133 Replies to “Weekend open thread: Constantine’s sage advice for students riding transit to school”

    1. They disabled offsite linking, reload the page and click the ‘view on youtube’ blurb on the lower left.

      1. It’s fixed! What a very nice, understated but friendly PSA from our next governor.

      1. It us interesting to me that Dow promotes the One Bus Away app., when King County Metro promotes the Trip Planner app.

      2. @Jimmy,

        Well duh. Of course Dow promotes One Bus Away. Dow is a Husky. In fact, he is one Sir Dr David’s former students. (As is Rob McKenna BTW, but we don’t talk about him much in polite society).

  1. Doing my rounds on the Transit Blogging scene, and I found this:


    It’s talking about service enhancements on California’s Central Coast. This region here has many things in common with the Cascades corridor, in terms of the many mid-size cities, and difficult terrain. There’s only service in this area today, the Coast Starlight, but this plan envisions 4-7 intercity train services (per day) between Salinas-San Luis Obispo, and 8-13 between San Luis Obispo-Goleta.

    One thing that this study doesn’t seem to be looking at in Electrification. Unlike the Pacific Northwest, California’s getting serious about Electrification. The segment between San Francisco and Gilroy will have wires, Gilroy-Salinas and LAUS-Burbank are locked in (if not funded yet), and Burbank-Ventura will most certainly be added in sometime this decade. So half of the revived Coast Daylight will be under wire as is.

    1. The Central Coast of California is indeed hard to reach. It’s also very scenic.

      It seems to be taking decades to get anything significant though with rail here. The interests there have been begging for service with study after study, yet it seems elusive. Just a simple Capitol Corridor or Caltrain extension to Salinas is still not operating although it’s been seriously proposed including with some local funding for 30+ years. Even HSR skips the Central Coast in favor of the Central Valley — as Fresno and Kern Counties each have just under 1 million people each.

      I see full electrification of this line as a low state priority. Getting HSR up and running — and getting the first segment completed and then the critical segments opened from Gilroy to the Central Valley and between Bakersfield and Burbank should probably take precedence. I could even see how new HSR stops in Gilroy or Burbank could lead to more service eventually happening on this corridor.

  2. The current plan (that San Luis Obispo is trying to implement) is from the 2018 State Rail plan, which is really a cut above anything being proposed in North America right now, as it explictly nails operations and service quality in a way that most other systems don’t.

    And quite honestly, it’s really a matter of state capcacity here. I mean we already have highway departments juggling multiple projects at the same, who’s to say that California can’t do the same here. And California is planning a lot of Electrification, on the order of over 1500 miles, the Salinas-Oxnard section would add “just” 300 miles to that.

    But yeah, the extension to Monterey County was heavily delayed because of how the transit authority there went back and forth between Caltrain and Capitol Corridor. Now that they’ve decided to have both operating to Salinas, they’re actually breaking ground now.

    As for the Central Coast Project, I favor proposal #1 (Revived Coast Starlight) over #2 (Surfliner Extension) and #3 (Capitol Corridor Extension). As well as the all day Regional Rail service being proposed.

    1. reload and watch it on Youtube itself. They disabled offsite embedding for some reason.

      1. That doesn’t work for me. I don’t have permission. For some reason, it’s for private viewing.

  3. Moderately frequent service to San Luis Obispo from the south and to Salinas from the north both make sense. The stretch in between not so much; you mentioned the idea of reviving the Coast Daylight. That sounds right to me: one daytime train in each direction, scheduled to be at Salinas from the south and at Santa Barbara from the north at 6:00 PM. That way folks from the Bay Area can leave Oakland around 10 AM, and returning travelers get the train around 2-3:00 PM around Pismo Beach, perfect for short-trippers to and from the “Central Coast”. There is little market for “through” LA-San Francisco riders on trains that take twelve hours. This is for the Santa Barbara-San Luis tourist trade.

    1. Oh, if they do this they need to up the local buses between Solvang and San Luis.

      1. @ Tom Terrific:

        Present ridership isn’t representative of potential future demand. It’s better to have a plan that accomodates multiple potential futures, rather than just jumping about in the dark.

        And these aren’t even my ideas, they’re Caltrans ideas. Have you actually taken a look through the plan yourself?

      2. With a 2040 end date, it’s usually a sign that this is still a sketch planning exercise.

        A few notes about the 2040 contributing projects:

        1. BART will connect in Downtown San Jose at at least 15 minute frequencies and Caltrain will be electrified and running at higher frequencies. Just getting to Diridon Station in Downtown San Jose will be a powerful connection on the future.

        2. How LA Metro evolves in the San Fernando Valley can help or hurt this corridor. In particular, the 405 Sepulveda project can open up lots more ways to connect to LA’s expanding urban transit network — or not. Even without a Sepulveda connection, the more extensive coverage coming with LA Metro projects — with the help of massive local sales tax funding already in place (and many already in construction now), many more SoCal destinations will be pretty easy to reach by 2040.

        3. Hopefully there will be a high speed rail line from SF to LA with stops in Gilroy and Burbank. How these new intermediate stations get sited will affect how well a coast rail service will work. If there is a HSR train every hour, there will be a strong interest in just getting to high speed rail rather than staying on this slower train for a long distance.

        The last point is where I think there more planning work is needed. High speed rail will pull longer trips from this corridor and its long distance utility will be for scenery and not speed. Meanwhile, I think the closer high speed rail stations will grow the interest for higher frequency connecting services just to get to a station — especially if HSR is running every hour much of the day. The result will be strong pushes in Monterey County and Santa Barbara County to connect to HSR.

        That may leave San Luis Obispo County out of the loop a bit. It’s no accident that SLO interests are driving this work linked in the post. They have much less to gain from HSR than the other adjacent county interests do.

      3. FDW, it can be both an official plan AND a boondoggle. They are not mutually exclusive.

        Yes, I read the plan; it’s overreach. Nobody lives in San Luis Obispo or environs without a car. The county has an admirable bus system for its population, but a tourism based economy has lots of odd-shift employment which is hard to serve with a mostly infrequent system. What problem are they trying to solve?

      4. @AL. S:

        BART’s trying to get things up to 10 min per line with it’s new fleet purchase and signaling upgrades. The HSR line is actually planned to operate like 4tph. I’m presuming that the Coast line services would be operating on the HSR tracks in the Bay Area, making the stops that the HSR trains would be between Transbay and Gilroy (Milbrae, Redwood City, Diridon). I think a situation like the Akita/Yamaguchi Shinkansen might be a good idea for Hollister/Santa Cruz/Salinas/Monterey.

        About the San Fernando Valley, Metrolink has already committed to Rapid Transit headways from LAUS to Burbank, and it’s only a matter of time before they say that Chatswood and Santa Clarita will be getting them too. These kind of upgrades are on par with the Sepulveda and the Orange Line LRV conversion that get more press.

        @Tom Terrific:

        You see “boondoggle”, I see “actually trying to cause modal shit by ponying up for operations costs”. It’s still not enough by my standards, but no other part of North America is really even considering something this ambitous.

    2. I guess to me it just makes sense to run the trains all the way through. The current situation seems sort of like what you would get if Washington funded Cascades service from Centralia to Bellingham, and Oregon funded service from Eugene to Kelso.

      Sure, you could do that, and there’s a lot of auto traffic between those places so you might get some ridership.

      However, by the time you go through the nonsensical logistics of turning two separate trains at relatively middle of nowhere locations, you might as well consolidate things a bit and run them all the way through. At the very least, at least that way you’ve got some sort of maintenance facility at both ends rather than trying to do end of trip maintenance in the middle of nowhere, twice over.

      Then, there’s ridership logistics. Just like anything else, adding intermediate stations means picking up destinations.

      There’s probably just as much passenger potential in Salinas for northbound as for southbound.

      1. There is WAY more potential in Salinas northbound than southbound. So much that they’re talking about running Caltrain that far south. The point of the through train(s) is for Bay Area folks to get to the San Luis/Pismo/Solvang tourist destinations. LA folks already have service there.

        I supposed it’s possible that folks from LA would want to go to Salinas on the way to Monterrey or Watsonville for Santa Cruz assuming good bus connections, but they for sure don’t want to go to Salinas on the way to Salinas.

        The same is true for Bay Area folks headed for Monterrey. There must be excellent and nice bus connections to attract them. There is a cray-cray turnaround loop that looks like a model railroad dogbone at Cal State which is the effective end of track from Castroville, so perhaps some service to that point is contemplated. However it’s mostly ghost track between there and Cal State in Google Earth.

        Presumably there is good transit bus service between Cal State, downtown Monterey and Pacific Grove but it’s probably not something that folks going to a nice hotel would be interested in taking. Maybe Uber or Lyft from the dogbone.

      2. So far as the MF’s they already exist at both LA and Oakland for Amtrak who will run these trains. I’m not against a day train each way; give it a try. But don’t expect to run SEVEN pairs! What a waste; right now there is just one round trip a day to SLO. I think there used to be three before the pandemic.

        They want to run seven a day all the way? That’s much too big a jump.

      3. @Glenn in Portland:

        Yeah, I think that would be better to just have bi-hourly service the whole way from Salinas-Goleta. Though Salinas is hardly middle of nowhere, as it’s bigger than Bellingham, and when combined with Monterey, it’s bigger than Olympia.

        @Tom Terrific:

        This service will branded as “Coast Daylight”, but it isn’t going to be operated as a long tourist-oriented transcon type service. The California state rail plan has this corridor being upgraded for 125mph top speeds. It isn’t about SF-LA, but SF/LA-Central Coast in a competitve time. Keep in mind that this corridor is shorter (in total mileage) than the HSR corridor.

        And yeah, they’re emphasizing supplementing the train service with bus connections, and using bus service as a way of building up ridership early on. It’s like STEX, but at a statewide level. Mind you, Amtrak California already does this on some routes, but they’re going to expand it.

        In general, I agree that they’re should be more service north of Salinas than South of it, and they’re will be: Salinas is supposed to be getting hourly service (16-21 trips).

        For Monterey and Santa Cruz, there’s long been a DMU envisioned connecting the 2, but it’s had a hard time getting off the ground. Though I think that if it does, there should also be direct service from both to Transbay, along with Hollister. The alignment on the Santa Cruz is intact, but the Monterey side has seen it’s side partly torn up, though the corridor is still there, and might well be reactivated.

        And they’re building a facility at Salinas too, and Caltrain has their own yard in Santa Clara, and I think HSR will have their yard at Brisbane?

