to Kent Station. 288th, if paired with major up zoning, would also be logical stop spacing.
        405 Stride: something to access Factoria, at Coal Creek or further north.
        Sounder: Point Wells, if paired with major TOD. Between Auburn and Kent, could create an entirely new neighborhood around a station.

        Looking forward, Everett Link is so long there are a bunch of option to design for in-fill. A 2nd station within Paine Field, 1 for the airport and 1 to replace the Seaway TC. Multiple stations if they follow Evergreen Way rather than I5 into Everett STation. Etc.

    2. Invalid question. The primary purpose of the station is for bus feeders from Lake City and Bitter Lake. A minor upzone is expected but it won’t be as big as Lake City. We could ask the same question about South Bellevue: how good is the station location without mentioning the P&R? The purpose of the station is to have a P&R outside an urban center because it would be disruptive in a center.

      Or I could answer it a different way and say that freeway takes up a lot of walkshed. The same would be true of Shoreline South, Shoreline North, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Northgate, etc.

      1. It’s expensive, but I’ve wondered whether there should be a small lid or overpass over I-5 at this station for an adjacent bus loading area. I don’t have a specific layout vision but it just seems like such a wasted opportunity to not build over the freeway or concrete river.

      2. When many were questioning the routing of the original rail line from Seattle to the airport I remember ST claiming the routing would allow TOD along the line, and “gentrification” of these neighborhoods (before we knew what that meant with the Central District). What happened to all that TOD south of SODO? I don’t see any when I take the train to the airport.

        Why take golf away from the working class at Jackson Golf Course for TOD, or any park even though some of the parks now used as homeless camps would be much better TOD, when all that TOD south of SODO still needs to take place.

        When we talk about new TOD in white suburban areas and residential areas like 130th when so little TOD has occurred on the rail line south of SODO that is nothing more than modern day redlining. We all know those condos in the TOD at 130th will be filled by white commuters, and TOD will never come to the original areas south of SODO because we keep building it in the white residential areas.

      3. The city of SeaTac had big plans for TOD and a new civic center but it ran into a brick wall with the owners of the hotels with the huge parking lots; they don’t want to sell. It might still happen someday.

      4. “What happened to all that TOD south of SODO?”

        There never was any TOD promised in SODO; it’s zoned industrial. The city has been in a long-term debate about whether to change it but it has always leaned toward no. There’s only a limited amount of industrial land in the city, and once it’s gone it’s gone forever. In other cities that have rezoned their industrial districts the industries had abandoned the place and the infrastructure was obsolete and it was a ghost town. Seattle’s industrial districts still have viable companies, a niche in overseas shipping, and they provide a low-cost space for startups which may create new industries. And if long-distance shipping ever stops, we’ll need local manufacturing and urban agriculture, and it can’t go into Wallingford or the U-District, and the companies couldn’t afford the cost of land there anyway.

        If you’re talking about south along the Link track, that would be Rainier Valley, and there is TOD along it.

      5. owners of the hotels with the huge parking lots; they don’t want to sell.

        If the decline in business travel continues into next summer they might be forced to sell at fire sale prices. What are the height restrictions building so close to the airport? I haven’t been to the airport in years but for a long time the tallest building was the 8 level parking garage; maybe the air traffic control tower is taller. Once you get much over that height underground parking is almost “free” given the foundation required. Surely Link has taken some pressure off parking demand.

      6. We all know those condos in the TOD at 130th will be filled by white commuters

        No, we don’t know that. First of all, anyone can rent an apartment there, just like they can rent one in Rainier Valley. Same with buying a condo. Second, if you look at the racial makeup of the north end, it is a bit higher than average for the number of African Americans. If you actually lived in the area, you would notice the relatively high number of African immigrants.

      7. Daniel, you must be sleeping through Othello Station. There are large six-story apartment blocks in twi of the four quadrants of the intersection with the third under development now. At this time the Dangerway in the northwest quadrant is blocking development there, but I expect that it will become the first floor of another large building.

        Columbia City is similar, though the buildings aren’t quite as large right at the intersection. However, they go all the way to Rainier along Alaska, a full half mile away and three blocks northward on Martin Luther King.

        It’s coming.

    3. I think at some point this blog will have a post dedicated to this subject. I guess we will have to just repeat this all over again.

      Anyway, this has been the plan for a while. It pissed me off back then, and it pisses me off now. The station platform should straddle 130th, with entrances on both sides. That won’t happen.

      This isn’t terrible, but it could be better. It isn’t too far north of 130th, which is good. The problem is, it symmetrical. It is built assuming that roughly the same number of riders will use it from each side. That isn’t the case. Well over 90% of the riders will arrive from the south (130th). There is nothing to the north. The north end of the platform sits at the edge of the private property. The rest is a golf course. That golf course might someday be a park, but it is highly unlikely it will ever be developed. This is a feeder station, and it yet it doesn’t look like it.

      This leads to several suggestions (or at the very least, things they should look at):

      1) Get rid of the northern escalators and elevators to save money. You could probably also get ride of the stairs, but those are cheap.

      2) Move the south escalator south and swap it with the stairs. It is weird for everyone to have to walk by the stairs before they can access the elevator and then the escalator.

      3) If they do keep the stairs where they are, the stairs should be angled towards the platform, and start sooner. There is no reason for riders to have to walk extra just to get to the platform.

      4) Provide stair access and a walkway from the south side of 130th (where the bus stop will be). This is more expensive, and would have to be done in cooperation with SDOT. If nothing else, they should enable the project to be added on in the future, if SDOT paid for it.

      If these were implemented it still wouldn’t be ideal, but it would be pretty good. It would be similar to Judkins Park. The vast majority of riders to Judkins Park will be making a transfer from a bus. From Rainier Avenue they will have to walk or take an elevator up to the top, and then travel a ways to the platform. This actually makes sense for Judkins Park, because riders may be coming from 23rd. Either way, though, it won’t be too bad, since riders don’t have to cross the street to get to the platform at Judkins Park. Nor should riders have to cross 130th to access this station.

      1. I am not suggesting industrial land near Sodo be rezoned residential. I would oppose that because of the jobs. I am saying the land south of Sodo from the Rainier Valley to Columbia City to the airport has swaths of land with virtually no density, not even a second story. Why not concentrate TOD there for the next decade, where it is needed? The rail line has been open since Nov. 2003.
        I imagine the land is reasonably priced for being so close to rail and downtown Seattle. Because the neighborhood is poor and black?

