260 Replies to “Open Thread: Primary Election, G restructure”

  1. Seattle District 3 looks like it’s shaping up to be Joy Hollingsworth vs Alex Hudson. I voted for Hudson. After several years of having my favorite come out third or fourth, I’m happy to finally have one in the top two.

    The Times says the incumbent councilmembers Tammy Morales (District 2), Dan Strauss (District 6), and Alex Lewis (District 7) are doing well.

  2. Additional fun tool: Ballot Return Statistics;


    Morning-after takes are shaping up to be pretty mild, but still interesting. Some common threads:

    1. The Stranger and The Seattle Times are both still influential endorsements, based on all leading candidates in the City Council elections having been endorsed by one or the other.

    2. The 7 city council races appear to be ending up with a “progressive” and a “moderate” on the general ballot (I.e. Stranger endorsement vs Times endorsement). It will be interesting to see how support coalesces around these camps. Will the two camps set up consolidated tickets? Or will candidates simply focus on their districts?

    3. Danny Westneat thinks the lack of rebuttal of progressive candidates indicates that the voting populace isn’t actually interested in changing the direction of the council. I don’t think this should come as much of a surprise. Maybe that’s a surprise to their suburbanite readership? Seems like a surprise to Danny.

    4. Multiple headers from the Times about how there isn’t a far-left candidate in D3 heading to the general, but it’s kind of a lame take since we knew that going into the primary.

    5. D2 (Morales v Woo) will be an interesting showdown, and whoever wins it may end up being the decider for a 4th Ave CID station, or a CID N/S station for BLE.

    1. There is only 2.7% separating Woo and Morales. As daily tabulations get posted, this will change one way or the other so it will be curious to monitor for the next few days.

      As a D2 resident, I find that Morales has not been very visible. In my neighborhood I even see more Woo than Morales yard signs. I also get lots more Woo than Morales texts for sone reason. For an incumbent, Morales doesn’t seem to be running an effective outreach campaign.

  3. Metro has a second-phase poll up for the G Line -related route restructures.

    The new paths for routes 10, 11, and 12 appear to be a done deal. The frequency, not so much. Metro is asking people’s preference between investing fully in frequency for these routes, or diverting some route 3 trips to bring back route 47.

    I find playing Queen Anne off against the 47 a weird play designed to justify the permanent demise of service along 47’s unique path. Why not through-route route 27 (for which most trips do not have a pairing) with 47? That still doesn’t deal with the deployment of service hours, but at least the routing would make some sense.

    1. Link: https://madisonstreetproject.com/

      I’m having trouble understanding how the proposed diversion of the 3 would affect the rest of its runs.

      Route 3 runs every 15-30 minutes, and the “Option B” proposal would divert “some” of the Route 3 trips from Queen Anne to Capitol Hill (with all runs still starting in Madrona), reproducing the coverage of the 47 with 30-minute frequency between 6am to 7pm. That’s a big chunk of the current Route 3 buses! However, Metro caveats this with the following:

      Service levels for current routes 3 and 4 in Queen Anne, Uptown, First Hill, and Central District would continue to be similar to what they are today

      This implies they’d increase frequency on the 3 in order to compensate for the diversion to CH, which matches with shift in service hours from the other routes. It seems to me that if they double service on the 3 such that half of the runs go to QA, and the other half to CH, that would double frequencies on the portion of the route between Madrona and Downtown? That seems like a win for the Central District, no?

      1. There are a number of 3/4 trips that stop or end downtown. Check out the schedule: https://kingcounty.gov/en/dept/metro/routes-and-service/schedules-and-maps/003.html. In the default direction (Queen Anne to Central Area) you can see a bunch of trips marked with “b”. There are trips that start at 3rd & Pine. Reversing direction, you see the same thing, with the letter “c” designating buses that end at 3rd Ave & Virginia, instead of continuing to Queen Anne. In the middle of the day, these buses run every 15 minutes, alternating between a 3 and a 4. Thus the 47 could actually get 15 minute service if they sent both that direction, while not short changing Queen Anne (any more than it is shortchanged today).

        This is a clever, economical way to run the 47, and one of the few things I like about the proposal. I still feel like running the bus every 30 minutes will kill it. There is not enough coverage to make that work. People have alternatives (that do require walking farther) that they will use. But at least this does something other going downtown and ending. This is an improvement in coverage, and likely the best that can be done while keeping it a trolley.

      2. Ah, thanks for the explanation!

        So it really is just a decision between frequency and coverage.

    2. It’s disappointing to me that there is nothing improved to get from areas north of Madison Street to get south of Cherry/ Jefferson. I realize that some existing routes like 60, 8 and 48 do it but these aren’t discussed here.

      Instead the Pike-Pine loop is being used by five routes here — 47, 49, 10, 11, 12. I worry about buses getting bogged down one behind another. Also, with many of these spaced only 1/4 of a mile apart, it feels like each of the five routes would just cannibalise from the adjacent ones with no system connectivity improvement or increase in system ridership.

      Since the routes seem already fixed, it doesn’t seem like there is any chance to respond. I sadly see this as the end state of a missed opportunity.

      1. it feels like each of the five routes would just cannibalise from the adjacent ones with no system connectivity improvement or increase in system ridership.

        Since the routes seem already fixed, it doesn’t seem like there is any chance to respond. I sadly see this as the end state of a missed opportunity.

        Exactly. I agree 100%.

      2. Is Metro using a mobility board for the G Line, as they did with U Link, RKAAMP, North Eastside, North Link, East Link, and Lynnwood Link?

      3. Route 43, a part-time service, also uses the loop.

        The Kubly SDOT slowed the loop twice. First, the two-way PBL was added to 2nd Avenue, leaving the buses in a narrow lane. Second, one-way PBL were added to both Pine and Pike streets and the buses were left in congested traffic on one fewer lane. In the peaks, only one bus goes through each signal at a time.

      4. Route 43, a part-time service, also uses the loop.

        Yeah, the 43 as well (so six routes). This wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but it explains why frequency is so bad on each route. Things are just spread too thin. I know some people don’t like the G, but fundamentally, it sets things up nicely. From south to north you could have:

        Jefferson/James (3/4) — 7.5 minute headways most of the day.
        Madison (G) — 6 minute headways most of the day.
        Pike/Pine (Spine) — 3 to 7.5 minute headways most of the day.

        There might be occasional bunching on the Pike/Pine spine, but that isn’t the big issue. In terms of frequency it is 15, 20, 20, 20, 30 and a bus that only runs during rush hour. That is 15 buses an hour, spread (somewhat) randomly. For the spine, this is fine. The problem is that it is terrible outside of it. This sort of thing makes sense for areas where density is terrible outside the shared corridor, but that is clearly not the case here. Consider those three corridors again. The 3/4 corridor provides 7.5 minute headways all the way to Garfield (23rd). The G will provide those headways even further, to MLK. With the Pike/Pine corridor, it starts breaking up well before Broadway. By then you are down to three buses, each running every 20 minutes. The 10/12 will be synchronized, so you’ll have a 20 minute bus and a 10 minute (combined) bus. The spine abruptly ends at 15th and Pine. Not only is it a much smaller spine, but it runs less often than the other ones. At best there will be 10 minute headways, while the other corridors have service every 6 and every 7.5 minutes.

        Again, it doesn’t have to be that way. Get rid of the 12; send the 2 to Pine; run the 2 opposite the 10 and run both every 15 minutes. Also run the 47 a couple more times an hour, for 15 minute headways. Now that corridor has 7.5 minute headways (like the 3/4). The spine is longer, and has better frequency throughout. The 10 runs more often. The 47 runs a lot more often. You’ve done all this, and you’ve actually saved money.

        The same thing can happen with Broadway. The 49 goes straight down Broadway to Yesler, then doglegs to 12th, replacing this part of the 60. It runs opposite the streetcar. Both run every 12 minutes, for a combined headway of 6 minutes. This is the Broadway spine. Frequency has improved dramatically, and you have actually saved money again.

    3. It still looks like a mess to me. If you create an inefficient network, you are bound to have poor frequency. It isn’t like they are adding anything new, either. If they added service along Boren, but some of the other buses run less frequently it would be understandable, but that clearly isn’t the case. This is just a really bad network, and the main reason is that they are doing too little.

      We need to stop pretending that the current network is good. It isn’t. It is out of date, and represents a time when there were very few people in this part of Seattle, and they mostly took the bus to downtown. It represents a poor, inefficient hub-and-spoke network while largely ignoring RapidRide G or Link.

      Take the 49, for example. It was once one of our most productive buses. It had over 6,000 riders a day over a relatively short distance, which is is why it had excellent ridership per hour. Now it struggles to get 2,000 riders a day. The reason? Link. Now that Link has finally made it to the U-District, a lot of people have switched. It doesn’t make much sense for getting downtown or to Capitol Hill if you are anywhere near the U-District or UW Station. So does Metro alter the 49 in response, to make for a more efficient network, while also potentially increasing ridership? No, they just drop the frequency to 20 minutes. This will hammer the 49.

      Or consider the 47. It serves one of the most densely populated parts of the city. It is very close to downtown. Normally, this would lead to very high ridership, but they decided to run it rarely, and as a result, it can’t compete. The nearby 49 has better frequency. Even with twenty minute headway, the 49 is better. Some will just walk to Link, of course, even though that will cost them a lot of time.

      Or how about the 2. They don’t even plan on addressing the 2, despite the fact that it overlaps the G in one direction, and is a couple blocks away in the other! It will be the slower, less frequent companion for the G for much of its path. Good luck getting decent frequency once ridership plummets (as people switch to the G).

      It is just a bad network. Various routes are cannibalizing, not complementing each other. There are better options. Send the 49 to Beacon Hill, replacing that part of the 60 (but go straight). Time it opposite the streetcar, so that folks can hop on a bus/streetcar and go along Broadway without waiting so damn long. Move the 2 to Pike/Pine so we increase headways along that corridor. Send the 8 to Madison Park. Eliminate the 12 and the 43. So basically this: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1O8i9WZI_SiPiXgxeAJbHXW99rrH51vo&usp=sharing

      You have just saved a boatload of money, which goes into running the buses more frequently. The 47 can now run every 15 minutes. The buses complement each other, without stepping on each other’s toes. The 49 doesn’t go downtown, but the 47, 10 and Link do. You’ve doubled the frequency of transit going along Broadway while actually saving money. The 2 is no longer redundant, but covers a very popular pathway (Pike/Pine) until its end as an arterial, where the bus doglegs to serve nearby Union.

      There are variations that work just as well, if not better. Maybe send the 10 to Pike/Pine, and run it opposite the 2. Both could run every 15 minutes, which means 7.5 minute headways from 14th to downtown along Pike/Pine. Again, this complements the G, as they serve different parts of downtown, while both being very frequent. If they find money under the cushions, run a bus on Boren. Even without it, this is a huge improvement. It isn’t quite a grid, but it is way more grid-like than what exists now, or will exist after RapidRide G. Buses would be more frequent, and frequent trips would be a lot faster.

      1. “We need to stop pretending that the current network is good. It isn’t. It is out of date, and represents a time when there were very few people in this part of Seattle, and they mostly took the bus to downtown.”

        While it isn’t “good” it is “familiar”. There are plenty of residents in this area that have rented apartments because of how the existing routes serve them, for example. Those riders oppose making changes generally.

        I would agree that now is a time to revisit the whole area. I think Metro is still revealing from the controversial restructure discussions of 2016 and they fear taking risks. They forget that before U-Link, people didn’t think about using Link and transferring.

        At its core, it’s the lack of connectivity both southward and northward that frustrates me. There are too many ways to head west to Downtown to the point that buses will get bogged down following other buses — but not offer new ways to head north or south.

      2. I’ve lived in the corridor for 18 years and ridden in it at least semi-regularly for 44 years. I don’t understand why Ross calls it such a bad network. It has some flaws but there are also a lot of tradeoffs, where a change would help somebody and hurt others, and it’s hard to predict whether a change is really better or worse. I pushed for the 10 reroute to John in 2016, but now I wish I hadn’t because many riders switched to the 11 to remain on Pine or go to 15th & Pine. The top of the hill is at 17th & Madison, which is close to 15th & Pine, so there’s demand to get to destinations on the top of the hill (e.g., Trader Joe’s). The 10/12 overlap will help with that a lot.

        I’ve likewise thought about splitting the 49 a lot. I used to wholeheartedly support it; now I have some trepidations. The current 49 is actually useful for me, to get to the Broadway Market/library area and as an alternative to the U-District. Replacing it with north-south and east-west routes may be OK but I’m not sure the major improvement Ross visualizes would materialize, or that further cuts won’t happen that would make transfers even less viable. The clear beneficiary would be lower Broadway, which has needed more than spotty service for a long time. It’s not as clear that it would be as beneficial for Pine Street or upper Broadway. The proposal does reduce the 49 to 20 minutes. That’s the same thing as freeing up hours for other routes, so it seems like a reasonable step in this tradeoff uncertainty, and we can review it again after the change is made and we see what patterns riders settle into.

        My worse fear was not realized: that the 10, 12, and 11 would be half-hourly at most. That was in the last proposal because it was the most Metro felt confident it could guarantee. But it didn’t include Seattle’s TBD, which has now been added. Now they’re half-hourly some evenings/nights, but at least not in the daytime.

        I lived on the 47 for 5 years (2005-2010, when it was part of the 14). I was in the southern part of Summit, and I looked at (but didn’t take) an apartment north of the northern terminus. That area at the north end is further from other routes than it appears on a map. The hill up to Broadway is steep: it’s impassible when there’s ice or if you’re elderly. The Summit area is another tradeoff. The 47 loses riders because it doesn’t go to Broadway so it misses a lot of destinations, but at the same time it’s important for some people along Summit.

        Metro sabotaged the 14 (47) in the late 2000s by running it five minutes after the 43 eastbound. So many people took the 43 rather than wait. Especially since the 14 was very unreliable: it routinely came 5-10 minutes late, so that 5 minute longer wait stretched to 10 minutes or more, and by that time another 43 would come before the 14! So you skip a 43 but then the next bus is a 43, so you’ve completely wasted your wait. That drove even more people onto the 43.