        California is upgrading things to that level over a 20 year period, as funding becomes available, not all at once. Mind you, the Central Coast upgrades are merely a small part of the much more wild plans they have in store elsewhere, like SF-SAC.

      4. The issue with the corridor is speed. It takes over 12 hours to go between Oakland and Los Angeles. It’s very scenic — but the general slowness (along with one train a day) really keeps the train focused on the tourist market.

        I do think that there could ideally be two to four through trains a day. I can see how having different locomotives or power systems can help with some of the uphill slogs. However, there isn’t a short segment fix that could make the line much faster. To counter that, the train amenities (food, views, ride quality, service) could be enhanced for passengers willing to pay more. Ideally, the trip could be brought down to 8 hours but even that seems challenging.

        Most of the Central Coast populations of the two 400k population counties are Salinas/Monterey north (Monterey County) and Santa Barbara south (Santa Barbara County). The county in between — San Luis Obispo County — only has 270k in population and it’s about 6 hours between these two urban areas on Amtrak. For that reason, services from Salinas north and Santa Barbara south seem much stronger markets and worthy of more trains.

        Finally, I think the reality of the Santa Cruz branch is that it’s running on a single track in tight right of way through nice residential areas at mandatory slow speeds — making our ERC look easy to upgrade by comparison. Also, getting from Santa Cruz to San Jose is way out of direction so serving that major commuter market isn’t practical (there is no “Downtown Bellevue” in the middle of this corridor). Reusing those tracks poses a whole other set of major challenges even though it’s owned by SCCRTC (the countywide transportation planning agency).

      5. FDW, yes, it’s considerably shorter in mileage, but not in degrees of curvature, even if you just extended the San Joaquins over curvaceous Tehachapi. Between Atascadero and Goleta — really Ventura — the Coast Line is almost constantly curving. Without Talgos the speed can’t improve much through there.

        Though the trains could travel at top speed through the Atascadero to Salinas section, it would be ridiculously expensive to enable it for the possible passenger volumes it will carry. The Salinas Valley through which it runs has fifty miles south to King City with cross-roads every couple of miles. Those would all have to overpass the tracks at $10 to $20 million each for a few dozen cars per day. This is a boondoggle.

        If there is such great logic in “completing the spine” (using a local term for “fill the gap between Gilroy and San Luis Obispo”), why not do exactly the equivalent in The Valley — extend a couple of the San Joaquins to LA via Palmdale on the UP?

        I realize this is easier said than done given the host railroad.

        There are a LOT more folks who would like to ride between LA and Fresno than want to ride from LA to Salinas. Though the big slow detour to Palmdale means very few folks would ride all the way between LA and Oakland, the “halfway” rides from LA to The Valley several stations should be nearly equal to the halfways from the Bay Area.

        The San Joaquins will be running at 110 on the HSR trackage between Wasco and Madera in a couple of years.

        Put trains where there are lots of people.

      6. @AL. S:

        It’s not about Electrified versus Diesel, it’s about Battery Electric Loco/MU versus EMU. I favor EMU’s for this corridor (despite the increased costs) because these trains are going to operating on the crowded Peninsula and LAUS-Burbank corridors that are going to be seeing north of 30 tph if this plan in full.

        There are sections of the network where I’d be fine with Battery Mutliple Units (Like Marin, the Hanford-Visalia, and some stuff out of Sacramento), but this isn’t one of them for me.

        Santa Cruz-San Jose might not be that competitve, but destinations farther afield would be, more so if Highway 1 is appropriated to build a new line. Keep in mind that SF-Salinas is eventually going to be upgraded to 125 mph. It might be on the radar now, but I could see it popping up at some point.

        @Tom Terrific:

        Have you not actually looked through the Rail Plan? It’s putting high quality rail service EVERYWHERE where’s there’s people in California. San Luis Obispo is simply trying to plan out and fund the segment laid out there. It’s not going to get in the way of the bigger ticket stuff like HSR, or the Bay Area/Southland Electrification schemes.

      7. It’s not going to get in the way of the bigger ticket stuff like HSR, or the Bay Area/Southland Electrification schemes.

        Of course it it. California does not have its own Federal Reserve to print money.

        There are two buses a day between Salinas, King City and Atascadero. Those two buses are actually Grayhound buses that the Salinas County Transit authority buys discount seats on. The buses run between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

        Two buses.

        Look the Coast Starlight pretty much serves the existing tourist market pretty well. It leaves LAUS at 10:10 in the morning and arrives in OAK at 9:30 or so. Going south it leaves at 8:35 and arrives in LAUS at 9:00. Grant it doesn’t stop at any of the mid-Coast beach town stations served by Amtrak California, and that’s a drag for the little towns. Those times mean that the train passes through the San Luis region around two to four PM both directions. That’s perfect for folks departing at noon from a resort.

        The train currently runs four days a week, but pre-pandemic it ran every day and was pretty well-patronized.

        What problem are you trying to solve here? Is it “Gosh, the old Daylight running bejomd 82″ drivers would be SO COOL here!”?

      8. Though Salinas is hardly middle of nowhere, as it’s bigger than Bellingham

        Right, and it has decent density to boot (https://arcg.is/18G8CL0). But Tom’s point is that it is quite reasonable to make improvements to the northern connection, but not the southern one. San Jose to Salinas takes somewhere between hour and 15 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes. With a little bit of work, maybe they can get that down to an hour. That would compete with driving, and providing a relatively short trip from a major city (San Jose) to a minor one.

        In contrast, getting to L. A. from Salinas takes somewhere around 7 or 8 hours. It would require a lot of work to get that down to 5 hours, the point at which it can compete with driving. That would still be a lot slower than taking a plane, even if you account for the time to get to the airport. As Al suggested, it might be best to just take the train from L. A. to San Jose, and backtrack an hour. Better yet, it looks like the HSR will go through Gilroy, which is only 35 minutes (by car) from Salinas. Thus a Gilroy/Salinas/Monterey (timed) bus would be faster than everything short of high speed rail.

        It is only when you get further south that going through makes sense. The problem is, there is practically nothing there until you get to San Luis Obispo, which itself is not that big. Now we are back to long travel time (even with improvements) and again, not a huge destination. You just aren’t going to get competitive travel times from San Jose to San Luis Obispo unless you spend a fortune, and there just aren’t that many people there. You really don’t get that many people until you get to Santa Barbara/Ventura, and by then you are very close to L. A.

        These areas should be treated as offshoots of the main high speed rail line. Better rail service (or bus service in some cases) would make a lot of sense in that regard. But that should be done *after* the high speed rail line is complete.

      9. @Ross B:

        It’s going to be more like 40 minutes SJ-Salinas (and 1hr Transbay-Salinas), these are modern EMU’s we’re talking about here, not the kind of stuff that’s running right now. Keep in mind, Traffic in the Bay Area goes WAY far out. It once took me three hours just to travel from DT San Francisco to Gilroy on a bus pre-covid, and this wasn’t even during peak.

        And while I agree that this corridor should be funded ahead of HSR, and indeed that turning the Bay Area and Los Angeles’s Regional Rail systems into Rapid Transit should take precedent over even HSR in this Austerity Fetishizing environment. I was making my arguement from a viewpoint of plenty, where all those upgrades (and presumably others) were done, and the issue of “whether the Coast Line should get a wire or not” could be considered on it’s own merits.

      10. @FDW, twenty minutes Transbay to San Jose [one hour Transbay-Salinas minus 40 minutes San Jose-Salinas, your figures]????? In EMU’s?

        Which EMU’s would those be? The twenty minutes Transbay-San Jose will supposedly [but actually never] be clocked by the HSR trains in someone’s fantasy that includes stops in Millbrae and Redwood City. EMU’s can not run at roughly 150 miles an hour, the speed necessary to cover those 48 miles with two stops in twenty minutes.

        Either your math is squirrelly or you believe there to be some “off-the-shelf” EMU’s coming down the pipe which don’t yet exist.

        Look, I’d love it if the glut of cars on 101 [please God, not “the 101”] or parallel 280 would shrink to a trickle because everyone was on Caltrain or Peninsula BART. It would be great if folks headed to Santa Cruz and Monterrey could take extensions of those trains, too. But regardless of our desires, people — around the world — show a dogged determination to obtain a person vehicle as soon as it’s economically feasible for them to do so.

        And once bought, they are used, especially for intercity travel. Even the Climate Virtue Signaling Europe drivers buy 500 hp fire-breathers from Porsche, Mercedes and the Italian builders.

        I predict that California will never finish the LA-Bakersfield segment of the HSR line; the costs of beating either the tangled mess of mountains that is Tehachapi or the steep profile that is the Grapevine will just be too great. I do think that the Gilroy-Merced connection will be built, because the intervening hills are only about thirty miles wide and not all that tall. Ordinary rail construction can beat them, and the economic value for the southern Valley cities will be so great. With the mooted “wye” and Sacramento spur, San Jose to Stockton/Sacramento will become a reasonable trip.

        If there are ever semi-frequent trains to Salinas and Sand City (home of Cal State Monterey Bay), they will probably not go into San Francisco, but rather terminate at Diridon with connections to both sides of the Bay.

    3. To put the Salinas situation in perspective, it is just 28 miles from the Gilroy Caltrain (anticipated HSR) Station to the Salinas Transit Center. That’s as close as Snoqualmie Ridge is to King Street Station. In fact, part of the justification of the Gilroy HSR station is to serve the Monterey/ Salinas area!

      Santa Barbara is much further from high speed rail (90-100 miles) and it’s even further to SLO. Oh, SLO is a big college town with 22K students so it does have population without a vehicle so it’s not as suburban as the surrounding Central Coast communities. I can see how these counties would want better train service southward — and Surfliner is appropriate for that.

      1. And the streches of track on either side of Santa Barbara are as bad as many of the segments Amtrak uses here. The only difference is that these segments aren’t that useful for freight, so their’s a non-zero hope for non-zero service here.

        With small, light trains.

      2. “The student population” at Cal Poly may be forbidden to have cars, but that’s a problem for San Luis Obispo County’s transit system, not Amtrak California.

        “The student population” will take the train about eight times per year, with almost all travel in a peak of a day or two. Amtrak California probably needs to run longer trains during those periods, but it doesn’t need to run “bi-hourly service” anywhere, any time between SLO and SNS.

        So far as “with small light trains”, those double-deckers in the Amtrak California fleet don’t look very light to me.