      2. Daniel, it is strange that there are stations that aren’t going to open for three more years that have already seen more development than stations that have been open for ten years.

        There is a small, but very loud group of people in certain neighborhoods called “community stakeholders,” that are blocking growth. If you are a developer, and want to build a large project in their area, even TOD, you are going to do it their way, or not at all. Predictably, most developers choose not at all.

      3. I am saying the land south of Sodo from the Rainier Valley to Columbia City to the airport has swaths of land with virtually no density, not even a second story. Why not concentrate TOD there for the next decade, where it is needed? The rail line has been open since Nov. 2003.

        Oof. A lot to deconstruct in that little paragraph. First, some geography. Columbia City is in Rainier Valley, so saying “from the Rainier Valley to Columbia City” is like saying “From Seattle to the Capitol Hill”.

        Second, there has been plenty of growth around the stations. It hasn’t moved as fast as you would expect for complicated reasons (https://publicola.com/2017/09/07/why-are-there-so-many-vacant-properties-near-rainier-beach-light-rail-station/).

        Third, you can’t just make TOD happen. Someone has to buy the property, and want to develop it.

        Fourth, it doesn’t matter if you are close to light rail line. It only matters if you are close to a station. Your geographic description is vague, if not meaningless. Link takes a major turn east at SoDo, and never returns. So technically, Link won’t be south of SoDo until it gets to Federal Way. It does return to the Duwamish Valley, though (which may be what you mean) but there are no stations between Rainier Valley and Tukwila.

        Which begs the question — what stations do you think should have more TOD, and how do you propose that TOD occur?

      4. What do you mean by the north end, Ross? Seattle is 6.8% Black so I am guessing the “north end” is less than 6.8%, an all time low for Seattle. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/data/percentage-of-blacks-living-in-seattle-at-lowest-point-in-50-years/

        Where did Seattle’s Blacks go despite all the TOD?

        All I am saying is how about some TOD in the distressed Rainier Valley before we upzone all the white(r) residential neighborhoods. That was the promise three decades ago when the route was chosen. That is the promise I hear about transit, especially light rail, ad nauseum on The Urbanist: rail will create affordable housing through TOD and racial equality.

        The difference between new TOD construction in a north end neighborhood is it is “new” construction, so it will cost more, a lot more. The reason so many Blacks live in the Rainier Valley is the housing is old, (and multi-generational), and so is less expensive ( after the Central District was “gentrified” although a Black former resident was free to buy a new condo or rent in the gentrified Central District too). If you want new construction to be “affordable” it will need public subsidies, and believe me there are many ways to get around affordable housing set asides, or actually have poor folks live in the building (like paying a fee to the city).

        All I am saying is be skeptical when builders and developers claim TOD or transit will solve anything except their desire to upzone already expensive neighborhoods, and don’t believe the hype when you look out the window on the train to the airport and see a lack of density or new development that would make Mercer Island happy.

      5. “ The vast majority of riders to Judkins Park will be making a transfer from a bus. ”

        I used to think that but most blocks just south if there have been leveled for large apartment buildings. I think there are about 1500 or 2000 new apartments coming on line between 2021 and 2023 there when East Link opens. It’s going to look like Capitol Hill does today.

      6. “ The vast majority of riders to Judkins Park will be making a transfer from a bus. ”

        I used to think that but most blocks just south if there have been leveled for large apartment buildings. I think there are about 1500 or 2000 new apartments coming on line between 2021 and 2023 there when East Link opens. It’s going to look like Capitol Hill does today.

        There are a fair number of apartments in the area. Unfortunately, it is limited by the freeway and park, which take up a lot of space. If you go a ways north, you are probably going to find riders that prefer taking the frequent 7 (especially if it is made faster). In contrast, this will be the main connection to Bellevue for Rainier Valley, as well anyone in the Central Area close to 23rd. That just seems like a lot more people to me, although it does depend a bit on how frequent the bus is. For example, on MLK, my guess is that people will just take the first vehicle (Link or the 106) if they are headed to Bellevue. The more often the 106 runs, the more often people will take it.

        Hard to say, really. I don’t think that many people will transfer from the 7 if they are headed downtown. But if you are headed to Capitol Hill, the UW or Northgate then it makes sense.

      7. I’m not saying that there will be fewer transfers. I’m saying that there is a huge number of apartments being built within walking distance of the station so there will likely be more people walking there.

        The transition in just the last several months has been remarkably surprising and there are several blocks cleared for many more new apartment buildings. Lots more people will be living within walking distance and using Link than many of us had thought.

      8. “I don’t think that many people will transfer from the 7 if they are headed downtown.”

        The primary transit market is people transferring from the 7 or 48 to/from the Eastside. Second, walking from the surrounding neighborhood to either downtown or the Eastside. Those will be near 100% Link.

        Transferring from the 7 to Link for downtown may be 50/50. Link is much faster, but it’s only a short distance further on the 7 so the hassle of transferring and waiting may not be worth it. 3rd Avenue thoroughput is good now, and the bottleneck at the I-90 entrance is mainly peak hours. (Is that entrance closed for construction?) Rainier’s traffic is not bad off-peak, so that just leaves the Jackson bottleneck. Which again is pretty short, 13th to 4th. People may transfer to Link peak hours to avoid potential bottlenecks, but off-peak that’s not as urgent.

        People won’t transfer from the 48 to Link for downtown because they wouldn’t be on the 48 in the first place; they’d be on an east west route.

    1. What? That’s ridiculous. 148th isn’t an arterial. That’s like when Metro’s stop announcements say “Broadway Court” instead of “Broadway”, or “4th Avenue” instead of “3rd Avenue” for the Macy’s stop. What people want to know is whether this is the place that the 3rd Avenue or Broadway transfers and high street and neighborhood are, not whether it’s ten feet closer to a less-significant street they may not have heard of and may not recognize as the same stop. If I heard “148th” I’d think, “Isn’t that in Bellevue?”

    2. ST should just drop the street number and make life simpler for everyone! The shorter a station name, the better! The exits can then be the place where street names and numbers are used.

      Personally, I’d like to see a “no slash” naming policy unless absolutely necessary — as well as a maximum character limit (like 20 characters including spaces) — so that we don’t get left-right scrolling on station names with electronic signs.

      I realize that my wish is generally politically unrealistic but I think it’s important to make the point. Station naming “inflation” is a problem in lots of systems.

