Link Light Rail Train heading to the SODO Station Credit: Lizz Giordano

We are excited to share our endorsements for the 2021 general election! 

Our picks are based on hearing from candidates at our June forums (Seattle City Council Position 9 & Mayor of Seattle), in questionnaires sent in May (City, County and Port), and keeping in mind track records and our prior meetings with candidates during our constant advocacy work. We endorsed the following candidates who will appear on your November 2nd ballot. Don’t forget to mail your ballot or drop your ballot in a dropbox before 8:00pm on Tuesday, November 2. 

Summary of General Election Endorsements:

Seattle Mayor:  M. Lorena Gonzȧlez 

Seattle City Council, Citywide, Position 8:  Teresa Mosqueda

Seattle City Council, Citywide, Position 9:  Nikkita Oliver 

King County Executive: Dow Constantine 

Port of Seattle Commission, Position 1: Ryan Calkins

Port of Seattle Commission, Position 3: Hamdi Mohamed

Port of Seattle Commission, Position 4: Toshiko Grace Hasegawa

Seattle Mayor:  M. Lorena Gonzȧlez 

Current Seattle City Council President M. Lorena Gonzȧlez understands the power of land use and transportation in shaping Seattleites’ everyday lives and access to opportunities. In our June mayoral candidate forum, she identified a lack of density as one of our city’s greatest challenges to more rapid and reliable transportation, noting that density in small pockets alone is not enough to meet peoples’ needs and encourage them to use transit. This holistic approach continues with her dedication to multi-modal planning, including a focus on last-mile solutions. As she discussed in our forum, Gonzȧlez understands that a system is only as strong as its weakest links, and for that reason we need to ensure that transit improvements prioritize the needs  and concerns of BIPOC residents. She sang music to our ears by voicing support for  our House Bill 1304 in Olympia earlier this year, and with her simple answer to our candidate questionnaire question regarding how to address transit revenue shortfalls induced by Covid-19: “New. Progressive. Revenue.” Gonzȧlez comes to this race with the endorsements of five of her sitting councilmember colleagues and we look forward her mayoral administration in which council and the mayor are prepared to work together to plan for the reliable, renewable, rapid transit that our city needs and deserves. Vote Gonzȧlez

Though we endorsed Bruce Harrell when he ran for council in 2015, we can’t endorse him in 2021 for a very simple reason: He opposes putting an end to exclusionary zoning. Seattle Subway’s work is at the nexus of transportation and land use. They are two parts of a whole creating a livable, equitable, sustainable future. The concept of requiring a single, million-dollar home on most residential lots no longer makes any sense to us given our city’s housing crisis. We believe it is time to eliminate traditional single family zoning across the vast majority of the residential land in the city. We hope the next mayor will go even further than the Neighborhoods for All report recommendations. Bruce Harrell disagrees with us on this and we can’t endorse him this year because of that. 

Seattle City Council, Citywide, Position 8:  Teresa Mosqueda

Teresa Mosqueda is one of the loudest advocates of any candidate in this election cycle pushing to give the City of Seattle more equitable access to faster transit. She has supported us in our efforts to get state authority to fund citywide exclusive right-of-way rail to connect most Seattle neighborhoods with Link, and she has supported our efforts to budget for the creation of a City-level masterplan for light rail corridors. Earlier this month, on opening day of the Northgate Link Extension, she told the crowd, “We need to build a Seattle Subway!” Mosqueda had many accomplishments during this current term. But there is one vote that we didn’t win that we want to mention here: we can’t thank Mosqueda enough for her vote in support of maximizing revenues in the Seattle Transportation Benefit District renewal, which voters passed with over 80% voting yes. If we and Mosqueda had successfully increased the funding in the STBD renewal, we wouldn’t have had as many cuts to transit service. We always look forward to agreeing with Teresa Mosqueda on the next transportation and land use issue to come up, and our only wish is for more Teresa Mosquedas on the Seattle City Council. Vote Mosqueda.

Councilmember Mosqueda at our booth on opening day of the Northgate Light Extension. 

Seattle City Council, Citywide, Position 9:  Nikkita Oliver

Nikkita Oliver said climate is an issue that impacts every aspect of civic life, from transportation, to housing, to labor, to accessibility, which makes the relative lack of action unacceptable. They recognize that Seattle voters are hungry to push the pace with respect to transit. Oliver also understands the strong connection between land use and housing affordability, contrasting themself to their opponent in clear terms that they support the end of exclusionary zoning. At a recent candidate forum, both candidates were asked the question: “You’ve both said you want to end single-family zoning in some form. What’s your vision for housing and how soon would you bring this forward?” Oliver’s response: ‘The real question here is, are we going to end exclusionary zoning’ … “this is really an intersectional issue that has a lot of moving parts” … we need to look at the ability to build deeply affordable housing. This means we can have density throughout the city and to push back against gentrification.” Oliver has also expressed their support for HB 1304, one of this Seattle Subway’s primary political goals, stating that they want to continue to pursue HB 1304 and similar legislation for transit. While they waffled in an earlier forum out of concern for regional connections, in our questionnaire they said “yes” that they will ensure Seattle’s plan to connect every neighborhood with Sound Transit-operated light rail is written by the end of 2022; and “yes” in their capacity as a city council member they will work with Sound Transit to ensure ST3 is built with future expansion in mind. ST4 here we come! Vote Oliver.

King County Executive: Dow Constantine

Running for King County Executive are two of the strongest public transit champions in the state. In fact, they call for many of the same priorities for expansion, program acceleration, and equitable transit-oriented development. That said, the US city with the most aggressive rail expansion program in the country is our city—Seattle. Within 2 decades, Seattle will have a metropolitan rail network the size of Washington, DC’s (which is the nation’s 3rd largest, in a metro area nearly double our size), and that is largely because of the aggressiveness and effectiveness of Dow Constantine. Dow, as Sound Transit board chair, embraced our vision to “Go Big” earlier than most and then led the effort across the finish line. Then, in 2021 when ST leadership sought to reset the goal lines and use COVID as an excuse, Dow had none of it and joined Claudia Balducci on an alternative proposal that demands approaches to expedite delivery. There is no avenue to unseat Dow with respect to transit and land use; he has the right policies and the proven experience. We do hope Joe runs again in the future and continues his energy and phenomenal work in the state legislature.

While we are excited about ST3, in this climate emergency it is important to note that ST3 is not enough; serving just 43% of Seattle’s urban villages is not enough. Seattle voters, we know, are ready to support such efforts with overwhelming majorities. We and future generations need Dow to show his proven, assertive and effective leadership once again to connect more of our City, meaning we need to find a path to another ballot measure on rail expansion before Dow’s next term is up. We cannot settle for a partially connected City. We believe Dow has the vision and skills to see that through. Vote Constantine.

Port of Seattle Commission, Position 1: Ryan Calkins  

Ryan Calkins has been a strong supporter of multimodal access to Port properties since he joined the commission. He remains an advocate for lowering driving to both the airport and the Port’s maritime operations, including most recently voting to pause efforts to expand the airport arrivals drive, in favor of finding more sustainable, less car-centric approaches. He is the only smart choice for this position. Vote Calkins

Port of Seattle Commission, Position 3: Hamdi Mohamed

What’s there not to like about Hamdi Mohamed? She aligns with our values, she’s got passion, and wow has she got vision! Not only does she have a plan for Seattle and the Puget Sound region, she realizes the airport’s capacity and climate challenges cannot be solved by just airplanes alone and therefore advocates for statewide high speed rail connections.These are all of the traits we need in a policy maker that understands the kinds of transportation challenges that we face.

We unfortunately did not receive a response to our questionnaire for the incumbent, Stephanie Bowman. Her website does mention her goal of economic progress that’s “accessible” to all. However, the choice is clear: there’s an “it factor” that Hamdi brings to the table that cannot be understated, nor underestimated. Vote Mohamed.

Port of Seattle Commission, Position 4: Toshiko Grace Hasegawa

The incumbent, Peter Steinbrueck, has been on the Port Commission since 2018. Over 15% of Link’s stations are in areas where the Port is a primary interest (SODO and the Airport). How people connect to these stations matter for sustainability and ridership. While Steinbrueck has opposed bike lanes in these key areas, Hasegawa calls for the Port to support the Seattle Bike Master Plan and more connectivity. 

Where the port has made modest efforts for sustainability’s sake, Hasegawa takes a more aggressive stance much more in line with what’s needed to avert our dire climate predictions. She calls for a more aggressive effort to electrify the Port, to connect our cities with high speed rail, and to support the City’s efforts at non-car connectivity.

This election is a choice between modest sustainability efforts and a more visionary, inclusive approach. It’s for this reason that Seattle Subway joins both progressive and mainstream leaders in endorsing Toshiko. Vote Hasegawa.

That’s it for the November 2021 General Election. Don’t forget to mail your ballot before November 2nd or drop your ballot in a dropbox before 8:00pm on November 2nd, plan ahead to avoid lines. King County Elections recommends dropping your ballot in the mail by the Friday before Election Day (October 29th) to make sure it gets postmarked in time to be counted, your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day.

139 Replies to “Seattle Subway 2021 General Election Endorsements”

  1. I agree with almost all of your choices, but am voting against Dow for the same reason you are voting for him: transit. It isn’t enough to spend a huge amount of money on transit, you have to spend it wisely. From pushing for West Seattle rail, to rejecting a First Hill station with a new transit tunnel, Dow has shown a complete lack of transit understanding. His interests are either parochial (he lives in West Seattle) or political (pleasing his fellow pols). Horse trading is common, but he has shown no leadership on the issue. It shouldn’t be too hard to convince everyone in the suburbs (and cities like Everett and Tacoma) that a very strong urban transit system is in their best interest, even if their constituents initially stay on the bus a bit longer. There has been none of that, as he prefers doling out Link stations like they are candy, ignoring the obvious transit network weaknesses as a result.

    We will end up with a very big, very expensive, but ultimately very ineffective transit system, and Dow deserves much of the blame.

      1. I’d rather take a chance than maintain the status quo. Dow represents the tired neoliberal polity; Joe Nguyen seems to have new ideas. I’d rather give Joe a chance than stick with Dow at this point.

      2. “I’d rather take a chance than maintain the status quo.” I know I’m invoking the 21st-century version of Godwin’s Law here, but that’s the sort of thinking that gave us Donald Trump.

      3. Nguyen is left of Emperor Dow. He has no chance of winning. This whole election I haven’t found anything that’s worth the climate change hit of dropping off my ballot. Yeah, I could mail it in but unless there’s a compelling reason to vote for a Bellevue City Council member I’ll just save the planet and not vote. It’s a very different deal in Seattle. I work there now so I care but don’t have a vote. What happens between now and East Link opening will determine if/when I retire and/or move out of State.

    1. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

      Ideally, voters would be well-informed about how efficient transit works and vote for the system that gets the best value in terms of riders per taxpayer dollar. In reality, most voters know next to nothing about transit, so the system that gets riders most efficiently might fail at the ballot box, while a system that’s less efficient, but makes voters who don’t think too deeply more excited passes.

      I think the problem is more a matter of electoral realities of trying to please too large of an electorate than one of Dow, specifically.

      1. Do you really think that West Seattle rail was chosen because of its inherit popularity with the voters? Come on. Chances are, they could have come up with anything, and it would pass (in a major election year). Either way they could focus on traffic for the suburbs (implying that Lynnwood Link wouldn’t be possible with ST3) while assuming that urban voters would vote for anything with the word “transit” in it. Realistically, it probably didn’t matter what they proposed.

        If anything, hiring a consulting firm to came up with a recommendation, instead of just throwing darts at the wall would get more votes. Folks like me would enthusiastically endorse it (as we did ST2), and even old school Republicans would acknowledge that it was done right. Whatever tiny part of the electorate that actually looks at the merits would lean towards passing it, instead of the opposite.

        No, Dow’s decisions had nothing to do with the odds of a proposal passing. If anything, it made things worse.

      2. Yeah, west Seattle is a fairer criticism of Dow and Tacoma or Everett. I’ll give you that. Still, is there any evidence that his opponent would be any better?

        Also, on the more mundane issue of bus service allocation, I would prefer someone focused on maximizing systemwide ridership, rather than shifting service away from neighborhoods simply because they aren’t BIPOC enough. I don’t know where either of the two candidates stand on that, but I can say, the Northgate restructure was a big disappointment.

      3. Do you really think that West Seattle rail was chosen because of its inherit popularity with the voters?

        We voted for high-capacity transit to West Seattle at least three times before the project shut down because the funding sources were too small for the task. I’m sure ST3 would have gotten fewer votes in West Seattle, and probably the rest of the City, if West Seattle was not in the project list. I doubt very many people voted against ST3 because of West Seattle’s inclusion. RossB has listed plenty of other reasons that had more to do with his vote against ST3 — reasons which he and most of the rest of the commentariat here are firmly in disagreement.

        I can’t say whether getting a majority of votes was the reason for West Seattle’s inclusion in ST3, but the fact of it being a peninsula with limited points of access to downtown is a pretty solid reason for it to have a light rail connection to downtown.

      4. the fact of it being a peninsula with limited points of access to downtown is a pretty solid reason for it to have a light rail connection to downtown.

        No it’s not! The fact that it is a low density peninsula, with a freeway connecting it to downtown, and literally no new stations being proposed between it and SoDo should make that obvious. Unless you live in a tiny portion of West Seattle, your trip will actually get worse! Think about the typical West Seattle resident, who lives off of Delridge or in High Point. (Yes, I realize you don’t think of those people as “typical”, but look at the census maps. Power ≠ People). Now consider a typical trip, taken in the middle of the day. (Again, most transit trips occur in the middle of the day). Instead of taking an express bus to downtown, where they connect to the vast majority of transit routes, and the very frequent Link combo line, they are forced to transfer at the Junction. How in the world is it better that they are forced into three-seat rides, and lengthy waits, along with lengthy escalator rides. Holy Cow, Metro is so freaked out about three-seat rides that they are wasting oodles of service hours on one-off routes, and you think West Seattle riders will be thrilled with it. Just think — after spending billions of dollars, a rider from High Point can get to most of Seattle by spending an extra ten minutes waiting — won’t that be grand.

