Metro’s weekend newsletter has several things this weekend:

3rd Avenue will be closed for construction between Pine and Union Streets from 8am Saturday to 5pm Sunday. RapidRide C, D, E, and other north-south bus routes I spot checked will stop at 2nd & Pike southbound or 4th & Pike northbound. Route 49 westbound will stop at Pine & 9th and at 3rd & Union; eastbound at 3rd & Seneca and at Pine & 6th. Routes 10 and 11 aren’t listed but may do something similar.

The Montlake Bridge will be closed for the Opening Day of Boating Seasion on Saturday from 9 am to 4:30pm. Routes 48, 255, 271, and 542 will be rerouted.

The Link reduction is still on. The Seattle Times has an analysis ($) of how sidewalk work broke the underground Westlake Station ceiling. Sound Transit has a blog post on it.

Route 162 will be suspended May 8-12 due to the driver and bus shortage. This is the peak express from Kent East Hill to Kent Station, Kent-Des Moines P&R, and downtown Seattle.

Trailhead Direct starts May 13th, running weekends and holidays until September 4th. The only route is Mount Si, stopping at Broadway & Denny, 4th & Spring, the Eastgate freeway station, North Bend P&R, Mt Teneriffe trailhead, Mt Si trailhead, and Little Si trailhead. A Metro Matters blog post has more information. ST Express route 554 goes to several Issaquah trails, south and east of the Issaquah City Hall stop.

This is an open thread.

209 Replies to “Open Thread 5”

    1. Don’t know what your level is, but Si generally gets hammered, and hammered hard. Avoid the crowds (sort of) and go earl, and take the old Si trail.

      From Little Si lot take the Little Si trail to the trail that goes on the north side of the Boulder Garden. Take this and go over to the intersection with the Old Si trail and then take it up to the base of the haystack.

      On the way back take the other branch of the Boulder Garden trail and go on the south side of the Boulder Garden. Check it out on whatever app you use first.

      Best viewpoint if you don’t want to do the haystack is just to the left of the haystack as you approach the summit basin area.

      Teneriffe is sort of unpleasant for anything other than the hike to the falls (gets hammered).

    2. I want to try the Puget Power Trail from the Sunset Way trailhead in Issaquah, which is supposed to go up to a plateau. Is it worth taking the Around The Lake Trail around Tradition Lake? Can you see the lake from it?

      I may not make it past the initial hill if my leg complains, so I don’t think I’ll try the hillier Mt Si trails. I may take TD to the trailheads and back to North Bend and wander around North Bend.

    3. “Check it out on whatever app you use first.”

      App? I didn’t know there were trail apps. What’s their benefit?

      1. There are lots of apps for hikers.

        Most start with a topo map and then add tracking and performance metrics. Some have trip reports. I just use WTA for trip reports.

        The one I use has trail names, info on which trails are unmaintained, tracking, and performance data. Things like elevation vs time, elapsed time, moving time, etc.

        Tracking info is important. You can tell when you missed a turn or are off course, and you can backtrack your route easier if you get disoriented.

    4. It has been a while since I’ve hiked in that particular area, but I used to do Little Si every year (now I do more spring cross country skiing). The main Mount Si trail is overrated, in my opinion. It is a nice trail and has a nice forest, but it requires a fair amount of effort for nothing special on top (even if you climb the “haystack”). Like nearby Mailbox, it gets a huge number of people even though it doesn’t hold a candle to peaks further up the road. For example, Snow Lakes is crowded, but more spectacular. If you put in the same amount of effort (and go to Gem Lake) you can get solitude (and a lot more views). Of course all of that is buried under snow right now, and will be for a couple more months. In contrast, Si and Mailbox melt out a lot quicker so there is that.

      Anyway, I would recommend Little Si, especially this time of year. The only drawback is that it is, well, little. There are variations that can add distance. Here is a description:

      This brings up apps and websites. I use a few:

      NWHikers — A forum site, where people discuss local hiking issues, as well as list hiking reports. This very subject is discussed there.

      Washington Trail Association (or WTA) — A local organization that does volunteer trail maintenance. It also merged with the publication “Roots and Rocks” which provided trip reports on the back page. It has more trip reports than NWHikers, and also lists trip descriptions (sometimes leveraging books written by the Mountaineers). By looking at a trip report, you can find out the current conditions without bothering the ranger.

      AllTrails — Company that has trip reports and maps of trails across the country (membership required). I have a membership, but generally just use it when traveling outside the state (since WTA and NWHikers meets my local needs).

      Gaia GPS — Subscription service with topographic maps for your phone or PC. A lot of hikes are outside local cell phone service. Thus you can download topographic maps, and then view them on your phone (while showing you where you are). This has largely replaced handheld GPS devices that do the same.

      CalTopo — Same sort of thing as Gaia. It has more maps. I prefer the desktop version of CalTopo, but usually use Gaia on my phone. Both have free desktop versions, although Gaia requires an email. I am not sure if either is available for free on a phone, but you could always just print off the map and use a compass (e. g. here is the area around Little Si). You might be able to download the maps on your phone as well. I’m really not sure about the various free options, but I’m sure they are out there. I do a lot of hiking and ended up subscribing to both Gaia and CalTopo.

  1. Great. So much for the ballyhooed alternatives between Westlake and Chinatown while the toy train is broken.

    1. There is a long tradition of ST, Metro, and Seattle getting their signals crossed (metaphorically).

      ST chose to roll out its single-car consists on a Saturday in the summer of 2010. Metro had already selected that day, with plenty of warning and fanfare, to launch the A Line. The Sounders were in town, too.

      I will pre-argue with Lazarus that the fault there was primarily with ST, for failure to check event calendars and pay attention to Metro’s news. I will pre-retort on Lazarus’ behalf that Metro’s Ops should have known their operators would be going on lighter duty that day, and that Metro should have been watching ST’s news and tweets on the days leading up. Channeling for my future self, I will say the operators and Ops might not have been informed they would be operating shorter “trains” that day, since it didn’t impact their report times or duties, and that the first place the rollout of single-car consists should have been announced was the Comments section of the Seattle Transit Blog.

  2. At the margins is it more of a driver shortage or more of a bus shortage? KCM keeps mentioning both in its weekly updates, but it’s hard for me to understand how there is a bus shortage when we have reduced frequencies, canceled trips, and fewer drivers compared to 2019.

    1. As far as I can tell, the driver shortage is the biggest problem. It’s impacted everything from the buses on the San Juan Islands to Belair Airporter. You can always just not retire an older bus for a few months while vehicle production lags. You still needs someone to drive them.

      1. Pretty sure it’s a driver shortage. They’re not running as many bus trips as during covid times so I’m sure there’s plenty of extra busses

        I guess a few new routes might need special busses like rapidride g or h but not for the rest

    2. The number of “rapid ride” 65, 67, 320, 322, and 372s I’ve seen over past few weeks, especially during the morning peak, suggests that Metro has some level of bus shortage in addition to the driver shortage.

    3. The bus shortage is, if I recall, that a lot of buses are out on maintenance.

      Metro sometimes puts a regular bus on a RapidRide route or vice-versa, or a Metro bus on an ST Express route. I assume that means it was the only available bus.

      1. I’ll venture a guess that the labor shortage that’s limiting driver availability is also impacting mechanic availability.

      2. Metro has mentioned a maintenance operator shortage, so that may be what’s making buses slow to get back into service or deploy new buses. Part of it is a lack of candidates, and part of it is the limited number of slots in the training programs.

    4. Beyond the driver and maintenance shortage, which really shouldn’t be happening at Metro given they are paying better than their competition — PT, CT, ET, school buses etc — there is also the supply chain shortage. That turned out to be very real for the streetcars, pre-pandemic, even though we ordered a measly six(?) cars for a nine-digit project, forever ruining its utility by underfleeting it.

      There was also a huge recall last year that sidelined one of the bus models for months while each bus in that model got a necessary fix.

      Finally, the buses are not immortal. They reach the end of their useful life, and then sent elsewhere. There was a time long before the pandemic that Metro kept extending the end-of-life time or mileage to keep buses in service. If it had to, I’m pretty sure it would do so again. I don’t think that is where Metro is with its fleet now.

      But then, I’m baffled that Metro would have a driver shortage given its industry wage advantage, unless you believe my crackpot hypothesis that people are still avoiding public-facing jobs because of the pandemic (that is still officially one of multiple “pandemics”, just no longer a “public health emergency”). Or my other guess that Metro needs to open up a second classroom and training space, as they are probably are getting more quality applicants right now than they have space to hire and train.

      1. Could it be that people don’t want to deal with the BS that Metro operators encounter. It is a small minority of people that does this but if you encounter it often enough it is enough to discourage people from becoming drivers. And that is not even taken into account that driving a bus is not easy. Metro may pay more but is taking the verbal abuse or sometime more then that worth it.

      2. Back in the Before Times, weren’t there more passengers, and so more verbal abuse? Plus fewer plastic shields and more fare disputes with riders who could not afford to pay?

        Are Metro’s training classes not full?

      3. In past years you had people who verbally insulted and in some cases assaulted the drivers but in those days you didn’t have the number of homeless people and drug users that now use buses and light rail to get off the streets and use public transportation as a way to stay warm. They don’t pay and are verbally abusive when confronted.

        I also noticed on light rail that in the front section of the train where the operator sits the seats are blocked off and passengers are not allowed to sit there as a way to protect the operator from the second hand smoke from Fentanyl and other drugs. That are able to do so on the light rail trains but I don’t know if they are able to do and if they have done so on the buses.

        It has never been easy to a bus driver in dealing with the public but it seems that it has gotten worse and may be the reason that Metro has had difficulties in filling open positions.

  3. I’m attempting to get to Snohomish from King Street station (arriving on the morning train), and Google maps is giving me terrible results. So far, all of their suggested options include things like taking the 116 to Silver Firs and then teleport (or some other form of magic transport) the last 5 miles or so.

    I did find Community Transit 109 and will have to puzzle the way back from there by hand, but it doesn’t seem like in this day and age it should be complicated to create a functioning trip planner.

    1. There is also the CT 271 which goes down thru Snohomish from Everett Station (meaning you would stay on the STX 512 all the way to Everett instead of alighting at Ash Way P&R to catch the CT 109). I’m not sure which way is faster though. Just throwing another option out there for you. I’m pretty sure they’re both hourly routes (sadly). Good luck.

      1. Thanks.

        I’ve been able to get that to show up sometimes, depending on what I set as the departure time from Seattle. With Link doing it’s thing I might just add an Everett ticket to the Amtrak trip so I don’t have to deal with Link, and then do the 271

        Even with the Link delay it may wind up being faster as it can take 20 minutes for everyone to board the bus, deal with the luggage, and then another 10 or so for the bus to extract itself from King Street Station and get to I-5.

  4. Amazon’s return to office this month is certainly increasing commute times to SLU. I take the 8 which is back to being chronically late and packed shoulder to shoulder Tuesday-Thursday during peak hours. Coworkers say getting across the lake is taking much longer as well.

    1. It’s only the beginning, many of the downtown offices aren’t fully ready yet until mid May. It’s really unconscionable that SLU will not have a Link stop for two more decades and that we are prioritizing Everett Link before a Metro 8 line. It’s crazy how fast Vancouver built up the SkyTrain. A high frequency stub from Ballard to Westlake with option of extending to a Metro 8 makes so much more sense than our current boondoggle.

      1. I think we need some more rapid, low cost improvements to buses in the area. I don’t know if it’s just bus lanes or something else, but it’s ridiculous that ~100 people on a bus sit in horrible traffic on Denny for two blocks while all the single occupancy cars try to get on I-5.

      2. I can attest to the reduced reliability and increased congestion in SLU. The intersections of Westlake/Denny & Westlake/Mercer have right turning cars that render the bus lanes useless.

        On the 5pm 64X run on 5/3, three riders asked to be let off the bus at Westlake/Republican while backed up in traffic. We were 25m behind schedule by the time I got to 65th/8th. I’ve since gone back to riding the light rail.

      3. @Tim,

        Ya, even with the reduced frequency and capacity because of the damage at Westlake, it still appears like LR is the preferred mode for getting to downtown. Unfortunately it can get a bit crowded at times.

        ST should have their scaffolding up by the end of the week, and hopefully they will also have a full damage assessment and an idea of the repairs.

        The damage is in position 1 on the NB platform. If it can be done safely, ST could go back to normal type operations using 3-car trains. These trains would them stop at the normal NB Westlake platform, but stop in positions 2 through 4. Then pass through the construction zone as they continue north.

        Hopefully ST is protecting for such an option when they design their scaffolding and debris shields. Because the repairs could take a couple of months.

      4. For comparison, the hole on the bridge deck on Highway 99 will take about 10 days to repair. That is a much larger hole you can see all the way through except for the rebar, and a much more precarious repair effort. It’s also not the first such hole on that bridge. I’m sensing it will need full replacement soon.

      5. One other small detail on the 3-car plan:

        If the train pulls up to a different position than other stations (where the front car has for several years pulled up to the first slot), there should be (1) an announcement on the train as it approaches Westlake that the train will not be pulling all the way forward; and (2) staff meeting any blind riders — most, but I’m not sure all, will be using white canes — at the northbound Westlake platform to assist in getting them reoriented to the fact that they are alighting 90-ish feet further south than they are used to.

        I’m talking about both if this plan is used next week while constructing scaffold, and for the following weeks while the roof is repaired. The safety factor is much higher if the front car doesn’t have to sit under the scaffold area at all, and the train just takes a few seconds out of every several-minute cycle passing under the risk zone.

        Of course, ST could decide to keep Westlake’s northbound platform closed for the duration, and have those needing to get out there double-back from Capitol Hill, which would probably be even safer. It’s not like the nearest station is a 15-minute walk away.

      6. “It’s crazy how fast Vancouver built up the SkyTrain”

        As an opinion article said about why Switzerland was able to achieve universal healthcare, “It’s not because they’re rich, but because they’re Swiss.” Likewise, Vancouver is more ambitious about Skytrain lines and BRT lines because they’re Canadian.

      7. @Brent White,

        I’m sure ST will have staff on site to assist for the duration of this event. They do now.

        As per comparing this to the hole on 99, there is no real comparison.

        That hole is easy. They have nothing underneath to worry about, and they have full access both from the top and the bottom.

        And WSDOT doesn’t have to worry about all those fancy tiles and finishes that Metro saw fit to install at Westlake.

      8. “all those fancy tiles and finishes that Metro saw fit to install at Westlake”

        … that King County installed to comply with the 1% for art law.

      9. My son took Link from the UW to the airport yesterday afternoon. He said the transfer at PSS was a breeze. His only complaint was he added 20 minutes to his trip for the transfer but it only took 5 minutes.

      10. @Dan T,

        If someone’s “only complaint” about Link is that they arrived at their destination 15 minutes early, then I think Link must be doing just fine.

        Glad the transfer worked for him.

