More people are falling behind in car debt. (NPR) People whose car is repossessed need transit to do errands.
Bye bye Southport ($). The office complex near Renton Landing will be auctioned due to no leases. The hotel, convention center, and apartments in the business center don’t appear to be affected. It’s another blow for a Seattle-Renton ferry.
City Observatory finds 16 flaws in the Interstate Bridge Replacement, the I-5 bridge between Washington and Oregon.
Are urban growth boundaries effective? (City Beautiful)
This is an open thread.
263 Replies to “Open Thread”
The ‘increasing delinquency on auto loans’ story is a perennial, and it’s way overstated (to be kind). The best data on delinquencies, from the New York Fed, shows they fell sharply during the pandemic and are returning to normal pre-pandemic rates which were themselves healthy by longer run historical norms. End-2022 delinquency rates are lower than 2019.
This is one of those alarmist stories reporters love because they’re alarmist, not because they’re true.
Denver related news is we had our Municipal election earlier this month for Mayor and City Council positions. The most contentious race wasn’t for either Mayor or City Council tho they definitely got heated. But rather it was for a ballot question as to change the easement of the old Park Hill Golf Course near 40th & Colorado Station to be redeveloped into New housing, grocery store, and large park. Which lost 58-41 in favor of keeping the easement in place.
For context, the Park Hill Golf Course was a public golf course that existed in the Northwest part of the Park Hill neighborhood since the 30s. The golf course itself has had a pretty storied history itself in relation to segregation, redevelopment, possible relocation for the US Denver Mint, and possible location for a college campus. Denverite has a good timeline of course’s history here.
In 2019, Westside Investment bought the property from the Clayton Foundation who owned the property for decades but fell on hard times in recent years. Westside proposed redevelopment of the land with 2500 units on the Colorado Blvd side along with a grocery store, repurpose the club house into a community center and the rest of the land being a large park comparable to Chessman Park.
Now why did they need us to vote on this redevelopment, well in 1997 there was a conservation easement placed on the property by the City to preserve the land as it in it’s current state, a golf course and open space. In the 2021 election, initiative 301 passed which required that any conservation easement had to be put to a citywide vote to change it.
As to why it failed, some people pointed their fingers at the local Denver DSA for basically letting perfection be the enemy of good as they wanted much more affordable housing and thought if it failed they could try and renegotiate a better deal. Along with being contradictory to their beliefs in terms of housing policy. There is some valid criticism here in regards to their stance on the question. Though they also just acted more like a lighting rod of criticism for the other people who wanted this project to die like “Save Open Spaces” and NIMBYS in other parts of the city despite the fact that the redevelopment had the blessing of the Park Hill neighborhood and they had been working with them to come up with a proposal for 3-4 years.
As to what happens now, no one knows. They could come up with a different proposal and push for another ballot vote, sell to another developer to do something with the land and it becomes their problem to figure out, or it becomes a golf course again. I’m just not happy with the outcome of prolonging fixes to our rental rates to keep from rising too quickly.
Could the golf course be converted into a city park, as was the case with the Bothell golf course along the Burke Gilman trail?
Possibly, it’s a matter of what how the easement is legally defined. There has been talk after the election by city council members and mayoral candidates to buy the land and have it become part of the Denver Parks and Rec Department. But Westside Investments has been about face for such a proposal. They’re not happy about possibly selling it for a loss. We’ll probably see an indication of where things will go in about a year, but it’s up in the air as to how things will play out.
I think that people view golf courses as parks, and just as people would get upset if we turned Seward Park into housing, people get upset when golf courses get proposed to be turned into housing. I understand where they come from, it looks like a park, could become a park, and there are countless other places in the city to add density than to the few places that look like parks.
If I were to learn a lesson from this it would probably be that pro-housing people shouldn’t spend too much time complaining about golf courses(looking at you, Jackson Park Golf Course) and instead focus on putting housing literally everywhere else. It’s not like we can’t get rent down without putting housing on golf courses.
> I think that people view golf courses as parks,
I don’t think this is true, mainly hear about the added traffic/people concerns than viewing it as a park. Though legally Seattle considers it a park so I’m not sure how it could be converted.
> If I were to learn a lesson from this it would probably be that pro-housing people shouldn’t spend too much time complaining about golf courses(looking at you, Jackson Park Golf Course) and instead focus on putting housing literally everywhere else. It’s not like we can’t get rent down without putting housing on golf courses.
It’s that golf courses are a large continuous swath of land that could build large amounts of apartments. For single family areas it’s mainly townhouses or small apartments acceptable. I do agree that trying to convert golf courses to housing is pretty hard (though due to the city amendment not from public sentiment) and should just focus on say the Armory being converted to housing or upzonings in around transit stations.
Denver is not Seattle, and this golf course has a different relationship to the city (distance from downtown, destinations around the station, availability of other walkable areas near stations). Not all Seattle golf courses are equal in terms of must-keep. I’ve been asking for a wider public discussion on which Seattle golf courses are most important to keep, and keep full-sized.
“Denver is not Seattle, and this golf course has a different relationship to the city (distance from downtown, destinations around the station, availability of other walkable areas near stations). Not all Seattle golf courses are equal in terms of must-keep. I’ve been asking for a wider public discussion on which Seattle golf courses are most important to keep, and keep full-sized.”
Seattle and Denver are quite similar. I think converting a golf course to only a park would have a better chance of passing without any housing on the property (let alone a private developer), although it would likely need some overlay to keep it a park without development of any kind in perpetuity.
In Seattle race would be a HUGE issue as the golfers at several of the golf courses are brown and black, and we saw how that went with CID and DSTT2. Another issue will be privilege, and whether poor and brown people should be able to play golf or only rich white people at private clubs. The CID showed how using race against while affluent Seattle progressives is devastating. Don’t forget all the youth minority golf programs too.
Finally, the city is going to want to know how it will fund maintenance of the properties if converted to parks without an income source like a golf course.
When you write, “I’ve been asking for a wider public discussion on which Seattle golf courses are most important to keep, and keep full-sized” I think what you really mean is which golf courses should not be kept, and you have a bias that at least one, or more, should not be kept. If housing is the issue, by the time a measure could reach the citizens or new council I think we are going to find apartment vacancy rates way up, and population growth flat, so claims that new (affordable) housing will be built or needed won’t sell, like Denver, or the canard new market rate construction creates affordable housing.
I think the odds Harrell would wade into this fight against large minority groups in the lower income range is less than zero. He also does not need a
huge fight with neighborhoods like WS that would adamantly oppose eliminating the WS golf course, about the only public course that has white players. He certainly threw ST under the bus when the CID raised the same arguments, and the progressive housing groups are as white as the progressive Link groups.
If a park is essentially a manicured green space for public use then a golf course is absolutely a park. It disturbs me that people constantly propose turning them into housing. It’s one of those proposals that exists in a bubble on social media but would get slaughtered in the public sphere if it was ever moved forward. This city is loaded with parking lots and vacant lots that can be converted to housing. The cute conceptual drawings never seem to show all of the roads and parking lots that would be required to build housing on a golf course, not to mention the number of exceptional trees that would have to be cut down in order to make it happen.
What we should be doing is upzoning AROUND parks. What better place to put density than where there is a huge open space right next door for people to use.
“a bubble on social media”
Maybe, but the proposal to convert JP Golf Course to housing is worse than that. It is actually ILLEGAL.
Or, more precisely, every acre of park and that gets converted to non-park uses must be replaced – acre for acre – with new parkland. This goes back to Initiative 42 which the voters passed something like 30 years ago.
So, ya, you could convert JPGC to housing, but every acre you convert would need to be replaced with a new acre of parkland inside the city limits.
That does nothing to change overall urban density, and would be hugely expensive.
So, ya, social media bubble or not, it ain’t going to happen.
The unique problem with Jackson Park is it blocks a quarter of the walkshed for two Link stations. Link walksheds in Seattle are too few and precious to just leave as golf courses without reconsideration. One suggestion is to simply add one row of buildings on the northern edge. That’s not taking much of the park.
Golf usage has been declining in Seattle for years. That’s one of the reasons for reconsidering whether we need all five courses.
“In Seattle race would be a HUGE issue as the golfers at several of the golf courses are brown and black, and we saw how that went with CID and DSTT2.”
[Rolls eyes.] Golf is primarily an elite white man’s sport that peaked in my parents’ generation. My grandmother at a Tacoma country club. Darrin and Mr Tate on Bewitched schmoozing with a client. And now Donald Trump.
There are doubtless more black and brown people playing golf now as there are in all walks of life. But the idea that most of Seattle’s public-course patrons are such, or that it’s a major sport in those communities, or a major identity issue, or that all five courses are needed to fit all the players, when overall usage is declining, would require evidence.
“In Seattle race would be a HUGE issue as the golfers at several of the golf courses are brown and black, and we saw how that went with CID and DSTT2.”
“[Rolls eyes.] Golf is primarily an elite white man’s sport that peaked in my parents’ generation. My grandmother at a Tacoma country club. Darrin and Mr Tate on Bewitched schmoozing with a client. And now Donald Trump.”
I guess you don’t visit Seattle’s PUBLIC golf courses Mike. https://www.golfdigest.com/story/the-first-tee-theres-an-opportunity-here-right-now-john-feinstein You sound like you live in the 1950’s. Yes, elite white men play golf, at Broadmoor, Seattle Golf Club, Sand Point, and a bunch on the eastside. If you think elite white golfers are at Jefferson or Jackson — or brown or black citizens are too unsophisticated to enjoy golf — that is the kind of naive thinking that blindsided transit activists when it came to a station for DSTT2 at CID.
“Golf usage has been declining in Seattle for years. That’s one of the reasons for reconsidering whether we need all five courses.”
This issue has been studied before: https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/golf/seattle-considering-what-to-do-with-4-public-golf-courses-and-528-acres-of-green-space-they-cover/#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20study%2C%20which%20the%20city%20paid,Park%20and%20Jackson%20Park%29%20between%202009%20and%202017.
“These are not played by people who belong to private golf courses, and it’s a very diverse people population,” said Bill Schickler, founder and president of Premier Golf Centers. “You’ve got grandparents playing with grandkids and kids, and you’ve got women and men of all ethnicities playing these courses and they are very much in need as a resource for sport and recreation in the community.”
“The study made 30 overall recommendations, with the first being to “commit to golf as a recreational program offered by the City on par with other recreational offerings.”
“However, “2017 was very poor weather year, whereas 2018 was a stellar year. In 2018, they achieved record revenues in virtually every category. Our revenue was almost $1 million better than budget, and in 2019, we are running already a half a million dollars ahead of budget revenue for 2019 (as of the end of May),” Schickler said.”
“Cheryl told me, ‘We haven’t heard from any golfers,’” said Anthony, a member of the West Seattle Golf Course women’s club. “That’s because they didn’t know. That’s when I started contacting people and getting motivated to start a citizen effort.”
Anthony put together a Save Seattle Golf meeting at Jefferson Park Golf Club late last month, publicizing it with a few signs at city golf courses.
“She expected maybe 50 people. Instead, there were a few hundred, with the crowd spilling outside.”
“I was blown away by the turnout and the support that demonstrated how many people want to keep our golf courses,” Anthony said.
Transit use has been declining for years but not golf on public courses. You could plausibly make an argument that brown and black golfers would actually enjoy Jefferson or Jackson more if they were parks open to the general public rather than golf courses although they would dispute that, and did in 2019, but once you introduce the concept of housing you lose that argument.
Most folks — especially Seattleites — I know would be very opposed to developing green spaces in Seattle to try and manufacture the ridership for Link that ST estimated through some kind of TOD, or paving over green spaces of any kind for housing when the GMPC just stated Seattle’s zoning ALREADY meets its housing growth allocation through 2044.
Durkin was not a very astute politician and didn’t understand just commissioning this report was a big mistake. I don’t see Harrell making that mistake so shortly after 2019 considering his predecessor’s one term tenure.
This golf course versus TOD debate is something that has been misframed. The debate should have been how to align the light rail line to promote TOD as opposed to building it where golf courses are nearby. For example, Link should have been split to go to Aurora and Lake City Way after Northgate as opposed to run up I-5 and its lower density and lower destination activity.
Of course, that is now not debatable. So instead we are left with inappropriate land uses near light rail stations. So what to do?
1. Reconfigure the golf courses to free up land near the stations. That could be done by simply reducing Jackson Park and West Seattle courses to 18 holes. Or maybe the layout could be changed to be more efficient like removing the use of land for aesthetics that the public can’t reach.
2. Relocate part or all of a golf course. West Seattle’s course could be relocated to around South Seattle College with a land swap for example — so that the campus is near light rail and the golf course isn’t. A more modest proposal would be to buy and then remove some single family homes for new holes far away from the stations and close the holes near the stations and put TOD there.
Regardless, each course would need a careful plan of action as well as a likely citywide vote to declassify any TOD land as “park land”. It would preferably be a multi-year process rather than a knee-jerk approach.
Sure there would be passionate pleas to keep everything as is. But Seattle 150 years ago looked much different than today and will likely look much different in another 150 years — especially with global warming.
Either way I find trying to convert the golf course to be too hard considering the city’s amendment of a 1-1 replacement with new parkland. I would focus much more on up-zoning around the 130th station in the residential land and around Pinehurst and Haller Lake.
RE: 1:1 replacement, at 130th station, given the topography of I5, I do like the idea of lidding the freeway at roughly 130~133rd, primarily as a way to improve the walkshed of the Link station, but it would then create a few blocks of park space, then allowing some of the current park space immediately next to the station to be built upon. The idea being that a lid park is much cheaper than a lid building, and the lid being funded by the developer(s) who then build some market rate housing on the formerly park land.
Not as worthwhile as simply upzoning the existing developable land, but would result in a better station walkshed and improved density in the immediate vicinity of the station.
You might want to check out Jackson Park on a weekend… the idea that it’s all elite white guys is ridiculously false. Relying on stereotypes makes for a poor argument.
Second, the golf course was there first so it’s doesn’t “block two link stations”… the Link stations were put in a crappy location because ST doesn’t know how to design a mass transit system to serve the greatest number of riders.
“I find trying to convert the golf course to be too hard considering the city’s amendment of a 1-1 replacement with new parkland.”
Since it’s the city that’s changing it, the city could repeal that law or pass an exception. The city has also been turning house lots into one-lot parks, so if it converts a small amount of land it could replace it that way. Or it could turn it into a more multi-use park so that more people use it, potentially walking over from the Link station, and make the vegetation more environmentally-friendly than a lawn. Then it would still be parkland.
So, ya, you could convert JPGC to housing, but every acre you convert would need to be replaced with a new acre of parkland inside the city limits.
That does nothing to change overall urban density, and would be hugely expensive.
So, ya, social media bubble or not, it ain’t going to happen.
Exactly. It just won’t happen. On the other hand, it is quite possible that Jackson Park be converted to a regular park. As I wrote earlier, I would keep the driving range, add playgrounds, but otherwise just convert it to a regular park (with a lot of grassland replaced by trees). This would be much better for the environment, and a lot more people would be able to enjoy the area.
As mentioned earlier, Northeast Seattle doesn’t not have a lot of big parks. Thus there is a pretty big case for it on that basis alone. A premier park also raises the value of the surrounding property. If the city just gets off its butt and upzone the surrounding area (along with the rest of the city) that particular area would add a lot of people. As I’ve written before, this part of Seattle is nothing special. There are no views, unlike some neighborhoods. It is not part of old Seattle, which means it lacks those charms (smaller lots, interesting older houses, sidewalks everywhere, etc.). If the city allows upzones, that doesn’t mean they will happen, and happen everywhere. Providing amenities in that part of town (instead of what is typical, like putting drug treatment centers there) would do a lot towards spurring middle class development there.
Good urbanism is not just about adding apartments. It is about adding amenities that everyone can enjoy without having to drive to the other side of town. Converting the golf course to a regular park would do that.
How much of a budget is there?
How big is the demand for community garden space? (Portland has a huge waiting list)
If it were me and the money available I’d reduce the number of holes, build a big pit, put the park and ride lot under the golf course, convert the area near the station above the parking to community garden space, and convert the park and ride lot to housing.
At least a few of those wanting community garden spaces don’t have cars available and would probably appreciate something near a Link station.
The golf courses earn a profit above their maintenance. According to the Seattle Times the City of Seattle is looking at around $250 million in cuts to the operating budgets. If the golf courses are eliminated or converted to parks should the city cut transit by $15 million to cover the maintenance costs of the new parks that have no revenue source on top of likely cuts anyway?
“ RE: 1:1 replacement, at 130th station, given the topography of I5, I do like the idea of lidding the freeway at roughly 130~133rd, primarily as a way to improve the walkshed of the Link station, but it would then create a few blocks of park space, then allowing some of the current park space immediately next to the station to be built upon. ”
AJ, I support this idea. It seems easier and cheaper to build a park lid than a high rise housing lid.
There is also another likely benefit. It looks to me that the 130th St platforms will be very loud as the I-5 traffic roars below them. A lid would buffer that likely noise.
“should the city cut transit by $15 million to cover the maintenance costs of the new parks”
The city doesn’t fund transit so there’s nothing to cut. Seattle’s Transit Benefit District is a voter-approved levy, so I assume the money can’t be diverted to parks, and it expires in a year or two anyway. Seattle owns the streetcars but I think Metro is funding their operation. That was a controversy when it started because streetcars cost more to operate than buses, so the net result is fewer transit runs total. When Metro stopped funding the night owls, the city council took them on, but then that got folded into the TBD. I don’t know of any routes the city is still supplementing directly rather than via the TBD.
Question: Does the “acre for acre” rule include if you take the surface parking lot in an existing park and turn it into actual park space? That kind of swap would be a no brainer. Put the housing near transit. Swap it for more of “the park” actually being park space.
The problem comes when people say they don’t want housing at golf courses, but then they don’t want it anywhere else either. Or they try to push it to another neighborhood or city. Especially when the light rail station is there, not in the other neighborhood or city.
We are really conflating two different issues. Folks who want to convert the golf course to housing keep pointing out that it is a golf course. Would this happen if it was a regular park? Of course not. Capitol Hill Station is adjacent to Cal Anderson Park — should we add housing there? Roosevelt Station is not too far from Ravenna, or for that matter, the playgrounds next to Green Lake. Do you really think they will mess with those parks? New York City — a city with a worse housing problem than Seattle — has several stations in Central Park; should they get rid of the park and build housing there? Of course not. These are all silly ideas.
Again, the problem is that it is a golf course. Very few people can enjoy the park as a result. I’ve only been in the park a few times, and that was when it snowed. You can’t even walk through it! What kind of park is that! I get why someone might say we need more pickle ball courts, or basketball courts, or soccer fields. But just about every public place allows people to walk next to or through the area. The number of people that actually enjoy these golf courses are tiny. They were built when land was cheap and plentiful, and this was a long ways from “the city”. Those days are gone. We need to convert the golf course to a regular park, like they did in Bothell.
I get that the geography is bad, but as Al pointed out, the basic problem is the alignment of Link. Like UW Station, it is just something we have to live with. By all means, if the UW can build on top of the triangle (it is now a park) or build next to the stadium (another park) then I wouldn’t stop them. But if they don’t, at least it is a pleasant area enjoyed by many, in one of the biggest destinations in the city.
The problem is that so little of the land in Seattle is available for development. Pull up a map. The parkland for the golf course and surrounding land does take up a lot of space. One thing to consider though, is that a lot of it is wetlands. You can’t build there. But more importantly, look at that map again. Just look at the area between the freeway & Lake City Way and between 125th & 145th. This is where the park is, in its entirety. Now look at a zoning map: https://seattle.gov/dpd/research/GIS/webplots/Smallzonemap.pdf. There is way more land zoned single family than anything else. The entire golf course *and* the surrounding green belt would easily fit in Olympic Hills, with room to spare. We haven’t even dealt with the land east of Lake City, or the land south (Pinehurst/Olympic Hills). Yes, this park is big, but the land that is exclusively zoned single family is much, much bigger.
That should be our focus. Well that, and converting the golf course to a regular park :)
I had a wierd experience yesterday that reduced my opinion of human beings and of the state of the law.
As I was approaching a RapidRide bus stop, I saw a couple having an argument with an elderly person who appeared to be homeless. By argument, I mean they were yelling at him. He was barely audible.
They saw the bus approaching. The guy in the couple punched the homeless man in the stomach, and both ran onto the bus. The homeless guy fell to the ground, and the food he was carrying was flung in several directions. A woman who was watching it told the bus operator that a couple people who had just committed assault had just got on the bus and were using it as a getaway vehicle. I was right behind her and confirmed it to the operator. (To be clear, I only saw the one guy punch the homeless man, so the woman with her was merely acting as an accessory.)
The operator held the bus and called the police. The woman and I went over to check on the victim. He had a cut on the lip, but otherwise appeared okay, if dazed.
Paramedics never came, but the police did. The homeless man gave a description that enabled the police to pick out the couple on the bus, who then were brought off the bus to give their side of the story. The police officer asked the homeless man what he had said to the couple to have incited the attack on him. The assailant and his companion had their names taken down, and were allowed to get back on the bus and continue on their way. By then, the rest of the riders had transferred to the next bus that came along.
An officer told the victim that he was lucky, and that if anyone was going to be arrested in that situation, it was going to be him, for “disorderly conduct”.
Street life = Street justice. I’m not sure why the cops were called or anybody felt the need to get involved in this… or why the bus had to be late because of three losers. Look, drugs are legal in Seattle. And wherever there is dope, violence and mayhem fallows. Junkies get punched in face all the time. This is just the way Seattle is now. Live with it… or move out.
There’s no mention of drugs in Brent’s account. He said it was an elderly person carrying groceries. We don’t know what answer the police got re what the person may have said to provoke them, or why the couple punched them. So it’s not clear how egregious the couple’s action was, or whether the victim had committed “disorderly conduct” or not. But it doesn’t sound like a drug addict shouting and causing mayhem and driving reasonable people to violence. It sounds like a case of walking/sitting while old and poor.
Reporting = data = resource allocation.
Homeless people are also, dare I saw it…. people. Street justice exists when people live outside the boundaries of social norms and legal framework. Reigning that in and folding people back into the societal framework is not a bad thing. I understand being jaded/ dismissive, but it’s not how a functional society should operate.
The operator did what I hope any operator would do when confronted with corroborated information that someone who had just committed assault was attempting to use his bus as a getaway vehicle: Stop, and call one’s supervisor and/or police. Wait until his supervisor says he can proceed before he proceeds.
The downsides of blowing off the information and proceeding immediately include:
(1) Having a see-me note attached to multiple complaints waiting at base.
(2) Possible discipline if the operator had not followed all procedures.
(3) Possible charges for aiding and abetting, as the knowing driver of a getaway vehicle.
(4) Possibly becoming the next assault victim, as the state of mind of the assailant was not readily discernable or apparent.
(5) Possibly endangering the lives of everyone else on board, plus those nearby, if (4) came to pass. Which comes with a heaping dose of (1), (2), and (3).
I understand why people would be afraid to call the police, which too often doesn’t end well. In this case, the assailant’s name is now in reports, and will pop up if he is caught doing this again.
It still bothers me that the officers deemed the punch okay, (and that I or anyone else could be the next victim) and rendered the most minimal possible aid to the victim, as in “Are you okay”. “I think so.” Okay, call off the aid car. None of them looked closely enough to notice he was bleeding.
You did the right thing, I think, Brent. It’s impossible to know what the situation was, but you saw an assault and reacted in a way that seems appropriate to the crime. It’s too bad the policy were not more concerned with the well-being of the man. I hope that they react with more concern elsewhere.
Watched a video from cityNerd about ranking cities by walkability+biking+transit (using American Community Survey data) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOGIXGTYYJ4&ab_channel=CityNerd
Notably he is ranking it city wide, so even if a city has walkable neighborhoods, if its too small won’t help it enough. Most of it isn’t too much surprising (Houston, Dallas on bottom tier etc…). Though I guess Portland and Montreal were lower than I’d thought it would be.
The Denver golf course situation is quite common.
Some developers without financing yet but a LLC buy a piece of public property or with a restricted use based on the value of the restricted use, often from an estate or financially strapped family.
Then they hire lawyers and lobbyists, and a public relations firm, and reach out to councilmembers and donate to their campaigns and ideally influence the appointments to the planning commission no one pays attention to.
Then they reach out to the builders, realtors, and labor in an incestuous relationship built around profit to help “spread the word” about the great benefits to Denver..
The proposal begins to go public. Meetings are scheduled at the planning commission although public notice is the legal bare minimum, often in a local paper next to pet adoptions. The realtors and public relations firm use all the tropes in the bag: new market rate housing will reduce the cost of housing, Denver needs more housing (which is true except it already has enough unrealized zoning to meet that housing need), golf is elitist, the project will build tons of affordable housing (10% at 80% AMI but regular folks don’t understand that), and the citizens will get a huge public park and the city tons of tax revenue.
A rag tag group of citizens and golfers form with a catchy name like save our public golf course, and since this is a public course a lot of them are brown and not the wealthy suburbanites who belong to private golf clubs, who won’t use this park, or ever live in this housing due to schools. They are poorly funded compared to the developers and their friends, but they are good at going door to door, and making noise at council meetings. And getting enough votes to place an initiative on the ballot.
Then the press gets interested. The press loves underdogs, and often green spaces. The press for the most part is pretty clever, and so the PRA requests start hitting the city and council. It is amazing what councilmembers put into emails they know are public. But more importantly a good journalist knows the real gold is in the cell phones (texts and call numbers and length of call), the info Durkan and Best deleted, and appointment diaries. All of a sudden, the rag tag group of opponents have a very powerful opponent who goes through the plan with a fine-tooth comb.
The press discovers, as it knew all along, the plan is a sell out for the citizens. 2500 homes will eliminate half of the green space. Few will be affordable. The park is much smaller than claimed and surrounded by houses. They also discover a lot of very embarrassing emails, texts, and diary entries, all about how much money everyone will make.