        Sorry, no. West Seattle cut in line when it comes to service, and the irony is, they are getting crap. Extremely expensive crap. The only people it will benefit are those who live close to the stations. Even the wealthy folks in West Seattle, who imagine a world where they can enjoy million-dollar sunsets at night, and a nice commute in the morning will soon regret their bus/train ride, because, after all, there is no place the bus didn’t go than the train will.

        Did West Seattle vote for this, because it contained the word “light rail”? Of course. Could a leader with even a tiny amount of leadership and understanding of transit convince them there were better options? Of course. I mean, damn, just how stupid do you think West Seattle voters are?

      5. In reality, most voters know next to nothing about transit, so the system that gets riders most efficiently might fail at the ballot box[probably would if it had realistic cost extimates], while a system that’s less efficient, but makes voters who don’t think too deeply more excited passes.

        Exactly! Seattle voters will vote YES because that’s what you do(Good, Bad or Ugly). The swing vote is all based on crap like “people will ride transit so my freeway commute will be congestion free.”
        Bottom line, all the ST votes are a tax pot of gold for board members to use to get re-elected. They don’t even care if the projects get built!

    2. I am more bothered by Constantine’s lack of visibility during the last realignment and bus restructuring. During realignment at ST, it was Kent King who presented the compromise, for example — and Durkan was much more vocal in ST Board discussions. I never saw him give any direction to the Rogoff situation either. It gave me the vibe that Constantine plays his power games in back rooms unless he doesn’t care.

      1. The backroom is the place to hash out personnel discussions. No employee, including the CEO, deserves to have their job performance debated in public, at least by the employer.

        Well, okay, some may deserve it, but the employer isn’t supposed to treat any employees that way.

      2. Yes. When Kent Keel took over, suddenly there were sensible solutions, and problems were solved. Kinda like when Lenny Wilkens took over for Bob Hopkins. Of course ST doesn’t have the equivalent of Dennis Johnson, Fred Brown, Sikma , JJ …

        My problem with Dow is that he is a lot like Bob Hopkins. Oh, he is a good guy. He is clearly competent. But he isn’t outstanding, in any respect. There are a lot of people, walking around the city, who could do a better job, if they wanted to. They don’t, because fame sucks. It takes a certain kind of personality to welcome it. Mr. Keel apparently has both the desire (or tolerance) of fame, and the ability to do an excellent job. I honestly don’t know if Nguyen is capable of doing an excellent job, but based on everything I’ve read, I think he will at least be competent. I’m willing to roll the dice, as I really haven’t seen anything — in any respect — that makes me think that Dow is capable of greatness. I would overlook his weakness on transit if there was someone else he did that was exceptional, but I keep coming back to the fact that is merely … competent (just like Nguyen).

      3. Brent, my reference to backroom has lots more to do with outside influence wielding of stakeholders as opposed to personnel matters. Personnel matters should he discussed behind closed doors — but that’s a different protocol than a backroom with individual lobbyists (or should I say “stakeholders”).

    3. Is Dow really responsible for cutting First Hill? From the reports ST has published in the 90’s and that I’ve read, the conditions of such a station were not feasible without a huge pile of cash that Sound Transit didn’t have. And voter-approved ST3 included a West Seattle rail connection, an idea which has been on the table for decades from Forward Thrust to the Monorail, and on ST’s radar for some time well before Dow was involved in politics. So again, is that Dow’s doing specifically?

      1. I meant a First Hill station with the new tunnel (not the one serving Capitol Hill). Sorry I wasn’t more clear.

        Having a station in First Hill with the second downtown tunnel would mean maximizing coverage downtown. This is standard procedure. What we are doing is building a second downtown tunnel with each stop very close to an existing one. You end up spending a bunch of money, without adding value. This is unusual — I don’t know of any other city that did this. Either they share space in the first tunnel, or the new stop is a ways away from the first one (far enough away to justify a transfer).

      2. Forward Thrust did not have rail to West Seattle. It had what would now probably be called BRT radiating from a station at — wait for it — the busway and Lander…..

      3. And neither did the JRPC Regional Transit System Plan from 1992 that ultimately led to the creation of the RTA we now call Sound Transit.

        Sadly, the comments sometimes found on this blog reflect a fair amount of revisionism.

      4. The First Hill negligence seemed to have a tacit agreement over the past 10 years that it’s not important to serve. The tacit negligence seems to go back to 2013 when the first DSTT2 study started — and continued through the 2016 ballot language and the 2018 WSBLE screening decisions.

        I seem to remember that some ST Board members were willing to make First Hill connectivity deserving further study in 2018. Who were they? I don’t remember and can’t quickly find the answer in archives. I seem to remember that Durkan wanted to look into it.

      5. Ross, there are subway lines on Seventh, Broadway, Sixth, and Lexington south of 50th in Manhattan. I grant that one east-west blocks in Manhattan is longer than the distance between Third and Fifth Avenues in Seattle, but there are no elevation differences in downtown Manhattan between the parallel Avenues. There are in downtown Seattle.

        Second, as has often been said, WSDOT was reportedly not happy having I-5 underrun twice more.

        Third, a station on First Hill connected to IDS to the south would have been too deep for escalator access, a situation you have rightly criticized as inadequate for a CBD station in the case of ST’s proposals for deep platforms at New IDS.

        What is needed for First Hill is lateral connections such as a funicular or gondola from PSS to Harborview and an underground passage with escalators from the uppermost mezzanine at Midtown in the new tunnel (if and when built) and Boren under Marion. Yes, this underruns I-5 but would be much smaller in diameter than twin LR tubes.

      6. Just to be historically accurate, TT, NYC had three different companies (maybe more) that built those tunnels. I’m no authority on the NYC Subway history but I I suspect that the companies built parallel tunnels to compete with each other for riders.

        That’s not to say that the capacity isn’t needed (at least pre-Covid) today. I am just noting that it’s not some sort of unified decision by one transit agency.

      7. @TomT
        You forgot about 8th Ave. Still, I don’t find your point here terribly convincing as it ignores the history of the three MTA divisions that give the subway system these lines running thru midtown. Secondly, as you mention, the difference in distance between avenues in the city and what we have here is not even close. Thirdly, making an analogy to our rail transit needs in downtown Seattle to those in midtown Manhattan seems like a stretch to begin with. I agree with RossB here in that the second downtown tunnel stations as currently planned are highly duplicative.

    4. I agree with RossB on the Exec race. To a large extent, Dow has been the best politician around but has gotten the wrong things done. (He got the Pierce and Snohomish subarea boardmembers to agree to help pay for the second downtown transit tunnel).
      Let’s review.
      ST3 was authorized in the 2015 Session; Dow must have stopped asking for a Metro local option and for ST3 instead. The deal funded the freeways and authorized a vote.
      He led ST to ST3; it is huge with a huge tax stream. The property tax piece made it more difficult to solve McCleary on public school funding. ST3 is over promised and under funded, just as Sound Move was. Several of the projects are quite weak. Why was so much parking included; it was the political logrolling. Why does West Seattle need Link? ST3 is Dow’s baby, both good and bad.
      He led King County to sell Convention Place Station to the Washington State Convention Center and end bus operations in the DSTT prematurely. That led to much slower and congested transit service in downtown Seattle in 2019. that led to decreased ridership after it had been growing until 2018.
      He authored a brilliant executive order to integrate service but did not follow up well.
      On the other hand, Dow has been good on transit fares when Joe has joined the free fare band wagon. Joe has had to acknowledge the corporate contribution through ORCA cards.
      Why does Dow love Via? It is burning up scarce service subsidy.

    5. “Dow deserves much of the blame.”

      Agreed. ST3 was mostly a pile of crap (low value projects for the cost) and LR to West Seattle, and its prioritization, was the icing on that pile for me and one of the main reasons I didn’t vote for the measure. Constantine was board chair in the formative years of this pile of crap and thus deserves a good chunk of the blame for the projects that resulted. I think he’s pretty clueless about transit in general and has failed in his oversight responsibility serving on the ST board both as its chairman and sitting member (ST3 package selection, due diligence on cost estimations, Rogoff contract renewals, etc.).

      Since the King County Executive is an automatic board appointment and I don’t want him serving in that capacity any longer, I hope he loses his reelection bid. As a Snohomish County voter I obviously don’t get a say in the matter, but I will strongly encourage my mother-in-law and other family members and friends who do live in Seattle/King County to vote for his challenger.

      1. Hmmm… as much as I appreciate Ross B and Eddiew’s critiques on the shortcomings of ST3 and steadfast desire to see the most efficient transit system possible, I think the region would be in a rotten transit situation without Dow. It has taken Herculean political maneuvers to get the transit system growth we have seen here despite our state having a deeply flawed tax system, assbackwards WSDOT priorities and the perennial threat of Tim Eyman. Zooming out further, this country is terrible at building/maintaining transit systems and while there are certainly American cities with legacy transit and land use systems that are enviable, I can’t think of any that have been outperforming ours in terms of improving and strengthening transit over Dow’s tenure.

        Sound Transit has certainly painted us into a corner where we have no choice but to focus intense growth along the spine, continue to realign Metro’s priorities to feed light rail more effectively, and yes continue to spend money on relatively inefficient first/last mile connections like Via. While some of the cascading changes to our priorities that stem from light rail can seem like a burden, they are also an opportunity that our leaders need to embrace. Most importantly, we need leaders to be bold as hell in how we build out places like Northgate and West Seattle. We need to make hard decisions like closing the 27 hole golf course sitting between 130th and 145th at Jackson Park and generally demonstrate some faith that we can build sustainable, affordable and livable new neighborhoods. We need leaders willing to say goodbye to some of our single family neighborhoods near key transit hubs in dramatic, well compensated fashion, in addition to more widespread, soft changes like allowing duplexes, etc. Dow might not be the best person to lead us on this next chapter of challenges, but his record on delivering transit investments is about as good as any politician in our country today and the region has done better than I would have expected at responding to these transit investments: Northgate is transforming. Zoning around future stations in Shoreline is astonishing.

        If you don’t want to see Dow win another term, I wouldn’t focus on the political sausage of yesterday. We should be asking hard questions about how the next executive (and other electeds) will build upon these efforts going forward.

    6. First Hill is really hard to reach with rail. It’s too steep.

      I think for First Hill, we really need to be thinking of other solutions (the streetcar is a joke). Maybe we could put something like Hong Kong’s Central-Mid-Levels escalator on Cherry or James.

  2. Ballots should be getting mailed out by King County this week, although my ballot hasn’t been sent yet.

    Keeping an eye on the mailbox!

  3. That “Neigborhoods for All” report is excellent. The map on page 8 shows the problem. The gray is all the non-single-family land. If you move it to the Lake Washington shore, it’s equivalent to the area east of MLK and 25th Ave NE — leaving 2/3 of the city single-family. It’s worse than that because most of the gray area is industrial and can’t be used for housing, so multifamily housing gets only a small part of the land. It should be at least 2/3 of the non-industrial land, which would be more like the north half of Chicago.

    1. Two other quotes in the report.

      “Despite Seattle’s growth, some areas in the city have fewer residents than in 1970.” This is doubtless due to the smaller size of households. Households shrank but houses didn’t. And while some say, “Just have people rent rooms in houses and the problem is solved”, most houses are heavily designed for a nuclear family and don’t work very well for unrelated people, and the neighborhood design makes it even harder. Especially if they don’t have cars.

      1. A lot of houses sit on huge lots as well. You just can’t fit that many people in them.

        A typical brownstone neighborhood has as much density as any in Seattle. People live in houses (townhouses), that have been converted to apartments. You could do the same thing in Seattle, but you would get hardly any apartments (because you don’t have that many houses). The lots are too big.

      2. When we talk about zoning it is important to understand there are two broad categories of zoning: use zoning (in this context single family homes vs. multi-family units) and regulatory zoning (height, impervious surface limits, yard setbacks, gross floor area to lot area ratio, parking).

        You can change use zoning from SFH to multi-family units, but if you don’t change the regulatory limits the maximum gross floor area of the multi-family units combined will be the same as for the single family house. Plus now you need separate kitchens and bathrooms for each unit, and in most eastside cities additional onsite parking. You really don’t increase housing at all by changing the use zoning. Since the multi-family construction is new it won’t be affordable.

        That is what I tried to point out to Nathan yesterday. Multi-family housing on a single family lot of 10,000 sf on MI (which is huge by Seattle standards) is not profitable for the builder. I didn’t even calculate in the $500,000 in loan interest on a $5 million construction bridge loan (5% over two years) or the new REET tax rates upon the sale of the multi-family units.,Washington%20will%20be%201.6%25%2C%201.78%25%2C%203.25%25%2C%20and%203.5%25.

        Mercer Island has plenty of underused town center commercial property that can have multi-family housing, and older and affordable multi-family housing to redevelop. For example, the Xing Hua project will be four stories and provide 166 units (and 166 parking stalls which is inadequate on MI), and basically replaces a surface parking lot and some retail, and the Farmers property will add 48 very high end brownstones and also replaces a surface lot.

        The only affordable housing that will be created in these two projects is some 80% AMI units in the Xing Hua to allow it to go from two to four stories, but this is larger multi-family development is much more profitable for a developer than trying to convert a very expensive single family lot into three very small multi-family units in a basically rural residential zone with no transit.

