Overflow topics from the Park & Ride article.
This is an open thread.
Culver City voted to scale down their bus/bike lanes implementation. Namely “Continue the project for a maximum of 2 years and add a second car lane while converting the shared bus and bike lanes into a single lane.” (Currently there’s a general lane, bus lane and protected bike lane, which would become two general lanes and a shared bus/bike lane)
I think perhaps adding both the bus and bike lanes at once were a bit hard to adjust to for the Los Angeles area that rarely has bus lanes nor protected bike lanes.
Sorry realized I forgot to relative it back to Seattle, I was thinking about how there’s typically might be bus or bike lanes but not both. Aka 3rd avenue has bus lanes, 2nd and 4th has the bike lanes. Westlake has dedicated bus lanes while Broadway has dedicated bike lanes instead.
I think in general this has been the right approach as adding both at the same time would have generated a lot more political pushback. Though hopefully for larger arterials they can still add both (aka like what Edmond might do for Aurora)
Agree – one of the reasons the FH Streetcar has been mediocre is the implementation of bike lanes on the same street as the Streetcar.
Even in the suburbs, I think there is value in putting bikes not on the main arterial with the buses, if there can be a sufficiently parallel corridor.
A streetcar lane wouldn’t help the streetcar much. Would cover only one direction and wouldn’t change the fundamentals that with distances so short, a service that runs only every 15 minutes can’t compete with feet.
We also need a bike lane on Broadway to provide people on bikes access to businesses on Broadway.
There is a bike track on Broadway, unless you are talking about farther north, asdf2?
I was referring to WL’s comment, suggesting that the bike track on Broadway should not have been built, that the should have been used as a streetcar lane instead.
South of Madison, there are very few retail businesses on Broadway. There are lots more on 12th Ave. It’s also flatter. That’s where the bicycle track would seem to have been more useful.
“Aside from transit and the park, what are some other neighborhood amenities of South Bellevue station?” – Sam
They’re all park-related.
1. The trails through the Slough.
2. The trail to the I-90 bridge to Seattle.
3. The blueberry garden. Apparently you can pay a fee and pick blueberries in season.
4. Winters House, the first house in Bellevue.
My favorite trail walk is:
From Bellevue TC, go to 118th & SE 8th Street (walk, 240, 246, indirectly 271). Walk south on 118th past depressing 1970s towers-in-the-park. On the west side (at what would be SE 16th) is the “Mercer Slough Environment Education Center” with an entrance to the Bellefields trail system. Walk southwest on the wooded trails. Near the beginning is a small waterfall. The last part is a wooden causeway around the blueberry farm. The trail exits at the south side of South Bellevue Station. If you continue further south (which I’ve never done), it goes to the east-west I-90 trail.
Another walk I like is from 124th & NE 8th Street (RapidRide B). Walk south on 124th. At Main Street is a school-district building. Continue south through the parking lot and sports field to Wilburton Hill Park with wooded trails. Or, from 124th & Main, walk west a few blocks to the Bellevue Botanical Garden.
To summarize, the answer to “aside from transit and park, what are the neighborhood amenities” is “none”, is that correct?
I will note that this was a very long answer in the DT style :) Glad to see that the lawyer-style approach is spreading to other well-spoken forum residents, as it is often quite enjoyable to read the asides that do not explicitly answer the question asked.
One can add the apartments ground floor have a shop and have it be the amenity. If you never approve housing there how can there ever be an amenity.
We can discuss and talk in circles but it can’t be that every plot of land in the Seattle metro area has a reason not to build apartments. (Beyond just next to freeways lol)
Agreed, in the sense that the amenities would need to be added. An example of this (to an extent) is the set of apartments right next to Ash Way P&R in North Lynnwood. The South Bellevue P&R complex, if it were built, would be very similar.
Again, I encourage people to go check out the site, and get a feel for it. I am providing my own take based on what matters to me, but everyone has different needs. I am certain that it would benefit many. I don’t think it is ideal.
My somewhat snappy answer to Mike was purely due to his own reply not answering the question as asked, which is something others on the board do often, too. I hold moderators to a very high standard (and, to their credit, they almost always surpass it), so I find it worth pointing out when something can be improved.
Hard disagree. This blog could use a lot less DT – a person eager to tell you he no longer lives nor works in Seattle. He monopolizes and derails many a good conversation. [ah] the same tired anti-transit arguments ad nauseum. [ah]
Anonymouse, who appointed you “Moderator of Moderators”, except yourself, of course? [ah]
Lately you have had a bit to say about transit; it’s been “enjoyable”.
Disculpe me, por favor for no “aside” in this comment.
[Ed: I’m growing intolerant of the word “bloviate” because the next thing is usually inflammatory. I’m a little hurt by Anonymouse’s snappiness and find his critique a bit unfounded, but that’s a small issue. The answer to Sam’s question was in the first sentence. The rest I could have put in separate comments, listing all the amenities and describing a pleasant walk I think others would like.. -MO]
My sister is coming to town in August and going to “Boise State Night at the Seattle Mariners”. The Boise Alumni page promoting the event explicitly says “your light rail train ticket is free on game day with a Mariner’s baseball ticket!”
I’ve not found any local confirmation of free link transit beyond a Seattle Times article from 2018 that said it was an inaugural test program to see if it reduced traffic and parking issues.
Does anyone know for sure the status of this program?
Have her do a screen capture of the Boise Alumni page stating that the LR ticket is free with the game ticket. You’ll be fine. No problems at all. Don’t worry a minute about it.