  4. That doesn’t work for me. I don’t have permission. For some reason, it’s for private viewing.

  5. Wouldn’t it make sense to electrify the last sections of track that lost it? I believe the Stevens Pass is right up there on that list. BNSF could significantly increase capacity if they didn’t have to wait to clear the air in the tunnel.

    Diesel electric locomotives are very efficient but the big win in electrification is capturing the electricity from braking on the down side.

    1. That’s very true. It’s even better if you make your own; the GN had its own hydro plant on the Skykomish River. In any case, there’s plenty available from Grand Coulee just over the hill.

      The problem is that the railroad has to have two fleets of locomotives, and there’s no way the folks in the $2.5 million homes along Puget Sound through Edmonds, Mukilteo and Richmond Beach are going to stand for catenary in their views. It’s either electrify all the way to Interbay (and, really, to the docks) or change locomotives TWICE! I suppose you could dead-in-tow between Everett and Seattle, but that means putting the pans down and re-raising them.

      Would you change engines at Wenatchee or electrify all the way to Spokane? It’s a pretty nasty slug out of the Columbia Valley, but once on top it’s pretty flat into Spokane.

      1. IIRC the NP only used the electrics from where the staging yard is on the west side to the east side of the tunnel. I believe they left engines at each side, first steam and possibly early into the diesel era. As long as your EB and WB traffic is balanced that works.

        One issue might be that with double stack containers there probably isn’t clearance for a standard catenary system. Maybe a single “hot” rail on top and one of the track rails used for the return and the other as a safety ground? That would pretty much make it a tunnel only solution but there’s no reason it couldn’t meet with more standard electrified rail in the future. Ideally all of the serious grades would be electrified. Short term (decades) the engines used on the west side could be CNG powered. LA uses this for switching operations and it significantly improves air quality. The relatively short trip from the pass to the docks or Kent would be perfect for CNG. Wenatchee to Chicago not so much.

        Short write up here; Cascade Tunnel

      2. Bernie, though the NP provided the cash to fund the Burlington Northern merger — from the Weyerhaeuser land grant sale — the Cascade Tunnel line was built and operated by the Great Northern. You’re right that the electrified portion was short, unlike the Milwaukee two long stretches.

      3. The idea for “third rail” might work if the electrification were just through the tunnel. As I understand it, BNSF is interested in battery cars being included in multi-unit power sets on the High Line as far east as Havre and Gillette and the Deschutes-Feather River line down to California. Those are up-and-down routes where the dynamics are used frequently. How nice it would be if the juice generated by braking could be stored and used on the next uphill.

        Lead-acid batteries don’t have a high enough power-to-weight ratio to make dragging them through the flat spots worthwhile, but modern Llithium batteries do. If high amperage connections among semi-married sets of road power are to be added to move current to and from the battery car(s), those battery cars could include retractable pickups for the third rail and distribute it to the diesels which would operate as pure motors. They would idle the prime mover through the tunnels. CP would like the same system between Calgary and Kamloops.

      4. The time trade off between switching locomotives versus waiting for tunnel exhaust clearance or a slower climb can be weighed. Time delays can be monetized to perform the calculation.

      5. I like how you guys postulate that there is a problem (OMG! Tunnel ventilation!!) and then spin-up post after post speculating on how to address said supposed problem. But I guess this is 2021 and we live in a post-facts world.

        In reality it is unclear how much of a problem ventilation really is on Stephens Pass. And even if it was a real problem, electrification is probably one of the last ways BNSF would choose to address it.

        For example, ventilation isn’t a problem westbound. So BNSF would probably start with using more directional running (Stampede being hugely underutilized).

        But hey, if you guys want to start by declaring ventilation to be a problem and then postulate a world where all the trains are powered by nuclear fusion tokamak engines, then more power to you. I’m just not holding my breath.

      6. Stampede is 150 miles longer than Stevens to Spokane. They tried exactly what you propose and found it messed up the Pasco-Spokane traffic balance too much. Westbound heavy trains (grain, coal and crude) get preference on the old NP.

        You may be right to jeer, though. It’s what you do best.

      7. @TT,

        Not jeering at all. Just trying to inject a little reality and rational thought into a discussion that has clearly gone off the rails (pun intended – for those who have completely lost their sense of humor).

        Yes Stampede is longer, and yes they have other issues with that line, but it would be silly to suggest that BNSF wouldn’t look at improved directional running before they made some sort of knee jerk decision to electrify. Railroads aren’t run by fools.

        And that is just one example of a potential solution. There are many others.

        But hey, I love electrification, I grew up with the Milwaukee Road. But anybody who thinks North American railroads are going to switch to electric because of some sort of postulated issue with ventilation on Stephens is just fooling themselves. It’s more likely to occur because of government intervention regarding GHG. But even that is unlikely.

        Sorry. It that is the truth. .

      8. Tunnel ventilation over Stevens is a limiting factor on through put. Even with diesel they still have to evacuate the tunnel:

        Due to the tunnel’s length it has a rather problematic handicap, even today, of requiring ventilation of the shaft for up to 45 minutes.

        That’s one train EB, add 45 min, one train WB another 45 minute; hour & a half to get two trains through vs virtual zero with electric waiting on the other side to go. As Al S points out that time savings offsets the time to switch locomotives.

        I hate to think what happens if one of those lithium ion battery cars catches on fire in a tunnel :-O

      9. By the way, my 3rd rail suggestion was to mitigate the complaints from those people of means from having to deal with the unsightly overhead wires. (not really a serious suggestion)
        After all, Edmonds residents were petitioning for the ROW through Edmonds to be put in a trench. (They changed their minds when the bill $ was presented to them)
        The sights, the smells, the sounds are most offensive.
        Heaven forbid they wait 3 minutes for the occasional crossing blockage.

      10. Lead-acid batteries don’t have a high enough power-to-weight ratio to make dragging them through the flat spots worthwhile, but modern Llithium batteries do.

        This depends entirely on what you are trying to do.

        Lithium based batteries are quite expensive for the amount of charge delivered. For that reason, many of the experiments with battery powered locomotives in the USA have been with an iron based battery. Norfolk Southern 999 could operate for 36 hours straight without a recharge. (The Wikipedia entry for the locomotive says lead-acid, but they attempted to use several different batteries, and the last one was an iron battery).

        Diesel locomotives are not cell phones, where high charge for minimum weight is prized. Cheap, heavy batteries work fine in US railroad service, except if you happen to want high speed passenger service, The USA doesn’t have that anywhere yet. Lithium also doesn’t work very well at low temperatures (watch what happens to your cell phone charge indicator if you have it in freezing weather), but manufacturing methods to make lead-acid work in all temperatures has been well developed.

        Lead-acid can also last for a very, very long time. Many of our customers use Optima lead-acid batteries for powering their emergency light systems in their railroad cars. They can be discharged to zero and brought back just fine with a quality charger, and some have been in regular service for 30+ years.

        By the way, see a brief article about it in the Norfolk Southern NSBiz Magazine, Nov-Dec 2009, starting on page 7. Various other articles about it are in the various other NS publications, including at least one shareholder report.

        The locomotive is now owned by the Port of Los Angeles.

    2. Honestly, if we want better Seattle->Spokane passenger service, it is much more efficient to just run buses down I-90 than to worry about electrified/more frequent trains.

      A few years ago, I had an Amtrak train get replaced with a bus at the last minute, and the bus took about 4.5 hours, nonstop. The train will never be able to do the trip in anything close to 4.5 hours without billions in track upgrades. A fraction of that price could buy a lot of service on the bus.

      1. Why would you compare a non-stop bus to a train trip that has intermediate stops?
        Any bus that follows that same route (Hwy 2) will take roughly the same amount of time. Actually there already is a daytime bus that does that.

        If I want fast, I’ll fly.

      2. “If I want fast, I’ll fly.” With decent service, there are plenty of reasons to choose the bus. Lower fares, fewer random multi-hour delays, more convenient station locations, and no TSA lines.

        Ultimately, a statewide bus system should have two Seattle->Spokane routes, one for I-90, one for highway 2. Of the two, the I-90 route would be faster, have more riders, and run more often. The highway 2 route would exist just for lifeline coverage to the communities in between.

        In fact, the 4.5 hour Seattle->Spokane bus ride I did actually included 15 minutes at a highway rest stop. We could have swapped the rest stop for a station stop in Ellensburg and gotten to Spokane in the same 4.5 hours. After Ellensburg, the towns get very tiny and demand, minimal. So, may not be worth stopping at.

    3. Bernie, though the NP provided the cash to fund the Burlington Northern merger

      But NP had merged with GN long before the BNSF consolidation. I know nothing of the finances of the NP GN merger but they keep the Goat and retired the NP name.

      1. No. Hill TRIED to make Burlington Northern back in TR’s time, but he (TR) busted the Trust. The result is that each transcon owned half of the CB&Q, their connection at St. Paul and Billings to points east and south.

        I have an old record “A Thousand Miles of Mountains” put out by the NP in the 1960’s which tells the story of the line along with a bunch of railroading and lumbering songs. Raymond Massey narrates it. The NP was 250 miles longer all the way to St. Paul than the GN, because it dipped down to the Yellowstone River through Montana. Railroad surveyors had not discovered Marias Pass at the time and of course the first railroad would go through the best agricultural land. But even though it was that 250 miles longer it made more money because of its deep penetration throughout the Washington landscape, and it was the primary carrier from Butte.

      2. Hill IIRC was the surveyor, not a principle in the RR. Great subject for a guest post; I guess that applies to both of us.

      3. Yes, the kept the Goat and retired the Monad, but that’s because James J Hill was the better publicist, and who could forget “The Empire Builder”? The Silk expresses and apples that had made it great were gone by 1970, and what kept the northwestern rails alive was forest products and grain. That’s about when coal started to be a big thing in Wyoming.

        Sure, GN had loads of grain in North Dakota and eastern Montana, and they even had a Johnny-Come-Lately branch down into the Palouse. And GN had the “Inside Gateway” line with the Western Pacific which was intermittently successful forwarding BC timber when California was having a building boom; still is. But overall it was forest products until the spotted owl shut things down that made the big bucks for BN. They were much more on NP’s network.

        When Burlington Northern essentially bought Santa Fe they made the Santa Fe “cross” the symbol of the railroad for several years, because the Santa Fe was the better known line. Now of course it’s just “BNSF”.