        Writing that makes me worry about through-routing the 47 with the 3, because the 3/4 are also notoriously unreliable. Actually, even the 10 is unreliable now. The short 10! With no obvious congestion bottlenecks! It’s unreliable! How can this be??? Is there an invisible freeway entrance on 15th? If even the 10 is unreliable, then I don’t have much hope for a 3/47. But I praise Metro for thinking about different new ideas like extending the 3’s that terminate downtown, and for the 12 reroute, and the previous concept of a 2 reroute.

        So I’m not sure how to answer the question of taking some hours from the 10/11/12/49 for the 47. There are arguments both ways. In the overlapping areas it doesn’t matter whether the number is 11 or 47 (3). I guess I’d lean toward option B so that Summit would have some service, and the others would still be above half-hourly at least in the daytime, and the overlaps would mitigate some of the half-hourlyness.

        I like the 8/11 overlap between MLK and Bellevue that Ross dislikes. This looks to me like a grid corridor and a crosstown corridor (i.e., non-downtown corridor), because the overlap is in the East Seattle urban area, not downtown. It would help for; e.g., trips between the Arboretum and Summit and everywhere in between.

        So there are a lot of tradeoffs with the G, 8, 10, 11, 12, 47, and 49 and any restructuring there. A lot of people like me have trepidation about mispredicting the tradeoffs and making a wrong restructure. It’s not a one-seat-ride-downtown fetish. It’s because there’s a delicate balance of people and destinations and travel patterns in East Seattle, and you want to balance that. Sometimes predicted future beneficiaries don’t pan out, and breaking existing patterns can cause more harm than good. What we really need is more service hours and drivers so that we can add service rather than just rebalancing it in a way that we hope will be better but it may be worse. I’m optimistic that Metro will eventually have more hours and drivers and can begin raising service to a normal urban level.

      3. I wish there was discussion about a new north-south 12th or 14th St bus route segment south of Madison. This area has really densified, and getting to Cherry Hill is a major hassle from North of Madison. For example, send Route 10 or 12 down one of these streets to Jefferson and tie the route to Route 3 or Route 47. Of course a full-on north-south crosstown route going down Rainier to Judkins Park is kind of the ideal as I see it.

        Another different option is to make Route 12 be a branch of Route 2. Route 2 buses are fairly light east of 23rd so splitting the route would take bus hours from Route 2. Wire on 19th would however be needed (as well as a signal at 19th/ Union).

        All in all Route 10 and 12 will soon be almost the same route as opposed to today. That to me is the biggest waste of an opportunity.

      4. “I wish there was discussion about a new north-south 12th or 14th St bus route segment south of Madison. This area has really densified, and getting to Cherry Hill is a major hassle from North of Madison.”

        This is one of those things that should be done with new service hours rather than making one of the good parts of the network not work. The buses aren’t frequent enough to leave some corridors like 15th with a bus that goes to hardly any destinations. The problem is Seattle’s geography and the relative lack of destinations south of 15th & Pine. In cities that have more straight grid routes like Vancouver, San Francisco, and Chicago, there’s also more destinations along all the crosstown routes.

        There were previous proposals to turn the Broadway north-south route into something on Broadway-John-12th. This would get service to the growing area on 12th but it would disrupt the larger market for trips between upper and lower Broadway. And there’s a steep hill between Broadway and 12th so getting shunted to 12th and walking to Broadway isn’t feasible: the overall transit network would just be less useful.

        If you can add a 15th-14th route that replaces the 10 on 15th without losing service on Pine to 15th, then it might be OK. That’s where more service hours and drivers would help.

        I also can’t get to Cherry Hill very easily; it affects the Pike-Pine and Summit areas as well as 15th.But we need to address that by making the network more useful for everybody, not robbing Peter to pay Paul.

        12th Avenue has growth but it still doesn’t have the as number or variety of destinations and housing as other parts of Capitol Hill the current and proposed routes have.

      5. Here’s a 1911 pic showing the trolley tracks on the right side of Summit Ave. The view is from just south of Republican street looking north. An old Seattle streetcar map shows a line following the exact same route that the Metro routes 14 and 47 took: Up Summit Ave, then back on Bellevue Ave. The two larger buildings on the right are still standing today. The water wagon in the middle of the street is from a water shortage that year. Anyway, there is a long history of that area having public transit, even back when the neighborhood had a lot more single family homes.


      6. By the way, some of Metro’s earlier proposals consolidated Summit-Bellevue service to two-way Bellevue Avenue. So that’s something to keep in mind.

      7. “ This is one of those things that should be done with new service hours rather than making one of the good parts of the network not work. The buses aren’t frequent enough to leave some corridors like 15th with a bus that goes to hardly any destinations. ”

        I take issue with this for this reason: RapidRide G IS lots of new service hours! And those service hours are going to the same area as Route 12 but lots more frequent. The new Route 12 then adds more service hours to Pike-Pine. So Metro appears to be adding lots more east-west service hours on both Madison and Pike/Pine. And many of these areas are already served well for Downtown trips.

        That’s why I think the restructure needed to move some of those service hours to provide better connectivity to other places, especially south.

    4. FWIW, here is the Capitol Hill Blog’s post related to this.


      Including this because there are mentions of the current proposal being driven in part by feedback from the previous round. If enough people feel, like Ross, that there is a better option, chances are good that Metro may at least consider those changes. OTOH, if the views are sparse, then perhaps the current plan is in fact more palatable to the engaged ridership, at least (and I would trust Metro to be able to track the general ridership trends).

      1. What about a revamped 43 similar to its route now from Atlantic base where it runs down Broadway south of Cap Hill Station (No Downtown service)? Crosstown route that adds frequency to two of the main Corridors (Broadway and John/Thomas), could even send it to Rainier or Beacon Hill.

    5. “the Pike-Pine loop is being used by five routes here — 47, 49, 10, 11, 12. I worry about buses getting bogged down one behind another.”

      It’s not that much more buses than Pike/Pine has now. All the routes on Pike/Pine travel faster and more reliably than the 2 on Seneca, the 12 on Madison/Marion, and the 3/4 on James. It’s so much better that I sometimes take a Pike-Pine route and walk to a destination on the 2 or 12 rather than taking those routes. SDOT added transit lanes and queue jumps to parts of Pike Pine in 2016. The ex-tunnel routes (101, 150, 550) are now on Pine Street easbound, and they don’t slow down the other routes, and the 550 will go away soon.

      Peak of peak runs per hour each direction (from memory):
      2019: 10 (4/hour), 11 (4/hour), 43 (2/hour), 47 (1/hour), 49 (5/hour). Total: 16/hour.
      2023: 10 (4/hour), 11 (4/hour), 43 (2/hour), 49 (4/hour). Total: 14/hour.
      Alternative A: 10 (3/hour), 11 (3/hour), 12 (3/hour), 43 (2/hour), 49 (3/hour). Total: 14/hour.
      Alternative B: 3 (2/hour), 10 (3/hour), 11 (3/hour), 12 (3/hour), 43 (2/hour), 49 (3/hour). Total: 16/hour.

      A bigger issue is the Pike/Pine rechannelization that’s under construction. The one-way system will be extended from 1st-9th to 1st-Bellevue. The renderings if I recall will have one GP lane and one transit lane each direction if I recall, at least at the I-5 bridge. That improvement will dwarf any changes to the routes. At the same time, I’m currently seeing a 2-block line of cars westbound to turn right at 4th, with more cars in the second lane and the buses sometimes caught behind cars. So I’m concerned that reducing Pike and Pine streets to 1 lane will make that line stretch even further. But that would be the same either with or without the restructure. And if buses can use the transit lanes and still get to their stops at 5th and 4th without getting caught behind right-turning cars, it might be OK.

      “Also, with many of these spaced only 1/4 of a mile apart, it feels like each of the five routes would just cannibalise from the adjacent ones with no system connectivity improvement or increase in system ridership.”

      Most of those streets have been stop-dieted. Pike, Bellevue, and Olive all reduced the number of stops. 1/4 mile is Metro’s new standard. The only places with less are like the 49’s turn, where both stops are presumably for transfers.

      1. In fall 2012, Metro went to pay-on-entry fare collection and wanted to minimize turns to/from 3rd Avenue, as overall dwell times in the CBD would increase. Also, 1st Avenue was jammed with AWV related traffic. Later, in about 2013, the Murray-Kubly SDOT added the two-way PBL on 2nd Avenue.
        So, routes 10, 11, 43, 47, and 49 used a narrow lane on southbound 2nd Avenue; it was slower. Later, the Murray-Kubly SDOT added PBL on Pike and Pine streets; they left the bus routes in a single lane; that lane was jammed in both peaks. So, the status quo has been degraded. Route 47 was deleted in fall 2014; restored by the STBD; then suspended for Covid.

      2. “Also, with many of these spaced only 1/4 of a mile apart, it feels like each of the five routes would just cannibalise from the adjacent ones with no system connectivity improvement or increase in system ridership.”

        Most of those streets have been stop-dieted. Pike, Bellevue, and Olive all reduced the number of stops. 1/4 mile is Metro’s new standard.

        It is not the stop spacing, it is the line spacing. Al is right, these cannibalize each other. Imagine you are half way between the 47 or 49. You are an easy walk to both. Both follow almost the exact same route downtown. One bus runs every 20 minutes, the other every half hour. This is bad.

        This is what he means by cannibalizing each other. You can be standing at a bus stop for the 47, and be well within walking distance to the 49 (or vice versa). But because you have two bus routes, you have made each one weaker. Because you have made each one weaker, they don’t run as often. The same is true for the 10 and 12. This is bad.

        There are several options. One is to just not run one of the buses. The other is to send one of the buses somewhere else. As it turns out, the 49 runs on the very same corridor as the 60! All it needs is to just keep going straight. It could keep going straight all the way to Boren, then up to Beacon Hill, replacing that part of the 60. This reduces the overlap, while also eliminating twists and turns made by the 60. This gives those 49 riders a clear alternative to the 47, increasing ridership on both routes. This increase in ridership, along with the service savings, would make it much easier for both routes to run more often.

        Same goes for the 10/12. Yeah, it sucks to walk a few extra blocks. It sucks worse to wait forever for your bus. If they really were worried about it, they could get creative, and zig-zag a bit at the northern tail: https://goo.gl/maps/P3PMQCB6qVyGCr4cA. Again, everyone is fairly close to a bus stop, for the bus that goes downtown (via Pike/Pine). You would have to get approval from SDOT to run buses along Aloha there, but offhand, I see no issues with that. You might even be able to loop back, and end at Volunteer Park (by going along Galer). Like Aloha, that is an arterial, so I see no fundamental problem.

        But all of this pails to the mother of all redundancy: the 2. As I wrote up above, it literally overlaps the RapidRide G. Both buses will use Spring from downtown until First Hill. Even then, the buses will be a couple blocks apart — both directions — until they finally separate somewhere east of 17th. For literally most of the Rapid Ride G’s pathway, the 2 seems to be keeping it company, while providing far less functionality. You can almost hear the 2 saying “the G is my friend”.

        This wouldn’t be bad if the 2 and G were overflowing with riders. It is quite common to have buses only a couple blocks apart in say, New York City. But this ain’t New York. The 2 does not run every six minutes. It is scraping to get decent ridership, and having it duplicate — and be cannibalized — by the G is doing it no favor. It is just bad.

      3. One thing I am wondering about is whether there will be another restructuring later, once it’s clear which routes cannibalize which other ones, etc. Think of it as one round of exploration of the possibilities, followed by a simplification later once the dust settles.

        Even if that isn’t the plan, if some of the ideas people have for simplifying the network don’t get implemented now, it may be worth pitching them later whenever opportunities present themselves.

      4. “the mother of all redundancy: the 2.”

        It was probably kept because of Virginia Mason. My relative had appointments there and took the 2 to them. She couldn’t walk more than a couple blocks from the bus stop, yet she wasn’t disabled enough to qualify for Access. There are probably a lot of people going to medical clinics in that situation.

        Also, the 2 has repeatedly gotten the most opposition to restructuring in hearing after hearing of any Seattle route since at least the RapidRide C/D/E restructures and the 2014 cuts.

        The 2-Pine-12th-Union concept in Metro Connects has never gotten into a proposal or hearing, but Metro has probably gotten feedback on it from Metro Connects and popup forums. So there may have been opposition to it there. And that may have led Metro to move the 12 instead, which has less opposition, especially with RapidRide G replacing much of it. The issue with the 12 is people on 19th not wanting to lose service. This proposal keeps service on 19th, which probably blunted that potential opposition.

      5. By the way, the biggest problem she had taking the bus to Virginia Mason was getting hit by cars crossing the street around the hospital. Apparently they didn’t want to wait for somebody in a walker to cross. That happened a couple times, and one of them caused lasting damage to her foot.

      6. redundancy is a reciprocal issue. The G Line was placed close to the electric trolleybus routes. During the early Madison BRT planning, SDOT wanted it to be ETB; they failed. Some suggested that a Broadway-Madison route become the RR. That would not have duplicated Route 2 as much. The John-Olive corridor should have frequent service; it serves Link. Route 2 is about one-half mile south. The G Line is on diagonal Madison Street in between. The G Line is a done deal.

      7. I don’t think RapidRide G and Route 2 are that duplicative.

        1. Many of Route 2 riders board between MLK and 15th Ave E. That’s what I witnessed the 22 months I commuted on it.
        2. Route 2 turns onto Third Ave and runs to Queen Anne while RapidRide G ends at 1st and Madison. People that live near both routes understand the difference and will choose one or the other depending on their final destination.
        3. So it’s really duplicative only for about 1.5 miles between Third Ave and 12th Ave E in the middle section of Route 2, which appears to be only about 20-25 percent of the whole route.

        I get that Seneca isn’t Madison. However, it’s parallel only for a relatively small portion of the route.

        Meanwhile, new Routes 10 and 12 are running over 50 percent of the route on the same street, with only the tails different — and only about 1000 feet apart when separated. They are the same conceptual route .