      11. Tim Willis: routes 64 and 320 have a flawed design; it is well known that Mercer Street was and would be jammed with traffic headed to I-5; it is well known that the right lane of Westlake Avenue North was and would be jammed with vehicles turning right to Mercer Street. Those turns were added to the routes in fall 2021 when planners with rose-colored glasses were looking at Covid era traffic. The previous set of routes (e.g., routes 63, 64, and 309) used Fairview Avenue North to reach the Mercer Street interchange.

      12. From Ballard (15th and Market), I took the bus around 7:40am Wednesday to go to my one day a week in the office. I caught the D– the next bus was 30 minutes later. (the 15). Now, the D wasn’t full, but I could see this being a giant clusterf@# if the Amazon folks start going back in earnest mid May (IIRC, they don’t change frequency of busesuntil October?).

    2. The 520 bridge seems back to prepandemic congestion levels on weekday afternoons. As the weather has warmed up, I’ve switched from bus to electric bike and now glide past all the traffic. Look forward to when that HOV ramp to Montlake finally gets built.

    3. The eastbound bus lanes around Denny & Stewart that SDOT installed during the pandemic aren’t effective?

      1. The existing bus lane is effective, it’s just not enough. The buses get incredibly backed up before reaching Westlake.

      2. Cole is addressing routes 64 and 320 on Westlake Avenue North. Orr is addressing Route 8 on eastbound Denny Way. The latter is impacted by a long queue of traffic headed to southbound I-5 via the Yale Avenue ramp. The eastbound bus lane nearside Stewart Street is effective at that spot, but leading to that, in the p.m. peak period, eastbound Denny Way is congested back to Dexter Avenue North; Route 8 coaches have to serve stops farside Westlake Avenue North and nearside Fairview Avenue North, so have to get through the long queue. The short bus lane is effective when the queue is not long, so the situation is better than it was.

    4. Lots of Amazon offices are only a few blocks north of Westlake. The “distant” area is generally north of Denny.

      It’s always been amazing to me how Seattle upzoned the area north of Denny before ST3 was developed. Had Seattle thought ahead, other elements could have been considered. Now ST taxpayers are on the hook to thread SLU service at a much higher cost and with deep stations designed for long trains arriving only every 10 minutes at a base.

      It’s also terrible timing that Link was not anticipated when the 99 project was designed.

      A final comment is that Link is a huge financial windfall for SLU property developers. Some sort of special district or assessment to cover the increasing costs seems fairer than extending the taxes we all pay by several years.

      1. Everybody missed the fact that highrises in SLU would need high-capacity transit. Both Seattle and ST and transit activists.

    5. Too bad Eastlink schedule is far behind… For the 8, I still think a Belltown to CapHill gondola along Bell St / Thomas St would help tremendously. If it would start at Bell Harbor, it might even eleviate some of the need for Ubers to take cruise ship passengers to other parts of town (or Link).

  5. It’s ridiculous that we close the Montlake Bridge for seven-and-a-half straight hours for “boating season”. Just one more way that the whims of a tiny yachting class hold undeserved sway over the public realm.

    1. UW has an international crew competition, and hundreds of people go to watch.

      1. It’s Opening Day of Yachting Season. Crew races followed by a boat parade.

        Congestion most of the day, and the bridge will be up starting at about noon.

        It’s a long time Seattle tradition. Lots of fun.

      2. I agree Lazarus. Opening Day is a tradition and important UW event. There are alternative routes on a Saturday. Not every boat is a yacht. In fact just the opposite. With our system of lakes and launches a boat is a great way for a family to have fun without a tremendous cost.

        For comparison, I worked in Pioneer Square for 32 years. Every home weekday Mariner game or evening Seahawks game closed the ramps onto I-90 eastbound from 4th Ave. S.

      3. Not all yachts are huge luxury things. Some look to me like a regular boat.

      4. @DT,

        Opening Day has been a Seattle tradition for well over a century, and I believe its roots actually go back to the late 1800’s.

        If anyone hasn’t figured this out by now, well…..(I’ll hold my tongue).

        And ultimately it is a Federal waterway, and boats have priority over cars. It’s not only as it should be, it’s actually the law.

      5. “And ultimately it is a Federal waterway, and boats have priority over cars and trains. It’s not only as it should be, it’s actually the law.”

        Just added a little technical update.

      6. @Jim Cusick,

        Per your comments about trains. Exactly!

        And don’t think ST didn’t know that when they decided to go under the Montlake Cut instead of over it. Problem solved.

      7. A day at the races ($).

        With a photo of people crowded on the Montlake Bridge sidewalk. That’s what I thought I remembered, but I wasn’t sure if people were allowed on the bridge. I’m not sure why buses and cars couldn’t run alongside the sidewalk crowd; maybe they’re worried about somebody at the edge being hit by a car. Before and after the match the bridge is open, but buses probably avoid the area for the same reason they do on Husky game days: to avoid getting stuck in gridlock.

    2. Dang sailboaters!

      It’s those ‘power boats with sticks’ crowd that need the bridges open for the most part. Although there are times when the bridges stay down until set times.
      Given it’s opening day, it’s their day, all day. (well, sort of)
      Most powerboats do just fine under the bridges.

      (I think that ‘yacht’ is used more generically to describe boating affiliations)

    3. Look y’all I am aware a lot of Seattle’s insane policies about bridge openings are a matter of Federal law. Sometimes Federal laws are bad. Nobody will ever convince me that the deference we give to pleasure boats in operating bridges that are critical connections for walking and biking is good.

      Low bridges are good because they allow efficient transit, walking and biking connections to destinations immediately on either side of the water. We should have lots of low bridges. They should open very rarely for pleasure boats. If we had sensible rules that prioritized useful transportation over water toys the boat industry would adapt and innovate, maybe developing urban-friendly boats whose masts could lower when they’re in the canal and operating by motor anyway.

      If we must have a day where the bridge is mostly closed to vehicle traffic it should at least lower once an hour to let people cross on foot and bike.

      1. This isn’t regular bridge openings. Hundreds of people fill up the fields along the Ship Canal and probably the sides of the Montlake Bridge to watch the crew race. It’s like fireworks viewing.

      2. @Al D,

        The Federal waterway was there first.

        The city/state then has a choice to make. Pay big bucks (higher taxes) to go high over the waterway, pay even bigger bucks (even higher taxes) to go under the waterway in a tunnel, or save a lot of money and build a draw bridge across it that will have to open for boat traffic occasionally.

        This region made that choice 5 times with the ship canal, and 4 out of 5 times they picked the cheap choice, They choose lower draw spans with low price tags in exchange for the occasional interruption.

        That is the choice this city made. We need to live with it.

        And besides, the boats are beautiful, the races are great, and it is a wonderful family event. And who is against family events?

      3. One odd thing I noticed in Potsdam and Berlin, Germany:

        All the freight and pleasure craft have to adopt to bridges that don’t open. This means very long, low craft for freight, sailboats build with masts that are easily lowered, and various other craft with movable sections (Eg, smoke stacks on a replica steamer are hinged to drop down).

      4. What does the crew race have anything to do with it? Crew boats are low to the ground. They don’t need the Montlake Bridge to be raised to get through.

      5. The fans are packed all over the area, like a stadium crowd along the canal and maybe on the bridge. I assume that’s why the bridge was closed.

        “This region made that choice 5 times with the ship canal, and 4 out of 5 times they picked the cheap choice, They choose lower draw spans with low price tags in exchange for the occasional interruption.”

        That was a hundred years ago. High bridges weren’t common then, the population was a third the size, only a tenth of the people had cars, and there were probably fewer boats.

      6. @Mike Orr,

        The Aurora Bridge is almost 100 years old. So it could have been done, we just went cheap. And we got what we paid for.

        And as far as the draw spans go, it doesn’t really bother me that much. Openings are infrequent, and there are plenty of options to avoid them. The Aurora Bridge, the Ship Canal Bridge, Link, or just travel at rush hour when they don’t open.

        No big deal, and it sort of adds flavor to this fine city.

        My favorite? The Scherzer rolling lift bridge in South Park. That is an interesting design. And works great.

      7. The Aurora bridge was built after the drawbridges; it was the first bridge high enough to not require opening, the first without streetcars, and the only federal highway.

      8. @Mike Orr,

        Yes, the Aurora Bridge was built after the draw spans, but the technology used to build that bridge was neither new nor innovative. Such high bridges could have been built much, much earlier, but we choose to build draw spans instead. Mainly because they are cheap and easy.

        But there is nothing preventing us from replacing the draw spans today. All it would take is about $4b in new funding and probably 15 years fighting each other in court.

        Remember, we couldn’t even complete the Thomson.

        And, at the end of the day, all we would have saved is a few minutes travel time a few times a year for a small number of automobiles.

        We have better things to do with our money.

      9. Lazarus: “The Federal waterway was there first.”

        No, the Montlake Cut opened in 1916. The date of the dynamite demolition that lowered Lake Washington happened in 1910, after the Exposition where UW sits today closed.

        By 1910, Seattle had 237K people. The areas on both sides of the Montlake Cut were annexed into Seattle in 1891.

        I get how it’s Federal law about drawbridges. I get that the law predates highways. However, in this case the canal was not first.

        That’s not to say that the entire comment is not valid. It’s just a correction about the timeline.

      10. @Al.S,

        The entire waterway was a federal project. From the locks to Lake Washington, including the lowering. It was built between 1911 and 1917. That is how we got it, and why it is federal.

        The idea was to support industry around Lake Washington and on Lake Union. And the Navy wanted the canal because the original location for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard was supposed to be on Lake Washington instead of in Bremerton.

        I’m sort of glad that the PSNS part didn’t work out.

        It’s also worth noting that there were several fixed bridges that existed before the canal was built, including the Stone Way Bridge. Nobody talks about that one anymore.

        All the fixed bridges were removed as part of the project and replaced with bascule bridges. It was part of the overall plan, and it is how we got to where we are today.

        But the bridges don’t bother me. Whenever I am showing out of town guests around and get stopped by one of the bridges going up, I just put the car in park, leave it running, get out, walk across the oncoming lanes and look forlornly over the edge.

        Freaks the visitors out, particularly if they are from the Midwest. Might as well have a little fun while you wait.

      11. The Stone Way bridge was a temporary bridge while the Fremont Bridge was being replaced with a higher one.

        Ships have the right of way, but that’s for ordinary sailboat traffic. This was an event where the city invited boats to attend, and the point was to be at the event, not sailing back and forth all the time.

  6. ST has more blog posts on:

    Link construction: annual openings start this summer with the T line’s MLK extension.

    escalators and elevators in the DSTT: ST pats itself on the back for 92% reliability after repairs.

    testing the next-train arrival displays: on May 9-15, station displays between Stadium and Angle Lake will display inaccurate next-train times. ST says this is part of the testing process to make them accurate. Long-time riders will remember that every time ST has turned on the “10, 20, 30 minutes until the next trains” feature, it’s sometimes accurate, sometimes off by a few minutes, sometimes has implausable times (“40, 50, 60 minutes”), and sometimes has gibberish symbols (which I saw in mid 2020 or 2021).

    1. Mathematically, 92 percent reliability is not “close”. It’s 60 percent higher than their adopted policy of 95 percent. That’s 8 percent of the time out of service rather than 5. The fact that ST says this “close” earns an eye roll from me.

      Of course, the 95 percent per individual device is also arbitrary. The measure should be higher if there are multiple devices required or if there is no redundancy. For example, if two escalator rides are required, each escalator should be 97.5 percent for each escalator for an aggregate 95 percent for the exiting effort. When three or four devices are required just to make one trip in one direction, the target should be even higher.

      1. @Al.S,

        Doing math with deltas is always going to yield misleading results.

        For example, the current ST metric is 95%, but they are only able to make 92% currently. This is a 3% miss the way most people would look at it, but it is a 60% miss if you use the ratio of the deltas the way you did.

        Big problem? Not really. Think of it this way:

        If the ST standard was 99% availability, but they were only able to achieve 98% availability, then by your way of doing math their miss would be 100%.

        Horrible, right? Worse than today, right? It’s unacceptable to have a 100% miss, right?

        But isn’t a 98% availability still better than a 92% availability? What would you rather have? 92% availability? Or 98%?

      2. The 94% is not a metric threshold, it’s just celebrating that it’s far above the 32% that it was when ST took over the tunnel.

      3. Lazarus: I’d rather have conveyance redundancy bot upwards and downwards. .

  7. typo in the list of Montlake routes; Route 271 was intended; Route 272 was a one-way peak-only service deleted in fall 2011, mitigated by the B Line and improvements to Route 271.

    1. I thought I fixed that. The site’s slow response for editing means I end up opening a new tab rather than waiting minutes for it to display the page after a save, autosave, or preview. It registers the change immediately but then takes its time rerendering the page. And when I make a change while an autosave is in process, it doesn’t register it until it gets around to it, so even if I open a new tab it doesn’t have the change, and I can’t press save in the first tab until the autosave is finished, so I either have to wait, or copy the changes to the new tab and save it there. Sigh,

      1. Any idea as to when this will be resolved? The delay in posting comments on our end is still happening. (Thanks in advance for any additional info you can supply.)

      2. I’m not involved in the webhosting. I’ve mentioned it to Frank a couple times. It started a month or two ago.

      3. Mike, if you use Chrome you can click the “X” next to the address bar and then, when the circle appears, click it. The refreshed page will appear immediately.

        There’s something wrong with your provider’s caching algorithm.

  8. It sounds like the central core is pretty gridlocked wirh the buses wandering around voff 3rd ave this weekend.

    1. Despite the frequency reduction due to the damage at Westlake, and the forced transfer at PSS, Link is actually working pretty well right now.

      Maybe all those bus riders who are gridlocked on DT Seattle surface streets should treat Link like a “train bridge” and just bypass all the surface chaos by using Link through DT. It seems to be working.

      1. Or maybe all the fanboys should not have suggested the bus lines as an alternate to the link mess? Link is fine thru downtown as long as you don’t need to cross Pioneer Square.

    2. 3rd Ave was closed between Pike and Union for construction on Saturday (maybe Sunday too), so buses were detoured onto 2nd and 4th depending on direction of travel. It certainly didn’t help with the Link situation but I’m sure the permits were approved months ago.

  9. Not sure if it’s already been discussed but for Sounder they are looking into modifying the contract for off-peak and weekend capacity instead of increasing peak capacity at the upcoming May 11 meeting.

    > Due to the pandemic, the work environment for some commuters has changed as remote work and flex schedules have become prevalent. Sounder commute peak ridership declined during the pandemic and is slowly recovering since COVID restrictions have been lifted.
    > This contract modification exercises an option to have DEA update the Sounder South Strategic Plan (formerly Sounder Development and Implementation Plan) including engaging with stakeholders and the public to re-evaluate the Sounder South capital implementation priorities and consider Sounder service schedule adjustments to include off-peak service and weekend service.

    I’m not sure how much money that would cost though as I assume they’d run into the original problem of BNSF freight trains during the off-peak period. Aka:

    > Sound Transit considered adding later evening trips and more mid-day trips outside the 3.5-hour two commute periods. These concepts would conflict with heavier BNSF freight train operations when their tracks are most congested. As a result, Sound Transit would need to make even more track and signal improvements on BNSF’s corridor than is needed to increase capacity during Sounder’s morning and afternoon peak periods. (Page 28)

    Unfortunately the original Draft Sounder South Strategic Development & Implementation Plan while briefly mentioning them never studied increasing trains off-peak in depth.