The council starts to get hundreds and thousands of angry emails from folks who usually don’t write to them, but folks who email a councilmember tend to vote. The councilmembers become afraid this proposal will be very unpopular, and they will get voted out of office, and the vote won’t be unanimous so competing councilmembers will just hammer them in public meetings and hearings. Every council meeting is dominating by angry, brown golfers and environmentalists with hours of public testimony.
Suddenly the emails from the council and city to the developers become VERY formal. Calls are not returned, nor are texts except to say stop texting me, proper channels are to submit written comments to the city. The local papers are hammering the proposal in editorials, and the rag tag groups are given an opportunity to pen guest editorials that are very human. The press begins to investigate the developers, and anything shady in their past, any litigation, and it usually turns out they are mostly flippers, and don’t plan to build anything themselves but sell the development rights.
The nervous council and city tell the developers their plan still looks great but just one slight change to the plan: it looks like the developers will have to convince the voters to approve the plan and removal of the overlay because the rag tag group of opponents passed an initiative in 2021 requiring a vote (thank God for the council), unfortunately on the same ballot the mayor and councilmembers would be up for reelection. The developers point out polls showing the proposal losing 60/40, not understanding the council saw those same polls, and the vote on the initiative which was a vote on removing the overlay which passed by 63% https://www.denverpost.com/2021/11/02/denver-election-results-2021-ordinance-301-302-park-hill-golf-course/#:~:text=Ordinance%20301%20bans%20new%20commercial%20construction%20on%20a,property%20in%20Denver%20covered%20by%20a%20city-owned%20easement..
The vote turns out as it did: 58/41 which is a huge defeat (but better than Initiative 301). The council praises the wisdom of the voters. Usually the developers return with a scaled down plan, but when it goes to a vote and loses 58/41 the council decides many years should pass before the scaled down version is placed back on the agenda because the voters have to approve removing the overlay, and they smelled a rat.
The developers sell the property for about what they bought it for and like sharks move on to some other green space to ruin because it is much easier to develop green spaces than developed parcels although the zoning is there, and they know a sucker is born ever second.
It’s not really that common for urban green spaces to be converted. Typically it’s rural land.
Also, considering practically wide swaths of land is all zoned for single family zoning only across America, developers commonly have to petition city hall for zoning variances when building anything larger than townhouses (if those are even allowed).
The same pushback happens even when converting parking lots or failing malls to housing.
I forgot to point out that as noted in my link to initiative 301 the developers placed their own competing initiative on the 2021 ballot, 302, that was identical to 301 but exempted the golf course. Talk about brazen. I am sure the developers saw the writing on the wall but still went ahead with the vote on removing the overlay. I will have to go back and review all the phony claims the developers made in 2021 over 301 and 302 and am pretty sure they are the same phony arguments the builders, realtors, Sightline, and other groups gave to support the recent spate of state upzoning bills. Kudos to Denver residents for being a lot smarter and more skeptical than Seattle voters.
That’s reading a lot into the situation, and treating the developers and city as if the public doesn’t exist and doesn’t have other concerns. 2021: “Around 70% of neighbors polled wanted a mix of open space and development, 20% wanted just open space and 8% wanted just development. Around half of the people in the neighborhood wanted space for retail and restaurants and more than 40% wanted recreational facilities. A mere 35% wanted affordable housing.”
You could also read it as the open-space advocates were extreme, and there may have been a misleading ballot campaign or low turnou, or Denver voters are nimbys ignoring the needs of their fellow residents.
Not only that, the city had been considering other uses for the land for fifty years. Almost as long as Seattle took to decide what to do in SLU. That’s actually a point in favor of keeping Seattle’s golf courses. The Denver golf course is private, the city has been considering other uses for fifty years, and it’s only kept a golf course because of an easment and a state policy on changing easements. In contrast, Seattle’s golf courses are explicitly public parks, and were expected to remain golf courses forever. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reconsider whether that’s the best use of the land now, but it gives a stronger case for keeping them than the Denver situation.
That “open space and development” preferred by 70% in the 2021 poll sounds akin to the vision of shrinking the Jackson Park golf course perhaps by half, and putting other park uses and housing in the other half.
You could compare it to Broadmoor, but Broadmoor is in a marginal peripheral location, and there has never been even a hint that it might be needed for a college,federal building, stormwater project, or housing there.
Now that you’ve indicted “The Developer” [cue Snidely Nightshade melody] in Denver and tarred the entire Denver Council with assertions of deep corruption, what next, Counselor? Will you train the deep perception of your inner Private Eye on local governments, or does it only work as a telescope exposing corruption over there?
Why are you even here? Even tacomee with his heaping load of resentment that he can’t afford to live in Seattle occasionally takes a break from the Class Struggle to propose some improvement to transit, which is the purpose of The Blog. I may be wrong, but I cannot remember a single time that you have made a good-faith suggestion that might be interpreted as an “improvement” in service, technology, routing or frequency.
Instead you gloat about the fall in transit ridership, charge elected officials with collusion and bad faith when their errors are almost always of ignorance rather than malignity, and generally dismiss the small minority of Americans who choose not to drink the Kool-Ade poured out by the auto-hydrocarbon cabal.
You’ve said your wife questions why you spend so much time here, repeating the same set of “warnings” about looming insolvency and the bad faith of The Board and ST staff for “witholding information” until the last minute. All that may be true, but you are just punching down from your economically gated redoubt on Mercer Island at a group of techno-nerds who want to spend public funds in the wisest manner. You might want to listen to her.
Go join Seattle Subway if you want to diss impractical Transit Extremists. But, alas, you have to go to meetings and actually interact with them to be a part of the group. Better to file a brief, Counselor?
You should read this article from Danny Westneat, Tom.
“Democrats now represent 9 of the 10 wealthiest districts in America. Of the 195 districts richer than the national household median income (about $71,000), Democrats out-represent Republicans by 2 to 1. While the 240 districts below the median are represented 2 to 1 by the GOP.
“Tech-rich Washington state is a major part of this trend. We have 3 out of the nation’s 25 most prosperous political districts, all represented by Democrats — the Eastside’s 1st District (ranked No. 10 wealthiest) and 8th District (ranked 24th), along with Seattle’s 7th District (ranked 25th).
“The 1st District, with a median household income of $121,000, is represented by one of Congress’ more affluent members, Suzan DelBene.
“Meanwhile the only two congressional districts in the state with incomes below the national median are the two represented by Republicans. Eastern Washington’s 5th District, domain of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, is the state’s poorest, its median income of $62,800 ranking it 282nd.
“All of this is part of the “big sort,” in which Democrats increasingly are the party of college-educated, tech-dominated, coastal city dwellers. While Republicans have a growing lock on the rural working class.
“For a new member, Gluesenkamp Perez is blistering in her critique of how tone-deaf her party can sound sometimes on issues of money. Take, say, the politics of climate change.”
You are only play at being poor and working class, Tom. You’ve never had a callous on your hand your entire life, or used a tool, and yet you insult Tacomee who made a living with his hands and his back, and ironically is much happier with his life than you are.
I don’t mind ad hominem attacks, although your total lack of wit is tiresome, but your faux class sanctimony is pretty unbearable.
A bit harsh wording.
I am a bit confused what is your goal. It’s not as if we (or at least me) would agree to not expand link and never upzone.
WL, I really don’t have a “goal”. I don’t know enough about transit to really suggest systemic changes for areas other than where I live. And who would listen to me among those who make those decisions?
What I have tried to say is when it comes to capital projects for Link a subarea is constrained by its subarea revenue, and the actual cost of the capital project. One can’t rely on ST’s project cost estimates. I don’t think some of the subareas have that revenue, including WSBLE and subarea contribution to DSTT2, but ST won’t admit that, at least not at this time even though WSBLE is now estimated at $15 billion. I could argue some of the Link extensions don’t make sense to me when it comes to dollar per rider mile, but that isn’t why those extensions will get built or not.
The other point I try to make is ridership does matter, especially when it comes to O&M costs that ST is re-estimating higher and is predicated on a 40% farebox recovery rate. You don’t build something you can’t afford to maintain.
When it comes to housing if I could make two points they are: 1. zoning is not construction; and 2. The cost of housing reflects AMI, and builders build to AMI. Also I think a city is in the best position to determine its zoning as long as it meets its (inflated) GMPC housing targets.
Some on this blog are optimists. Most on this blog are on the far left. I tend to be a skeptic. It is hard to predict the future, except the future for this area looks like it will be much different than what some dreamed of pre-pandemic, but still a pretty good life.
Some predict the future they dreamed of pre-pandemic and some rosy predictions about future population growth, urban density and vibrancy, and transit ridership will still come true, but only time will tell. ST will build as those predictions will come true because it is taxpayer money. Builders will wait to see if they come true before building because banks will wait to see if they come true before lending.
Either way life goes on and is pretty good compared to the pandemic. Most people I know are pretty happy right now.
From the previous discussion about Stride 1 (Bellevue to Burien) and also the Rapidride H line, I was wondering is there a reason why all of these terminate at Burien?
It seems like it’d make more sense for the H RapidRide to say terminate at Seatac or Tukwila International Blvd Station to connect to a Link station.
Yeah I’ve questioned this odd obsession with ending lines at the Burien TC before. Both RapidRide and Stride do it.
I think that it’s particularly silly for Stride as the TIBS stop will take 5 minutes to reach from the TIBS Link platforms, and RapidRide F runs frequently anyway. Rather than build the proposed freeway side stop in the middle of the interchange, it just seems easier to me to work with the airport to bring Stride down to SeaTac Link station and stop, then turn around and head back north to continue the route.
That would have given a nonstop connection between the airport and RapidRide H as well as remedy the transfer hassle with the new Downtown station scheme for Eastside airport goers. As it is, RapidRide F parallels Stride between South Renton, TIBS and Burien.
SeaTac loop is a major time suck for a bus. Massive congestion. Burien TC, OTOH, allows for a straight shot and bus remains in a bus lanes the length of 518, including the TIBS freeway station, with only brief mixed traffic at the end in Burien. Same logic for RR-H, going to SeaTac would destroy the reliability of the route. I could maybe see the H extending to TIBS.
Also, the station isn’t in the interchange but slightly offset, to have direct access to the TIBS station and pedestrian access to the large parcel south of the freeway. The latter greatly expanding the walkshed of TIBS Link station – the pedestrian bridge across 518 nearly justifies the station placement all by itself.
I do understand burien wants a direct bus to Bellevue but it makes connections to the airport awkward on both the Bellevue and Burien side. One could have both the H rapidride go to SeaTac and Stride go to SeaTac and both connect there. Though it does make burien to Bellevue much longer.
Alternatively could have just H rapidride head to TIBS, though now there’s duplicative service with stride also going between burien and tibs.
Or maybe some weird routing of stride Bellevue to SeaTac then to Burien and then straight to Bellevue (skipping SeaTac?), letting people going from Burien to SeaTac use 161 instead. (This is kinda copying what Bart does)
I don’t know it’s kind of hard to satisfy all the route pairings decently
I guess there’s a similar situation here with the Kirkland/UW/downtown/Bellevue 255 and other east side bus transfers. Where in that case sound transit is choosing south Kirkland park and ride as the transfer point.
“SeaTac loop is a major time suck for a bus. ”
Let’s talk about the time suck to riders! This Urbanist article explains why the Stride -Link transfer at TIBS will take 5 minutes. CID isn’t the only place where rider transfers are intentionally designed to get worse.
Yes the SeaTac approach has traffic congestion — but it sure looks like there are ways to set up a bus lane in the existing pavement.
“When the line was being designed ST asked the public whether it should go via TIB or SeaTac, and the majority of respondents said TIB.”
This whole thing about asking people to make early choices without having designs is a huge institutional flaw about the way ST works. In that query, ST showed people a dot — and not a maze that would require them to get on SR 99 bridge and wait by the side of the road with cars flying at 60 mph just a few feet away. TIBS looks easy on a map but it will be terrifying for riders to actually use.
Dend the H to Sea-Tac, giving the southwest quadrant ofvthe city (including north Burien) direct access tobthe airport for jobs and travel. Large parts of the City proper farther from the airport will have direct access.
STRide and RR F transfer is made at Burien TC, while Link connects at the airport. Many Link-bound riders will be headed south anyway.
I don’t think the ped access got cut? The Urbanist article was about how it was presented to the board as a possible ‘value engineering’ cost savings, but my understanding was that change was rejected.
Ped access was not cut at Brickyard.
The Urbanist guys have a weird rail fetishist hate for I-405 BRT – it’s the only ST3 project that has gotten vastly better vs the ballot measure designs and nearly the only project that is on budget.
The Brickyard ped access wasn’t even in the original design. It’s only a thing because the Legislature kicked in a lot of money to enable a second HOT lane north of SR 522 with center-running buses so the BRT doesn’t have to stop on the shoulders of the outer freeway ramps.
@AJ: “SeaTac loop is a major time suck for a bus. Massive congestion. Burien TC, OTOH, allows for a straight shot and bus remains in a bus lanes the length of 518, including the TIBS freeway station, with only brief mixed traffic at the end in Burien.”
Burien traffic gets impressively heavy during rush hours and evenings. And the loop to SeaTac’s Link station will almost always be faster, even in times of light traffic for both. Burien TC is the real time sink when you compare these two.
I’ve been suggesting the RapidRide H (formerly route 120) reach SeaTac Airport Station, following the path of route 161 (and formerly route 180) for years, as the employment sites along that route are a good match with Delridge residential demographics. That path ducks under the airport loop. Also, SeaTac Airport is a much more major employer than Olde Burien, where some of the restaurants are still smartly limiting themselves to take-out and delivery only, as a clever way to keep employees.
Since extending the H Line before West Seattle Link opens is probably not happening, I’d still love to see it happen in that route reorganization.
This. Well said and thought through.
I agree that the H, not Stride, is the right route to connect White Center/Burien to SeaTac. However, my understanding is the H is not to change when WS Link opens (unlike the C, which is to be truncated/rerouted to Admiral), so I don’t think the change to the H needs to wait until a Link change. Instead, what needs to happen first is the Port & KCM need to collaborate on how to give the bus proper Rapid Ride priority to avoid [most of] the congestion.
Alternatively, the H could be extended to TIBS, and the F truncated (or re-routed)? That would make TIBS a major transfer point (3 RRs, Link, and Stride), and the airport is very brief Link ride away for all of the transfers. White Center-SeaTac trips turn a double transfer into a single transfer.
Yeah that is what concerns me. I think either Burien or TIBS or even SeaTac could work as a hub, but I don’t really understand the current plan. After i-405 BRT is created, since they are going to eliminate 560, this means to reach West Seattle from the south, everyone must after riding the light rail transfer from Tukwila over to Burien Tc and then transfer again onto the H line.
> Rt. 532 now serves UW Bothell/Cascadia
College Campus, continuing to provide peak-only
connections between Bellevue and Everett.
* Rt. 535 is eliminated, replaced by I-405 BRT.
* Rt. 560 is eliminated, replaced by I-405 BRT.
* Rt. 566 remains the same, continuing to provide
weekday connections between South King County,
Bellevue, and Overlake.
* Rt. 567 remains the same, continuing to provide
peak-only connections between South King
County, Bellevue, and Overlake.
* Route 574 extended to Burien and Westwood
Village, continuing to provide connections to
SeaTac Airport as part of the Federal Way Link
” … this means to reach West Seattle from the south, everyone must after riding the light rail transfer from Tukwila over to Burien Tc and then transfer again onto the H line.”
The route 128 goes from TIBS to West Seattle.
Ride the 161 some time. There is meandering through Olde Burien, but no congestion once it gets out of there. That’s the route I’m suggesting for the H Line, not getting on any freeway.
Also, now that I think about it, it probably ought to happen when the Stride 2 Line opens, not waiting and hoping West Seattle Link opens some day. Burien would lose its congested freeway express to the south terminal airport stop, and West Seattle would lose its airport flyers semi-express that has been a major ridership dud anyway.
Burien wouldn’t gain a new path to the airport, just more frequency on it. West Seattle’s connection to the airport would go from half-hourly to every 10 minutes. I don’t expect there will even be a banner “Save the 560”, since it doesn’t provide any connection to the airport beyond what the extended H Line would already offer.
The 560 is express though. The H, despite it’s moniker, seems like it would be substantially slower. More frequent, but not rapid.
I agree with Brent, but with the caveat that 2/3 of the stops on the 161 between Burien and the airport be skipped by the RR. There is the problem of a layover point, though. Can’t lay over on PHS.
Thanks for pointing me to the 161, I didn’t think about connecting connecting to the Airport via 99 rather than the airport loop, which makes good sense and avoids most of the airport congestion. I could see the H go Burien TC-SR518-154st-99, for a most direct routing that would complement the local routing of the 161. H would then overlap the A a bit, but may be worthwhile if the airport is that major destination (and allows same-platform transfers with the A on 99 & F on 154st)
I agree with Brent, but with the caveat that 2/3 of the stops on the 161 between Burien and the airport be skipped by the RR.
About 2/3 of the stops are skipped, because nobody is getting on or off, except when they are. I honestly don’t think more stop consolidation would speed up the 161 between Burien TC and SAStation appreciably. But Metro data could better inform whether some stops are total duds.
The Burien Transit Center gets almost as many riders as SeaTac right now. I guess the assumption is that it is a bigger burden to transfer to Burien than to transfer to SeaTac. You could simply serve both (like the 560 does now) but my guess is they wanted more of an “express”, to speed up the trip from Burien to Bellevue (thus saving time for Burien riders, and money overall).
In a similar manner, Burien is basically as far south as you want to go with the H. You could keep going to the airport, but that adds considerably to the cost, and you probably don’t get enough riders to justify the cost. If you are coming from downtown, you take Link. There just aren’t enough people from greater West Seattle to justify the one-seat ride to the airport. Likewise, the western terminus of the F (in Burien) is really the least of its problems.
Downtown Burien (if it is even called that) is one of those “almost there” places. It reminds me a bit of Lake City. You have some big new apartment buildings. It has a main street of sorts with lots of interesting shops here and there (lots of good Mexican food). It got hit hard by the great recession (and now the pandemic) which I’m sure cost it some momentum. But it definitely has its charms and will likely grow over time. From a transit standpoint, the main problem it has is just the fact that it is a long ways to anywhere else. The transit center and express buses help.
Which isn’t to say that the alignment is ideal. I don’t think there is one, really. TIBS is nothing more than a Link Station, really. TIBS will have a freeway stop, which means that it is “on the way” to Burien. It makes sense to serve, but not end there. There are a handful of apartments near by, but it is nowhere near as interesting as Burien, and nowhere near as important as the airport. Not that many people are going to the airport, either. The main destination is downtown Bellevue, with way more riders than any other stop.
There is value in an express from SeaTac to Bellevue, and to lesser extent Burien. In an ideal world, there are a number of different overlapping express buses. The problem is, I don’t think there is quite enough ridership to justify it. That is one of the challenges with a regional bus system. It is easy to imagine different combinations (e. g. extend the H to SeaTac, end the Stride 1 there as well) but they all have trade-offs. You really need a lot more routes to create all the combinations that will work well, and I seriously doubt there are that many riders. I could see a downtown Bellevue to SeaTac express (on top of the stride route) which would not only avoid the transfer, but skip Renton. Run it every 15 minutes. Any less often and folks just take Link. Any more often and it costs too much (for the number or riders). I could definitely see that.
Stride terminates in Burien because it’s the furthest-west city, and this is its Sound Transit service. When the line was being designed ST asked the public whether it should go via TIB or SeaTac, and the majority of respondents said TIB. Because that maintains speedy through service to a city that people live in full-time, and makes up for the already-long time it takes to get from Burien to Bellevue or Seattle.
The H terminates in Burien because it’s an upgrade to the 120, which terminated in Burien. When the 85 night owl terminated in White Center, a significant number of people walked 1 1/2 miles further to Burien. South King County has a north-south RapidRide on 99 (the A).
ST has mused about extending the 574 to Burien and Westwood Village, to replace the part of the 560 that Stride 1 won’t serve. That would preserve a Burien-SeaTac express.
Thanks yeah that makes sense from the stride perspective.
> The H terminates in Burien because it’s an upgrade to the 120, which terminated in Burien
I was more wondering as in why don’t they extend it over to TIBS. Or at least the F line only takes ten minutes from Burien to TIBS. If you had the H line go slightly further it could reach a light rail station. (Of course would have to restructure the F line a bit as now it’s too short)
That being said it is hard for me to think of many riders who are going from say White Center to Rainier Valley and if going from White Center to downtown Seattle you’d just go northbound. I guess it’s make more sense whenever they extend the light rail further down to federal way
I, for one, would love the 574 to go to white center or Westwood. It is a slog to get from south King or Pierce to West Seattle. I often just go to Seattle first, which seems crazy.
ST has mused about extending the 574 to Burien and Westwood Village, to replace the part of the 560 that Stride 1 won’t serve. That would preserve a Burien-SeaTac express.
(1) Why should the 574 go any farther north than Federal Way Commons Station once the 1 Line extends there? Transferring to Link at Federal Way will easily be faster than continuing on the 574 to SeaTac Airport Station (or spending awhile sitting in traffic trying to get to the south terminal stop).
(2) Why should ST replace one of ST’s biggest ridership duds (the portion of the 560 from Westwood to the airport)? especially if it means keeping a pointlessly duplicative and slow semi-express connection between Federal Way Commons Station and SeaTac Airport Station? and when West Seattle can have a bus to the airport every 10 minutes instead of every 30 minutes, using fewer platform and service hours?
How do you recommend I get from Tacoma to West Seattle? Right now it’s a transfer and well over an hour. Are you recommending 3 transfers, pushing 2 hours? I.e. driving?
It depends on where in Tacoma and where in West Seattle. They are both big areas, with a lot of places a car drive away from the nearest transit, or at least transit more than once an hour.
If you are talking about Tacoma Dome to Westwood (once Federal Way Commons Station is open), that would be 574 + 1 Line + H under my proposal. Or 594 + H/21/orC. Each of those lines (except maybe 21 and 594) ought to be running every 10 minutes mid-day once FWCS is open. Your proposed 574 one-seat ride is more likely to be half-hourly, and mostly empty.
Yeah, Tacoma Dome to Westwood is close enough.
That distance, I’d take speed over frequency. Intercity trips are easy to plan for at a specific time, but adding a bunch of transfers makes it untenable. If the H made it to Seatac, I’d maybe take it with 2 transfers, but unlikely. It’s not the getting there that is the major problem, it’s getting home. I am not waiting for multiple transfers late-night.
I understand this isn’t a common problem.
It’s a little frustrating that it is currently feasible, but in the future this trip won’t be, but I get it. I have a car, and it’s not a terrible hardship to use it.
If the sounder weren’t simply a commuter and a bus went to West Seattle from Tukwila station, that would also work. But that’s again an F to H untenable Odyssey.
I just wish the West Seattle peninsula were more accessible via transit from the south. Maybe when they finish the 509 extension something good will happen.
I am not waiting for multiple transfers late-night.
I’ve pondered whether the 574 ought to continue going to the airport at night, in lieu of the shut-down 1 Line.
Any plan needs to consider how shift workers at the airport get to and from their jobs during Link shutdown time. And barhops in Burien, too, I suppose.
Running a night owl service to the Airport makes sense when Link isn’t running. Does STX have any overnight service?
ST build TIBS and did not provide much bus layover. Metro recently improve the layover at Burien.
I hope this blog will permit a contrarian viewpoint. How do you explain the over half a million $ difference in the purchase price and sales price/asking price of the following two houses in light of the general real estate and consumer economy? What do you think are the wholesale and retail costs of each remodel? People are still willing to pay top dollar to live in car-dependent suburbia.
Uhhh you do realize the allure of this property is that you can walk to the golf course and spa amenities?
Phoenix and Maricopa Co. are going through a huge building boom due to actual population growth, which knowing and liking this area probably means a bust coming up.
The same house as in the first link if in Clyde Hill based on lot area and pool (I have a friend with a similar house but likely smaller lot) would cost $8 to $10 million. Why the difference? AMI, although Phoenix is a town of haves and have nots.
There are very expensive houses in Phoenix but they are in the hills. My brother has a friend whose husband founded KKR and they paid $27 million for their house although I have never seen it.
This sounds like a homework question.
Where would I find the answer as to how much $ was spent on remodeling each of the houses? How much do you think the flipper put into each house? On one hand, people are falling into debt and on the other hand, there are those willing to reward a house flipper in 6 months the equivalent of a yearly salary of an accountant, attorney, or software engineer.
There’s blogs that write tips on estimating on how much it would cost https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-much-does-it-cost-to-flip-a-house/ or other’s say around 10% of the home value.
Though either way this is kinda outside the scope of a transit blog lol.
It’s way outside the scope and I’ve twice deliberated deleting the thread. We can give an opinion on Phoenix’s light rail and bus network based on transit best-practices, but we have no expertise on the cost of house remodels. The answer to your question may simply be that they’re two different properties. Or that one is undervalued or overvalued.
DECEMBER 20, 2022 AT 9:29 AM
Looks like prices for golf course suburban tract houses in “fly-over” country are getting awfully bubbly compared to Redmond. Nearly $600k more than the purchase price in July 2022!!
Why do you keep posting about the same Scottsdale house on a Seattle blog?
Just to be clear – this is not Anonymouse posting the Scottsdale stuff :)
There are societal implications for people paying half a million $ for upgrades that may cost half that amount. Who knows? No way to know how much the upgrades cost, but likely the flipper was rewarded with an income in 6 months higher than that of someone with an advanced degree. These sales raise comps and set a new floor in any area, transit friendly or not, eroding affordability.
The clear answer here is don’t buy a flip. Or wait for the seller to drop the price.
I make no claim to be “working class” and never have. I’m far from rich, but my wife and I do own our house free and clear because we saw that we never could do so in Seattle and so moved to a smaller city nearby. It cost $137K in 1995.