        Keep in mind that Route 49 also runs the same segment about 40-50 percent of this 10/12 duplication.

        Then there is the “express” option of Link from Capitol Hill through Downtown. I know people living on Capitol Hill who switched from Metro to Link when it opened. About most of the Route 10 catchment area — between Harvard and Republican — is in the Link walkable catchment Area too.

        Stepping back from it all, there is lots more value when segments are interlined through Downtown but go different places. That was how many Seattle Metro bus routes originally worked. And this is how Metro is failing to restructure the routes. And this is why Route 10 doesn’t need to go Downtown anymore — resudents east of 15th would have Route 12, and west of 15th would have Route 49 or Link. Then Route 10 could have stops at RapidRide G as well as First Hill and Cherry Hill destinations.

        Frankly, RapidRide G should have turned north and maybe have been connected to one of these other routes. Then it would have given more downtown destination options to North Capitol Hill residents, Route 2 would have been deemed more duplicative, and First Ave would have high capacity transit that is more flexible to maneuver blockages that a CCC streetcar cannot. But Metro is left trying to make the best of a route that didn’t come from a service plan.

      8. So [the 2 and G] are really duplicative only for about 1.5 miles

        Yes, but that section contributes to a huge percentage of the ridership of the 2. Keep in mind, that is *most* of the G. It isn’t until you get east of 17th that the routes are substantially different. At that point, the G is almost done — there are only three additional stops. Those stops are important, but the G was built around the (well founded) assumption that there would be huge numbers of trips west of 20th, traveling along that corridor. The problem is that the 2 also makes those trips, and now those riders will switch to the (much more frequent and faster) G. It will be harder to justify good frequency for the 2 when ridership plummets.

        I’m not saying the two routes are identical; I’m saying that they are duplicative for a key section. It is like comparing the 41 with Northgate Link. Sure, the 41 went through Northgate, Pinehurst and Lake City. Link didn’t. But a huge portion of the 41’s ridership came from trips between Northgate and downtown — enough to justify its very good frequency. If Link poaches those trips, the 41 ridership (and then frequency) gets much worse.

        A better example is the D. When Metro ran the D, they also converted the (all day version) of the 18 to the 40. This was brilliant. Rather than duplicate the exact same pathway, it covered another, very important corridor instead. It was a stupendous success: prior to the pandemic, the 40 was third in total ridership, behind only the RapidRide E and D. The two routes have been hugely successful (earning the silver and bronze of total ridership) and part of the reason is that they complement each other really well. If I’m at 24th and Market and want to get to Uptown, I’m taking the 40 and then the D. If I’m at Ballard High and want to get to Fremont, I take the D, then the 40.

        That is all I’m suggesting here. The 2 should not go away. It should not have its frequency reduced. It should simply jog over to Pike/Pine, which really isn’t much of a jog at all. A bus can’t really go straight on Union as it crosses Madison, it has to zig-zag back and fourth. It wouldn’t cost it much time at all (if any) to simply go along Pike/Pine. If anything, it is more “straight” then the current pathway (which angles left). It also provides more functionality for the folks in the area. There will still be plenty of places where you can easily walk to a bus stop for the 2 or the G. Now they go to different places, vastly expanding the area riders can go with a one-seat ride. Like the D and 40, there are plenty of opportunities for transfers. If I’m in Madrona, I would welcome the opportunity to be connected to Pike/Pine, but I could also easily transfer to the G if I want to go to First Hill or the south end of downtown.

        By making a simple, easy alteration of the 2, you would actually *increase* ridership. Under the current approach, the 2 is headed for a major downfall. Much of its ridership will be poached by the G. It will become like so many buses in the area, destined for really bad frequency because the network is outdated.

      9. I get that Seneca isn’t Madison. However, it’s parallel only for a relatively small portion of the route.

        Meanwhile, new Routes 10 and 12 are running over 50 percent of the route on the same street, with only the tails different

        Which makes the route of the 2 even worse! The 10 and 12 form a spine. That is the best thing you can say about the routes. The 2, meanwhile, doesn’t form a spine, but runs extremely close to the much more frequent bus. It is the worst of all worlds. You aren’t really adding coverage, nor are you adding frequency along the shared coverage. Not that the G needs any more frequency. It will run more often then any other bus route in our system, and more often than Link. Only spines (e. g. combinations of routes along sections) will be more frequent. Plus there is no way to make the math work. The G runs every 6 minutes, while the 2 runs every 15. Run the 2 opposite the G and the next 2 runs right next to it. On Spring, it is quite possible the 2 will simply be in the way (as there are no plans that I know of to add off-board payment for the 2). So where it actually acts like a spine (on Spring) it is a very bad spine. You will have bus bunching, with no significant improvement in headways.

        But again, I’m not defending the 10/11/12/47/49 spine either. It is spread way too thin. Three of those buses have 20 minute headways. One is scheduled to run every 30 minutes. This is in one of the most densely populated parts of the state! It is atrocious really. It would be like the 7 fanning out after it passed Franklin. Send a bus down MLK. Another one over to McClellan, and another on Genesee. By the time the bus reaches Rainier Beach, it is running every 20 minutes too. There is definitely a place for spines, but not to the point where buses run every 20 minutes (at best!) in very densely populated areas. We need consolidation to get good headways.

        Consider what I’m proposing. The 2 and 10 each run every 15 minutes, branching at 15th (the same spot as the combined 10/12). Now buses along that part of Pike/Pine have 7.5 minute headways, instead of 10. The 47 joins the fun as well. It runs every 15 minutes, timed opposite those. This means for Pike/Pine to Bellevue Avenue, frequency alternates between 7.5 minutes, and half of that. This is much better frequency for Summit and Volunteer Park (as well as Pike/Pine) and yet you’ve actually saved money! That is what happens when you consolidate.

        One thing I am wondering about is whether there will be another restructuring later, once it’s clear which routes cannibalize which other ones, etc. Think of it as one round of exploration of the possibilities, followed by a simplification later once the dust settles.

        Even if that isn’t the plan, if some of the ideas people have for simplifying the network don’t get implemented now, it may be worth pitching them later whenever opportunities present themselves.

        As a strategy, it seems poor. Of course people will use the G if they are within walking distance. Of course people will flock to the 11 — it is the only bus in the area that offers up decent (15 minute) frequency. But that doesn’t mean the 11 is a better route than the 10 — far from it. It just means that it has better frequency. At best you can say this is an experiment to see whether 15th or 19th get more riders (north of Pike/Pine, where they branch). But even that isn’t a fair comparison, as there are too many alternatives. At Thomas I’m ignoring both (and taking the 11). South of Thomas I’m walking to the point where they converge, or just walking to the G. So now we are comparing the far northern tails of both routes, which is interesting, but only a tiny portion of both routes. The biggest thing we will learn from this restructure is that if you build a poor network with really bad headways, ridership will be really bad on those buses. Not exactly shocking information.

        As to your other point, yes. They can change it later. But this is the best opportunity — right now. This is a huge change, and nothing else comes close. There are two buses that run along this corridor, and a third if you count the 2. This effects everything north of the 3/4, and east of the 70, which is a huge swath of density. Even the Link stations — while very important — don’t effect the network as much as this. The stations don’t replace routes, or parts of routes. You’ve got minor adjustments here and there, but nothing like this.

        This is the best time to change the network, just as Northgate Link was the best time to change the network in the north end (and Lynnwood Link is the best time to change the network north of there). Of course you can wait, but that just means a really bad system until then. Ridership will go down, and rarely, if ever, has Metro had enough introspection to look at decreasing ridership and question the network. More than likely, folks will shrug, and say that the G and Link just took away the ridership. Or they will blame the city for not allocating enough service there. No one will bother to ask why we are running buses every 20 minutes, while still failing to provide service along major, well traveled corridors (like Boren). They won’t bother to ask why the 2 is running very close to the G, and has suddenly seen a huge drop in ridership. They won’t blame the real culprit — a very bad network.

      10. Ross, you missed the fact that Route 2 turns north and RapidRide G does not. Even if riders get on or off the First Hill segment, those headed to Westlake or SLU or wherever north will usually choose Route 2 even when RapidRide G opens.

        And I didn’t observe a huge percentage of Route 2 riders west of 12th Ave E when I rode it every weekday for 22 months. It gets a decent percentage of riders, but Route 2 is pretty crowded by the time it reaches 14th Ave E.

    6. Is Metro using a mobility board for the G Line, as they did with U Link, RKAAMP, North Eastside, North Link, East Link, and Lynnwood Link?

      1. Not from what I can tell. The restructure is very strange. They seem to think it is tiny, so they don’t need a lot of discussion. To me, this is backwards. First of all, Metro should use any excuse to restructure their most outdated, problematic sections, and this is one. My guess is this has the greatest potential for improving transit with just a restructure in the entire state. This is where the density is. It is where the riders would be, if they provided a better network.

        But then there is the nature of the change. RapidRide G is a big deal. Even without the speed improvements (which will be significant) we are talking all-day, six minute headways. That is bigger than Link right now! The system should leverage it, instead of pretending that it doesn’t matter, like with the 2.

      2. The problem with RapidRide G is it doesn’t go to Pine, so it dumps people into lower Madison which is mostly an office-only area and misses many destinations people who don’t work in those offices go to. This is one of the tradeoffs in East Seattle, and something the network has to work around.

      3. Metro Connects had a larger restructure, including splitting the 49, moving the 2 to Pine, having the Broadway north-south route on 12th south of John, deleting the 12 or turning it into a north-south route, turning the 8 into a Denny-Madison route, and deleting the 8 on MLK or turning it into a shuttle route. I’m guessing that opposition to the more radical changes and general support for existing network led to Metro not proposing those in this restructure.

        They could still come back again in a future restructure, either if Metro proposes them, or if people keep asking for them, or if post-G ridership patterns show drops on the 10, 11, and 49.

      4. The problem with RapidRide G is it doesn’t go to Pine

        That is like saying the problem with the 10 is that it doesn’t go to Madison. It is downtown. There are tons of destinations downtown, as well as on the way. Once you are on Third, it is trivial to go either way downtown, as buses arrive every few seconds.

        The G is fine, the problem is the restructure. Of course buses should go to Pike/Pine. The 2 should go to Pike/Pine. But to have four buses go to Pike/Pine, and then another bus to to Seneca/Spring (while the most frequent bus in our entire system goes to Spring/Madison) is just a really bad network. It isn’t that we have too many buses on Pike/Pine, it that too many buses go downtown, and then spread out, making for very weak frequency across the most densely populated part of the state.

        The 3/4 is frequent; it goes to James. The G will be very frequent; it will go to Spring/Madison. So all we need is a handful of buses to go to Pike/Pine. I would say three: the 2, 10 and 47. That’s it. That covers the area, which means that everyone within a fairly large radius outside of downtown can go downtown. It gives Pike/Pine good combined headways, just like Spring/Madison and James without watering down service east of downtown.

      5. “The problem with RapidRide G is it doesn’t go to Pine”

        “That is like saying the problem with the 10 is that it doesn’t go to Madison.”

        Pine Street has more destinations serving a wider variety of people than Madison Street does. If there’s only one RapidRide in East Seattle it should be at Pine Street. I would do an 11-like route. If Madison wants to be the primary street, then it should have more housing and retail downtown, more retail on First Hill, and more businesses on First Hill that don’t close at 5pm.

      6. Pine Street has more destinations serving a wider variety of people than Madison Street does.

        I doubt it. At best it is a wash. Madison runs through the heart of First Hill. It runs by Seattle U and the main downtown library. There are a lot of office buildings and hospitals, but there is a lot more than that. Downtown has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, and continues to change. It is a lot more diverse. Areas that used to be just office buildings or just hospitals have a lot more housing, retail and other uses. Destinations follow density. Pike/Pine has had it for a long time. So has First Hill, but it is growing rapidly. A building like this, this and this will mean a lot of potential customers for anyone opening anything in the area. There is already a lot there, and there will be a lot more in the future.

      7. They could still come back again in a future restructure, either if Metro proposes them, or if people keep asking for them, or if post-G ridership patterns show drops on the 10, 11, and 49.

        Yes, and that seems to be the pattern. Propose something that just about everyone agrees won’t work well, and then change things later, based on the low ridership. The 10 and 12 have this written all over them. The combined sections will do fine, but the rest of it will have very few riders. Maybe the combined sections will carry the rest of it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually consolidate on one pathway (or zig-zag, as I’ve proposed).

        The 49 already has low ridership — that is what disappoints me the most. Rather than address it with a major restructure (sending it to Beacon Hill, replacing that part of the 60) they simply reduce frequency. I worry they will take the same approach with the 2. The 2 will see a dramatic drop in ridership. Metro may respond by cutting frequency, which means that folks in Madrona will be out of luck. If they sent it to Pike/Pine they would get more riders and make it easier to justify decent frequency.

        The 11 will do OK. The 11 is one of those buses with decent numbers, and people think it is the best option, while ignoring the big picture. It is like the 67 (although not to the same degree). It isn’t that bad, but it makes way more sense to combine it with the 8. But you also need to increase frequency on the 10. With a frequent 10, folks headed downtown can walk a few blocks to get to the very frequent G or walk a few blocks to get to the 10. With an infrequent 10 (and 12) people will use the 11 if they are north of Madison, and be stuck with a long walk, a transfer to Link, or really bad frequency if the 11 goes to Uptown. You can’t change the 11 without increasing frequency on the 10, which means changing the network (combining the 10/12 for better headways).

      1. “Metro Connects is not affordable;”

        It always needed more service hours for the complete network. There’s nothing ideal about the current level of service hours; it’s just what we inherited from various past decisions that were all incremental. None of them started with “Here’s what we think is the most useful network for the county, and here are the service hours for all of it.” Metro Connects is an attempt at the first part. The second part still hasn’t been addressed, and is why our bus service is lacking.

        “it provided too much coverage.”