    1. Since there are existing development encroachments in downtown Kent and Auburn that make full triple-tracking infeasible, the BNSF right-of-way south of Black River Junction is a poor place for capacity expansion. The way to make things better, for both railroads as well as Sound Transit, is to move the focus of improvements to the UP route. It is just barely wide enough through Pacific to add a second track.

      Of course, double-tracking UP would mean adding grade-separations at several spots throughout the Green River Valley, but it is the best way for ST to gain negotiating clout with BNSF. If ST owned a second track it could “trade” freight slots with BNSF for “through to Tacoma” movements via the western corridor for more Sounder Trains on the eastern one. Currently the high-volume stretch from Black River Junction to Argo is dispatched by BNSF, and all three tracks are used randomly by all three users. It might be best to extend that practice south to East Tacoma where UP merges with BNSF and ST branches to the Bypass.

      This would not be cheap, but it would be “win-win-win” since everyone would see some benefit to operations.

      1. > Since there are existing development encroachments in downtown Kent and Auburn that make full triple-tracking infeasible, the BNSF right-of-way south of Black River Junction is a poor place for capacity expansion.

        Is that true? At least when I check google maps it looks like there’s plenty of space for a third track.

        For around Kent station, the middle is wide enough for another track.
        Then south of Willis street one could build a third track to the west of the existing track You can even see the current ‘west’ track when going southbound moves slightly east to get into the middle position.

        Auburn already has triple tracks.

        It surprisingly looks a lot easier to add a third track to this section than I thought it would.

      2. I don’t think ST3 allocated enough money to sounder to pay for triple tracks. Even if it did, BNSF still owns the land, and would still milk Sound Transit for all it can for the right to build the extra track and use it.

        To avoid dealing with BNSF, sound transit would have to build an entirely separate set of tracks somewhere out of BNSF’s control, essentially Link building a whole new Link line from Seattle to Tacoma for express trains. It’s cost prohibitive and won’t happen.

    2. This is great, WL. A hopeful sign they will actually study the costs of all day weekend service, and we can compare it to the costs of TDLE, capacity expansion and the half a billion to get 6 more riders in Dupont and JBLM.

      That second doc talked about negotiations with BNSF in 2020-22. Any idea where we could find out how those went?

      Also, is there someplace to get some idea of freight volume on BNSF and UP lines other than sitting at The Spar in Old Town and tallying on a legal pad?

  10. A visitor’s opinion of Seattle’s CID. The guy shooting and narrating the video, who is from NY, does walking video tours of various US and international cities, neighborhoods, and transit. It also seems like in some of his other videos he makes a point to visit a city’s Chinatown, if they have one. Anyway, a week ago, he took a short video of our CID. I haven’t been to the CID in a long time, so even I learned a few things. One thing he said that jumped out at me is that the only somewhat nice area of the CID was the part near the light rail station. The video is called Walking Seattle’s Depressing Chinatown-International District in April 2023.

    1. Yeah my limited experience hasn’t been incredibly positive. I don’t know what historic restrictions are in place, but no neighborhood benefits from being completely frozen in amber. I enjoy a few restaurants and a pub down there, but the streetscape would likely improve substantially with some targeted density and development.

      There is a difference between gentrification and providjng undeserved communities much needed amenities and services. It’s much easier to justify those outlays with increased residential and retsil density.

      1. It’s already one of the densest areas in Seattle. It’s highly walkable, like other neighborhoods should be. What amenity or service is it missing?

      2. > Yeah my limited experience hasn’t been incredibly positive. I don’t know what historic restrictions are in place, but no neighborhood benefits from being completely frozen in amber.

        The city has upzoned parts of it back in 2017

        And they’ll be a couple more apartments being built. Most notably recently is uncle bobs place which has 126 affordable units.

        It is kind of a tight path to walk, keeping it stuck in amber will not benefit it, but on the other hand too much change will lead to it being completely replaced aka DC’s chinatown. I think generally Seattle has done alright compared to other cities and I have a hard time thinking of alternatives.

    2. Interesting Sam. For 32 years I would regularly walk to the CID for lunch or meet folks after work for dinner. My wife is picky about Asian food on the Eastside.

      Personally I think the CID is romanticized. It is run down and dirty and many of the street businesses are schlocky. Compared to Chinatown in San Francisco pre-pandemic our CID isn’t just less polished but just dirty and run down. Of course, for decades Seattle mayors have used the CID as a dumping ground for drug addicts and the homeless.

      Based on recent zoning changes in the CID including much higher height limits the CID could see a lot of development and gentrification if downtown Seattle can recover, but then the CID will resemble The Spring Dist. more than a China Town. Of course some on this blog think the plans for The Spring Dist. Is urbanism at its finest (and whitest).

      Way more than a station for DSTT2 on 5th the biggest risk to the character of the CID is its future development under its new zoning. NONE of the existing street level businesses will be able to afford the rents in new, tall mixed use steel and glass buildings that will house Starbucks and high end restaurants. And very few of the existing tenants will be able to afford rents.

      The new development will create more housing units and replace fewer older affordable housing but none of the new market rate development will be affordable for current residents. But DSTT2 will connect SLU and CID which will spur redevelopment of the CID.

      Just like The Central District 30 years ago, the land the CID sits on is too valuable in a high AMI city for this kind of ethnic and run down development, and the cost to redevelop cheap for downtown because so many buildings are effectively tear downs. Look for the CID over time migrating to S. Seattle in pockets that haven’t gentrified yet. Hopefully it will condense in S, Seattle and not disperse.

      1. It seems like one thing the CID might be in need of is a DSA/MID-type organization that supplements what the city does to help maintain the neighborhood. If the CID already has an organization like that, it clearly needs something more, as they seem to have given up combating graffiti. Admittedly, the DSA is better funded than the CID could ever be.

      2. “It is run down and dirty and many of the street businesses are schlocky”

        So clean up and restore it. These problems are fixable. It’s run down because Seattle in general is at a low point.


        I have been to two regional legal seminars in Seattle in the past year. A constant topic for out of towners is the smell of pot on every street corner. When I worked in Pioneer Square I would smell it in the morning on my walk to the office and in the evening on my walk back to my car. And if o went out at lunch. I am familiar with the distinctive smell, although I don’t think I have ever smelled fentanyl or know the smell.

        Pot is legal in Seattle, and I am not a prude when it comes to drugs and pot. But if you smoke pot every day you are not going to do much in life, just like if you get drunk every day, so generally someone else is going to have to support you. . I think a lot of Seattle’s problems can be traced to an attitude that drugs are cool and won’t harm you. That isn’t what I teach my kids.

      4. “Pot is legal in Seattle, and I am not a prude when it comes to drugs and pot. But if you smoke pot every day you are not going to do much in life,”
        You are being a prude with the morality peal clutching in calling people who smoke pot everyday lazy, I know many people who smoke weed and do fine in their everyday life and use it as a means to relax or to stimulate their senses. I’d also point to the people who take it for medical reasons everyday, are you going to call them lazy as well because that is what you’re implying with that attitude. If you don’t like weed, fine but there’s no need to punch down to make yourself look like you’re standing on some moral high ground in calling people who smoke everyday lazy.
        “I think a lot of Seattle’s problems can be traced to an attitude that drugs are cool and won’t harm you. That isn’t what I teach my kids.”
        Nor really, at the end of the day it’s lack of housing and social safety net. What you’re professing is “war on drugs” rhetoric. And I’m saying this as someone who’s fairly progressive on drug policy and researched extensively on the subject at large in regards to the ethics of safe Injection facilities and decriminalization of drugs. You know what helps drug addicts, it’s not bootstrapping and calling then moral failures. Its actually getting them into stable housing situations and getting them into social services. Which is what Switzerland did back in the 90s with their heroin epidemic. They opened clinics to administer help to addicts, who while were given heorin and clean needles were also given access to social services like housing, food assistance, job placement, etc. And had a high success rate in returning addicts back into society. So no it’s not because we think “drugs are cool” in Seattle it’s because we have failed to help our most vulnerable to have afforable housing and turned our back on said people as we pull away life preserver from them in terms of getting them help. It takes a village to raise a child, something is often forgotten in regards to addressing homelessness and addiction.

      5. “Of course, for decades Seattle mayors have used the CID as a dumping ground for drug addicts and the homeless.”

        Citation needed.

      6. Zach, I know people who drink alcohol every day to relax and people who use other drugs to “relax” or achieve some other emotion. I don’t think recreational drugs or booze is a very good way to relax or deal with emotional issues.

        Folks who legitimately smoke pot for medical reasons usually have cancer and are having issues with chemotherapy. We all know “medical marijuana” was mostly a ruse before it was legalized. Some doctor you would never go to if legitimately ill and couldn’t make it as a doctor wrote out a blind script for pot.

        Like I said, pot is legal and folks can smoke it as much as they want. Like cigarette or cigar smoke the smell really doesn’t bother me. If they want to smoke fentanyl to “relax” that is up to them. But I believe if someone needs public assistance they need to be sober because they don’t need any additional burdens on turning their lives around. You strike me as the prototypical young Seattleite who thinks drugs and the drug/street culture is cool and hip. I don’t, and I am guessing you don’t contribute much to the social costs.

        After all if you can’t smoke pot to drive a Metro bus — not exactly neurosurgery or flying a commercial plane — maybe smoking pot isn’t good for you.

        . All I am saying is if someone wants me to pay for their housing, medical/dental, food, utilities, clothes, kids, you name it with the hope they turn their life around I think they should be sober because the people they will be competing against are sober. I also feel for Metro and Link drivers who have to smell the smoke you think passengers have a right to emit because it relaxes them. Have you thought about them?

        It is a dog eat dog world once you get out of school and into it. Like pro sports it is played hard and fast. If you think you or someone can be stoned all day long — because it “relaxes” them — and compete in this game I think you are naive, and all those drug addicts living on the street prove my point.

        The real tragedy is all the young lives that are compromised by drugs and alcohol, especially when young and in school, when folks like you are telling them it is cool and can’t harm them when you have zero medical background and expect someone else to pay to subsidize their broken lives.

      7. Gentrification is when you allow more to be built in places like the CID, AND meanwhile limit development in the “white” neighborhoods. The latter should not be ignored. If people would clamor to live in those new CID apartments because it is “close enough” to Somewhere Else and still “affordable,” it tells you you should allow more affordable housing to be built quicker in that Somewhere Else. If, OTOH, they want to live there because it is the CID, now that actually reinforces the neighborhood.


        I am shocked AJoy you would need a citation to years of the CID complaining about homeless camps, shelters, crime and drugs uptown and the DSA focused in the CID. Did you not follow the CID public comments and opposition to a second station for DSTT2 and the belief by the CID that it has been a dumping ground for social problems downtown? I visited the CID at least once per week for 32 years. Maybe you are not familiar with the CID, but the residents have valid complaints — especially during the pandemic under Durkan —that their community has had a disproportionate number of homeless and drug addicts, a lot of that just being an unwillingness to clean up all the tents until Inslee recently expressed shock at what he saw.

      9. Gentrification comes from “gentry”: the class of people just below the nobility.

        Gentrification occurs when new development and construction significantly increases property values, including housing and retail rents and replaces more affordable construction.

        There are many benefits to gentrification. Higher property values, higher tax revenue for the city, less crime, better schools, much nicer buildings, higher class retail.

        The one downside is displacement, although there are those who don’t think displacement is a downside, or think gentrification is inevitable in a growing city with a high AMI.

        The existing residents can no longer afford the housing or business rents in the new buildings and so must move to someplace else. Often the existing residents are POC, and the new residents white.

        Upzoning already expensive zones or neighborhoods might create more housing or retail space that may be relatively more affordable because it is smaller although new, but it isn’t gentrification because there isn’t a significant increase in property values and rents, and the existing residents are wealthy enough to not be displaced by the new construction.

        Upzoning Laurelhurst isn’t going to create new construction that is affordable for the Black citizens who were displaced from The Central District or Columbia City. The new housing or retail, although smaller, will still be priced for the gentry. That is why Tacomee is correct when he points out the recent upzoning bills are really about white middle class progressives who hope to become the gentry if these expensive SFH are upzoned, although I think the prices will be way too high for the middle class.

        So upzoning expensive SFH neighborhoods will do nothing to ameliorate the effects of real gentrification or house the poor residents who are displaced by gentrification.

      10. I am not naive and again you want to blatantly ignore someone who has actually bothered to research this topic extensively. And tell them they’re wrong despite presented with facts.

        If you want to continue looking at the homeless and drug addicts as if they’re beyond helping because you view them as not worthy of help from tax dollars then maybe ask yourself why America’s issues with homelessness and drug addiction problem is so more visibly appearant compared to European issues with homelessness and drug addiction. Because I can tell you from living there for nearly a year, it’s that social safety net they have compared to the US. They do not go bankrupt from medical bills, they have social services to help the poor, they have stable social housing programs, etc etc etc. The net helps people from falling farther down as quickly and gives people a means to get back up in times of crisis. Instead we demonize the poor and the reasons for poverty and then get surprised when the problem just grows from self inflicted wounds. If you are a terrible steward of your own house’s foundation, don’t be surprised when it starts to crumble and crack from poor maintenance.

        Dog eat dog is also an excuse just to kick people down instead of being helpful. I’ve never kicked down people I’ve known with addiction who needed help and told them “you’re on your own” because I’m not an asshole. Can always help them with everything, no. But it’s better than feeding them to wolves with the dog eat dog mentally..

        Because at the end of the day it takes a village to raise a child.

      11. “”

        We’ve talked about this before. That site isn’t in the CID. I am indeed familiar with the complaints, but I have seen no evidence they are valid. If anything, I find there to be more homeless in the U District than the CID, yet nobody says it is a dumping ground.

      12. @A Joy

        > We’ve talked about this before. That site isn’t in the CID. I am indeed familiar with the complaints, but I have seen no evidence they are valid

        I’m a bit confused, reading the article it seems to support most of the complaints you’re referring to?

        The location of the site was just 2 blocks from Uwajimaya. I guess one could call it “north sodo” but then again that is the location of the “south of CID” station so either way it’s pretty close to CID.

        Regarding past homeless shelters the King County CEO Marc Dones said
        > homeless shelters have historically been “aggressively sited” in Pioneer Square and the Chinatown International District, while pointing out other neighborhoods like Magnolia have none.

      13. Has it occurred to you, Daniel, that maybe there is no longer a need for a “CID”? After all, Asians are six percent of Washington State’s population and eighteen percent! of King County’s. The Asian cultural presence is huge in King County.

        Maybe that’s why it’s dirty and run-down to use your own words. The Asian folks in Washington State are part of the “Establishment”. They don’t need a “Chinatown”.

        The head of the “Congressional Progressive Caucus” is an Indian-American Representative from King County. The Seventh CD doesn’t even include the CID itself and omits Beacon Hill, so Rep Jayapal represents FAR more Euro-Americans than she does Asian Americans. Still, she gets elected with huge majorities every time she runs.