        Some on this blog claim simply changing the use zoning to multi-family will create affordable housing. It won’t. It won’t even create more housing, because by definition the maximum GFA remains the same in the zone, but so much of the GFA in the multi-family units is redundant kitchens and bathrooms and entry ways, and the construction is brand new. It just isn’t profitable for the builder.

        At least Ross is talking about changing the regulatory zoning limits in his Brownstone idea. Yard setbacks would be eliminated, and gross floor area to lot are ratios increased, and impervious surface limits would have to be eliminated. But his brownstone idea is just his idea of attractive housing, a very mild upzone that will create very little but expensive new housing, and to be honest on MI the council favors brownstones for our town center, but it does not create a lot of housing for the gross lot area for a commercial lot. But Islanders like it because it does not have “shared walls”, and will be at least $3 million/unit to start. With two parking units per unit.

        Changing the regulatory limits in the SFH zones is never going to fly on the eastside. For example, conditional uses are non-conforming uses like churches and clubs in the residential zone, but their regulatory limits are the same as the surrounding residential zone, except they have very large lots and don’t have to property taxes. You don’t give a property that gets preferential use zoning and tax exemptions in a zone preferential regulatory limits too.

        Just the fight over changing the use zoning of the SFH lots would be incredibly acrimonious, and result in a new council and doom any kind of M&O levies, but ironically would not create any new housing unless the regulatory limits were changed, which basically would eliminate a SFH zone and be nuclear for eastside cities. Without increased regulatory limits it is not profitable to convert a single family home into multi-family development in a residential zone.

        Any affordable housing agency like ARCH will tell you that if you want affordable housing you need public subsidies (and imagine if $10 billion from the $131 billion for ST had gone to affordable housing) and inexpensive land. Plus very good transit. What you don’t need is class envy driving the decisions.

        What I don’t understand is where is all the affordable multi-family housing along Link from Sodo to the airport. The land is fairly cheap, is zoned multi-family, and is next (right next) to light rail. This is where you build subsidized affordable multi-family housing, not on a very expensive and relatively small residential lot on Mercer Island.

      3. @ Daniel — It is common in Seattle to see small houses on big lots being bulldozed. They take the really big lot, and subdivide it. In my neighborhood, the minimum lot size is 7200 square feet. So a 25,000 square foot lot gets cut up into three lots, each over 8,000 square feet. Given the relatively cheap cost of construction, they build really big houses (it doesn’t cost much more to build a big house than a small one).

        Instead, they could a dozen small houses, or two dozen row houses — none of which would be taller than the houses they built. They could also build a few apartment buildings, holding forty, maybe fifty people (again, without being any taller). There would still be a setback, and you would likely end up with a few trees and a small yard (maybe even a playground).

        This is what the market would build, if it was allowed to. What’s that? The market won’t. Fine. Then changing the zoning rules won’t matter, right? Right?

        Will this lead to cheaper housing? Of course. Supply and demand, and all that. Eventually prices get down to their natural level (based on the cost of construction, and available land) but we are nowhere near that. The main reason housing is so expensive in the city is because of zoning (well that, and the dramatic increase in employment).

      4. I’ve never lived in a city with brownstones, so that’s a point.

        “if you don’t change the regulatory limits the maximum gross floor area of the multi-family units combined will be the same as for the single family house.”

        That can be fixed in the zoning reform, but you’re right that those have to be looked at too. If you abolish single-family zoning you’d have to replace it with something. and since there’s no concrete proposal it’s not set in stone what that would be. I think most SFZ opponenents would replace it with a neighborhood commercial level that allows 2-story or 4-story apartments and retail.

        “Plus now you need separate kitchens and bathrooms for each unit,”

        That’s what multiple households need.

        “and in most eastside cities additional onsite parking.”

        We’re talking about Seattle. And in a context where ideally buses would be more frequent, and where there were enough additional people that some coverage routes could be upgraded to core routes.

        “Since the multi-family construction is new it won’t be affordable.”

        There are two different levels of the problem: market rate and below market rate. This adds more market-rate housing, which should at least slow down the price increases. That doesn’t directly address the needs of those making < 80% AMI, since the housing they previously had has been engulfed in the housing shortage and price increases. So you need subsidized housing too. That can go in the newly upzoned areas too. If we had had more lenient zoning in the 2000s and 2010s, prices wouldn't have increased as steeply or as far, and more of the subsidized housing would have been built already. Now we've painted ourselves into a corner and we have to catch up.

      5. Mike, when you allow multi-family housing in a SFH zone you don’t “eliminate” the SFH zone, or the right for someone to build a SFH in that zone. Anyone can still build a SFH in the zone, with the same regulatory limits allowed multi-family housing.

        Every “structure” in the same zone is allowed the same regulatory limits for height, impervious surface limits, gross floor area to lot area ratio, and yard setbacks.

        So imagine how huge houses will be if they are allowed the same regulatory limits necessary to build multi-family housing, with no or very reduced yard setbacks. They will be like mini-castles in Seattle’s residential neighborhoods.

        Such huge houses will incentivize builders to build SFH rather than multi-family housing because the risk is so much less because they are not building the SFH on spec., and now the SFH can be huge.

        Is that the goal? To allow houses with twice the house to lot area ratio as today with very small yard setbacks in Seattle’s residential zone, while creating very little if any multi-family of affordable housing? Sounds like a good plan for the very rich and the very crass SFH owner.

      6. Then why isn’t it happening now in multifamily zones? Not in Pugetopolis, nor in any city with more lenient zoning that I can think of. There may be one or two mansions somewhere, but not many. In contrast, you are seeing McMansions on single-family lots, and huge lots too. If there are tens of thousands of lots available. that dilutes the impact that any one lot will have. For developers, two or three units pay more than one, while for buyers, their unit costs less than it would if it were a single-family house alone on the lot.

      7. I am not following you Mike when you say “Then why isn’t it happening now in multifamily zones?”

        If the question is why aren’t people building huge SFH in the multi-family zones it is because the zoning in those zones allows very large buildings, on a very large lots with no vegetation and no yard setbacks, where multi-family housing can pencil out. (Plus someone looking for a SFH neighborhood is not looking for a SFH in a rental multi-family zone). Like the 166 unit Xing Hua building on Mercer Island. But even that project has 166 underground parking stalls, retail requirements, I think a 10% affordable housing set aside, a 20′ wide walk through between blocks, and nearly four years of permitting to date. The kind of development is not for the feint of heart

        Often these large multi-family projects are rentals, which means someone has to carry the cost and loan for decades, usually a REIT. Smaller builders can’t afford that.

        Seattle residential regulatory limits (house to lot area ratio) are larger than say on Mercer Island, which has the most stringent restrictions on the size of house compared to lot area (because house size and house to lot area ratios don’t create more housing and eliminate trees and vegetation), but then many Seattle residential lots are pretty small, and a house has to be at least 2000 sf to pencil out for a family, plus garage.

        I agree some look like McMansions, especially that modernist design among traditional houses like along Greenlake, but that is an argument for lower regulatory limits for structures in the zone, including any multi-family housing. But those same McMansions today would be truly monstrous if they were allowed the same regulatory limits necessary to allow multi-family housing in that same zone, because zoning limits are because many folks are greedy.

        I guess Seattle could just upzone all residential zones to full blown multi-family zones with five, seven, ten or twenty story height limits with zero limits on impervious surfaces, although I am not sure that would fly politically, and how do you build something like that on a 8400 sf lot. I doubt someone building a SFH would take advantage of those kinds of limits because it wouldn’t be a SFH zone anymore, and better to just move to the eastside for a SFH zone.

        “For developers, two or three units pay more than one, while for buyers, their unit costs less than it would if it were a single-family house alone on the lot.”

        No, that is not true, and that is the crux of my posts to Nathan and Ross. Building three units does not cost the builder less than a SFH, there is the permitting to subdivide, the loan costs because the units are probably being built on spec., and the units will be very small if held to the same regulatory limits for a SFH.

        The price of the new multi-family units will likely be less than a new SFH on the same lot, but certainly not “affordable”, but you are missing the point of view from the builder: the profit is the same or more building the SFH, and the risk much less, especially if the property owner funds the construction.

      8. I think it’s relevant to distinguish how East Coast “brownstones” differ from the rowhomes or townhomes built new in Seattle. The classic brownstones are often large — five or six stories and 4K to 6K square feet. It’s easy to carve one up those into apartments and condos. There are smaller ones in those cities but the larger ones are more suitable for conversion.

        The regulatory issue is as much about ground coverage, height, setback and parking as it is how many units are on a lot. It’s a total form that has to be the vision rather than merely kitchen and door counting.

        This is important as there is a “missing middle”. The current strategy of tiny and expensive 5-7 story apartments here and single family homes there is very dualistic. It also concentrates real estate wealth to a much smaller portion of the population called developers. Developers can get loans and float the years of investing required to design, study and build apartments after buying property.

        And the accessory unit allowance just nibbles at the idea. Their size restrictions do nothing fir the missing middle.

        What seems to be needed is a determination of a neighborhood’s target carrying capacity first. Then, work with each neighborhood on how to get to that capacity. If trees are important, allow lots more height. If accessibility is important, allow for more lot coverage but not more height. If home ownership is important, facilitate property ownership by not requiring artificial minimum lot sizes or parking spaces.

        So the debate should focus on target density and carrying capacity first. Doing that would set the expectation of what regulatory changes are best for each neighborhood.

        Transit would benefit with this approach as it would be easier to design the service to match that carrying capacity.

  4. I will wait for the STB endorsements, because they aren’t afraid to say if a candidate is anti-transit (making it more important to vote for the endorsed candidate).

    1. There may not be any separate STB endorsements. Sometimes there are, sometimes there aren’t.

    2. Ross, if you change the regulatory limits in the Pinehurst residential zone to allow the multi-family housing you favor just remember a SFH will also get those new reduced regulatory limits. That means reduced or eliminated yard setbacks, eliminating impervious surface limits, and any gross floor to lot area ratios. Maybe height. You can’t allow different uses different regulatory limits in the same zone.

      Imagine the size of a single family house with those regulatory limits. It would be like a small castle.

      What makes you assume a builder would find multi-family housing more lucrative than a SFH with the same regulatory limits? Loan costs, permitting, taxes, REET taxes, construction materials, labor, subs, there is huge risk and costs to a builder building anything on spec., let alone multi-family housing, especially today.

      My guess is the builder who bought the 25,000 sf lot and subdivided — and those size lots are rare in Seattle — pre-sold the lots with a requirement the new owners use the builder for construction, and so removed most of the risk for the builder.

      The builder will make all his/her profit off the furnishings like kitchen counters, cabinets and fixtures, lighting, crown molding, special windows, appliances, flooring and so on. Do you think the SFH purchaser who is funding the construction and loan will want higher end furnishings, or multi-family housing being built on spec.

      The flaw in your argument is the regulatory limits necessary to allow multi-family housing in this zone would apply to a SFH too, and so the SFH would be so huge the builder would still opt to build three SFH’s because the risk is so much less, except the houses would be wildly out-of-scale for the neighborhood.

      1. OK, now you are being silly. There is no law against converting an apartment to a house. What you fear could happen if they changed the law is perfectly legal now. It doesn’t happen, and it should be obvious why: There are only so many people who can afford that kind of luxury. The law doesn’t mandate density, it restricts it. Yet you will find very few cases where someone is reducing density.

        Here, let me make it simple. Assume for a second that they restricted development to a house, but allowed for much smaller lots. Say, 2,500 square feet. This is still a big lot, and allows you to build a decent size house. Would they make more money with ten houses on ten lots, instead of three? Hell Yes! Every developer would tell you that. Just do the math. The three houses they built were huge, and went for a bit over a million dollars. I’ll round up, and say the developer grossed four million. All a developer has to do is get half a million for the house and they’ve grossed another million. They could easily get that.

        But wait, I said they could only build houses. Now let’s change the rules that prevent density. Allow each house to be a duplex. Only why stop at a duplex — why not a triplex or a quad? Remember, these are still relatively big lots (2,500 square feet) and you are still following the physical limits mandated by the SFH code (not too tall, setbacks, etc.). You could build ten buildings, with four condos on each. You could sell each condo for $200K, and still gross twice as much as the developer did with the three houses. These are brand new condos, going for 200K, in Seattle, and the developer is making way more than he did before. It doesn’t take an economist to understand that by easing the restrictions we should see a lot more places.

        You are assuming that something terrible will happen if we ease the restrictive zoning, when people love areas of Seattle built before zoning. Zoning is a relatively new concept, and while many of its goals were reasonable (not allowing factories to be build willy-nilly) most of it was not. It was designed early on to restrict people of color and Jews. Eventually those changed (by federal mandate) but then it become about restricting poor people (AKA renters). It is clearly outdated, and needs to change.

      2. Ross, now you are talking about lowering minimum lots sizes in the residential zone, like a tiny house village, which is a completely different zoning issue, and has its own problems (other than political reality):

        1. This would require each qualifying lot to go through a subdivision process, which is controlled by state and local laws. It can be expensive, and gives neighbors many good grounds to litigate subdivision.

        2. Lot sizes in Seattle are odd. Using your 2500 sf minimum lot size, unless a lot is 5000 sf it cannot be subdivided, so no addtional lots are created. A lot of lots in older, more affordable parts of Seattle are less than 5000 sf.
        Subdivision laws do not allow a property owner to create a non-conforming lot through subdivision.

        3. Minimum lot sizes are often not easily divisible, so 2500 sf will create a lot of non-conforming remainder area. For example, take a common small lot in Seattle of 4000 sf. It could not be subdivided if the new minimum lot size is 2500 sf. Even an 8400 sf lot, which is very large for Seattle, would create three lots with 900 sf left over. A 7000 sf lot would create two lots of 3500 sf each.