      Now can ST shrink Lynnwood City Center, Redmond Technology Center and Spring District/ 120th names too? Bonus points for a shorter name for International District/ Chinatown and Tukwila International Boulevard!

      1. ST should just drop the street number and make life simpler for everyone! The shorter a station name, the better!

        That is a bit contradictory. Here are the station names as I would have them, north of downtown:

        Capitol Hill
        Mountlake Terrace

        The only station name that is long is Mountlake Terrace. The street number names are simple, easy to understand, and short. So much so that I’m tempted to call Mountlake Terrace “236th”. That gets a bit messy if we add a “220th” station, as one might wonder why the numbers are suddenly getting smaller. Calling it Mountlake Terrace creates a clean break. On the other hand, maybe “236th SW” solves the problem.

        We don’t need to give a life story of the area where there is a station. We just need to clarify where it is, and numbers do an excellent job of doing that. In fact, numbers do a much better job than seemingly arbitrary names (I’m confused, is Roosevelt north or south of Northgate, because according to this map the streets intersect … better ask someone …).

      2. I do think Montlake Terrace values having the city’s name at the station, rather than the street. I think there is value from a ‘place making’ and branding standpoint, and from a navigability standpoint.

        I would imagine Shoreline feels the same. Also, “Shoreline/185” might take a bit of space visually, but it’s very clean and easy to say in an announcement, so I don’t mind it. Something like Redmond Technology Center is a mouthful, so I hope that gets improved.

        Dropping ‘city center’ from Lynwood makes good sense. I don’t have any issue with Ross’ list. Perhaps for Shoreline, the official name at the station entrance can be “Shoreline, 185” but when you are looking at a route map is shows just “185” for clarity.

      3. Most rail systems that use both numbered streets and slashes in a station name are usually referring an intersection. That’s what LA, Salt Lake City and Phoenix do as well as a number of other cities. So 145th would be “145th St/ 5th Ave NE” in that example.

      4. I wouldn’t say “most”. LA was the first city I saw with that. Phoenix and SLC are closer to LA than to any other large city so they were probably influenced by it. Neither New York nor DC nor Chicago have intersection names. Chicago has one cross street. Since Chicago has multiple stations with the same name, the on-board announcements say “Western & Milwaukie” vs “Western”, and “Clark & Lake”, and a few of the old signs have both streets that but it’s not consistent nor a predominant pattern.

    3. If they are putting Shoreline into the station name, why aren’t they putting Kent into South 272nd Street Station name?

      And I don’t like the inconsistency of calling it Bellevue Downtown Station, but Downtown Redmond Station.

      1. They’re going by what the city of Shoreline wants for the most part. The city of Kent hasn’t demanded its name on Redondo Station. And it would be silly to do so because it’s extremely far from Kent’s population. Shoreline’s population is all around Shoreline/185th, and is close to, ugh, Shoreline/148th. There will be urban villages in both station areas, but not in Redondo, or at least expectations have been set low for the Redondo station area.

      2. Mike, being from Bellevue, would you change any of East Link’s station names? I know some are supposed to be placeholders. I’m not sure which one’s, though. Would you change Wilburton? I know that’s technically the neighborhood name, but I don’t think people use that name. Not in ages. Whatever happened to Hospital Station? I think I would shorten Overlake Village Station to Overlake Station.

      3. I would change “Bellevue Downtown” to “Bellevue”, and “Redmond Downtown” to “Redmond”. It’s the station for the city, which implies the city center.

        “East Main” could be “South Bellevue” except that name is already associated with another area, and “Main Street” would sound too central, so I don’t know what to call it. I don’t like “East Main” because it implies there are west, north, and south main stations or major neighborhoods and there aren’t, and none of the other eastside stations have “East” in their name.

        “South Bellevue” is well known by that name, so I’d keep it.

        “Wilburton” I don’t know. It’s as good a name as any. “Hospital” to me has unpleasant connotations; I don’t want to be reminded of sickness and medical centers every time I see it. The old name Wilburton fell into disuse or was recently used only for the residential area south of NE 8th Street, so reviving the old name for the larger area might be worthwhile. “Overlake” is too vague and ambiguous; it seems to mean everything between downtown Bellevue and downtown Redmond, or the entire Eastside.

        “Spring District/120th” and “Bel-Red/130th” I’d call just “Spring District” and “Bel-Red”. But they don’t bother me as much as “Shoreline/148th” and “Shoreline/185th”.

        “Overlake Village” I’d call “Overlake”, because that to me is Overlake. All growing up when we went to Overlake, it meant where Safeway and Sears are.

        “Redmond Technology” sounds incomplete; it was going to be “Redmond Technology Center”. But at least it doesn’t have “Overlake” in it any more.

        “Southeast Redmond” I’d call “Bear Creek” maybe. I like names with “Lake” and other nature things in them. We have a lot of lakes and hills so why not show them off? And having “Bear” in the name would be original; I don’t know of any other subway station named after an animal.

      4. I like BART’s naming. “Berkeley” and “North Berkeley”; “El Cerrito” and “El Cerrito de Norte”; “Hayward” and “South Hayward”.

      5. I would change “Bellevue Downtown” to “Bellevue”, and “Redmond Downtown” to “Redmond”. It’s the station for the city, which implies the city center.

        Yes, exactly. Same with Lynnwood, or any other city that wants to use the word “downtown”.

        “Spring District/120th” and “Bel-Red/130th” I’d call just “Spring District” and “Bel-Red”.

        I agree. In general I like numeric names (see above) but only when the line is following those numbers. In this case, it isn’t really, and to make matters more confusing, that part of town has similar numbers both east-west and north-south.

        I think Wilburton is fine. It is kind of a cool name.

        A lot of those names are challenging, but I think you have the right idea. I think we just need one Overlake, and it should have nothing else with it. Redmond Technology is just another way of saying “Microsoft” isn’t it? If so, then that’s great (when I think of Redmond Technology, I think of Microsoft). I’m not sure about Bear Creek (SE Redmond is OK), but it is short, and I’m sure people would use it almost immediately. It would lend itself to some nice station art (and an easy logo) making it a strong choice in the long run. So yeah, I would say you nailed it Mike.

      6. I see that putting the word “center” in any station name superfluous unless it’s the historic neighborhood name. I’d also opine that there is no geographic “center” in Redmond Technology Center or Lynnwood City Center. The same probably goes for “village” too. With so many “downtowns” it’s also a problematic name so “central” is a reasonable alternative to that.