      4. Doh, John F. Stevens was the surveyor. Hill was indeed the RR mogul. Santa Fe was better known because virtually every starter model train set sold in the 60’s had a Santa Fe EMD F series locomotive and often a B unit. When the BNSF merger took place they also brought back the Pumpkin green and orange of the GN which is much classier than the plain jane BN green and white.

    1. This popped up on my YouTube feed recently. I thought it was interesting.

      Building codes and fire suppression — and earthquake resilience — are complex topics. I guess time will tell if this building type is great or dangerous.

      1. I’ve never really thought about it before, but here on the eastside, around Microsoft and in crossroads, all the older apartment buildings from approximately the 1960’s – 1980’s era are mostly two story. But then if you look at what they are building today in the same areas, they are all around six stories.

      2. I thought they were upzoned. Everything in the Eastside was 1-2 stories until the 1990s, except a few buildings in the downtowns you could count on one had. It didn’t matter whether they were wood or stone or concrete or metal-framed: they were all 1-2 story It was the “town & country” look.

      3. Speaking of 6 story residential buildings, did you see what will be built on the corner of 100th and Main Street in Old Bellevue? This is the property across the street to the north of the Chevron station. I think there used to be a Pagliacci there. Downside, not even remotely affordable. Upside, will generate lots of property taxes.


      4. I haven’t been on Main west of Bellevue Way for thirty years so iI have no idea what’s there now. If there are seven-story buildings there, that’s surprising.

      5. Main will have that level of development on both sides of the street from 100th all the way to 116th in a few short years, which will be awesome. Yes, not affordable, but very walkable. Should make Bellevue downtown even more of a 24/7 neighborhood.

        What the city really needs to do next is expand that same midrise mixed use down along Bellevue Way to at least SE 6th (already multifamily) and around the full walkshed of the Link station (i.e. the single family neighborhood immediately west/southwest of the station, which will be a much bigger political lift).

      6. The East Main Link Station walkshed is one of those places that could evolve into a number of different environments.

        It will be fascinating to follow it for the next ten years to see what happens — and to assess what layout mistakes were made. In particular, will the at-grade design with riders crossing the tracks to get to the train be a good thing (level access) or a bad thing (dangerous)? What will drop offs and pick ups ultimately be like? Will a more direct and less sloped way to get to the west of the station ever happen? Will the residents beg to finally change the name to Surrey Downs as it will someday enhance their property values? Only time (and the marketplace) will tell. Anyone dare to read their crystal ball?

      7. Re eightonehundred.com, wow that is lovely. Old Bellevue is really becoming a fantastic place to live, with the walkability, proximity to water and the park, proximity to transit.

      8. I think the at-grade design will be good. The issues with at-grade in the RV mostly have to do with conflict at the vehicle intersections and collisions with vehicles, rather than safety issues at the platform, correct?

        And I don’t think pick-up/drop offs will be an issue. Should be very simillar to downtown Seattle stations, as there is no parking along Main or 112th around the station and both roads are choked with traffic during rush hour.

        Access west of the station along Main or into Surrey Downs will be fine; it will be an incline but otherwise a walk in the park (literally, https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2014/03/11/east-main-station-60-design/). I think what you are instead asking is access southwest of the station, or access directly west of the south entrance. There will be a signalized crosswalk across 112th at the south entrance, which I think will be sufficient for people access the station from the south and southeast. I could see there be a future project to punch a hole in the sound wall and create direct access west of the south entrance by demolishing one of those homes, but demand for that won’t exist until that SF neighborhoods is up zoned. I don’t see a ‘mistake’ until that neighborhood changes.

      9. I haven’t been on Main west of Bellevue Way for thirty years so iI have no idea what’s there now. If there are seven-story buildings there, that’s surprising
        Yep, you wouldn’t recognize the place. “Old Bellevue” is gone. But it’s really not that much of a walk shed for the so called East Main Station. The hill is really steep. It will depend on bus service routes which station residents go too. A lot I would think will walk to Bellevue Transit Center. The area the City now calls Wilburton on the east side of 405 is planned for density greater than the Spring District. That will contribute some ridership.

      10. Olde Bellevue wasn’t much more than a name when I was growing up. There was a very minimal attempt to preserve a historical street design, and the businesses were unremarkable. The northwest corner had 7-11 and the second floor had a big room where my friends played D&D, Around 100th my dad had a one-story apartment. Meydenbauer Park was nice: an oasis of quiet greenery, with the only sign of civilization being the street viaduct. One lonely flashing traffic light. The Medina high schoolers walked home past all of this.

        After I left, the city got big on promoting Olde Bellevue. I assumed it would be a historic district. How did the city reconcile “Olde” with seven-story buildings; that sounds like a contradiction. And if it could upzone Olde Bellevue, why couldn’t it upzone Surrey Downs, west of Bellevue Square, or that neighborhood on the 271 just west of QFC (I can’t remember the name, something like Vuecrest).

        When East Main Station was in planning, I attended an open house at the Red Lion and walked the way between Bellevue Way and 112th to see how good the walkshed would be. The hill and distance would deter a casual walker. (Although high school students who walk three times as far every day would not be daunted.) I’d like to see a bus on Main Street.

      11. By the way, I hear Meydenbauer Park will be improved and there will be an east-west trail from it to the transit center. How’s that coming along?

      12. Bellevue’s ‘grand connection’ plan includes a very frequent shuttle between old main and Bellevue TC. For those who don’t want to walk the incline, I think that will be the best option to access Link, rather than a bus on Main.

        A few years ago I went on an historical walking tour in Old Main. It include some folks who lived in Bellevue before the mall was there, back when the center of the town was the ferry terminal. Amazing to see them point out the tiny bits that still remained, like the Chevron station that has been an auto repair shop for something like 4 generations, and how much had changed.

      13. Wikipedia has a little blurb on the history of Bellevue. It was a weekend getaway when they had the ferry there. But then the ferry moved to Medina, and it just became farmland. During WW II they kicked out the Japanese-Americans, and a lot of the farmland was redeveloped. Eventually the freeway(s) went in, and it boomed. There is only one historic building in Bellevue, a big house formerly owned by a rich logger, not too far from South Bellevue Station (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Register_of_Historic_Places_listings_in_King_County,_Washington).

        In contrast, tiny Snoqualmie has a half-dozen places. Kirkland has more, as it really was a bustling town before the freeways. Newcastle was an early mining town, while Redmond was an early logging town. Bellevue didn’t really register. It was like many other farming communities. It was really the freeways that put it on the map.

    2. So we need to redefine wood as flammable again? Sounds bizarre, but should be pretty easily doable. Much like the current particle board trend, most people should be able to see through this kind of chicanery.

  6. I am somewhat surprised oneeighthundred is not taller, but it is next to Old Main Street where heights are capped. From what I have heard units will begin at $2.5 million, which is reasonable if you are downsizing and selling a SFH on the eastside.

    I was at Old Main Street on Friday night for dinner and to visit the playground because we are planning an accessible playground on Mercer Island, and Bellevue’s playground is one of the premier accessible playgrounds for disabled kids. Of course, Bellevue’s playground took five years and cost $5 million, and we have $500k and 5 months. It is hard to believe how much money Bellevue has. The park, restaurants and area were very busy. If you don’t have a reservation well in advance you can’t get a seat. Access for us is very easy, 7 minutes during non-peak times, and parking is free with validation (or you can go by boat). In the future we could walk to East Link, but that drops you off on 112th.

    We would love something like Old Main Street or Old Front Street on Mercer Island, but we made the mistake of thinking the mixed use housing developments would create the retail and restaurant density at the street level when it does just the opposite. Like Bellevue, Redmond and Issaquah we should have zoned a purely commercial zone long ago for retail and restaurants, which generally is one story. Plus Mercer Island made a decision long ago to not allow any commercial or multi-family zoning on the waterfront.

    On the flip side, as someone who works in downtown Seattle the action in Seattle is dead, dead, dead, which is a drag if you are vaccinated. Who would have thought ten years ago Bellevue would be becoming the ideal walkable urban setting with true housing and retail density surrounded by SFH zones, and Seattle would be moving to mini-burbs in the residential neighborhoods while the downtown core hollows out.

    Personally for me, as someone who has been going to Bellevue since 1970, the sensory overload at places like Lincoln Square north and south, with over 50 restaurants and zillions of people, is sometimes too much. But Old Main Street is nice.

    Of course, as noted above, nothing in Bellevue, or on the eastside, is remotely affordable, and eastside housing prices are up 17.5% while the region as a whole is up 13.8%. https://patch.com/washington/mercerisland/mercer-island-area-home-prices-past-year?utm_term=article-slot-2&utm_source=newsletter-daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter

    Hopefully oneeighthundred will result in trickle down affordability in which folks in $2 million condos sell to move up to oneeighthundred, folks in $1.5 million condos move into the $2 million condos, folks in $1 million condos move into the $1.5 million condos, folks in the $750k condos move into the $1 million condos, folks in the $500k condos move into the $750k condos, and folks in the $350k condos/DADU’s move into the $500k condos, creating more affordable housing in the $350k range, at least in 2021 when prices increase 15%, but the reality is those buying units in oneeighthundred will be SFH owners selling and downsizing so they can travel more, or money from Asia, and the $350k condos are the first to be redeveloped in a hot market, especially if upzoned.

    One thing this region is doing very well is creating more and more unaffordable housing.

    1. Daniel, whooey, that cascade of upgrades is a LOT of grease for the squeaking Realtors wheel! Who knew one (sizable) condo building could be so rich in umami?

  7. Well, realtor umami won’t be as savory as they would like because I bet a lot of the oneighthundred condos are bought with cash, maybe a few based on the sale of a SFH for folks looking to downsize. Plus the developers of oneeighthundred will act as their own sellers agent. My suspicion is most of the units are already sold. I was being facetious when I suggested multi-million dollar condos in Bellevue would trickle down to create affordable housing. Times are tough for realtors right now due to the lack of inventory.

    1. Housing affordability in the region will continue to worsen in the foreseeable future per many industry assessments and forecasts. Here’s one such discussion that I read recently that I thought I would pass along. It’s a bit long as it’s a pretty detailed article, but well worth the read imho.

      Fwiw….a personal anecdote. My spouse works for a residential developer on the eastside and their current pipeline of SFH and mixed use building projects has slowed considerably this year, primarily due to the reduced availability of parcels that pencil out.