        The problem with the network is too little frequency and coverage. I hesitate to say it had “too much coverage” when it still probably had too little. There were a few laughable routes like the two on Roy/Aloha Street, the extension north of Summit to the former 25 area, and the Renton-Snoqualmie express. I think those weren’t really serious and would have never seen the light of day. But 90% of the network I’d say we’d be better off having than not having, and it would get us closer to what would be a normal amount of bus service in most of the world, one that would make driving more optional rather than necessary.

      2. I’m firmly on the “more coverage over more frequency” camp, I admit, but for whatever it’s worth more frequency would never have got me to take more trips by bus, and I don’t live in nearly as good a frequency area as Capitol Hill, nor have I ever lived in as good a frequency area in Washington state. The trips I cannot do by bus are the ones which involve going outside coverage areas, or which are simply impractical by bus because of the last mile distances involved at the remote ends, not where I live (i.e. again not frequency). To put it another way, it doesn’t do me much good to increase frequency to 5 minute intervals on three-seat rides to reach relatives living in the remote suburbs in SnoCo, because it’s still an hour long walk from the closest bus stop on a street or country road with no sidewalk. And that’s what we use our family vehicle for, not to get around the city faster.

      3. Depending on what you mean by “coverage”, coverage and frequency are not mutually exclusive. If you mean unique bus stops, then yes, they are in opposition. But if you mean the number of people who can walk to a bus stop within a reasonable distance (which is typically about a quarter mile) then they aren’t.

        Consider an imaginary city, with two bus lines, a block apart. Each line runs 10 miles. Each bus line runs every half hour. This saves a block of walking for most people, but it means that the bus runs infrequently. By simply consolidating on one of the streets, you could double the frequency of the bus. Now that you have made a huge improvement in frequency, put a little money into coverage. Extend the line a mile. This costs some money, which means that frequency goes down, but not by that much. You are still running the buses way more often, while you have increased frequency. Frequency and coverage have improved.

        You’ve also increased ridership. There is very strong evidence that ridership is dependent on frequency. You reach a point of diminishing returns, but with the exception of the “spine” on Third Avenue, the 3/4 or the G itself, none of the buses in the area come close to that point. Ridership increases significantly as a bus goes from 15 minute to 10 minute frequency. With increased ridership, you have increased revenue, which can go into adding more service.

        Metro Connect had plenty of routes that were overly optimistic. But it also had plenty of cost savings. Many of the ideas shown on the map I referenced earlier were from them (https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1O8i9WZI_SiPiXgxeAJbHXW99rrH51vo&usp=sharing). It is worth pointing out that this proposal is largely coverage neutral, while increasing frequency dramatically. Make the little loop at the tail of the 10 as I suggested earlier and you’ve actually increased coverage *and* frequency. You’ve gained coverage because of the 47, while losing only a tiny amount of coverage at the north end of Capitol Hill. All the while, you have made a huge improvement in frequency. Just as with that imaginary city, it can be done.

        The area east of downtown probably has the most to gain from a major restructure. But there are plenty of other places which have similar issues. It is easy to find examples of why people prefer the current system. But when you keep having patch after patch of buses that are very close to each other, or overlap in odd ways, it adds up to bad frequency. Then we throw up our hands and say “oh well, what are you gonna do”. We blame the city council (and mayor) for not allocating enough money. We blame the voters of King County, for opposing extra funding. All of this is true, but we also have to come to grips with the fact that our system could be a lot more frequent without spending extra money, if we simply had a better network.

        It has literally been ten years since David Lawson wrote this: https://seattletransitblog.com/2013/08/19/your-bus-much-more-often-no-more-money-really/. It is right there, in the title. We’ve only nibbled around the edges when it comes to that sort of network. We are still too timid when it comes to the network, despite massive spending on Link, and huge projects like RapidRide G. We focus way too much on specific trips, as opposed to building an efficient anywhere-to-anywhere network. Let me just quote from David’s excellent article:

        So what’s the catch? There are two. First, more transfers will be required. Some very heavily used one-seat rides would turn into two-seat rides, always with one or both legs on Link or an 8- or 10-minute bus line. Second, riders might have to walk a few extra blocks. Corridors in today’s network that are close together and not separated by steep hills are mostly consolidated. Many deviations that slow down service are removed.

        To many, this is intolerable. They don’t want to transfer. They don’t want to walk two blocks to the bus. They would rather the buses run every 20 minutes in the most urban area of the state than rebuild the network. Holy cow, 20 minutes! Just look at the proposal A:

        10 — 20 minutes
        11 — 15 minutes
        12 — 20 minutes
        47 — Gone
        49 — 20 minutes

        This is peak weekday service! This is at best! At night and weekends, it gets worse. I know the 10 and 12 combine for 10 minute headways, but that happens at Pine. Anything north of there, and you are out of luck. If you want to go downtown, you have to choose between two buses that run every 20 minutes, or a bus that runs every 15 (at best) all running on different streets. If you live in the Summit neighborhood — one of the most densely populated places in the state — the 47 is gone, which means that you have to walk to the 49, and that bus only runs every 20 minutes as well.

        It is bad frequency because it is a bad network. It is no one’s fault, it just evolved that way. The routes go way back, and moving trolley wire is expensive. The G is not only a dramatic improvement in mobility, but it is a completely different bus. It doesn’t directly replace a particular bus (unlike say, the H, which replaced the 120). It replaces part of the 11 and 12, while running very close (and literally overlapping) the 2, but it isn’t a one-to-one replacement. It begs for a major restructure, not only to take advantage of it, but to build the sort of system that David called for ten years ago. What Metro has proposed isn’t it, and will have very disappointing ridership for a long time as a result.

      4. The primary issue is frequency. All of Seattle’s densest corridors like Pine Street, Madison Street, Jefferson Street, Jackson Street, and Broadway should have buses every 5-7 minutes all day and evening across the entirety of their dense area, which for Pine Street means 2nd to 15th. (1st to 2nd is now blocked by a near-woonerf on Pike, which is fine.) Only 3rd Avenue and Jackson Street most closely meet this criteria. The G will do it on Madison Street; although as I argued, that means more people won’t be able to take it downtown than would if it were on Pine Street.

        Metro’s track record with evenly spacing overlapping routes is poor. I trust Metro that it intends to coordinate the 10/12 for 10-minute daytime service and 15-minute evenings. (As long as Seattle’s TBD holds.) It has never tried to coordinate Pine Street routes before. In the daytime it’s somewhat OK because one of the 10, 11, or 49 usually comes in 5-7 minutes (but not always). But evenings and Sundays it’s whacked because all three come within a minute of each other every 15 minutes. I can’t think of why anyone would transfer between those routes downtown so I don’t see the benefit, while the downside is waiting 15 minutes in one of the densest parts of the city or even the Pacific Northwest. That’s what prevents us from having fully transit-oriented neighborhoods like Vancouver’s West End or San Francisco’s Chinatown or Mission Street.

        On top of that is unreliability. The 10 and 11 now regularly come five minutes late and you don’t know when they’ll come. I find that extraordinary because the routes are so short and there’s no Fremont Bridge or I-5 entrance to explain it. But it’s happening. Still, with everything else Metro is trying to accomplish with limited resources, I won’t press too hard about that. Except to say that high frequency and coordination would mitigate it.

        I agree with Ross that the 2 is too close to the G. I’ve never liked the fact that the 2 and 12 are on different streets with mediocre frequency. But I also see the political pressures that Metro is under. I could berate Metro for not having 5-7 minute frequency on all the other corridors and rerouting the 2, but we live in a political system with differing views where compromise is needed. If Metro takes one step in the right direction, that at least gets us closer, and maybe it will be easier to restructure the 2 later. I don’t think it makes it a “bad network” or “horrible network” just because the 2 is still legacy. The important point is that you’ll be able to take an ultra-frequent G, which was never the case between Pine and James until now. (By “never” I mean since 1979. It was doubtless more frequent in the 1920s.)

        But if we can have only one of Pine, Madison, or James with 5-7 minute service full time, it should be Pine rather than Madison. That would serve the widest cross-section of the public for more of their trips. Still, that’s an ideal, not something I demand Metro do right now. The G’s route was decided years ago and is under construction, so it can’t be changed. I’m just point out it makes the network less than ideal.

        As to more radical ideas like turning the 10 into a 15th-14th or 15th-12th route, those would have to have been suggested earlier, not when Metro is putting the finishing touches on the restructure. I know Ross has suggested a similar route in earlier articles, and doubtless put it in his feedback to Metro then. But for others who are just suggesting it now, it’s too late, at least for this restructure.

    7. Route 27 is a hybrid; Route 47 is an electric trolleybus. Since fall 2012, Transit has tried to minimize the turns to/from 3rd Avenue at the north end to keep the 3rd Avenue transit spine moving. Before fall 2012, routes 14 north and south and routes 11 and 125 did turn to/from 3rd Avenue. In March 2019, Route 41 did turn to 3rd Avenue from Union Street; that year had issues.

  4. Sound Transit should set up a live cam channel on YouTube. The cam should be located on top of the elevator tower on the east side of Pac Hwy, across the street from SeaTac/Airport Station, so the cam is looking at trains coming and going from the station, with a backdrop of planes landing and taking off.

    1. Sounds like the King 5 Webcam for Sea-tac Airport (can’t put the link here but it’s easily searchable.)

  5. The tunnel closure and single-tracking August 12-20 will be followed immediately August 21-September 17 with single-tracking Othello and Rainier Beach Station to replace the tiles. Trains will be reduced to 12 minutes.

  6. Is there an explanation as to why the headways and waits on routes 10, 12, and 49 need to be longer? Are hours from those routes needed to achieve the G Line short headway and waits?

    1. I’ve never read any explanation, but my guess is that Metro is basically treating these as coverage routes. Ridership on the 49 is way down. Obviously a lot of this is people switching to Link. Much of the ridership of the 12 comes from service that will be replaced by the G. But mostly it is just a very spread out network, duplicating service.

      This is why I continue to complain about it. This is becoming a ridership/frequency spiral. For many people, the 10, 47, or 49 is better for getting downtown than Link or the G. But if they run those buses infrequently, it simply doesn’t work. It is like trying to get from First Hill to South Lake Union. It takes close to half hour using transit, but about ten minutes in a car. Suddenly Uber and Lyft start looking really good. A lot of people will simply walk a long ways to CHS, or the nearest G stop, but a lot of people will abandon transit for much of their travel.

      The basic problem is that the system is spread too thin. Holy cow, there will be five buses heading downtown on Pike/Pine, along with the 2 (that probably should, but instead shadows the G instead). No wonder the buses run so infrequently. Your bus, far less often, no less money.

  7. I changed the article title since we’ve got important discussions about the G restructure that people will want to find. The URL remains the same for bookmarks. I’m not planning an article on the G/10/12/47 since I don’t feel strongly about any particular alternative. I wrote an article about it in the last round. I’ll mention it in the next open thread with a link to this discussion, and that will be our coverage of this feedback round. Of course, others can write articles about it this round if they wish to present a view.

  8. They should really just extend the 47 to UW or something like they’ve proposed before, so it becomes more useful to more then just Summit residents. Doing that would also allow it to get off of narrow Summit Ave, resulting in faster trips for Summit residents and wherever it would go after Summit.

    1. The 47 extended to the UW describes the 49, so, they already have that service, it’s just a few blocks away. From what I gather, residents of the walkable neighborhood don’t want to have to walk a few blocks to Broadway or Olive to catch a bus.

      1. Yeah, if by “coverage” we mean “residents within 1/4 mile of a useful bus”, the Summit residents are quite well covered, unlike, say, 50% of Bellevue residents and 90% of Snohomish County residents, probably. But people complain about missing out on the Summit bus. My not so generous reaction, admittedly, is “cry me a river” but the more generous reaction is that likely there are people who will benefit from the extra coverage, and the area is in fact quite steep.

        One interesting study would be to see how many extra riders, vs. how many extra rides, each of the various options bandied around on these threads would provide. I’m going to venture a guess and say that there are more low-hanging fruit in that sense in places like East Bellevue, or Kent, or Lynnwood, or Sumner, than there are in Seattle. So I would love to see Seattle residents argue to use more of their own taxes to help people in Kent, for example, as opposed to building the CCC, or funding the 47.

      2. To be fair, Sam, I believe there was a plan to extend the 47 east along Aloha, then north on 24th, and then west on Boyer, covering that part of the city. Like the 49 it would go to the UW, but via a completely different route.

        I’m going to venture a guess and say that there are more low-hanging fruit in that sense in places like East Bellevue, or Kent, or Lynnwood, or Sumner, than there are in Seattle.

        I doubt it. The problem with most of our suburbs is that they are very spread out, and very low density. There are little pockets of apartments here and there, but even the fairly low density parts of Seattle (e. g. Magnolia) have more density, and are close to bigger destinations. Not only does proximity lead to higher ridership, but it is cheaper to serve.

        Consider the area across from Saint Edwards, close to the QFC: https://goo.gl/maps/eFTg8N5jPpwPR3fSA. There are apartments and condos there, as well as grocery stores, restaurants, etc. It really isn’t very far from Kenmore, where there is are two fairly frequent buses to Seattle (and soon a “BRT” line). It wouldn’t be that expensive to serve, and with the apartments there, as well as Bastyr nearby, it seems like it would do reasonable well. Except similar buses simply don’t. These little pockets of density are surrounded by big swaths of houses on large lots. If you give that area bus service — even just half hourly — you end up taking service from another route that is a lot like it, and not doing that well. There is no simple restructure in the suburbs that can result in the kind of transit improvement we are talking about here.

        Look at the contrast between this restructure and East Link. Here, I’m suggesting running buses a lot more often, at no additional cost. With East Link, I have no idea what to do. Nor does anyone else. I never read anything that was a clear and obvious winner. Oh, there were good suggestions (like running the 270 more often, or somehow making the route from Factoria to South Bellevue faster) but no obvious ways to fix it. It is just very difficult to cover such a broad, low-density area that contains destinations scattered about. It makes sense to build an anywhere-to-anywhere grid (or something close to it) east of downtown. The greater Central Area is filled with density and destinations, all fairly close to each other. But doing that on the East Side means running buses so infrequently that they rarely pick anyone up.