Honest. Won’t be a problem at all.
Hope she enjoys her visit to Seattle. I always enjoy my visits to Boise. Great city.
I’ve heard something about some sports tickets are valid as transit fare on game day, but I can’t confirm definitively. I agree with Lazarus to take a screenshot of the page saying this.
“I couldn’t remember the Metro route but that must have been the one I took sometimes when I worked in Bellevue in the early 90s because … the bus pulling into [South Bellevue P&R] before continuing on.” -Tlsgwm
The routes on south Bellevue Way in the early 80s when I took them from Bellevue High School were:
* 226 (my route): Redmond – Overlake – NE 8th Street – Bellevue Way – 108th – Mercer Island (3 stops) – downtown Seattle
* 235: Totem Lake – Kirkland – Bellevue Way – 104th – Mercer Island – downtown Seattle
* 240: Bellevue – Factoria – Renton – SeaTac – Burien.
* 245: Bellevue – Renton Boeing (peak express)
* 340 (south of 112th only): express Shoreline P&R – Bothell – Bellevue – Renton – SeaTac – Burien.
The 226 went into the P&R; I don’t remember which of the others did.
The fare was 40 cents 1 zone, 60 cents 2 zones.
Thanks for the info. Yeah I took the 226 to Seattle so mine was a two-zone fare. I think it was $.65 (one-zone) and $1.00 (two-zones) at peak when I started working in Bellevue but soon changed to $.75 and $1.25 respectively at peak. (I think it was something like $1.10 and $1.60 when I changed jobs in 1992 but by then I was both working and living in Seattle.) I worked at the (formerly known as) Koll Center on 108th NE so I just caught the 226 bus at the TC right next to it. I believe back then the bus went there first and then over to Bellevue Way actually. In my morning commutes to Bellevue I usually took the 271 from Montlake, connecting to it via the 48 since I lived in the CD then. Like you, I can’t remember now which of those 2xx routes actually pulled into the South Bellevue P&R lot. I do remember a lot of folks complaining about the car prowl problem at that lot (smash and grab) at the time.
I first paid cash, then started getting bus tickets. These were tear-out cardboard tickets. I don’t remember why I didn’t get a monthly pass until later; maybe they didn’t exist then.
I remember when bus fare reached a dollar, and I started getting $1.25 tickets. I also remember when gasoline reached a dollar. Many gas pumps couldn’t handle a three-digit price. Some stations switched to liters to keep the price two digits ($0.62/liter). This made it hard to compare prices between stations because Americans couldn’t remember how many liters were in a gallon or calculate it in their heads. The federal government intervened and forced all stations to use gallons, and to upgrade to three-digit pumps.
Open Thread 2 is already building all the viable comments, Open Thread 3 is a waste of money in a post pandemic era.
“South Bellevue P&R was built in around 1980. Before that it was farm fields.” -Sam
Sam, I want you to research when the farms were replaced by subdivisions in early Bellevue. When I moved there in 1973, the main bus routes were on Bellevue Way, NE 8th Street, and 156th/164th. Crossroads and Overlake Village were already there, as were the apartments on Bellevue Way and 8th and around Crossroads.
The house I lived in east of Crossroads, which I thought was built around 1970, was actually built in the 1950s. So the tract houses around it were built in that era. On the other hand, the apartments at 8th & Northup Way, and some of the houses between Northup and 164th, were built while I was in junior high riding the 226 past them.
A friend in high school said his dad had lived in Bellevue in the 1950s, and the area around 405 was farms then. So I assumed everything east of there was built up in the 60s. But later I found my neighborhood was built in the 50s. So I’m not sure which parts were built up when.
When I left Bellevue after high school (1985), Richards Road north of Factoria was still woodzy with few houses. A new residential street had just been built near Allen Road (between Factoria and Somerset). Bus 210, which went from downtown Seattle to Issaquah every 90-120 minutes, and to North Bend every few hours, traveled on Allen Road. I lived halfway up Somerset for a few months, so the 210 and 252 (now 271) were my routes then.
Mike, if you’re ever in the mood to do a little research via historic aerial photo, I like this site. You find the area you want to look at, select “aerials,” then select the year. 1936, ’64, ’69, ’80, etc. While the gap in years makes it hard to pinpoint when what changed into what, you can get an idea of what an area used to look like.
Yes, we are on the same page, Sam. :)
That’s the site I mentioned in one of my comments on the previous post by Sherwin. It’s pretty darn cool in my book.
I hope Sam accepts the challenge. :)
I’m kind of fascinated with the changes that have occurred in Bellevue and its environs over the last 50-60 years. It’s kind of fun to use that historical aerial photos site that I mentioned previously to pan around different areas and see how they have changed since they were farmlands. I happen to share Sam’s apparent interest in local history and accompanying old photographs. Not having grown up in this region but calling it home for some 35+ years, I enjoy hearing and learning from folks like yourselves who have been in the area for far longer than myself. (My spouse is a Seattle native but rarely went across the lake until much later in life.)
“I know that Mike has spent time in Moscow. Perhaps he can tell us what he thought about the Soviet bloc apartments while he was there, and how they compared to the typical suburbia housing in the US…. the Chinese bloc units that my friend grew up in did not have private bathrooms or kitchens, they were just “rooms” with shared services.” – Anonymouse
It was in the mid 90s during the Yeltsin years, so I may not remember all the details. Americans have never seen anything like it unless they’ve watched Russian movies or been to Eastern Europe. Everything in the cities is TOD, but most buildings have sad tower-in-the-park yards.