      1. The article states:

        “Only in Seattle, the extreme inventory crunch is decreasing to give a little relief to homebuyers, especially with regards to condos. More supply of new resale listings is adding to the unsold inventory. Here, the total listings for condos increased by 84.19% as compared to last year. Measured by months of inventory, the housing supply is 0.76 months for single-family homes (still quite tight) and 2.75 months for condos.”

        “The median price of single-family homes increased by 9.24% to $798,000. That’s $2,000 less than September’s all-time high to $800,000. The median price of condos decreased by 1.29% to $475,000.”

        “Right now the homebuyers are trying to take advantage of lower interest rates, and the local real estate agents are struggling to meet the demand. According to local realtors, as buyers seek to cash in on record-low interest rates the market is predicted to remain this way until at least April of next year. If interest rates weren’t historically low, buyers would be unable to afford the escalating cost of housing.”

        “The ongoing combination of very low mortgage rates and escalating prices has both buyers and sellers taking advantage of the market. Buyers are finding well-priced homes in good condition, and sellers are seeing many multiple offer situations. With the virus and increased flexible work-from-home options, people can move to suburbs and outer areas in search of value and lower population density.”

        “The most affordable homes continue to be the hottest commodities on the market, which are concentrated in Pierce and Snohomish counties. The median sales price of (SFH+Condos) in Pierce County is $455,000, up 18.18% YoY while the current months of supply is 0.54. The median sales price of (SFH+Condos) in Snohomish county is $576,050, up 16.55% YoY while the current months of supply is 0.42Y.”

        “Here is the housing forecast for Seattle, King County, and Seattle MSA.

        Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metro home values have gone up 13.1% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 11.7% over the next 12-months.

        Seattle home values have gone up 8.2% over the past year and will continue to rise at a similar pace over the next 12-months.

        King County home values have gone up 10.6% over the past year and will continue to rise at a similar pace over the next 12-months.

        Pierce County home values have gone up 16.4% over the past year.
        Snohomish County home values have gone up 14.5% over the past year.”


        Many of these factors have been discussed on this blog before (including gentrification which is not discussed in the article). The rub for builders is SFH (especially for a tear down and rebuild) are being priced so high for even a tear down there is little profit for the developer, while multi-family housing is a big unknown until the pandemic ends. With near zero borrowing rates and a housing market that is almost guaranteed to increase 10%/year with little risk it is no wonder people want to buy a house (along with the aging of the Millennials).

        However the remodel market is red hot.

        Tom Terrific had a sobering reply to a senior citizen who posted ST was arrogant, and the costs for transit and ST in particular were a hardship for a senior citizen:

        “Similarly, living somewhere does not give one a “lock” on a place in that somewhere if prices rise at an unaffordable rate. There are plenty of smaller cities west of the Cascades which have roughly the same climate as Seattle but are still somewhat affordable, especially if one moves there having sold a Seattle home. Bremerton, Olympia, and Bellingham actually have waterfront. No, the others don’t have Puget Sound, but Gollicky Mo, Uncle Dan Dan, economics ain’t bean bag. There hundreds of times as many people who would love to live in the Puget Sound region if they knew about the experience than can reasonably fit.

        This is cruel, no doubt, but it is an unavoidable reality.”


        That is where we are now. Most couples dream of a SFH, and will go to Snohomish or Pierce Co. for it. Ironically Link may make that and working in Seattle doable. Working from home will help create some relief for urban areas — especially multi-family units — but will increase costs in outlying areas, especially SFH. Affordable housing requires public subsidies, except cities hope somehow rezoning will accomplish it for free, except it doesn’t create affordable housing, it creates new multi-family unaffordable construction. Cities like Bellevue can create an urban oasis, but it is the least affordable housing of all.

        For 20 years folks have been claiming the crazy property values in San Francisco can’t keep going up, and yet they do. I think that is the lesson here. If I could look at one issue it would be the large wall street housing investment trusts, and I was glad to see that issue come up in Congress. Housing receives a lot of tax advantages and federal backing for mortgages, and those should not be going to housing investors IMO.

        Maybe that is the best selling point of the Link spine that will become apparent when it opens. You can still afford and own a SFH and commute to Seattle in less than an hour.

      2. Anecdotally, what is the limiting factor on new development – spiking cost of land or spiking cost of construction?

      3. My friend in north Lynnwood (north of Ash Way P&R on Jefferson Way) told me this weekend that the lot behind her house sprouted five houses going for $700K each, and they have hardly any yard (like Seattle townhouses), and while they’re detached you can stretch out your arms and reach both walls. They’re selling within a week, some $60K over the asking price. So expensive houses and close-together houses have reached up there.

        She said eight years ago new houses in the same area were advertising for $200K.

      4. @AJ
        Anecdotally, in the case of my spouse’s company, it’s the parcel costs and lack of available properties.

        @Mike Orr
        “So expensive houses and close-together houses have reached up there.”
        Yes. I’ve alluded to this observation in my own surrounding neighborhoods in several of my comments over the last year or so. Your friend’s neighborhood isn’t that far from my own and I think I know exactly which development she’s talking about. These types of density-increasing infill projects are all over the place around the SW Snohomish UGA. Within a half-mile from my own house there is a project that will ultimately build 23 narrow townhome-style clusters on what was a standard lot for this area that had already been short-platted, and a portion of an adjoining lot. (I think the total lot area is somewhere between 1 and 1.5 acres.) Frankly, these properties wouldn’t appeal to me, particularly if I was 30 years younger with young children. They just don’t have any outside play space to speak of and no park within walking distance. And I say that as a person who grew up in NYC in a two-family converted home that was packed with some 20 people between our lower flat and our tenant’s upper flat. We at least had a small yard in the back and parks and other public spaces that were within walking distance or a quick transit ride away.

      5. Low interest == high prices. Most people are buying a payment. For the same monthly outlay they can now afford 3X the house than when interest on a 30 year loan was 7.5%. The other driving factor is the momentum of housing prices. Coupled with load interest it makes buying and flipping very attractive. Or, what’s happened in my neighborhood, foreign buyers and sports stars buying houses just to park money.

      6. In all this breathless moaning about the process of getting rich by sitting still in a beautiful place, don’t forget the cost of lumber which has quadrupled in the past year.

  8. Interesting article in today’s Wall St. Journal. Six major bills designed to create more affordable housing (zoning and permitting revisions) died or were withdrawn in the CA legislature because the trade unions objected to the bills because upzoning will make land more valuable and increase developer profits, and so the unions object to easing restrictions on the number of construction workers who are graduates of apprenticeship programs that are mostly union-run, and want greater protections for higher wages that help combat minimum wage abuses in CA.

    “You cannot build affordable housing and address poverty by driving construction workers and their families into poverty”, Robbie Hunter, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, stated.

    According to housing advocates, apprenticeship requirements drive up the expense of affordable housing in a state in which it can cost $700,000 per “affordable” unit in urban areas. Housing advocates want the ability to forgo union labor on projects when a developer doesn’t get any bids that are not significantly higher for non-union work (which was basically the Bush-Cheney approach to destroying labor).

    The building trade unions are among Sacramento’s most prolific donors and have given $90 million to state candidates.

    1. So what’s your solution? Mine is to add infill housing to match the population increase and make up for some of the deficit since 2003, and to build a lot of subsidized housing for those who can’t afford $2000 rent or $700K houses/condos. You keep saying denser housing won’t be affordabe, but then what do we do? Is it acceptable to just leave people cost-burdened on housing, having a lack of options, and unable to live in even the city they want to? I think not.

      The argument to just move until you qualify ignores the fact that there may not be the right job opportunities there, or you may already have a job and it’s not there, or the area may be completely unwalkable and have little or no transit. And it ignores the fact that costs are high over a much larger area than you suggest. I don’t think there’s an apartment anywhere in the state for less than $1000 now. The runaway price increases started with the large coastal cities, but since 2008 they’ve spread to inland cities, suburbs, and rural areas everywhere in the country. So there’s no place to escape to except depressed areas where people are leaving, and those are the same areas that don’t have jobs or all the jobs pay minimum wage, and no that’s not enough to live on there. Seattle’s prices started going into overdrive with the Amazon boom, when the final slack was squeezed out of the housing market, and that has gradually spread to the rest of the country as they underbuilt in housing too. So what’s the solution?

      1. Mike Orr, is your question targeted at me or Tom Terrific? I was only quoting TT, although TT is correct.

        Housing prices in the three county region are rising 15%|year. Do you really think new construction will slow that rate, let alone reverse it? How many times have I pointed out upzoning increases property values?

        There are a lot of complex reasons for the price explosion that actually began in 2015 after several years of price declines. Interest rates, aging millennials, investors, income inequality, population gains, etc.

        We have had the up-zoning argument so often I am exhausted. When your policies create affordable housing, let alone annual increases under 10%, let me know.

        As Tom said, it is cruel, but I don’t see any Seattle progressives willing to sell their house for less than market value.

        I bought in 2009. For five straight years my assessed value declined. In 2015 it finally returned to my purchase price. And then it exploded, even more during a pandemic. I have no idea why.

        Short answer, I don’t know why. And neither does anyone else on this blog. Or why the stock market is at historic highs. Those who bought are not complaining. Those who rent or don’t own think it is very unfair owners hit the lottery. I just don’t know the answer.

        I have suggested before that transit tax revenue — Move Seattle, Metro, St 2 and 3, HB 1304 — be diverted to subsidized housing, but transit advocates balk no matter how insane the expenditure (just the Issaquah to Rose Hill line would solve Seattle’s affordable housing problem, except the Seattle council is totally dysfunctional ). . So there you have it.

        If progressives were really serious they would look at rent control, which hurts city tax revenues, but our Democrat party is so infected by developers and the Master Builders Assoc. and Forterra and labor and city tax revenues (i.e. Seatac’s parking revenues vs. affordable housing) that will never happen. Whether it is unions or cities no one really wants affordable housing because the poor are expensive, unlike a heavily taxed airport parking lot.

        At least Bellevue is honest. In Seattle we have the most progressive council that has destroyed business while making housing unaffordable while displacing the poor and brown. Quite a trifecta.

      2. I was asking you.

        “There are a lot of complex reasons for the price explosion that actually began in 2015 after several years of price declines. Interest rates, aging millennials, investors, income inequality, population gains, etc.”