      3. Well, I explicitly didn’t include Kenmore or Kirkland in my list, I did say East Bellevue :)

        But let’s take Lynnwood specifically. I’m not great with maps so I’ll use words instead. You got major blocks at 35th/36th Ave SW, 44th Ave SW, and 52nd Ave SW jutting over to 64th Ave SW because of the interruption. So you could run 3 buses N-S. And to have a semblance of a grid you could do something along 188th St. SW to complement what’s already there. So that’s 4 lines, but they’re all actually pretty short. You could run one across at 164th/168th Ave SW to connect the two farthest from each other in a U shape, and the other can be just a faster shuttle. So now we’re talking 3 bus lines running at 20 minute coverage and you get most of Lynnwood city limits covered with decent frequency. Yeah, it won’t be the 7, but I bet you a month’s ORCA that it’ll be better than the 246. But it won’t happen because CT budget is paid by SnoCo, not King. Will King tax itself to improve transit in SnoCo? Ignoring the fact that the political mechanism isn’t there – I’m just talking an opinion poll. What do you think that poll would say? I’m betting another month of ORCA that the answer is “no”.

      4. I should add that there were buses on some of these roads that aren’t there anymore. For example, 44th Ave SW had the 401, which admittedly ran only during commute times in one direction, but it was useful in the evenings to stop at Fred Meyer on the way home from work, do quick shopping, and then catch the next one out the rest of the way.

        Was it ideal? No, but I likely wasn’t the only one doing that. Put buses on an actual grid there and people may actually use them. And Lynnwood has more of a grid than Saint Edwards area does, and the demographics are likely more conducive to transit.

    2. It is much simpler to send the 49 to Beacon Hill (replacing that part of the 60). This would save service hours by going straight (not back and forth, like the 60), reducing overlap between the two routes and having one less route going downtown. It would mean that the 47, 10 and Link all combine for routes downtown, while the 49 covers Broadway. This means better line spacing, while saving a lot of money which can be put into better frequency. There is nothing inherently wrong with having two buses relatively close together (like the 47 and 49) as long as:

      1) The buses go to different places.
      2) There is enough ridership on both to justify both.

      The same is true for the 12. It is close to the 10 and 48. If it went directly south (and doglegged to 15th) it would be fine, as long as it got enough riders to justify good frequency. Unfortunately, I think it is borderline with today’s system.

      1. “There is nothing inherently wrong with having two buses relatively close together (like the 47 and 49) as long as:

        1) The buses go to different places.
        2) There is enough ridership on both to justify both. ”

        And 3) there is enough funding to support meaningful frequency on both, right? I thought that that was what you generally favored as the discriminating factor. If both have 30 minute frequency or worse presumably you’d prefer having them merged.

      2. It’s too bad we don’t already have a route that starts at CHS, goes straight down to the end of Broadway, has good stop spacing, has good ROW priority, and can run as frequently as this corridor merits, which is to say every 5 minutes all day once the 2 Line fully opens, and every 4 minutes during peak. How do we go about creating such a route?

      3. And 3) there is enough funding to support meaningful frequency on both, right?

        I thought that that was what you generally favored as the discriminating factor. If both have 30 minute frequency or worse presumably you’d prefer having them merged.

        Yes, but the likelihood of meaningful frequency on both without “enough ridership on both to justify both” is slim. Metro isn’t going to run buses every ten minutes just for the fun of it. Buses like the E, 7 and 3/4 run frequently because they carry a lot of riders. It really isn’t about funding, it is about ridership. There are very few corridors where it makes sense to have buses close together. We could get away with it downtown. We could send a couple buses on First (as an alternative to the streetcar) because:

        A) It would only take two average, overlapping routes to provide good frequency on 1st.
        B) There is literally more than enough frequency on Third Avenue.

        There are a number of places where we buses close together, and it has been a mistake. The 73 serves 15th, while the 67 serves Roosevelt. These are close enough that most riders just walk to the more frequent 67. The 67 also runs close to buses on The Ave. This is borderline, in my opinion. I would just consolidate on The Ave, but there is plenty of ridership on both corridors, and so maybe just enough to justify having two routes. (In the long term I would extend the RapidRide J up to 70th, and then send the 67 to the Ave.).

        It is always a judgement call. But clearly these routes are not frequent enough to justify their proximity. Twenty minute frequency (at best) is very poor for routes that are very close together.

      4. The answer to Brent’s question was available during the McGinn term. Time machine needed. ST2 had awarded the project about 132 million in capital and service subsidy. The ST board had made the mode choice as streetcar. The SDOT study found that it was too costly to go through 12th Avenue South and South Jackson Street, so they deviated to 14th Avenue South. A better choice would have been to shift modes to low floor electric trolleybus; the overhead was in place between Pioneer Square and East Aloha Street. Capital could have been shifted to operations for the Brent headway. ST may have needed a two-thirds vote. SDOT could have provide bike priority on 12th Avenue South. On South Jackson Street, the ST2 ETB would have served the same outside stops as routes 7, 14, and 36. Waits would have been shorter; the service would have been more reliable. McGinn developed a streetcar fetish; it extended to Eastlake and Ballard.

  9. In a previous post, Brent White asked “Do you know if the passenger on the northbound 1 Line train who was stabbed in the head at SODO Station Saturday is okay?”

    Brent, I’m not sure if this KOMO story answers your question, because the events they mention happened on Friday and Sunday.


    1. Sam, the comments to the article say it all.

      I am not so concerned about Link or transit because so few trips are by transit and most have a much better mode in cars. . But I don’t see how Seattle ever overcomes this perception of being too dangerous to visit, work in, or just take a train through.

      This article is only the tip of the iceberg compared to the daily reports in the news and Times about violent crime in Seattle. The entire region reads these articles daily, when maybe a handful read about Harrell’s seven goal plan to return workers, shoppers and visitors to Seattle by restoring law and order despite being down 300 police officers.

      1. “Sam, the comments to the article say it all.”

        ? ? ? Are you serious???

        KOMO’s comment section is Troll Central.

      2. “But I don’t see how Seattle ever overcomes this perception of being too dangerous to visit, work in, or just take a train through.”

        But that’s the story of real estate speculation all over the USA:

        • create a dangerous area through disinvestment

        • speculators con everyone (especially immigrants and minorities) into selling at deflated prices

        • actually invest in the area

        • area becomes trendy “new” place with lots of neat stuff

        • speculators sell stuff off at inflated prices before sanity returns to the market

        • speculators move on to destroy and rebuild some other area in some other city.

        • prices drop a little to reflect what people can actually afford.

        • doom predicted, causing investors to leave and widespread disinvestment

        This has happened to Seattle and hundreds of other cities across the USA in the past. Right now, Atlanta is on the “everyone moving back” stage.

        I still get 5-10 calls, texts and mailers per month from speculators telling me Portland is dying and I should immediately sell at half market rate before the woke transgender Arizona Antifa voting machines drinking Bud light come and burn down the entire city to perform drag shows of the 1619 project, or some such combination of supposed outrages.

        So, in the northwest, they’re apparently still trying to get prices down. They’ll come back though. You know there wouldn’t be this much effort put into scaring property owners into selling at below market rates if there wasn’t a plan to return investment back into the area.

      3. Glenn, the problem with your scenario is we are talking about the CBD, and the disinvestment has occurred due to WFH, which has exacerbated the perceptions of lack of public safety.

        The are no “poor minority” property owners in the CBD (although your scenario will likely play out in the CID due to upzoning which is usually step one in your scenario you omitted). These office towers are tremendously expensive to disassemble and “rebuild”. “Speculators” are not going to swoop in to buy these office towers (including the vacant city and county buildings near CID N) that have declined in value, with many likely moving toward foreclosure, because they won’t be able to sell the buildings or develop the property at a profit because they don’t have the folks to fill the space. Commercial office development is a dead game right now.

        I do however agree with your scenario when it comes to Seattle’s distressed residential neighborhoods. The Central Dist. went from 85% Black in 1970 to 15% today. We are now seeing the pressures from gentrification moving into south Seattle neighborhoods, and what you describe playing out.

        I am not sure what can be done about it. Some don’t see the problem with gentrification. Seattle has a very high AMI. New multi-family construction has caught up to population growth, but as your scenario notes that was from new expensive construction replacing older more affordable existing housing, often housing in which “speculators con everyone (especially immigrants and minorities) into selling at deflated prices”, although in fact many of the immigrants and minorities were renters, and so received no profit from the sale of that property, and instead simply got an eviction notice due to new construction and told to move farther south.

        According to the U of Toronto school of urban planning way back in 2020 urban cores will need to diversify from office towers and work commuters in order to survive and thrive. More housing, more tourism, more visitors to shop, dine, and play, to get more eyes on the street, and probably over time a smaller CBD.

        Seattle is a pretty city in a beautiful setting with temperate weather in the summer, a deep-water port, cruise ships that must relocate during hurricane season, a world class university, lovely residential neighborhoods, a new convention center, and an educated population with a high AMI, so over time it should be able to figure this out. Of course, San Francisco has all these attributes too, but can’t get past the homeless and crime issues right now because they refuse to question their ideology, but will when the money really runs out.

        The immediate concern right now is tax revenue because pre-pandemic these commercial urban areas generated most of the city tax revenue, which reduced the tax burden on the city residents. Harrell’s seven goal plan is all about getting folks with money to spend back downtown. Seattle like many cities is going to see a big hole in its operations budget, which it can fix by taxing the city residents more, or cutting expenditures. The concern for transit is whether ridership and funding can be restored before the systems (MTA and Bart for example) are too far gone to recover and rehabilitate.

        At the same time, the overall U.S. economy is quite strong, especially employment, despite high interest rates and inflation, which just shows people adapt. The stock market is on a tear which is good for pension plans. WFH has allowed businesses to save on leased space, and given employees much greater freedom, and in many cases gave them back two additional hours/day they used to spend commuting to an office to work or spend with their families.

        Harrell knows what he needs to do, he just doesn’t know how to do it. Losing 300 police officers and inheriting a terrible city council and an upcoming huge hole in the operations budget (and Amazon with 25,000 empty office spaces in Bellevue) won’t make things easier. So vote carefully for the next city council. I don’t think there is any more time to elect another bad mayor or city council.

    2. The assault I missed being near by mere minutes was actually last Friday. My brain fog. I was lucky to get that day off to attend a Reign match (where there is plenty of room to spread out, unlike the Sounders, which I am avoiding like the plague, literally).

      I hope the victims are okay, the attacker(s) caught, and we take both traffic collisions and the opportunity to improve public safety by locating security near the largest crowds (e.g. stations) seriously. ST’s hiring of full-coverage station security seems a step in the right direction, with ST able to hire young folks who mirror the community, and don’t end up being a deterrent to minority riders. The stations are a valuable enough investment to merit a human security presence. If it ends up reducing crime near stations, great! The pandemic still overwhelmingly skews the past three years of data.

      That said, if the attacks came from psychotic episodes, deterrence would have very limited impact. There is nothing for it but to have the treatment available whenever someone is ready for it, so we can shrink the pool of the needing-treatment-but-untreated. And then don’t dump them back on the street. (To be clear, I have no professional training on the topic of mental illness.)

      1. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/law-justice/2-violent-assaults-reported-on-seattle-area-light-rail-trains/#:~:text=Around%205%3A45%20a.m.%20Sunday%2C%20a%2031-year-old%20man%20was,argument%20escalated%20to%20violence%2C%20the%20Sheriff%E2%80%99s%20Office%20said.

        The Seattle Times has an article in today’s paper about the two assaults. One is random, and the other they are not sure about. The article also discusses the knife attack on July 21:

        “The two assaults follow a July 21 knife attack at Othello Station that left a 51-year-old man in serious condition.

        “King County Prosecutor Leesa Manion filed charges against Ishmail A. Brown, 41, alleging one count of first-degree assault and one count of second-degree assault in the Othello Station incident.

        “Charging documents from the prosecutor’s office say Brown used a knife to stab the victim, a stranger, 18 times “without any provocation,” trapping the man in his seat. Other passengers stepped in and tried to help, police reported, by using a duffel bag as a shield and throwing shoes, the filing said. Video footage shows the attack lasted about one minute, until passengers rescued the victim, saving his life, an attached police detective’s statement said. The victim has since been released from Harborview, a hospital spokesperson said.

        “Brown is jailed with bail set at $1.5 million and the next hearing Aug. 7, to consider his ability to stand trial, prosecutor’s spokesperson Douglas Wagoner said Thursday.”

        The Times’ article seemed to imply fentanyl was an issue in the attacks, or is an issue as its use on transit “spreads”.

        I don’t know why the Times waited so long to report the two assaults. Lately it seems the Times is trying to reduce the number of articles about crime and safety issues in Seattle, but once the story was reported by KOMO I am sure the Times felt compelled to cover it. I wonder if the DSA or Harrell’s office asked the Times to cool it a bit on the daily stories about how dangerous Seattle is.

        Without getting into whether the Times or Komo is progressive or conservative (and this blog is on the very far edge of the political spectrum but completely oblivious of that), I can say these stories that are fed to our phones and email accounts daily terrify eastsiders, and the number one theme today is don’t let Seattle come to the eastside, not don’t go to the eastside which is a given.

        Folks on this blog can say eastsiders are being hysterical, especially eastside women who won’t shop in Seattle or even drive through it after the 8-month pregnant women was shot in the head in her car waiting at 4th and Lenora (being pregnant really hit a nerve among eastside women thinking of her unborn child since unlike this blog so many eastside women have children), let alone ride public transit, but who really cares what folks on this blog say about anything other than transit, and mass transit needs … drum roll…mass ridership. Just a downtown business district needs mass people, which is why the buildings were built so tall. It made great sense once to run a hub and spoke transit system –buses, light rail and tunnels — to and from downtown Seattle but today it makes no sense, but we are stuck with this white elephant system where the hub is no longer a hub but we spend a fortune serving it with transit.