I was a low level accounting technician — certainly no CPA — and before that a clerk-typist for six years until I was given the assignment to identify and correct mis-reported retirement contributions from UW to PERS back when everyone who worked for UW had deductions. The amounts were small, but meaningful to the employees.
After about four months of reading the green bar payroll register and visually comparing it to the green-bar retirement transmittal, I noticed that when people did not have a regular check in a month, the deduction for that person –typically “cashed out” vacation time at the end of a temp job — would be reported for the person ahead of the temp in the sort order. When I showed the programmer what I had found she gasped and said “I would not have done THAT!”
She called a half hour later and said, “I DID do it. If you could figure that from printouts, you should be a programmer.”
Fortunately, as a UW employee I could take courses free at UW OR at a Community College. Since I wasn’t interested in trying four-year college again, I went to North Seattle College and got an AA in Data Processing.
Later, after I had moved to Anchorage and was working for Kelly as a typist temp again, I got sent to the Geosciences Computing Department at Sohio as the secretary to the group lead. When I left two weeks later he called me into his office and asked me, “How do you know how to spell all of these programming and geology words? I did not have to correct a single one, and I never saw you looking them up.”
So I told him that I had that AA and that I grew up three blocks from the Tulsa Fairgrounds where twice in my teen-age years the International Petroleum Exposition was held (every five years). I went both times more than once and visited all the booths.
He said. “Well that’s very interesting.” I went home and did a couple more jobs for Kelly, and then they called and said, “Sohio wants you back, but not as a typist, but a ‘tape loader’ whatever that is.”
Shorter story, the boss finagled me a way to become an employee and trained me in Oracle. I got good at it, and when he was transferred away to Houston and a “by the book” guy who did not like that I didn’t have a “real” degree took his place, I left to become a contract Oracle developer and later Dasta Modeler which I did for twenty years.
That’s another resson for not choosing Seattle when we finally settled after following long-term Oracle contracts around the country for eight years. Seattle is SQLServer country because of Microsoft. Oracle is persona non grata there.
So, “No, I have never been a manual laborer, except three years part time picking, propping and thinning apples in the Okanogan Valley when I was a hippie.”
I was a National Merit Finalist in the mid-sixties, with a Verbal of 730, so I can craft language well. So, clearly, can you, and I definitely respect your abilities to do so. However, the purpose of The Blog is to improve transit in the Puget Sound area, and I don’t see any of that spirit from you.
Oh, I forgot, one of the jobs I had between picking apples and getting on at UW was answering the phone for Metro, so I know quite a bit about the old route structure, a good portion of which remains to this day. I was in Seattle when the I-90 expansion and the proposal for DSTT1 occurred.
At the Customer Service Office we joked that “We’re the people who tell you where to go and where to get off!”
This was supposed to nest as a replybto Daniel a bit above.
I liked it.
Interesting news, San Jose (city council) was deciding which form of transit to connect their airport to the main San Jose Diridon train station. They decided on PRT with “The proposed transit technology from Glydways uses small, autonomous vehicles driving along a fixed guideway” over light rail and other alternatives.
The capacity would be 2000 people per hour. Notably, I think?? that it will be mainly grade separated from other cars.
More details in the presentation proposed to the city council: https://sanjose.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=11901323&GUID=9AF3933F-882B-459D-843F-4E4373E5685B
Video of their tests https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IrsufBASnQ&ab_channel=Glydways
But yeah it’ll be interesting to see if autonomous vehicles are used more, at least in limited guideways for now.
I saw a video about this. Each vehicle can hold only four people! They are only 4.5 feet wide! My shower is bigger!
Yeah it is very peculiar that they are choosing such a small vehicle width. My guess is they chose 4.5/5 feet so they can have bidirectional lanes inside with width of a single car lane (9~11 feet).
As you can see in this frame https://youtu.be/1IrsufBASnQ?t=4
I imagine most PRT/autonomous vehicles in the near term are going to have the trade off of low speed and low capacity, but (hopefully) very high frequency.
There’s already a light rail line from Diridon to the airport, so this seems like a redundant gadgetbahn.
That light rail line “Airport Station” is still several blocks from the airport, and the required low speeds on the transit mall blocks in Downtown San Jose turns that short distance into a 23-26 minute trip. It’s excruciatingly slow.
So build a shorter peoplemover bridge from the airport station or something.
It’s more than the walk distance. San Jose light rail is slow slow slow! We can go from King St/CID to SeaTac in 32 minutes at a much further distance than make the Diridon -San Jose Airport trip at 23-26 (varies by direction) .
Why do they need “autonomous vehicles” if they’re going to make an elevated guideway? Why not just use standard airport “Airtrain” horizontal elevators like the ones at Sea-Tac, Atlanta, LA and everywhere else around the world? It’s not like the people using it won’t be headed to or have just gotten off of another transit vehicle, right? They don’t NEED little automated “Uber’s” to take them to Diridon individually.
Another gadgetbahn. I bet the “capacity” with Airtrain vehicles would be way north of 2000 pph. They can come every couple of minutes.
They did analyze the traditional air train. Apparently those cost around 800million per mile? Considering it’s around 3 miles away it’ll cost around 2.4 billion; while also they don’t need as much capacity. The PRT claims they can build it in 500 million.
But yes that is actually a bigger concern I have with it. What exactly is the alignment they are going to build?
It’s a gadgetbahn like hyperloop. Some people like it because they’re not sharing a large car with a lot of strangers. It’s the same kind of thing as pushing Uber instead of transit, only with high-tech vaportalk. People who’ve studied these things say it’s trying to reinvent the wheel and make something that would end up being a substandard train or bus, and it would be more effective and less expensive to just use a regular train or bus.
If the problem is the distance from the VTA airport station to the airport, do what other airports do for last-mile access. If the problem is the travel time between Diridon station and the airport station, how about an express train from Diridon to the airport to somewhere on the Orange Line (for people from the north).
San Jose Airport should be relocated south of the city and redeveloped into housing. I don’t know why they throw money at that crappy airport that cripples Downtown San Jose and sits on such highly valuable land.
Agree, and push traffic to Oakland and Sac. At least SFO and OAK have runways that point over water, so some of the noise pollution doesn’t hit population.
Shoot, Moffett Airfield would be an adequate replacement for a single runway airport and already has light rail access.
Are there any plans to improve UW station especially the bus transfer? Easily one of the worst designed stations and the transfers to buses are horrendous. This station has become a major transfer point for 520 buses as they are cut back from downtown… the distances and streets one must cross between the train and bus are unacceptable.
How far under Montlake does the parking lot go? I had thought they had originally considered using it as a ped underpass…
Not at all. The east wall of the garage is west of the street right of way under the sidewalk. Of course there should be an underground connection, but more for access to the hospital than buses. The problem is “How do people then walk through the garage?”
asdf2 is right that the Sky ridge is pretty good for buses which stop southbound on Montlake Blvd.
No concern about accessing all those buses on eastbound Pacific heading for the bridge? Looks like there is about 7 routes going that way, and it’s a long wait to cross.
The garage is under Rainier Vista. There used to be a western entrance right in the middle. There’s a stairway down from the east side of Montlake Blvd that must go to it. We were among the ones who suggested extending the tunnel to UW Station. The university refused, saying it would mean non-UW people in the tunnel and increase the university’s security costs.
Mike, that’s the stairway I was writing about. It’s a long looping way from the platforms to UWMC, but if one has the time and wants a pleasant walk, it can be done without crossing any street at-grade.
It’s not that bad. I did it last week coming from the airport with a dog and lots of luggage. Rode the elevator from the platform to the bridge, walked across the bridge, and descended the stairs on the other side. The total time from platform to bus stop was around 3 minutes. Being able to do it without waiting for any stoplights helps a lot, as does being able to take a single elevator from platform to bridge, as opposed to having to wait for multiple elevators, like you do at Westlake Station.
It is also worth noting that when the 255 went downtown, the transfer between it and anything else was never all that great either. In particular, the closest stop to Westlake Station was all the way at 8th and Olive, on top of the bus’s 30-60 minute service frequency in the evening and on weekends. To transfer to it from the 40, the quickest option was to get off at Westlake and Denny and walk several blocks from there to 8th and Olive.
This brings up another point, which is, until service gets to be very frequent, the overhead of a connection is determined primarily by the frequency of the service, not by how long it takes to walk between the lines. After all, whether the walk time from platform to bus stop is 2 minutes or 6 minutes makes little difference when the bus isn’t going to be coming for another 20 minutes anyway. It is only when service starts to be frequent, that this platform/station access overhead starts to become noticeable.
You are correct. UWS is actually a pretty darn good station.
As opposed to the stations in the old “bus” tunnel, at UWS you can take an elevator directly from the platform to either the street level or the pedestrian overpass level. It’s really quick, and really easy.
But could it be better? It can always be better. But the LR station part of the transfer is actually really good. The Metro side? Well, ask Metro and see what happens.
That said, it makes sense to add a pedestrian overpass from the park on top of the garage to UWMC. That is the only pedestrian route from the station that can’t be completed today without crossing a street or waiting at a signal.
And I would still propose that the entire set of streets, intersections, and lights around the parking garage be converted to a large diameter, European style roundabout. The problem in that area isn’t lack of capacity over the Montlake bridge. It is all the light cycles.
Why would anyone do that? Just take the elevator from the platform level to either the street level or the ped overpass level. Then just walk directly to your bus. No waiting at lights or crossing of streets required!
The only connection that can’t be made without crossing a street is getting to UWMC. But that solution is simple – add a ped overpass near the emergency drop off area at UWMC. Problem solved!
Actually, Lazarus, there is a tunnel between the garage and the south side of the street which has a stair that reaches the park level on top of the garage. So it is possible to get to the hospital without crossing a street, but it’s pretty circuitous.
They put the station in the worst possible location down there. There are basically three destinations: the campus, the hospital and the stadium. The stadium area has a small clinic, but is otherwise vacant most of the time. You could put the station on one of those three corners, or in the middle (in the garage). They chose the worst possible option.
Getting to the hospital requires crossing two busy intersections (https://goo.gl/maps/G9tQ4aRs1GnDjp1s5). I’m sure that is fun in a wheelchair. Likewise if you are a nurse trying to get to your job, and it is raining out.
To get to the campus requires going across the triangle (the land above the parking garage). There is an overpass, but unlike Northgate, the station is deep underground. It seems nonsensical to build an overpass to a station really deep underground, but that’s what they built. There are elevators, but they aren’t designed to handle typical transit loads. If everyone lined up for the elevators, you would have a really long backup (this happened for a while when the escalators were broken, and they didn’t have backup stair access). So basically lots of people patiently walk or take escalators, while a handful (usually those with luggage or folks who are mobility impaired) take the elevators.
It would have made a lot more sense to build it in the triangle itself, and then have underground connections in all three directions. Or they could have put it on the campus side, or the hospital side. Pretty much anything would have been better than what they did.
Of course just as they will cap the freeway next to every station, and Jackson Park will soon be converted to apartments, this part of campus will soon undergo a major overhaul. They will build student housing on top of the garage, and next to the stadium. Just kidding. None of that will happen. It will simply be a station with entrances on the wrong side. But hey — at least it is a station. Seriously, the station, with all of its flaws, still serves that end of campus. It isn’t as good as the U-District Station, but the big failing is not having a station in between the two (e. g. Campus Parkway). Likewise, whining about the entrances to UW station seems rather petty when you consider that First Hill doesn’t have a station at all. A bad station is much better than no station.
I believe that is quite a bit too high for the “People Mover” (“Airtrain”) technology. LAX just completed its 2.25 mile connection to the new Pink Line LRT and the rental car facility for $2 billion, but that includes six stations. The San Jose line will require only two unless they do the “in-airport” extension which is likely to be overwhelmed with “local” ridership if it’s the toy Ubers.
Doesn’t everybody understand that an untried Gadgetbahn is going to cost three times what its promoters promise?
Yes, the guideway looks to be smaller and less intrusive with the toy Ubers.
Another misplacement. Reply to WL above.
“Doesn’t everybody understand that an untried Gadgetbahn is going to cost three times what its promoters promise?”
It’s Silicon Valley. They have lots of things like that.
The Silicon Valley project could be a template for the shuttle Bellevue has talked about from the Link stations to Bellevue Way. I think one of the benefits of small driverless cars is they would come regularly unlike a large shuttle, so folks would not feel like they are waiting as long. I do think this is the future of transit, and transportation, but eventually in general purpose lanes. And any transit project — especially in CA — that costs three times the estimated project cost would be a miracle.
Yes, frequency is important, very important for short/urban trips. A vehicle only needs to scale to handle peak travel, so for a corridor that has a low-ish peak demand, Daniel is correct a PRT mode can be compelling.
PRT is not high-capacity transit because it doesn’t have the capacity, but otherwise it can all of the features of good HCT (frequency, reliability). Traditionally, PRT was financial unsustainable because of the labor costs, but with automation PRT may because common.
I think it _can_ be successful, but the reasons leading them to choose it deems it to failure.
They don’t like the bus option because it is slow — but it is only slow because they refuse to give it dedicated lanes or build an elevated guideway for the bus. For this PRT to be fast and separated for traffic they’ll have to basically build almost the same alignment as what could be used for a bus.
Not necessarily. If the vehicle is small enough, the ROW is more like a bike lane. Can provide bidirectional travel with only a single regular lane, as WL notes. I think this is the logic in Bellevue – they don’t think they can squeeze in bus lanes, but they do they they can run something like a golf cart in mixed pedestrian traffic (the ‘pod’ is mixing with pedestrians and/or cyclists, rather than a bus mixing with car traffic). In the Bellevue use case, it may never be compelling for an abled bodied person in good weather, but it’s there for less abled people or cold/rainy times.
Lol, immediately realized I quote WL against themself. WL, you noted above the PRT can fit into a smaller lane, I think that’s the essential difference. They could put aside a lane and call it a “bike & PRT lane” and allow cyclist to use it as well?
The toy Ubers would run the bikes down.
Since people are posting real estate links, here’s one of my own :)
People were talking about Pinehurst area and the large lots. This one seems like a pretty typical example. 7000+ sq ft. lot, reasonable size house. Big enough yard that you could perhaps stick another single wide-sized unit in the back, with necessary setbacks from the back fence.
A couple of things that stick out to me.
One, even if you did a single wide-sized unit (and let’s say made it a single story), there would be very little privacy, and no yard left to speak of). I can imagine some people would be okay with this, but also that most SFH owners would not.
Two, the access to the back is suboptimal. There are walkways on either side of the house, but to access one side you need to go right in front of the main living room window (which further reduces privacy) and regrade; the other side is perhaps a little more accessible but really tight, getting a lot of furniture through there (let alone all the construction materials to even build the house…) would be tricky, at best.
I’m mentioning this to give an example of the practical limitations associated with the zoning change. Yes, in theory this lot can now host multiple units (technically up to six, right?) In practice, though, the existing house would need to be torn down to do anything more with the lot. Maybe (maybe!) you could get one more unit in the back, but that’s about it.
This is why some of us are very skeptical that the zoning change will be a major component of the housing scarcity _in the short term_. Yes, it absolutely needs to be part of the overall solution in the long term (and the change that did pass was long overdue); but let’s not kid ourselves that it will help bring the current generation of unhoused back under new roofs. It will not, and so that is a problem which all of us still need to solve, collectively. Many of us will not be alive anymore by the time this zoning change will make a dent into the problem, IMHO. I hope I’m wrong, of course, but I doubt that I am.
Sorry for the negative sentiment :)
“let’s not kid ourselves that it will help bring the current generation of unhoused back under new roofs”
That’s falling into the same trap Daniel does. Of course n $1800 unit won’t help people who need a $0 or $500 unit. But more housing eases the pressure that causes people to fall into homelessness, or become more cost-burdened, or having to live in a less walkable area or further from a frequent bus route than they want to. Just allowing duplexes and fourplexes will make the least difference because you’re still going from a small number of units to a small number of units over a large amount of land,, and many homeowners won’t density, and only a few lots will be converted per year. But it’s a step in the right direction, and it gives homeowners more options they should have had taken away from them in the first place.
Correct, but it doesn’t solve the problem we need to solve right now. It’s a “yes, and…” and we need to work out what follows after the and.
To point this out, loudly and repeatedly, is not falling into any trap, at least when done with good intentions (I will not speak of anyone else’s intentions, only my own). In fact the trap is glossing over that aspect, IMHO – because what happens is that people get disillusioned and fall into alternative approaches, like saying “let’s just throw all the unhoused in jail” or “let’s bus them to wherever else they come from (or at least past city/county limits)” which, as we know, solves nothing. And, in the process, people who believe that will vote in politicians who will make things worse overall. We saw this happen at the Federal level not that long ago, and might yet see it again in the near future, too. That’s my big fear.
We need both, as I’ve always said. A lot of subsidized housing for those who need it now, and a lot of market-rate housing to reverse the trends that caused so many people to need subsidized housing. If we don’t do it now, an even larger percent of the population will need subsidized housing in the future.
And duplexes/fourplexes create a wider variety of housing types that gives people more kinds of choices. That level, and the small 4-8 unit apartment buildings above it, has been suppressed, and should be allowed to return to its natural part of the housing mix.
You do say that, I agree (perhaps not as clearly as I would like, sometimes, or as loudly :) )
But it still needs to be said more often. Far too often there is a perception among a certain group of people that there is a perception among a _different_ group of people that zoning fixes everything. We in the center (as I think you have called yourself before, too) know that there will be a need for a mix of solutions; thus we need to overpower the messages that suggest otherwise, whether driven by genuine confusion or by a perception of said confusion. In more direct terms: it doesn’t matter whether the far left (The Urbanist et al.) believe that zoning will solve everything, or that the center right simply claim that they believe it; what matters is that that perception exists, and it’s dangerous to rely on it – it will not solve anything to do so, so we need to smash it to bits until people accept that the solution is more complex and, frankly, more expensive than just changing the zoning codes.
“And duplexes/fourplexes create a wider variety of housing types that gives people more kinds of choices. That level, and the small 4-8 unit apartment buildings above it, has been suppressed, and should be allowed to return to its natural part of the housing mix.”
Most cities I know allow a DADU on any SFH lot, so that is a form of duplex. Seattle allows three dwellings per SFH lot. So I don’t know if this kind of housing has been “suppressed”.
I guess the question is whether an additional fourth dwelling under HB 1110 on a lot with the same 50% GFAR for Seattle or 40% GFAR for MI as allowed a SFH + DADU will create more of this housing than just the additional DADU or third dwelling in Seattle, or just more out of scale SFH that take advantage of the 50% GFAR allowed in Seattle.
You can’t put a 4-8 apartment building on a SFH lot. In Seattle, a four plex on a larger lot of 7000 sf will have 3500 sf total GFAR for four kitchens, four baths, some onsite parking, four sets of utilities and HVAC (heat pump and water heater which don’t eat into GFA in a multi-family apartment building because they are shared), and four living rooms. All said and done we are talking around 600 sf living space per unit, the minimum under HUD for sec. 8 housing.
There are three factors that will determine whether this kind of housing will be built, which is a completely different thing than zoning for it:
1. Is it the MOST profitable for builders, because if a lot has more choices so does the builder, and all the builder wants to know is how much profit does he come away with in the end.? Probably not, and it has some real risks, especially the fact someone has to hold the loan for the property and construction forever if the units will be rentals, and I don’t think there is a mechanism to turn them into fee simple ownership units. If a new SFH can have the same 50% GFA and is certain to sell quickly I think that is what builders will opt for, which is what they are doing today. I suppose someone could try to convert an existing SFH home to a four plex, but that would require four new kitchens and all new plumbing and electrics, four bathrooms, four water heaters and heat pumps, and that gets very expensive.
2. Will renters want to live in a four plex or duplex in a small unit in a remote SFH neighborhood like Blue Ridge where there is little transit and there may be no onsite parking, so you have to find a spot on the street and own a car? I lived in a duplex in the 1980’s on Ravenna but that was because I was going to law school. I lived on Capitol Hill in the 1980’s because it was vibrant and I was young and single, and same with a houseboat, and a townhouse on lower Queen Anne, where I could walk to bars and restaurants. Is a young single person really going to opt for a plex in a remote SFH neighborhood where everyone else is older and there is little to do or to walk to and very little transit? Is that where Mike lives? No, of course not, and he is old. You start getting into these outer Seattle SFH neighborhoods and you are in suburbia.
3. In every city other than Seattle my guess is the city will require the property owner to live in one of the units if renting out the other just like they do with an ADU/DADU (which is part of the reason you don’t see many). Is a property owner on the eastside going to want to live in one of the small fourplexes while renting out the other three?
What is too often missed on this blog is that a huge segment of renters — the young and single — don’t want to live in a residential SFH zone. My son is 22 and lives in the UW and he certainly would not live in a four plex on MI. Look at where rental rates are highest in Seattle and that tells you where this demographic wants to live, so that is the place to upzone with rentals, not where they don’t want to live. Not coincidentally it is the same places transit ridership is highest: UW, Capitol Hill, Ballard, Belltownm, SLU, etc. It would be like me building a SFH on Capitol Hill and wondering why the buyers were not there, because buyers of SFH’s are past their Capitol Hill days.
If the issue is the price of renting then focus on where folks who do rent want to live, not where they don’t want to live. They want to live where Mike lives, although Capitol Hill and most of that area has artificially low multi-family building heights.
You upzone from the center out. Granted, Seattle really doesn’t have a center (downtown) these days, but you go to the closest neighborhoods: Belltown, SLU, lower Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill, First Hill, Queen Anne, UW, and even areas south like Columbia that are gentrifying. That is where folks who rent want to live. So upzone there first.
This region has done zoning completely backwards forever, until 1991 when the GMA was adopted and the PSRC was formed although the pandemic threw their vision out the window, but now we are going back to the same mistakes we made: first we zoned a three county 6500 sq mile area for development just about everywhere when no one lived here. Then cities like Seattle dispersed all its retail and much of its housing outside the urban core so it died, and since there was no there there everyone bought a car and built freeways and roads to everywhere because folks lived everywhere. Now we are upzoning the 6500 sq miles we should have never zoned for development in the first place when the downtown urban core, the one place this region could actually have some kind of world class urbanism, is dead. Crazy.
You would think urbanists, and folks at The Urbanist, would look around and wonder WTF did we do, how did we get this, half of Seattle’s urban core looks dead or like Oak Harbor or Stoneway, rather than doubling down on the past zoning mistakes. But nope. This area has by far the worst urbanism and urbanists of any place I have seen in the world, only because I don’t count Post Falls or Oak Harbor (which has more retail vibrancy than downtown Seattle). If you travel to any of the great urban cities you find one common theme: you upzone from the center out, and you condense retail to create retail density and vibrancy, because that is where folks want to live. You look at Seattle, the one place urbanism could be, and you see so many vacant lots or surface parking lots IN THE URBAN CORE, and yet we continue to disperse retail and housing out of the core. Oh well, fine for me because I am in my suburban years and MI is vibrant enough, but not very nice for young people (and of course crime is another huge issue that my son has to deal with and scares the bejesus out of his mother).
I was born in Seattle in 1959 and worked there until Sept. 2022. I just think it is very depressing to see a city with such natural advantages and such a beautiful setting and once such hope dying, and I know whom I blame.
“You can’t put a 4-8 apartment building on a SFH lot.”
Yet they were built all over Seattle up through the 1960s when the zoning in residential and shoulder areas was looser. I lived in two of them. And they’re more widespread in Vancouver, where it is looser. Courtyard apartments, dingbat apartments, outside-walkway apartments, etc. Courtyard apartments are the prettiest. Some of the larger ones may be on two lots together.
“If a new SFH can have the same 50% GFA and is certain to sell quickly I think that is what builders will opt for”
The developer gets more money with three units than with one, even though each of the units is less expensive to the buyer. Those will be popular.
“Will renters want to live in a four plex or duplex in a small unit in a remote SFH neighborhood like Blue Ridge”
Why cherry-pick one tiny part of Seattle? They’ll want to live in one in Wallingford or the CD or north of U Village. Blue Ridge was always going to be less desirable for that, so not as many will be built there.
“Look at where rental rates are highest in Seattle and that tells you where this demographic wants to live, so that is the place to upzone with rentals,”
That’s what I’ve been saying all along. The most important areas to upzone are within a mile of the urban villages.
“It would be like me building a SFH on Capitol Hill and wondering why the buyers were not there, because buyers of SFH’s are past their Capitol Hill days.”
Half of Capitol Hill is single-family. Take a walk on 16th and 17th Avenues sometimes; the gardens and tree canopy are lovely.
I once saw an ad for a “one-room HOUSE” on Capitol Hill: it was a secondary building with use of the main house’s bathroom and maybe the kitchen. I have no doubt somebody rented it and one or two other people wanted to but weren’t able to. There are a lot of different people around that want different things.
Correct, but it doesn’t solve the problem we need to solve right now.
Look, the problem can’t be solved any time soon. It is just too difficult. It would be like saying in 1962 that you want to get to the moon in a year. A decade was ambitious enough, and it was the largest peacetime project
To fix the problem right away would require massive governmental spending, and I’m not sure it could be done any time soon. Imagine you decide the answer is public housing. Fair enough. Now imagine you have a blank check, and begin buying up all the available land where you can add density. Guess what? The cost is staggering. We are likely talking billions in Seattle alone. Meanwhile, the cost of buying the land goes way up. There are only a handful of places where it is legal to even build an apartment in this city. Many of those owners have no interest in selling. As a result, the private market is largely gone — they keep getting outbid. Given the current zoning, I don’t think you can actually build enough places for people to live, even if the federal government made a massive investment. They would have to take the land (eminent domain) and obviously that isn’t happening.
Now consider the opposite approach. We liberalize the zoning. Now everyone in the city can upzone. Many are doing so right now. Again. look at those circles: https://www.seattleinprogress.com/. There are a lot of ADUs and DADUs going on. Some are additions — existing owners who want to make a little extra. But a lot are brand new. There are a ton of tiny subdivisions, and new houses. All of this is fine, it is just that there would be a lot more housing — likely more than that first scenario — if we simply liberalized the zoning.