        The primary issue is supply and demand. Seattle’s population peaked in the early 1960s at 550K, then declined through the 70s. In the early 80s it started going up again but didn’t reach its previous peak until the early 2000s. So vacancy rates were high in 1989 when I got my first apartment, and both apartments and houses were cheap. Rent increases were modest until 2003, then started going up 5-7% per year — the same time the population reached 550K again. In 2008 they fell again, then started rising in 2012 faster than they’d ever done, over 10% a year. Why did they zigzag? People stopped buying in the recession, or they were underwater and couldn’t buy, and people moved away so rents fell. In Summit every other building had a “For Rent” sign, at least one per block. But when the Amazon boom brought an influx of newcomers, it squeezed all the slack out of the market and then prices started accelerating. Ever since 2008 sellers have been reluctant to sell so there are few homes on the market. Before 2008 the average time on market was six months; now it’s less than a month. That’s what’s jacking up the prices: that and the rising population increasing the number of buyers.

        Low interest rates and tycoons parking money are only secondary factors.

  9. In 2008 you couldn’t sell a house. I know. It took me until 2012 to sell our old house at a steep discount. Six years later it sold for twice what I sold it for. Ouch.

    None of the issues you identified will be cured by upzoning and new construction. Like TT stated, that is the cruel reality.

    Housing will be 10+% higher next year, and the year after that, and the year after that absent a depression, which ironically is when no one can qualify to buy (in 2009 I had to put 35% down for a down payment).

    This market is unique because rarely have we seen historically low interest rates with historically high savings and a stock market and strong job growth with aging Millennials. I think ironically the Link spine is extending this housing unaffordability, which was always one of its goals.

    If the council really cared for the poor they would adopt rent control. There is no other way to keep an expensive city affordable for citizens and workers who must rent.

    But upzoning has NOTHING to do with the poor or affordable housing, and upzoning advocates and progressive politicians bank on the fact the poor don’t understand that.

    Look, let me know when housing prices increase less than 9% in Seattle, 15% on the Eastside, and 17% in Pierce and Snohomish Counties. Those homeowners are not complaining, and look at the wealth increased housing prices has created, in many cases for middle class home owners.

    I don’t see housing prices decreasing — or even increasing less than 10%/year in Snohomish, Pierce, Kitsap, and outer King Counties — for the near future if a pandemic and shutdown didn’t cool housing prices.

    I have no solution. Homeowners don’t want a solution, and non-owners/renters do want a solution. TT is brutally right. Stop dreaming. Buy. Or move.

    1. But upzoning has NOTHING to do with the poor or affordable housing,

      Except: if you don’t upzone while the region is growing, you wind up with insanely overpriced housing. Everyone is trying to compete for the much smaller number of housing units that are located in convenient locations.

    2. “In 2008 you couldn’t sell a house. I know. It took me until 2012 to sell our old house at a steep discount.”

      You couldn’t maybe, but others found that sellers contracted more than buyers. The average time on market went down from six months to less than six weeks, and it has never gone back up again throughout the 2008h recession, Amazon boom and covid recession. That indicates a strengthening sellers’ market. During the 2008 recession, many people who previously would have sold didn’t because they were underwater, worried about their future job prospects, or couldn’t find a place to move to as good as the one they had for the same price. Also, although I don’t know how much it affected Pugetopolis, nationally Berkeshire Hathaway bought up a lot of distressed houses and turned them into inexpensive rentals, and there was also the rise of Airbnb. All these shrank the pool of available houses from where it had been before 2008.

      “If the council really cared for the poor they would adopt rent control.”

      Finally a solution. And I agree, we need rent control. But not the bad kind that some US cities tried that led to a privileged group of people with rent-controlled apartments who sub-leased them recursively, owners who couldn’t get enough rent for maintenance, and an ever-increasing percentage of people who couldn’t get a rent-controlled apartment because new buildings were exempt. Instead we need the good kind like Germany has.

      German states have rent control statewide, and it guarantees a reasonable annual profit. So builders couldn’t go outside city boundaries to escape it. or make new buildings exempt from it. That didn’t stop them from building , because they’d rather make some profit than no profit. Puget Power is still a private electricity provider even though its rates are regulated. The market is guaranteed: there are would-be renters. Rent control gives renters certainty they won’t be priced out in old age, and owners certainty that they’ll be able to recoup maintenance costs and generate a steady profit. They just won’t be able to make a killing by price-gouging.

      At the same time we also need more subsidized housing for those who can’t afford even controlled rents. In Vienna a third of the housing is subsidized.

      1. You are neglecting homeowners who found themselves underwater in 2008-2012 and were forced to sell and basically lose everything.

        So far the Democrats in Seattle and at the state level have not embraced rent control. Rent control has certain disadvantages too.

    3. Oops:

      Berkeshire Hathaway bought up a lot of distressed houses and turned them into inexpensive expensive rentals

      1. I am glad to see Congress is going to look into housing investment trusts as part of the housing problem. Residential housing gets a lot of tax advantages, and IMO investor trusts should not get the same tax breaks that are really designed to allow Americans to get a home on a mortgage that will require someone insuring the mortgage. Seattle limits the number of Airbnb rentals any one person or entity can own, and I think that idea is applicable to absentee landlords.

  10. I perused some Seattle city council campaign websites.

    Teresa Mosqueda is still pretty much unopposed for Position 8.

    There are several strongly progressive choices for Position 9, though enough variation among their platforms for voters to have a real choice.

    Two statements stuck out as hard truths only one candidate managed to say:

    “The healthiest cities are the most walkable – all essential services and bus routes should be within a 15-minute walk. As such, Single Family Zoning laws should be overturned to accommodate growth. Apartment development should include ground floor public options for clinics, groceries, and retail.”

    And this:

    “Congregate shelters are ineffective, but providing safe, permanent shelter for unhoused persons is both the only ethical option as well as the most practical and cost effective.”

    I’ll let those stand for your responses without saying the candidate’s name. It’s easy to find these statements if you decide to look for them, though.

    If you treat the homeless as a population to provide a church basement to sleep in at night and kicking them out onto the street during the day, you’ll end up with something resembling … Seattle. Nor can this kind of treatment be good for the mental health of those so sleep-deprived. Nor does it help people find jobs, since blue-collar work is shift work, not latte-shift work. (This is my commentary).

    I’ll beg that you argue about these statements rather than the candidate.

    1. If you treat the homeless as a population to provide a church basement to sleep in at night and kicking them out onto the street during the day, you’ll end up with something resembling … Seattle.

      Huh? I doubt that is a significant portion of the homeless population. The biggest group are those who are sleeping in their car, or bouncing from place to place. These include thousands of children who attend Seattle Public Schools.

      There are also people who sleep on the street. There are also people who institutionalized (jails are a common location for the homeless). Some are staying in shelters, but I know of very few who are “kicked out” during the day. If anything, it is the other way around. There are folks who hang out in public places during the day (to stay warm), but then go sleep on the streets at night. Very few do the opposite.

      In any event, that seems like a solid position to take with regards to the homeless situation, and consistent with everything I’ve read about the subject. My guess is that candidate has done their homework.

    2. I talked to homeless church basement resident once, and asked her, why the church makes them leave in the morning, and only allows them to come back in the evening? She said, the church wants them to be out, interacting in society.

    3. It’s worth naming names. I’m looking for suggestions on whom to support with my democracy vouchers, and I don’t trust the candidates’ marketing rhetoric because it may be misleading or have omissions, and I can’t keep track of which city councilmembers were particularly good. Who was it who had the first and second most consistent supportive views on transit, housing, and urbanism — Gonzalez, Mosqueda, Juarez, I can’t remember! Was Herbold good or bad? Which one advocated for 130th Station so persistently? I can keep track of Sawant because she’s unique and she’s my representative, and Durkan because she’s in a unique job, but the others become a blur.

      1. The district positions are not up this year (unless the Sawant recall petition somehow gets to the ballot).

        Just Mayor, City Attorney, and the at-large positions, 8 and 9.

        The Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission staff have a page showing who is running for what.

      2. Lisa Herbold tried to get 130th station open with the Lynwood Link opening date. That is her district. I cannot remember her transit accomplishments other than that.

      3. Jimmy James, you mean Debora Juarez.

        I may live on the eastside, but I know more about Seattle politics than anyone who lives in Seattle.

      4. @Sam
        You are correct. I meant Debora Juarez. Not sure why I made that mistake. But thank you for correcting me.

    4. “If you treat the homeless as a population to provide a church basement to sleep in at night and kicking them out onto the street during the day, you’ll end up with something resembling … Seattle. Nor can this kind of treatment be good for the mental health of those so sleep-deprived. Nor does it help people find jobs, since blue-collar work is shift work, not latte-shift work. (This is my commentary).”

      I don’t like these kinds of campaign slogans for complex issues, because in this case it fails to address the two critical questions (and highlights the problem with one party rule in which the primary selects the office holder when primary voters are usually much more to the left or right): how, and where.

      It also fails to identify two critical distinctions:

      1. The distinction between emergency and affordable housing;

      2. The distinction between those who think housing must precede treatment for the “homeless”, and those who believe some kind of treatment and embrace of treatment must precede subsidized housing, if for no other reason because there is not enough funding to simply give everyone a free house.

      Affordable housing for those without co-morbidities like age, disability, drug addiction, illiteracy, or mental illness, are not particularly difficult to house, especially if they work. Basically there are three categories:

      1. Those with 80% AMI. These folks are teachers and others whose AMI is just not enough to live in the areas they work. These are easy to house in affordable housing set asides because developers don’t object to including them with their wealthy tenants (in exchange for additional height or tax breaks of course). For example, even oneeighthundred might have a few very small 80% AMI “affordable” units. ARCH for example has created 4500 affordable units during its existence. The problem is many of these folks dream of a single family home, and the equity it creates, and so are willing to commute.

      2. Those with 50% AMI. These are more difficult to get developers to include as tenants in the affordable housing set asides in expensive new projects, but 50% and 30% AMI, if they are working and somewhat sober, do co-exist well in buildings. However they are some of the fiercest opponents of including 0% AMI (emergency) housing in their building, especially if they have children.

      3. 30% AMI. See no. 2 above.

      Emergency housing for the homeless, however, usually has zero AMI individuals, and the person on the street probably has zero residual earning capacity for life. This makes them very expensive to house (for all the progressives out there one emergency zero AMI person housed could have housed 2 to 3 30% AMI individuals or families).

      Covid 19 has significantly reduced the number of congregate shelters and that has exacerbated the situation, especially on the street, because right now the Seattle citizens have reached the breaking point of homeless camping in parks, on school grounds, and on playfields.

      https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/homeless/seattle-ballot-measure-homeless-housing-encampment/281-5cb4534f-7a6c-4ebc-8351-cca8e77b7a59 This is a summary of the bipartisan effort to address homelessness and camping by amending Seattle’s charter to prohibit camping and pass another levy, but predictably housing advocates have objected.