The first Soviet apartments in the 1910s were “kommualka”: 19th-century mansions subdivided. The one I stayed in in St Petersburg had one apartment per floor. Mine had 6-8 rooms on a hallway. Some had one person. One had a young couple. Another had a middle-aged woman and her mother. There were two shared kitchens with several refrigerators and stoves. There was one bathroom, a room used for drying laundry, and a phone in the hallway. Outside it was walking distance to a metro station and a department store.
The later Stalinka (1940s) and Kruschevka (1960s) apartment buildings had different features depending on when they were built. I’ve heard the earliest ones had no kitchen — just a “warming shelf” — and families ate at the company cafeteria. I never saw one of those, or kitchens were retrofitted later.
The Stalinka/Kruschevka apartments I saw had 2-4 rooms. (They don’t distinguish between bedroom or living room: they’re all the same size and different households use them for different purposes.) All had a kitchen with a small dining table. Each had one bathroom and a separate toilet room. The older bathrooms had a single faucet with a long spout that swing to either the sink or bathtub.
Outside some apartment buildings were a few surface parking spaces. They could hold maybe a dozen cars for a thousand people. A few cars had a fabric covering in lieu of a garage.
In the bottom of some buildings or around them were Soviet-style single-category stores (milk, bread, meat). Some had a wider variety of items than their name implied, but none were a full supermarket. There were also children’s play areas and semi-park space. A few blocks away was a metro station or streetcar stop. Among these buildings were high schools and offices, but they were just ordinary vertical buildings, not an “office building” look.
Every metro station in the residential areas had kiosks around it selling food, vodka, grooming supplies, newspapers, stationery, etc. These were at convenience-store prices. Frugal people went to the larger “markets” (rynok), where babushkas sold onions and applies and saccharin for lower prices. And if you went to VDNKh (a large exhibition center), it had a large market the kiosk-owners bought from. In Moscow there were a couple “supermarkets”, but they were small, like Central Co-Op.
The older couple I stayed with in Moscow, the husband was a retired crane operator, who helped build those apartment buildings. He said that the city was currently replacing every apartment building less than 10 stories with a taller one.
Since then the kiosks have been upgraded and there are more Western-style department stores and supermarkets, but I haven’t seen those.
What I like about Moscow and St Petersburg is 100% walkability, every urban transit line (metro, streetcar/tramvay, trolleybus) runs every 5 minutes, and you can shop at a metro station on your way home. Commuter rail (elektrichka) was maybe half-hourly. At the furthest-out metro stations, diesel buses (autobus) and jitneys (marshrutnoe taksi) ran every 10-20 minutes. Some buildings had retail shops or semi-parks around them. This is what I want more of, although with smaller buildings. I’ve grown to like middle housing best, or slightly larger. But not the large breadboxes being built here now, much less monster buildings.
What I didn’t like was the third-world living conditions, the size of the hulking buildings, and the tower-in-the-park emptiness around many of them. The yards should be an inviting neighborhood-like space (semi-park) with small spaces e.g., hedges, shrubs), rather than just a parking lot and open dead space people don’t want to be in.
Thank you very much for the summary! I’d seen/heard of most of these things but not all, for example the single-faucet setup with the hose I had never seen before.
Something else I remember from other Eastern European countries – perhaps you have seen or heard of this also. Around the mid 1980s the construction style changed from using concrete blocks for the exterior building walls to full prefabricated sections of walls (think a single piece for each room’s exterior wall, and some of the inner walls as well). This made for much shorter building times (I believe that some places claimed the ability to erect one high rise floor per day, so the whole structure went up in a month this way) but it led to very poor insulation and severe mold problems in these buildings, which older buildings did not suffer from as much. Not sure if this style was common in Moscow or other places as well, I believe that other Warsaw pact countries used it though.
I have friends who grew up in large Eastern bloc cities in the 1980s and one thing they mentioned was that there were no good places for kids to hang out – no parks, no green spaces, etc. – similar to what you are mentioning as well. Some of the back “yards” of the buildings were overrun with cars as there were already more cars than storage space, even there. The balconies were small and disfunctional, so that was not a great option for spending time outdoors as a kid, either (plus the air quality in cities was not great back then, in their cities anyway – not when living along major streets as they did).
> Eastern bloc cities in the 1980s and one thing they mentioned was that there were no good places for kids to hang out – no parks, no green spaces, etc. – similar to what you are mentioning as well.
It’s kind of interesting that both Russia/USA sides thought “tower in a park”design would help it out but ended up creating quite depressing/useless green spaces. Though then again Asian cities also sometimes use “tower in a park” and it doesn’t seem to be as stigmatized, so perhaps there’s something more nuanced about it
I think part of the problem is that the Soviet-style blocs forgot the “park” part of the model :)
I’ve lived in “tower-in-a-park” apartments in a couple of cities while I was growing up. I did not hate them, myself. In both cases I had actual parks nearby that I could walk to, and there were other amenities near the area that even a high school kid with no car could get to easily enough. In some ways I think that they are overly stigmatized in some urbanist circles, but at the same time I can appreciate the more “human scale” buildings others often propose.
The newest building I was in (1960s or 1980s) had noticeably-more concrete than earlier ones: concrete stairwells, maybe concrete walls and floors. It may have been prefabricated. I didn’t hear anything about mold or insulation quality. I don’t recall balconies, except one case where it was used for storage.