        The entire State has a more-Asian outlook even than California in many ways.

      14. @WL:

        The CID ends at Dearborn, so again the site was not in it. And homeless shelters are currently aggressively sited in the urban core of Seattle, yes. But that is because until recently all homeless relief was being centered there. The centralized service model we were using will take time, money, and additional sites to correct and change. That doesn’t make PS or the CID dumping grounds, nor does it necessarily mean they have the highest density of homeless in the city.


        “Residents and business owners in Seattle’s Chinatown neighborhood protest nearly daily in hopes of blocking what they call a mega-plex homeless shelter on the edge their district. They march to the King County Council board meeting and to the site of the shelter carrying signs that read ‘stop Asian hate’ and ‘systemic racism again’. They’re fighting a big expansion of a 270-bed homeless shelter that has attracted a large unsanctioned tent encampment.

        “It’s one of 15 homeless shelters within one mile of Chinatown. Residents there say enough is enough.

        “We have been feeling the negative impacts of these shelters,” said Tanya Woo, a Chinatown business owner, “all these problems in terms of public safety have just exploded with the encampments, open air drug markets.”

        [See picture of homeless camp].

        “Despite the opposition, King County is moving forward with plans to renew the lease of the existing shelter and continue operating it for 5 more years. Also, the county plans on adding 150 shelter beds by establishing a tiny house village, an RV lot, a sobering center and a shelter in a currently vacant building that will house and treat homeless people suffering from drug addiction and mental illness. The county has budgeted $66.5 million for the project, much of the money coming from federal Covid relief funds.

        “Leo Flor, Director of King County’s Human Services Department, says 750 people live on the streets in and around Chinatown. Bringing some of them inside, including many of the difficult-to-shelter homeless people, is a priority that can’t wait any longer.”

        “Crime has gone up in the neighborhood,” Tran said, “People don’t feel safe coming to the area anymore, our customers don’t feel safe coming, our staff don’t feel safe coming to work.”


        The problems in the CID were exacerbated by Covid and the closure of the congregate shelters in Pioneer Square. Under Durkan the CID became the default area to focus homeless living on the street (they have to go somewhere), and to site treatment shelters. As a result, drug use on the streets, crime and graffiti increased pretty significantly in the CID during this time, and there was very little formal treatment or sheltering due to Covid. As someone who still visited during the pandemic nearly weekly, I saw the increase in the homeless, graffiti, and general decay of the street scene which was made worse by the loss of retail and restaurant patrons. Funky became dangerous and dirty.

        One can argue that the business owners and residents who live in the CID are exaggerating their claims but not that they feel this way, or that they see this issue in terms of race. As someone who over 32 years visited nearly every week I saw the decline, really beginning around 2015 when Seattle’s homeless and drug problems became acute (including Pioneer Square whose streets were crammed with tents) and then worsening during Covid with the loss of the retail/restaurant customer and closure of the congregate shelters.

        I think two other factors that has hurt the CID and will hurt it long term are:

        1. The delay in opening East Link. The CID has been waiting for East Link to bring eastside customers for a long time (which is why they didn’t really care about DSTT2 coming from the south). By the time East Link opens in 2025-26 eastsiders will be accustomed to staying on the eastside.

        2. A switch among eastsiders to shop and dine for Asian food and groceries on the eastside due to the decline of the CID, and lack of commuting to Seattle. There is a very good Uwajimaya in Bellevue now. The CID was always a little funky, in a good and genuine way, but then (and now) it just got dirty, with graffiti and homeless and drug use, and a lot of restaurants never returned after Covid. Eastside Asian grocery stores and restaurants have boomed, and many are very good (and clean) these days with plenty of free parking, (and of course the eastside has a higher percentage of Asians than Seattle), and eastsiders are just wary of travelling to Seattle in general, and out of habit with WFH. Just like A Joy can argue the CID restaurants and businesses are exaggerating the burden on the CID or that it is race based one can argue eastsiders are exaggerating the risks of Seattle, but in the end that is how both groups feel, and so they act on those instincts. I think this customer the CID had been waiting on for a very long time will be very difficult to lure back.

        Mike made a good point. The CID’s future is inextricably tied up in the future of downtown Seattle in general. The CID like most of downtown relied on the commuter customer, restaurant density, and safe streets (certainly compared to anything along 3rd downtown), and that included eastsiders because it is very easy to get to the CID coming west on I-90.

        If those return the CID will do ok although I think the eastside customer is lost forever. If those things don’t return to downtown overall then there is little the CID can do to survive, especially with city and county decisions to locate so many homeless and drug centers there, and their laissez faire approach to drug use on streets from 12th to 5th. Like 3rd Ave. for transit, in some ways uptown Seattle made the decision to sacrifice the CID, along with Sodo.

    3. The city has let drug addicts run rampant in CID. Graffiti and busted windows are everywhere across the CID. Even the area around the Link station is a zombie apocalypse after sunset with drug addicts loitering all around Union Station and the pharmacy across Jackson. The Streetcar at night is full of addicts.

      Asian customers are all heading to Bel-Red for their Asian groceries and restaurants.

      CID is already dead and the city is going to make it more dead by putting the new stations at the County Jail and the Salvation Army.

      Drugs and enabling drug addicts are bad.

      1. I’ve walked around and through Chinatown and Little Saigon a few times this year, and noticed that there are fewer visibly homeless people hanging out on the streets than there were just a few months ago.

        I’ve also noticed several restaurants that still mask up. I recommend Ho Ho’s Seafood Restaurant, which is open late into the night, both for its superior food safety and its food, though I have only tried the vegan options. They are good with handling customers’ dietary restrictions.

        Finding a parking spot in Chinatown generally means you go to a paid lot, even when the street parking is free (and therefore full). I’ve been through the ID/C Station area a bunch of times this year, and had no problems being accosted by anyone, though I’ll occasionally smell some sort of unpleasant smoke.

        The City seems to be getting more people off the street, to where I don’t know. Simultaneously, fentanyl ODs have been rising, suggesting that there are other larger sources of drug ODs that are going on somewhere else (e.g. well-off people’s private residences, where they might be experimenting with something they are unaware is laced with fentanyl).

        I suppose I need to say something about transit. I still recommend avoiding the train, even while it is running at full schedule, if you can ride a bus instead. There is not much you can do to protect yourself on the train besides wearing your own N95. If you have to use the train, travel at off-peak times. On most buses, if you can’t grab a seat at the back, you can still stand, and having your face above everyone else’s is a powerful first line of PPE. But I still recommend wearing a mask. I know too many people who have caught COVID in the past month.

    4. In a quick scan of the titles of some of his other Chinatown tours (Boston, NYC, Montreal, Miami), he doesn’t have anything bad to say about their Chinatowns. For example, he doesn’t (in the video title) call them depressing.

      1. FWIW, Miami doesn’t have a Chinatown, and hence, does not have Chinatown tours. The YouTuber does have lots of videos about Miami Beach though. NYC’s Canal Street is generally regarded as a tourist strip nowadays?

        To your point, though, I don’t notice many Seattle tour companies emphasizing our Chinatown in their agendas, but they do at least stop by the Chinatown gate.

      2. Good point. He did put Miami’s Chinatown in quotes. I guess it’s just a few asian shops. My larger point, as you know, is it’s interesting to get a visitor’s perspective of our CID, especially from someone who is asian, and who visits other cities, including their asian commercial areas, for a living. And, even though I didn’t watch the other chinatown walking tour videos, judging from the titles, he seems to have rated our CID poorly compared to other cities. As I said, sometimes I think it’s interesting to hear a visitor’s opinion. Living here, our judgement can become clouded because we become acclimated to change a neighborhood may experience. That’s why I like hearing what someone else has to say.

      3. Compare the history of our Chinatown to the history of Black Wall Street in Tulsa. I only know of one time Black Wall Street was burned down by a racist white mob.

        Any longhouses on the land that became Chinatown wer burned down by the white settlers in the early days of the settlement of Seattle, and the denizens chased away or killed. The burning down of Chinatown after the railroad workers were seen as no longer useful was the second sacking of Chinatown by a racist white mob. The burning down of what it became next, Japantown, was the third.

        Yes, it is a somber place with a somber history.

  11. We drove to Jazz Alley yesterday at 6 pm and there was very little traffic congestion downtown. I-5 was backed up due to construction but once we got to the exit at Madison it was smooth sailing (the bus lane in the center of 6th is open to general traffic at this time). The trip home along 5th was smooth sailing too now that construction on 5th is done.

    This is the second time in the last few weeks I have driven to downtown at peak weekend hours and had no traffic congestion. Jazz Alley provides complimentary parking in a garage on 6th but there were plenty of street parking spots available. I don’t know if this is due to fewer drivers going downtown or SDOT doing a better job of not actually causing congestion.

    But every time as soon as I start to drive in Seattle my car smells of pot. Seattleites smoke a LOT of pot.

      1. Mike, I was coming from the east and then going north on I-5 away from the stadium. Once we were past the construction on I-5 N. before the exit at Madison the congestion on I-5 cleared up but few were exiting into downtown like we were. I am sure there was congestion around the stadium but luckily we were not going there. We were basically heading to Westlake and there was very little traffic congestion there, which is a good thing IMO, even though The Palace Restaurant just reopened

      2. Evenings have never had congestion downtown. Parking is built for the peak crowds in the day, so there are plenty of spaces in the evening. Have you ever had trouble parking at Jazz Alley before?

    1. “But every time as soon as I start to drive in Seattle my car smells of pot. Seattleites smoke a LOT of pot.”
      Or you got someone’s tailpipe that hasn’t been cleaned and maintained in awhile or just went by an industrial area. Just because you think it smells like pot doesnt mean it is pot.

      1. I was afraid when Washington legalized pot and the recreational pot shops opened that I’d be subjected to a lot more plumes of smoke on the sidewalk, but it hasn’t happened. The number hasn’t increased, and the pot shops have been good neighbors. So I don’t understand how Daniel’s car can reek of pot every time he’s in Seattle.

        What I do smell too often nowadays is fentanyl. That has a completely different smell, like burning rubber.

      2. The marijuana-sales business seems to have caught up with the latent demand, but the current pot recession might have partially been brought on by fears of the product being laced with unadvertised ingredients.

        If you use the stuff, please buy it at a licensed dispensary.

      3. Brent, what is the point of going to a pot “medical dispensary” if you can just go to a recreational pot shop?

      4. You tell me, Daniel. What is the point of going to Mercer Island when one can find most anything one wants in Seattle?

      5. > We drove to Jazz Alley …
        > “But every time as soon as I start to drive in Seattle my car smells of pot. Seattleites smoke a LOT of pot.”

        I’m kind of wondering are you always going to belltown at a specific time?

      6. Brent, I think the “dispensary” on MI is for medical pot although I have never heard of it but will look for it tomorrow.

        I agree with you. Why not just drive to a recreational pot shop in Seattle. Why does anyone get “medical pot” these days when you can buy pot legally at a regular pot shop?

        To be honest, if I were in the market for some bud I doubt I would shop at a pot store on MI and would look for something a bit more anonymous.

  12. I don’t mind that some operators may be roping off the raised sections at each end of the train again, though it may impact peak capacity during the Westlake mess.

    But I wish Sound Transit would implement a compromise: Make those raised sections: “Reserved for riders wearing masks”. That doesn’t just give more immunocomprised riders an opportunity to ride the train, but implements an added layer of protection: gravity. Those sitting in the lower section won’t be a threat.

    That would make a huge difference in my willingness to set foot on the 1 Line any time soon.

    1. And how are you going to enforce that since masks are no longer required except in medical facilities. Maybe have a mask officer on each train.

      It is commentary on our current times that the front section has to be roped off to protect the train operator.

    2. What I saw a few months ago was on a southbound train from Northgate to Mt Baker. They had an employee specifically sit on that section of the car to remove the tape as the train stopped in Westlake. He was not wearing a mask. The security tape was on the north end of the train, so not protecting any driver.

      I’m not sure what the purpose of doing this is, other than to have one pointless employee per train. It certainly doesn’t protect anyone, including the driver at the other end. If the point were pandemic related, the guy removing the tape should have been masked.

      I thought it was some sort of overcrowding prevention thing for people getting on at Westlake.

      1. Over the past several months I have seen the front section of the first train blocked off and this started after an operator became ill from secondhand smoke from Fentanyl on a southbound train. When the train reached Angle Lake the operator was taken to the emergency room. Other operators have complained about the smoke so Sound Transit decided to block off the seats that are next to the operator cabin.

        The Health Department said that there is no affect from the secondhand smoke from Fentanyl but tell that to the operators and especially the one that had to be taken to the hospital. It is inconvenient for the passengers when the train is crowded but that is what society has to deal with.

      2. Only in Seattle is the solution to people smoking fentanyl on the bus or train to move the smokers farther away from the DRIVER.

        The council banned smoking cigarettes indoors because of the risk second hand smoke could cause the same effects as smoking, although like smoking it would take decades. But smoking fentanyl and pot in parks, on streets, at transit stops, on transit itself, no problem.

      3. I’m pretty sure the extra employee at that time wasn’t just there to remove and replace the tape, but rather to enforce people staying out of that section, as a reaction to a fentanyl exposure, not the pandemic.

        Like our science (if not the distribution of said science) has improved with time on COVID, our understanding of the effects of second-hand fentanyl smoke has improved. We don’t know how strong the dose is, so it is best to avoid. And more and more public employees are carrying Narcan, and being urged to have a second dose with them.

        The distribution of science on COVID started going downhill with the advice from the political body known as the CDCP that if you were vaccinated, you’re safe. If you’re not, you needed to keep wearing a mask around others. Hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths can probably be chalked up to the utter stupidity of that board.

        There are still plenty of people who seem to think the vaccines and boosters (or a previous infection) keep them from getting infected and from taking the virus home to their elderly relative, and that masks don’t do anything.

        Then there are others who believe the vaccines do nothing except insert nanobots with chips that will allow the Borg to assimilate all the vaccinated in one fell swoop. No amount of data is going to change their minds.

  13. Light Rail will resume its normal routing on Monday morning and to its regular schedule on Tuesday. On Monday peak service will be every 10 minutes instead of 8 minutes.

    1. Service will be every 10 mins tomorrow, it is expected to go to every 8 mins on Tuesday. This is very good news. Almost normal service.

      Undoubtably this is with 3 car trains, but it is still better than the current situation.

      Good job Sound Transit.

      1. As part of the Passenger Information System being rolled out at stations to finally provide real-time departure (or arrival?) times, is there a live-time feed to apps, so passengers rushing to catch a train can see the times for each station and direction before getting to the station?

        That would be a sweet replacement for the giant ornamental clock that was so clumsily removed. Sorry I blamed the City, when it was a private contractor for the business establishment.

    2. @Jeff Pittman,

      The official announcement says that Link is going back to normal service “as repair work at Westlake Station wraps up ahead of schedule”.