        Any city should get to have no more than two stations with the city name in it — and preferably only one.

        Given the long lead time to plan stations, it seems useful to just give an area a new name! It’s a great way to rebrand a sleepy low density area as a vibrant TOD.

        I still don’t get why East Main Station isn’t Surrey Downs Station. After all, isn’t Judkins Park Station named for an adjacent park? East Main sounds like it’s named for a big water supply pipe!

        If “technology” has to be in a name, why not simply “Technology Land” for “Redmond Technology Center”? That name would be more distinctive and evocative! I’d think Microsoft would love it!

        I could see TIBS as “Tukwila Gateway” or just “Tukwila”.

      7. The word “center” in Redmond Technology Center and Everett Industrial Center is a different sense than in “Lynnwood City Center”. In the latter it’s just a synonym for downtown. In the former it means “place of”, and attempt to make those places attractive to those kind of companies so that they’ll locate there. I don’t mind the word center in those because what word is better? They’re… centers.. I can’t think of another word.

        “Lynnwood City Center” is redundant because a station called “Lynnwood” should be in the center. And ST has allowed inconsistencies to proliferate like “Bellevue Downtown” vs “Downtown Redmond” vs “Lynnwood City Center”.

        “I still don’t get why East Main Station isn’t Surrey Downs Station.”

        I forgot about that. “Surrey Downs” station was my first choice. It’s the only English-sounding name (both “Surrey” and “downs”), to go alongside an animal name (“Bear Creek”) and an intriguing lake name (“Angle Lake”). Oh, and “Lake City”. How many subways have station name like “Lake City”? Then there was my suggestion for “Symphony” station downtown. Those would be easy to remember. (“Let’s see, the bear is between the spring and the red town. The capitol station has no capitol. The angle lake is just south of the airport. The lake city is a neighborhood.”)

      8. “I could see TIBS as “Tukwila Gateway” or just “Tukwila”.”

        “Tukwila Gateway” would be nice sounding. Not “Tukwila”. A station named Tukwila should be at Southcenter, or at most Tukwila City Hall. The only reason “Tukwila International Blvd” station is named that is the street is named that, and the street is named that because Tukwila is vain. SeaTac doesn’t call its part “SeaTac International Blvd”, nor does any other city along the highway. And “Tukwila station” would be confused with Tukwila Sounder station, which is also called that.

      9. I’d oppose “Surrey Downs” because to me Surrey Downs is the residential neighborhood west and south of the station. While adjacent to Surrey Downs, the station is within the downtown neighborhood, and it serves Surrey Downs only begrudgingly (the grudge is mutual). Surrey Downs shouldn’t get a station name until it has the zoning for station TOD.

      10. There’s nothing wrong with a station name just outside the neighborhood. Columbia City and Wilburton arguably are, and I wouldn’t object to 130th being “Lake City Station”. It’s the station for Surrey Downs if you’re going there. Surrey Downs is not an urban village so it doesn’t deserve a station name on that count, but it is a nice-sounding name and there’s no better name for the neighborhood at 112th & Main. The only other one I can think of is “Old Bellevue”, but that would be more easily confused with downtown Bellevue than “South Bellevue” is (which is south as the name implies), and I think of Old Bellevue as further west. You might say, “If Surrey Downs is OK even though it’s outside Surrey Downs, then Old Bellevue is OK even if it’s outside Old Bellevue.” But Surrey Downs is immediately adjacent, while Old Bellevue is further west at Bellevue Way going east at most to 106th or 108th. Notwithstanding the old city hall and library at 116th & Main, which may have been located there because it was perceived as part of Old Bellevue. If it was. The buildings were 1960s modern and the area around them was a car sewer, so if there was ever any olde Bellevue there it was destroyed.

      11. I don’t usually get too involved in these discussions about station names as a general rule but I have to say here that I too like the Surrey Downs suggestion. Perhaps Main St/Surrey Downs. (Obviously I don’t have any issue with compound names either.) AJ’s argument undermines itself on the geography and, frankly, would put ST in a very petty conversation rehashing old wounds.

    4. It’s “Shoreline South/ 148th” not “Shoreline/ 148th”. “Shoreline South” is plenty distinct for me.

      1. Oh, I thought they dropped the North/South. I agree they can drop the 148/185 if they are including the North/South. Just one or the other should do.

  4. Metro has a fairly new blog post up at Metro Matters, with links to some short videos of Metro service planners explaining the bus restructures around Northgate Station, Roosevelt Station, and U District Station. And there’s a survey.

    I rarely go to that part of Seattle, but I have a question. Take for example the route 44. Why do they need to take if off 45th to serve U District Station? Isn’t 45th about a 1 minute walk to the new station? Why do they want to reroute it, and the 49 and 70, to 43rd and 12th? I know how many of you hate detours. Aren’t they adding needless detours to these routes?

    1. The intersection at 15th NE and 45th Street is a horrendous time-suck for buses. Turning at 43rd should be much faster, particularly if enhanced with some traffic engineering to prioritize bus movements. There is a history of using 43rd, too. Back in ancient times the 4 Montlake used 43rd as part of its turnback loop.

    2. I think it is a mistake. Yes, as the Beacon Hill guy points out, it takes a long time to turn from 15th to 45th. But now buses will make three turns instead of one. The solution is to address the issue with turning.

      A simple solution is to add some paint on 45th. My guess is if you added a BAT lane on 45th (west of 15th) then it would do the job. If not, then add a bus lane between 15th and University Way (AKA, the Ave). This would mean that no one could turn (right) from westbound 45th to northbound University Way (they would have to turn earlier or later). Again, that might not be necessary. A simple BAT lane might do the trick. This is one block and one lane worth of BAT or bus lane. Pretty cheap for the amount of time saved.

      But instead of some paint, the buses will make three turns in an area with as many pedestrians as downtown Seattle. It will suck just as much time, but in a different manner (a lot of waiting for pedestrians, along with two left turns). It is not really Metro’s fault, but SDOT’s. The city should be working with Metro to prevent congestion for the buses, instead of forcing them to make excessive turns to avoid it.

      The good news is that in the future it would be pretty easy to fix.