The quintessential “tower-in-a-park” characteristic is two extremes: detached high-density buildings surrounded by nothing. A better model is a more wavy approach: smaller multistory buildings with some things in between, and small spaces where a few people can gather.
So if we start with the commie blocks, I’d chop the buildings into three or four pieces. In the yards, break them up into smaller spaces with low hedges, walkways, multiple uses, etc. Don’t just have empty land between the building and the street, or a few plants but no inviting sub-spaces for people to be in.
A friend who lives in Finland was saying most of the residential construction is now pre-fab there. It goes up super-quick. Knowing the Finns, I’m sure mold insulation are not a problem.
St Petersburg had a noticeable number of Finnish businesses since it was nearby, while Moscow didn’t. So I wouldn’t be surprised if Finnish companies did some of the building construction. There was a Finnish restaurant called Carroll’s that seemed just like a Burger King; I couldn’t tell any difference in the food.
He was showing me photos of beautiful residential construction, similar to our craftsmen’s here, that nearly externally complete in 3 days. I couldn’t tell it from stick-built.
Interesting. Carrols (one “L”) used to be a fast food/burger joint in the upstate NY market back in the 1960s. They apparently are still around and operate franchises under the Burger King and Popeyes nameplates. I wonder if there is a connection. (?)
I’ve visited people living in one of those “Tower in a Park” buildings in Ivanovo. It really didn’t strike me as being such a bad arrangement. The open courtyard had all manner of trees, and many areas had sort of a community garden. Some people kept chickens, others grew various vegetables, etc. Vastly better than the acres of hot, treeless parking in the typical USA equivalent.
One of my friends grew up in Bucharest. I have no idea if this is exactly where he lived (it’s been ages since I saw the exact spot on a map) but it will give you an idea of what I meant:
There are some trees, but these trees would have been tiny when he grew up in the 70s or 80s, before the Iron Curtain fell. And there are no chickens, nor any vegetable gardens.
The main street view is here: https://goo.gl/maps/79vpcbqHKXV4LsLC8
The model followed in Ivanovo has the building built around a courtyard.
Romania had a pretty awful dictator for an awful lot of decades. This is not to say the Soviet government was good, but Romania was another level of worse. It’s not surprising they had housing plans to match.
This is fairly typical of what I saw in Ivanovo:
Sure, big block apartments, but they surround a common courtyard / park type area.
I was going to suggest that it may be a question of the city size, too, but I think that it’s more a question of when the buildings were erected. Here is an example from Ivanovo which is more similar to my friend’s area in Bucharest.
There’s a bit more vegetation, I admit, but it’s pretty… stark.
Note also that this building may be of the prefabricated nature I mentioned, you can kind of see areas which may show seams between the room-sized panels. That certainly matches what my friend described.
What I want is small pedestrian spaces in the yard, where people will linger or sit or children will play. The Bucharest examples look like just a narrow strip of trees and grass, which doesn’t do it, and is similar to American setbacks. I can’t tell about the Ivanovo example because I can’t see what’s behind the bushes.
Humans are more comfortable if a large space or strip is divided into smaller spaces. They congregate near the edge of spaces rather than in the middle. The divisions don’t have to be floor-to-ceiling: even just psychological divisions like a low hedge or bench is sufficient. It’s because our species evolved from the border between forest and savanna, and made short inroads into both, and a forest is small spaces. Think of how Freeway Park is a group of spaces, not all one big space like Lake Union Park. Except these spaces would be smaller than that.
What neighborhood could object to this. Forget about middle missing housing. Go dense or go home. If density is good this is great.
BTW, I have a friend who moved to East Berlin shortly after the wall came down and German unification. The environmental devastation was much worse than any had thought it would be. Plus in many of the multi-family buildings in East Berlin toilets had been installed in units but never hooked up to the plumbing.
I visited St. Petersburg once and saw plenty of Soviet style housing. It’s ugly, and I can see why people don’t want stuff like that in their neighborhood.
The problem, however, is when people look a plan for anything not a single-family detached house that way. A duplex is not Soviet style housing. Nor is a block of townhomes or a small-midsized apartment building. You can’t even compare. Even large residential buildings don’t have to look like that. I’ve never heard of students rejecting UW because the dorms on campus remind them of Soviet-style housing, for example.
“Forget about middle missing housing. Go dense or go home.”
Why? This should be something that urbanists and suburbanists can agree on. At least make half the land missing-middle, even if the other half is single-family detached.
Look at this density map.
Zoom into Tokyo and their 32 million poeple. You will notice not a dot of yellow, the “Go Big” color. Just a vast see of a variety of red.
What this looks like on the ground is block after block of 3 story to 15 story apartment buildings with vast variety of retail on the 1st to 4th floors. Very eclectic. They aren’t sentimental. They treat housing as disposable. If someone owns a plot of land with a 3 story apartment building and the market is right to make that 15, they go at it. All their construction equipment is miniature. Tiny backhoes. Cute little cranes. Because they are building very high on little 3000 sq ft lots.
Now compare that to the towers of NYC. Lots of yellow in Downtown and mid-town, then it drops quickly into SFH blue outside of Manhattan.
So who has a homeless problem? Not Japan. Fewer homeless in the whole country than in Tacoma. They aren’t perfect. They kind of treat their disabled poorly, but they give them a roof.
Who has a housing cost problem? Again, not Tokyo. Rents were very cheap. Their CEOs are some of the lowest paid, relative to their employees in the world, and they score very good on the income and wealth inequality comparisons. They work hard, and everyone has enough. Not the excess and waste and greed to nearly the degree we see here.