      Is that really true? I was expecting the repairs to take much longer and the temporary scaffolding to be in place for awhile. But if the repairs are “complete”, then ST can go back to normal service with full 4-car trains.

      Anyone know if this is true? Are the repairs actually “complete”? Sounds too good to be true.

      1. Follow up:

        KOMO is reporting the following:

        “According to Sound Transit, crews will continue to work to repair the damage, but in a way that allows the Link Light Rail to fully return to service on Monday morning.”

        So that would imply that repairs are NOT complete. So contradictory information.

        Guess a field trip is required.

      2. Follow up #2: ST is running full 4 car trains. No scaffolding remaining on the platform level, although there is still a water leak and you can see some temporary shoring and/or a debris shield in the ceiling between the girders.

        Station agent said they got enough done to allow them to not have scaffolding on the platform, but that he thinks there is still a lot of work to do from above.

        So from a rider perspective, problem solved! And the trains are really moving today.

      3. It’s early compared to ST’s initial estimate of two weeks, then lengthened to indefinite, and now shortened to 1 1/2 weeks.

        ST says it installed temporary scaffolding, and at some point in the future it will have to interrupt service again to make a permanent fix.

      4. I find the sequence of events and press releases very odd. It’s as if the situation is managed by a PR effort that isn’t matching the actual damage that occurred.

        It is just another chapter where ST overly expresses a longer service interruption due to an operational challenge — only to suddenly announce later that the problem is resolved. It’s very similar to the Columbia City tile replacement saga last year.

        It makes me wonder if the staff expertise at ST is too weak to know how to solve operations problems, driven by a bias to promote from within — rather than hire staff at many levels who have actually managed subways elsewhere.

      5. The agencies have learned it’s better to have a long estimate and finish early than to have a short estimate and risk contingencies. The 3rd Avenue repair was going to be finished at 5pm yesterday, but when I looked at 3pm buses were already back to their regular routes.

      6. @Al.S,

        Only on this blog would anyone complain about ST solving a problem early and getting back to normal service.

        It’s not some evil conspiracy on the part of ST, it’s called competency.

        Link is by far the most important transit route in the entire state. Way above any any other single transit route, regardless of mode, regardless of city.

        ST simply can’t say say service will be restored in, for example seven days, and then have people show up on day 8 and not be properly served.

        But hey, everything is back to normal! The traveling public should be happy.

  14. Does anyone know about a problem with the monorail last night? Or at least a problem with the monorail terminal at Westlake?

    I was told that a bunch of Kraken fans rode Link down to Westlake with the intention of transferring to monorail to get to the game, but some sort of alarm went off in the monorail building and they had to vacate the terminal area.

    Apparently most people either walked from Westlake to CPA, or took an Uber.

    Not good.

    1. A river of King County Metro frequency runs between the Westlake Station area and the west side of the Seattle Center, where Climate Pledge Arena is: RapidRide D, 1, 2, and 13. Those buses are also free for ticketholders of events at the Pledge that day *and* they don’t charge kids to ride.

      Once they discover this river of frequency, they may realize it is faster to get the front-door service than to get a fast ride to the Seattle Center followed by walking across the width of the Center.

      It may hurt you to hear this, but a lot more people ride King County Metro than ride Sound Transit.

      1. @Brent White,

        Yes, there is a “river of frequency” not far from Westlake LR Station, but that “river of frequency” is also on 3rd Ave, and we all know about 3rd Ave.

        Kraken fans heading to CPA for playoff hockey have already dropped a couple of hundred on the evening, and they probably have a couple of hundred more in their pockets.

        These are exactly the sort of transit riders who are going to be, shall we say, “reluctant” to walk towards the smell of fentanyl and the sounds of mental illness to catch a bus. Especially at night.

        And it doesn’t really matter how frequent the service is, they are going to avoid it.

        And those services all big down when they get close to CPA anyhow. The monorail does not.

        Rise above it all!

      2. How many Uber cars does it take to transport dozens of sportsfans when their monorail fails? Are that many cars available simulataneously in central Seattle? How many fans allow the cars to fill up with other fans rather than just taking them individually to the arena? This is the problem of using individual transit for mass transportation, and each person summoning a car individually.

      3. It’s interesting that many people walked to the arena. Seattle Center is a twenty-minute walk from Westlake, and the arena at least five more minutes. I’ve seen people walk that far to their cars from the SODO stadiums and Husky stadium.

      4. “How many Uber cars does it take to transport dozens of sportsfans when their monorail fails? Are that many cars available simulataneously in central Seattle? How many fans allow the cars to fill up with other fans rather than just taking them individually to the arena? This is the problem of using individual transit for mass transportation, and each person summoning a car individually.”

        Mike, I think Lazarus explained this and it really does not have to do with Uber vs. transit or “scaling”.

        These folks took Link to Westlake center with the expectation they would then take the Monorail to the arena, which would be safe. They had the money to take Uber but were not planning on taking Uber or they would have taken Uber the whole way depending on where they live. Probably most are not regular transit riders, most have a suspicious view of downtown Seattle and especially 3rd and Pine/Pike, and certainly are not bus riders.

        If folks chose to walk from Westlake all the way to the arena rather than walk to 3rd and Pike to catch a bus that tells you everything right there.

        You are probably correct: Uber/Lyft were likely overwhelmed with demand, which affects their price although my guess is some of the customers were willing to pay anything considering how expensive Kraken tickets are during the playoffs and a lot of the fun is the pre-game activities, and Uber/Lyft don’t really “scale” with a stadium crowd without advance notice, because one form of transit Kraken fans will ride (Monorail) is not working, and the other form (buses) they won’t ride in this part of town, Period.

        So I would only add this to Lazarus’s comment: I am not sure who is most to blame: the Monorail for not making sure it operated during a time it knew would be critical (after all, how many playoff games are there at CPA), or downtown Seattle and Metro buses for providing a service folks would rather walk miles than take when they are frantic to get to the game.

      5. @Mike Orr,

        “ It’s interesting that many people walked to the arena. Seattle Center is a twenty-minute walk from Westlake”

        It’s not interesting at all, it’s actually reasonable and practical. I’m in fact one of those people.

        I learned that lesson a long time ago. Back when Paul Allen was rebuilding the DT stadium and the Seahawks were playing at Husky Stadium for one year.

        Paul Allen was offering free shuttles to and from the stadium. I thought I would be both responsible and ecologically friendly and take the free shuttle. It didn’t work out so good.

        The shuttles went on the surface streets through the UW campus, they were incredibly hot, they were incredibly slow, and they were packed. It wasn’t long before I had to throw up, which I managed to control (don’t ask me how).

        It was a horrible experience, and at the end of the day it was actually slower point-to-point than parking my car 20 mins away and just walking back to my car. Honest. Walking 20 mins was faster and more comfortable than taking the free bus.

        How bad was it really?

        We were playing the Raiders and I was wearing Seahawk gear. Somehow my free ticket ended up being in the visitor section. I was surrounded by Raiders.

        At one point the Raider fan next to me pulled out this knife with a 10 inch blade. Then he pulled out a venison summer sausage from his other coat pocket and started cutting off slices and offering them to me off the blade. No kidding.

        At the end of the day I actually felt more comfortable eating slices of meat off a 10 inch knife blade held by a Raider fan than I was riding on Paul Allen’s free bus. The bus was that bad.

        The only bus experience I’ve had that was worse was in Nepal, and it involved a lot of people, a bunch of chickens and some planks they used to span the aisles for additional seating.

        I’ve learned that I can avoid post game Buses Stuck in Traffic by just walking 20 minutes. In Nepal I’ve learned to just shut my eyes and block out the sounds of the chickens. Or just pay for a driver.

  15. A good rundown on just what $ 1500 rents in Seattle ….

    It’s hard to tell just what the economy is going to do and if Seattle is going to lose or gain population. Right now new apartments need to rent for something between $2000 and $2500 a month, adding in the costs of land, construction and debt.

    I believe this $2000 rent floor doesn’t have much to do with zoning and more about the high costs of labor, materials, land, but most of all, banking. Zoning plays a very small role in any of this. Borrowing millions of dollars does.

    Right now the price of buying a house is falling (good) but the monthly mortgage payment is rising (bad) because the cost of borrowing is going up. I think most newer apartment units built over the last 15 years are locked into lower interest loans that pencil out with lower (say $1600 to $1800 a month) rent, but moving forward rents on new units have to fallow interest rates.

    Housing, by and large, is controlled by credit, not supply and demand. There’s no way to build a city into cheaper market rate housing. In bad economic times, less units are built and rents are flat and inflation helps renters and homeowners (homeowners much more however).

    Maybe Seattle has a stagnate economy for awhile and inflation lowers the actual cost of housing? At the moment, $1500 doesn’t buy 500 square feet….

    1. The defining characteristic is AMI, followed by population.

      Boston: 320 sf even though many on this blog have extolled Boston for its liberal land use rules and density, “especially missing middle housing”. One method of affordability is to build smaller and smaller, which Seattle and Boston are doing. Of course, people could also choose to not live alone which increases housing costs.

      San Francisco: 360 sf.

      Brooklyn: 342 sf.

      NJ City: Below 400 sf.

      Queens: Below 400 sf.

      Bellevue: 484 sf.

      Seattle: 453 sf.

      What is missing from the survey is just where in each city the apartment is located, and how new the construction is. There is a big difference in rent prices among neighborhoods in Seattle and Bellevue, both very large cities, and in every other city in the survey. My guess is much of the construction used in the survey is newer because such small units were not built as much in the past.
      Bellevue is essentially the same as Seattle which is interesting. I would not have thought Bellevue had many apartments this small.

      Of course, $1500/mo. in rent is around 15% of Seattle’s AMI of $115,000, and $1500/mo. is less than 15% of Bellevue’s AMI when federal guidelines consider 30% of gross income spent on housing the affordability threshold. $1500/mo. for rent in Seattle is 30% of $60,000/yr. gross income. Living alone compounds living in small spaces because each unit must devote sf to a separate kitchen, bathroom, living area, and so on. But if you told me a person who insisted on living alone earning 50% of AMI ($60,000/yr) could get a newish studio apartment in a nicer neighborhood in Seattle for $1500/mo. I would think that is pretty good, and so would federal guidelines for housing affordability.

      1. I should also note every city with a lower sf per $1500/mo. rent than Seattle has greater density than Seattle. In fact, there is almost a correlation between density and the sf one gets for $1500/mo., which is basically a correlation between housing costs and density, but the opposite than many on this blog believe: greater density = higher rents per sf. Ironically, in Seattle the denser the rental neighborhood the higher the rent per sf.

    2. “I believe this $2000 rent floor doesn’t have much to do with zoning and more about the high costs of labor, materials, land, but most of all, banking.”

      Labor, materials, land, and banking went up 40% between 2012 and 2019? Why are rents the only things that reflect this increase? Why didn’t all labor and materials go up the same? Seattle rents since 2020 are mostly flat, with some smaller inconsistent changes in some neighborhoods, so the $1500/$2000 rents are not caused by the pandemic, post-pandemic inflation, or an extraordinary increase in property taxes.

      “Right now new apartments need to rent for something between $2000 and $2500 a month, adding in the costs of land, construction and debt. ”

      You mean that’s what landlords want to charge and can find enough renters for. We don’t know how much of that is the cost of land, construction, and debt. We just know they’ll raise it as far as they can get away with. We also know that older buildings — which don’t have any new land, construction, or debt costs — are also going up. And the older buildings would go up at least as much even if the new buildings weren’t built.

      1. “AMI is an effect as much as it is a cause. Rising rents pushed lower-income people out of Seattle and artificially raised the AMI. If there had been more vacant units for them to go to, they wouldn’t have pushed out, and current AMI would be lower.”

        That is true Mike and the definition of gentrification.

        The same thing happens with new construction in a developed urban area with few vacant lots to develop. Average median housing costs go up for two reasons:

        1. New construction is always the least affordable per sf, and is geared toward AMI+ because builders make more money building higher end housing and their are folks who can afford it and want it. So more units are added above the AMI.

        2. The new housing replaces older more affordable housing, so fewer housing units are below the AMI.

        So average median housing prices go up. As the Seattle rep. noted during the hearings for HB 1110, the increase in units above AMI is not a problem, it is the loss of units below AMI.

        “If there had been more vacant units for them to go to, they wouldn’t have pushed out, and current AMI would be lower.” True again, except those “vacant” units are not the new construction, and those are exactly the units that get replaced by new construction.

        I don’t know if anything can be done about gentrification in a city like Seattle that has significant growth and a rapidly rising AMI. As I have noted before, there are a lot of benefits of gentrification. Lower housing costs are not going to lower high costs for food, clothes, entertainment, healthcare, and everything else that is higher in Seattle because of the high AMI.

        IMO new or more market rate housing, especially in the most expensive neighborhoods on lots with strict regulatory limits, won’t stop gentrification and it won’t create any affordable housing. If the article Tacomee links to proves anything it is density in a high AMI and populous city isn’t going to lower housing costs or create more housing below AMI. The reality is it creates less housing below AMI, with AMI constantly rising, also not a bad thing for a city.

        So we are both correct: rising AMI begets higher AMI because those below the AMI are driven out. And new housing targeting an ever-increasing AMI is priced for those with AMI+ incomes and replaces the older and more affordable units the poorer folks once lived in before being driven out.

        I know a lot of people who think this is a good thing for a city: attract the most productive workers who create the most wealth that is spread to restaurants, stores, arts, culture, and small businesses, and move the less productive or non-productive someplace else. After all, who wants to live in the cities in the articler with the most sf for $1500/mo.? I know Seattle’s past city councils would claim they don’t believe in anything so capitalistic, but their policies did exactly that for decades as they pursued wealthy companies and newer and bigger construction for more and more tax revenue.

        I don’t care what city we are talking about, if that city is one of the top ten for the least amount of sf you get for $1500/mo. you don’t want to live there if you are poor because not just housing, but everything is very, very expensive.

      2. Mike Orr,

        Actually we do what the cost of land, construction and debt are. It’s not rocket science. Talk to any builder or commercial real estate person. New apartments have around a $2000 floor and the only solution to falling rents is…. stop building units.

        You sound like those I-135 kids. There’s no evil cabal of landlords stealing your money here. There’s not some huge profit that’s going to be released with social housing….. like some nonprofit is going to start kicking out apartments that pay for themselves with $1200 month per unit rolling in.

        I’ve have friends building low income housing in Tacoma and Pierce County and it’s costing over to 375k a unit. And these guys are really good builders trying to keep costs down. So what’s the current 30 mortgage on borrowing 375k? Where do you think I’m coming up with that $2,000 a month rent floor? See, it’s not rocket science……

        From the link below…

        “Pierce County Affordable Housing Supervisor Brian Schmid said affordable housing units can cost up to $400,000 per unit, so projects like this help that expense.”

    3. “The defining characteristic is AMI, followed by population.”

      AMI is an effect as much as it is a cause. Rising rents pushed lower-income people out of Seattle and artificially raised the AMI. If there had been more vacant units for them to go to, they wouldn’t have pushed out, and current AMI would be lower.

      “One method of affordability is to build smaller and smaller, which Seattle and Boston are doing.”