        4. Any kind of structure on a 2500 sf lot will be tall and skinny, and you are probably thinking about a Brownstone or row house. But those are not ideal for the elderly or disabled, unless they install an elevator, which is very expensive and uses up a lot of interior living space when the structure is already very small.

        5. 2500 sf total lot area is very small. I can’t think of any city that has a 2500 sf minimum lot size in the residential neighborhoods. 8400 sf is not an uncommon minimum lot size on the eastside. What this means is that to build anything livable and marketable you will have to amend (or eliminate) the regulatory limits for height, impervious surface coverage limits, yard setbacks, and gross floor area to lot area ratio (GFAR). Otherwise the largest structure you could build with a 40% GFAR limit on a 2500 sf lot is 1000 sf, which would not be marketable in a residential zone because it is too small for a family, and probably a spouse (when the market today with WFH is moving toward larger houses). So it would not be economical for a builder or property owner to subdivide their property to 2500 sf.

        6. If you relaxed or eliminated the regulatory limits so you could build something livable and marketable on a 2500 sf lot — say a 2000 sf “house” (80% GFAR) — you have basically eliminated yard setbacks and impervious surface limits, which eliminates any trees or vegetation. But even more, those same regulatory limits (or lack thereof) would now apply to a lot and SFH of any size. So if I have an 8400 sf lot with an 80% GFAR I could build a house that is 6720 sf, that would be wildly out of scale with little to no lot vegetation.

        7. I think you are much more urban than most citizens. I think Seattle residents and builders don’t want residential neighborhoods with 80% GFAR with no lot vegetation, or massive houses with 80% GFAR on lots in their neighborhood or next door. Again, with an 80% GFAR, in order to build anything livable and marketable on a 2500 sf (if indeed had a lot that is divisible by 2500 sf) you still run into the same conundrum: there is less risk and just as much if not more profit for the builder to maximize the new regulatory limits — or lack thereof — to build a massive SFH rather than three smaller units.

        The reality if you want multi-family housing you create a multi-family zone that has large lots and large regulatory limits so the developer has scale, especially if the units will be rentals and the loan and development costs have to be carried for decades. If you want some of the units to be affordable despite new construction, you can require some affordable housing set asides.

        I think the concept of “upzoning” the residential neighborhoods to create affordable housing, or just more — new — housing, doesn’t understand the market, and in many ways is based on a feeling SFH are “privileged” now that property prices have risen so steeply in the last few years and folks don’t think they can afford a SFH in Seattle anymore (I don’t remember this argument during the great recession when you couldn’t sell a SFH, and could buy them through short sales).

        Lowering minimum lot sizes is usually very, very contentious politically, and pretty blatant. Same with changing regulatory limits. That is why the council set up Urban Growth zones to create multi-family housing which to me is the better approach, and has tried to upzone residential lots by increasing the number of legal dwellings from three to two somewhat surreptitiously, although that took a decade of litigation and won’t really create any new housing, certainly not affordable housing.

        Finally I don’t understand this fetish by urbanists to live in the residential neighborhoods. At age 62 I like Blue Ridge, but not when I was younger. There is poor transit, and nothing to do in Blue Ridge except garden. It is too bad our downtown core is so unattractive to urbanists, and wish they would focus more on why they don’t want to live in the downtown core rather than how to upzone Blue Ridge or Pinehurst.

      3. “I don’t understand this fetish by urbanists to live in the residential neighborhoods.”

        It’s not that urbanists don’t like downtown or the existing urban villages, it’s that they want to make that option available to more people. The population is increasing, so housing must increase to keep up with it. Housing has not kept up since at least the early 2000s, and the situation keeps getting more and more acute. That’s why we need to expand urban villages, and why we need to allow more “missing middle” housing.

        Really, think about what things would be like if Seattle hadn’t adopted single-family zoning in the 1920s, or tightened it further in the 1950s and 1970s. Seattle would look like northeastern cities: Chicago, Boston, New York, Toronto. Is that so awful? No, it’s how cities normally densify when their population increases. In north Chicago you can still find scattered single-family detached houses; they just aren’t the majority or mile-wide seas of exclusively that.

      4. Mike, how do you define “missing middle housing”. I read that term all the time. Are you basing that on average median income, or a percentage of AMI, and what percentage of AMI?

        I would assume 100% AMI would be the definition of missing middle income/housing, because below 100% AMI is generally considered affordable housing.

        In King Co. AMI is $97,000 year. (In Seattle it is $102,500/year.

        Or are you using some sort of base rent like $1500/month? What is your definition of the bottom housing below the missing middle housing?

        30% of $97,000/year is $29,100/year or $2425/month.,rent%20is%20%241%2C500%20%2830%25%20of%205%2C000%20is%201%2C500%29.

        Is there inadequate rental housing in Seattle for $2425/month for a single person who insists on living alone? Or $4850/mo. for two people?

        I think what you are really talking about when you say missing middle housing is subsidized affordable housing based on incomes below the AMI. That then depends on the cost of the land, and the amount of public subsidies. Rezoning the residential lots which are relatively small to create new housing seems to me like a bad way to create affordable housing.

        It also assumes everyone has to live alone, with their own kitchen and bathroom. It used to be you rented a room in a house if you wanted a lower rent. There are plenty of rooms for rent in Seattle. Why does every single person need their own kitchen and bathroom, and why do we need to upzone the residential neighborhoods because these folks need to live alone. I am 62. I have never lived alone in my entire life.

        Upzoning the residential neighborhoods won’t create affordable housing, but will create housing that can be had for $2425/mo. for a small place for one, or $4850/mo. for two. The most affordable rent in Seattle is renting a room in an existing home, although you may have to … gasp … share a kitchen or bathroom.

        There is a lot of existing housing for $2425/mo. if a single person absolutely must live alone with their own kitchen and bathroom, and plenty of rooms for rent in Seattle for much less. In fact a couple can easily rent a single family house for less than $4850/month.

        So I don’t see this missing middle income that is such a vogue term today. There is plenty of 100% AMI housing, and plenty of rooms for rent for much less in Seattle.

      5. “Missing middle” is the density gap between single-family houses and 4-7 story apartment buildings. This includes duplexes, row houses, 4-8 unit apartment buildings, two-story courtyard apartment buildings, tiny apartments (SROs), etc. Older Seattle neighborhoods have a bunch of those that were built up through the 1960s. Then zoning was tightened and made them illegal in residential zones. And the sliver of multifamily land that allows them gets outbid by larger buildings because the sliver is so small. Here are some examples:

        Two-story courtyard apartments on NW 65th & 15th (I lived in it), 1st Ave N at Seattle Center, Denny Way & Boylston, 15th & 16rth Avenues in Capitol Hill.

        Two-story corner stores with the owners living above in Fremont, that later became single-family houses.

        Dingbat apartments on Capitol Hill and elsewhere.

        Townhouses/rowhouses, which have appeared in a few areas but could be more widespread.

        Four-story apartments with fewer than fifteen units.

        SRO hotels, which were small rooms with a shared bathroom and maybe kitchen. (Apodments are a modern incarnation. They got in through a loophole that defined them as “single-family houses” if they had eight units or less. That loophole is now closed.)

        Tiny apartments. The threshold is somewhere around 350 square feet. This was enacted a few years ago to prohibit tiny apartments and apartments without a separate kitchen (to block apodments).

        All these exist and are fine neighbors, but have either been prohibited since the 1970s or the requirements and permitting process and zoned areas are so restrictive that it’s too onerous or expensive for many would-be builders to build, including mom-n-pop homeowners.

        Missing middle housing is defined based on density, not cost. But it’s intrinsively less expensive to build a duplex or 4-8 unit apartment building than a large apartment building, because you don’t need a deep foundation or concrete or reinforced sides or more expensive building techniques. This would allow a wider range of people to build such things. Large developers wouldn’t be interested, but small local developers and mom-n-pop homeowners would. And smaller units cost less than larger units in the same location.

      6. So “missing middle housing” is simply about aesthetics, and what some think is a preferred design, even though there is nothing in it that suggests it creates affordable housing — especially if new — and there is plenty of affordable rooms to rent in existing family homes, that by far is the most affordable existing housing that is not publicly subsidized, when someone with a AMI for King Co. has around $2525/mo. to spend on rent if they must live alone, and $4850 if they have a partner, roommate, spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend?


        If anything the attempts to create this missing middle housing is designed to replace existing affordable housing with less affordable new construction (i.e. gentrification), because some think it is more pleasing aesthetically, or will create some kind of urbanist vision, IN A RESIDENTIAL ZONE, that likely has use restrictions on retail, even though they don’t live in the neighborhoods they seek to change. Like Blue Ridge is suddenly going to become a walkable neighborhood.

        This sounds to me like the plan to eliminate cars from Seattle to support transit, except the 460,000 cars Seattleites already own. Ideology over practicality. We need AFFORDABLE HOUSING, not design elements that reduce affordable housing and are just a desired aesthetic for a few.

        If you want middle housing then require it in the multi-family and urban zones, even though for some properties it would be a downzone. If residential zones should have a mix of housing so should multi-family and commercial zones, because those areas have the transit, have retail, and create a walkable environment (for those who don’t have kids and don’t need schools).

      7. Does not the law of supply and demand state that the more there is of something the lower the price?

        ergo… building more housing whether it’s ‘affordable’ or not will in the end create housing that more people can… wait for it… afford!

        now it was awhile ago that I took economics so maybe I’m out of date, but we have to start somewhere yes?

      8. “So “missing middle housing” is simply about aesthetics, and what some think is a preferred design,”

        You make it sound like it’s just the color of the front door or whether the windows have moldings. The goal is to allow more people to live in Seattle, where the neighborhoods are more convenient and it’s easier to walk to transit and other daily needs than in the Eastside.

        “even though there is nothing in it that suggests it creates affordable housing — especially if new”

        It creates HOUSING, whether affordable or not. If we’d continued building it in the 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s, there would be a lot more of it and prices would’d only be half as high as they are now.

        “Affordable” housing is another issue, since a lot of people can only afford $1600 or less. If prices hadn’t doubled, they’d still be under $1000, and everybody with a minimum-wage job would still be able to afford an apartment as it was in the 80s. Because we’ve created such a deep housing shortage that prices have doubled, we can’t get out of it without a lot of subsidized housing. The missing-middle buildings will have to be both market-rate and subsidized.

        And don’t cherry-pick View Ridge. That’s an especially isolated area, one of the last that urbanists care about or developers would build in. I rode the new 79 on 75th a few days ago, and I don’t see more apartments or duplexes likely in the hoity-toity the top of the hill. The areas where this is most urgent and likely are near urban villages: Wallingford, Aurora, Broadview, West Seattle east and west of California Avenue, etc.

      9. No, the law of supply and demand does not affect or create affordable housing. Otherwise you wouldn’t need public subsidies, would you, and NY and LA would have very affordable housing.

        First any kind of change in zoning requires new construction to implement the change. So you might be creating additional housing, but it won’t be affordable because it is new.

        Second there is not a lot of undeveloped land anymore. So to create new construction to build more housing developers tend to look for the older and most affordable housing to demolish to build more expensive new housing. You replace affordable existing housing with new unaffordable housing.

        Third, a builder or developer, if the housing is not publicly subsidized, has the incentive to make as much profit as possible. That begins with buying the least expensive land as possible (which tends to be the most affordable) and building the most expensive housing the area will afford. It is often called gentrification. Did the Central District become more affordable when the single family homes were redeveloped into multi-family housing. No, it became more white. Is downtown Seattle or Belltown or Bellevue housing more affordable because of the greater density? No. Just the opposite. Density does not mean affordable.

        For example, we are seeing this on Mercer Island today. The legislature changed the warranties on new condo construction to create more owned condos and fewer apartments. Affordable housing on Mercer Island is mostly in the older multi-family rental buildings from 20-30 years ago.

        New Condo prices in today’s market on Mercer Island start around $1 million for a small unit and go up from there. So the developers are coming in and buying the older rental multi-family buildings (which can’t afford to upgrade to the new fire regulations issued by King Co. now that they lost their exemption), booting the existing tenants, to build very high end condos.

        Not many additional units are created, but the prices increase dramatically.

        There are two town center developments, both on existing parking lots/older retail buildings. One will be 166 units, and the other 48 high end brownstones. Total affordable units (80% AMI): 16 for the 166 unit development. Beginning prices: $1 million for the 166 unit development (if not rentals), probably $3 million for the brownstones. Greater housing numbers, but not affordable in the least.

        The biggest mistake some make is thinking developers and builders want to build affordable housing. They don’t. They want to build as expensive housing as the market will bear, which is why they love the eastside but not so much South Seattle. The Spring District and Wilburton will likely increase density pretty dramatically with planned development, but the housing costs in that area will increase dramatically too.

        Density does not mean affordability. You want affordable housing (less than 80% AMI) you have to build more AFFORDABLE housing, but no one wants to do that, because you don’t make any money. It is foolish to build more new unaffordable housing thinking it will create affordable housing. Just the opposite.

      10. “So to create new construction to build more housing developers tend to look for the older and most affordable housing to demolish”

        It’s not affordable anymore. $650 apartments disappeared around 2012, and $250K houses disappeared around them too. Now even a broken-down fixer house costs $600K, so you aren’t removing any affordable houses.

        “It is foolish to build more new unaffordable housing thinking it will create affordable housing.”

        I’ve repeatedly said I didn’t expect it to. Housing is on two tracks: market-rate (unaffordable but the solid middle class can get in) and subsidized (affordable). We need to increase both, and have more infill housing.

        “there is plenty of affordable rooms to rent in existing family homes”

        So you would force a large number of people to live in rooms in houses, where they don’t want to be, in buildings that weren’t designed for them, in neighborhoods that weren’t designed for them, where they have to use a kitchen and bathroom that was designed for a small nuclear family, all because you don’t want to allow more attached houses and small apartment buildings, so that Seattle and the Eastside can remain predominantly single-family houses.