One graph might explain part of why Japan finds it easier to house everyone.
This shows the population growth in Japan over the last 30 years. Please note that during the last 13 years, said population growth is negative (i.e. the population is declining).
The article from which I took the graph further points out that even the population of Tokyo has decreased recently, by about 35k people. That is much larger than the number of unhoused people in all of Washington state, per https://kpq.com/how-does-washingtons-homeless-population-rank-with-other-states/
The article I mentioned: https://www.nippon.com/en/japan-data/h01310/
Now, of course, this does not explain everything. Of course, as you point out, zoning and ease of building has something to do with it as well. But it is much easier to find places to house people when there is a net decrease of population.
For another example: look at the population of Detroit over the last however many years, note that it is also declining:
Note also that the unhoused population in Detroit is also declining, per https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2021/03/18/homelessness-up-michigan-down-detroit-before-pandemic-began/4756394001/
Obviously, Detroit and Seattle are not comparable, economically – but that’s the whole point. The state of the economy matters, just as the climate matters, and the population trend matters, too. Looking at zoning alone is not sufficient. We keep pushing zoning as a panacea and it’s important to understand the true factors that lead to homelessness, as to actually solve the problem.
I have thoughts on the rest of what you said, too – the inequality, etc. – but I think that they are less critical to the discussion.
This is true. They have a looming demographic problem. They don’t share our current, immediate housing crisis, amd in fact their crisis is more that their boomers are all turning 75, and all at once. Their boom was only 3 years.
But that is really besides the point. They have always had enough housing, and that has a lot to do with zoning. Not everything, but a lot. NYC is hemorrhaging population, yet they have over 100K homeless, and growing.
If you want to talk about root causes, at the city level, that cause is simply not enough houses. Full stop.
Now once you have a large homeless population, housing is no longer enough. Homelessness is crushing. After a certain time experiencing homelessness, it is very hard, without a ton of support, to reintigrate into society and be able to function at a level that would be necessary to house yourself.
That is where we are at in Washington, and that supportive housing and associated services, outside the general housing market, is extremely expensive.
It is much cheaper to simply make sure folks never experience homelessness in the first place. And that has a ton to do zoning to allow the vacancy rate to stay at a reasonable level.
It is much cheaper to simply make sure folks never experience homelessness in the first place. And that has a ton to do zoning to allow the vacancy rate to stay at a reasonable level.
Exactly. Well put.
Right, as a preventative measure I totally agree, it’s just not a cure. I think that’s the fundamental distinction between how we see things. It’s why I keep saying it’s a “yes, and…” sort of measure. It’s fundamentally necessary to slow things from getting worse, but it will also fundamentally not solve the problem we have right now. And I think that that distinction keeps needing to be drawn, because otherwise I believe people will either double down on something that will not suffice, or get demoralized and look for even worse options (authoritarianism-driven ones).
Cam pointed out that to solve the problem we do have now will cost a lot more; yes, completely agree with that, too. But that cost needs to be made clear, and dealt with. It also needs to be shown to the general public in a convincing way, which will require a lot of effort (and people skills). We here on the blog are perhaps not the best at doing the latter. But we can at least help come up with the right numbers that need to be put in. Convincing the upper middle class to spend a few hundred bucks a month extra in property taxes requires a very different sort of education campaign than one to convince them to spend 5x their current property tax – and for good reasons, as some people just won’t be able to afford it. If that’s the case, so be it – people will vote with their feet or wallets, perhaps. But we need to understand if we’re in the (say) 5% extra tax range or 500% range. As someone who does own property, that number is very important to me, as it will dictate whether I can age in my current place, or have to start thinking about moving somewhere cheaper. Right now, I just don’t know the answer. So having that number will help people like me figure out what it takes.
I’m not saying that it’ll all be funded via property taxes, of course; that’s just an example. The same thing applies whether it’s property tax or (should that ever happen) a state income tax or B&O taxes, etc.
Japan effectively prohibits immigration or any path to citizenship. It has been known for a long time this practice, low organic birth rates, and a very high public debt, would cause problems at some point. In fact, very few if any first world countries have an organic positive population growth rate, but make up the difference with immigration.
There are several factors for housing shortages for some areas in the U.S. (not all) in part based on population growth although where that population growth has occurred is sometimes different than folks imagine. https://united-states.reaproject.org/analysis/comparative-indicators/growth_by_decade/population/tools/#:~:text=Population%20Growth%20by%20Decade%2C%20Regions%20and%20States%20of,2000-2009%202010-2019%202020-2022%202022%20U.S.%3A%201959-2022%20%3D%201.02%25
In 1960 U.S. population was 179,323,175 and in 2020 331,449,281. https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/dec/popchange-data-text.html
At the same time, the percentage of American households with one person in 1960 was 13% while it was 28% in 2021. https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/583723-more-americans-living-alone-as-milestones-slip-later-in-life/
Japan’s statistics including by city can be found at https://stats-japan.com/t/kiji/11902. Not surprisingly like the U.S. the highest percentage of folks living alone are in the larger cities, so the housing there reflects that.
As noted in the link above, the main reason for this change in the U.S. percentage of single person households is due to young people marrying later, and the Millennial bulge. This country has built a huge amount of one person housing over the last few decades to meet one person household growth (especially in large urban areas where Millennials moved to but are now leaving), but now Millennials are marrying and not surprisingly looking for a SFH, so we will likely continue to see a critical shortage of SFH (especially for sale) and a glut of one person housing units, and the natural cycle of older residents leaving urban cities and younger ones moving in, except the younger generations are not as large as the Millennials, and WFH has changed things.