      There’s also the other side of the equation: demand. 90% of the US is not building enough housing to keep up with demand. In the early 2010s it was still just the large coastal cities, but sometime around 2019 or 2020 the rest the country reached a tipping point too. Boston and Seattle are just part of it.

      “people could also choose to not live alone which increases housing costs.”

      In the 1960s people could raise a family on one income. In the 1980s a single person could get an apartment on a lower middle-class income. In the 2000s it was harder but still possible. In the 2020s a lot those people no longer can. It’s not just that some people live alone; something else is happening. Telling everybody to get a roommate works for some people, but it’s too much of a sledgehammer to work for everybody’s situation. And you let people it doesn’t work for fall through the cracks. And you still haven’t solved the fundamental problem: prices are rising faster than people’s incomes. That can’t continue forever. The conclusion would be several times more people living in tents than we currently have.

    4. Good luck having working class people live in Seattle as the rents rise. Seattle is going to end up with another crisis on it’s hands if developers think that selling apartments for $2000/month is reasonable. And no new “luxury” apartment is really worth that price, no matter how much developers try to dress it up and love to live in denial about calling many of those new apartments “luxury”. Unless those apartments are made of very high quality materials, they honestly shouldn’t be allowed by law to call themselves luxury. I’ve lived in a “luxury” apartment and the building already had serious cracks in the walls within two years of opening along with the cheapest materials for the bathroom.

      1. Developers will ask what the market will bear. It has little to do with their mental state. We just need to build more housing. All types. Everywhere.

      2. Daniel’s hood sounds like it is especially in need of removing all zoning. 5 minute walk to Link and 15 minutes to downtown? Should be towers higher than Bellevue.

      3. Cam, virtually no one in my neighborhood rides transit (and they don’t even know what East Link means) and no one goes to Seattle anymore even though I-90 is wide open. MI can’t even get developers to build 5 story mixed use buildings on vacant town center properties despite 2012 to 2019 being the golden age of development in this region. We virtually have no intra-Island transit.

        A developer that advertised a new mixed use or multi-family development on MI based on access to the 554,550, 216 et al or East Link — whenever it opens— so folks can take transit to downtown Seattle is one dumb ass developer, which is why no developer does that (although financing is as rare as hens teeth these days).

        You were right that that kind of development is better suited to FW along the 574 where at least the housing will be remotely affordable.

        If you want transit oriented development (TOD) you need to start with folks who need or want to ride transit. With WFH that isn’t the Eastside these days. You are trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

      4. Zach B,

        I could care less if working people can afford to live in Seattle. People have to do what’s right for them personally. If the tech boys of Seattle want to build bar tending robots…. who’s to stop them? I’ve spent much of my life around contractors, sub-contractors, workers of every stripe and hue… These people owe Seattle nothing.

        Seattle is more or less played out. The opportunity in Dallas or Central Florida is way better for younger people than Seattle (tech industry aside). Other than Cali and NYC, Seattle has less opportunity than anywhere in the US. There’s no social engineering, zoning changes, transit project that’s going to change that.

      5. No harm in removing all zoning then, is there.

        See what the market really thinks, not what you say it does.

      6. ‘I could care less if working people can afford to live in Seattle. People have to do what’s right for them personally. If the tech boys of Seattle want to build bar tending robots…. who’s to stop them? I’ve spent much of my life around contractors, sub-contractors, workers of every stripe and hue… These people owe Seattle nothing.”

        Man such a defeatist attitude to have, i guess we should turn our backs on the people who actually keep the lights on for everyone else and bring actual culture to the city. Telling people that they should expect nothing and that we should just turn the city in a sad devoid of personality soulless husk is some very sad nihilism that just proves how much the city relies on the working people to keep itself alive. And this is how you get a city to turn into another “No fun Vancouver”. If you want that dream, go right ahead but maybe ask yourself that the next time your favorite local spots are forever gone due to that attitude of letting things die and fade away that you liked about the city.

      7. “I could care less if working people can afford to live in Seattle.”

        Do you drive in Tacoma or do you wait an hour for a bus?

        “People have to do what’s right for them personally.”

        And that can mean not living where buses are hourly or end at 7pm.

      8. Cam Solomon,

        I’m for zoning reform…. but it doesn’t add any construction workers or billions in credit to really change things. I doubt there’s any extra capacity to add to the system, building-wise or investment-wise.

        The governor wants to bond something like 4 billion to build more low income housing… that’s a pretty good number for helping Spokane. The rest of the State would be outta luck I guess. At 333K a unit, how much housing does 4 billion buy anyway?

        Home ownership is the most powerful economic engine ever built because it uses personal credit to drive growth. Otherwise it takes huge amounts of money from the government or investors to develop real estate. It’s not a question of zoning, it’s more of a question of banking.

        Has zoning been used by current home owners to restrict growth and drive up housing costs? Sure, it has caused problems, but changing zoning doesn’t make the building costs per sq ft go down very much.

        The real solution is owner occupied housing because that’s surest way to generate cash. As of now, there’s no way to sell your backyard to developer and keep your house. There’s your solution, because buying a house and it tearing down costs a million dollars (or more) up front. Selling your backyard for 100K or more and building another house is way cheaper. As long as Seattle doesn’t run out of potential home owners…..

      9. Mike Orr,

        I know a guy who’s owned a pizza place for a long time. I wouldn’t say he’s a good boss. He often thinks his employees are like family…. but with no health insurance, well, it’s a crap job. He’s a big talker about community… but then, no health insurance for the poor bastards who work him.

        At some point, all the people who do crap jobs are not going to afford to live in Greater Seattle. I think they should just shove off tomorrow for a better life in place where housing isn’t so $#&^%*( expensive. Those people owe Seattle nothing. I wish them well. Try Texas.

        Greater Seattle isn’t much of a community. It’s an expensive, world class city where everybody is looking out for #1. Like L.A. Like NYC. Look at those homeless tents. That’s income disparity, not community.


        Minimum wage in TX is $7.25. Housing is around 1/3 of Seattle. Before we go writing off Seattle remember the apartments in the link Tacomee posted in Seattle are around 50% of AMI and clearly designed for someone living alone in a nice white neighborhood.

        NYC has much higher prices across the board and there are lots of pizza workers. By the way, a good bartender or waitress can make 6 figures and pay around 12% in income taxes in either city.

        If you are willing to work in Seattle you can earn a good income although you might not be able to live in Laurelhurst. The biggest problem is the city council allows the working class neighborhoods to become unlivable, because progressives don’t like the working class.

        But don’t imagine TX is a bowl of cherries for the working person.

      11. @DT,

        The guaranteed minimum wage in TX is indeed $7.25 per hour, but there are actually exemptions to that. Lots of them.

        For example, the cash minimum wage for tipped workers in TX is actually $2.13 per hour. That is what the employer must pay you. The remaining $5.12 to get to the $7.25 figure can come from tips. Essentially the first $5.12 per hour a worker earns in tips can be subtracted from your wage.

        Ever wonder why you see so many cars with Idaho plates around town? Some are here precisely because Idaho has a minimum wage law similar to TX.

        In Idaho the guaranteed minimum wage is $7.25, but the cash minimum wage for tipped workers is $3.90. And there are other exemptions too.

        Under 20 years old and want a job in Idaho? The employer can pay you $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days. Which means that if you are are a student and work summers to pay for college, then your minimum wage will never be higher than $4.25.

        Or, if you are really poor and need to work while going to college, then your minimum wage is set at 85% of the Idaho guaranteed minimum, or $6.16 per hour. That is the wage for a full time college student in Idaho.

        That one I never understood. Why penalize some poor kid who is going to school and trying to better themselve? But I guess the goal of these sorts of laws is to support the employer and not the employee.

        Contrast this to Washington state where the minimum wage is $15.74 (state level) and tips don’t get subtracted.

        So, ya, that Idaho worker can drive across the border and get an instant raise of at least 120%, and much more if they are tipped or wish to work in Seattle.

        So ya, lots of Idaho plated cars around town. And that won’t be changing anytime soon.

  16. Recent drone tour of Federal Way Link. And since it was recently discussed here, Star Lake station is at about 2:30. At the end of the video, the Federal Way station area looks like it’s ready to see a lot of development in the coming years.

    1. Where do they need the long bridge for the slidey spot? 2:25?

      Rolled through a couple times this weekend on 574. There are a couple decent size apt complexes, but room for so much more….


        This is an ideal area for large apartment complexes and supportive and subsidized housing. On the plus side cheap land near transit, which results in usually cheap construction leading to more affordable rents. On the downside high crime (98% of U.S. communities have lower crime rates) and poor public schools. I am not familiar with the walkable retail along this part of the 274 or public parks.


    This is exactly where I used to work in Pioneer Square, and where each day I would walk from my parking garage to work and back, sometimes talking on a cell phone. Although the time of stabbing was 7 pm that would have been in broad daylight. Fortunately, the “multiple” stab wounds are not life threatening. Not great publicity for tourism.

    I still have an unused gift certificate from a client to Shawn O’Donnell’s in the base of The Smith Tower. Don’t think I will be using that anytime soon.

    1. In 2022 alone there were there were 28 deaths or serious injuries from crashes in automobiles occurring just on the route from Mercer Island to Pioneer square.

      None of them on a bus. About a quarter on the island itself.

      By your logic, I assume you will no longer be daring set rubber on I-90 Westbound.

      1. Pretty much, I see a lot of suburbanites talk about how scary and dangerous Seattle is and yet I’m more concerned with getting injured or killed in the suburbs than I am in the city because modern crossovers and SUVs are quite frankly more deadly than many stabbings or shootings statistics because vehicular injuries or deaths are often are very preventable with good car and street design. But instead we have cars that are designed more like tanks and battering rams. And you can barely or never see a small child coming compared to a small compact or sedans.

      2. Yup, while biking, I get some combination of close-passed, cursed, almost-doored, right-hooked, left-hooked, and t-boned on a weekly basis. As a pedestrian, I get to experience drivers in a huff that I’ve slowed them down from going 20+mph over the speed limit while in a crosswalk, drivers blowing stop signs and lights, drivers taking their “free” right turn at 30+mph while on their cell phone and not even looking out their windshield, blocking buses at stops, almost right-hooking buses, blocking bike lanes, and blocking sidewalks basically daily.

        Fentanyl? Doesn’t even enter my consciousness as a safety problem for anyone but the user. Just give them space and I guess be ready with naloxone if you have it if it’s needed, or 911 if you don’t have it; it’s far more dangerous to the user than anyone else. It’s the addiction to personal vehicles that is really killing people.

  18. Last weekend we attended a party with a number of Amazon employees. Here is what they told me about return to office work.

    1. A few were very senior executives who have been going to the office for some time. They have enjoyed the easy commute (they drive), but usually head in around 6 am anyway.

    2. Amazon is allowing some teams to remain 100% “virtual”. There is an internal application process. One person’s team with members all over the U.S. has been allowed to remain 100% virtual.

    3. By far the biggest complaint is what a terrible location SLU is for commuting and access, whether transit or SOV. These folks have not had to commute for a while and find it abusive. Mercer, I-5, Denny, are just poorly designed and no matter what mode and what distance the commute will be at least an hour. Safety was not an issue, but the lack of retail in the area is. Many were surprised at how dead the area is having not been there in a few years. A ghost town, some said.

    4. Although Amazon told employees the office arrangement would be set up to focus teams and create some space among employees for those worried about Covid the office was just as they left it: crammed. One of the problems is every team wants to work Tuesday — Thursday, so the buildings on those days are packed.

    5. Morale is pretty low with the layoffs and low stock price which makes up a pretty big percentage of compensation.

    6. A number of employees figured Amazon would remain virtual forever and so bought houses in places they cannot commute from, from Cle Elum to SnoCo to Kitsap Co. to Pierce Co., especially to SLU which has terrible access anyway, and they don’t know what to do. A lot of employees abandoned SLU apartments or condos when Amazon went virtual. There is some talk about satellite offices but that defeats the purpose of having teams together a few days/week.

    7. The employees I talked to thought they were more productive working virtually because they were not wasting 2 hours/day to commute to work and back, which naturally they hate. Even when in the office they are on the computers basically all the time. After all, they have been doing their jobs for three years virtually, so now they do it in an office rather from home, and even in the office most meetings are by Zoom.

    8. The biggest question is Bellevue and Amazon’s two huge towers there. Originally Amazon said 25,000 new employees would be hired to work in Bellevue, but with the layoffs that is not happening. Then Amazon put the buildings on hold to reconfigure them for partial office work. Amazon also told employees they could choose whether to work in Bellevue or Seattle, but how that works logistically is unknown because teams would be split. Amazon has announced 2000 Seattle employees will be moved to the Bellevue office. If that number increased to around 20,000 that would really help out congestion in SLU and free up office space in Seattle to give employees more space for safety reasons, and cut down the commute for eastsiders. Amazon employees I spoke to would be more open to a few days in the office per week if in Bellevue if the parking is subsidized or there is a company shuttle because the retail is so great around there but dead in Seattle. By far the biggest game changer is the offices in Bellevue, when will they open, and who will be allowed to work there, which will reduce traffic congestion and space issues at SLU since Bellevue will now be staffed with Seattle workers.

  19. Route 162 will be suspended May 8-12 due to the driver and bus shortage. This is the peak express from Kent East Hill to Kent Station, Kent-Des Moines P&R, and downtown Seattle.

    It seems trains have won out over buses stuck in freeway traffic for getting downtown, especially since ST dropped its low-income and RRFP Sounder fares to be the same as Metro’s. That fare decrease is reaping savings for Metro.

    1. Do you think this suspension will become permanent? Because that route never really made that much sense.

      Given the trouble Metro is having filling operator seats, I could see this route being a candidate for a longer term suspension, or being a candidate for some sort of a restructure to become a feeder to Sounder and/or the 150.

      If Metro can’t solve their operator shortage relatively soon, they should look at opportunities to more aggressively feed riders onto Link.

      One operator on a 4-car Link train can transport as many riders as 10 operators on 10 Metro artics. That is some powerful math.

  20. Sisleyville update.

    In the mid 2010s several rental houses in the Roosevelt neighborhood owned by Hugh Sisley — “the worst slumlord in Seattle” — were condemned, bulldozed, and replaced by grass lawns covering the whole lot. Sometimes building foundations were still visible in the grass. At the subsequent Roosevelt Link upzoning debate, some neighbors opposed an upzone to prevent Sisley from making a killing on redeveloping his neglected lots. The upzone went through but at a smaller scale than originally planned.

    Sam recently asked whether the remaining vacant grassy lots are still there. I was in Roosevelt today so I took a look.

    1. On the northern side of 65th, the whole block between Brooklyn and 14th is fenced off and overgrown. Google Maps shows 8 former houses (house numbers). This is a block south of Roosevelt High School, although another house is in between.

    2. On the southeast corner of 65th & 14th, two former houses are fenced off and overgrown. This is next to Rising Sun Produce (my favorite produce shop).

    3. On the southeast corner of 65th & Brooklyn, two former houses have been replaced by a surface parking lot. It has gravel ground, and signs for a pay-parking company. This is a block from the Link station, so it may be used as a P&R or for local parking.