        No one is saying Seattle needs eastside workers, shoppers, diners, or even transit riders, and vice versa, although Harrell’s seven goal plan to revitalize downtown Seattle sure relies on a lot of eastsiders going back. I think the wake-up call will be when Seattle’s next operations budget is being discussed, and how to fill the funding hole (more taxes and on whom or spending cuts), and when the property tax levy is shifted from declining office values to other properties, including SFH and apartment complexes to make up the shortfall. Let’s pray a bridge does not fail requiring a large amount of money to repair it from the operations budget. I believe the recent decision to basically mothball the CCC has to do with upcoming budget shortfalls, as does the fact some many city council incumbents chose to not run again.

      2. https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/nation/another-harrowing-escape-puts-attention-on-open-prostitution-market-along-seattles-aurora-avenue/?utm_source=marketingcloud&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=TSA_080423180102+Terrifying+ordeal+puts+focus+on+prostitution+along+Aurora+Avenue_8_4_2023&utm_term=Registered%20User

        Here is another Seattle Times email feed you get if you sign up for the Seattle Times. You get about 10/day, at least half sports. I got this one at 11:02 am today.

        “The July 15 abduction is one of at least three cases in the past year in which police say women engaged in prostitution along Aurora Avenue had to make harrowing escapes or otherwise be rescued after being held against their will, and it raised questions about the consequences of tolerating an open sex market along the busy thoroughfare.

        “Last November, a 20-year-old woman who had been trafficked along Aurora tried to escape her pimp by jumping nearly naked out of the third-floor window of a home in south Seattle where she’d been kept. The escape failed, and after the pimp drove her back up to Aurora, she tried again, this time running from him and sitting topless in the roadway. A rideshare driver stopped and rescued her — and then engaged in a rolling gunfight with the pimp, who chased them in his car, police said.”

        Now are eastside women going to go to Aurora Ave. or S. Seattle? No, but at the same time I don’t think they look at articles like this, or drug use and crime at 12th and Jackson (where some used to shop or dine) and think I will go to Seattle but only visit the safe areas. Which safe areas? Whether it is KOMO, KING, KIRO, Channel 13, the Seattle Times or Nextdoor these endless emails about crime and danger in Seattle are killing Seattle. Harrell knows that, so does the DSA, and both are trying to downplay these stories, but their voices are tiny compared to the megaphone of the collective press.

        I thought Ross made a good point: we need to think about a transit system that is not a hub and spoke system with downtown Seattle the hub, which of course requires all the transfers in downtown Seattle, mostly along 3rd. This will be very difficult with light rail since its route is fixed and stations unsecured, and will be very expensive if any kind of true coverage and frequency is desired for all the other areas if served from A to B without downtown Seattle part of the route.

      3. “this blog is on the very far edge of the political spectrum but completely oblivious of that”

        We’re left of Sawant? No. The Stranger is left of us, and Sawant is left of The Stranger.

      4. “We need to think about a transit system that is not a hub and spoke system with downtown Seattle the hub, which of course requires all the transfers in downtown Seattle, mostly along 3rd. This will be very difficult with light rail since its route is fixed and stations unsecured, and will be very expensive if any kind of true coverage and frequency is desired for all the other areas if served from A to B without downtown Seattle part of the route.”

        I’m not following that point. Link has made avoiding downtown transfers easier, not harder. A simple example: prior to Link any transit trip between SeaTac airport and anywhere north of downtown Seattle required a transfer in downtown Seattle. Today, you just stay on the train past downtown to whichever stop is closest to where you are going and transfer there. The 255 is another example. You used to have to transfer downtown to go from Kirkland to places like Fremont, Ballard, or Green Lake, in spite of it being out of the way. Today, those transfers are shifted to the U-district. A trip between UW and Mercer Island currently requires a transfer downtown; once Bellevue Link is currently built out, it won’t anymore. A trip from SeaTac to Bellevue currently effectively requires a transfer downtown because the 560 runs so infrequently outside of weekday daytime hours as to be nearly useless. When ST3 is built out, the transfer will shift to Tukwila International Blvd. Link Station to a frequent bus down 405.

        The real downtown hub+spoke network was what Seattle-area transit used to be like back before Link existed. Since then, it has only moved away from that and will continue to do so.

      5. Asdf2 you confuse transfers with a hub. A light rail system that requires riders to go through a central hub — and unsecured stations — is a spoke and hub system, and in fact most transfers are in downtown Seattle because downtown is a bus hub too.

        Not much can be done about Link. All routes pass through downtown Seattle, including a second future tunnel, which made sense in 2008 and 2016. And I am not sure what can change with buses if they pass through downtown and that is the major transfer point with Link.

        A good example is Sounder S. It actually passes through several SE cities, but once WFH came around ridership plummeted because it was designed around downtown Seattle. Same with East Link, the 550, 554, etc.

        Ideally the central business district would be the urban core and transit hub, but today WFH and concerns about safety are making the hub and spoke system obsolete. As you note, the main advantage for Link — for some — is the fact a rider does not have to get off in downtown Seattle.

      6. Downtown Seattle is the region’s hub because that’s what central cities are. Especially in Pugetopolis where the geography is like an hourglass with downtown in the middle. It makes no sense to make the transit trunk go from the U-District or Lynnwood to SeaTac airport via 23rd Avenue or the Eastside. That was tried in the mid 20th century when a throwaway mentality led to abandoning central downtowns with suburban malls and big box stores, and then abandoning old malls and big box stores for ever newer ones. This reached an extreme in Detroit, where they tried to create a donut Detroit region without Detroit, and then told Detroit to drop dead.

        If there’s a problem with safety in downtown Seattle, the answer is to fix it, not reroute transit around downtown.

        Daniel seems to think that all transit criminals walk on downtown because of the lack of fare gates and armed guards, and then disperse to the other neighborhoods and suburbs causing mayhem. If we simply moved Link and the core bus routes to 23rd Avenue or I-405, then transit crime would disappear and the outlying neighborhoods and suburbs would be safe.

      7. this chain discussed a hub and spoke network. Link is through routed in downtown. All Link stations could become hubs with a local bus network passing close to the station; this is the multi-centered approach. The key is short headways and waits for Link and bus with short walks for transfers. In the weeds, there are issues. The bilateral agreement between MI and ST makes transfer walks longer; that Mt. Baker station did not straddle Rainier Avenue South forces riders transferring from/to northbound buses cross the arterial; the new G Line will not have an eastbound bus stop at 23rd Avenue or a downtown stop close to Link (but pretty close to USS).

        Note we do not want the stretched out IDS-two of Constantine-Harrell for DSTT2; it implies 10-minute transfer times between the east and south lines. The single tunnel of the STB posters seems best; the shallow 4th Avenue option seems second best.

      8. The tv news channels apparently read the STB comments section before the Times did. They know this comment section is where transit news breaks.

  10. Waited half an hour for the 40 at Northgate yesterday just after 5:00 PM. Then when the buses pulled out of the layover space, the first 40 bus skipped the Northgate stop, but no worries, a second bus was starting its run at the exact same time, and stopped to pick up the 30 people waiting at the stop. By the time we got to Ballard, OneBusAway showed three buses traveling down 24th within five minutes of each other, I suppose because the next bus had caught up with us. As someone who rides the 40 both directions from Ballard quite frequently, I really wish the north half of the 40 was getting the same improvements that the southern half is getting.

    1. How would improvements to the north half of the route 40 fix the situation you described where a route 40 bus parked in the Northgate TC layover area bypassed the transit center when it left, leaving you to wait for the next route 40?

  11. I see this as one more reason to extend the D Line to Northgate Station. The start times from Northgate would be tightly controlled by the RaipRide Operations Center.

    But this doesn’t have to be 40 vs D. There could be one or the other departing Northgate every 5 minutes.

  12. https://www.theurbanist.org/2023/08/04/stride-brt-is-vastly-overbudget-risks-stressing-other-st3-projects/

    “Years of added delay and well over budget, Sound Transit’s Stride bus rapid transit (BRT) program is now adding more stress on the larger Sound Transit 3 program. Agency boardmembers are still moving the program forward, but that didn’t stop them from expressing a lot of concern and frustration about it.

    “In early July, an exasperated Claudia Balducci, chair of the agency’s System Expansion Committee, bluntly said, “You’re asking for us to add $200 million and several years to a project that was supposed to be the cheap fast one.” That was in reference to a then-proposed budget and schedule action for the program, known as “baselining” in Sound Transit parlance. Costs of the program have risen another $200 million in mere months, but larger cost increases have been years-in-the-making.

    “In a period of just three months, Sound Transit staff also unloaded an extra year or two of delays in delivering the program. With a high level of uncertainty remaining, staff are now projecting the four principal project elements to open as follows: late 2027 for Bus Base North, mid-2028 for the S1 and S3 Lines, and mid-2029 for the S2 Line.

    “Stride’s cost increases are staggering with questionable expenditures.

    “Baselined cost estimates of the Stride program are staggering, reaching 32% higher than assumed in 2016 — and that’s controlling for inflation. Total project costs are now projected to top $2.7 billion, well above the original cost estimate range of $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion.

    “Just since the spring financial plan update, cost estimates have risen between 7% and 31% with the Bus Base North project component being hardest hit. In mere months, that project element has managed to register another $117.9 million in added costs on its own. But even more distressing is that project allocation costs are jumping 32% to 57% higher, depending upon project component.

    “General inflation has certainly driven a hefty chunk of the cost increases along the way, but Sound Transit has also recently laid blame on higher fleet acquisition costs and fish barrier removal as cost drivers too. Those latter two costs are the consequence of staff choices though.”

    When does this end? Even pre-pandemic with pre-pandemic ridership these rising costs raise serious concerns about Stride (and WSBLE and TDLE and Everett Link).

    We know these increased cost estimates will be increased again over the next 4 to 6 years because ST never comes totally clean.

    I think two things are going on:

    1. ST dishonestly estimated project costs to sell ST 3 in order to finish ST 2, and inflated ridership estimates and farebox recovery. Those lies are now coming home to roost, exacerbated by the pandemic and WFH.

    2. ST is unable to build anything even close to what a private project would cost. I don’t know if that is inflation (although according to the article the increased cost estimates are inflation adjusted), lack of management skills, or contractors adding 15% to 30% contingencies to construction estimates based on working with ST in the past, a concern raised before.

    When I look at new parking garages in Sumner, Auburn and Kent, or Everett Link, or WSBLE, I no longer see subareas looking at the best transit routes and stations, but more about how to make sure they get some value from their subarea taxes, transit be damned.

    ST is running out of money to complete even a fraction of the ST 3 projects. Many predicted this day would come based on project cost estimates in ST 3 (like $2.2 billion for DSTT2), but ST probably prayed increased population growth, ridership, higher than estimated subarea revenue, would buy them more time if not for the pandemic. The Board feels it can extend ST taxes although not adjust the tax rates, and we know inflation (in a low inflationary period) increases project costs more than the additional taxes raised during each year of delay, something I have tried to point out for years.

    What is interesting to me is it is now the transit advocates like The Urbanist who are expressing exasperation at ST and the delays and rising cost estimates, when non-transit advocates have been complaining about these issues for some time (really since 2016). The basic point is the writing is on the wall: this region is going to get a shell of what was promised in ST 3, and won’t have the future O&M funding to fun it. So subareas are no longer thinking about best transit in their decision making, but more about political spoils.

    1. There is more amiss than that. It is very difficult to get pedestrians (bus riders) to/from the middle of a freeway. A freeway is to pedestrians a dam is to fish. (ST has this issue with Link in the freeway envelopes has well). I-405 BRT has been the darling of the right and left wings for decades, but it is difficult to do and may not be worthwhile. The parking has been suspended; that is good. Sound Move, 1996, included a NE 85th Street center access ramp that was not affordable; ST dropped it and provided better projects in Kirkland. Now ST3 ignored those lessons and is attempting to build a bigger monster. ST3 planners did not recognize how difficult the transfer point between S2 and S3 would be; see above. Sound Move addressed the issue by using two routes, 532 and 535; the former skips Bothell; the latter deviates to where pedestrians transit connections are. ST3 had two tails on S2; they mistaken ended S3 beneath I-405 rather than spending more service hours and extending all trips to/from Woodinville, a real place with a street grid and connections. The high cost of Stride is typical of ST; they gold plate everything but skimp on service. Stride3 need not have used the NE 145th Street pathway; it will have always have heavy traffic; it feeds a full I-5 interchange.

      1. Is the image on page 8 Renton station? It shows a ped bridge over a freeway with a station in the middle.

      2. Mike, the slide eight image appears to be Brickyard. Note the pedestrian bridge. Orin has discussed that on STB.

  13. Before Covid, Metro had thought about running the Route 1 bus on First Ave with new trolley wires. Whatever happened to that?

    Seattle is desperately lacking public transit near the waterfront.

    1. They shouldn’t have gotten rid of the Waterfront trolley in hindsight and just spent the money on new trains and better frequency. Keeping the historic trolleys for tourist season.

    2. “Before Covid, Metro had thought about running the Route 1 bus on First Ave with new trolley wires.”

      I never heard of that. Did it?

    3. The Waterfront trolley was single-tracked. I don’t think it could add frequency without adding a track. The waterfront renovation designers opposed a streetcar there because the tracks would take some of the limited space available for wider sidewalks, a cycle track, and a natural (bioswale) strip. All those seem important to me. Streetcars should be in high-volume corridors, and the waterfront is not one of those.

      1. The waterfront streetcar had several passing tracks on a line only 2 miles long. They could very easily have increased frequency to quite good (even at those slow speeds it’s only several minutes between passing tracks). It’s just a matter of wanting to fund that level of operation,

      1. Sam raises a point I have noticed: the variable distances people on this blog think folks will walk to use transit, on both ends, assuming the transit is safe and frequent.

        As Sam notes, there seems to be an inverse ratio between urbanists and suburbanites in which suburbanites are expected to walk great distances on both ends to use transit with multiple transfers whereas urban transit user can barely walk a single block or tolerate a single transfer.

        If you are a nurse on the 630 or 322 several transfers to Link and a walk from 3rd up James to 9th or 12th, or walking from the Capitol Hill Link station or Judkins Park to Yesler, in the dark, is reasonable, but walking from the G line on flat avenues from Madison to God forbid Pike/Pine is untenable.