      Just yesterday Auburn adopted a similar ordinance banning camping, not unlike Mercer Island’s Ordinance 21-02 (except the howls at Auburn’s actions were muted). Every city has an ordinance banning camping in parks and on streets, although I am not sure anyone has ever been prosecuted by any city in 30 years. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/auburn-council-oks-tough-love-ordinance-for-homeless-who-repeatedly-refuse-help-offers/ar-BB1fPzu7

      King Co. tried an experiment with the recent 1/10th of one percent sales tax increase. It moved 220 untreated homeless individuals to a hotel in Renton, believing housing alone would cure the underlying issues. It did not, and now every poorer city is adopting ordinances to prohibit that plan because these cities know they are second class citizens seen as dumping grounds by Seattle and King Co.. It didn’t help that King Co. moved Seattle homeless individuals to Renton with no support or funding. As a result every eastside city (except Mercer Island which missed the deadline) opted out of the county tax and instead allocated those funds to their own housing programs.

      East King Co. does not believe there is enough money to subsidize everyone who wants a house or unit, and in many ways that is unfair to those who work and need subsidized housing. Instead King Co. believes you bifurcate zero AMI from 30% to 80% AMI (and treat them equally) and use the shelter migration to determine who wants treatment and a migration to affordable housing, and who will commit to treatment, even if 0% AMI. Eastside cities just don’t like the idea you give someone a free housing unit (certainly on the eastside) forever because they do heroin or won’t take medication, or wont’ try to work.

      For example, the Urbanist repeats a silly proposal to build 5000 “affordable” units (without identifying which class of recipient or the AMI) for $1.2 billion dollars. Just two problems: that works out to about half the cost of a public constructed affordable unit, and Seattle wants King Co. to pay for it.

      Which is the how. Money. I have suggested several time transit levy money be reallocated to subsidize housing, but don’t get a lot of support for that idea on this blog.

      Now the where. Right now, Seattle seems to be the location of choice for the homeless, even though Seattle’s anti-camping ordinance makes unauthorized camping a gross misdemeanor, with five times the jail time and civil penalties as most eastside ordinances. Seattle complains that is unfair, and other cities need to chip in, but other cities don’t mind the homeless living in Seattle, and think Seattle has created much of this mess themselves with silly policies.

      As long as Seattle is the home for the homeless the other cities will probably do little except fund King Co. We spend around $1 billion/year on homelessness, which the outgoing dir. of Seattle’s housing stated there is enough funding, but not enough cooperation.

      But there is no way eastside cities (or Auburn or Kent) are going to adopt Seattle’s policies because it they believe those policies have attracted the homeless to Seattle, which solves the where for these cities, which Seattle and King Co. hope to address in a now dead bill to force cities to accept shelters (too bad the legislature didn’t jump on Sen. Fortunato’s bill to require every city over 50,000 and every county to have at least one overnight shelter but made unauthorized camping in a park a misdemeanor (a la Martin v. Boise).

      Let’s see how honest this candidate for mayor is when the campaign starts and people start to ask how (money, which means taxes) and where (not Seattle except the ball is in Seattle’s court and Seattle’s council looks unable to address the issue).

      I know some on this blog will immediately claim class warfare although their policies have done very little to help the homeless or low AMI citizens, and the fact is Seattle is the place of choice (and don’t ever think any Seattle residential neighborhood is clamoring for a shelter or 0% AMI project) so Seattle needs to figure out a solution other cities agree with if it wants help for funding or housing..

      1. Thanks for outlining the different needs at different income levels. I don’t agree with all the conclusions but it’s right that different strategies are needed for people at 80%, 30% and 0% AMI, and also whether they have drug or mental health issues or not. So often the rhetoric and proposals get diverted to exclusively the 0% and 10%, and the 80% and 50% are ignored even though they’re cost-burdened too. Or they say this one building will provide workforce housing, ignoring the fact that there are many more times more cost-burdened workers than those one or two buildings can provide.

  11. I’ll look more into mayoral candidate for gems of pointing out hard truths, but just looking at the size of the field, the most obvious truth is that Seattle needs ranked choice voting, probably with a primary to winnow the finalists down to, say, the top four candidates from the primary election, like Alaskans voted to start doing last November.

    The mayoral race ought to be more like a job interview than a cage match.

  12. Regarding railcar on electric passenger rail car on rail car turntable: Some camera focus this noon might just prove my point if the equipment in my shots don’t.

    But since my first view of multimodal was through the wind-shield of Transit Future was through its true-est future, whatever their performance personified, “flawed” can carry a lot of people before they get out get work getting worked out of the whole system.

    Though evaluators’ bosses themselves might value some suite before they click their seat-belt shut aboard their latest creation. But as for “Ranked Choice Voting” I’d really prefer a set of candidate whose whole array I could bear to sit beside at at close range.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Mr Dublin is back! I was hoping you were all right.

      Ranked-choice voting allows you to tell the candidates how good their array compares to the others. The single vote you get now leaves it unclear whether you think the candidate is perfect, OK, or the least bad of an awful bunch. But if three people have similar arrays and get adjacent numbers, it suggests how the public might feel about the common factors between them.

    1. 8 towers between 10 and 26 stories in phased construction if my vision is correct. Can’t read the parking requirements. Bellevue must be estimating huge population and job gains in the future. Future Estimates for population growth in King Co. are flat so wonder where all the new residents will come from. They won’t be poor based on the cost of housing.

    1. Ah yes, I remember when this was implemented on the Market St Subway. It was a little different than here, with one letter for the Northern and one for the Southern. This setup works well enough though, and it could easily be expanded on when Westlake gets more entrances.

    2. And changing the line names to numbers. “our Link Blue Line would have connected with the Swift Blue Line at Shoreline North/185thStation, and our Link Red Line would have connected with the Swift Red Line at Everett Station”.

      Calling it “The 1 Line” or “1 Line” on signs seems strange. I would have chosen “Line 1”. I wonder if we can unofficially call it “L1”, since that letter is not otherwise used.

      Good for getting rid of the exit numbers! Exit letters are more tolerable, even if they sometimes have a secondary number.

      “How will Sound Transit avoid rider confusion with King CountyMetro routes 1, 2 and 3?”

      Well, Metro could retire numbers 1-4, since all those routes will be restructured anyway.

      “Using T for Tacoma Link helps differentiate its local light rail service from the regional light rail service provided by the lines.”

      A polite way of saying the T is a streetcar and should never have had the same branding as big boy Link.

      1. “Calling it “The 1 Line” or “1 Line” on signs seems strange.”

        I agree.

        Frankly, I’ve avoided a lot of these discussions over naming and color conventions over the past couple of years. I was completely fine with the red and blue line scheme. Hell, I’ve ridden the red lines in Chicago and Boston countless times over my lifetime and never once did I associate the naming convention with the deplorable, historical zoning practices using the same nomenclature. But, whatever….that ship has sailed at this point.

        The exit signage here looks fine to me as well. There’s no need for ST to spend any more time and money on this aspect if it gets the job done as expected. Just move on.

      2. T is a streetcar and should never have had the same branding as big boy Link, and we should make that very clear in our signage, polite or otherwise. Equating T-Link to real Link is dishonest and will be immensely confusing for anyone not already familiar with the system, so it should be communicated accordingly.

      3. NCY has numbered lines and seems to do just fine. The hipsters in Brooklyn seem to manage fine referring to the “7” to get to the big city.

      4. Um, AJ, the 7 train doesn’t serve Brooklyn. It runs through Queens.

        This was “my” train growing up there. I still remember the “Redbirds” (which were blue and white to begin with) fondly, graffiti and all.


        Your larger point is still valid of course.

  13. “I went back to Old Bellevue, and my city was gone.” I went back yesterday to see what’s there now. I took the 271 to 92nd and walked down Lake Washington Blvd to the west end of Main Street, along Main to (almost) 112th, through Meydenbauer Park, and down 102nd to see if my apartment in high school was still there. I ended at Bellevue Way & Main and took the 550 back to Seattle.

    The northern part of Lk WA Blvd has old-sized houses while the southern part has much larger ones. The large houses look like Grand Dukes’ palaces. One has a four-car garage. I waved to Sam at his palace window. (just kidding.) A few pedestrians were out, including two apparently high-school girls with their mother. The houses are within walking distance of Old Bellevue; I wonder if that was a marketing draw, and how many of the residents walk to the shops.

    Meydenbauer Park in the 80s was a lawn in a narrow canyon with trees on the hillsides, and a tiny beach at the shore. It was a green forested area that felt so far away from everything, with the only sign of civilization the viaduct above. Now the lawn is gone, replaced by a wide concrete trail that turns in an L-shape along the shore. Only the trees along the hillsides remain; the bottom looks more like Lake Union Park than the woodsy retreat it was. This was Bellevue’s biggest mistake I think: losing the gem of Meydenbauer Park and turning it into a kind of manmade theme park. On the other hand, it allows new kinds of recreation for more people, so I guess that’s something. I didn’t see where the trail goes north of Lk Wash Blvd. I assume that will eventually be the trail to the transit center.

    Around 100th the houses give way to apartments. I looked for my dad’s apartment (on reflection it might have been his girlfriend’s apartment). I only vaguely remember its shape, one story I think. There was one two-story apartment that might have been it, although probably it was torn down for one of these 3-5 story buildings. It looks like the remaining apartments from the 80s are three stories, and the newer ones five or six.

    Then I got to Old Bellevue proper, and it’s really transformed. The north side of Main Street has a red brick sidewalk and brick buildings with sidewalk cafes and no setbacks — like Ballard. Congratulations, Bellevue, this is wonderful. See, developers, you can make new buildings like this if you try. Why don’t you make all buildings like this? I assume the walls are fake brick — what is that fake brick material developers are using using now? — but it looks a lot better than other modern styles.

    I went down 102nd to find my old apartment, a townhouse somewhere between SW 3rd and 6th. I saw three two-story buildings among the taller ones, but none of them had everything I remember: pairs of two-story apartments, surface parking in front, no balconies, tan colored. One building had a nice manager who explained it had been built in 1968 and that they’d removed a swimming pool. I don’t remember a pool but there might have been. But when I said my apartment was two-story, he said none of his apartments were two-story, so it couldn’t have been that building. He said other old-timers had come over the years to see their old apartments.