    Between #2 and #3, and east of #1, are two recent mixed-use developments. I don’t know whether these were Sisley properties or not.

    On the northeast corner of 65th & 15th, a whole block is fenced off. The western half has building foundations and is overgrown. The eastern half has the now-vacant antiques shop building.

    In the overgrown part on 15th was formerly a small white building. In the 1980s it was Kitchy Koo, a punk accessories shop. When I was in high school a classmate and I went in there. He asked for a staple or paper clip. The clerk gave him one and asked why. He said, “Jewelry,” and folded it into an earring. This was in the era where punkers wore white T-shirts with band names written with black marking pens. Whatever happened to that? I haven’t seen a shirt like that in decades. Kitchy Koo later closed, and the building remained, unmarked, decaying for decades. Now the building is gone. Fond memories, Kitchy Koo.

    1. People — usually couples — buy a SFH like they do a car: based on the monthly payment they can afford.

      But there are some differences.

      Most assume a SFH over time will not depreciate when cars depreciate rapidly. The buyers of a SFH get advantageous tax treatment and don’t pay sales (REET) tax.

      The monthly payments generally reflect AMI (X 2 if a couple) which determines how much a couple can borrow. When mortgage rates go up SFH prices tend to go down even though the monthly mortgage payment is the same.

      Two other factors are during the pandemic the stock market, especially tech, soared which gave buyers with stock options or grants more money for a down payment so they could afford more house.

      However today there is a shortage of SFH on the market because owners don’t want to give up a sub 3% 30 year mortgage which is like printing money for a SFH owner in this region.

    2. That’s interesting! Thanks for checking that out, Mike. It’s strange so many properties are fenced-off and overgrown, especially in that neighborhood, being so close to a light rail station. It’s a great place for housing. It sounds like he had to demolish his homes, but didn’t sell the parcels to developers, and is just holding on to them? Very odd.

      1. It’s strange so many properties are fenced-off and overgrown, especially in that neighborhood, being so close to a light rail station.

        It is relatively common, unfortunately. Look at that site Lazarus mentioned and filter out the SFH property, and look at projects that have been approved. Many of have been built, or are in various stages of development. But some just sit there. Most aren’t close to a Link station, but that really doesn’t change things. These are places where development is common, and happening all around it. If you know the neighborhood, you recognize these. For example: This was approved in 2015, but still sits as an empty lot. This used to be a fly fishing store. I believe the owner applied for a permit around ten years ago to build some apartments (with ground floor retail). It has sat empty, and now it looks like the owner is trying to subdivide it.

        In the first case, I have no idea what happened. They had already gone through the approval process, and seemed ready to go. But development stalled, despite places around there going from being bought to being completely built during the same period. Who knows why. The second place may have been help up with permitting. It is probably easier to subdivide, and then build townhouses than it is build an apartment building (I’m pretty sure the permitting process is easier). This is speculation though; in both cases it isn’t clear why these places have stalled.

        This is blight. The city should be ashamed of places like this, but there seems to be little concern. Instead there is worry about too much development, not too little. It just shows there are other problems besides zoning. The city should have a department trying to help properties like these get developed. This might mean simplifying the development process, but also dealing with other issues that can cause big delays like these.

    3. @Mike Orr,

      There is a website called “Seattle in Progress”. It will show you which properties have applied, been issued permits, and are under construction. Follow the links and you can see the conceptual plans for each application.

      Turn off the SFH permits using the filter. There are too many of them.

      Most of those grassy lots are permitted. The pandemic has sort of slowed things down a bit. Both due to uncertainty and due to financing. But some projects are still progressing.

      The website is reasonably accurate. Seattle only though.

      1. Cool site. Leaving the SFH filter on does show you who is doing an AADU or DADU. It seems popular. Also, taking a general look at activity in Ballard north to Crown Hill, more development in West Woodland and the 15th Ave corridor than in Old Ballard and the 20th or 24th Ave corridor. West Woodland is going crazy with development.


      2. Leaving the SFH filter on does show you who is doing an AADU or DADU. It seems popular.

        There is a lot of AADU/DADU work going on in the city. Some of it retains the existing house, but a lot of is essentially a brand new triplex. The situation is rather goofy, in my opinion. The zoning doesn’t allow for small apartments, or normal duplexes. Even when it does, the regulations are more difficult than those for ADUs. The zoning lot sizes are big, so townhouses don’t make sense. It is just much easier to build ADUs, so they do. We will end up with lots of these weird triplexes, all with the same basic form. You have one unit that is considerably bigger than the other two (which I think is by law). Then you have a unit connected to it. Sometimes this is a basement apartment, but sometimes it is simply connected by a small walkway (with doors that will likely be locked on both sides all the time). Then of course, you have the DADU, which is basically just another house. Often times these are sold as three units (three condos). For example:

        Main unit:

        I can’t find the listing for the AADU. My guess is it was sold before the other places were listed. I have seen several of these go up, but fairly recently, so I they aren’t for sale yet.

      3. Also, taking a general look at activity in Ballard north to Crown Hill, more development in West Woodland and the 15th Ave corridor than in Old Ballard and the 20th or 24th Ave corridor. West Woodland is going crazy with development.

        In terms of number of properties, this is true. But in terms of number of units, it isn’t. A lot of the development in West Woodland is subdivisions, which will likely lead to townhouses. This is nice, but it isn’t even the most number of units they allow (see previous comment about how townhouses are easier to build from a regulatory standpoint than small apartments). If you actually click on the links and see what is being built, there are still more to the west. This is striking, given how many existing developments there are to the west. At some point you fill things up.

        This has ramifications for both neighborhoods. When the dust settles, the main part of Ballard will have a mix of high-density housing, a medical center, and city-wide cultural attractions. East Ballard (or West Woodland) will be a mix of medium density housing and industrial use (some of which include breweries). It is possible that West Woodland will undergo further rezoning, which could lead to more density, but that becomes difficult. It is much easier to leapfrog from a density standpoint. It is common to have an old house that sits on a big (or even medium size) lot. At worst the house is nice, and you lose the value of it. But with a nice townhouse, the house itself takes up a much bigger part of the lot (sometimes almost all of it). Five townhouses are almost always worth more than a single house (and yard). Then you have the lot size of the new development. It is one thing to build a six-story apartment on a 5,000 square foot lot — it is another to build one on a lot that is less than 1,000 square feet. Thus you have to deal with more sellers, which raises the price even more.

        All the while, the area with more employment and population density — the area that attracts more visitors from around the city — would have no station. At best, you build something similar to Beacon Hill, while the equivalent of Capitol Hill would have no station. For reference, Capitol Hill has about four times the ridership of Beacon Hill. Oops.

      4. This site map is very interesting. Thanks for posting.

        I don’t think the development is surprising (at least to me in this market).

        1. Builders are doing it for the NET profit. I don’t think I have met a Democrat let alone progressive builder, and I know quite a few.

        2. Density or more units/lost does not automatically mean greater net profit.

        3. Builders want the least risk, because risk is priced into the loan, everyone still has the scars from 2008, if you can get a loan.

        4. Gentrification in an urbany area (and this area is really suburban) is good, especially if the lot is vacant, although if not displacement of the current housing/retail tenants is likely.

        5. Building smallish multi-family housing on smallish SFH lots is a bit of a no man’s land. The big builders and developers don’t want it, the regulatory limits are tough (50% GFAR in Seattle I believe) so mostly SFH builders build this kind of development, and it is not their forte, the risk is much higher, and it can tie up capital for decades.

        Now the financial incentives:

        1. I doubt any builder can get a loan for a multi-family housing project (apartments) in this market. Period. Regional banks will not loan on these projects right now with the fed requiring them to mark to market their current low interest development loans. If they could, the loan would have a punishing interest rate because these loans unlike a SFH are not easily securitized and sold.

        2. There is real concern Seattle will have an apartment glut soon. Population growth looks flat, and vacancy rates are rising.

        3. There is incredible demand for a SFH, and a DADU is a good way to help support that purchase.

        4. MOST IMPORTANTLY, if this is a speculative apartment project with very high interest rates the builder is funding the project and must hold the loan for decades while renting out the units, or find someone who wants to buy such a project in Seattle at this time, which means they must find financing.

        What I can’t tell from the map is who is financing the construction on the SFH lots (SFH/DADU). (Most listed permit applicants are the builder although they may not be the owner). Generally, in this market the builders prefer the property owner fund the construction and get the loan rather than building on spec, which is WAY easier if the property owner plans on living in one of the units. If the builder is building on spec. they have to: 1. get a loan; 2. pay a punishing interest rate; 3. sell the finished project asap to pay back the loan; and 4. earn a profit. Most property managers/rental investors don’t want to buy brand new construction — three dwellings/lot — to then rent out. The depreciation is too great.

        Today, a SFH with a DADU has the least risk and best net profit for the builder without tying up capital for decades.

        Another factor I think is overlooked is Seattle’s very tough landlord/tenant laws. For example, my son rents an apartment in the UW. A single tenant has made life hell for the entire building since last October and still the landlord cannot get the tenant evicted. As a result, tenants are abating rent (the council just passed a law that limits penalties for late rent to $10 so why pay rent on time, or at all) and terminating their leases early after I did the same for my son and his roommate. This one tenant could cost the building owner $10,000 to $20,000/mo. until the tenant is finally evicted.

        Seattle in 2017 basically enacted HB 1110, although in Seattle the limit is 3 units and under 1110 it is 4. But the lot size is set, and regulatory limits set, so the pie is set, just how many pieces, and more smaller pieces does not always result in greater net profit, not when the interest rate on the loan is much higher, especially if the units are rentals. That investment is dead these days.

        What we will see under HB 1110 is what we see in Seattle: SFH with an ADU or DADU (or not), with the owner living onsite in cities outside Seattle because those cities can and will (and do) require that, and living onsite in Seattle because that is the only way to get the loan. In areas where the SFH is more of a starter home we will see more ADU/DADU’s to help fund the purchase at first. The one issue there is property owners living onsite screen tenants for an ADU or DADU very, very carefully, and often never list the rental but rent by word of mouth to avoid Seattle’s tenant screening rules.

        Zoning is not construction. Building houses is tough work, and other than Tacomee I doubt any of us on this blog do this for a living (I did it in H.S. and decided one summer was enough). Net profit, risk, housing desires that have not changed in a hundred years, and financing, not density, are the motivating factors, especially the fact that a rental property ties up capital for decades, which is great when money is free but not so great when a multi-family loan, if you can get it and can show collateral, will run around 10%/year today.

        It is that loan rate that more than anything determines what builders will build, or whether they will build at all, on smallish SFH lots with half the lot reserved for vegetation or non-development. If banks won’t loan on such a project (multi-family) or demand 10%/year for the loan that generally tells the builder to avoid that kind of project, when the safe default — and often with the greatest net profit — is the SFH. Which is exactly what we see on the map in typical suburban Seattle neighborhoods.

      5. Just a couple of follow-up thoughts…

        “What we will see under HB 1110 is what we see in Seattle: SFH with an ADU or DADU (or not), with the owner living onsite in cities outside Seattle because those cities can and will (and do) require that,…”

        Again, you overgeneralize local zoning rules. Snohomish County, for example, does NOT have such a residence restriction with regard to assessory dwelling units.

        Furthermore, the “tying up capital for decades” argument only comes into play for rental units. As long as the property owner intends to develop the property for multiple marketable dwellings then the real consideration in this context is the far shorter holding period and its associated costs.

        Finally, one cannot necessarily tell looking at these permits and site plans for such infill residential developments whether the resulting new dwellings will be rental properties or owner-occupied*. Barring a restrictive covenant to the contrary, an owner can certainly buy into such a development with the intention of leasing the unit/dwelling.

        It is an interesting site to peruse though. SnoCo’s PDS site has a similar functionality.

        *unless specified in the master plan

      6. @Tisgwm,

        1. “What we will see under HB 1110 is what we see in Seattle: SFH with an ADU or DADU (or not), with the owner living onsite in cities outside Seattle because those cities can and will (and do) require that,…”

        “Again, you overgeneralize local zoning rules. Snohomish County, for example, does NOT have such a residence restriction with regard to assessory dwelling units.”

        The thread was about development and zoning in Seattle. At least that is what I was talking about and the map refers to.

        I thought it went without saying that HB 1110 only affects jurisdictions with more restrictive zoning than HB 1110. That was the purpose of HB 1110, not to downzone SnoCo County. Of course cities or counties can adopt zoning that is more liberal than HB 1110, and no one ever suggested otherwise. But at the same time HB 1110 does not require cities to change their regulatory limits, including whether the property owner must live in one of the units if renting out the other.

        Unincorporated SnoCo is not a city which is what I was talking about (namely Seattle), and requiring the owner of the property to live in one of the units when renting out the other was a major point of litigation by the residents of Queen Anne, and is very common in local cities if not unincorporated areas. This discussion is about zoning and development in Seattle. Unincorporated SnoCo is an outlier in this discussion.

        2. “Furthermore, the “tying up capital for decades” argument only comes into play for rental units. As long as the property owner intends to develop the property for multiple marketable dwellings then the real consideration in this context is the far shorter holding period and its associated costs.”

        I don’t think I could have made this point any clearer in my post. In fact that was my major point. The point Ross was making is he thought more apartments (which are rentals) should be built on these SFH lots. But that ties up the capital for the length of time the properties are rentals (forever), and that is very difficult for a SFH builder, and very difficult to get financing for today. IMO this is the major reason builders opt for a SFH or combo SFH + DADU over multi-family rental housing.

        A property owner could build three separate dwellings on a lot under Seattle’s current zoning, or four dwellings under HB 1110 (or two dwellings for cities under 75,000 residents which is what most allow today) although total gross floor area to lot area ratios for all structures, whether a SFH, SFH + DADU, or four dwellings, remains the same in Seattle, but the property owner whether living onsite or not will have to carry the loan for the land and construction if renting those units because I am not aware of a mechanism in Seattle to turn those dwellings into separate fee simple parcels or subdivide the lot.

        My guess is the SFH is driving the development and the financing in the areas on the map which are basically suburban Seattle neighborhoods based on the reasons I gave. The DADU or ADU does not affect the financing, the property owner plans on living in the main house, and the DADU will serve as a source of income to help finance the house until the owners don’t need the rent or a relative moves in (which is why one ADU/DADU is more popular than three dwellings since each dwelling takes GFA from the main house. Those loans can be securitized and sold.

        That is why I doubt development in Seattle, which is the area we were discussing, will change much with HB 1110 or we would have seen more of those changes with Seattle’s 2017 upzone. There is a reason “middle housing” is missing, at least four or fewer units. It is a no man’s land.

        For cities below 75,000 residents HB 1110 only requires two dwellings per lot so it will have almost no impact, except it may eliminate certain bonuses for DADU’s like no onsite parking limits or GFAR bonuses because those cities (like MI) don’t want to have to give those bonuses to duplexes. I know some on this blog love duplexes but most eastside cities I know including MI don’t for some reason and will do whatever they can to discourage them even if they have to discourage DADU’s when in the past they have tried to encourage them. Bellevue doesn’t even allow DADU’s.