        Same with the waterfront, which is designed to be walkable. Most CBD Link stations have entrances on 2nd, which is a mostly flat walk from the waterfront until 1st, which will take you to Everett, Tacoma and Redmond, but this shirt, flat walk is unacceptable. When I worked in Pioneer Square I regularly walked from the Smith Tower to the waterfront for lunch. In dress shoes.

        Most transit experts put 1/4 mile as the maximum a person will walk to use transit, although that is only one end. Few will walk 1/4+ mile plus on BOTH ends.

        The reality is suburbanites will walk less far than urbanists because they own a car. Based on this blog urbanists will walk even less distance than suburbanites to use transit even though their walk is through more vibrancy, if less safe.

        Here is the reality. Suburbanites who own a car will walk no farther than to their garage to start their trip if the trip is discretionary. Tourists along the waterfront and the new urban elite living on 1st will use Uber. Those who must use transit will walk as far as necessary depending on transit funding, just like suburbanites did pre-WFH by driving to a park and ride to catch a bus to their ultimate no-walk destination downtown.

        Not because they wanted to, but like those who have to use transit because they have to. If you have to use transit you walk as far as us necessary.

      2. Walkscore doesn’t understand things like hill barriers very well. Scroll down to the Rider’s Paradise panel and click “More” for an additional laugh. It bases the Transit Score 100 on an 11-minute walk to Link, two streetcars, and ten bus routes. One route is the 99, which no longer exists. Another is the 47, which is short and infrequent when it’s not suspended, and doesn’t go to the waterfront. Seven others are peak express routes, which aren’t useful if you live downtown, except to visit the suburbs in the PM peak (but not come back). The only generally-useful route is the 10, which is also short. And it ignores the hundreds of other routes, or else it scores them but doesn’t list them. It clearly doesn’t know what’s a generally-useful route and what isn’t. So you have to use Transit Score as a starting point and then double-check what it says. Usually the cases are easier, like 3rd & Pine has a lot of transit.

      3. “suburbanites are expected to walk great distances on both ends to use transit with multiple transfers whereas urban transit user can barely walk a single block or tolerate a single transfer. If you are a nurse on the 630 or 322 several transfers to Link and a walk from 3rd up James to 9th or 12th, or walking from the Capitol Hill Link station or Judkins Park to Yesler, in the dark, is reasonable, but walking from the G line on flat avenues from Madison to God forbid Pike/Pine is untenable.”

        Public expectations are that walking and waiting should be shorter in urban areas. That’s why people live there and go there, so that they can walk a short distance to a variety of destinations, and transit comes every few minutes. The 10 and G only go one or two miles, so it’s reasonable for that to be a one-seat ride. The 620 and 322 are 5-15 mile trips; it’s reasonabel to have a transfer at that length. The difference is what percent of the trip is waiting/walking, and whether it’s in the middle of the trip or at the end. If only 10% of the trip is waiting for a transfer, that’s reasonable. If 50% of it is, then it isn’t. Walking/waiting is more acceptable at the ends of a trip than in the middle (transferring).

        My rule of thumb is that 3 miles is a good cutoff for a transfer (the equivalent of going from downtown to the U-District and transferring). And the worst thing is requiring two transfers within 2 miles. An example of that would be if the 60 didn’t overlap with the streetcar but instead terminated at 12th & Jackson and then the northern 60 or 49 terminated at Denny, so you have to transfer 60+streetcar+60 just to cross that one-mile gap.

        It’s not that suburbanites should have to walk a lot or have long waits, it’s that they did it to themselves by making their cities low-density and single-use. The solution is to fix the suburbs. All neighborhoods should be walkable like the streetcar suburbs of the past. Then suburbanites could walk short distances again.

        “If you are a nurse on the 630 or 322 several transfers to Link and a walk from 3rd up James to 9th or 12th, or walking from the Capitol Hill Link station or Judkins Park to Yesler, in the dark, is reasonable, but walking from the G line on flat avenues from Madison to God forbid Pike/Pine is untenable.”

        Nobody is expecting people to walk from 3rd to 12th up a steep hill, or from Capitol Hill Station to Yesler Way or Judkins Park.

        “walking from the G line on flat avenues from Madison to God forbid Pike/Pine is untenable.”

        The issue is that this is a dense area, so there should be parallel frequent routes on Madison and Pine.

      4. Well there are several things in comments in this tree that just isn’t true.

        First off, “most transit experts” refer to the 1/4 mile as a goal applicable for local bus stops — not high capacity, frequent rail transit. The industry standard for urban rail stations has long been 1/2 mile. So don’t conflate the two!

        Second, the catchment area does apply to both ends of a transit ride, not just one. To whine about setting 1/4 of a mile walk maximum in total comes off as naive to me. It reads to me as though a person has very little experience using rail transit.

        Third, the walk environment has a huge affect of how far someone would be willing to walk. Walking through Bellevue Square is climate-controlled, well-lighted, monitored by security, and pretty flat experience— so from the garage at NE 4th St and 100th Ave NE to Crate and Barrel is over 1/4 mile and most walk without too much thought. A person walking the same distance up a steep hill, through a homeless encampment, through snow or oppressive heat, or on pavement because there is no sidewalk will more likely perceive a similar trip distance to be unacceptable.

        Fourth, Link trains are 380 feet long so it’s not a perfect circle around a single point. It’s more of an oblong shape. A purist would measure it from the top of an escalator to the platform — and would assume a bigger catchment area if there are two separated rail stations entrances rather than just one off the street.

      5. The reason why riders are generally expected to walk further to transit in the suburbs is efficiency. In the city, by definition, you have more potential riders per mile per street, so you can run routes closer together and still get acceptable riders/dollar figures. In the suburbs, making routes cost-effective usually means spreading them further apart and expecting people to walk further. If you space them too close together, it’s too many buses chasing too few riders, and quickly becomes cost-prohibitive to operate.

        An agency can, of course, choose to run routes closer together and pay for it by reducing frequency. But for the rider, having your bus run once an hour instead of once every half hour just to save 10 minutes of walking to the bus stop is a very poor tradeoff – a system that requires you to walk a little bit further to get to the bus, but runs more often once you get there is ultimately much better for freedom of mobility for a person who really depends on the bus. Of course, you need the walk to be safe (e.g. sidewalks that are separated from traffic and well lit, and also smooth enough to be traversable in a wheelchair), which is admittedly something that a lot of suburbs skimp on, but in the long term, it is much cheaper to fix the pedestrian infrastructure than to run lots of extra buses to work around needing to fix it. Also, when routes are spaced further apart, not *every* rider even has to walk further, only the riders on half the streets, which can be much less than half the riders if the streets that have the bus are chosen intentionally to be the streets where more riders are coming from.

        To which you can respond that people with cars are lazy and won’t put up with a half mile walk. But, not everybody has a car, and people without cars will do it. And, once you do the walk every day, it gets you in shape, and doesn’t feel like a big deal anymore.

        Another thing about walking distance, I find the typical metric where you have some arbitrary threshold of maximum walking distance to be very unrealistic. In reality, what really matters is minimizing travel time. In most cases, minimizing travel time means not walking as far because walking is slow, but not always. For instance, if walking 0.6 miles instead of 0.4 miles means avoiding a transfer to a half-hourly bus, of course you walk the extra two tenths of a mile, as it will take much less time on average than waiting for that extra transfer. You don’t wait for an extra bus just because making the walk a few steps shorter puts the walking distance just below, rather than just above, somebody’s arbitrary threshold.

        These kinds of tradeoffs occur when riding transit *all the time*. For instance, do you take the shorter walk one direction to the #28, or a slightly longer the other direction to a more frequent #5 to go downtown? From 52nd/Roosevelt to Ballard, do you ride the #67 to the #44, or do you just walk to the #44? Quite often, the most time efficient way to get where you’re going is to walk further, and whether that extra 300 feet pushes your walking distance over some dumb algorithm’s arbitrary threshold really makes absolutely no difference.

        Another thing about walking is that it’s the one piece of a transit trip you have some control over, while also being extremely reliable, immune to all the things that delay buses, including traffic jams, vehicle breakdowns, and driver shortages. A bus trip that ends in a 15-minute walk, you can make up time if the bus is late by simply walking faster. If the 15-minute walk were replaced with a transfer to another bus, your ability to arrive on time is now completely at the mercy of that other bus.

      6. Mike, to argue suburbanites should change their land use to increase ridership on transit is pointless.

        First they don’t like transit to begin with, and moved to suburbia FOR the land use, but pre-pandemic were forced to commute to downtown Seattle. Today they don’t go to Seattle at all if they can help it.

        Second they would just rather drive. Or take Uber. Both of which have no walk on either end which is exactly why those two account for 90% of trips. Imagine if U Village placed its parking 1/4 mile from the mall.

        Third they don’t take the trip (WFH) or go somewhere with free parking, which is no good for downtown Seattle (although many drive and Uber there), but doesn’t impact them in the least.

        Folks on this blog simply have to understand the days of the transit slave are over.

        I agree that one’s walk in an urban location should be shorter, and vibrant retail breaks up that walk because each store is its own destination.

        But I disagree with Al that a suburbanite will walk 1/4 mile on either end let alone both ends. Pre-pandemic the vast majority of transit trips from the suburbs were from a park and ride to downtown Seattle. Neither end had any walk.

        (Plus Al confuses stop spacing with how far a potential rider will walk to or from transit. We are not talking about someone getting off transit and walking to the next transit stop. We are talking about the distance from one’s doorstep to transit or from transit to their ultimate destination. Urbanists on this blog complain about walking one or two blocks which Sam found ironic when Al now has them walking 1/2 mile on both ends of their trip which is ridiculous).

        You and Al also raise a point that is axiomatic: the safety of the walk, weather, whether it is uphill or through a vibrant area, all influence how far someone will walk to or from transit, which is why I specifically removed those other issues from walking distance. The point of the 630 and 322 is those riders won’t walk an inch in downtown Seattle, but that is a different issue.

        The reality I tried to point out to some who may be unfamiliar with the suburbs is suburbanites generally will walk zero distance to catch transit in the suburbs because that is the first mile distance in a car. Hence the huge number of park and rides, which were packed pre-pandemic and are empty today, and will likely never be full again which makes feeder buses from park and rides on the Eastside pointless.

        The urbanists on this blog who complained about THEM walking a block or two to catch transit or get from the G to Pine on a flat avenue were being honest. The 1/4 mile rule is rubbish, in the suburbs and in the city, although another irony is someone will walk FARTHER in a vibrant urban area to catch transit.

        What Sam and I found ironic is not the fact urbanists won’t walk 1/4 mile to or from transit (my God how much whining has been posted on this blog about “coverage” so transit riders don’t have to walk, or God forbid using the stairs — even going down — in a Link station) when the distance a suburbanite is willing to walk to start their trip is to their garage, and the distance at the end of the trip to either downtown Seattle which is around 1/8 mile or in a free parking lot which is maybe 1/16 or 1/32 mile.

        When I defended the 630 and 322 the urbanists did advocate for truncating both to Link — either CHS, 3rd, or Judkins Park, and then one last mile solution was to walk to First Hill, because folks on this blog believe the crap about 1/4 or 1/2 mile first/last mile access for others but no distance for them, whether descending a Link station, walking from the G to Pine, from CID N in a lighted flat tunnel to Pioneer Sq station, to just about any distance.

        If you want door to door distances for your trip you will need a car or Uber, which is why both are so popular and transit advocates are legitimately interested in first/last mile access, at least for their trip. If you think suburbanites will walk farther than urban dwellers to catch transit or the destination from transit — let alone 1/4 or 1/2 mile you don’t understand suburbia, or why transit makes up such a tiny fraction of trips.

        By all means reduce the walk to and from transit as much as possible, , although that is difficult with the stop spacing with Link, But then you have issues with time of trip with a zillion stops or the cost of coverage. Uber and a personal car have zero first/last mile distances however, especially with free parking at all the different destinations someone is going to, with no distance between transfers.

      7. ASDF2, sidewalks are surprisingly expensive to build. So in the suburbs you will mostly see them in the town centers. Plus the topography of E KC is quite steep for sidewalks. Many neighborhoods in Seattle don’t have sidewalks. Same place you will find most folks in wheelchairs because buildings have elevators (a 1/2 mile is a long way in a wheelchair, even on a flat sidewalk), and wheelchairs don’t do well on hills. Town Centers are also where folks without a car will live. The SFH neighborhoods have too little transit (often none like on MI or in Sammamish), and if you can’t afford a car you probably can’t afford a SFH. If you live in a SFH zone on the Eastside and expect the city/subarea to spend a fortune to your driveway you will be disappointed. It is why Metro eliminated the 201.

        If it is too expensive to provide coverage and frequency to an undense area the solution is to bring Mohammad to the mountain, not the mountain to Mohammed.

        That mountain is called a park and ride. Like we ask folks to go to an airport or regional train station. Or sporting event or concert.

        A park and ride dramatically reduces coverage costs (let alone infrastructure costs like sidewalks) in an area coverage is not just unaffordable but is impossible due to distances and topography.

        The rider pays for the car, driver, fuel, insurance, maintenance and depreciation. Frequency can be increased because there are few stops in the undense areas, and costs reduced. Plus time of trip is better because there are fewer stops.

        Which is why Link outside of Seattle has so many park and rides that pre-pandemic were very popular. They are the most cost effective first/last mile access, and fastest trip time in these undense areas that have no intent of changing their land use (and HB 1110 moves new housing density to these remote neighborhoods that can never be served with door to door transit service) or moving to TOD.

        Feeder buses cannot compete with a park and ride, which is why pre-pandemic the park and rides filled first. Feeder buses themselves originate from a park and ride, and add a transfer and time to the trip.

        Today transit use in the suburbs is so low any kind of frequent coverage is it affordable dollar per rider mile, as you note. But if transit use ever returns it will start at the park and rides because suburbanites find them the fastest and most convenient form of first/mile access, or more often have no other option.