That doesn’t mean the problem will be fixed overnight. It can’t be. But over time, it can be fixed, if we allow it to.
“Look, the problem can’t be solved any time soon. It is just too difficult.”
Okay, so you are punting on the short term problem of housing all the unhoused, and dealing only with the long term problem of building enough housing to keep up with expected growth. Fair enough.
It’s not the trade-off I would make, myself – I care more about people who are suffering in the streets now, than to support an influx of tech workers who may or may not come at the rate they have been – but I can respect the position, as it seems principled, and held in good faith.
For the record, I offered my own solution in a different comment: beg for money from billionaires. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’m just terrible at enacting it because I’m not a smooth talker. I don’t think most people on this board are, either, but I think that it can work. You are certainly welcome to disagree, and I won’t try to contradict you – I don’t have empirical evidence that it _will_ work, just a hunch that it will be easier than getting the taxes raised sufficiently to pull it off through technocratic means. The infeasibility of that (which you also pointed out) I completely agree with also. But not all solutions need to be technocratic.
> For the record, I offered my own solution in a different comment: beg for money from billionaires.
The housing problem* has never actually about money but about legally buildable land. Even if somehow Seattle was given the funding for a tens of billion dollars it cannot solve the housing crisis if all it is doing is just buying single family homes and renting them back out.
You still need to upzone and actually have the permission to build. Whether it is private or public money, what use is it if one cannot actually build more housing units.
*More specifically the job to housing regional imbalance.
I addressed most of those points in my actual comment where the suggestion was made, by pointing out the need for zoning exemptions. Again, I am talking about a one-time thing to deal with the current glut of unhoused people, and get them off the streets. Think of it like dealing with the current large number of people without legal immigration status, as a separate thing from changing the immigration laws. They are distinct problems with distinct solutions, and both need to be addressed.
I respect that people care more about one than the other, or want to punt on one altogether. I have my own bias – it is to deal with the current glut of people without shelter, and I offered a (partial) solution to deal with it as a one-time thing, which I think can work.
> Again, I am talking about a one-time thing to deal with the current glut of unhoused people, and get them off the streets. Think of it like dealing with the current large number of people without legal immigration status, as a separate thing from changing the immigration laws. They are distinct problems with distinct solutions, and both need to be addressed.
I was and am being earnest when I say even for a one-time housing solution it is really zoning that is the problem. Let’s say you wanted to address the around ~10 thousand unhoused people in Seattle today, building around ~100 apartment buildings with 100 people each (let’s say at the cost of 600k per unit for 6 billion). I earnestly believe trying to get the local neighborhoods to approve each apartment building is more unsurmountable than attaining the money.
Or let’s be a bit more direct, even zoning can be ignored if the planning committee approves it; it is really the voters that block it. And I’m not just talking about Seattle but American cities nationwide.
Like look at California, even the state law for by-right-approval for 100% affordable housing is in parking, retail, office — it excludes single family residential zones. And then “Housing developments must meet or exceed geographically appropriate residential density and height standards, which vary based on location and affordability restrictions.”
If it truly just a ‘money’ issue then we’d see 100% affordable housing laws completely bypass residential zoning restrictions (for aesthetic reasons not safety ones).
9 SFH on an 85,000 sf lot and no one asks why the developer is going this route (we have a 122,000 sf lot on MI doing the same with 14 8400 sf lots).
In Seattle this same developer could build 3 separate dwellings per lot. The GFAR in Seattle I believe is 50%, or 42,500 sf in total GFA. So around 9 4500 sf houses, after deductions for interior access roads. About the average new SFH.
Or 27 dwelling units at around 1500 sf each.
The obvious answer is the 4500 sf houses will sell for more than 3X the 1500 sf “dwellings”.
But it is more complicated.
Nine people are going to have to finance and buy the nine different lots and then hold the loan forever while renting out the 27 different dwellings. Banks are not keen on that investment today when the nine different buyers wi be LLC’s with no backup guarantees, and builders and banks think there is a glut of rental units despite what the hype is.
The bank is much less likely to loan on 27 dwellings that will be rentals and the construction-bridge loan interest rate will be higher.
The risk to the builder from a lot with 3 rental units that does not sell is much higher.
The cost per sf to build 27 kitchens and 27/54 bathrooms/27 heat pumps/water heaters/27 AC is much higher.
There is no risk building 9 new SFH in Seattle. Most will pre-sell.
Buyers of 4500 new SF SFH in Seattle want a much higher build quality where the profit is.
So the builder will earn a much higher profit on 9 4500 sf SFH than 27 1500 sf “dwellings” with much less risk. Period.
Folks on this blog think like progressives. Builders are the antithesis of progressives. It is why zoning is not construction. It is too bad progressives don’t build anything and are afraid of power tools. Otherwise they could realize their zoning dreams even if it isn’t profitable. But they don’t. And the bank wouldn’t finance those dreams. Because there is a rental glut coming.
Everyone in the construction business is doing it for the money, from the bank to the developer to the builder to the laborer. Building houses is brutal work and destroys your body. So think like the money does when you might not understand a builder’s or developer’s decisions.
Okay – if what you mean by “zoning” is convincing politicians to risk getting voted out, or the practical aspects of related political actions, yes, I agree that that’s a tough sell. You’d need a mayor and/or enough council members willing to not run for re-election, or at least willing to take that risk. It’s a cause I wish someone like Sawant had taken up. It feels very much in her Quixotic style, even if she were not the best candidate for part of it.
But let’s say you get a quarter of the unhoused off the streets before the NIMBY opposition becomes too high to continue. That’s still a damn sight better than what has been achieved so far. It’s still a partial solution, but you could get somewhere farther along than we are now. Building community support can be a thing that happens along the way, too, with the right community organizers. Even the upper middle class SFH communities may like not having tents outside their windows, even if that means putting up with apartment buildings down the street.
I doubt even the most supported Seattle mayor could get 2500 units of 100% affordable housing units apartments to be built in one year. Besides just zoning/building them in say sodo district.
For all the outcry about how “low” requirements the affordable housing percentage in typical apartments those actually receive much less zoning push back than fully affordable apartments. I’d say build even more apartments with mixed income rather than a few that are 100% is more politically palatable.
But either way again this has always been about zoning/approval from the neighborhood not really about money
I think the fundamental problem with an online forum is that people say things they would never say to you face-to-face – and if they tried, you could just leave and talk to someone else.
WL: “Besides just zoning/building them in say sodo district.”
I would imagine that doing so would be better than sleeping in tents in Wallingford or under I-5 through SODO or whatever. So if it gets 2500 people off the streets and parks them in apartments in SODO, with (again, this was part of my proposal) funding for support staff on site for the foreseeable future… why not?
Look, I’m not pretending that it’s a perfect solution. I think you’re entirely right that getting the zoning variances (in SODO or in Wallingford, either way) would be a hard sell, but I think it’s not an “impossible” one. And to me it’s a more useful thing to do in the immediate future than trying to rezone Jackson Park golf course. I get that not everyone sees it that way, it’s just the petition that I would sign, if that makes sense.
Andrew: the positive way of interpreting your comment is that the forum allows all of us to have a polite, constructive conversation and learn from each other. I certainly feel like I can do that with most people here, even the more contrarian ones :) and I’ve learned a lot from a number of them.
I hope that you feel the same. It’s a pretty good community, all things considered, I have faith that we all want to keep it that way and will do our part. IMHO even the ones with the least supported views tend to support the community itself, and (again IMHO) that’s no small thing. We should be proud of it.
Anonymouse, I acknowledge my earlier comment was oblique and not very clear of intent. I was musing about what I see as some of the difficulties with discussion on this blog. I value this blog which is why I keep coming back. But I also feel like people often talk past one another which is a perennial concern of mine. I want to do my best to support the conversation on this blog as well.
That is a good example of the type of house I’ve written about in the past. The house isn’t that old (although not as new as some of the examples I mentioned before). It was built in 1990, and according to Redfin, was part of a multi-property sale. In other words, it was a small subdivision. My guess is the original house was small, so they just tore it down. The house you referenced was built at the same time as the one right next to it, and both sit on lots of 7,790. Since minimum lot size is 7,200, they did fairly well (not that much waste). Sometimes a subdivision ends up with much bigger lots.
The point is, this is relatively recent housing. You can see that surrounding those two houses, you have one built in the 1930s and another in the 1950s. This particular subdivision occurred in the 1990s, but there has been a lot more action the last few years. There are a fair number of relatively small, old houses on big lots being subdivided. There are still a few that will likely go the same route. For an extreme example, consider this lot: https://blue.kingcounty.com/Assessor/eRealProperty/Dashboard.aspx?ParcelNbr=2126049228. That is 85,000 square feet (it used to be owned by a church). They are subdividing it, and adding 9 houses (https://www.seattleinprogress.com/project/6822853-CN). You could add 80 townhouses, or a fairly large apartment building (no taller than the houses they are building) but that would be illegal. Keep in mind, this particular lot is literally on 125th — the street that will soon have buses connecting to Lake City, Bitter Lake and of course Link.
To a certain extent, it is a race against time. Eventually the places get sold, and redeveloped. Subdivisions are common, but so are tear downs. It is important to understand that this is not prime real estate. It is understandable if view property in Magnolia becomes a tear down. If you can afford the view, you can afford to throw away a perfectly good house and replace it with a fancier one. In this case, the teardowns are mostly about the land. Either there is a tiny house there, or it is a subdivision (or both). It is a shame that a McMansion goes up, instead of housing for a lot more people.
This is why we need a more comprehensive set of zoning changes in the city. This sort of development (9 houses on a 85,000 square foot lot) simply shouldn’t happen. I don’t think we should have really tall apartment buildings everywhere, but apartments the same size as the houses (and/or townhouses) are quite reasonable, and would put a dent in the housing crisis (which is essentially a housing supply crisis). It would greatly improve transit ridership, and ultimately transit service as well. Of course it wouldn’t happen overnight, but it would happen.
For what its worth, I have seen some additional housing squeeze into existing ones. This has happened both with a subdivision, and ADU/DADU. Most of these new “triplexes” (house, ADU, DADU) are teardowns, but I’ve seen that happen more in Maple Leaf than in Pinehurst. There is a great website for housing development here: https://www.seattleinprogress.com/. It is easy to assume that most of the construction going on in Seattle is big buildings. Maybe because this is happening in the more popular neighborhoods, or along arterials (where we ride the buses, or drive). But if you look at that map, you will notice a lot of circles, and not that many teardrop symbols. That is because so much of the development happening now is in single family neighborhoods (and not subject to design review). This is increasing density, just not nearly as fast as it should be.
Yeah, replacing one of those 85k sq ft lots with a bunch of townhouses or apartments makes perfect sense to me, and I agree that putting new large houses on large lots should be discouraged.
However, my point was slightly different – that a lot of the lots already have these large houses on, and thus the chances of say doubling or quadrupling the housing stock in a neighborhood like that seems unlikely. As you said, it’s a race against time.
As I mentioned in another thread, I look at it as a “yes, and” – it’s great this this went through, but it will just chip away at the immediate problem. In 50 years, maybe these houses will become teardowns – but that’s in 50 years, not now. The unhoused from right now will all be dead and likely so will most of us on this blog, by the time that lot I showed above gets redeveloped into a fourplex.
I’m just old and cranky about not having solutions in my lifetime :)
For what it’s worth, my solution would be: find the lots like the one you showed above, that used to be a church; get one of the billionaires in the area to buy it and hold it; get the city to agree to some variations in zoning to allow very small but permanent assisted housing to be built; get the same said billionaire to build and fund the resources required to help the unhoused transition from homelessness. Yes, it requires begging for money from the rich and powerful; yes, it’s not a skill that I have, so I am hoping someone else will do the heavy duty lifting (i.e. the groveling for cash bit). But I think it’s what would actually work. In the meantime, yes, by all means let’s let the market solve the longer term problem by building fourplexes wherever possible.
1926 advertisement in the Seattle Times for 1/4 acre homesites in Pinehurst. $325 and up. “If you don’t own a car, we’ll pick you up.”
Believe it or not, these kinds of land deals are still available in the USA. Remote work + build a life in Mississippi. https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/1931-N-1st-Ave_Laurel_MS_39440_M70380-22026?property_id=7038022026&from=map-pin
Last night I met some friends after work for a drink. Among the group were some multi-family builders and apartment group property managers. Here is their report of the market:
1. They believe there is an apartment glut in the region and in Seattle in particular that will get worse as newer construction comes online. Banks are not lending for multi-family housing (and these builders use banks and build stuff that isn’t huge enough for Chinese money or REIT’s), but even if banks were loaning the interest rates are too high. So new construction has dried up. But even if it hadn’t dried up construction would have slowed because of the feeling there will be an apartment glut. It would take a return to near zero interest rates for builders to resume multi-family rental construction because there is little risk building with free money, or declining vacancy rates which are rising. The builders are used to this cycle, and are in hibernation right now. Better than to be overextended like 2008.
2. The SFH market is hot, to the extent folks want to buy. But sellers don’t want to give up their 3% mortgage so supply is limited. Prospective buyers can get financing because banks and mortgage brokers can sell or securitize those loans easily with current interest rates with very low risk to the bank, and borrowers can take out a five-year ARM until interest rates cool. Every young couple wants a SFH it seems, with a home office but not ADU, but there just are not enough of them. This is the one market in Seattle that is still very hot (the SFH neighborhoods), except the supply is too low. Of course everyone of this builders or managers lives in a SFH on MI.
3. Condo sales and construction are dead. Buyers are spooked by older buildings, HOA fees are very high in new buildings, and most buyers today are not looking for an urban condo to buy with rising crime and declining retail vibrancy and WFH. Banks don’t like lending for a condo either and require a large down payment. No bank wants to loan for a new condo building, and insurance today is very expensive for such a project. Most condos today are rentals (the divorce or “bad daddy” crowd are popular customers) because they are hard to sell so the prices have come down but still very hard to sell.
4. I asked about converting a SFH lot to a duplex or four plex under HB 1110. They all said this is progressive BS (these folks are right of Attila the Hun and hate affordability mandates). First builders don’t want to own the property long term as rentals, they don’t want to be landlords, and investors don’t want such a small project and are bailing from smaller rentals anyway. Interest rates would be high and forever as a rental, the lots are small so the units would be small in a residential zone when buyers want more GFA and 2 and 3 car garages so their stuff doesn’t get stolen, and don’t even want a DADU because the appeal of a SFH is the backyard, the builder could not recoup their capital (if they could borrow the capital for the project), it would require buying and demolishing an existing house to build a new duplex or four plex, and right now the market is starving for SFH so that is what gets built or remodeled, along with the SFH remodel market which is still strong. Plus they know eastside cities are going to put every roadblock in the book to permit converting a SFH into a duplex or four plex in a SFH zone and the neighbors would complain when a brand-new high end SFH is hard enough to get permitted on the eastside, but at least possible, and will sell before it construction is finished and the check will clear.
5. I asked about converting an office building into housing. No one had a clue how you would do that, what it would cost, who would want to live there, who would finance such a risky project, and why any builder would want to do it when there is plenty of land available to build housing on today that doesn’t have a huge steel and glass office tower on it. According to these folks there is plenty of available relatively cheap land from Everett to Tacoma already zoned for all forms of housing rather than an office tower in downtown Seattle, but the question is are you going to make a profit today building on it.
What is the biggest complaint among builders, especially the SFH builder? Permit times and fees, and tree ordinances that in some cities like MI and Sammamish can require resiting the house to preserve a large mature tree. They don’t like trees. What is the biggest complaint among apartment property managers? Bad tenants. They hate tenants even more than Seattle’s landlord/tenant laws they think only protect bad tenants and increase costs and hassles for the good tenants, but according to them progressives care more about bad tenants than good tenants.
So there is their property report given over a few drinks. Take it for what it is worth (although the Wall St. Journal has an article today talking about how bank financing for offices and multi-family construction has dried up).
“They believe there is an apartment glut in the region and in Seattle in particular that will get worse as newer construction comes online.”
Then rents won’t rise for a few years. Good. We’ll see if it actually happens. Even if it does, I fail to see how it will be worse for them than other recessions.
“It would take a return to near zero interest rates for builders to resume multi-family rental construction”
Yet twenty-five years ago near-zero interest rates were unheard of and yet the county we live in was built up. If developers and other commercial borrowers are now dependent on near-zero interest rates to remain productive, that indicates something bigger is wrong with our economy.
“The SFH market is hot … [but] supply is limited.”
That has been the problem since 2008. The number of sellers is down significantly since the pre-2008 norm, and it never recovered. People have been staying in their houses more than they used to, sometimes because they couldn’t get another house as good as the one they have without paying more, or high interest rates, or fear of recession, or waiting for prices to rise further, etc. So the few houses that are available sell for sky-high prices because of the scarcity.
“I asked about converting a SFH lot to a duplex or four plex under HB 1110. They all said this is progressive BS”
Large developers aren’t the ones who would do it. It’s individual homeowners, each for different reasons and at their own time. If these developers aren’t interested in building it for them, they’ll find another who will.
“when buyers want more GFA and 2 and 3 car garages so their stuff doesn’t get stolen”
If they have a 3-car garage and that much stuff, they’re in the top 20%. That’s not average people.
“What is the biggest complaint among builders, especially the SFH builder? Permit times and fees,”
Yes, that needs to be streamlined. Projects shouldn’t be held up for years going through red tape and high fees.
“They don’t like trees.”
If all the trees are cut down, then everybody’s health is in danger.
After talking with for ADU-specialists, I can assure you conversions are extremely hot, and extremely lucrative (for them, not me). If your builder buds aren’t doing them, they are dinosaurs. Of course, if they are the type that can simply stop working for a couple years, they aren’t particularly hungry. And probably completely out of touch with the markets where this stuff is going on like crazy.
Cam, an ADU is completely different than a DADU in both cost and concept. Builders don’t build them where I live because customers are not asking for them. They would rather put the GFA into the main house, and the houses are large enough to house the mother-in-law or nanny without the licensing, additional diameter for water and sewer lines, separate entrance, and separate kitchen when the house has a fabulous main kitchen. When you add an ADU later it reduces the living space for the property owners by the GFA of the ADU so usually is done because the owner needs the money.
ADU’s are popular for landlords who don’t live onsite, and so far I think only Seattle allows the property owner to not live onsite if renting out one of the units. But there has been an exodus of SFH landlords in Seattle, and those rentals houses were then purchased to live in by the owners, and if they can afford it they don’t want a stranger living in an ADU IN their house. That is not why you buy a SFH. They would rather have a home office these days.
The issues with a DADU are again customers prefer the GFA in the main house, they are very expensive per sf to rent if built separately, they consume the back yard which is a big point of a SFH if you can afford one, the owner must live in one of the units, and your “renter” is living right next to you and your family and using the same yard so you lose a primary benefit of a SFH: privacy.
The builders and property managers I met with do multi-family housing, but there is little financing today so yes, they are on the sidelines (often in Mexico or Phoenix for the warm weather). But I know builders who do SFH, including some mega houses in Medina, and some kitchen remodels that cost more than most houses. And no, their customers are not asking for an ADU or DADU (and some of those cities prohibit them).
But I am glad to hear folks you know are adding ADU’s today, although nearly every city I know except Hunts Point and maybe Medina has allowed ADU’s and DADU’s for decades (except Bellevue does not allow DADU’s but allows 45% GFAR) so I don’t know why ADU’s have suddenly become so hot. Did your ADU specialists say why? And I am not quite sure why someone would need an ADU “specialist”. On MI there is no separate permitting for an ADU or DADU, except for the necessary building permits and land use permit, which is required for any construction. What does an ADU specialist do that is so lucrative?
> But I am glad to hear folks you know are adding ADU’s today, although nearly every city I know except Hunts Point and maybe Medina has allowed ADU’s and DADU’s for decades (except Bellevue does not allow DADU’s but allows 45% GFAR) so I don’t know why ADU’s have suddenly become so hot.
Mainly the removal of the parking requirement
> Off-street parking is not required for ADUs in any zone.
Legislation adopted in 2019 removed the off-street parking requirement for ADUs. Property owners can choose to create a new parking space for their ADU occupant, but none is required. Note that an existing required parking space for the principal unit cannot be removed to accommodate your ADU unless it is replaced elsewhere on the lot.
I am not quite sure what the regulations are for other Washington cities.
Thanks WL, I assume you are talking about Seattle. MI has never required onsite parking for an ADU/DADU, but ironically may have to because HB 1110 allows a city to require two onsite parking spots for each “plex” but the plex and ADU/DADU have to be treated the same and MI does not want a four plex with little onsite parking when those folks will have to own cars because we have virtually no intra-Island transit.
As we know, eliminating onsite parking does not mean folks give up cars. Seattleites have 470,000 cars. It means they park them on the street, so cities like Seattle allow them to park on the street, which is why the streets are so narrow with cars parked on both sides of the street and why dedicated bike lanes and bus lanes are hard to site, because of the parked cars the citizens demand the city provide free street parking for.
I was surprised to see even Wallingford streets crammed with cars recently, really only one lane left like areas on lower Capitol and First Hill where drivers have to pass one at a time, probably because those historic houses tend to have a one car garage but the owners more than one car.
If only Seattleites would give up their cars, or even second and third cars, even in areas like Wallingford with pretty good transit.
“Builders don’t build them where I live because customers are not asking for them.”
You live in one of the most atypical cities in the region. Naturally there’s not much demand for them in middle or southern Mercer Island because it’s an island, with only one road out of it.
> As we know, eliminating onsite parking does not mean folks give up cars. Seattleites have 470,000 cars. It means they park them on the street, so cities like Seattle allow them to park on the street, which is why the streets are so narrow with cars parked on both sides of the street and why dedicated bike lanes and bus lanes are hard to site, because of the parked cars the citizens demand the city provide free street parking for.
The logic is the other way around, if you require and provide lots of parking everyone will drive and at their destinations also require parking. Dedicated bike and bus lanes will be even harder to achieve politically. Los Angeles is a good example, they have high parking ratios (besides a small downtown core recently changed) and over there they are had to fight decades to add a minor bus lane. Even the most recent Century City bus/bike lanes have controversy.
More importantly onsite parking basically forces low density.
I’ve never owned a car, but our household owns one. I have known people who live or have lived in Seattle entirely car free, but (especially those who were middle aged and with families) were few and far between. Two criteria that seemed to fit them all were that they did not own their own home (SFH or otherwise), making them less likely to need or want to buy large, bulky items, and that they had no family in the area, especially none outside city limits.
I’m wondering how good transit needs to be in order for the car-free lifestyle to meaningfully spread beyond young, single people (university students and the like). Let’s say that we want 30% of Seattle households to be car-free. What would it take to get there? And would the path from here to there be linear (i.e. we do 80% of the work and we get to 24-25% of Seattle households being car-free), or would it be non-linear? In particular, would it require frontloading most of the work in order to see any of the benefit?
Please note that I am not implying that the work should not be done; just wondering how it will need to be messaged and staged.
> I’m wondering how good transit needs to be in order for the car-free lifestyle to meaningfully spread beyond young, single people (university students and the like). Let’s say that we want 30% of Seattle households to be car-free. What would it take to get there? And would the path from here to there be linear (i.e. we do 80% of the work and we get to 24-25% of Seattle households being car-free), or would it be non-linear? In particular, would it require frontloading most of the work in order to see any of the benefit?
In general I’d say if that is one’s goal, it’s the other way around. You need to bring the destinations closer to residents with upzoning, especially at Seattle (and surrounding cities) density level. Both bringing people closer to jobs/retail amenities and also the other way round allowing more shops into residential areas.
Even if we were to fully build out the Ballard and West Seattle extensions, it’s not as if someone from West Seattle is going to travel so far for everyday tasks. Or for example you mentioned having a family — one prominent example is how in America it is expected that parents drive their kids everywhere. This is not really the norm in the rest of the world, and even ignoring the safety concerns the destinations are too far to reach without driving.
> Two criteria that seemed to fit them all were that they did not own their own home
I imagine those (townhouse/apartment?) locations they lived in were denser than locations where Single Family homes are.
For a concrete example, when the Silver line extension in DC or TOD in los angeles expanded a lot of the car trips decrease wasn’t really from commuting/metro but just from the added density itself allowed many residents to walk or take transit to much closer destinations.
One set were UW graduate students with kids, living in Wallingford – in a SFH, but rented, not owned, I believe. They biked everywhere and rented cars for weekend trips that couldn’t be easily done by bike. The other were just a couple living in Ravenna area, not sure if apartment or townhouse.
From personal experience, it’s easy-ish to manage the day-to-day stuff when leaving in most parts of Seattle, at least, as long as you have a somewhat flexible schedule at work (which is admittedly a high bar). What seems difficult even in that case, though, is dealing with medical appointments which require someone with mobility or serious chronic health conditions to be transported around, and visiting relatives who live in suburbia.
If you want 30% of Seattleites to go “car free” you have to convince them it is in their best interest. Women will be the hardest sell although safety is always the deal breaker for everyone. Plus this region — even Seattle — is so unwalkable because of the lack of retail and housing density a car is a requirement.
I would guess right now 5% of Seattleites are carless although probably half of those wish they could afford a car. I think it is nearly impossible to live car free if you have kids, even with school buses, but many of those folks move to the Eastside although the 22% of Seattleites who send their k-12 kids to private school must drive them until the kid turns 16 and can drive themselves.
Accept the fact that at most 10% of Seattleites will ever go car free, less pandemic, and give them the best transit you can when combining general subsidies and farebox recovery. Link in hindsight was not probably a prudent use of those limited resources.
In the future the best hope is a lower need for parking due to driverless Uber like transit. But I have never understood the fetish of transit advocates and urbanists to forever people to give up cars. That will never happen until there is a better alternative, which probably will be driverless cars.