        All HB 1110 requires is the regulatory limits for a SFH lot apply equally to a SFH, SFH + DADU, or four-plex. MI has for 20 years had the model ADU/DADU ordinance (and until 2017 Seattle had the same), but the reality is most folks wanting to live in multi-family or without a car don’t want to live in a fairly remote residential neighborhood with limited transit, the ADU/DADU’s range from 220 sf to 900 sf, they are surprisingly expensive to rent, and the property owners are VERY picky about whom they rent to so affordable housing they are not.

        All I was trying to point out is why I think development in these kinds of residential Seattle neighborhoods will change very little with HB 1110 compared to zoning in Seattle today, almost not at all in cities under 75,000, and why builders in these neighborhoods are sticking with the SFH and SFH + DADU, especially in this market. You just can’t do what Ross would like on smallish SFH lots with a 50% GFAR and banks that won’t loan for rental projects because they can’t securitize and sell those loans and the Fed is telling them to stop issuing those loans and build capital because depositors are moving their deposits out of banks and JP Morgan does not do four-plex rentals.

        My guess is these exact same factors determine current development in unincorporated SnoCo whether the property owner has to live onsite if renting out a DADU or not. Zoning is not construction.

      7. @Daniel T
        Re #1
        “The thread was about development and zoning in Seattle. At least that is what I was talking about and the map refers to.”

        Hmmm. That’s odd since you previously wrote this:
        “What we will see under HB 1110 is what we see in Seattle: SFH with an ADU or DADU (or not), with the owner living onsite IN CITIES OUTSIDE Seattle because those…” (highlights mine)

        Moving on…
        “That was the purpose of HB 1110, not to downzone SnoCo County. Of course cities or counties can adopt zoning that is more liberal than HB 1110, and no one ever suggested otherwise.”

        HB1110 does not apply to counties.

        “But at the same time HB 1110 does not require cities to change their regulatory limits, including whether the property owner must live in one of the units if renting out the other.”

        Of course. Frankly I think you have focused an unusual amount of attention on this one piece of legislation in your many comments about zoning matters. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a fan of the legislation either as I feel land use and zoning should be handled at the local level and if a prod is needed from the state then I would rather see incentive efforts developed, such as what the state did some 15 years ago with regard to annexations.

        With that said, the legislature was probably wise to limit the scope of HB1110 to assure its passage and eventual signing into law. In case you have forgotten, the legislation followed on the heels of legislation in 2021 that also dealt with accessory dwelling units, specifically ESSB 5235. That bill, which was indeed passed by the legislature that year, was to have the following effect:

        “As passed the House, SB 5235 makes the following changes to the statutes regulating land use of accessory dwelling units (ADU) that were put into law by the 2020 Legislature:
        •Cities may not require owner occupancy of any housing or dwelling unit on a lot containing an ADU, unless the ADU is being offered or used for short-term rental, except that:
        •Cities may impose an owner occupancy requirement for the first year after initial occupation of the unit or primary residence following permitting; and
        •Cities may impose an owner occupancy requirement for an additional period if such a requirement is supported by findings adopted by the city after at least two public hearings are held on the proposal and final regulations directly address feedback from the community. Such an additional period of owner occupancy restrictions must be geographically limited and not apply to all residential zones.
        •Cities that impose owner occupancy requirements on lots containing ADUs must provide for a hardship exemption when the owner no longer occupies the primary residence due to one of a list of hardships in the bill.
        •Cities may adopt ordinances, development regulations, and other official controls, including the imposition of fees, impact fees, or taxes, or the waiver of taxes, fees, or specific regulations, to encourage use of ADUs for long-term housing when combined with effective binding commitments or covenants that the ADUs will not be regularly offered for short-term rental. The city must have an audit program to ensure compliance.
        •Cities have until two years after their comprehensive plan update to amend ADU ordinances and regulations. Cities that do not make changes will be preempted by the new statute.

        “While the law that passed last year provided for a safe harbor for cities that made recent changes to their ADU ordinances and regulations, SB 5235 provides no such relief.”

        The restriction on owner occupancy requirements was contained in section four of the legislation. Governor Inslee ultimately vetoed this section, along with sections one and three, which he stipulated in his letter to the president and members of the WA State Senate:

        “I am returning herewith, without my approval as to Sections 1, 3, and 4, Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill No. 5235 entitled: AN ACT Relating to increasing housing unit inventory by removing arbitrary limits on housing options.

        “Section 3 allows cities to delay local implementation of statewide requirements around siting of accessory dwelling units until two years after their next required comprehensive plan update. Accessory dwelling units play an important role in creating additional housing options in urban areas and the state is currently facing a housing crisis.

        “Section 4 limits the ability for local governments to require owner occupancy on lots containing an accessory dwelling unit, but it also creates numerous exceptions to that limitation which are problematic. I am concerned that the language may allow a local government to prevent the siting and development of accessory dwelling units in perpetuity with very little justification.

        “Section 1 establishes the intent of the bill. Due to the vetoes of Sections 3 and 4, the original statement of intent no longer fully applies to this bill.

        “For these reasons I have vetoed Sections 1, 3, and 4 of Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill No. 5235.

        “With the exception of Sections 1, 3, and 4, Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill No. 5235 is approved.”

        Thus, we currently have a patchwork of rules involving owner occupancy requirements for properties with accessory dwelling units across regional jurisdictions. That was my main point about exercising caution when making your overly broad assertions about such matters. For example, here are the relevant coded ADU/DADU stipulations for four other jurisdictions across King County, those being Kirkland, Renton, Bothell and Shoreline. Like Snohomish County, Kirkland has no owner occupancy requirement.!/Shoreline20/Shoreline2040.html#20.40.210

        Re #2
        There is so much here to unpack and reply to but the hour is late, I’m a bit tired and I believe you missed my main point anyway. Let me just say two additional things:
        1. One cannot always determine from reviewing the permitting documents involved in these infill “densification” type projects whether the resulting dwellings will be owner-occupied or not.
        2. One can’t assume that there is bank financing involved at all.

        Links pertaining to the above commentary on ESSB 5235:

  21. Half-listening to Julie Timm’s Q&A now. Re Lynnwood Link, she said ST is considering extra short runs south of Northgate for capacity relief until Line 2 starts and trains can access the Eastside base. She said there’s strong pressure to open the East Link Starter Line because leaving the segment closed would have ongoing maintenance costs with no fare revenue. She also talked about the Link downtown reduction that just ended; I didn’t hear anything STB readers don’t already know.

    1. It sounds like the WSBLE EIS will be split. She mentioned West Seattle and Ballard. I’m not sure if DSTT2 is included in Ballard or separate. Previously-submitted comments will be migrated to the new EISes.

      1. “It sounds like the WSBLE EIS will be split.”

        Good. That’s the way it should’ve been structured to begin with. I believe the DSTT2 was combined with Ballard Link from the original 2014 project templates from which the ST3 cost estimates were developed, i.e., the second downtown transit tunnel was a project element within the Ballard Link extension.

      2. The Preferred Alignments have DSTT2 as part of Ballard Link, with West Seattle Link ending at SODO.

    2. Not sure if Anton is someone here, but they outlined a single-tunnel option in the chat for Timm to hopefully see.

    3. Re the CID station alternatives, she said 5th Avenue (next to the existing station) would be ideal but is a non-starter due to impacts on the neighborhood. 4th Avenue Shallower they’re still looking at, but it has a lot of construction issues so she’s pessimistic. She finds the South alternative more promising than the North alternative. The North alternative they’re looking at whether the envisioned “reactivation” of the area would really pan out. I’m not going to get into these CID-area issues, so you can watch the session when it comes out on YouTube, or somebody else may write about it.

      1. @Mike Orr,

        Expanding the current station under 5th is definitely the best option all around. And it isn’t so much the construction impacts on the neighborhood that are the issue, it’s the relationship with the neighborhood that is the problem.

        Impacts can be mitigated, but that takes people willing to talk to each other and willing to work together. Unfortunately that is hard work, and nobody wants to do the hard work required to turn the CID neighborhood around.

        Indifference and neglect are just as damaging as direct hostility and overt racism. Unfortunately the waters are so poisoned right now that even the neighborhood prefers neglect.

        In a perfect world all parties would talk to each other and develop a plan that benefits all parties. It is possible, it’s just not likely.

        Note: when I say “all parties” I mean the neighborhood, ST, the city, and the county. And probably the star too. There is a long history of treating this neighborhood badly. Walking away would just be a continuation of that.

    4. Other topics: all-day Sounder, ST Express in the ST2/3 Link era, something else. I missed the answers to some of these. Timm said she’s reevaluating the assumption that ST Express lines paralleling Link would disappear, and that in the post-pandemic world they may be different transit markets. (E.g., I interpret this as different people would use Tacoma Dome Link for different purposes than the 594.) She’s asking staff to assess whether that’s the case, and how much it would cost to keep both modes running.

    5. The video will be available in a couple hours. I’m putting together another open thread for this.


    Recently there was a very interesting political analysis of the race for governor in WA on a paid political blog:

    “Scenario 1:

    “Republicans implode; Ferguson vs. Franz

    “All but one of these scenarios require the GOP to flame out in the primary, which seems plausible in the coming cycle. With Donald Trump still stinking up the top of the ticket, prominent Republicans like Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier will take a pass, which could lead to a clown car of wannabes on the right.

    “In 2020, Inslee got slightly more than 50 percent of the primary vote, while Loren Culp edged out four other candidates on the right with less than 18 percent. It’s easy to imagine next year’s version of Culp¹ running third behind Ferguson and Franz because a competitive primary will draw in more voters from the left.²

    “How would that race play out? Franz’s stump speech is super high-level, designed to play in Sedro-Wooley and Selah, not just in Seattle. Her office’s responsibility for the state’s wildfire response routinely takes her to places most Democrats fear to tread. So could she attract votes from the right in this scenario?

    “We have two recent data points on that question, the 2020 Democrat-on-Democrat contest for lieutenant governor, pitting then-U.S. Rep. Denny Heck against state Sen. Marko Liias, and last year’s race for Secretary of State, which featured sort-of-incumbent Democrat Steve Hobbs against Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who ran as a nonpartisan. The moderate Heck handily dispatched the more progressive Liias, while Anderson put a real scare into Hobbs.

    “Franz could concede Ferguson his stronghold on the left and appeal both to the center and to younger and female voters who might be inclined to say “Enough with the middle-aged white dudes already.” That’s an interesting needle-threading exercise that could be hard to pull off.

    “Also, crusading attorneys general aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Franz could wind up the beneficiary of an independent campaign from the business community coming after Ferguson on the Seattle area’s problems with homelessness, crime, and drug abuse. Way back in the day, running against Seattle was the winning playbook for statewide Republicans. Could it work for a Democrat in a one-party race?”

    “Scenario 2: GOP meltdown + the draft-Mullet movement”

    “A broad swath of the business establishment in the state looks at Ferguson and feels something somewhere along the spectrum between apprehension and alarm. Traditionally, that establishment — and more importantly, its money — has backed Republicans.

    “But with the GOP likely doomed to lose, they need another horse: Enter, perhaps, famously moderate and business-friendly state Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, who’s openly mulling a run.

    “Mullet hasn’t been afraid to tangle with the progressive left, both in the halls of Olympia and on the campaign trail. In 2020, he defended his 5th District seat in East King County against a challenger from the left and an avalanche of money from public-sector labor unions looking to oust him.

    “More importantly, he’s one of the few Democrats likely to draw the wholehearted support of the state’s deep-pocketed business PACs, who were there for him in 2020.

    “It’s hard to imagine Mullet finishing ahead of Ferguson in the primary. But if the two men advance to the final round, Mullet would surely benefit from strong antipathy for Ferguson on the right. Meanwhile, his extensive bipartisan dealmaking in the Legislature would likely net him some key endorsements in red parts of the state.

    “Scenario 3: The political rebirth of JHB”

    “This is the scenario in which Washington Republicans reject the grifter schtick of Donald Trump, Loren Culp, and Joe Kent and re-embrace a formerly favored daughter of the party, recently ousted U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.

    “The folks over at The Dispatch wrote extensively about JHB’s quest last year to hold onto her seat after her principled vote to impeach Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection. A while back they also floated the idea that she might run for governor, and we’re told she’s been talking with major donors about doing just that.

    “Superficially, this has to be an attractive idea for principled conservatives looking to pry their party away from the MAGA zealots. Had JHB survived a crowded primary last year, she would have easily held her 3rd District seat in Southwest Washington. As a statewide candidate, she could appeal to right-of-center voters in the Puget Sound suburbs.

    “However, she was last seen finishing third in the primary on her home ground. And she likely gets caught in an ideological vise if she makes it through the primary. The wrath of the Trumpists isn’t going anywhere, which could erode her support on the right. Meanwhile, although she’s a moderate by contemporary GOP standards on some issues, she’s an anti-abortion hardliner, which would likely sink her in King County in the post-Dobbs world.

    “This is probably the path to the least lopsided loss for Republicans, but an L is an L.”


    The Seattle Times has a very long article today about the risks of Covid now that the federal and state emergency orders have been lifted, including on masking and going to public spaces.

    The article notes that the risk of course depends on the individual. “But COVID-19 was never an equal-opportunity killer. While fewer than 0.002% of infected children under 10 died of COVID-19, the rate among infected people 80 and over was at least 8%.

    Here is the section on masking:

    “I’m worried that my mask won’t protect me if no one else is wearing one”.

    “Few issues have been more contentious than the value of face coverings. First we didn’t need them (because medical professionals needed them more). Then we did (because they appeared capable of reducing viral spread). Now we’re told they’re not even necessary in hospitals? What gives?

    “Today, the CDC says that given the nation’s high levels of vaccine-and infection- induced immunity and the availability of effective prevention tools and treatments, universal masking is unnecessary in most public settings, including healthcare settings. In schools, CDC recommends that “children should wear a mask if they need extra protection from COVID-19.”

    “That may come as a surprise, but the fact is “we just have too much data at the population level that masking doesn’t change the course of the pandemic,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Francisco.

    “An exhaustive review of studies that tested the protective value of masks against the coronavirus as well as several strains of flu left researchers “uncertain whether wearing masks or N95/P2 respirators helps to slow the spread of respiratory viruses.”

    “Even in healthcare settings, where infection was widespread, there was limited evidence that universal masking offered much value given the current status of the outbreak. And an influential group of doctors whose job is to stem the spread of diseases in hospitals recently called for an end to universal masking in healthcare settings.

    “Those doctors made clear that under different circumstances, universal masking “was a critical protective measure.” In future pandemics or significant localized outbreaks, the practice could be justified again, they wrote. But “when the expected benefits of such policies are low,” they added, it’s a policy “whose time has come and gone … for now.”

    “Then they said out loud what many have thought but kept to themselves: that “masking impedes communication,” that face coverings “obscure facial expression” and make listening harder, that they “contribute to feelings of isolation; and negatively impact human connection, trust, and perception of empathy.”

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