      11. @Mike,
        You consistently ignore the demand side of the equation. Seattle median income is north of $100k. Making some crude assumptions (5% down, $5k taxes, $1k insurance, 3% interest +PMI) the payment on a $600k house is $3,140/mo. That’s pretty darn close to 1/3 of your gross monthly income that was for years considered standard. Yes $600k is the low end of housing in Seattle but if you’re a 1st time buyer you don’t get to buy a McMansion. If you’ve owned a home for more than a decade you’ve got a ton of equity so you’re financing somewhere between $300k and zero. If homes weren’t affordable they wouldn’t be selling in ~6 days on the market.

        Now… are homes in Seattle affordable for someone earning even $15/hr? Not even close. Have minimum wage employees ever been able to buy their own home in Seattle? I don’t think so. What’s the answer? Get people access to better paying jobs. Yes, you have to earn it. There’s been some programs that work and others that are a disaster in this respect but they’re all at a national level.

      12. No, the law of supply and demand does not affect or create affordable housing.

        Of course it does. Developers build what they are able to sell at a profit; supply and demand. The disconnect here is affordable housing does not mean below market rate housing (i.e. subsidized housing). Developers only build below market rate housing when it’s subsidized by people that are just trying to make ends meet. Sure you can say tax the rich but there’s just not that many rich people. And you hit them hard enough they just leave. Then you have affordable housing like Detroit.

      13. There are several problems with Daniel Thompson housing argument:

        He tends to ignore the effect that increasing supply has on reducing price. He treats that anything that reduces rents, but not enough to make them affordable to people living in poverty, accomplishes nothing. And, he over-emphasizes the effect that prices are determined by square footage/amenities/fancy interior, rather than the location.

        Yes, all else equal, new construction rents for more than older buildings. But, there’s only so many people with the incomes to support rents typically charged by new construction. If they’re moving into a new building, that means they’re not bidding up the rents somewhere else, so that somewhere else will have to charge slightly lower rents than they would otherwise to fill the units. It’s not that complicated. It’s just that the effect of any one particular building is often not noticeable because that “somewhere else” is spread diffusely throughout the city.

        Also, all new construction eventually ages. Buildings that are charging top-of-the-market rents today will eventually be charging bottom-of-the-market rents at some point in the future, a few decades from now. The older buildings that are considered “affordable” today were all new at some point.

        By contrast, enshrining land for single-family houses does not keep things affordable. Old houses will still get torn down and replaced with new construction anyway, except that the new construction will simply be a new (and probably much bigger) house, rather than a multi-unit building that would increase the housing supply. In extreme cases where supply is constrained, you’ll even get rich people buying up their neighbor’s house when it comes on the market, simply to tear it down and have a larger back yard – or buy up two adjacent lots to build a giant mansion spanning both of them. This is not just theoretical – the neighborhood I grew up in (not in Seattle, but restricted to SFH-only, the same), these new multi-lot properties exist, and have become quite common over the past 10-20 years as land values have soared. My parents’ house is now practically the only single-story home left on the block. When they eventually sell, their house will almost certainly be torn down and replaced with a larger house, like the neighbors – the “affordableness” of their house being an old house will be essentially meaningless.

        In other words, if you keep an area enshrined for single-family homes while land value soars, not only does the population not increase, it actually *decreases*, as rich people start scooping up multiple lots to build mansions on. With upzoning, a townhome developer could easily outbid people looking to simply enlarge their yard, once the eventual sale price per unit is multiplied by the number of units. Many of the multi-lot mansions that have just one family with a huge house and huge yard could easily house 10-20, if not more units, even with just 2-3 story construction (e.g. not exceeding the height of the mansion that was actually built), had the zoning allowed it. But, of course, that will never happen, as existing homeowners (whether they live in a mansion or not) want their neighborhood to remain exclusive, so they can get top dollar for their home when they sell it. (And, of course, those that paid top dollar to buy into the area recently need the neighborhood to remain exclusive, just to keep their mortgage from becoming underwater). And their mayor and city council knows it.

      14. And, of course, DT will probably counter the above by argument that the free market will never drop rents to the point where a person in poverty can afford them, no matter how much supply is allowed to increase – otherwise, they would fail to pay for the cost of land and construction and lose money.

        That’s true. But, I would argue that there is still a lot of value in reducing market rents to the point where the income threshold to afford a neighborhood becomes $130k rather than $150k or $80k rather than $90k. If not, you end up in a situation like San Francisco where people with over $100k incomes are getting housing subsidies because they cannot afford the $4000 market rents without them.

        Ultimately, for people that really are living on minimum wage, many neighborhoods will not be affordable to them. Those that are affordable will be affordable only because people that can afford better don’t want to live there. That’s life.

        The only other solution, massive subsidies, simply does not scale, as the cost per person receiving the subsidy every month, multiplied by the number of months is just too large for a city to afford. For instance, a subsidy of $1000/mo. for 20% of the city’s population requires taxing the other 80% of the population an average of $250/mo. For comparison purposes, the entire property tax on the condo I just sold in Seattle was about $250/mo., so you’d be talking about a doubling of property taxes just for low-income housing and nothing else. The reality is probably even worse than that, since, if zoning does not change, subsidized housing means that the people receiving the subsidies will have to push out others (e.g. those whose incomes is just a tiny bit too high to be eligible), which means the amount of subsidy required to allow someone with 50% AMI to pay less than 30% of their income will be even higher than planned, and you still end up right back where you started because, at the end of the day, if the number of housing units does not increase, the number of people housed cannot increase either.

        In order to subsidized housing to have any chance of accomplishing its goals, it has to actually increase the housing supply, rather than merely displace others, not lucky enough to win the housing lottery. But, if zoning is not allowed to increase, that’s simply impossible.

      15. “The disconnect here is affordable housing does not mean below market rate housing (i.e. subsidized housing). Developers only build below market rate housing when it’s subsidized by people that are just trying to make ends meet”

        The disconnect is that market-rate housing has been rising much faster than wages. In the 60s you pay for a house on minimum wage (as Elizabeth Warren’s mother did). In the 80s you could get an apartment on minimum wage (as I did). In 2010 there were still a 1 BR few apartments left at $650. Then the Amazon boom occurred and all the slack was squeezed out of the market, and those $650 apartments jumped to $1000+ or were bulldozed for new luxury apartments. That wasn’t a price jump because a renovation made it 40% better, it was a price jump for the same old quality that was continuing to deteriorate. During the Amazon boom Seattle built 9 housing units for every 12 new jobs, so supply kept getting further behind demand, the vacancy rate fell to less than 3%, the time-on-marker for for-sale houses fell from six months to less than a month, and that’s what gave owners the leverage for massive price increases. Meanwhile inflation and wage growth has been at 2% or less from 2000 to 2020, but housing prices have risen sometimes 5-10% a year. That shows a huge supply shortage.

        “Seattle median income is north of $100k.”

        That conveniently ignores the people who have been displaced from Seattle due to rapidly rising housing prices, and those who want to live in Seattle but can’t. If we had built more, those rapid price increases wouldn’t have happened, and those people would be able to live in Seattle now.

      16. If we had built more, those rapid price increases wouldn’t have happened

        Yeah, if reality didn’t exist. Seattle got a lot of really good paying jobs and, surprise, houses increased in value. This isn’t a bad thing although if your not part of the upswing you think it is. Classic Emit Watson Lesser Seattle. I’d be fine with that but you can’t have it both ways.

      17. You can’t allow different uses different regulatory limits in the same zone.

        Daniel, why not? This is not a snark question. Is there underlying State legislation that specifies that “regulatory” parameters have to be the same for all classes of buildings within one “use” zoning unit?

        Thank you.

      18. There’s another factor that would have driven up housing prices regardless of Amazon or changes in zoning. A mortgage payment (principle & interest) on a $250,000 house at 7.5% is $1,767/mo. At 3% you can afford a $400,000 house because the payment is $1,747/mo.

        Another factor (which I think can be linked to Amazon & high tech jobs) is number of people per household. Bellevue (2.46), Tacoma (2.47), Seattle (2.11). For every 1,000 households in Bellevue or Tacoma you need 406 dwelling units. For Seattle you need 474. This compounds the issue of a rapidly increasing population.

        So Seattle has lots of people with lots of money that want a lot of expensive houses because with interest rates at or below inflation the Fed is paying them to take out the largest mortgage they can qualify for.

      19. “You can’t allow different uses different regulatory limits in the same zone.”

        I would caution against making such sweeping generalizations. For example, your statement above flies in the face of how zoning actually works in Snohomish County. I could give you many examples to illustrate how contrarian your assertion is (at least in the case of SnoCo zoning), but, since the whole subject matter is so far afield from the OP’s topic, I will simply refer you to the document titled “Snohomish County Residential Development Options Matrix” to peruse at your leisure.

      20. Pugetopolis and the US have just been through seventy years of underbuilding transit. If we err slightly in overbuilding it in one case, that’s a good thing.

    3. AFAIK, STB is not planning an endorsement process this year, partially because of lack of time to engage in it seriously.

      That said, I’ve never known Seattle Subway to endorse anti-transit candidates, and I don’t expect they ever will. It is why they exist. I find their reasons for this current slate of endorsements pretty darn solid.

      I want so badly to vote for Nguyen, and consider myself a big-time fan of his, but he picked the one race in which I have almost no disagreements with the incumbent. Constantine has listened to STB when nobody else would, like when we editorialized in favor of building the side tracks and starter tunnels (stacked) so that an Aurora light rail line could branch from the Ballard line in the Lower Queen Anne area. I wish I could find that tweet of his, promoting the branch.

      He also picked a health officer who may have saved the lives of countless King County denizens when he bucked the CDC and said we really needed to keep wearing masks in public business establishments. I have no reason to think Nguyen would do any differently, but then, I have no idea what Nguyen thinks about such matters.

      I have minor disagreements with Constantine’s policy decisions, but none related to transit.

      When I have disagreed with Seattle Subway’s endorsements, it was for totally non-transit reasons.

    4. There will not be STB endorsements.

      Personally, I agree with the assessment of land use and transit issues in the Seattle Mayoral race, and with the assessment that Dow has done a good job and we shouldn’t get rid of him.

      I can’t speak to the other assessments.

      1. I got my ballot this week. A lot of uncontested judges and meaningless “advisory votes”. When do I get to vote on eliminating the expense of these advisory votes that mean/do nothing? Should we correct a grammatical error in the current laws? Really, there’s a vote on that? Bellevue City Council I don’t think there’s any changes that will happen. BSD, I don’t have a dog in the fight. These races are passionate and a large number of candidates have special needs students. It matters but I just don’t know the nuanced arguments.

        Port of Seattle is the only thing that probably matters. It’s hard to research elected positions like this but I can pretty much vote the opposite of what SS endorsed and be 99% sure I’m making the right choice (no Good Space Guy on the ballot, check). Thanks!

  5. I don’t see direct transit issues being much of a differentiator here. These are simply more critical issues to wrestle with — housing affordability, homelessness in its many forms, policing and street crime and maintenance of city assets like parks and roads. While transit is affected by these, transit doesn’t seem to cause them. Plus, most of the pronounced transit decisions seem to happen with ballot votes or with transit operators with broader representation than just the City so that the County races probably affect transit much more..

    You have identified the most relevant issue to transit — the single-family obsession. Even that though has its own ways of getting addressed.

    So, I’m looking more at non-transit issues to make my choice in City races this election.

    1. Well, it’s not that city officials don’t matter. They determined the size of the transit levy that voters got to vote on to begin with, and they also have a big role in deciding where bus lanes are/are not allowed to be built.

      What’s tricky about this race is that there are so many other, non-transit issues in the forefront and, in many cases, the candidates I strongly prefer on some issues, I strongly oppose on other issues. For instance, I would generally want a candidate that supports funding the police and is willing to enforce no-camping laws, focuses on what’s best for the city as a whole, rather than talking about every policy through a BIPOC lens, and and has a basic understanding of economics, enough to oppose stuff like an indefinite extension of the eviction moratorium and rent control. But, the candidates that support the above tend to be the more conservative ones, which I oppose on other issues, such as housing (they want zero changes to single-family zoning) and transportation (they tend to be unwilling to raise taxes to fund transit or take street space away from cars for sidewalks, bike lanes, or bus lanes). Hence, the tug-of-war.

      I live in Kirkland right now, so I don’t get to vote in the city-level races, nor am I sure at this point how I would vote if I did. For what it’s worth, I do consider Oliver in particular to be another Sawant, and would definitely vote against her. Gonzales vs. Harrell for mayor, I’m less sure about (but if zoning reforms are unlikely to happen anyway, no matter who wins, would probably lean Harrell).

    2. That’s true, but STB only endorses in transit and land-use issues because that’s where its expertise is, and it’s hosting Seattle Subway’s endorsements that do the same (with perhaps different conclusions). It’s up to the commentariat to balance these against all the other issues the city and county faces. So how do you balance them?

      I feel like both Gonzalez and Harrell are good on transit both they both have other positions that could be bad for the city, just in different ways. I want a choice that won’t make things worse. I felt like I had that with Schell, Nickels, McGinn, and Murray, and Durkan. But now I don’t feel that, and I’m afraid future elections might get worse if the candidates get more polarized.

      Gonzales seems to be big on defunding the police and not enforcing misdemeanors, which could lead to more crime. Harrell seems to support removing tents when the inhabitants have no place to go except back to open-air sidewalks. Can’t we have a candidate who supports something in between?

      I’m also nervous about Nikita Oliver because we don’t need another far leftist on the council. But I’m not in that district so i can’t vote on it.