“But that cost needs to be made clear, and dealt with. It also needs to be shown to the general public in a convincing way, which will require a lot of effort (and people skills).”
Back of the napkin, I think Inslee’s 4 billion bonding suggestion was the first proposal to come pretty close to the order of magnitude necessary. Most of the city and county based proposals are just nibbling. A tenth of what is needed. 4 billion has a shot at getting at ;east 70% into stable housing. That would be huge, and such a benefit to not just the folks experiencing housing, but to our cities which are in constant crises mode and are delaying doing interesting public projects because they fear that it will be too welcoming to those experiencing homelessness.
Thank you, Cam. That helps a lot to set the context. I agree that what the city/county level measures are doing appears to be just tinkering at the edges of the problem.
I think that this is one area where having a state-level solution can help, not just in terms of the cost being distributed more broadly, but also reducing the overhead by having a single agency structure administer it. I’m generally in favor of local control but when the problem is more widespread, I would rather have a single “chain of command”. There would still need to be a lot of “boots on the ground” as it were, and of course the vast majority of the staff should be collocated with where the unhoused actually are (i.e. I would not envision a very top-heavy Olympia contingent being successful).
Great discussion, I really appreciate your willingness to answer my musings openly :)
I would assume they would use the existing contracting structure and try to get the folks already doing the work to expand, for the most part. There is a real learning curve and trust that needs to be earned in doing this work. Sate funded but the work would be local. Even in Olympia, who has its share of folks who have ended up homeless as well.
The bodies to build, the buildings to buy, the service providers to manage might actually be more of a limiting factor than the money. Most of these folks aren’t paid enough, and lots are burned out.
Yes, also great points. The trust, in particular, I think is key and something those of us who are more tech-focused don’t think about as much. Simply “building” tangible resources isn’t enough – convincing the community (and the unhoused themselves are a community, of course) that the changes are in their interest, and will ultimately benefit them, is critical.
We see the same thing in other contexts, of course – for example, in the CID reaction to ST3 changes affecting them, in some of our own blog contributors’ attitude towards ST, etc.
One example from the urbanism side that I think is very enlightening is the refusal of free trees by some communities. This article talks about it:
And it comes down to trust, again, as you point out. Thank you for noting that.
Inslee isn’t spending 4 billion in cash for housing… it’s a bond that will have to paid back in the future. I’m 100% behind spending money for low income housing, but 100% against the State borrowing 4 billion to do it.
Just how much low income housing would a billion dollars buy in Greater Seattle?
At 333k per unit (and this number is super low)…. that’s 3 units per million…. or about 3000 units per billion. How many people are currently waiting on low income housing lists in greater Seattle? 25 thousand? There’s well over 100 thousand people in Seattle who qualify for low income housing.
Tacoma used to use a simple “first come, first serve” list for low income housing, so it wasn’t hard to figure out that there was a 10 plus year wait to get in. Now all the public housing outfits use multiple lists and a complicated lottery system to hide the fact that people could wait decades for low income housing.
There’s no way for Greater Seattle to buy their way out of under investing in housing for 50 years prior… not even with State help.
That’s not how housing first works, Tacomee.
First you don’t just build a bunch of brand new one bedroom apts. You buy as much as you can on the used market, you go with shared housing, dorms or even SROs, if possible.
Second, it’s not theirs forever. Typically it’s for a year, hopefully less. You put a roof over their head, provide them social services, rehab if necessary, job training. After that well more than half are typically able to land a job and find some other housing. Sometimes market rate, sometimes subsidized.
And then you can move the next person in, and do it all again.
Still expensive, but not 333K expensive.
Check out the budgets of some of the groups that already do this work. It is enlightening.
I’ve been part of several low income housing projects and new low income housing costs over 300k a unit, sometimes much more. There’s no way around that. Things cost money.
Buying up existing housing for low income residents doesn’t solve the problem…. it just makes it worse. Where would the displaced people go? Greater Seattle needs more units of real housing. Nothing else works. There’s no magic here. Spending millions for drug addicts to live in rundown motels is just silly. Only real housing is the solution
People who move into low income housing rarely move out. How could anybody on SSI, or even social security ever move into market rate housing? Single moms with kids? People with metal health problems, physical health problems, victims of trauma that take years to recover from? Once these poor souls get into subsidized housing, they stay awhile.
And let’s say I was on SSI and in public housing, and I got my life somewhat back together and started making pizza or mopping floors for a job. I still wouldn’t make enough money to get booted from public housing. Chances are I never would. I’m OK with that… but I don’t lie about dudes who’ve done 20 years in joint ever being self sufficient. Those guys get jobs cooking at the Top of Tacoma (still the best bar on the East Side) and they’ll never make enough to really make it on their own.
Years back I toured a new micro apartment building in East Tacoma, really small, sub 400 sq ft units (market rate). The real estate lady called them artist’s lofts or some B.S. My friend, the guy who did most of the painting on the project, said, “Man, what a crappy place to raise a kid”. The real estate lady said, “Oh, these units aren’t for children”. My buddy replied “Well, I guess you don’t know much about East Tacoma”. Now the place is full of immigrants gardening in the parking strip and I see kids playing outside all the time at all hours of the night and day. These people deserve better.