    The rest of 102nd has a mixture of larger new buildings and larger old buildings. Some of the older ones have been converted to condos. Confusingly, several of the new buildings have Meydenbauer in their name. The neighborhood wasn’t known as Meydenbauer when I lived there; it was just the apartments around Bellevue Way.

    There’s also a park on 102nd. I don’t remember a park there, or if there was it was nothing. Is that Wildwood Park? I can’t remember if Wildwood Park was on 102nd or Bellevue Way. In any case, what’s there now is longish park with lawns and concrete paths in the southern half, and a wood with dirt trails in the northern half. A nice place for a daily walk, although it’s not large enough to avoid boredom after a couple weeks.

    East of Bellevue Way is a mixture of large new apartment buildings, old remnants, and a block-wide vacant lot. On the south side of Main Street there’s a huge apartment complex called Main something. When I was in high school there was just a forgotten cul-de-sac between the Jack-in-the-Box and the school with unmemorable has-been buildings from the 1960s wave. Main Street goes uphill here, but less steeply than I’d estimated during my East Link planning walk. It would not hinder able-bodied pedestrians. Certainly not the high schools who walk to Medina or Surrey Downs.

    The apartments continue east to 108th, making a multifamily are from 100th to 108th. East of 108th the hill turns down more steeply, and there’s little sign of urbanism. Between 110th and 112th a “Sidewalk Closed” sign blocked my path, and I just looked down from the edge of the fenced-off station park to the station under construction.

    It took 11 minutes to walk from Bellevue Way to that fence, so probably 15 minutes to the future train platform. That’s not bad if you live east of Bellevue Way, and as I said the hill is flatter than I’d estimated. So I can see able-bodied people walking to the station, and only mildly annoyed at the hill. For people west of Bellevue Way it would be a 15+ minute walk, maybe up to 25-30 from my apartment on 102nd. Not something you’d necessarily want to do every day for months on end, but fine for a few times a week.

    And a frequent bus on Main Street would help a lot. I don’t have much faith on this because Bellevue has done so little so far. I don’t think there’s any frequent transit on weekends except the 550 and B, and no sign of a Bellevue TBD to fund more service, so will it really follow through on it after Link opens?

    Now that I’ve seen how Main Street has developed, especially west of Bellevue Way where I haven’t been since 1985, I’d say that if I were to live in the Eastside now, Main Street or the blocks around it is where I’d want to be. It feels more pleasant than downtown Bellevue or the Spring District or Crossroads or downtown Redmond; it feels more like Ballard. And they’ve hidden the parking garages really well; I didn’t notice any of them. Of course I’m just talking about the physical layout of the sidewalks and buildings; not necessarily what’s in the storefronts or the high rents. I wouldn’t be spending time in Sotheby’s or the large furniture store. I might go to the ethnic restaurants, including Mammon’s which I’d heard of and wanted to go to sometime but didn’t know where it was. If I lived in the neighborhood, East Main Station would be my station. It would be a nice little walk if I lived east of Bellevue Way, or a somewhat more cumbersome walk if I lived west of it.

    1. Yes, that small park between 102nd and 101st Aves SE is Wildwood Park. IIRC, I think it’s included on a few of these suggested lake-to-lake “trail” hikes (between Lake Sammamish and Lake Washington) that include traversing through multiple City of Bellevue Parks.

      “This was Bellevue’s biggest mistake I think: losing the gem of Meydenbauer Park and turning it into a kind of manmade theme park.”

      Oh man, I so agree with that sentiment. I think what they did with this park is a travesty. I think most of it is really an eyesore now; it’s lost most of its natural beauty and now looks like a manicured landscape one finds at a golf course or theme park. I felt the same way with what Bellevue Parks did with Surrey Downs. It too was heavily cleared of the existing vegetation, including the storied hazelnut trees, and now looks like nothing more than a large children’s playground. The end result was far from what I envisioned from looking at the planning documents (the hill, the woodland and the aforementioned saved hazelnut trees all scrapped in the final product). My interest in this particular project stemmed from having gotten married at the district court that once resided on the site.

      In case you’re interested, here’s a link to the Master Plan for Maydenbauer Bay Park, which includes some “before” photos as well as a discussion of the neighboring “redevelopment” plan.


      1. I like the new Meydenbauer Bay Park. It’s an urban park and should be oriented towards open space and active uses. If you want quiet woodlands, head to Coal Creek, Weowna, or the Issaquah alps. My hot take is the 3 big state parks on the eastside – St Edwards, Bridal Trails, and Lake Sammamish – should be transferred to the King County park system and evolve into something closer to Marymoor so they can serve more people and more diverse uses.

        Also, if you look at the Master Plan, I’m going to go out on a limb (pun intended) and suggest that most of your treasured vegetation that was removed were invasive species (check out slide 29). Good landscape architecture doesn’t look good immediately but is designed to grow in over time. I would imagine that you will like Meydenbauer Bay Park much more in a few years once the natural vegetation has had time to fill out.

      2. “I would imagine that you will like Meydenbauer Bay Park much more in a few years…”

        Well, you would be wrong with that speculation. There’s far too much “hard space” for the size of the park for my liking. I also don’t buy the whole “urban park” argument. For example, look at the various parks that dot the shore of Lake Washington on the Seattle side, e.g., Madison Park, Denny Blaine, Madrona, etc.. They function perfectly fine in their urban environment without a plethora of additional hard spaces and vegetation clearings.

        Speaking of which, the whole invasive species argument is also a dubious one when used to justify reducing areas covered by vegetation, which it frequently is, on a number of grounds. First off, most, if not all, of our local parks and green spaces have some amount of invasive species. Some are full of such plants. I guarantee you that the removal of such species here, even with the best of intentions in mind, will only be temporary in nature. It’s a balancing act really, i.e., how much parks department budget is going to be spent on maintenance going forward for keeping invasive species at bay. This is something that all of our parks departments struggle with. I still remember years ago when the north end of the Arboretum up near the point (the wetland area just north Foster Island Road) was “cleared” of invasive species through a joint project with the DOE, the UW and the city. Less than five years later, it had all returned. The list of class B and class C (DOE Listings) and non-regulated noxious weeds (King County Listings) is quite long. Some of the invasive species are actually cultivated by property owners, such as English Ivy, English Laurel and Butterfly Bushes. While various invasive species control programs at the state, county and local levels seek to ultimately eradicate these species as their goal, they all acknowledge that control of their growth when populations are sighted is the more realistic outcome to shoot for.

        Secondly, removing invasive species, regardless of its well intentions, has other consequences. Soil stability, particularly on slopes, loss of habitat for fauna, with its ensuing food chain ripple, and hydrological implications all need to be considered. It’s pretty easy to document these matters during the SEPA/DNS process but often there is little attention paid to the outcome once the project is completed.

        Finally, the former park was essentially razed back in 2017, meaning that native species and mature trees were wiped out as well. To each their own of course, but I agree with Mike in that I preferred the before version.

    2. Excellent comment, Mike. I enjoyed reading it. I, also, miss the old Meydenbauer Park. It always felt like a hidden gem. But, maybe that was part of the problem. I do think the city got it right with Bellevue Downtown Park, however. About buses on Main, remember, before a year ago, Main st. used to have two bus routes, but those routes are now suspended. Going north on 108th, the 246 turned left on Main, and the 249 turned right. Granted, neither were frequent. I imagine when East Link opens, there will be something frequent to take the 550’s place, running a shortened frequent route between the Bellevue Station and South Bellevue Station. That will be a good way for people in living in Old Bellevue to get to a Link station. But, yeah, once you start living or working east of Bellevue Way on Main, with each passing block, the East Main Station becomes the better choice.

      Before it was Bellevue Downtown Park. Photo is from the early 1980’s. The photo is looking east. The street in the foreground is 100th. The park used to house various school district buildings and a long history of different schools, including Bellevue Jr. High and Eastside Catholic. In 1983, Bellevue bought the land from the Bellevue School District to build the park.


      1. “I would imagine that you will like Meydenbauer Bay Park much more in a few years…”

        Well, you would be wrong with that speculation. There’s far too much “hard space” for the size of the park for my liking. I also don’t buy the whole “urban park” argument.”

        I agree. I stare directly across the lake at the park and am disappointed, especially after the downtown park turned out well. As one person put it, it is what happens when urban planners think they can design a park better than God.

        I have been fighting this issue on Mercer Island for years, with a park dept. in love with concrete because it is cheap to maintain, and “recreation”. Every special interest has to have their part of a park. Finally we got the city and new parks commission to adopt a “no new net impervious surfaces” policy. Now if we can just find the money to pull out all the overgrown tennis courts.

        Much of this comes from King Co., and we had to fight King Co. tooth and nail over the Aubrey Davis Park Master Plan. What King Co.’s consultant did not understand is the thinking on “urban parks” has completely changed.

        In the past the approach was how many recreational activities per population, such as how many basketball courts or tennis courts or whatever per 1000 citizens. The new thinking recognizes that as the population density increases the need for quiet green and open space increases, because that is what you cannot get in a dense urban scene, and miss.

        King Co.’s consultant exaggerated the user population for the Lid Park and Aubrey Davis Park corridor to include the entire region, and then came up with a plan that basically sought to develop all green spaces, and turn a beautiful park into an amusement park. Our 20 year parks levy comes up for renewal next year, and finally our new city manager understood what I had been telling her: if you adopt a master plan the citizens don’t like — and Islanders are crazy about parks — they will cut off the money to implement the plan, and then not only don’t you have a master plan you don’t have a parks dept. We like our parks wooly and unkempt anyway.

        The other issue we are fighting is the use of the ADA to pour more concrete into parks, even though access is not improved for the disabled at all. I have litigated under the ADA in the past, and am involved in the new accessible playground, but simply pouring a wide concrete path and removing mature trees is not the purpose of the ADA, or what disabled individuals want.

      2. @Daniel T
        Thanks for sharing your experience dealing with MI’s Parks Dept., etc. That was interesting to read. Btw, I assume you are located on the north end of the island. I didn’t realize that one could see over to Meydenbauer Bay from there but I haven’t been over to Luther Burbank Park (or that general area) in over a decade and thus probably not remembering the orientation correctly.

    3. “no sign of a Bellevue TBD to fund more service, so will it really follow through on it after Link opens” – for the city, it’s all wrapped up in their Grand Connections plan and a frequent shuttle between Old Main and Wilburton, passing through Bellevue TC. Not sure how they are planning on funding it

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