      1. I really dislike leaders who have an “agenda” regardless of ideology. I also feel like “the homeless” and “the police” are presented as common blocs of people when they are wildly different individuals merely with common circumstances.

        Our media increasingly promote generic positions rather than promote leadership qualities. It’s made worse by things like “lightning round” yes/no debate questions.

        So, here’s a scenario to mull over.m: Seattle gets a 10-inch snowfall and a moderate earthquake at the same time. Who is going to lead through the many crises that this would create? How well does our local government have the preparation (city staff sizes and training) and the legitimacy needed to could get us through the crises? This is what I ask myself when I vote.

      2. Gonzales seems to be big on defunding the police and not enforcing misdemeanors, which could lead to more crime.

        When Camden defunded the police, crime went down. Anyway, Gonzales won’t defund the police — she actually voted to increase the police force. She is not against enforcing misdemeanors, either. She just wants to dismiss some outstanding warrants for low level crimes (graffiti, prostitution, loitering, and minors in possession of alcohol). So did our current mayor, as well as the former chief of police, Best ( This is a money saving effort, so that the agencies can deal with real criminals, and the city has a bit more money to reduce crime before it happens.

        The difference between the two mayoral candidates on most issues is very subtle. Both will deal with the police and homeless-in-parks issue the same way (despite the rhetoric). They both like transit, and bike lanes, and small businesses (and big ones too, if they are here). They would vote the same way 99% of the time if elected to Congress. Both are highly qualified to be mayor, and would do a decent job managing the various agencies (unlike a lot of the mayors we’ve had recently).

        The only substantial difference is the one Martin mentioned: Zoning. This is not a left/right issue. There are plenty of neighborhood preservationists who vote Democratic 100% of the time. There are libertarians and developers who oppose zoning restrictions. This is why there is a big difference between the candidates, and why it makes sense to vote for González . Housing affordability is a huge issue, as is homelessness. González is the only candidate who can effectively address those issues (which go together).

        Some of the other races are different. City Attorney, for example — they are very different, and both suck.

      3. @Mike Orr
        “I want a choice that won’t make things worse. I felt like I had that with Schell, Nickels, McGinn, and Murray, and Durkan.”

        Wow. That’s quite the string of Seattle Mayors. Are you implying that the last mayor you felt good about voting for was good ol’ Norm Rice?

      4. Repeating here because my comment below was in the wrong place. Schell, Nickels, McGinn, and Murray were all good. Durkan was OK but disappointing. I’m afraid Gonzalez or Harrell might not be as good as their predecessors.

      5. The difference between the two mayoral candidates on most issues is very subtle.

        If you watched the debate tonight the difference between the two candidates is huge. True that they are both trying to play the same side of the major issues. But the specifics on how you get to that goal are night and day as are the qualifications and experience. By Seattle standards Harrell is a right wing nut vs Gonzalez as a Kshama Sawant stand in. Could be Gonzalez won’t vote the talking points she seemed focused on but I didn’t (haven’t) heard anything from her that is an actual plan. And while Harrell was talking “big picture” at least he had some specifics to hang his hat on.

      6. Could be Gonzalez won’t vote the talking points she seemed focused on but I didn’t (haven’t) heard anything from her that is an actual plan.

        What??? Her plan is pretty obvious. Change the zoning. That helps in several ways:

        1) More affordable market rate housing, which means fewer homeless.
        2) The money we spend on public housing goes further.
        3) Public transit improves because of increased density.

        The other part of her plan is to spend more money on the homeless problem by taxing big businesses (mainly Amazon). I’m sure Harrell wants to spend more money as well, but he has voted against that in the past. Maybe he has changed his mind, but he hasn’t said where he would get the money (especially if he wants to increase spending on the police). You can’t just clear out the parks if the homeless have nowhere to go. They come back, and you end up spending way more money in court, or on sweeps, instead of building new places to live. It just doesn’t work, which is why no city has solved the problem that way. (One of the few cities that have pretty much wiped out homelessness is Helsinki ( It should be obvious which candidate would govern more like the mayor of Helsinki. )

        It is Harrell that doesn’t have a plan. His plan is basically to keep doing what we have been doing.

        Every other distinction between the candidates is just bullshit. Both will slowly shift money from the police to social services. Both will work within the boundaries set since McGinn was mayor, and Jenny Durkan was the prosecutor suing SPD ( Both will have to deal with the labor agreement with the police that both signed. Both will support bike lanes, sidewalks and transit, and try to balance the interest of all of them. Just look at the votes they’ve made in the past, and how they managed things. The differences are minor (and where there exist, clearly Gonzalez took the right position — it is obvious now that we should have spent more money on homelessness, even if it upset Amazon).

        Are you implying that the last mayor you felt good about voting for was good ol’ Norm Rice?

        Yeah, pretty much. OK, Nickels wasn’t bad, but we’ve had a long string of incompetent mayors. Rice was the last great mayor and the last one who served on the city council. This is no coincidence. Experience matters. Now we have two very good choices for mayor. Neither is a demagogue. Both have a long history of making reasonable choices, and working with the rest of the council, and the mayor. Both have been president of the council — a position chosen by their peers.

        Seattle really has two good choices this time, despite the total bullshit being spewed by the Seattle Times and The Stranger editorial staffs (which have both become wackos). The only major difference between the two candidates — despite all the rhetoric — is zoning. Bruce is playing the reactionary card, which is shameful, really. Lorena is OK letting the extremists in her party cheer for her, which is also disappointing. Bruce’s actions gets him money, and support from NIMBY’s, while Lorena gets support from the activists. It is all politics. The only significant difference between the two candidates — and how they would govern — is zoning.

        As I mentioned earlier, this shouldn’t be surprising. They agree on 99% of the issues because the city agrees on 99% of the issues. The only major difference of opinion in this city is zoning.

      7. I’m finding myself in 99% of agreement of Ross’s analysis of the mayoral race. Is something wrong with me?

        I am quite excited about Nikkita Oliver, not because she is leftist (whatever that happens to be these days), but because she has gotten it on the evils of exclusionary zoning, in ways that the Herbold bloc of supposed social justice activists on the council have not. I think Nikkita will help Sawant see the light on this issue when Sawant would not listen to anyone else.

        At an end, the “gentrification” and “displacement” tropes in defense of rich homeowner privilege are. Too much human misery already have they caused.

        Mayor Gonzalez will sign the bill eliminating exclusionary single-family zoning, where a Mayor Harrell would not. My votes are quite easy in these races.

        But let me add one more reason. Bruce Harrell was part of the city council supermajority that rushed through the City’s approval of the Highway 99 tunnel in the weeks before Mike McGinn got elected mayor. None of them are still in elected office, thank goodness. I don’t miss any of them, and don’t want any of them making a comeback.

    3. I’m looking more at non-transit issues to make my choice in City races this election

      Likewise, but I get to the same conclusion. For example, I have no doubt that Harrell would support transit funding. But so will Gonzalez. Same with things like sidewalks, or bike lanes. Police reform? While the talk may be different, neither one wants to make a huge change, preferring to let the consent decree run its course. Hell, both voted to approve the new union contract, limiting the city’s options. Gonzalez may talk about defunding the police, but at the end of the day, she voted to replace a lot of the cops that left.

      The big differentiator is housing. The biggest reason we have a big homeless problem in this city is because the cost of housing skyrocketed. There were two reasons for this: Amazon hired like crazy, and the zoning laws prevented the housing market from keeping up. Only one candidate wants to add more housing: Gonzalez. Gonzalez will do more to lower the cost of market rate housing, which in itself is a huge benefit, but will also greatly reduce the homelessness problem. The fact that it also benefits transit is side benefit.

      It is ironic that Harrell is blaming the current council for the homelessness problem, when he voted against additional funding (and Gonzalez voted for it). I’m not saying the additional funding would have solved the problem, but he was the one that ignored it, not the other way around. Harrell has done a lot of great things for the city (and make a competent mayor, unlike a lot of the bozos we’ve had lately) but Gonzalez is just better. She understands what the city is up against, and has real solutions that will be more effective than Harrell’s.

      1. Harrell has the best plan on policing – and the best skills to negotiate a new police contract. Gonzalez has torpedoed the police department and taken a combative approach which led to the loss of the Chief and 300 police – losses still continuing. Her combative approach didn’t work well with the Mayor either. She has only been endorsed by 5 fellow council members while Harrell is endorsed by 50+ current and former Washington legislators in all levels of government. Those personal endorsements say ALOT about who our leaders believe will be the best person to work with. HARRELL ALL THE WAY!

      2. “combative approach”

        There’s the wording: I don’t want a candidate with a combative approach. Still, I trust RossB’s reasoning for Gonzalez more than anything else I’ve read in the comments.

      3. The smart money says it will come down to crime and homelessness for mayor of Seattle, which means Harrell. When crime and public safety are issues those tend to be the only issues.

        The trial lawyers assoc. PAC gave Gonzales $10,000 (she claims she was once a personal injury lawyer and the Washington Assoc. of Justice leans left), without notice to the membership, and the WASJ lawyers who work and live in Seattle were very, very angry at the PAC because they think Gonzales and her group ruined the ability to work and live in Seattle.

        If the trial lawyers are against you, and you are a progressive, things don’t look good.

        What is truly tragic is the race for Seattle City Attorney. Are you telling me of all the qualified lawyers in Seattle these two are the best Seattle can do?

      4. “What is truly tragic is the race for Seattle City Attorney.”

        Yeah I agree. It’s pretty sad that these are the candidates folks have to pick from. I imagine if I was still voting in Seattle I might just under vote my ballot and skip this one, or alternatively, just flip a coin.

      5. No, they were all good, although Durkan is disappointing. I’m afraid the current candidates might not be as good as them.

      6. Harrell has the best plan on policing

        What plan? Oh wait, I remember, the plan is to make each police officer sit through the videotape of George Floyd being murdered. Yeah, that ought to solve the problem. Wow, why didn’t anyone think of that before?

        Yes, lots of cops have left. Good riddance. People seem to be delusional when it comes to the problem in this city. They think this problem exists in other cities, but not here. They see an honest, hard working, competent police chief and think that the rest of the force are just like them.

        They are wrong. This is not just my opinion, but the opinion of the department of justice. The DOJ investigated and found “a pattern or practice of constitutional violations regarding the use of force that result from structural problems, as well as serious concerns about biased policing.” The city settled, and has been under a consent decree every since. So that means our problems are over, right? Wrong. A judge has repeatedly found that the cops aren’t following the rules, and things are still bad. The decree was only supposed to last two years — enough time to demonstrate that we’ve solved the problem. They still haven’t, which is why are still under it. This is all public record ( I urge everyone to read that timeline, and then tell me that the biggest problem with the police is that a lot of them have left.

        What kind of cop just leaves if the city demands more accountability. At best it is someone who is just cashing out. At worse it is a racist, abusive sadist. Think the latter doesn’t exist here? Again, read the report! This isn’t some rabble rousing socialist — this is a federal judge! These problems have not gone away.

        Holy cow, look at how many of our cops won’t even get vaccinated. They are paid to protect us, and yet they are willing to risk infecting and killing the public for no good reason. This is clearly a “structural problem” that hasn’t gone away. Obviously there are some good cops — but there are clearly a lot of racist, abusive police officers, and worse yet, an environment that encourages those attitudes to fester, and spread. Replacing a lot of old officers with new ones sounds like it would help, not hurt.

  6. Most of the justification in these endorsements seem like Seattle Subway is grasping at straws to just endorse their personal favorites.

    What has Gonzalez actually accomplished on the council when it comes to transit? Besides empty promises of “more progressive funding” (which, by the way, almost every city council member seem to always be promising for everything). Some lowlights from the past 2 years I can remember off the top of my head:

    1. She let Alex Pedersen become the transportation chair of the council
    2. She allowed said transport chair to push through a reduced STBD
    3. Allowed Herbold to get her way and basically abandoned/forgot the central city connector
    4. Terrible compromises being made in interbay development zone
    5. Watered-down Eastlake rapidride

    1. Either that or they weighed those things against a candidate, Harrell, who is aligning on the NIMBY side on zoning. I would assume NIMBY decisions on transit details are never far behind.

      When push comes to shove he’s a no on upzones but a yes on dedicated bus and bike lanes? We’ll see if he wins, but I really doubt it. Also: Pedersen (and that whole team) endorsed Harrell.

      1. Ballardite: Correctly identifying a political position isn’t “name calling.”

        If Harrell is going to align with team “apartments are bad” then he’s not going to win a lot of progressive endorsements.

        Did he win any? I can think of a single one off the top of my head.

    2. 1. This would have been tough to stop, and at the time, we didn’t know how bad he was going to be. You are also assuming he has way more power than he does.

      2. Bullshit. She opposed the reduction. It was both the mayor and Pedersen who supported the reduction. If she had been mayor, there would have been no reduction (Pedersen could whine all he wants — he would be outvoted). As it was, she was able to work out a compromise with the mayor, cutting the reduction in half.

      3. The Central City Connector is a stupid project.

      4. Fair enough, but again, this is largely coming from the mayor.

      5. They just ran out of money. That, and the fact that a lot of the initial plans just weren’t possible. You have to have at least one lane of general purpose traffic one direction. That leaves either bus lanes or bike lanes, and Eastlake is a major bus corridor (far more important as a bus corridor than bike corridor). As it is, they managed to come up with some important improvements.

      1. 1. You’re being very kind to Petersen, it was extremely clear, he even wrote a blogpost advocating _against_ ST3 years ago, which was possibly one of the most popular ballot items ever (in Seattle at least).

        2. She opposed the reduction, yet she voted for it? Who exactly wanted it reduced besides Petersen? Why was it even necessary to compromise when only one politician on the council wanted it?

      2. I hate Pedersen, but allowing him to oversee transportation is meaningless. He would be arguing the same crap from any position.