IMO mass public transit as we know it today won’t exist in 20 years. In 2017 Uber had 94 million miles in Seattle. There will be something MUCH better in 20 years, which is a low bar.
“If you want 30% of Seattleites to go “car free” you have to convince them”
Currently about 20% of Seattle households are carfree. And that number is trending up.
Most of that is probably due to Seattle being a majority renter city. Renters tend to have lower rates of car ownership than SFH owners. But the percentage of renters is trending up, so I’d expect the number of carfree households to also continue to trend up.
Additionally, with the removal of parking minimums for new construction there is even more pain involved in owning a car. So again, the percentage of carfree households should continue to go up.
Additionally, people living in AADU’s and DADU’s tend to be renters, so all these zoning law changes will also move the needle towards more carfree households.
Seattle will get there, and get there relatively soon.
Lazarus, here is a 2021 Seattle Times article about car ownership in Seattle, “Seattle has finally reached peak car, and only one other densely populated U.S. city has more cars per capita”:
“A few years ago, during the height of Seattle’s historic population boom, I wrote about a remarkable trend: Our city was adding cars as fast as people.
“That trend appears to be over, at least for now. Census data shows that Seattle’s car “population” — the number of vehicles owned or leased by city residents — has finally leveled off.
“For most of the last decade, Seattle’s vehicle population grew at an extraordinary rate. In 2010, city residents had about 389,000 cars in total. The number kept going up each year, and by 2017, we’d hit 461,000 cars.
“And then, just like that, it stopped. While the number of vehicles in the city hasn’t gone down, it hasn’t gone up either. It’s stayed right around 460,000 through 2019, based on the most recently available census data.
“That hasn’t happened because the population stopped growing. From 2017 to 2019, Seattle gained about 25,000 people.
“So what changed?
“The answer surprised me: It’s homeowners, not renters, who are behind the trend.”
“It’s not that homeowners are suddenly ditching their cars, although there has been an uptick in car-free owner-occupied homes (most likely, these are condominium and townhome owners living in Seattle’s high-density neighborhoods).
“But the data suggests that Seattle homeowners have recently become more likely to make do with a single car instead having two or more. Another contributing factor is that the total number of owner-occupied homes in Seattle hasn’t increased for the past several years.
“Some other U.S. cities that we think of as demographically similar — San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C. — all have a much lower ratio of cars to people than Seattle. We even have more cars per capita than Los Angeles. New York, of course, is lowest among major cities, with just 239 cars per 1,000.”
The article doesn’t identify how many of those who don’t own a car are students at UW who live on or near campus, or how many don’t own cars because they can’t afford them, or how many of the homeowners that own one car live alone since Seattle is a leader in folks living alone. The data is pre-pandemic so WFH would not be a factor, and neither would be eliminating parking minimums for ADU’s because that came after the 2019 data, and Seattleites for years have parked on streets due to inadequate onsite parking. Transit ridership was increasing during this 2019 period, but not as fast as Uber miles driven which in 2017 were 94 million in Seattle.
Personally I think the future will be more households with one car because transit will transform into an driverless Uber like model for more urban trips in which folks have a monthly lease for their trips around town, and one car in the garage for other trips like skiing or driving long distances. Good for reducing parking needs downtown and in residential units because the biggest benefit of Uber is no parking after door-to-door service and safety. Going driverless would dramatically cut the cost for an Uber type lease program.
When I see some on this blog pin their hopes on the revitalization of transit, or downtown Seattle, or urbanism, by eliminating parking or forcing folks to commute to downtown Seattle I know that won’t work. It is very hard to make folks do what they don’t want to do once the genie like WFH is out of the bottle, and restricting parking or eliminating onsite parking minimums only works in downtown Seattle (and some neighborhoods) and then folks just park on the street because Seattle is the second highest city in the U.S. in car ownership per capita.
Cities and transit advocates and urbanists are going to have to learn the commuter slave is gone, and if they want to revitalize downtown Seattle and transit they are going to have to start treating visitors and riders like customers, because there is just too much money involved to keep the market from solving these folks disagreements with being forced to commute to work or ride crummy transit or pay a fortune to park in a dead downtown. Even if Seattle did not have all its crime and street issues it has a huge retail deficit because every place else from U Village to Bell Square has free parking, and I think Northgate is going to really hurt downtown retail and shopping.
As early as 2020 urban planners from Toronto were pointing out that cities that would survive would be the cities people WANTED to visit, and I think that is still correct. To get excited because Amazon in Seattle will force workers to return to the office three days/week misses the point that those workers did not want to go to Seattle to work before. Folks like Harrell hopefully understand this, because not a lot on this blog do, and ironically many live downtown and so have skin in the game.
I was specifically addressing the percentage of households that are car free in Seattle, because that was the topic of discussion. This article says that that value was ~19% in 2019, and shifting dramatically in the car free direction:
From the article:
“ We now rank 11th among the 50 largest cities for the percentage of car-free households. Since 2010, we’ve leapfrogged Miami, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Oakland, California.”
That is good news, good news indeed.
They also credit transit, and specifically LR for this trend.
As this data is from before NGLink opened, and since it doesn’t include the massive amount of housing that is being constructed in the UDIST and in other places along the 1-Link line, I would expect this trend toward living car free to continue and to actually accelerate.
There you have it.
Yes, Lazarus you are correct the % of Seattleites who don’t own a car is (at least as of 2019) around 81%. The article you link to is 2019 (based on data up to 2017) and the one I link to is 2021 (based on data up to 2019) both by Gene Balk who in his 2021 article noted Seattle is no. 2 in the U.S. for cars per capita, so I guess Seattle went up from 11th in his 2019 article.
The percentage in 2021 (or as of 2019) was still 81%, despite NG Link (which opened after the data for both articles) or new multi-family construction, although the 2021 article notes some urban neighborhoods have lower car owner ratios than the more residential neighborhoods. The decline in the number of cars was 457,000 in 2018 from 461,000 in 2017.
Balk in 2019 wrote [based on data through 2017]:
“Also, it’s only one year’s worth of data, so it’s far too soon to call it a trend. Even so, it’s still a welcome change from recent years, in which Seattle’s car “population” grew at the same pace as its human population.”
Then in his 2021 article the number of cars was back up to 460,000 with the same ratio of 611 cars per 1000 residents and Seattle was number 2 in cars per capita based on 2019 data.
Ironically Balk in his 2019 article noted much of the decline in car ownership is due to SFH zoning:
“Another factor: Seattle has experienced tremendous population growth since 2010, and due to strict zoning laws, the vast majority of that growth has been concentrated in a handful of high-density areas that are walkable and transit-rich. That means a greater share of city residents live in neighborhoods where they have the option of forgoing car ownership and instead relying on transit, walking, biking and car-share services.”
I don’t think a swing of 4000 cars out of 460,000 cars is a big deal either way. Who knows how the pandemic and WFH has affected the number of cars Seattleites own. I would say the 94,000 million Uber miles driven in 2017 probably accounts for the drop of 4000 cars owned, and have always said that if you want urbanism and walkability (at least pre-pandemic) you have to use zoning to condense housing and retail, and build the walls of the swimming pool so to speak, although new zoning laws are going in the other direction and dispersing that housing to the neighborhoods that have high rates of car ownership.
My guess is 2022 data will show Seattleites own around 460,000 cars. Since there has been very little population growth over the last three years the percentage is probably around 81%.
“I was surprised to see even Wallingford streets crammed with cars recently,…”
Really? I guess you haven’t been to Wallingford for several decades then. I lived there for ten years prior to buying my home here in Edmonds. I was one of those folks who lived car free for the entire time I lived in Seattle (15+ years). I used to walk, take transit and ride my bike all over the place and I can tell you that most of the streets around Wallingford were choked with parked cars even back then.
Re the AADU/DADU discussion, Snohomish County allows one of each on parcels within its urban residential zones. There are no parking requirements. There is no requirement for owner occupancy either. This is all before the current legislation you’ve cited numerous times in your comments on this post and previous threads. One of our neighbors just had one built on their property last year as a matter of fact. Again, I would caution you against making sweeping generalizations about residential zoning matters.
Tisgwm, it had been decades since I had driven through Wallingford. I posted about this before. I lived on 50th and Meridian in the early 1980’s. I had been to Murphy’s and Dicks but not from 45th to Fremont where my son was working in a restaurant.
I was stunned by two things:
1. How immaculate the houses were. They were not this perfect when I lived in the neighborhood. I think some of that is the contrast with the cheap and shlocky multi-family housing in this part of Seattle and the restraint and beauty of past architecture. For the most part the UW area is a very ugly part of Seattle but so few plan to stay there.
2. How clogged the narrow streets were with cars. It was like that in the early 1980’s but I guess I thought maybe more folks in the neighborhood like you had gone car free. I forgot in that era houses had one car garages.
“Re the AADU/DADU discussion, Snohomish County allows one of each on parcels within its urban residential zones. ”
Do you happen to have any stats on what percentage of such units have been built since the zoning rules have allowed it? It would be a useful indicator of what other areas can expect as well.
The bulk of Seattle’s car free population lives in apartments, not houses. Once you have the money to afford a $1.5 million single family house, the additional financial impact of owning a car starts to look trivial.
The entire savings from going car free wouldn’t even fully cover the property tax. If you bought in the mid 2010s, a 2021 refi could literally pay for an entire car, just with savings on mortgage interest.
But, all that doesn’t mean that car-free people in Seattle don’t exist or don’t matter. When you have a more modest income and don’t qualify for a $1 million+ mortgage, the financial burden of car ownership does matter. If 19% of the entire city is car free and very few people in single family homes are car free, basic math says the percentage of car free residents must be well above 19% in multifamily homes in order for the overall average to work out. And these people need transit that runs all day, everywhere to everywhere, not just rush hour buses going downtown
The purpose of rules is not to be a business nanny and block business decisions that might lose money. That’s the role of investors and lenders in a project, but not the city.
If ADU’s are indeed unprofitable, then investors or banks choosing not to fund them is a reasonable business decision. But, that’s not a reason for the city to blanketly prohibit them. Allowing people to take an action that they don’t take may not do much good, but it certainly doesn’t do any harm. And, even if ADU’s are unprofitable in general, there will always be a few special properties in special situations that changes the economics, and blanket rules imposed by the city prohibiting it shouldn’t get in the way. It’s not even really about housing prices; it’s about people having the right to do what they want with their own land.
And, even if an ADU is built without new parking and a tenant with a car does move in and parks on the street, so what? Lots of people with off-street parking park their cars on the street so they can use their garages for storage. If somebody doesn’t want to live somewhere without a reserved parking space for their car, they don’t have to live there. But, it’s not the city’s job to get involved with that.
” I asked about converting a SFH lot to a duplex or four plex under HB 1110. They all said this is progressive BS (these folks are right of Attila the Hun and hate affordability mandates).”
If they hate regulations then maybe they should be really woken up to the fact that they’ll be out of a job if no one from the younger generation can afford to buy a place to live long term. A city’s soul dies if the working class can’t afford to live there and just becomes a sad devoid of color playground for the wealthy. We’re facing an affordability crisis and they want to complain about regulations making it fairer for the working class. I have little sympathy for people that can’t look beyond their own bubble and recognize that they’re careening into a tsunami that’s going to hurt everyone in the long-term if no one from the younger generation that isn’t already well off or a native can afford to live here.
A tsunami like what happened in the Bay Area thirty years ago.
Zoning and regulations in general are not for the “working class”. The reason we have zoning is to protect those who own land, those who have money. Changing zoning or regulations to help with “affordability” has never happened Seattle…. or anywhere else in America. The rich will always look out for their own interests. Water will always run downhill. I don’t suggest trying to fight either one.
In the history of America, only land owners are full citizens. We used to not not even let renters vote! Renters can vote now, but more tax and banking systems are set up to serve….. (drumroll please!) Homeowners!!
The answer is a not political one. There’s no fighting City Hall, or Olympia and Washington DC… in the end you can only look out for yourself. If you’re not a homeowner, that should be your #1 goal above everything else.
Half of America gets their shit together and buys a house, the other half pays rent to build wealth for other people. There’s no changing hundreds of years history in one generation…. or maybe ever. Just check out the generational wealth gap between White and Black families in America. That’s the power of homeownership!
“Changing zoning or regulations to help with “affordability” has never happened Seattle”
Seattle has been gradually upzoning several areas for the past fifteen years at least, and reducing parking minimums, and building bicycle corridors, and creating a few transit lanes and queue jumps. It’s not as much as we’d like, but it is happening.
Houses cost so much now that it’s debatable whether it’s worth tying up so much money in a down payment. Houses are also three times larger than they used to be, so the available houses are a lot bigger (and thus more expensive) than somebody may want. And if it’s a choice between living in an apartment in a walkable transit-rich area vs living in a house in Lakewood or Everett or Wenatchee, you’re sacrificing a lot (as you may perceive it) if you insist on a house. Intergenerational wealth gives more of a reason to have a house, but if you don’t have children to give it to, there’s no intergeneration anyway.
“We’re facing an affordability crisis and they want to complain about regulations making it fairer for the working class. I have little sympathy for people that can’t look beyond their own bubble and recognize that they’re careening into a tsunami that’s going to hurt everyone in the long-term if no one from the younger generation that isn’t already well off or a native can afford to live here.”
Zach, you are correct that builders and realtors are not fans of regulation. You should have seen the realtors go crazy when the legislature proposed a progressive REET tax to fund affordable housing. You will generally find very few people look beyond their own little bubble.
But I think you miss the point I was making, or the builders/property managers were making.
What they were saying is HB 1110 is basically Seattle’s upzone in 2017 with one more unit, and it won’t create any more affordable housing. What Seattle’s upzone really created was larger McMansions because now a SFH could have 50% GFAR because three separate dwellings could have 50% GFAR, which made the SFH more valuable too, and the underlying land.
It was the builders and realtors who proposed HB 1110, and they were the ones who adamantly opposed any affordability mandates. To think HB 1110 had anything to do with affordability is naive. The phoniest thing about HB 1110 is the “ability” of a builder to take GFA out of the four market rate units to create two 60% AMI units when the GFAR is fixed. Come on, how phony can the progressives get: take limited market rate GFA and convert it to 60% AMI GFA. Any builder or developer will tell you 80% AMI is about the cutoff market rate buyers or renters want to live with.
I hate to tell you this, but you won’t get a lot of tears out of builders and property managers about high rents or high housing prices. They HATE affordability mandates.
I will also tell you there are a lot of young people in this region who make a lot of money. If you take a young married couple with 100% AMI each in Seattle, they have around $6000/mo. for a mortgage, and a LOT of young couples in Seattle make much more than 100% AMI (statistically half of all Seattleites make more than $115,000/year), and a lot of them made a tidy bundle from stock options form their tech companies they used to buy a SFH. If there is anything different about the tech industry from when I was young it is how many affluent young people it created. When my wife and I started out we both worked full time not earning that much and worked our way from starter home to less starter home to nice home,…
Plus there comes a point in which a SFH is the most important thing — the American Dream — for young couples and this generation has been told the value of their house in this area will never go down, and they get some nice tax breaks.
The two fundamental problems Seattleites faced with housing affordability were:
1. Rising AMI, especially by folks who moved to Seattle with more wealth and a higher income than local residents which was directly reflected in rising housing prices, and displacement, this time including white folks.
2. A sudden need for more housing, which meant new construction that was of course geared toward 100% and above AMI purchasers, including two income couples, and began to replace existing, older, more affordable housing. Good old gentrification, which many think is good for a city, if bad for residents below 100% AMI when AMI is rising very fast.
But don’t expect tears from the builders and property managers who made a tidy fortune from this new wealth and new high-end construction because they bought low (existing older properties) and sold high (new construction geared toward a new AMI they never dreamed of), which is why they can take a breather now that interest rates have risen rapidly.
You rarely see a perfect example of hypocrisy like this:
“WA housing advocates, Realtors clash over proposed real estate tax hikes”.
“Supporters of a state bill that would hike taxes on real estate sales to fund low-income housing are prodding Washington lawmakers to take action and ripping a business group for running a television ad against the bill, which could raise billions of dollars in the coming years.
“The Washington Realtors are opposing House Bill 1628, saying it would add costs to the transactions they’re involved in. Their ad shows a kitchen table conversation over doughnuts and coffee, with a man and woman discussing how the bill, sponsored by Rep. Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, would “make housing even more expensive” by boosting taxes on home sales.
“At a news conference hosted Thursday by the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, HB 1628 supporters dismissed that argument, asserting the bill’s “modest” tax bumps wouldn’t drive up rents and home prices, because those are set by what residents are willing and able to pay. They said the funds are desperately needed to create more subsidized housing, describing the bill as a game changer crucial to reducing homelessness.
“While upzoning bills have moved close to adoption — with backing from developers and real estate brokers and agents, among others — proposals to limit rent increases died last month and Senate budget writers have balked at Gov. Jay Inslee’s bid for a ballot measure to borrow $4 billion for housing.
“We have plenty of land in our city, but the market is not going to build low-income housing without government funding,” Beggs said, making the case that HB 1628 would take “just a crumb” from property values that have soared in recent years to “fix the system” for people at risk of becoming homeless.
BTW here is a link to Regional Transit Committee website that meets the third Wednesday of the month at 3 pm and how to participate, and links to past meeting materials. The last meeting was April 19.
I believe I’m actually one of the few posters on this board is “working class” and if you do not have a college degree, home ownership is the one path to wealth you have. So many goofy negative posts on this blog about the downsides of owning a house. Nothing personal, but for sake of young people reading this… this thinking is foolish. I even suspect much of the “anti-home ownership” rhetoric posted here comes from…. guys who currently own homes. So if you don’t believe home ownership should be a person’s #1 goal and yet you’re building personal wealth with a mortgage payment, I politely ask you to just step off.
“Houses cost so much now that it’s debatable whether it’s worth tying up so much money in a down payment. ”
What do you suggest? Investing in crypto currency? Really. If not a down payment on a place to live with extra money, what the heck do you suggest?
You can’t live in a 401k plan.
“I hate to tell you this, but you won’t get a lot of tears out of builders and property managers about high rents or high housing prices. They HATE affordability mandates.”
Let me Translate = We are going to burn ourselves alive in our outdated thinking because we are too cheap to spend on having working class housing despite how much an actual business case for affordable housing there is and has been in many North American and European cites. I’m sorry but cry me a river if they are going to whine and moan about affordability mandates and regulations from the state because that is the point of regulations existing. But hey they live in a rich elitist bubble where they’re not affected by this stuff. If they and others want just a playground for the rich and only the ricjh go right ahead with their misguided nonsense, have fun when the minimum wage workers they rely on to keep their life going disappear and no one is there to do the job for them like carpenters, electroans, day laborers. This is literally happening in my state of CO right now as no one making the median income can afford to live in ski resort areas. Despite the fact that the working class is the only reason that said resort towns are able to keep the lights on.
I’m not naive, I live in reality where I know how much spending on working class housing provides stability to a region.
If they want to build their foundation on soft soil prone to liquefaction when an earthquake happens. There’s little sympathy from my view when the earthquake happens and then no one can afford to live in the city they work in.
Zach, the state legislature is overwhelmingly Democrat and progressive. There were no affordability mandates in HB 1110 or any other upzoning bills the builders and progressives proposed with the progressives this year. When mayors began to complain, the progressives tried to cover themselves with a completely phony proposal: allow builders to take market rate GFA from the four market rate plexes to create two 60% AMI plexes when GFAR is capped. Ever hear of a builder using market rate GFA to create affordable housing, let alone 60% AMI? But hey, urbanists like Ryan Packer bought it hook, line and sinker.
Look, builders and realtors hate affordability mandates. No surprise there.
But the progressive legislators took their money and so had to do their bidding. So after all the Sturm and Drang of the last legislative session the legislature came up with HB 1110 that won’t create a single housing unit below 100% AMI.
There are no good guys in politics and in the housing game.
Let me be perfectly clear here on one final point, I’m not someone who views all housing as needing to be bought up by the state and making landlords illegal. That is silly and doesn’t really work, the state does have a role in social housing and is true in many countries or cities with stable housing markets and social safety nets. But at the same time, affordability mandates should exist to keep people who work in the city like teachers, firefighters, and even service workers within city limits or within reasonable commuting times to their place of employment.
In my parents case, they moved to Tacoma as per my dad’s orders by the military for him to be posted at JBLM as the last part of his time serving in the military before retirement. They ended up buying a house in Tacoma for about $80K in 93 within a year or two of moving to Tacoma. My parents wouldn’t be able to do that nowadays if they were to say move there now with their house valued at nearly half a million. Yes, the base has housing and is a good option for people. But affordable off base housing is needed as well for people as an option for the longer term residents or for people who don’t want to be on the base all the time.
As a city, you either plan for the future or you don’t and kick yourself later for not doing so. Something that California cities are grappling with now as the state has basically told them to adapt new realistic housing growth initiatives or the state will do it for them in their stead.
Re: Seattle golf. Golf during the pandemic has had a massive boom. Try finding a decent weekend tee time at some of the better public courses that drain well in the south sound (Home Course, Chambers Bay) or in Bremerton (Gold Mountain). The app GolfNow used to have available tee times at the better golf courses on weekends– not anymore. Presumably, this boom “trickles” down to the Seattle public courses.
Demographics of the golfers I’ve seen at Seattle public courses: Jackson Park has a sizeable number of Asian American golfers (whether they live in Seattle proper or Shoreline. etc. I don’t know). Jackson Park has a number of African-American golfers (plus it has some historical value since Hall of Fame member Fred Couples used to play there as a kid). West Seattle reflects the demographics of West Seattle (majority white, some Asian Americans) and is in Dow’s backyard– so that isn’t going anywhere. And Interbay is a 9 hole course great for beginners (including women who are getting into the game).
As mentioned earlier, getting rid of a golf course/parkland has to be replaced elsewhere. You might have had a shot at getting rid of golf courses in 2019, but not now. It would not surprise me if Harrell is an avid golfer.
getting rid of a golf course/parkland has to be replaced elsewhere
No it doesn’t. You are conflating two different things. You can replace a golf course with a regular park, in the same way that you can replace a tennis court with a pickle ball court, or a baseball diamond with a soccer field. You can completely change over the playground, or create new trails. Most of this happens all the time in Seattle. There is no fundamental reason that Seattle can’t do what Bothell did, and change a golf course to a regular park.
What they can’t do is convert parkland to private housing. Not without adding parkland somewhere else. Of course the city council could change the law, but I really doubt that will happen.
Whoops, correction– the second Seattle muni is Jefferson, not Jackson.
Point remains, golf courses likely aren’t going anywhere in Seattle (remember the kerfuffle of potentially taking away a few holes of W. Seattle for light rail) for a few years. Given my brief experience in Seattle elections, the mayor will likely elected from the Chamber of Commerce wing (Murray, Durban, Harrell) and it is not going to change.
If McGinn had won reelection? Perhaps, it might have changed, but we’d probably be also talking about “A Streetcar named Ballard” in ST3.
With the move away from commuting, I’ve been thinking more about how Sound Transit can change (with the ST express and sounder ridership freefall) — and I don’t think really just changing these routes all-day is going to work. What really needs to be done is moving away from Freeway corridors and focusing more on Avenue corridors.
If we look at the sound transit 3 map http://soundtransit3.org/map#map. Basically almost everything is expanding along freeway corridors. There’s really only 2 segments not along a freeway which would be the Ballard segment and Stride 3 from shoreline to Bothell. The current focus on peak-commuter segment prioritizes speed at the expense of everything else. This ends up missing key destinations too often. I mean look at the current Stride 1, even we were to incorporate some of our suggestions — it still misses Southcenter mall.
There should be more focus on avenues where more people live. For the South King they could have expedited the rapidride i and improve on route 150 and maybe some direct access ramp to Southcenter. For Tacoma, improve their existing 1 bus line along Pacific avenue and their 4 bus to brt status.
For Seattle I know they are already subsidizing the rapidride C and D a bit and madison brt, but why not say subsidize the rapidride (transit plus) 44 or say upgrading Renton Ave for the 106 bus line. The costs of subsiding these improvements (50~100 million) would be the same as one couple-hundred stall parking garage.
One could even make some of these projects ‘rail ready’* similar to the bus tunnel. For example, perhaps along Delridge way a center median bus lane and islands could be converted to light rail in the far future. The ECR bus way too or perhaps the elevated bus bridge near south center to avoid the circuitous F line routing.
*It’s more about making it politically palatable.
Agree completely that buses on boulevards are a huge growth market for transit. Particularly BRT. They provide speed more comparable to driving and they can actually serve the stroads that make up a large part of our built landscape.
On the 106 being BRT – it might work. I used to ride it home, and it does get slowed on merging back into traffic after stops. You might be able to get away with spot improvements at certain stops.
I think you would have to cut the bike lanes. I don’t think people would mind. It’s a terrible bike lane. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a bicyclist on it. Literally. And I live about a mile away.
> Agree completely that buses on boulevards are a huge growth market for transit. Particularly BRT. They provide speed more comparable to driving and they can actually serve the stroads that make up a large part of our built landscape.
Yeah I was thinking about where to reinvest Sounder/ST Express money rather than just more all-day service on those express routes. And whenever I sketched rerouted busses off the freeway to reach anywhere useful, I basically ended up just recreating the rapidrides. So why not have Sound Transit invest in these major corridors?
And they don’t necessarily have to be small corridors, I mean Stride 3 from Bothell to Shoreline is 7 miles and it is on a Bothell Way ne.
> On the 106 being BRT – it might work. I used to ride it home, and it does get slowed on merging back into traffic after stops. You might be able to get away with spot improvements at certain stops.
I have only ridden it once, but considering it’s one lane most of the time I think spot improvements at stops and major intersections could be enough. Possibly could be converted to a north bound bus lanes, though at looks like on google maps even taking away two bike lanes you’ll only have enough space for one transit lane.