      1. I agree, I think adding a bus lane between 15th and I-5 (or really, all the way to Aurora) would help a lot. That said, I think the city really needs to put a traffic control officer at 15th & 45th during peak times, because a big problem is with westbound drivers on 45th blocking the intersection. I was once on a 44 that was stuck trying to make the left turn for almost 30 minutes because SOV drivers were continuously blocking the intersection, and the bus driver was too timid to do the same to make the turn. He eventually put the “block the intersection too” matter to a vote of the passengers and it passed overwhelmingly.

        Another problem is that CT and Metro both run articulated buses through that turn, and that blockface basically has room for one 60′ vehicle at a time unless one wants to risk blocking the crosswalk. Hopefully CT remains committed to sending the 8xx buses to Northgate after it opens, though.

      2. Another problem is that CT and Metro both run articulated buses through that turn, and that blockface basically has room for one 60′ vehicle at a time unless one wants to risk blocking the crosswalk.

        Yeah, that brings up another issue. So right now you have those CT buses, along with the 44 and 49 that turn there. The 49 will be moved so that it turns on 43rd and loops around. Unlike the 44, I like that change — I think it will speed up the bus and get riders just a little bit closer to the station. If the 44 followed its current route, it would be the only bus turning left on 15th. That means it would never worry about another bus blocking the way (unless you had back to back 44 buses, which seems unlikely).

        Now consider what will happen on 43rd. Along with the 49, the plan is to have the 372 loop around there as well. If we kept the 44 as is, we would have two buses (the 49 and 372) turning on 43rd and one bus (the 44) turning on 45th. But instead, we will have all three turning on 43rd. These are all big, frequent buses. The chances for congestion increase as a result.

    3. Westbound buses are on the wrong side of a very noisy, busy street, e.g. NE 45th. ST was too cheap to build an entrance on the north side of the arterial so buses will be running on 43rd.

  5. I may be in the minority on this thread, but I believe frequency follows ridership, which determines funding. I think Metro and ST agree with me, because that is fiscal reality.

    I know riders don’t want to risk taking a packed bus right now, and they don’t want to risk going to work either. Covid-19 will pass. The question is whether citizens will want to return to their former lives, or whether the time sheltering in home fundamentally changes their habits. Right now single family homes and condos are hot because everyone wants more space, with a home office and new kitchen, and commercial real estate and yields on its loans are declining.

    Commuting will decline (and ST’s future ridership estimates was wildly exaggerated, at least on Eastlink before Covid-19). Microsoft’s policy is likely a template (and Microsoft has endless OFFICE space and parking): some staff will be allowed to work 100% from home, some more key employees up to 50% from home; and some very key employees more like 90% from the office.

    Like Ross I will likely continue to work from the office. In years past I liked working in Seattle, but then I drove and had a short commute, and Pioneer Square during the day once was filled with tourists and workers.

    When the 550 was kicked out of the transit tunnel it suddenly became difficult to get female staff from the eastside to commute in. They just did not feel safe, and didn’t like Seattle anymore. When they can work from home in their pajamas, and don’t have to fight for a park and ride space after dropping their kids off at school to spend 90 minutes/day commuting, it will be very hard to compete against employers offering a 50% to 100% work from home option, especially in a city they don’t want to travel to anyway. But still, who would get out of their pajamas to commute to Bellevue if they didn’t have to, and didn’t plan on doing something after work?

    I don’t think transit itself is at risk, although its scope will have to be adjusted for the new reality (although I do understand the irony of cutting non-peak frequency due to a lack of peak hour commuters), but I do think all the “New Urbanism” crud transit advocates have used to advocate for transit will go away: global warming (after all what reduces carbon emissions more than no commuting, and of course the electric car is coming); TOD, Density. People who work from home want suburbia.

    It may turn out ST was way ahead of me all along, and the most popular run will be from Mercer Island to Redmond, because Bellevue to Redmond is where eastsiders want to go whether they have to or not. (And Issaquah except I-90 is such an easy shot by car). But you won’t see a lot of TOD along the route, just expensive single family homes for people who work from home, and are there for the schools and law and order. Which is why these kinds of properties are rising so fast during a pandemic and recession.

    1. “frequency follows ridership, which determines funding.”

      What matters is what kind of city we want to have. The reason less than 50% of people in New York and London have cars is transit is ubiquidous and frequent and the grade-separated subways and commuter rail don’t get stuck in traffic. If a train or bus is coming every three, five, or ten minutes, you’re more likely to take it than if it comes every half-hour, and you’re more likely to downsize your number of cars. You need frequency in order to generate ridership. If you don’t do it, you’ll always have transit that sucks and people will avoid it.

      And there’s a pandemic going on, more people are teleworking than would otherwise, and others are limiting their trips so that essential workers can get around with social distancing. It may be necessary in such a case to reduce frequency below the normal criteria, but that’s a short-term issue, and one shouldn’t build a philosophy of what ridership or frequency should be next year or the year after based on it. The best estimate is the past, modified by some hard-to-quantify factor to account for the long-term increase in teleworking. But don’t overestimate teleworking when you don’t know what it will be and can’t know because it depends on people’s future decisions.

      “I think Metro and ST agree with me, because that is fiscal reality.”

      Metro is reacting to a short-term funding loss that is due to our tax policies. It has to cut because it doesn’t have money to run more buses. That doesn’t mean the Seattle or King County “should” have less transit. How much transit a city should have depends on its population, density, and variety and distribution of destinations (which generate ridership). Those are long-term issues, and need a long-term solution, and we can’t just stop everything until the economy recovers, because then it would take a decade or two after that for the network to catch up.

      Sound Transit’s reasoning is inexplicable because it hasn’t said what the ridership or load (=fullness of trains) would have to be to restore 10-minute frequency. It’s keeping all of that secret.

    2. I may be in the minority on this thread, but I believe frequency follows ridership, which determines funding.

      Uh, no. You have it backwards. Ridership is highly dependent on frequency. There have been numerous studies proving this correlation.

      Frequency follows funding. If an agency decides to fund extra service, more people will ride. Agencies routinely cut funding (and thus frequency) even though demand is high, simply because they lack funding.

      There are other things that determine frequency. An agency may favor coverage instead. Or more express routes, instead of asking people to transfer. But in general, if they are focused on ridership, they choose to increase frequency on more densely populated corridors. So in that sense, there is a correlation, but the tail does not wag the dog.

      OK, that being said, there can be a vicious cycle: frequency drops causing less ridership causing less funding causing less frequency, and so on. But so far as I know, Sound Transit is in pretty good shape with regards to funding, and frequency is entirely dependent on the mood of people in charge.