        Who exactly wanted it reduced besides Petersen?

        The mayor. The mayor proposed a 0.1% tax. The council wanted 0.2% (to keep funding roughly at the same level). They negotiated and got 0.15%. There wasn’t enough support to override a mayoral veto — thus the compromise.

      3. ” You’re being very kind to Petersen, it was extremely clear, he even wrote a blogpost advocating _against_ ST3 years ago, which was possibly one of the most popular ballot items ever (in Seattle at least).”

        Does anyone — even on this blog — think ST 3 was a good levy? Or honest in its assumptions and estimates? $4.5 billion for a line from Issaquah to S. Kirkland? $12+ billion for WSBLE when the true cost estimate is much higher. I like the park and rides in ST 3 on the eastside, but did we need ST 3 for those?

        Where else could ST 3 revenue have been spent? Affordable housing? $3.5 billion in bridge repair? Mental health treatment? Hell yes ST 3 was a terrible levy, especially now that we know the assumptions and estimates by ST in ST 3 were dishonest. I would never vote for someone who ran on ST 3.

    3. What important improvements? They added bike lanes and ditched transit lanes, even though RapidRide+ was supposed to be better than RapidRide.

    4. cs:
      one. Pedersen is doing well.
      two. several CM wanted to limit the sales tax to one tenth; she got it increased to .15 cents
      three. the CCC Streetcar is a very stupid project and should be killed; it is still alive; Gonzalez seems like a proponent.
      four. Storm facility?
      five. Eastlake RR has not been watered down. It should never have extended north of NE 45th Street. SDOT did succeed in changing its U District alignment in a way that will harm Eastlake riders; the Route 70 pathway would have been less costly and better for riders.

  7. Personally I find it disappointing any intelligent person would from their decision on whom to vote for based solely on transit. Unless the issue is spending $131 billion on ST when so many are chronically underhoused. Imagine if just $10 billion of that $131 billion had gone to affordable housing. Thousands would have been housed.

    Seattle especially has much bigger issues than transit, and transit advocates too often just don’t understand how transit is funded, and how precarious that funding is today. You want more transit: you need more money, and that comes down to general fund tax revenue, mostly in downtown Seattle, because transit is a huge hog for public subsidies.

    At the same time this is so Seattle. Each micro group only votes for what is best for their group. Homeless advocates, transit, racial equity, gay equity, the one “group” that is missing is business, because so many live on the eastside, or are moving there.

    There was an article recently on the eastside in which the reporter reached out to eastside candidates doing their doorbelling. Every single one said the number one issue for their eastside constituents is to not let what has happened in Seattle happen on the eastside.

    I am sure some on this blog will pull out some cliché’s like “clutching at pearls”, but this is a very deep seated worry on the eastside, and it is devastating for Seattle if business, tourism, and general fund tax revenue are important to you, and the one single thread that is in the DNA of every special interest group in Seattle is they all rely on public funding. None create revenue. While the pigs fight at the trough no one asks who is filling the trough.

    1. Personally I find it disappointing any intelligent person would from their decision on whom to vote for based solely on transit.

      Hey Dude: This is a transit blog. This endorsement is just one of many. It is only if you think the candidates are roughly equal on most issues (which they are, in the case of mayor) that you would give this endorsement any weight. People look at a range of endorsements and sources to decide who to vote for. We aren’t as stupid here in Seattle as you think we are.

    2. “Personally I find it disappointing any intelligent person would from their decision on whom to vote for based solely on transit.”

      That’s easy to say if you have a car. If you depend on the bus to get around, who wins these local elections can have a big and direct impact on where you can go, when you can go there, and how long it will take to get there (at least without coughing up money for an Uber or rental car).

      This is contrast to most city issues, which are unlikely to affect you in such a direct way.

  8. The problem this election is there aren’t really any good transit candidates. Sure, you have the usual suspects who “support transit” like they support every priority. But do you think Gonzales or Harrell is going to bat like Nickels would? No. They have never focused on transit in their career.

    Harrell was a solid but un-notable legislator with lots of local connections. He is also a POC and can represent that point of view best. Gonzales arrived in Seattle for law school, seems careerist, hasn’t been great on the council and doesn’t really have much connection to Seattle. Her personal finances (student loan defaults, IRS agreements) are not impressive for someone of her education and stature, which doesn’t portend to responsibility on a larger scale.

    Ultimately I’ll vote for Harrell, because he seems to understand that he is running for a city position. Many council members seem to care more about opining on national issues than dealing with the ones in their front yards.

    1. Harrell is the best for the job – I agree. Gonzalez is in it as a stepping stone to a higher office – she explored running for WA State Attorney General last year. She cares about her career above all else.

      Harrell came out of retirement because he cares about Seattle and saw it was heading in the wrong direction. He’s in it for the right reasons.

    2. Harrell is a great candidate if you think the city has no problem with housing. In a different era, he would have been a great mayor. Gonzalez understand that one of our biggest problems is the high cost of housing. She will do more to fix it, by changing the zoning laws. This will reduce housing insecurity and homelessness, while Harrell won’t.

      Both have been head of the council, and both understand how to be mayor (unlike a lot of the mayors we’ve had recently). But Gonzalez has real solutions to our problems, while Harrell thinks they don’t exist, or can be solved without making significant changes.

      Lately, every mayor has been so bad that it has been a dead end. Not only can’t they go on to higher office, but they can’t even get reelected mayor. If Gonzalez breaks that trend, and then goes to some other position, good for her, good for the city, and good for wherever she serves next.

  9. All of the candidates are strong on transit, so I’m going to vote for the candidates who support the basic fundamentals that make for a strong Downtown Seattle. Gonzalez/Oliver/Mosqueda all want to defund the police, so that’s a no from me

    1. Bullshit. Gonzalez has voted repeatedly to fund the police. Most recently as last November ( To quote from that article:

      Council President M. Lorena González and Councilmember Lisa Herbold objected to a hiring freeze Thursday, arguing it would shrink the force too quickly when combined with accelerating attrition.

      Maybe you are confusing the measures to require accountability with defunding. Yes, a lot of cops hated that too (just like they hate getting vaccinated), but guess what, we need it. That isn’t just my opinion, but the opinion of the DOJ, and the judge that oversees the Consent Decree (

      For the life I me I don’t understand why people are freaking out over the fact that a lot of cops are leaving, but think it is just fine that for over ten years, there has been clear, documented evidence — that a federal judge has agreed with — showing a structural problem abuse problem with the police department. I don’t think the problem is at the head — I think Best was a very good, honest cop — the problem clearly is with the rank and file. How is it a problem if a lot of those cops are replaced with new ones? If anything, it should help. Better cops, more money spend on social services — heck, next thing you know we might have a really low crime rate (like other places around the world that do that).

      1. “For the life I me I don’t understand why people are freaking out over the fact that a lot of cops are leaving, but think it is just fine that for over ten years, there has been clear, documented evidence — that a federal judge has agreed with — showing a structural problem abuse problem with the police department”.

        Because when crime and public safety are an issue in a campaign they are the only issue. Few of those not on this blog are going to think transit is underfunded or an election issue (and with the realignment it would not be a good issue), and affordable housing is simply a commitment to public funding.

        The affordable housing pitch IMO is a bit much from a blog that thinks spending $131 billion on ST is fine. If just 7% of that $131 billion (including a $4.5 billion line from Issaquah and a $12+ billion WSBLE) were spent on affordable housing ($10 billion) we probably wouldn’t have an affordable housing problem. But instead the region voted for light rail for the middle and upper middle class citizens who didn’t like their bus. We shouldn’t blame others for the consequences of the decisions we make, and every decision has consequences..

      2. I’m not sure if I understand your argument. Are you saying that people want an abusive, ineffectual police department because they just don’t understand the issue? They haven’t even bothered to read the studies, so they just assume that cutting social spending and encouraging an abusive police department will reduce crime (even though every study shows the opposite)? Yeah, quite possible.

        But that is why I write these comments. I’m not saying you should listen to me, I’m saying do the research. Social spending reduces crime. Police reform reduces crime. It is why the Nordic police force is not only a lot smaller, but a lot better. They have a lot less crime, and when you do commit murder, you are far more likely to get caught.


      3. I don’t know if you are replying to me Ross, but the irony for the November election is the main issue is the same in Seattle as on the eastside: Seattle.

        People don’t need to read studies from the Center For American Progress, which always conflict with some other study, to want less crime, more public safety, fewer homeless in tents in their parks and on school grounds. Voters have to tell politicians what they want, not how to get it.

        The uber progressives have been in charge in Seattle for a long time now. Why is it the least safe area? Who gives a shit about transit in Seattle if residents are terrified of changing buses at 3rd and Pike.

        This is an election, not a masters class in sociology. Seattle citizens want the tents gone, the streets safe and vibrant, and want to feel safe in a park or downtown or in the neighborhood or on school grounds. Every political study will show you that if crime and public safety are issues in an election they are the only issues. The poor neighborhoods bear the brunt of crime, not Pinehurst.

        A lot of things reduce crime. Allowing police to apprehend criminals instead of recent state legislation that now requires probable cause rather than reasonable suspicion to stop someone even if the evidence shows the person committed a crime because police personally witness very little crime, prosecuting crime, or what NYC pioneered in its broken windows approach that turned one of the more dangerous cities into the safest large city in the U.S.

        Yes, you also need money to reduce crime, and it is a vicious spiral. But using a term like “social spending” is meaningless. A million articles and studies have been done on which “social services” work best, which begins with K-12 education (in a safe school) being the most important, and fetal health. The more crime the more businesses and wealthy residents leave which means less tax revenue which means fewer police and more crime. It is how a large American city gets hollowed out, and why we have so many suburbs.

        Harrell is going to win by a wide margin, on one issue: he is seen as tougher on crime and public safety. It is all The Seattle Times writes about. If you want an election to be about transit or housing increase public safety so those are not THE issue.

        Look at NY city. One year ago who would have predicted a police captain would be the Democrat’s nominee for mayor. What was his main campaign theme: crime and public safety.

        I don’t live in Seattle but work in Pioneer Square five days/week. If I were voting for Seattle mayor and city council I would be voting on crime, homelessness on the street and in the parks, and public safety. Period. Instead on the eastside we will vote for the candidate who promises the hardest to not let Seattle come to the eastside, and I don’t need to read any studies or articles to understand that vote. I live it every day in downtown Seattle.

      4. Daniel:
        What “uber progressive” policy(idea) has been implemented in Seattle?

        Last I knew, the policy of solving homeless by throwing money at a bunch of non-profits was part of George Bush’s “1000 points of light” policy.

        The “Defund the Police” proposal put forward last year went nowhere last I heard, even though it was only a 0.07% reduction in the police budget.

        I’ve been told Shoreline and Renton both bought low budget hotels to house homeless, which seems to be far more progressive than whatever Seattle is doing.

        The people in Seattle seem mostly progressive in their leanings, but the actual policies at the city seem a lot more center-right than anything.

      5. “The uber progressives have been in charge in Seattle for a long time now.”

        Four years is a long time? And two or three uber progressives on a 9-person council plus mayor is “in charge”?

  10. note cute second picture with CM Mosqueda in Subway booth suggesting a ST4 Green Lake connection. ST2 Roosevelt Link station serves Green Lake well; Route 45 connects the station and the lake. If Metro was to have a Route 20, it should also serve the Roosevelt Link station, but that is another story. The E Line serves the west side of Green Lake. It does not need Link. It needs sidewalks between North 115th and 145th streets, access management, shorter headway and waits, and perhaps conversion to double articulated electric trolleybus.

    1. Point of clarification: Council Member Mosqueda was in a hurry and just kept the stop sign the last person had for her picture.

      As another note: We don’t think the Roosevelt station serves the area around where Greenlake is on our vision map particularly well at all.

      1. “We don’t think the Roosevelt station serves the area around where Greenlake is on our vision map particularly well at all.”

        Whether or not replacing the bus on Aurora with light rail is best, or if having rail on Aurora would cause the benefit of an increase in transit ridership, or taking another route than Aurora to the north would be better, or if indeed another light rail line to the north is even needed are all good questions, but I can confirm that the station at 65th is not the best station location to serve transit riders on the far side of the lake who want to take light rail. Thank you

    2. I’ve visited the PCC in East Green Lake Village a couple times since Roosevelt Station opened. The first time, I took route 20 from Northgate Station (only because I was lucky to see it coming), and spent awhile after I got off the bus finding PCC. Then I walked back to Roosevelt Station via the NE 70th St overpass. I’ll be taking that walking path to East Green Lake, rather than try to deal with buses, as my choice of how to get to East Green Lake, for the foreseeable future.

      70th would be a cool path for a bus from Roosevelt Station that gets into the heart of the village rather than graze it from the half-walkshed path of route 45. Route 20 would probably be a stronger route if Roosevelt were its southern terminus or the bus at least stopped there, and another route serving the southern portion of east Green Lake from Roosevelt to U-District were deployed, maybe an extension of route 79, turning route 79 into a loop.

    1. Thanks, I didn’t know there was a debate. I found it on the KOMO site. Gonzalez was right on single-family zoning and prioritizing transit, not much more to say there. Harrell made it clear repeatedly he doesn’t want to get rid of single-family zoning. I don’t consider that a categorical no because at worst it’s just the status quo. But he said some interesting wrong things. He said, “We should increase density and heights where it makes sense.” Where does he think it make sense? That’s what I want to know, but he didn’t say. Then he said we need to work collaboratively with neighborhoods. That often degrades to listening to nimbys and nothing gets done. He said we should make it easier to convert apartments to condos, but that doesn’t increase the supply of housing. He mentions Minneapolis, which abolished single-family zoning, so at least he knows about that, but he just threw out an empty generalization against it, he didn’t say anything concrete about how it’s doing.