Freeway expresses aren’t just for peak commuting; they’re for everyone who travels between cities at any time for any reason. To go to grandmother’s house or a museum or a show or monthly gathering. Getting from Burien to Bellevue or Seattle to Tacoma without it would take two hours each way, which would severely hamper non-car mobility in the region and bring us back to a 1994 level of transit.
The Metro Connects visions published in 2016-2020 had RapidRide 106 and 150 (both truncated at Rainier Beach).
Re RapidRide C and D, ST3 has money for interim improvements ahead of WSBLE, but that money is still unspent, and last I heard Seattle still hadn’t clarified what it wanted to do with it. And the realignment schedule implies it’s postponed until after WSBLE. Which doesn’t make sense because the C and D will be gone then, so what would it go to? So in a best-case scenario among all these, it best it may go to some unspecified capital improvements to the C and D in the next few years.
There’s no way for Stride 1 to get to Southcenter without getting involved in the turns that make the 150 so slow.
PT 1 (Pacific Ave) is being upgraded to a RapidRide-like line called Stream 1 as part of ST3. It’s in either late planning or construction now.
Diverting ST3 money to arterial routes like the 44 or 106 or 150 would require another vote, since they’re not ST3 corridors.
> Freeway expresses aren’t just for peak commuting; they’re for everyone who travels between cities at any time for any reason. To go to grandmother’s house or a museum or a show or monthly gathering. Getting from Burien to Bellevue or Seattle to Tacoma without it would take two hours each way, which would severely hamper non-car mobility in the region and bring us back to a 1994 level of transit.
I’m not saying getting rid of it, but rather stop trying to invest so much money into it if there isn’t enough demand for it. Even if it was converted to 10 minute frequency it just ends up missing too many destinations. And not just about the freeway transit but also Sounder.
> There’s no way for Stride 1 to get to Southcenter without getting involved in the turns that make the 150 so slow.
They could add a direct access ramp at say 61st or 66th avenue. Or also the original South HCT brt studies investigated adding converting strander boulevard to have an elevated crossing, the hard part is really to get to Tukwila train station.
> Re RapidRide C and D, ST3 has money for interim improvements ahead of WSBLE, but that money is still unspent, and last I heard Seattle still hadn’t clarified what it wanted to do with it. …. PT 1 (Pacific Ave) is being upgraded to a RapidRide-like line called Stream 1 as part of ST3.
That’s nice to hear, I didn’t realize Stream 1’s funding came partially from ST3. But yeah that is part of my point, Sound Transit kinda funds some arterial brt but barely shows it on their map. I checked it, it only costs 60 million dollars https://st32.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/InteractiveMap/Templates/July1/Bus_CorridorEnhancementsPacificAvenue-1.pdf
How much are they investing in this though? From a service standpoint, it is fairly simple. It is just a bus route. It might not be a great bus route, but that is true of many ST buses. S1 should do reasonable well from that standpoint.
From a capital standpoint, things get more complicated. I haven’t seen a cost breakdown of the various projects. From what I can tell, here are the major costs for S1:
1) Park and Rides.
2) 405 Freeway Station and pedestrian overpass to TIBS.
3) NE 44th freeway station.
All of these add value, but in my opinion, the park and rides are the least likely to be worth it. If a park and ride is expensive, it isn’t worth it.
My guess is the TIBS connection isn’t that expensive, and is probably worth it. The alternative is to spend more money on service. The cheapest option is to have the bus exit the freeway, go the station, and then back on the freeway. This costs service hours, while delaying Burien riders headed to Renton or Bellevue. Other combinations cost more, or provide less. For example, you could have the S1 end at TIBS. Riders from Burien to TIBS take the F. Riders from Burien to Bellevue take TIBS and transfer. This works, but is much slower for a lot of riders. A series of overlapping buses can work out nicely, but costs more to operate. For example, an express from Burien to TIBS (or more likely SeaTac) continuing to Bellevue, along with an express from Burien to Bellevue that skips the airport and TIBS. Ironically, the areas where this kind of infrastructure is a good value are also the type of area where these type of overlapping routes (with or without that infrastructure) are a good value. Without knowing the actual cost (of the project or service) it is hard to gauge.
Some of these freeway stations are probably relatively cheap. If nothing else, they offer up long term potential as transfer points. For example, the 44th Station doesn’t look great. There isn’t much nearby, nor is there any crossing bus service. But eventually that could be added. If additional express buses are added, this could also serve as a transfer point along I-405. For example, I could see the the S1 split into two pieces. Bellevue to Renton is one section, perhaps extended to Auburn and Kent (essentially the 566). Burien to Bellevue becomes the other piece. It skips Renton, but riders going from Burien to Renton can backtrack using the freeway station. This is more expensive, and might not be worth it, but you’ve actually sped things up for some (while making it slower for others). I could easily see the following:
1) 15-minute all-day 566 (ending in downtown Bellevue, of course).
2) Burien-Bellevue express, stopping only at the TIBS and 44th freeway stations.
3) Peak service from Auburn and Kent to Bellevue, skipping Renton (taking advantage of the HOV lanes).
From what I can tell, I don’t see much problem with S1, except for parking garages (and it isn’t clear whether it has any). In contrast, S2 may get more riders, but the NE 85th freeway station is supposed to be really expensive. Even if does add considerable value, it is hard to see it being worth it. There is basically nothing there. As with the other areas, the alternative is more service. Run express buses from Downtown Kirkland to Downtown Bellevue and just have the S2 make no stops between Totem Lake and Downtown Bellevue. Maybe add an express from Totem Lake to Downtown Kirkland, although most of the time, the 255 would be adequate. If you are heading to Redmond you can just backtrack using Link. Again, this is just because the freeway station is so massively expensive. If it was cheaper, it would be worth it.
The TIBS bus station connection is relatively expensive because it is a center lane station and needs an elevator on both sides.
> From what I can tell, I don’t see much problem with S1, except for parking garages (and it isn’t clear whether it has any).
The main problem I find with S1 is with the Burien to Renton section. Burien itself just really isn’t dense enough that I find skipping so many stops and destinations worth it for the speed increase. Everyone else has to transfer from the Rapidride F line anyways beyond a tiny walkshed around TIBS and the Burien transit center.
There should still exist a Burien to Bellevue freeway bus, but the main stride bus should travel mainly along the F rapidride route (maybe skip tukwila station?) before switching to the 405 after Renton Transit Center. And importantly the major improvements could be made to speed the route along Tukwila Pkway and Southcenter blvd
I believe the TIBS Stride station is ~$10MM. Like most BRT stations, they are cheap when they don’t include parking.
S2 includes a garage at S Renton (expensive) and surface parking at 44th (cheap, and can always be turned into TOD in the future). The original ST3 scope does a good job detailing the parking, and i don’t think anything has changed.
44th station is very expensive, for the same reason as 85th station – it’s primarily a freeway interchange rebuild, with the transit specific infrastructure a small fraction of the overall cost. It is frustrating that both interchanges are funded by ST and not WSDOT (though as WSDOT assets, WSDOT is responsible for SOGR), but given that S1 & S2 will benefit from the multi-billion investments in HOT lanes the length of 405, it’s not a terrible political trade and it’s all public money for public assets.
I like Ross’ operating model. Burien-Bellevue (#2) and 167-Belleuve (#3) express routes that stay on the freeway, and then at least one Renton “local” express route. As Ross suggests, the Renton ‘local’ will probably be the 566 since that already exists, but it could be a 560 that ends at Burien TC or SeaTac.
I could see the 560(ish) return if/when S1 drops the S Renton station once all the Burien & TIBS riders realize how much it sucks to get off the freeway when they really just want to get to Bellevue. The 566 & 560 can be staggered to get Renton good frequency to Bellevue. Also, this 56X series would then very much benefit from a direct-access lane at Southport, which should then become Renton’s priority project (ideally paid by toll revenue per the 405 Master Plan)
I think your estimate is right, although it is frustrating that we don’t have more specific numbers. I’ve been able to find updated costs for some of the projects, but they tend to lump things together. When they do break things out, they tend to focus on just the price difference (not the total cost).
For example, here is an updated summary: https://www.soundtransit.org/st_sharepoint/download/sites/PRDA/FinalRecords/2022/Presentation%20-%20Stride%20BRT%2007-15-22.pdf. Notice that they specifically call out the deferring of the parking (and as a result, the costs have gone down). But they still don’t have a project-by-project breakdown (for example, how much for a specific parking lot). This report (https://www.scribd.com/document/520063960/Sound-Transit-BRT-Program-Briefing-Presentation-August-12-2021) mentions some cost saving measures, but it doesn’t list what each project costs. For example, the TIBS bus stop and walkway can save $5 million by not connecting to the south. But what does the remainder cost? I don’t know.
Would this just be funding KCM’s 26 Rapid Ride build out, CT’s Swift network, and PT’s Stream vision? STX is freeway oriented because the avenue/arterial routes were already served by the county agencies, so ST Express was created to serve longer haul ‘express’ routes. The Express routes should still exist, as an express overlay of good local service.
There is already a precedent for this approach with ST funding both Madison BRT and PT’s route 1 BRT, in addition Stride 3 where ST operates the route directly. All three of these lines should be successful, which builds support for more.
I’ve made this argument before – the idea “there is nothing to do” outside of Seattle after ST3 is absurd, and leveraging ST’s funding framework to make major bus improvements is the logical next step for the region. Even if Seattle remains focused on rail, there are ample bus projects elsewhere to hold together an ST4 coalition.
Within ST3, there are several good options if/when the Board decides to pivot ST3. Within Pierce, ditch the streetcar Phase III (and/or reduce defer Sounder capacity expansion), and repurpose those funds to build more BRT. Stream-2 in particular is a good 1:1 replacement for Streetcar Phase II. For Snohomish, deferring the Paine alignment to improve & extend the Green line could be a winner (especially if Link gets to Mariner as a transfer point to Green), and the long term vision for CT has two addition Swift lines within the ST subarea (see page 64 below). Also, ST funding the Swift Green into King County to terminate at the Stride transit center is exactly the kind of cross-jurisdictional funding issues ST was created to solve.
Are you talking about just extending the south end of the Green to UW Bothell, or also extending the north end of the Green to somewhere? Somebody here said the UW Bothell extension is funded and is waiting for highway improvements in downtown Bothell.
Both. Green into King County is an easy win, but CT has stated it would require KCM or ST to pay for the O&M. It may also be waiting on highway work, but I thought it was also waiting on non-CT funding.
But that would be unrelated to punting on some of Everett Link. Current Everett & Snohomish politicians remain adamant on Link to Paine field, so I don’t think canceling or changing the alignment is possible at this time. What is likely, however, is a phase approach for Everett Link, with Link to Mariner the likely Phase 1 terminus. I think it would then be reasonable for ST staff to propose some enhancements to Swift Green as mitigation on Everett Link phase II deferral. An actual decision on ELII can then be punted to 2030s for the next generation of leaders.
> The Express routes should still exist, as an express overlay of good local service
I’m not saying they should go away, but rather there should be emphasis on avenue corridors.
> There is already a precedent for this approach with ST funding both Madison BRT and PT’s route 1 BRT, in addition Stride 3 where ST operates the route directly. All three of these lines should be successful, which builds support for more.
Stride 3 is the first BRT on an avenue Sound Transit is really running and the thought was why not just fund more BRT like Stride 3.
> Would this just be funding KCM’s 26 Rapid Ride build out, CT’s Swift network, and PT’s Stream vision?
Kind of, to keep in line with the ‘regional’ idea I did more propose routes that cross city boundaries. With redmond way going from Redmond to Kirkland, Burien/Tukwila/Renton etc… rather than the rapidrides that are solely within Seattle city boundaries. Even the 44 idea is connected with the 520 for a Ballard/UW/Kirkland line (as in the hct study).
Also the idea is for leaning towards more ‘real’ brt on the avenues than typical rapidrides since Sound Transit has more money and slightly more political power to push projects through. For concrete examples, Sound Transit (in the studies) proposed center median brt lanes on delridge way and evergreen way which involve moving utilities — much beyond the budget/will of a typical Rapidride project.
The Swift Green Line extension to UW-Bothell/DT Bothell’s timeline is still being decided the last I checked (2027-2028 at the earliest I think). CT budgeted $2 million for design in their 2023 budget, all self-funded. The agency is slated to eventually receive $10 million from last year’s 16-year Move Ahead Washington legislation that was pushed over the finish line. The Urbanist had a piece a while back that touched on the issue with the needed infrastructure upgrades that the agency is expecting the city of Bothell to address:
“However, the Swift Green Line won’t be extended to UW Bothell/Cascadia College in 2024. In fact, Community Transit hasn’t put a specific date on when the line would be elongated to cover Bothell. That’s because the agency says extension is dependent upon road widening along Bothell Way NE, which Community Transit insists is necessary for travel time consistency.
““[Swift] corridors are typically [located on] larger arterials, meaning three or more total travel lanes,” the agency shared in an email. “Larger arterials provide the opportunity to incorporate speed and reliability infrastructure such as transit signal priority at intersections and transit lane priority along the corridor.” When asked about using bus pullouts for stations as an interim solution, the agency said that they prefer not to use them “…because of the constraint of getting the bus back into the travel lane…””
What really needs to be done is moving away from Freeway corridors and focusing more on Avenue corridors.
That has always been the case. Almost all of the high ridership buses are along surface street corridors (A, D, E, 3/4, 7, 8, 36, 40, 70). There are only a handful of exceptions, like the 545, 550, C, 120 and old 41. The last three are (or were) essentially hybrids, in that they spent a considerable amount of time on surface streets, but also went on the freeway. They were always a small portion, and they are getting smaller. Some of these have been replaced by Link, or will be soon. There will still be popular buses that run on the freeway (for most or at least part of their journey) but they will represent an increasingly smaller portion of the overall ridership. The 36, for example, had 9,200 riders before the pandemic. That is higher than every Sound Transit bus.
But Sound Transit is a regional transit agency. There focus is connecting the region, not trying to duplicate what Metro does. If anything, it is weird that Metro runs buses like the 522, 545 and 550. It just shows how dysfunctional transit is in the area. Sound Transit has oodles of cash — Metro is short on funds. So Sound Transit takes over routes that have nothing to do with regional service, and should be part of Metro’s fleet. It is bizarre when you think about. Metro runs buses all the way to North Bend, and yet the bus from downtown Bellevue to Seattle is operated by the regional transit agency (Sound Transit). It doesn’t even operate as an express, but runs on Bellevue Way, covering that street. It is basically a typical Metro bus, but with different colors.
It is quite reasonable for Sound Transit to focus on regional transit, since that is their goal. While within King County, Burien to Bellevue is definitely a regional trip. Lynnwood to Bellevue extends beyond the county line. These are regional trips, and it makes sense for Sound Transit to operate them.
The big problem is that Metro (like every county transit agency) doesn’t have enough funds. It is the tail wagging the dog. The region passes a massive spending bill for Sound Transit. ST has a couple seemingly disparate goals: build a mass transit system and build regional transit. But they have so much money, they figure they might as well spend it on extra transit where it will be very successful, which is how they end up basically operating Metro routes. They could do more of that, but even then, it makes sense to run routes that are largely on the freeway.
If they take over a route (e. g. the 101) then the situation becomes obvious. They are simply poaching a Metro route, as a means of shifting money around. From a political standpoint, it makes more sense to at least imply that the route would not exist if not for Sound Transit. Quite often this is true. The 512 probably wouldn’t exist without them. But the 550 would. Thus they are better off making new routes, like the S1. I think there is a place for routes like that, and I could see more of them. I’ve been pushing for a bus that goes from the UW (main campus) to UW Bothell, via the freeway. Even if it only went to Totem Lake it would be worth it (riders could transfer to the new S2 to get between the two UW campuses). The bus could actually leave the freeway at Totem Lake, and go to the medical center, the “village” and the tech college. This would be a very good bus, but running to UW Bothell makes it more like a typical ST bus. I could also see the bus going to Woodinville, instead of UW Bothell. It isn’t that far a walk from the Bothell bus stop to UW Bothell. That would please Woodinville, who may feel left out because the S3 doesn’t go that far. That definitely becomes a regional line (Woodinville to the UW) and thus quite appropriate for Sound Transit.
Thanks for pointing out the differences about Metro, PT, CT (buses) and ST (mostly trains).
The problem is and might always be…. train on the brain. Sound Transit sucks up so much money, local bus service can’t be funded. The end result is definitional transit. And please, no stupid responses about local government failing to fully fund transit. Let’s stay in reality here. There’s no money in Pierce County budget, or Tacoma budget to properly fund PT. Sound Transit took the money and ran….
Here’s the solution. One transit system to rule them all!
> But Sound Transit is a regional transit agency
I understand that, let me clarify why not focus on ‘regional avenues’ then instead?
> Quite often this is true. The 512 probably wouldn’t exist without them. But the 550 would. Thus they are better off making new routes, like the S1… If they take over a route (e. g. the 101) then the situation becomes obvious.
I mean the Stride 3 between Bothell to Shoreline covers most of the 372 by king county (https://kingcounty.gov/en/dept/metro/routes-and-service/schedules-and-maps/372.html#route-map), and King county will lower/adjust the 372 after it starts running. Stride 1 is also mainly duplicating 560 which will be cancelled after it starts running.
There’s plenty of other avenue corridors that could still be funded that cross multiple cities. And it’s not as if Sound Transit hasn’t investigated doing exactly that in their high capacity transit corridor studies.
For Lynnwood to Everett they could upgrade Evergreen Way to have bus rapid transit center lanes (whether for Swift Blue or a different brt) as in the studies. Or why not help fund Swift Red line to Marysville. For East king they could fund some BAT lanes/rapidride* service on redmond way between kirkland and redmond. Or even Kirkland to Bellevue they need funding for their 108th ave bat lanes. Or even for say the 44, it was envisioned as route going east past onto the 520 from Ballard to Kirkland and Redmond (HCT Study: Northern Lake Washington).
Regarding the 106 on renton S way I was intending it as a route between Renton to a light rail station, though I didn’t realize most of it is actually still in Seattle city boundaries. *Sure we could call them Stride under the Sound Transit name
“it is weird that Metro runs buses like the 522, 545 and 550. It just shows how dysfunctional transit is in the area. Sound Transit has oodles of cash — Metro is short on funds.”
ST pays Metro to operate those routes, so it doesn’t affect local service. ST doesn’t want to be a bus operator. That’s strange, but on the other hand, Metro, CT, and PT are the bus experts, so maybe it’s better in their hands.
Before ST Express, the 550 was part of more localish routes (226 and 235). Most of the other routes didn’t exist (512, 594), or were peak-only (545, 554, 577). ST has oodles of money compared to the local agencies, but not enough to replace all the intercity routes, so it had to choose a few. It has always seemed arbitrary that the 522 and 550 were converted to ST but the 101 and 255 weren’t. And the 255 did eventually get an express (the 540), but it was low-ridership and failed.
“Metro runs buses all the way to North Bend”
It used to run buses to North Bend. Now it just runs them in North Bend (from Issaquah, #208), which is akin to the Smokey Point-Arlington route. North Bend is within Metro’s service area, so it should serve it somehow.
“If they take over a route (e. g. the 101) then the situation becomes obvious. They are simply poaching a Metro route, as a means of shifting money around.”
It would free up Metro service hours for something else. But it won’t happen because ST’s primary goal is to finish Link as soon as possible, so it only wants to allocate a limited amount of money to ST Express, and not have that amount rise.
> Thanks for pointing out the differences about Metro, PT, CT (buses) and ST (mostly trains).
Just wanted to clarify slightly that while Sound Transit spends most of it’s money on trains, for most years it’s had more ridership on their Sound Transit express busses than on the light rail. Only starting 2016 has the link trains had more ridership than the busses.
> There’s no money in Pierce County budget, or Tacoma budget to properly fund PT. Sound Transit took the money and ran…
They are building an expensive new 167 extension project (it is funded by state and federally, but not all of it) so it’s not as if they don’t have the money. That being said I do agree Sound Transit should fund much more bus service in Tacoma/Pierce rather than spending it all on Sounder.
“Sound Transit sucks up so much money, local bus service can’t be funded.”
It’s not that. The state caps the local agencies’ sales-tax rate at a low level. CT is at its limit, and Metro is close to it. Exceptions for capital projects have to be approved individually by the state, and it only approves some of them. Cities and counties can run levies to supplement bus service, but those have to be renewed every five years so they don’t provide long-term stability. Cities differ in terms of how much they’re willing to approve Metro levies: Seattle is pretty willing, King County not that much, and South King County even less. It’s not because people don’t want to pay for Metro because they’re paying for Sound Traansit; it’s just they don’t want to pay for Metro period; it’s not as important to them as Link and Sounder.
Ross, good point on the 550 already being an ‘arterial’ bus route. That gets missed when people think 550 can just be deleted once Link opens, and is why the 554 is rerouted to serve Bellevue Way. What was the KCM route before the 550 launched?
WL, Swift Red is primarily outside the ST taxing district, so that won’t work. Otherwise, sure, but I don’t think you are introducing a new idea. ST selects regional corridors and then determines the right mode.
Tacomee, I don’t buy the idea that ST “took the money.” Seattle, King, and CT continue to vote robustly for more transit taxes. In Pierce, ~40% of PT’s operating capacity is funded by ST to run ST routes; Pierce’s solid express bus network connecting to Pierce & King job centers probably only exists because Tacoma votes for Link in large numbers. The economies of scale provided by being ST’s operating partner allow for PT to provide more local service than they would otherwise.
UTA’s approach works well there. Puget Sound’s approach allows for Seattle to have the highest level of transit taxes, then King county, and then so forth. Pulling in Arlington voters into the regional tax district is probably not helpful, but Arlington still merits some level of transit, which they pay for within the CT tax district. Same with North Bend, Gig Harbor, etc.
Mike, the limiting factor on ST Express is bus base capacity. The need to direct cash flow to Link is irrelevant to ST Express funding levels. They are different orders of magnitude. STX doesn’t run more route because it doesn’t have the buses or drivers.
” Seattle, King, and CT continue to vote robustly for more transit taxes.”
When was the last time King Co. residents voted for more transit taxes?
WL, see “Arterial/BAT Lanes BRT” on page 15
“What was the KCM route before the 550 launched?”
The 226 and 235 were on Bellevue Way between NE 4th Street and SE 8th Street. Then the 235 diverged to 104th (Beaux Arts) and the 226 to 108th (Enatai). They rejoined near I-90. The 226 backtracked to the South Bellevue P&R; I don’t remember whether the 235 did. I used to wish they remained on Bellevue Way because the other ways were slower.
The 240 was on Bellevue Way between downtown Bellevue and I-90 in 1980, but at some point it moved to 108th, probably before the 550 started.
When the 550 started ST asked the public whether it should run on Bellevue Way and serve stops there, or on 405 nonstop. The majority of responses was to serve Bellevue Way, so that’s what it did.
> WL, Swift Red is primarily outside the ST taxing district, so that won’t work. Otherwise, sure, but I don’t think you are introducing a new idea. ST selects regional corridors and then determines the right mode.
I know I’m not introducing a new idea as ST investigated these corridors. I’m saying ST made a mistake to choose the freeway alignment for almost every corridor. And instead should focus and build many more alignments similar to the Stride 3. I mean let’s say hypothetically there was a limited access freeway from Bothell to Shoreline, Sound Transit probably would have built the BRT along that instead of Bothell Way.
I mean we talk about Sound Transit moving away from being peak-only commuter focused service pattern — that also applies to the routes it chose for all of these corridors.
> WL, see “Arterial/BAT Lanes BRT” on page 15
I read it, but don’t quite understand what point you are implying here? This is just a description of how BAT Lanes BRT currently works and is implemented.
The thread has several questions.
Service between BTC and downtown Seattle via Mercer Island was routes 226 and 235; it was consolidated into Route 226 alone and shifted to the DSTT in fall 1997; ST Route 550 absorbed it in fall 1999. Before fall 1997, Route 253 was in the DSTT via SR-520; after fall 1997, Route 253 was an intra Eastside route; it was absorbed by the B Line in fall 2011.. SR-520 was tolled in 2010 and became more reliable.
The ST3 funds for RR lines C and D have been postponed due to the fiscal crisis, though ST3 did go into the G Line.
Yes, it would be sweet for CT Swift lines to extend to Edmonds and Bothell. CT has been covering north Bothell in King County for many years.
Some ST routes were smart and effective and were developed together with the local agencies (e.g., routes 512, 522, 545, 550). Yes, ST has had more funding. But they have also been not spending enough on service.
Yes, King County has passed some Transit funding measures. I-695 was in fall 1999. The Legislature gave Metro authority to ask for up to three tenths sales tax. in fall 2000 two tenths were passed. in fall 2006, the third tenth was passed; it was aimed at Transit Now and included five RR lines. Metro has exhausted its sales tax authority. King County TBD attempted a roads and transit measure in April 2014 and it failed. ST passed measures in 1996, 2008, and 2016; the RTA measure in April 1995 failed. the joint RTID-ST measure in fall 2007 failed.
During the recession, in 2010 (or so) some councilmanic funds were added; part was a shift in fingerprint funds. It had to be spent 40-40-20 under the former subarea rules; they were used to fund RR and partnership routes. The F Line was in the south subarea and was needed to balance the accounts.
With fiscal crisis during Covid, the RR program was scaled back; it no longer has the 26 line dream.
“Mike, the limiting factor on ST Express is bus base capacity. The need to direct cash flow to Link is irrelevant to ST Express funding levels. They are different orders of magnitude. STX doesn’t run more route because it doesn’t have the buses or drivers.”
Over the lifetime of Sound Transit it could have built more bases to support more routes, and included those in ST2 and ST3. The driver shortage started in the recovery from covid, so it’s a shorter-term issue.
Thanks Mike & Eddie!
WL I think we are talking past each other.