The need for affordable housing is so dire…. and the Governor bonding four billion isn’t nearly enough… that might build 6 thousand units in Greater Seattle… remember the rest of the State wants housing money as well….
Political upheaval and/or climate change could drive 10,000 people north from California this Summer. We’ve seen inflow numbers that high when tech was running full steam in Puget Sound. Maybe half those Cali folks have at least 500k from the sale of house or just cash sitting around… how much money would that be flowing into the Greater Seattle real estate market… 2 billion? 3 billion? So 4 billion doesn’t buy much here.
We aren’t talking about low-income housing, we are talking about no-income housing. There is a difference. This is transitional housing. A roof over your head for a year so that you can put your life back together. There are variety of forms it can take. It doesn’t all need to be 300K housing, though some of it might be.
I completely agree with your larger point though. This won’t work unless we unzone large areas, and stop gumming up the work with petty, NIMBY “Neighborhood Character” reviews.
We need to get out of the private developer’s way, lower their costs and and timelines, and let them do what they do. Build. Build cheap. Build expensive. Just build.
Sometimes, especially when on a group tour, a visitor doesn’t get a sense what transit is like, because they are driven around by chartered transportation. On my visit to the old USSR in the late ’70’s, our travel was limited to tour buses, called Intourist, and shopping was mostly done at shops for tourists only, called Beryoszkas. We did go into one giant department store called GUM. I remember it sparsely stocked and bleak. We interacted with locals occasionally, but the only thing they wanted to talk about was exchanging rubles for dollars. Now I make a point to use a city’s public transportation system. It’s cool that Mike got to stay in someone’s home and take public transit.
In Moscow I stayed with my roommate’s parents. In St Petersburg I stayed in a kommunalka my friend’s friend had extra. In Podol’sk I went for a third friend’s brother’s wedding. Two of the guys lived in the US. The third (the St Petersburg one) had lived in the US but happened to move back to Russia between when I planned my trip and when I went.
Yes, in the Soviet days visitors were highly restricted in where they could go, and had to go through Intourist for everything. When I went those restrictions were gone.
GUM (government department store) is now TsUM (central department store). St Petersburg has a counterpart “Gostiny Dvor” (in the czar’s “guest palace), which was the one I mentioned. Neither of them are like an American department store all under one owner. Each booth has a different owner and cashier like the kiosks or markets. Both department stores had a mixture of Western and Russian goods. I don’t know what GUM contained in the Soviet days.
In the mid 90s the ruble fell to 4500 to the dollar and inflation was 10% a month (120% a year). People paid dollars for a lot of things and expected Westerners to pay in dollars. I was anxious about that because they might price-gouge me. But a few months before I went, Yeltsin decreed that all cash transactions must be in rubles. Surprisingly, everybody obeyed. There were foreign-exchange banks everywhere, and a lot of people kept their savings in dollars and changed them to rubles for short-term purchases. And when the bank was closed for lunch, a tough guy stood in front with a big handful of cash to continue exchanges. So I went to the banks and got rubles and paid. I didn’t trust the tough guys so I didn’t exchange with them, but in context they were probably OK, because by friend exchanged with them.
There was also a kind of Uber-without-the-Uber. They were called “taksi”, but they were really somebody driving around town in their own car, transporting hitchhikers around for the equivalent of $1-3. One driver said he did it for a few hours on Saturday nights for something to do, transporting people between clubs. I didn’t trust them, but some of my acquaintances didn’t take transit much, and when I asked them where the nearest metro station was, or which station my destination was at, they wouldn’t tell me, but instead hailed a car and negotiated a price for me. All the drivers were honest.
Actually, the parking spaces weren’t blacktop with white lines. They were just a strip of dirt that people parked on.
Anyone notice the unbearable jackhammering going on at Westlake beginning last Friday 4/21? It was so loud it sounded as if it were in the station, but it was actually above the north platform in the former GAP building that is now becoming Ben Bridge. Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon and the jackhammering has stopped, but there is now a trash can on the north end of the north bound platform where water dripping from the ceiling of the station is collected. 🤣
25 new Link stations by 2024”
Perhaps Sound Transit needs to make some changes to this page:
Additionally, ST hopefully will be releasing its 2023 version of its “Annual Program Review Report” soon as the last report came out in April 2022. Per the capital program realignment resolution adopted by the board (R2021-05) in August 2021, the agency has been given this annual reporting directive “in order to apprise the Board and the public of major project changes, risks or other developments in a timely manner”.
The agency has been reporting more frequently than annually. You may have noticed the coverage here at STB. Thank you for reminding us how various ST webpages don’t get updated unless someone points them out (e.g. 20 minutes from South Federal Way to Fife).
Why the annual ones are nicer to read, there’s also the monthly progress reports which provide much more detail.
Also yesterday they just posted an update https://www.soundtransit.org/blog/platform/spring-update-link-projects-construction
Clarification: more specifically, I’m looking forward to seeing an update to this annual report.
Just wanted to call out there was an spring update on the Sound Transit blog https://www.soundtransit.org/blog/platform/spring-update-link-projects-construction
Notably regarding a starter line:
> Later this year, the Board will consider that feedback, equity analysis results, and other information to determine whether to open this portion of the new 2 Line first.
Honestly I’m not sure if it’s quite worth the effort to open it a couple months earlier rather than spending the effort to fix the i90 bridge. Though I guess it depends on how much longer the delay will be.
Also to clarify, the plinth fix is not on the floating bridge itself.