      At the first two questions about jobs and homelessness, they both just threw out platitudes, and I couldn’t tell which ones were true so it didn’t sway me one way or the other. Except I wish we had a candidate that didn’t try to smear their opponent with talking points. Later the questions came back to homelessness, and Gonzalez gave a practical answer: she’d focus on housing all 4000 homeless people (as she counted it), not just 2000 or 100 and call it a day like all the mayors so far have done. Harrell fell back to mental health and addiction treatment. Yes, and what about those who don’t have mental health problems or addiction? They need housing now. Gonzalez said, which I think is close to accurate, that only 2% of homeless refuse wraparound services. Again the 80/20 rule applies: 20% of the effort could solve 80% of the problem.

      So the debate pretty much reinforced my impression. Gonzalez is good on transit and land use, but has a problem with identity politics and soaking the rich (i.e., corporations). Harrell has some worrisome libertarian tendencies, as RossB put it. He focuses on ideas that wouldn’t actually solve the problem,; they would help a few people but leave a lot of others in the lurch. I don’t want Seattle to succumb to either identity politics/soaking the rich or right-libertarianism. I suppose right-libertarianism is more dangerous and harder to recover from, so in that sense I lean toward Gonzalez, but I’m not 100% satisfied, and I worry a bit about both of them

    2. I watched it on YouTube.

      I wasn’t inspired by either candidate.

      I felt like Harrell was better able to relate the challenge of daily running a city more than Gonzalez. Gonzalez came off to me as an idealist rather than a realist — and much of her idealism was rooted in anger.

      I have to add that I think most people want some changes to homelessness and police accountability and safety, but most Seattleites seem otherwise happy with the status quo. I’m not sure if campaigning on a platform of major change is advantageous for any candidate.

      1. Did the rent increases cause the explosion of homelessness, or did the lack of housing supply cause both the rent increases and the explosion of homelessness?

  11. I’m afraid I can’t really take Seattle Subway’s endorsements seriously anymore. They undermined their credibility in the primary by co-endorsing Houston for mayor. I expect higher standards for transit endorsements than just picking the candidate who draws the most lines on a map. It’s a shame, but I don’t think I can trust that they’ve really put much thought into their endorsements.

    1. We’re sorry you feel that way. I assure you, we put a lot of time, effort, and thought into our endorsements.

      I’ll also note that it wasn’t Houston’s transit map that impressed us, it was his deep and detailed knowledge of transit and land use policy. He made that very clear in both his written responses to our questionnaire and at our forum.

    2. If there is only one co-endorsement over the history of an organization with which you disagree, then they are doing quite well.

      I voted for Houston. It was a vote for what I really wanted: more green bike lanes and red bus lanes. That’s exactly what I’d expect Seattle Subway to endorse on. If we get a lot more green bike lanes and red bus lanes, then my vote, and Seattle Subway’s endorsement that helped guide my vote, were not wasted.

      Frankly, we need more elections with that many candidates from whom to choose, and that kind of broad ideological diversity.

    3. Oh come on. If you’ve regularly read any publication, you will find endorsements you disagree with. Seattle Times, The Stranger, New York Times, Washington Post, you name it. It is silly to just go along with an endorsement — you have to consider the arguments they are laying out.

      For example, I disagreed with several of the endorsements that The Stranger made in the primary. I thought that PubliCola, run by former Stranger staff, did a much better job. But this time around, I think The Stranger is right. I think their arguments are strong — including races I was very hesitant about, like attorney general. They brought up points that I wasn’t aware of. You aren’t expected to just go along with an endorsement, but use the information as one more bit of information when you consider your choice. Previous endorsements may weaken your opinion of the people making them (as it has done with the current Stranger editorial staff, as well the reactionary editorial staff at The Seattle Times) but it still worth considering their argument.

      1. The Stranger may get endorsements right, most of the time, but it is hard to read their endorsements, ignore all the drunk college humor, and sort out what is fact and what is some farcical made-up claim they put into someone’s mouth. Every other endorsement I read is serious and tries to be factual, or at least appear factual. (I find the Times’ endorsements to be more focused on appearance, in that regard.)

        I got to sit at a The Stranger editorial board meeting once to discuss a ballot item, and the arguments of the No campaign. It turned out to be a waste of my time, as their position endorsement ignored our arguments and made up completely contrived arguments to put in the opponents’ mouths. But our campaign carried the day, and they lost.

        I find their endorsement blatherings to do more to toxify debates than to move debate into the realm of respectful, factual, and productive. There are plenty of places within The Stranger to engage in the farcical. I wish they would keep that tendency out of their endorsements, just like they do with most of their reporting.

      2. The Stranger is free, which tells you something. When you are young, the soft porn ads are interesting. But after a certain age getting laid, drugs, and figuring out what your sexuality is — or reading someone else explain their sexual journey which was maybe interesting in the 1970’s — gets lame. Reading homely people talk endlessly about sex is a turn off, maybe because homely people don’t get laid a lot.

        I remember reading The Stranger for a while after it was founded in 1991, and if I had nothing else at lunch since it was free.. It was the reactionary Seattle Weekly. Both basically paid the bills with ads for prostitution and pedophilia, until that got tricky with the Bush Administration.

        It is like the folks at The Stranger never grew up, or went to graduate school. The readers would grow up, and go to graduate school, and begin to understand how complex these problems are, but The Stranger figured if they just used the F word it would show everyone how “serious” they were about an issue, when of course all the systems and courts and serious folks making the decisions never use the F word in public.

        The excitement about pot and drugs in general quickly faded away when it was legalized and everywhere and much stronger, and at some point everyone has to give up the harder stuff if they want to avoid the ER. I’d say around 30 The Stranger becomes pedantic, earlier without the soft porn.

        Then you have kids (which means you have figured out your sexuality, and are getting laid, at least until you have kids). Suddenly you have a 12 year old son, and he and his friends sound just like The Stranger. Every sentence begins with the F word because life is so emotional for them at that age, and all they care about is getting laid, probably drugs (pot hopefully), and their sexual identity. Life repeats itself, except with a cell phone a 12 year old boy doesn’t need the soft porn ads in The Stranger, and The Stranger looks pretty mild compared to the internet.

      3. It used to be that The Stranger was free and the Seattle Weekly was 25c. Many people chose The Stranger because they didn’t think The Weekly was worth the cost (especially when the Seattle Times was 35c or so and had a lot more content). So The Stranger’s free price was a competitive advantage, and the Seattle Weekly eventually followed suit.

        The Stranger’s editorial attitude is independent of whether it’s free or not. It could be free or it could be paid. Maybe an irresponsible attitude wouldn’t fly with a cover charge, but that hasn’t been proven because there never has been a similar paid paper, at least not around here. (The Weekly at one point ditched its highbrow attitude and became like The Stranger, but I think that was after it became free, or at least within a few years of it.)

      4. “It is like the folks at The Stranger never grew up, or went to graduate school.”

        It is, except they are responsible when it comes to election endorsements and city hall coverage and arts listings, and publishing a periodical, soliciting ads, and (I assume) paying their staff. They just like to pretend they’re high school dropouts.

      5. “Suddenly you have a 12 year old son, and he and his friends sound just like The Stranger. Every sentence begins with the F word”

        They may have gotten it from TV. My roommate watches Netflix and other streaming TV shows all the time, and I can’t believe how the characters say the F word every five minutes, and women more than men. It feels like, “This is unrealistic; real people don’t swear that much.”

  12. For a transit blog, I’m surprised there was no mention of civil/structural bridge engineer Ken Wilson, the other candidate for Position 8, who is working on multiple projects connected with Light Rail throughout King County (Seattle, Shoreline, Redmond). You show a picture of Mosqueda at the Northgate Light Rail opening, but no mention of Wilson who was there and was instrumental in getting the pedestrian bridge built that connects the station to North Seattle College and Licton Springs neighborhood.

    1. There is much to admire in Wilson’s resume.

      I do think it is open to debate whether it is more important to preserve the city’s tree canopy (one of his goals), or to preserve the region’s tree canopy by stopping single-family housing sprawl.

      He is running against Teresa Mosqueda, the council’s most effective progressive/urbanist in a long time. We are lucky to have two high-quality candidates in the race. This sure beats having candidates chosen by political parties.

      1. Preserving the cities tree canopy isn’t mutually exclusive with protecting the environment outside of Seattle. Both are important. A City council person can’t legislate what happens in other cities or unincorporated King County. We need elected officials in other jurisdictions to share the same goal. In the end people are going to decide if they want to live in Seattle or have a SF home for elsewhere for a wide range of reasons. Bellevue is more expensive than Seattle but people choose it because of excellent public schools, low rates of violent crime, parks they can actually enjoy, etc.

      2. City councils most certainly try to legislate their cities’ problems away to other cities, as we have seen with the exploding homeless population, and the insistence by some politicians that the homeless find legal housing or leave (where to, that’s their problem). Indeed, that seems to be the hot-button divide in this election.

        Heck, RVs don’t tear trees down, but we’ve made it essentially illegal to live in them, too, so we can clear out the public asphalt for the more important use of parking empty cars so we can use our car garages for storage. The towing away of people’s homes in Seattle is beginning again, as we pretend the pandemic is over.

        Our failure to address the housing crisis in Seattle, by using tree canopy preservation and other tools that get in the way of dense housing construction, pushes the housing crisis into the suburbs, where SFH zoning is king. Are the suburbs preserving their tree canopies, or are they mowing them down to build mansionettes with lawns as far as the eye can see?


        Here is a list of the amendments to the GMPC housing allocations in June. You will see one proposed amendment was to relax or eliminate the tree canopy goals for Seattle to meet affordable housing targets. I am pretty sure Seattle’s tree canopy goal at around 28% is the lowest in the region.

        There has been a lot of talk about Martin v. Boise, a ninth circuit case in which the court held the city of Boise could not criminalize sleeping in public if it did not provide adequate overnight shelters, because as Brent noted a prime tool for many cities is to move the homeless to other cities, like Seattle, although homeless advocates will claim all our homeless are from here (they count “here” as in very recently).

        Martin is written much narrower than many understand. It actually advocates for moving the homeless from public streets and parks and placing them in shelters, and so wants cities like Boise to build overnight shelters, not allow the homeless to sleep in parks and on the streets which saves no one. This region has plenty of homeless shelter space — although Covid did reduce that space — so Martin is not an issue in this area.

        The citizens want the homeless off the streets and out of the parks, including campers and buses without any sanitation. They want their children to be able to use the parks and businesses want customers to feel safe walking the streets. It is a big reason Harrell will win pretty comfortably.

        Right the split in the county is whether to bypass the shelter paradigm — shelter cot and sobriety, shelter room with working towards work, subsidized housing with work, to non-subsidized housing — and go directly to subsidized housing in distressed hotels.

        Seattle and King Co. like the distressed hotels because financially and politically they are desperate to the get the homeless out of Seattle NOW because it is hurting downtown business, and will likely be a major issue in the election. They argue housing must precede treatment, and in reality so many homeless have zero residual wage earning capacity and will cost a fortune to house somewhere until they die. Unfortunately this region chose transit and light rail over housing.

        The eastside doesn’t think this technique in which untreated homeless are moved to distressed hotels works, especially in their cities, and at $65,000/room per year is not affordable. They think the shelter paradigm determines who really wants help, and should get the funding for help. The working poor also don’t quite understand why they don’t get free housing at $65,000/year which is well above what someone with an AMI of $102,000/year in Seattle could ever afford for housing.

        Unfortunately both sides are correct.

        Right now King Co. is considering condemning or buying the city park next to the King Co. courthouse, because you can’t have the major county courthouse shut down because it is too dangerous for staff to take transit to or leave the building (or in the building, one homeless person from the park raped a staff member in a courthouse bathroom).

        If Seattle is determined to allow the homeless to camp in the parks, which effectively makes the parks unusable for most citizens and kids, then why not just pave and develop the parks for housing, and forget dumb ideas like rezoning the residential neighborhoods that will never create affordable housing. Begin with the new waterfront park the city spend a fortune on since it is urban and near services, reallocate $10 billion for ST and N. King Co. and open up ALL Seattle sidewalks to campers and buses for the sidewalks.

        Just don’t be surprised if all the businesses in Seattle, and many of the citizens with money, move to the eastside, and Seattle finds itself with some pretty big funding gaps when it is left with just the poor and homeless, which is exactly how American cities get hollowed out, and Bellevue is hollowing out Seattle.

    2. Oh, and the endorsements of Seattle Subway are the endorsements of that organization, not Seattle Transit Blog. They are two different organizations, but Seattle Subway likes to publish its opinion pieces on this platform.

  13. If you think fighting to preserve the Junpstart tax is worthwhile, might want to look into race for City Attorney. NTK thinks it’s priority #1. Ann is silent on the issue while being endorsed by those suing the city to stop it.

  14. I’d argue that the county executive vote should be based on far more than single areas of that elected’s full scope. Pocketbook issues for every county citizen such as the extremely high costs of repeated failures in the already-high-cost business of wastewater treatment and high costs of Sheriff staff misconduct under a contract, which includes scant real accountability measures for officers on that force thanks to the contract this executive negotiated come immediately come to mind.

    But equity and good government for the quarter-million plus unincorporated residents of the county are also important, and that is where Constantine has really … err … what’s the darkest antonym for “shone,” anyway?

    Sadly, the entire electorate is saddled with paying attention to unincorporated local government affairs in King County under its current charter, which by the way has increasingly piled on more areas of responsibility and power over recent years on the executive, starting quite frankly with the reduction of the council from 13 to 9 members in the mid-oughts.

    Don’t think city dwellers should be voting on the quality of unincorporated government? Well who do you think is able to make a positive difference without that vote?

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