1. The regional has invested significantly in a freeway HOV network and an express bus network that leverages that HOV infrastructure. That all-day express network should remain and is properly the responsibility of ST. (CT will exit the freeway express game after Lynnwood Link; KCM will still have a peak express network, some of which are simply STX’s routes with alternate tails).
2. Arterial BRT is important and will drive more ridership than an an express bus network. The region has a few (RR-A & E, Swift), is building a few more (Madison BRT, S3, Swift, Stream), and should build more. Note that these routes are all county routes except S3.
3. It made sense for ST to start with the Express bus network. That was the early win of Sound Move, and most of the STX spend since this is sustaining that network and a few freeway station enhancements.
4. The STX network is mature; WSDOT’s 405 investments are allowing for STX to be upgraded to Stride. SR-509/167 may unlock some new express routes,
but otherwise the freeway network & accompanying bus network is what it is.
After STX, ST focused on Sounder & Link. With ST2/3, the focus was on completing the spine. With the spine complete, and BRT technology much better understood in NA, I think it makes sense that the region’s 4 main transit agencies are all looking to steadily build out an A-BRT network.
What specific corridor do you wish ST had served arterially rather than freeway express? RR-A is a great route, but I don’t think it would have made sense for ST to run a bus the length of 99 from Tacoma to Rainier Beach in lieu of freeway routes?
Mike, no. ST tried to build a base several times and was blocked by KCM; there’s a reason the Stride base is in Snohomish county. STX has been base constrained since ~2017, and labor constrained since COVID. So in the context of post-ST3 vote, funding has never been a constraint on STX.
> WL I think we are talking past each other.
Yeah, no worries. Part of the problem is I am also kinda thinking ‘out loud’ how Sound Transit could pivot to avenues from freeways.
> What specific corridor do you wish ST had served arterially rather than freeway express?
To clarify I don’t mean ST shouldn’t run freeway express busses/Sounder trains, but rather to invest more into the avenue corridors; especially with the drop in ridership from peak commute routes.
I replied some of these routes in the my other recent comment, but I’ll repeat it here.
Everett to Lynnwood could improve upon the Evergreen Way corridor with center median bus lanes rather than only the i-5 alignment. Even the Shoreline to Seattle segment could be improved with further improvements to the E line along Aurora. (To be clear would have been better if link went up highway 99 after northgate, but what’s built is built)
For East King rather than focusing solely on the i-405 could improve along the 108th ave between kirkland to Bellevue with BAT lanes and also between Kirkland to Redmond on Redmond Way. And for East-West travel rather than just the South Kirkland rail extension and transfers there, could implement bus corridor improvements from Ballard to UW (either Leary or 45th) for a Ballard to Redmond/Kirkland Bus.
The freeway segment from Bellevue to Renton I think is fine, however from Renton to Burien is a bit more complicated. Unfortunately the currently planned i-405 segment there misses too many stops. I’d route it more similarly to the F line, though with less detours. Mainly down SW Grady Way to South Center (and skip Tukwila station) to TIBS. Then on the H line side add more improvements to Delridge way to bring down the travel time.
For South King’s Kent, Auburn and Sumner. I’d prioritize the 150 on West Valley Way and 160 corridors more over Sounder. For direct express access to Seattle in this case I’d use the highway 167.
> RR-A is a great route, but I don’t think it would have made sense for ST to run a bus the length of 99 from Tacoma to Rainier Beach in lieu of freeway routes?
Tacoma is one of the few areas where it’s just not dense enough for an arterial brt to really reach the next city, Fife/ Federal Way well. Well part of the ‘problem’ is that Tacoma city boundaries are just larger than other cities so I’d say just subsidize Stream 2 in this case and continue with the freeway busses/Link expansion.
“Tacoma is one of the few areas where it’s just not dense enough for an arterial brt to really reach the next city…”
I’m not sure I follow. Downtown Tacoma is more dense than just about everything outside of Seattle, except a few census tracts in Bellevue.
I think you mean the vast, empty area between Tacoma and Fife, and then Federal Way? That area is certainly not dense.
I think the problem is folks think of Tacoma as a suburb, but it’s actually it’s own city. Intercity transit is a completely different beast than intracity transit.
We need to figure out a way to provide a fast trip (<45 minutes) from downtown Tacoma to downtown Seattle, then let the local networks take care of the local trips. Tacoma to Seattle just isn't a local trip. It's a trip between two cities, and needs to be considered as such when deciding on the proper transit mode to serve that trip.
I think the focus should be on all day, 7-day, all evening Sounder. Get it faster, and then folks can live or die by the local networks when they get to the other city. In Seattle, the network is very good. Tacoma needs some work.
I’m saying ST made a mistake to choose the freeway alignment for almost every corridor. And instead should focus and build many more alignments similar to the Stride 3.
Not to channel my inner Jarrett Walker, but it depends on what your goal is. If you want to maximize ridership, or save the most rider-time per dollar spent, then focusing on freeway express buses is a bad idea. Agreed. The best thing from a value standpoint would be to hand SDOT and Metro a bunch of money (for bus infrastructure projects and service, respectively) and call it a day. It is quite likely that the improvements to the 40 — as inexpensive as they are — will benefit more riders than the S1, S2 and S3 combined.
But that isn’t the goal. One of the big goals of ST is to provide regional transit improvements. S1 and S2 do that. Whether individual aspects of the project are worth it or not is debatable. But they certainly fulfill that goal.
If anything, I would have ST focus more on that (e. g. Woodinville to UW via the freeways) and less on projects like S3. I’m not saying S3 isn’t worth it, but it doesn’t really fit their model, nor does it leave Metro with great options. The problem is, S3 is built in isolation. This is fine for the freeway express buses, because they largely operate in isolation. Metro has no interest in running a lot of these long distance express (regional) buses. If they do, the route is usually obvious. But the route of the S3 is not. It has to be considered with the rest of the network, and it is quite possible that the current routing makes a lot more sense. Add more right-of-way, off-board payment and actually increase the number of stops (between Lake City and Roosevelt) and it would likely be a much better value. More importantly, it would probably fit better with a future potential network. You would likely have overlap, but in the areas that have lots of riders (Lake City Way from Ravenna up to 145th) instead of the proposed overlap, in the middle of the most desolate part of SR 522 (between 145th and Kenmore).
The thing is, that isn’t what the suburbs north of the lake wanted. They wanted an express to the nearest train station, which meant 145th. This gets back to what Mike often mentions. Metro is county driven. In contrast, ST is driven by individual areas. It is why there was so little objection to the second tunnel. No one outside the city wanted to question the decision, for fear that their project (in their own city) would be questioned.
I also think that we need to think beyond corridors and routes, and focus on hotspots. For example, areas around our bridges. Often these involve many bus routes, not just one. Fixing these sorts of hotspots allow for better restructures as well. Metro is reluctant to make some changes because it adds a lot of uncertainty to routes. Fix these problem areas, and there are a lot more options.
Some of the Sound Transit projects actually do that, even though they come with specified routes. It is just that they are designed for long distance regional travel, and not that many people take those kind of trips. For example, the I-450/TIBS freeway station could be used by a bunch of buses, if there were a bunch of buses running that part of I-405. There aren’t, but that is true of most regional bus service.
> I think you mean the vast, empty area between Tacoma and Fife, and then Federal Way? That area is certainly not dense.
Yes, (assuming) AL was talking about if a rapidride was made from Federal Way to Tacoma via the Pacific Highway, which I agree isn’t dense enough.
> I think the focus should be on all day, 7-day, all evening Sounder. Get it faster, and then folks can live or die by the local networks when they get to the other city. In Seattle, the network is very good. Tacoma needs some work.
I think we’ve already discussed this, but basically it’s impossible unless Sound Transit was to somehow buy the rail line from BNFS, which it also won’t. It would cost way more money to buy that rail line than running express busses on i-5/167.
> But that isn’t the goal. One of the big goals of ST is to provide regional transit improvements. S1 and S2 do that. Whether individual aspects of the project are worth it or not is debatable. But they certainly fulfill that goal.
> If anything, I would have ST focus more on that (e. g. Woodinville to UW via the freeways) and less on projects like S3
The problem is that commuter ridership has nose-dived. I’m not sure why we’d continue having Sound Transit with their relatively flush cashbook chase after those few riders. I’m not saying to have no express service, but Sound Transit if it truly wants to change to focus on the all-day transit rider it must also change it’s focus away from freeways.
Also these can still be regional improvements. Stride 3 is an example connecting Bothell, Lake Forest Park and Shoreline.
> For example, the I-405/TIBS freeway station could be used by a bunch of buses, if there were a bunch of buses running that part of I-405
I mean that is my point. Sound Transit has other alternative routings for these corridors on avenues instead of freeways but chooses the freeway every time of where to place improvements. I understand why as it is fast and relatively cheap — but it is also not where people live/work and after the pandemic the situation has decreased that potential ridership even further.
I think the problem is folks think of Tacoma as a suburb, but it’s actually it’s own city. Intercity transit is a completely different beast than intracity transit.
Agreed. Transit trips that never leave Tacoma dwarf the trips that go outside it. Sure, a fair number of people travel between Tacoma and Seattle, but it is nothing compared to the number of people traveling within Tacoma.
We need to figure out a way to provide a fast trip (<45 minutes) from downtown Tacoma to downtown Seattle, then let the local networks take care of the local trips. Tacoma to Seattle just isn’t a local trip. It’s a trip between two cities, and needs to be considered as such when deciding on the proper transit mode to serve that trip.
Again, I agree.
I think the focus should be on all day, 7-day, all evening Sounder. Get it faster, and then folks can live or die by the local networks when they get to the other city. In Seattle, the network is very good. Tacoma needs some work.
The problem is that BNSF owns the track. The more we add trains, the more it costs. Not only in general, but per train. Basically it costs BNSF more, as they find it increasingly difficult to juggle freight around the passenger trains. Ridership also goes down. Midday Sounder runs and even “reverse commute” trips (Seattle to Tacoma in the morning) did not do very well (before the pandemic). Thus it gets very expensive per rider to add extra trains. If we bought out the line, things could get better, but we certainly don’t want to screw up the freight line (even if we owned it).
The best solution is likely some variation of what we have now. Run Link to Federal Way. Then run express buses all day, and Sounder during peak hours (when the big trains are cost effective). Speeding Sounder up is worthwhile, not only for that reason, but also for Amtrak trips from Seattle to Olympia or Portland. Until the trains are faster, the buses in the middle of the day do fine. Like much of the region, it would make sense to change HOV 2 to HOV 3, but otherwise the buses are reasonably fast, and unlike the train, connect to Downtown Tacoma. A freeway stop at Federal Way would not delay the bus very much at all, as there are HOV lanes connecting to it. That would enable riders to get from Tacoma to SeaTac, Tukwila and Rainier Valley. There aren’t a huge number of riders making this sort of trip, but it all adds up.
PEAK farebox recovery on Sounder S today is 11-13%. Imagine how low it would be if you added evenings, weekends and non-peak riders.
But despite the low farebox recovery on Sounder S I think it will continue to run because TDLE is so far out now, and even FW is delayed, and Pierce feels like it has been funding everyone else’s Link.
Skip the $1 billion in upgrades to use that for TDLE because it will be needed, and unless farebox recovery on Sounder S goes into single figures continue to run it.
The problem is that commuter ridership has nose-dived.
But these projects aren’t about commuter trips. These are clearly intended to be all-day service. It is more about regional express service, not just commuter trips. It is like the 101, not the 162. You could make the case that we are putting too much money into regional service, and not enough into shorter trips, but that goes for almost all of ST. But again, that is the goal of ST. It is like complaining that Amtrak spends too much money on service between cities, instead of providing better mass transit. Yeah, sure, except that isn’t their goal.
Sound Transit has other alternative routings for these corridors on avenues instead of freeways but chooses the freeway every time of where to place improvements.
Because that is the goal! Look, the F connects Burien with Tukwila and Renton. It makes numerous stops along the way. It spends a lot of time on various local corridors, instead of the freeway. It is precisely the type of thing you suggest Sound Transit build. So in that sense, the part of the S1 west of Renton is completely redundant. Except it isn’t! A trip from Burien TC to Renton TC takes 51 minutes. Driving takes less than 20. That is a big time difference. If your goal is to get from Burien to Bellevue, you are talking well over an hour. If it continued along local arterials, it would probably take two. Even if you can’t afford a car, you just don’t take that trip. You borrow a car, or get a friend to drive you. It just doesn’t work for that kind of trip.
Of course not that many people take that sort of trip, but that isn’t the point. Just like Amtrak, Sound Transit isn’t focused on ridership. Nor is it focused on coverage. Metro does that (along with the other county agencies). It is Metro that builds the various projects you have in mind — they just need more money to build them. Yes, ST can do that as well, but like S3, they would be better off just giving Metro (and the various transportation agencies) the money, because those agencies are doing that sort of thing already. S3 will be good, but it won’t be nearly as useful as RapidRide E, G, C, D or many of the numbered bus routes (3/4, 7, 8, 40) that could definitely use help. More importantly, it isn’t an obvious route, and causes issues when it comes to a restructure — issues that wouldn’t occur if it was Metro prioritizing that route. (Metro has other issues — but that is for a different thread.) The same thing is true in Tacoma. By all means, the most popular bus in Pierce County (by a wide margin) should be upgraded to BRT (or BRT-light). But it shouldn’t detour to the Tacoma Dome. I can’t help but assume that the detour is due in part to Sound Transit picking up (at least part) of the funding.
Daniel; one of the reasons Sounder has such terrible cost effectiveness is most of the crews are only used for one trip, but they have to pay BNSF for their employee time for a full shift of work (at least, that’s how typical railroad labor rules work, and obviously given your specialty you’d know more).
Expanding to evenings could increase the appeal by allowing more flexibility. Bad news of course is the BNSF charge to use their track.
But, had the multi-billions of dollars gone into improving the mainline rather than Tacoma Link, there’d probably be enough capacity for fairly frequent Sounder and Cascades service, with some trains going to Lakewood or DuPont and others going to Crescent Yard, which is a currently disused BNSF yard in downtown Tacoma two blocks from the art museum.
Pre-Covid, the BNSF Chicago to Aurora, Illinois subdivision has about 50+ freight trains per day, ≈100 Metra commuter trains per weekday, and ≈8 Amtrak regional trains per day.
Yes, Tacoma to King Street Station has bottlenecks, but they’ve already paid for triple tracking part of that line. Extending the triple track section to get to Aurora Subdivision levels of capacity shouldn’t be that expensive, relative to the billions being dumped into other things. Furthermore, long tem, the state wants that capacity for added Amtrak Cascades service.
> Because that is the goal! Look, the F connects Burien with Tukwila and Renton. It makes numerous stops along the way. It spends a lot of time on various local corridors, instead of the freeway. It is precisely the type of thing you suggest Sound Transit build. So in that sense, the part of the S1 west of Renton is completely redundant. Except it isn’t!
That is exactly my point. The time and energy should be spent improving the F line corridor not along the freeway where it misses everyone. The BRT HCT studies along that corridor bring the time down to 30~35 minutes from Burien to Renton.
No matter how fast Stride 1 is, most people will need to transfer from the F line where the improvements are actually needed.
> A trip from Burien TC to Renton TC takes 51 minutes. Driving takes less than 20
You can still have a freeway bus going semi-direct from Burien TC to Renton TC. I’m not saying to remove the express bus service. But that the majority of the capital improvements and frequency improvement should be along the corridor where people are.
“Everett to Lynnwood could improve upon the Evergreen Way corridor with center median bus lanes rather than only the i-5 alignment.”
I don’t mean any disrespect here but a lot of your commentary comes across like someone coming into the room in the middle of a movie and asking a whole lot of questions about what’s going on. If you don’t mind me asking, have you been in the area for very long? It’s not clear to me after reading thru your many comments in this thread as to what exactly you’re trying to solve with the type of wholesale pivot you’re suggesting for the ST capital program. A whole bunch of new BRT projects, i.e., S4, S5, S6, etc.?
Re the quoted text above, here’s a link for some additional info on what CT has planned for the Swift Blue Line that I think you will find helpful.
“UTA’s approach works well there. Puget Sound’s approach allows for Seattle to have the highest level of transit taxes, then King county, and then so forth.”
Unless I’m not understanding you right, this is not correct. The communities here in the north end that are in both the CT and ST districts have the highest transit tax burden. 1.2% for CT and 1.4% for ST, for a combined 2.6% in transit-dedicated sales taxes. Seattle has the .9% for KCM, 1.4% for ST and the .15% for the STBD. As you and others have stated, KCM has maxed out its sales tax authorization I believe. CT had as well until it asked the state legislature for the additional .3% taxing authority in 2015, which was included in that year’s transportation package.
Eddie can check my facts here but I think this is right. :)
> I don’t mean any disrespect here but a lot of your commentary comes across like someone coming into the room in the middle of a movie and asking a whole lot of questions about what’s going on. If you don’t mind me asking, have you been in the area for very long? It’s not clear to me after reading thru your many comments in this thread as to what exactly you’re trying to solve with the type of wholesale pivot you’re suggesting for the ST capital program. A whole bunch of new BRT projects, i.e., S4, S5, S6, etc.?
Sorry my bad, I don’t think I explained clearly in my first comment of the thread.
This came about from the low ST express bus ridership and Sounder ridership and where ridership on link is less commuter focused and how to pivot more to all-day riders and seeing ST implement Stride 3. I don’t think completely using all the ST funds for peak-only commuters, and routes that mainly require parking garages will pay off nor really just increasing frequency on these freeway/Sounder* routes to all-day service will work. Now I am not saying to cancel nor to not expand them, but rather to shift a bit of future investment there from freeway alignments into avenue alignments.
As Ross said “But Sound Transit is a regional transit agency. There focus is connecting the region, not trying to duplicate what Metro does.” so currently Sound Transit spends the minimal amount on these avenue corridors as they focus on using the freeway/sounder tracks as much faster to connect cities
Additionally, while a lot of these potential BRT projects while they cost a lot to implement for King County Metro/Community Transit where they spend 50~100 million, Sound Transit spends that much on a parking garage or even half the cost of a light rail station additional extra entrance. For instance, Kirkland is waiting on funding for the 108th ave bat lane improvements, King County is waiting for funding for many rapidride projects. (I would use the Swift Red line example as well but that is outside ST funding zone). But lets say the Swift Orange line, it could have been funded by Sound Transit and been implemented 5~7 years earlier. It cost 80 million dollars, and even half 37 million dollars was from federal funding. Sound Transit could have helped funded half of the local share for just 20 millions.
> “Everett to Lynnwood could improve upon the Evergreen Way corridor with center median bus lanes rather than only the i-5 alignment.”… Re the quoted text above, here’s a link for some additional info on what CT has planned for the Swift Blue Line that I think you will find helpful.
Regarding the Evergreen Way center bus median, I listed that one from the HCT corridor studies Sound Transit was considering implementing and had enough right of way. Thanks for the web link, this is interesting. Reading it, currently Sound Transit will fund the swift blue line extension, but why not also fund further improvements on the Swift Blue Line rather than just community transit funding that portion.
*Sounder has the issue of the tracks being owned by BNSF.
WL, I think it is important to look at any kind of ST pivot — especially for capital projects — subarea by subarea, and both financially and politically. It is also hard for any of us to understand all five subareas that are quite different from one another
The place to start is ST 3 itself. Those were the promises ST made to sell ST 3. Would SnoCo and Pierce voted as they did if Link did not go to Tacoma and Everett (although both voted no)? Probably not, although I am not sure either project is affordable by the subarea, except ST promised they were affordable. .
When it comes to the Eastside they voted for ST 3 in 2016 BASED on peak ridership. The Eastside was the swing vote. Would they vote for ST 3 today? Probably not. Transit during non peak times on the Eastside is not a pressing issue. It isn’t as though ST express buses have seen an increase in already low non peak ridership.
Some on this blog hate park and rides but eastsiders like them, and more importantly can afford them, which is why they were promised in ST 3 (although they were delayed to fund WSBLE which N KC cannot afford. Go figure). If folks in N KC want to cancel park and rides in N KC go ahead, but they only speak for N KC, and usually don’t have a practical first/last mile access in the other subareas. Although transit ridership is low on the Eastside and will be much lower on East Link than estimated eastsiders don’t want to catch a feeder bus — from a park and ride — to catch East Link, and Metro can’t serve most Eastside neighborhoods. Eastsiders value a one seat ride over mode, hence the 554 and 630. So those park and rides will get built
I don’t think ST or the Board believes they have much discretion to deviate from the political promises in ST 3, although some like WSBLE and Issaquah Link were back of the napkin designs, with terrible project cost estimating. Neither really makes sense compared to connecting Everett and Tacoma Link.
Two issues that may lead to a pivot depending on subarea are: 1. Affordability which the Board doesn’t want to acknowledge right now; and 2. on the Eastside if ridership is so low on East Link does the subarea really build Issaquah Link or more park and rides. I think this decision is far off, far enough that fundamental changes in transit like micro transit might influence that decision.
The problem with looking at TDLE or Everett Link and saying the dollar per rider mile doesn’t pencil out is that is true for most of Link, especially East Link, and you are touching an inferiority nerve by suggesting each city could do some kind of bus service when Seattle is demanding a $20 billion all underground WSBLE that has delayed every other project. ST 2 and 3 passed based in large part on emotion — and ST’s optimistic estimates. Those emotions still exist today even if the case for Link post pandemic and ST’s estimates make Link even less valid dollar per rider mile (and O&M which some on this blog like to ignore).
Once WSBLE is cancelled or cut way back it may be easier to approach Tacoma and Everett about bus vs. Link, and maybe the Eastside will say screw all Link and cancel Issaquah Link and some park and rides, but I doubt either city would agree to have FW and Lynnwood be the terminals for Link. Too humiliating, and too much of a slap to the face from Seattle which naturally they hate like most in the region.
“Basically it costs BNSF more, as they find it increasingly difficult to juggle freight around the passenger trains. Ridership also goes down. Midday Sounder runs and even “reverse commute” trips (Seattle to Tacoma in the morning) did not do very well (before the pandemic). Thus it gets very expensive per rider to add extra trains. If we bought out the line, things could get better, but we certainly don’t want to screw up the freight line (even if we owned it).”
I most agree. But. Two things.
First, BNSF is doing a horrendous job of stewardship of an incredibly valuable resource. As Glenn notes below, they should be challenged to do better in terms of maximizing best-use. not just profit. And at the same time play nice with passenger service.
Second, I am optimistic, perhaps overly so, that if you provided hourly Sounder service it would be in time be noticed and used much more often than the reverse-peak service might suggest. If you provide a traffic-free Sounder service to Seattle that is reliable and round-trip, over time folks will see this as superior to hopping in their car and joining the mass-torture that is I-5 between the two cities, and choose a better, third-way. We can see hundreds of thousand of potential riders ever day, going through their own individual mental health crises on the highway right now. A certain percentage will be smart enough to recognize there is a better way, if we provide one.
Daniel, my recollection of the ST3 story for East King seems relevant. Issaquah Link was not the primary need. It only happened because ST could not overcome adjacent property owner concerns. I see it as basically the same forces that shaped the changes to WSBLE but in a much different context.
1. The property owners in the segment between Factoria and Renton Landing were living opposed to rail service, especially if it required widening the corridor to have double tracking. The corridor is jammed with traffic many hours a day — including weekends. Many people using that corridor are headed to Downtown Bellevue. ST did detailed studies but knew well before 2016 that any use of that track was a political nonstarter.
2. The next need was 405 North from Downtown Bellevue. That initially seemed like ST could overcome property owner concerns but the latter was just too politically difficult. ST and Kirkland local transit planning also diverged and couldn’t be synched.
The overarching issue is this — property owners versus transit riders. It’s why so much of ST2 and ST3 follows freeways: no property owner battles.
I really think that it’s unfair to say that planned ST light rail follows freeways because it’s because of “freeway thinking”. No, I think it that the new segments follow freeways because of property owner battle avoidance.
In almost every local case, a battle between property owners and transit riders results in the property owners winning. That trend will probably continue until impacts to riders (performance measures) get more interest and legitimacy. As long as there are no sincere discussions about optimizing travel times, transfer experience and overall ridership performance, property owners always will win here in our region.
I may be an outlier with this perspective, but real estate interests in this region govern big ST construction decisions. ST only will disrupt property owners when the impact is localized and/or the owners aren’t extremely wealthy (like Youngstown) and even then avoid discussing necessary property owner impacts until the last minute (like moving 145th to 148th). The CID mess is perhaps a recent poster child for this, as many CID came forward to push back at removing the critical transfer station while CID property owners won out and that’s who the leaders obeyed.
Honestly, too many transit advocates also miss this point. Just like elected officials, many like to draw pretty rail diagrams without much regard to rider experience and how to counter the property owner interests in the many firms from corporate lobbying to neighborhood property owner groups afraid of change.
“Would SnoCo and Pierce voted as they did if Link did not go to Tacoma and Everett (although both voted no)?”
For SnoCo, probably not.
Just to correct the record here though, the ST3 measure did pass in the Snohomish County portion of the ST district, 51% to 49% IIRC. Tight, but a victory nonetheless.
Strong support in Tacoma. Failed in areas where often Pierce Transit doesn’t even run. The promise of all day Sounder service? Huh.
The time and energy should be spent improving the F line corridor
Right. But you could say the same thing about all express routes. Instead of running I-5 express buses all day from Everett to Seattle, we should improve Swift and the Rapid Ride E. Instead of I-5 express buses from Tacoma, we should extend the A Line all the way down to Tacoma. It is quite possible this would get more riders.
But again, that isn’t what ST is trying to do. You can improve those corridors all you want, and you still end up taking a really long time. Even Link — with gigantic stop spacing, and operating without any traffic lights at all — will take a very long time to get from Everett or Tacoma to Seattle. Long distance trips along SR 99 just won’t work.
No matter how fast Stride 1 is, most people will need to transfer from the F line where the improvements are actually needed.