      Commuting will decline.

      Maybe, maybe not. Most transit trips are not commute related. Most commutes are to jobs that can’t be done at home. So even if there is a small long term drop in commuting, there may be just as many people getting out and about, and using the transit system. My guess is the overall population will increase, as well as the overall commuting, which will lead to more transit ridership in the future, even if fewer of those trips are to software jobs.

      Whether East Link estimates were too high or not is a completely different story.

      1. It seems like a drop in peak trips could actually be beneficial to transit, because it means agencies can cut back on peak-only and peak-direction trips and focus on making cheaper all-day service more frequent.

        At this point, my partner and I are probably making at least 1/2 of the trips we made pre-COVID, but they’re almost entirely off-peak (grocery shopping, doctor’s appt’s, parks, etc.). We really appreciate still having frequent service on our local routes, and don’t really mind that some peak-only routes remain canceled, or that the extra peak-direction trips on other routes are gone.

      2. If all other things were equal, and only peak ridership dropped, it would probably be better for Metro, but worse for Sound Transit (or at least, the Link part of ST). ST gets a substantial amount of its funding from fares. It doesn’t cost much more to run the trains more often. Thus it is quite possible that the subsidy per hour is less during rush hour than it is during the rest of the day. ST is spending more, but they are getting more back in fare revenue.

        I doubt that is happening with Metro. Metro doesn’t get that much money out of the fares. Peak service is extremely expensive. Both capital expenses (more buses, more places to store the buses) and labor costs (more short shifts). If ridership stays the same the rest of the day, but peak drops to that level, then it would likely result in a more cost effective bus system, but a less cost effective train system.

        As to whether it would be better or not depends on your perspective. Metro could transfer some of that peak service to the middle of the day, which would improve service for those riders. But then it would be worse for those that still ride during rush hour. Your express bus comes less often, or doesn’t exist.

        There are a handful of bus routes that come so often during rush hour that they aren’t really timed. The 522/312 come to mind. If peak ridership dropped a bit then the buses could still come fairly frequently (every five minutes) but without crowding. That would probably be ideal, in the sense that everyone comes out ahead.

    3. The sunbelt is burning up. Washington State is going to be tsunamied with “inpats” from California and Arizona in the coming decades, and they have to have somewhere to live. That can be vertically or horizontally, and the choice matters, even in an era of work-from-home and electric cars. Multi-family housing uses less energy than do stand-alone houses.

      I would advocate for Puget Sound to seize its opportunity to cement strong land use rules into the State Constitution and enact a five year delay before new residents can vote on Initiatives and Referenda. Otherwise the entire Puget Sound lowland from Bellingham to Olympia will look like Greater LA (it’s about the same length) in fifty years.

      1. Population migration right now is in the opposite direction, south, although (cheap) water may become an issue, although individual solar systems would solve their electricity and carbon issues, and are being mandated in new construction. Their biggest concern is their water softeners are salting their agricultural land through reuse of gray water, and the CO river is already pretty salty for such a big river shed.

        Leave zoning up to local cities (and no one has been a worse steward of open areas or zoning than unincorporated King Co., which is why most of King Co. under Ron Sims was annexed or incorporated). You, the state, The Urbanist, ST, the PSRC, King Co., have no idea of the future (and who predicted a pandemic would change everything), and the efficiency differences between single family housing including the surrounding yards and multi-family housing built in the same year will have zero effect on global warming.

        It is a mistake tell others how to live, or their zoning, if you want to address issues like global warming, because they tune out because they don’t want you controlling their lives and the lives of their family. If you want to prevent carbon emissions look at solar panels on houses in the areas south, wind farms, batteries for storage, new nuclear which is very promising under Gates’ new company https://bitcoinwarrior.net/2020/08/bill-gates-nuclear-energy-project-to-build-reactors/#:~:text=Bill%20Gates%20founded%20a%20nuclear%20energy%20venture%2C%20which,day%20claim%20more%20lives%20than%20the%20COVID-19%20pandemic., cattle, electric cars, new planes, three D printers that eliminate much of the travel for same day service, natural gas and propane instead of coal, efficiency standards (which already exist), population controls through education and birth control, or a revenue carbon tax, and so on.

        The U.S. has around 1.9 billion acres. The largest use is cattle, the second largest forests, then cropland, with urban areas around 3 million out of 1.9 billion acres, but growing.

        This blog is about transit, so post about how to make transit better, and create an experience that makes people want to take transit, not force them to take it and live how they don’t want to live so transit doesn’t have to care based on predictions of the future or claims to solve global warming.

        Make transit more pleasant than driving, Uber/Lyft, and in the near future driverless cars which will be another paradigm shift towards a quasi transit of individual cars for rent per trip based on a monthly lease.

  6. Instead of looking at the future as a question of land use and whether all our bedrooms will also be our office, I’d like for transit discussion to start shifting its focus to some active possibilities for restoring our service area to The First World.

    When preventive medicine can finally once again confine our travel patterns to this side of the grave, our necessary measures in employment, repair, and work-focused education could make Franklin Roosevelt’s best look small by comparison. Not that he’d mind. We ARE naming a RapidRide after him!

    And it’s also lucky how many bad things teach the world’s best lessons. Our original DSTT fleet- Exhibit A. Steel wheels or tires, if we want ’em done right, should be no shortage of repurposed Boeing factories at reasonable rent. For a nominal tax break, St. Louis Car Company’s heirs could price its logo in our range.

    I’d also be surprised if the Third World’s got no market for PCC streetcar parts for its own still-running fleets. Let alone the updated replacements that brand name has earned itself worldwide.

    And education-wise, I’d be surprised if, since they’re forced to design their own education from scratch, Generation 20-20 has not already discovered how much easier it is to learn calculus when you’re putting a streetcar to SolidWorks. Instead of a the usual multiple-choice algorithm on a test whose purpose is to weed your college application out.

    So. What’s STB’s first source as to what, across a board the size of Western Washington, is possible? Based on performance across a whole spectrum of retrograde objections, I doubt any politician, bureaucrat, pressure-group, NEWS FAKE-ifier, or desperately-struggling agency has it together enough to stop us for very long.