> This plinth replacement is happening along the I-90 segment of the tracks on both sides of Lake Washington, but not on the floating bridge itself.
Lynnwood is on track and might open next year summer/fall
> Like the Downtown Redmond project, the Lynnwood Link Extension has progressed on schedule since our last update and has even picked up some time in the schedule. It could be ready to open as soon as next summer or fall.
Though it seems like the are opting for the service pattern of turnbacks, I’m assuming at Northgate?
> We’ve also shared that when Lynnwood Link opens, service will be less frequent than previously planned, at least at first, because it will initially operate as an extension of the 1 Line only.
Federal Way extension delayed to 2026
> Based on continuing schedule discussions with the contractor, we’re now estimating an opening timeframe of 2025 or 2026 for the Federal Way Link Extension.
We’ve published all those things in the past month based on various ST meetings, so I think we’re up to date.
Though it seems like the are opting for the service pattern of turnbacks, I’m assuming at Northgate?
Not necessarily turnbacks at Northgate. They are basically reiterating that with East Link opening after Lynnwood Link, the north end won’t get double the frequency, as originally planned. In the middle of the day, trains will from the Angle Lake to Lynnwood every 10 minutes. Once East Link is complete, those trains will mix with those from Redmond, providing 5 minute headways from downtown to Lynnwood.
There is the possibility of increasing headways, and turning back some trains (along with some other options) to deal with potential crowding during peak. Basically they don’t have enough trains to run four-car trains every 8 minutes during peak. Options include turning some of them back at Northgate; running every 10 minutes all day; running three car trains.
(Sorry forgot to mention)
Sound Transit is making a couple of management changes to try making the expansion faster.
* Staff will provide more direct and succinct recommendations to the Board on future actions requiring Board decisions.
* Streamlining the nature and number of actions that currently come to the Board for approval, including real property acquisition items.
* (Recommendation) Chief Systems Officer to be split into Chief Expansion
Delivery Officer, Chief Service Delivery Officer, Chief System Quality Officer.
More complicated items were
* What constitutes a betterment under existing policies and how to enforce them (Aka if Ballard wants a tunnel or 4th ave station who pays and how much)
* Whether to seek permitting authority from the state legislature (permitting from cities or other government bodies can be long/complicated)
I’m not sure how to approach these. Any thoughts? I’m inclined to think, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Folks on this blog have talked about the “new normal”, and I have noted that 2023 is supposed to be the new normal when it comes to government budgets.
SPS is facing a $131 million budget deficit. Where I live schools come just after public safety in order of priority for the citizens. Transit is around number 31. These budget deficits are hitting nearly every school district, and this is our future.
Next up are the municipal budgets, especially Seattle which The Seattle Times estimates to be around $250 million and growing each year after that. These deficits will definitely hit transit, and we already know they are hitting ST, both increased project costs and overestimated tax revenue and farebox recovery, and will hit Metro, CT and PT.
What’s the point of repeatedly saying the sky is falling? When the governments have an amount and a date and an outline of which routes they plan to cut and how much, we can worry about it then. In the meantime it doesn’t do any good to obsess about it and get anxious and depressed. We’ve been through 20% recession cuts in Metro’s bus service before, the last in 2014.
A downtown residential tower designed for transit users …
The Puget Sound Business Journal says a skinny 48 story residential tower is planned for the Jiffy Lube site at 4th and Lenora. (A couple of doors north of the Dahlia Bakery). The article says it will only have 24 parking spaces, won’t accommodate large vehicles, and will have 336 bicycle stalls.
San Francisco is about to open an urban IKEA on Market Street on the edge of the Union Square retail district, practically in the Tenderloin. It is entirely focused on urban dwellers and functions exclusively as a showroom with delivery. Downtown retail is taking it extremely hard now so will be interesting to see how it fares and if it’s a new model going forward for downtown retail especially here in Seattle (admittedly furniture stores are already headed this way). Might we see an Ikea on 3rd Avenue? Lol
The horrifically designed UW station has both its down escalators broken. That is of the 4 banks of escalators on each side of the station, the same 2 down escalators are closed and you discover only after descending 1 bank of escalators. Have to wander aimlessly around the station to find the converted emergency stairs while hearing your train arrive and depart hundreds of feet below.
Amazing how crappy our new underground stations are, I’ll take the former bus tunnel stations with their shallow design, soaring ceilings and attractive stone-clad decor any day over these garbage sheet metal stations at the center of the earth.
Maybe one day we can build subways as well as we did 100 years ago or even 35 years ago.
That 9 levels of escalatorpalooza they plan for Westlake doesn’t leave much optimism from me.
“1 Line trains are single tracking between Capitol Hill Station Station and Stadium Station until further notice due to emergency maintenance. Please board all trains on the platform to Angle Lake. Trains will be running every 30 minutes from Westlake to Int’l Dist/Chinatown Station. Trains remain in service and are running every 10 minutes from Northgate Station to Capitol Hill Station, and from Stadium Station to Angle Lake Station:” –ST website.
Laugh interlude, non-transit.
One of the marketing emails that came to STB’s contact address says CenturyLink field is the 5th most instagrammed sports stadium in North America. Somebody actually tracks this? (The marketer didn’t seem to know it was renamed to Lumen Field.) #1 was Dodger Stadium. The marketing campaign was about “stunning sports venues”.
East Link sleeper (horizontal support beneath the rails) installation a week ago. Is anyone else surprised that there is just one guy who is overseeing its placement, and it looks like he’s just eyeballing it?
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