How do you know that? S1 connects to the main part of Burien, TIBS and the Renton Transit Center. These stops have apartments and destinations nearby. TIBS connects to Link (obviously) while the other stops connect to a lot more buses than just the F.
You can still have a freeway bus going semi-direct from Burien TC to Renton TC. I’m not saying to remove the express bus service.
But that is what S1 is! Look, this isn’t a train. Most of the cost is simply buying the buses and running them. A huge chunk of the money is just storing the buses. The only significant capital project for S1 is the freeway bus stop connecting the bus to the Link Station at TIBS. That’s it. Yes, you could save money by not having that, but that dramatically increases the time it takes to serve the station. This not only makes the trip to Bellevue much slower, but it also means that you need to hire more drivers, and buy more buses. I have no idea what the overpass costs, but my guess is it isn’t that expensive.
As far as parking garages go, it is a dead issue (for now). They are delayed indefinitely. But keep in mind, the parking garages for S3 (the one following the arterial, not the freeway) cost more for those along S1 and S2 combined. Just because the route follows an arterial doesn’t mean that Sound Transit won’t find a way to spend a bundle on parking.
This came about from the low ST express bus ridership and Sounder ridership and where ridership on link is less commuter focused and how to pivot more to all-day riders and seeing ST implement Stride 3.
I don’t know why you think S3 is less commuter based than S1 or S2. S3 spends *more* on parking garages than S1 and S2 combined. All of them involve running buses all day long. There are all day riders from Burien, Renton and Bellevue, just like there are Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and Bothell.
Well most of the projects I am suggesting really don’t cost that much. You can still build Everett Link in addition to what I am suggesting. Regarding the subarea concerns, yes I know the money has to be spent within the subarea that is why I suggested projects per subarea, though it might have been on a different comment.
> Skip the $1 billion in upgrades to use that for TDLE because it will be needed, and unless farebox recovery on Sounder S goes into single figures continue to run it.
Like let’s say we go with your idea sure fund TDLE if we cancel Sounder. But why not also help fund Stream 2 as well, say the brt costs 80~120 million so Sound Transit would only need to pitch in say 40 million to expedite it rather than Pierce County Transit waiting for another 5~10 years.
> How do you know that? S1 connects to the main part of Burien, TIBS and the Renton Transit Center. These stops have apartments and destinations nearby. TIBS connects to Link (obviously) while the other stops connect to a lot more buses than just the F.
I mean because there are no stops between Burien TC and Renton TC? besides TIBS but that also doesn’t have that much density.
> I don’t know why you think S3 is less commuter based than S1 or S2. S3 spends *more* on parking garages than S1 and S2 combined.
The point is that corridor is actually for all day transit trips. Like the E line is also used for commuting, but one can also use it for grocery shopping etc… Rarely is one is going to use Stride 1/2 for those trip patterns whereas Stride 3 does support those.
> But again, that isn’t what ST is trying to do. You can improve those corridors all you want, and you still end up taking a really long time. Even Link — with gigantic stop spacing, and operating without any traffic lights at all — will take a very long time to get from Everett or Tacoma to Seattle.
That is my point, that avenue corridors (and all-day transit trips besides soley commuting) should be added to what Sound Transit is trying to.
> Long distance trips along SR 99 just won’t work.
I never said to not still use i-5 express or express busses, but rather Sound Transit should cater to these more regional avenue corridors in addition. Not sure why everyone keeps assuming I mean to cancel all of ST3 lol.
Also a lot of these projects I’m suggesting really don’t cost that much compared to how much Sound Transit spends on speeding up express commuting whether sounder/link/express busses.
most people will need to transfer from the F line because there are no stops between Burien TC and Renton TC
That is absurd. That is like saying that most of the riders of the 41 transferred from the 67 and 70. Transfers from F line will likely be a very small portion of the ridership — in part because the bus will run the same direction.
Pull up a map and look at the Burien Transit Center. Look at the big apartments nearby. Look at all the shops. Walk-up ridership should be decent. Now look at the buses that it serves. There is the 131, 132, 161, 165, 631, F, and H; there are also access vans. Other than the 161 and F, all of these combinations make sense for trips involving the S1. All of these buses run all day. Combined, they carry way more riders than the F (the weakest of our RapidRide routes). Just the 131/132 carries more riders than the F.
TIBS has fewer walk-up riders, but from that perspective, it is a typical stop for the F. The apartments a little ways away from the station at TIBS are similar to the apartments a little way away from the stops on Ambaum or 156th. What makes TIBS special is the fact that it connects to Link. The four stops in Rainier Valley carry more riders than the entire F Line. TIBS also connects to the 128.
Then there is Renton Transit Center. Like the Burien Transit Center, there are bound to be a significant number of walk-up riders — more than a typical F stop. But again, there are a bunch of buses that connect there. I’m not going to list each one (that gets tedious) but almost all make sense for trips to Bellevue or Burien. Almost all make sense for trips to TIBS, it is just that riders are more likely to head one direction or another, depending on where they started (if they started south of Renton, they are more likely to head to the airport, if they started north of it, Rainier Valley).
Every one of these trips is all-day. This is not like going to Boeing. People go to Burien, Bellevue, SeaTac, Renton and Rainier Valley all day long.
Now contrast that with the S3. There are similarities. One difference is that it serves a major campus (UW Bothell) but a freeway approach would likely do the same thing (the 522/I-405 Transit Hub is within walking distance of the campus). Like Renton and Burien, there are a few “villages”, with apartments, shops and potential walk-up ridership. But it manages to bypass the biggest potential for riders — Lake City. If it was geared towards all-day ridership, it would keep going on the main corridor, and not veer towards the freeway. But during rush hour, that would be a pain for the commuters in the north lake suburbs. It is clear that this is geared towards commuters, which explains why they want to spend so much money on parking garages. In terms of transit connectivity, it has less than the S1. Both connect to Link, but S1 has more buses connecting to the transit centers. The major connection point (other than Link) for the S3 is the 522/I-405 transit hub, connecting the bus to freeway express routes — the very buses you don’t think we should be investing in. In other words, take away the S2, and the S3 becomes even more commute oriented.
I never said to not still use i-5 express or express busses, but rather Sound Transit should cater to these more regional avenue corridors in addition. Not sure why everyone keeps assuming I mean to cancel all of ST3 lol.
Because you can’t have both! Where is the money going to come from, if not from eliminating the buses? You keep making vague suggestions, without actually suggesting any cuts that you would make, leaving us to assume that you cut the one thing that can be cut at this point — the express service.
This is quite reasonable, if you ignore the purpose of Sound Transit. There is a reason why Metro doesn’t run buses like these. They aren’t that interested in fast regional transit. They run a few express buses to downtown, but mostly commuter based or very popular all-day buses (like the 101). Both are cost effective. This will not be. But you could say the same thing about most suburban bus routes. When evaluating bus service, Metro has a separate category for suburban buses because they perform poorly compared to the ones in Seattle. It is the minor leagues of bus service. Same thing here. If ST was trying to maximize their investment from a ridership standpoint, or an all-day service standpoint, they would not invest in any of these projects. They would just put their money into all of the (underfunded) Move Seattle projects. They would just hand Seattle a boatload of cash so that they could run the buses more often.
But that isn’t their goal. Their goal is regional service, and for that, using the freeways — when available — makes a lot of sense.
“Would SnoCo and Pierce voted as they did if Link did not go to Tacoma and Everett (although both voted no)?”
For SnoCo, probably not. Just to correct the record here though, the ST3 measure did pass in the Snohomish County portion of the ST district, 51% to 49% IIRC. Tight, but a victory nonetheless.
I think if they had waited until Lynnwood Link was built it would have failed in Snohomish County. I think if they took the vote now it would fail. With their campaign literature, ST kept emphasizing the long travel time from Everett to Seattle. Not Everett to Lynnwood, but Everett to Seattle. If you didn’t know any better (and my guess is most didn’t) you assumed that if ST3 failed, there would be no Lynnwood Link. Then there was the myth that it would improve traffic. I suppose people would still make the same argument, but after Lynnwood Link, it becomes rather hard to argue. Now, of course, the longer your old commute, the more likely you are to not make it. If you live in Eastlake and work at Amazon, you probably are there five days a week. If you live in Everett, you occasionally attend a meeting. The bus is fine, or you drive to Northgate (if you time it right). Either way, it is a much smaller deal.
If you look at the voting results, support in Snohomish County begins to wane as you get further north (https://seattletransitblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/st3precincts.png). This implies one of two things: either the folks in southern Snohomish County didn’t realize they were getting those stations either way, or there is just general support for transit in those areas. Given some of the issues that ST has had, my guess a lot of that support is waning.
So I don’t know if ending before Everett would have made much difference, especially if they gave Everett better bus service. The most likely negative fallout would have been opposition from political leaders. If the mayor of Everett opposed ST3 (because Link didn’t go to Everett) then it probably would have failed in Snohomish County. Sound Transit has gone out of its way to please elected officials, so that those opposed to these projects can be seen as either anti-tax zealots (Eyman) or anti-rail (Fimia). A respected leader of a city could derail the project fairly quickly (no pun intended).
Re the SnoCo vote on the ST3 ballot measure, we are fully on the same page here. The timing of the completion and opening of Lynnwood Link defintely came into play, as well as how ST marketed the Everett to Seattle LR connection. I think you have the politics side correct as well. Fwiw, I do think there is generally stronger support for transit measures here in the SW part of the county, where I live, and that was reflected in the 2016 results for ST3 and the 2015 results for CT’s sales tax increase measure (which was also a 51% to 49% squeaker).
> Because you can’t have both! Where is the money going to come from, if not from eliminating the buses? You keep making vague suggestions, without actually suggesting any cuts that you would make, leaving us to assume that you cut the one thing that can be cut at this point — the express service.
I thought I already listed many possible cuts? Though to be fair it is kind of scattered throughout the comments.
For the Pierce (and South King) subarea they are planning on a billion or so on Sounder improvements. With the loss in peak ridership the original idea for increasing peak-only capacity trips with longer trains doesn’t really make too much sense. But if you don’t want to totally eliminate it sure a minor cut from a billion to down to 925 million won’t kill the expansion. For East King, there are many parking garages, but you don’t need to completely eliminate them either. Could just eliminate one of them or downsize a couple of them.
I mean lets look at the finances, https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/2021-subarea-report.pdf Sound Transit currently spends around 1.85 billion dollars for capital expansion per year. For 5 year period, to build 4 brt projects that’s like 1.11% of annual capital expenditures (400 million/ 1.8 billion * 5). I am asking for relatively small amount of funding to be redirected, not completely changing ST3.
Fixing local routes should be done by local agencies. ST level of money will just result in bad projects because “Other People Money” means local governments don’t need to make tough decisions.
Perhaps ST can provide grant money for spot improvements, like it does with its station access program, but the work needs to be done by local agencies, otherwise every project will just look like S3, where roads get wider and wider to accommodate bus lanes but everyone else keeps their space.
So CT has a higher sales tax rate than KCM? Interesting, I thought they were the same and Seattle topped it up with the plate fee.
Anecdote alert. Take from this what you will.
I had dinner with a friend last night who was flown in by Whole Foods to help them with a stocking crisis they were having at their Westlake store. Their traffic has surged after Amazon starting requiring in-person starting in February. They are having massive stocking problems.
Jassy seems to be done with the WFH experiment. Maybe downtown isn’t dead for much longer. Or perhaps just SLU. We shall see.
There seem to be two things going on, somewhat in opposition. First, the tech sector is laying off workers. Second, more people are working in the office. I don’t know how this is trending overall (e. g. if the number of people working in the office is making up for the loss of jobs, or vice versa).
Oddly enough, the layoffs may be contributing in part to more people working in the office. Not too long ago, there was a major shortage of tech workers. Along with high salaries, a lot of workers could simply insist on working from home. I’m sure some do, but others are being told to come in, or lose their job. Working at home is not all or nothing, either. I’m sure a lot of people work mostly from home, but come in to the office from time to time (that was generally the trend from before the pandemic).
I feel like there is a similarity between the pandemic itself and the number of people working downtown. For a brief period, after vaccinations became widespread, it looked like we would reach herd immunity fairly quickly. The initial disease was not that contagious (it wasn’t like measles). The numbers were dropping very rapidly and it looked like it would be over (at least in various parts of the world) as quickly as it started. Then, of course we got the Delta variant, followed by others. The disease is still widespread, and still killing lots of people, just not as much as it did a couple years ago. A lot of downtown areas are going through the same sort of thing. They are recovering, just not as quickly as hoped. Right wing propaganda doesn’t help (why do they hate the cities so much? Oh yeah, now I remember — same reason fascists hate universities). It drags out the recovery if people think downtown areas are worse than they are. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, like the way inner cities were treated in the 70s. Eventually people (mostly young) figure out that it is not that bad, and eventually others catch on as well, but that takes a while. My guess is the downtown areas will recover relatively rapidly (over a few years, not decades) but not as quickly as hoped.
In opposition? People are getting laid off, therefore other workers are working in person more. I don’t think it’s correlation.
The solution is to just close the store. Showing up at Westlake to stock shelves? Ah, no. I’d rather drive my car to a nearby Safeway, park in back and do the same job for the same money. Take public transit to Westlake and piss away a couple hours of my valuable time on public transit? Not a chance.
My Mrs. works at a big insurance outfit who is selling real estate and breaking leases…. they’re 100% in on remote work. Everybody loves it… and it saves a ton of money. People are working an extra hour a day when they don’t come into the office.
Amazon can suck it.
“The solution is to just close the store. ”
Because it’s making too much money? They have more customers than they can possibly serve?
That’s like Daniel’s idea that his developer friends should just take a couple years off because interest rates aren’t zero.
You and Daniel should start a company together so you can immediately declare bankruptcy. Think of the profit margins!
Tens of thousands of people live within walking distance of that Whole Foods, and a disproportionate number don’t have cars.
If it takes you an hour each way to get to that Whole Foods from transit, you must be coming from Snohomish County (E+Swift) or Rainier Beach (8+106), passing other natural-foods supermarkets along the way.
And Cam said Whole Foods flew somebody in, not that they’re commuting from Tacoma. That presumably means they brought them here for several days or weeks and are putting them up at a hotel. It’s easier for it to fly in an experienced person they already have, especially if they have manager or logistics training, rather than trying to find somebody new in one day. And Amazon owns Whole Foods, so keeping it open supports Amazon’s reputation, especially since it’s at Amazon’s headquarters.
“That’s like Daniel’s idea that his developer friends should just take a couple years off because interest rates aren’t zero.”
Actually Cam what I said is multi-family and commercial builders are taking time off because they can’t get financing, and even if they could interest rates would make it difficult to make a profit with rising vacancy rates and dropping occupancy rates. Since they or the investors have to hold the loan for decades while renting or leasing that kind of development is very sensitive to interest rates, impossible to sell the loan today, and of course when interest rates rise it makes risk free investments very attractive, so their interest rates are higher because of the risk.
I am guessing you are not too familiar with the building industry or how financing works: boom and bust is common, and builders often take time off, like after 2008. This time they were smarter and less extended.
Things were crazy leading up to the pandemic with such low interest rates, and really crazy during the pandemic for residential remodels. Like many things, when interest rates are very low or during the pandemic some things got paid (or built) forward, and folks did not see the systemic changes from the pandemic.
By the way, Whole Foods is getting hammered by the meal delivery services, and just by the brutal competition in the grocery industry, and recently closed its flagship store in San Francisco. https://discontinuednews.com/whole-foods-closing-stores/
“In the United States, more than 500 Whole Foods stores still sell products. Yet, business closures in significant areas like Chicago could be risky for other places.
“The move results from parent company Amazon’s ambition to transform how things are bought. The passage of time shows that meals are more likely to be delivered to doorsteps than bought physically in stores.”
Whole Foods just announced a round of corporate layoffs. Maybe your friend will be taking a time off pretty soon, like tens of thousands of Amazon workers. If Jassy doesn’t improve margins and the stock price he might be one of them.
My empty shell company has excellent margins.
To be fair, interest rates do influence the viability of projects. This is true for both individuals (e.g. when deciding to do a remodeling project, in the context of housing) and companies (e.g. for building a new apartment complex). Higher interest rates means less profit, so it’s entirely reasonable to assume that projects which will be viewed as riskier by lenders will be less likely to be taken on when interest rates are already high. Perhaps DT was overly facetious in the comments about his builder friends, but the overall sentiment makes sense to me. So I don’t think we should ridicule that observation. Unless you have evidence that interest rates do not affect the frequency of new project starts? If so, I would love to see it.
“The passage of time shows that meals are more likely to be delivered to doorsteps than bought physically in stores.”
That’s ready-made meals, which is tiny compared to buying groceries.
And guess which company has focused on home delivery since it started, and has always trying to gain market share against competitors’ physical stores? Not surprising it wants to push that more.
But still, guess which company bought Whole Foods to have a physical footprint, and is still opening stores?
The day when all those insurance WFH jobs get outsourced to India is coming sooner than you think.
Blues, for sure. The few positions that ChatGPT5 doesn’t Pac-Man up are red meat for the Indian Outsourcers. If there was EVER a field that could be eviscerated by a smooth-talking automated “comping machine” such as a Large Language Model, it’s real estate insurance. The necessary data is all public, and the results of billions of comping actions is public record. Bye-bye a million good paying WFH jobs.
Contracts and Torts are other “fruitful opportunities” for “non-profit” OpenAI Corp to eviscerate human employment. Remember that V4 already aced the LSAT. V5 will take aim at the Supreme Court and its circular reasoning [AKA “self-justifications]
Which location in the city is the best location for number of transit options? I’m thinking the 5th and Jackson area might be a contender.
Either Westlake, Pioneer Square or CID. I played around with some transit isochrones https://www.mapnificent.net/seattle/#11/47.5040/-122.2785/2640/47.6108/-122.3382
and honestly all three look around the same.
Notably the CID does have a bit harder time reaching West Seattle since the busses are on 1st avenue a bit longer, but the busses are traveling slowly through downtown so doesn’t make that big of a difference.
Siemens Sacramento factory drone tour. Can see Link cars.
Home ownership among Gen-Z tracks ahead of Gen-X or millenials at the same point in each generation’s period:
Has there been any talk of City of Seattle using the Enhanced Service Zone legislation that passed in 2022 to pay for some of the ST3 enhancements, such as 4th Ave Shallow CID? Perhaps this could be coupled with additional funds to speed up design/construction and/or extend these new lines a stop or two (e.g. Morgan Junction, Crown Hill)
Not any serious talks. Also in general, to extend the Link lines it’s more about lowering costs and accepting visual/construction impacts than getting more money. Even if you were to give Sound Transit more money, it’d just end up being used to extend the tunnels in Ballard and West Seattle.
“Remember all those stories from the 2010s predicting millennials might become “perma-renters,” forever shut out of the housing market?
“Compared with previous generations, a far higher share of millennials — the generation born between 1981 and 1996 — were still renting in their 20s and early 30s. And this was especially true in places with sky-high home prices like Seattle.
“But millennials aren’t quite so young any more — the oldest of the generation have entered their forties — and things are starting to change, even in the Seattle area.
“Census data shows that in pricey King County, home-owning millennials remain very much in the minority. But it’s a different picture if we look to more affordable neighboring counties, Snohomish and Pierce: Here, millennial homeowners are now the majority.”
This just tells me that SFHs in walkable Seattle neighborhoods are still very desirable and people have to move to Snohomish and Pierce county to get that SFH.
People are moving to Snohomish and Pierce County to get some kind of SFH, but it’s not walkable, which many want but can’t get. The walkable parts of the suburbs like downtown Bellevue are among the highest-priced, and still don’t give you a SFH. (Surrey Downs and west of 100th are a small number of houses.) Other potentially walkable areas like downtown Kent and Renton don’t have much housing: most of it is in minimally-walkable East Hill or hardly-walkable Renton Highlands. Emerging city centers like Lynnwood that claim to be walkable: maybe they will be and maybe they won’t. So people move to Lynnwood or Everett to get the minimum kind of house they want, and then are in a last sea of unwalkability.
My friend in north Lynnwood is living in a relative’s house. (An example of a multigeneration/roommates house Daniel often suggests as the solution to the cost of a single apartment.) It’s a 2-mile walk to Ash Way P&R. There’s an hourly bus that gets halfway closer. She usually gets a ride from a relative, or walks if she can’t. The nearest supermarket or general (Fred Meyer type) store are the same distance but in different directions, so she ends up shopping in Seattle instead. (Trader Joe’s and Central Co-op on Madison, Trader Joe’s in the U-District, Whole Foods at Roosevelt.) She cleans houses in east Seattle so that works somewhat for her. In other words, it’s easier to take the 512 to Seattle than to get to the activity centers in Lynnwood and Everett without a car. Swift Orange will help in a couple years, but it will still require walking two miles to the Ash Way P&R just to get it.
Parts of North Tacoma are extremely walkable. Stadium, North Slope and Proctor are old streetcar neighborhoods.
We were able to buy here for less than what we sold our place for in North Seattle. Much more house, beautiful neighborhood, Friendly neighbors, slow, narrow streets. My son could easily walk to both middle and high school. I have 2 grocery stores within walking distance, the reasonable one at the expensive one. I can walk to maybe 20 or 30 restaurants and bars. The grid is easily bikable. I can get anywhere I generally go in town, from Point Defiance to the Lincoln District or McKinley (also very walkable and houses are more reasonable) on bike in less the half an hour.
Really the only lament is crappy transit.
Uyltae Lee of CBC Vancouver’s Stories About Here series did a video about ways for improving bus stop wayfinding by creating maps for bus routes that leave from said stop for every stop that provide information as to where they’re going and the major stops or connecting points along the route.
I think it brings up a good point about accessible information at bud stops for people without a phone or non native speakers. I remember being in Malmö earlier this year and they had a similarish map for their bus system that showed in a metro like configuration. Treating it like a metro or s bahn instead of just “the bus” does a lot to make the passanger experience more enjoyable in my view. He even made maps for regular and peak only service, which I think is a great thing to do to distinguish service types and where they’re going.
“creating maps for bus routes that leave from said stop for every stop”
This sounds a lot like the map view of OneBusAway.
It’s a bit more complicated than that. For example London has spider bus maps
Chicago bus stops have a schematic route map that shows the street names and el transfers.
This article is mostly about masked-up safe spaces for people to travel safely, like masked up cars in trains and masked-up flights (but then you still have to get through the airport, including snaky security lines where social distancing is discouraged by maskless staff breathing directly at you and not respecting your space).
But a poll from November 2022 showed a strong majority (57%) supporting a mask requirement on planes, months after it was lifted.
I feel for you, Brent.
It was so lovely to travel and not have even 1 of the 8 of us get Covid. 86% masking in Kyoto and Tokyo, even without a mandate. In contrast, my mother’s tour in Patagonia had 8 of 14 go down, likely do to almost no masking down there.
Given urban Japan’s heavy reliance on mass transit, it just makes sense. If everyone takes the train, there is a shared responsibility to keep those trains usable. With a strong historical and cultural component built in.
That feeling of shared purpose and a community all pulling towards a common good just doesn’t exist here.
It’s been several months since I’ve been on the blog and I’ve been hearing that the second link tunnel for the Ballard-West Seattle line is a bit of a mess right now. Can someone summarize what’s happening with it, what the current debate is, etc? I’m just trying to catch up.
Go back a half-dozen articles to “Still no Final CID Plan.” Everyone is digesting/taking a breather from that board meeting. We’ll probably hear something from politicians or activists or our own commentators when they’re ready for the next move. Ongoing issues include the cost of the tunnel and WSBLE, the preferred alignment now having two stations at the edge of the CID and none at Midtown, 10-minute transfer walks between Lines 1 and 2/3, and some STB authors’ preference for putting three lines in DSTT1 instead of building DSTT2 to avoid those horrible transfers and high costs.
I’m working on an article on a non-Link topic, which will be ready in a couple days.
I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to you Mike, as well as Ross, Martin, Sherwin (and a couple of others I’m probably forgetting), for volunteering your time to continue to add relevant content to this forum and sustaining a thoughtful discussion of the various transit and land use issues, and challenges, both here and in other parts of the country/world, that us readers are interested in from one perspective or another. While I have only been adding to the commentary since the buildup to the ST3 measure I have been following the blog for much longer, probably for 15+ years. I would be quite saddened to see this very informative blog with its thoughtful and civil comment section go by the wayside (particularly after seeing the sun set on one of my other regular reads, the ussmariner blog).
Again, thank you and all of your fellow contributors.
While we have fewer authors and articles than before last year, the number of comments and commentators seems to have grown. Initially I tried to start new open thread when the last one approached 150, but that’s happening within two days nowadays, so now I’m targeting 200 or 300.
The best suggestion I have for navigating large comment sections, is to feel free to start a top-level thread whenever the topic inside a multi-level thread changes, or if you think your comment will lead to a lot of replies. Nested comments are advantageous to show the structure, but that breaks down somewhat when a second-level or third-level subthread gets long or has multiple subtopics. Sometimes somebody accidentally posts a reply that they intended to nest but it ends up at the top level, and then they apologize. The answer is, “That’s OK!” And it becomes even more helpful when the total number of comments is already large.
P.S. Yes, I violated paragraph 3 with this comment. :)
There’s a couple different items. I’ll name them from relatively more important to less important
1. CID doesn’t want to accept cut and cover on 5th avenue for the station and 4th avenue is too costly to rebuild the viaduct. The board has currently moved the midtown station to next to pioneer square instead as a transfer hub
2. The new downtown stations are very very deep. Partly from the hills in downtown and partly from going under the transit tunnel. Also the Denny, slu, and Seattle center stations are deep as well from having to go under either i99 tunnel or the sewer on Mercer
3. Ballard is unsure about whether to build elevated with a drawbridge, high elevated with the coast guard issue or tunneled but lacking funding
4. Whether to consolidate the smith cove and interbay stations
5. West Seattle whether to build elevated or a tunnel through alaskan junction
6. West Seattle whether to consolidate the avalon/delridge stations
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