    Mark Dublin

  7. Since a now-deleted thread about Jane Jacobs recently, I’ve been contemplating the use of “Brownstone” buildings as a more resilient approach to residential TOD. Let me explain…

    These grand residences were built 5-6 stories tall with 4000 to 6000 square feet each in cities like Boston and New York in the 1800s. They are also found in many larger European cities like Amsterdam and Paris. They have distinctive personality as architecture (in contrast to minimalist blocks for buildings) featured in postcards and travelogues.

    Over time, these buildings have been modified as housing needs changed. Some have been divided into condos or accessory apartments (and House Hunters International episodes have many European examples). Some have had garden-level offices added (like Will Truman’s law office in some episodes of Will and Grace). Some have become retail like Boston’s Newbury Street or Tremont Avenue.

    A typical building can be divided like this:

    These are not like Seattle’s typical 1500-2000 square foot three or four floor townhouse design. They are larger and have the main entrance on the third floor up one flight of steps with the front street built to align with the second floor. They are massed almost like our 65-foot apartment buildings in density — but without the separation from street life that our new apartment buildings have. They make a street look quaint. Finally, they enable smaller investment structures that modestly wealthy people could buy and finish out (and later generations could modify); most 65-foot residential buildings here require a major development company with major investment financing and a long timeline for approvals and construction.

    Given an interest in reducing required residential parking, the biggest negative appears to be a lack of an elevator (although one could be added).

    Is there merit to promoting this kind of building type in some places? It seems to me that we are building blocks and blocks of mid-rise residential canyons that seem questionably sustainable as desirable streets to live on. Do we really want a city that looks like a warehouse district or a village in 50 or 100 years?

    1. Mercer Island’s recent town center zoning code tries to incentivize this kind of “Brownstone” housing for the same connection to the street you mention, but not for dense affordable housing but as high end, slightly detached housing without shared walls that many older Islanders would like in order to sell their main house and downsize, but be able to stay on the Island, except they don’t like the condo offerings on the Island with shared walls (downtown Kirkland is popular for Islanders downsizing). The maximum height limit is three stories.

      It hasn’t happened yet, and no developer has sought a permit to build this vision, although the Farmers building was recently purchased by Ryan Companies with plans to build supposedly high end housing on the site. What we do know is the mixed use housing to date has cut off the resident from the street just like you discuss, and created massive facades that create shade and an unpleasant street retail and pedestrian environment.

      I am not sure the profit is there for the developer, and the new code does not mandate this kind of development, so we will see what the developer does with the Farmers property. Hopefully not another cookie cutter condo project with no retail that crowds the street and does nothing to add to retail vibrancy.

    2. The height (or number of floors) is a little different. You can see across the street something very similar, but only four stories: https://goo.gl/maps/5S1P8swL7Bh85tsk9. The difference between 3 or 5 stories is minimal. You can find this type of housing all over New York. It is what people think about when they think of Brooklyn, but it is common in Manhattan, and other boroughs. It is also common in Boston, Montreal and other Eastern Seaboard cities.

      Yes, it is extremely attractive and yes, density is very high. It isn’t the height, as much as the fact that there is so little waste. There is no space for parking. The streets are relatively narrow. There is usually a backyard, but no side yard or front yard. Whether it is a row house, or larger building, the buildings are side by side. Many were built as one tall place, but got split up with units on each floor.

      In contrast, consider a typical apartment building. It usually has space for parking. At best this is underground. But remember, one of those floors on the brownstone was underground, so you’ve already thrown away a floor. Then you have to have space for the cars to access the underground parking. There are often setbacks or other restrictions that limit the size of the building (FAR and other rules against “massing”). The ground floor of a typical brownstone is just an apartment (often the most expensive one). The ground floor of a modern apartment (in Seattle) is often a lobby (with at best ground floor retail surrounding it). That is why you typically have to get up to five or six stories of a modern apartment building to match the density of a 3 story brownstone.

      Should we allow more of this sort of development in Seattle? Yes, definitely.

      1. “The ground floor of a typical brownstone is just an apartment (often the most expensive one).”

        I don’t think that’s correct. At least that hasn’t been my experience. Most of the brownstones I’ve been in in NYC and elsewhere, the basement level unit is the cheapest, followed by the top one or two floors (depending on how many stories there are), with the first and second floor units being the most expensive. A lot of resident-owners who either need the space or don’t need the rental income or both, combine (or re-combine in many cases) the first and second floor units into a single residence and rent out the units on the other floors.

        Now that I’m thinking about it some more, perhaps I’ve misunderstood your meaning of “ground floor”. If by this you mean the first floor, i.e., the first level fully above street level, then I would agree with that. That floor typically has the best adornments, woodworking details, leaded and/or stained glass, etc., as well as the highest ceilings. Maybe this is just a disagreement about nomenclature. :)

      2. Many of the brownstone or brick rowhouse areas from the 1800s on the East Coast have back alleys that are 1/2 or one floor lower than the streets on the front that open to small open back yards. (The link above shows this.) Many of these have been used as places to add 1-2 parking spaces or small garages. On-street parking is also usually available.

        To clarify, the front of the rowhouse is stairs and a small garden about 10-12 feet deep, and the back is a 30-50 foot yard (and the sides are of course usually more attached rowhouses). The alley side is also where the garbage cans go.

        It’s certainly possible to also have a condo or apartment building with street-level units that open to the sidewalk. The back and side of the building at E Mercer St and 19th Ave E (the building with Espresso Vivace as a Broadway storefront) is a good example.

      3. * … E Mercer St and 10th Ave E (the building with Espresso Vivace as a Broadway storefront) …

      4. If by this you mean the first floor, i.e., the first level fully above street level, then I would agree with that. That floor typically has the best adornments, woodworking details, leaded and/or stained glass, etc., as well as the highest ceilings. Maybe this is just a disagreement about nomenclature. :)

        Yeah, that’s what I meant. Sorry about the confusion. That is the level that tends to be the swankiest (based on the ads, I don’t think I’ve ever been in an apartment at that level).

    3. “They are larger and have the main entrance on the third floor up one flight of steps with the front street built to align with the second floor.”

      Sometimes but not always. I think the style you’re thinking of was more common in Boston than NYC. The former typically had a true basement level, or what you’re referring to as floor one, and they tended to be taller and have more floors than the latter. With the brownstones I’m familiar with in the city (my original hometown) the “street level” was typically halfway between the basement level and the first (fully above street level) floor. In other words, going up the front stoop would take one up to the “first floor” unit which is actually the second level of the building. One would generally access the basement unit by going down a staircase tucked under the primary, sometimes very grand, entrance to the building. They typically had three or four units, one per floor, above street level, with the basement space adding a fourth or fifth residential unit.

      I lived in such a brownstone building for a few years when I worked in the NYS Legislature in Albany. There were and still are many fine examples of these buildings in that town, despite Gov. Rockefeller’s destruction of blocks and blocks of the downtown core to create the Empire State Plaza complex in the late 60s and early 70s*. I lived on the second floor (third level) which was actually pretty high off the street because of the height of each floor. When I lived there in the early 80s many of the blocks in the neighborhood were seeking historic status protections, though the city still allowed interior reconfigurations as long as the facade was kept intact. From what I remember, only the creme de la creme brownstones ever had elevators as almost all were walk-ups.

      I’m familiar with the ones in Boston too as I used to go there frequently to visit friends who lived in the Back Bay. Despite the notorious rat problems in that area, those brownstones there have always commanded a premium price. I used to love strolling around Newbury Street on a warm, sunny day with my friends or just by myself, admiring the environs while browsing, getting something to drink, grabbing a bite to eat, etc. It’s just a great neighborhood to hang out in.

      It would be wonderful if we could replicate this sort of dense neighborhood with the same sort of character here in our region but I just don’t think it’s feasible today. Sure, there are a few pockets here and there but sadly most redevelopment in Seattle in the last couple of decades has not taken this approach. Hence, we have ended up with all of these nondescript, sterile-looking, mixed-use buildings in the U-District, Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, etc. mostly due to the economics driving the redevelopment. Frankly, I think there’s been a lot of missed opportunities as a result of this well as the accompanying uncreative mindset. Redevelopments like the original Broadway Market concept would probably be dismissed out of hand were they to be presented today, as they just wouldn’t pencil out for ROI expectations for the developer. I can’t help but wonder if in, say, twenty or thirty or forty years from now, when all of these older, charming Seattle neighborhood business districts all look the same will folks even care about these “newer” structures being torn down. Hmmmm.

      *In all fairness to good ol’ Nelson Rockefeller, a lot of the urban core in Albany was quite run-down by then. Still, the project was quite controversial at the time due to the number of residents displaced as well as cutting off long-standing neighborhoods from one another physically.

      1. Yes, my personal experience was living in Boston’s South End in a bowfront rowhouse turned into 4 condos. I lived on floor 3 — or just off the main double-door entrance at the top of the front outdoor steps.

        I see now that New York units were more like those in Back Bay with a half-flight of stepson the front. Still, the concepts were very similar.

      2. I’m glad you mentioned the urban renewal era. My original post a few weeks ago was implying that Jane Jacobs was the mother of all things anti-suburbia. I pointed out that her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities was about urban renewal that demolished rowhouses in favor of taller, less street-visible and more crime-ridden public housing towers. While her work included stopping freeways, her writings were focused on urban renewal in all its forms. Specifically, her explanation about removing the “eyes on the street” was more about urban design rather than urban density. Then I explained how I feel that much of Seattle’s predominant market-driven apartment design is creating a street environment in Seattle like what the Robert Moses housing projects created in New York — reflective sealed windows, internal hallways and few residential doorways where neighbors can hang out.

      3. Two interesting articles in the papers today.

        In the Seattle Times is an article about GM implementing driverless cars in San Francisco by the end of the year without a back up human driver.

        In the Wall St. Journal is a front page article on the significant decline in value of New York’s commercial properties.

      4. @Al S.
        Passing on a couple of links I thought you might like checking out. The first illustrates some of the many different styles of “brownstone” rowhouses built in NYC (and elsewhere obviously) during this period. The second has some interesting facts on the subject matter. Fwiw, the brownstone I lived in during my time in Albany was of the Romanesque Revival style I believe. It needed some work to restore it to its full glory but it was an amazing building to live in since so much of the original finish work was intact.

        I’m not that familiar with Boston’s South End as other parts of the city but my understanding is that it has undergone some significant transformations in the last two decades. I hope those rowhouses in your old neighborhood haven’t been totally razed in the process. That would be a shame, assuming they were being maintained. Going south I used to take the T’s red line more often (than the orange line) as I liked to stay at this place in Dorchester where I could just leave my rental car. I took the Ashmont train and got off at Field’s Corner and then either bussed or walked to my hotel. My Boston friends said I was crazy staying down there and thought that was dangerous but I never felt threatened or uncomfortable doing so. My NYer common sense and cautiousness was always in my back pocket anyway.



  8. Problems with “Low-Income” anything have a solution:

    At taxpayers’ fully-justified expense, start educating-preparatory-to-hiring a permanent workforce who, as they supercharge Sound Transit and relocate St. Louis Car Company to Everett, a can earn enough money to buy a home of their choice without borrowing a dime.

    What’s the matter? Somebody got a problem with National Defense? Or maybe scared those pro-welfare liberals (reason all kids hate liver for dinner!) will take it out on you for limiting the giveaways to bankers and airlines?

    Perspiration zero. Two twenty year old girls in (masked and spaced!) line for coffee had it Zoom-ready on their smart-phones this time yesterday.

    Mark Dublin

  9. Hi, I’m a journalism student who lives in Bellevue. I’m covering a Bellevue City Council meeting on November 2nd. I was wondering if there was anybody here who regularly goes to Bellevue City Council meetings, or maybe knows somebody who does? If you, would you be willing to talk to me sometime in the next two weeks? You can contact me in this thread or at frankielucco2024@u.northwestern.edu

    Please let me know if this goes against comment guidelines, I can delete! I just wasn’t sure where else to ask, honestly.

  10. Herman Cain was born on December 13, 1945,[1] in Memphis, Tennessee, to Lenora Davis Cain (1925–1982), a cleaning woman and domestic worker, and Luther Cain (1925–2005), who was raised on a farm and worked as a barber and janitor, as well as a chauffeur for Robert W. Woodruff, the president of The Coca-Cola Company. Cain said that as he was growing up, his family was “poor but happy.” Cain related that his mother taught him about her belief that “success was not a function of what you start out with materially, but what you start out with spiritually.” His father worked three jobs to own his own home

    1. And Elizabeth Warren’s mother paid a mortgage and fed her family on a minimum-wage job. That was before housing prices went through the roof. Cain’s father would need six jobs to own a house now. Maybe not in Memphis, but in many successful cities. And the housing crunch has spread to small cities and exurbs and rural areas too. Everywhere that’s not depressed and has restrictive zoning.

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