      8. “the urbanists on this blog who complained about THEM walking a block or two to catch transit or get from the G to Pine on a flat avenue were being honest.”

        It’s more than a block or two. A block or two is what we expect everyone to walk. That’s the distance from the middle of Bellevue Square to one’s car. This distance some people walk to a parking garage space is the distance others walk to a bus stop. That could be considered the ideal distance or the lower limit of a maximum acceptable distance. In urban neighborhoods it’s reasonable to have comprehensive transit so that most people have that; i.e., you put parallel frequent buses a quarter-mile or half-mile apart. In less-dense areas you can’t reach that; you can only do it on the densest corridors like NE 8th Street.

        China manages to do it throughout the whole country; you can get to villages both urban and rural without a car. Suburban King County has large swaths where they don’t even try, so transit has to be less frequent and distances longer. Maybe some of the new Chinese middle-class car-heavy neighborhoods are like that. That would be a detriment to them, and a problem for China if its affluence/energy supplies/political stability go down so that it’s harder to maintain those neighborhoods.

        “When I defended the 630 and 322 the urbanists did advocate for truncating both to Link — either CHS, 3rd, or Judkins Park, and then one last mile solution was to walk to First Hill”

        Capitol Hill Station: Many First Hill workplaces are within a 5-block flat walk. Or the streetcar or route 60 are available.

        3rd Avenue: This is predicated on RapidRide G starting soon. In the meantime, there’s Capitol Hill Station.

        Judkins Park: When did anybody but you suggest commuting to First Hill via Judkins Park Station? There’s no buses that way, except maybe the slow and indirect 4. You’re better off taking the express bus/train to 3rd Avenue or Capitol Hill Station. We’ve talked about rerouting the 106 to Boren Avenue, and it was in Metro Connects, but it’s not in any official near-term proposal so it’s not available to use. Even if you could take the 106 on Rainier-Boren to First Hill, the distance is long enough and a local bus slow enough that you’re probably better off remaining on the express bus/train to 3rd Avenue or Capitol Hill Station.

      9. Another suburban issue is the street layout. There are lots of places where a developer built areas that not only require circuitous walking to get anywhere, but buses can simply run through on a through street. If a bus route had to constantly swing into development after development the bus would take a long time to get anywhere. Once property is subdivided the layout is almost permanent and very expensive and difficult to change — so places first developed in the 1960’s are stuck with lousy transit access.

        Some suburbs are starting to pay more attention to requiring walking “short cut” paths in developing areas and a few even require through route access for buses and emergency vehicles (but not many). Even if an area is designed to be accessible with only one entrance, it’s regrettable that it doesn’t have secondary access for buses and emergency vehicles that maybe could be gate controlled or opened entirely.

      10. There will never be an Eastside bus/train that terminates at Judkins Park, because it’s in the middle of nowhere. It would be like a Seattle bus/train terminating at South Bellevue and not continuing to downtown Bellevue. So there’s no situation where commuters from the Eastside would be forced to get off at Judkins Park to get to First Hill and urbanists would say it’s a good thing or the best thing. The purpose of regional transit like anything that crosses the I-90 bridge is to connect the largest activity centers, which is the same thing as the largest densest neighborhoods.

      11. this chain discussed a hub and spoke network. Link is through routed in downtown. All Link stations could become hubs with a local bus network passing close to the station; this is the multi-centered approach. The key is short headways and waits for Link and bus with short walks for transfers. In the weeds, there are issues. The bilateral agreement between MI and ST makes transfer walks longer; that Mt. Baker station did not straddle Rainier Avenue South forces riders transferring from/to northbound buses cross the arterial; the new G Line will not have an eastbound bus stop at 23rd Avenue or a downtown stop close to Link (but pretty close to USS).

        Note we do not want the stretched out IDS-two of Constantine-Harrell for DSTT2; it implies 10-minute transfer times between the east and south lines. The single tunnel of the STB posters seems best; the shallow 4th Avenue option seems second best.

      12. DT: “If you are a nurse on the 630 or 322 several transfers to Link and a walk from 3rd up James to 9th or 12th, or walking from the Capitol Hill Link station or Judkins Park to Yesler, in the dark, is reasonable, but walking from the G line on flat avenues from Madison to God forbid Pike/Pine is untenable”

        There were potential straw men. A rider using routes 630 or 322 has long headway or waits and a narrow span of service. Between 3rd Avenue and First Hill, riders may use routes 3 and 4; Metro could add more routes for shorter waits. A rider going between Capitol Hill station and First Hill may use routes 9 or 60 or the FHSC. A rider between Judkins Link and Yesler Way may use routes 4 or 48 on 23rd Avenue.

        The Alaskan Way transit score may a mistake or it may get credit for great service frequency from the south end pathway at Columbia Street.

      13. I would avoid over interpreting the walkscore and transit score numbers. Differences between 95 and 10 are probably meaningful, but differences between 95 and 90 likely have more to do with quirks in the algorithm than how easy it would actually be for you to walk or bus places if you lived there.

        What really matters is how easy it would be for you to get to the places you need to go. And everybody has different beers and different physical abilities.

      14. Money asdf2.

        I have doubts the Pierce Co. subarea will have the funding to complete TDLE let alone extend it. Maybe if Sounder S. is cancelled and the station/platform upgrades, and maybe the parking garages. But based on WSBLE, FWLE, Stride, 130th station, I think actual construction for TDLE will end up much higher than current estimates, especially with the delay.

        Pierce has spent over $1 billion to build the T-Line. It isn’t going to tear it out.

        If money were not an issue I would agree extending TDLE to downtown Tacoma rather than the mall is the better route, but the reality is there isn’t the subarea funding for either.

      15. “there seems to be an inverse ratio between urbanists and suburbanites in which suburbanites are expected to walk great distances on both ends to use transit with multiple transfers”

        Expected to transfer to get to what?

        No urban location has a direct transit route to every location, just like suburban areas.

        This is why we discuss restructuring so much here: a badly executed restructure inconveniences the majority or perhaps all riders.

        In the suburbs, centers of population such as downtown Snohomish have decent transit service.

        Belltown and the north waterfront only have one bus stop, for northbound buses, which can take 20 minutes to get to from the north waterfront because of the need to cross at unsignalled intersections. This area is physically larger than downtown Snohomish and has vastly more residents and businesses, but has fewer one-seat transit destinations.

        So, I’m not sure which areas of the suburbs are being underserved, in a density of places to actually go per transit service ratio?

      16. “Pierce has spent over $1 billion to build the T-Line. It isn’t going to tear it out.”

        This is not true. Not even close. Stop repeating this.

      17. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T_Line_(Sound_Transit)

        All said and done when finished $1 billion will be very close to the cost of the T-Line. The Hilltop extension cost $282 million.

        “An extension beyond the Hilltop neighborhood to the Tacoma Community College campus in western Tacoma was funded by the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, approved by voters in 2016, and is scheduled to open in 2041.[133][134] The 3.5-mile-long (5.6 km) extension would use South 19th Street and stop at six stations, carrying approximately 18,000 daily riders and costing up to $478 million.[135] Train frequency would be increased to six minutes during peak periods and a section of the original line near Union Station would be double-tracked.”

        Based on cost overruns on the T-Line so far I think $1 billion is probably close to the total cost of the T-Line, although I doubt the taxes in ST 3 are set to collect $1 billion so there may be a shortfall.

    4. That was in a memo in response to a council proviso. If we are to build overhead, I hope we do it for more frequency than that. ETB routes 7, 14, and 36 could be shifted to 1st Avenue and turn at Pike-Pine or Stewart-Virginia streets. Hybrid routes could serve 1st Avenue for a longer distance. Between 1940 and 1963, there were ETB routes on 1st Avenue in Belltown; I recall seeing the old poles in the 90s. but first, Seattle has to give up on the CCC Streetcar; it stalls all plans.

      1st Avenue is not the waterfront. Metro is helping to fund a free shuttle now. I expect it will have poor reliability.
      See: https://seattlewaterfront.org/free-seattle-waterfront-shuttle/

  14. Sinc this is an open thread, I’m going to ask the question: assuming Link really needs to go to Tacoma Dome, why does it end there vs. continuing onward to downtown Tacoma, replacing Tacoma Link? It seems like the most obvious extension. Even if 4 car trains are too big for the platforms, perhaps the train splits at Tacoma Dome with 3 cars ending there and only the front car continuing onward.

    It seems like such an obvious, easy way to make a dubious extension a bit more useful and a bit less dubious, while also solving the problem of route 1 BRT’s Link connection in a much better way than detouring the bus.

    Sure, there’s some cost. But, this seems like better value for the money than extending the streetcar in a U turn loop, for example.

    1. The first problem is the single track design of Tacoma Link south of 21st St all the way to Tacoma Dome and on to the OMF.

      Then there are the different power and track design specs of the two Link vehicle types.

      I guess ST could look at some single track and more surface segments to save money. But they don’t want to go there.

      But we know what will happen. ST will simply postpone construction and extend taxes until they have the money. We will never be finished paying ST taxes as they will extend them indefinitely past any of our lifetimes, and if we are lucky will be able to ride to Tacoma about 2040 or later..

      1. The truth is, a Link train that just ends at Tacoma Dome is, in many ways, worse than the 594 it replaces. Just from Tacoma Dome to Seattle, Link will be a good 30 minutes slower. And on top of that, getting to downtown Tacoma, you add in the overhead of a transfer, which is not necessary on the 594 today.

        To be clear, I don’t think Link to Tacoma is worth it, but if it is built, it needs to at least go to downtown Tacoma, even if it means serving that segment with one-car trains and/or single-tracking it.

      2. I honestly don’t expect the 590/594 to be retired by the time the TDLE ends up being opened. The route I expect a retirement from is more likely the 574 as that’s the one with most overlap. Maybe ST and WashDOT will finally cooperate on getting the Kent Valley BSNF line bought and upgraded for faster and more frequent Cascades and Sounder service but who knows.

      3. One option would be a 3 track Tacoma Dome station with Tacoma Link in the middle track, and give it a timed connection so that it’s a pretty seamless transfer.

        I don’t expect ST to build such a thing at any station in my lifetime.

      4. If the 59X goes away, it will be because it is truncated after FW Link opens, not because of TDLE. A STX bus running from Tacoma Dome to Federal Way is superfluous once TDLE opens, but if Pierce subarea chooses to continue to fund the 59X after FWLE, the opening of TDLE shouldn’t impact that logic.

    2. asdf2, click on the link contained in my name. It will take you to my recent piece on the history of Tacoma Link light rail, which exists to be the terminal end of the regional Link railway. It reflects my current thinking on local railway planning.

      It should answer most, if not all, of your questions. If not, definitely reach out.

  15. Earlier this year there was word that Sound Transit was going to fix some bad northbound track on the curve between University Street and Westlake:

    “As you ride the train between University Street and Westlake Stations, you’ll notice that as the train curves right, the train shakes and jerks around and the ride quality’s poor,” Shetty said. “It’s a very tight curve at 90-degrees in just a couple hundred of feet and the rail there is suffering from defects and accelerated wear. We intend to tear it out, replace it with new rail with the correct geometry and the result for passengers should be a smoother trip through that section.”


    I can confirm that the train still pulses from side to side noticeably when transiting this curve this week, approximately as bad as it ever has, in my opinion.

    I see no mention of it in the Urbanist’s list of things that will be worked on during this month’s service disruption. Has it already been “fixed”?

    “Sound Transit also plans to use the service disruption to maximize resolution to other outstanding maintenance items. Timm laid out quite a sum of projects, including:

    Investigation of emergency backup power systems in the downtown transit tunnel;
    Replacement of track near International District/Chinatown station;
    Replacement of track plinths near the downtown transit tunnel;
    Repair of rail signals and equipment in the downtown transit tunnel;
    Installation of rail signals and equipment related to the East Link tie-in; and
    Removing scaffolding that was put in place as part of the Westlake station roof puncture.”


    I’m wondering 1) if this has already been “fixed” earlier this year — and if so, why the ride quality is still poor. Or, 2) if this hasn’t been fixed yet, why isn’t it being done during this tunnel closure along with the other activities?

  16. https://www.theurbanist.org/2023/08/06/sunday-video-how-austerity-is-ruining-st3/

    This is Fesler’s video recap of the decisions re: CID and SLU. There is nothing new in the video for readers of this blog.

    I was surprised however at Fesler’s nonchalance or naïveté about politics and costs. The CID used a weapon his group has weaponized: racism. What did he expect the Board to do? Does he really expect Harrell to stare down Amazon with 25,000 empty offices in Bellevue and downtown Seattle on life support because of policies The Urbanist has championed?

    Fesler’s comment that he is not concerned about costs when it comes to ST 3, and ST should just get on with building what he believes was promised in ST 3 despite stakeholder objections, is probably what makes it so hard for transit riders and urbanists to understand these decisions that will play out throughout WSBLE, TDLE, and Everett Link.

    All transit decisions begin with how much money an agency has and the actual construction AND operating costs. Any project delays or tax extensions that run concurrently cost MORE because project costs — that were already lowballed —increase faster than the additional tax revenue under tax rates that are fixed — so an agency like ST that cannot increase tax rates in a high inflationary market can’t raise additional revenue although construction and future M&O costs have basically doubled.

    If there is one fundamental fact I don’t think Fesler — and some on the Boarrd — understand it is that. ST 3 is going backwards in terms of what is affordable as projects are delayed, whether ST taxes are extended or not.

    Because for them it is other people’s money, and those folks generally don’t understand money. They and 5% of the rest of the population see urbanism and transit — even transit that is now estimated to cost $152 BILLION — through 2046 million as a moral imperative.

    What Fesler misses in his critique of the Board’s “austerity” are:

    1. There is only so much money. Period. And projects costs will continue to increase, and we’re estimated below revenue to begin with. So there have to be cuts somewhere.

    2. CID N/S and a station not on Westlake in SLU actually cost more. Hence the fiction “capturing” development revenue in city and county buildings that are vacant because government employees refuse to return to them will make up the difference.

    Finally, I know it is too much to ask of The Urbanist, but would it kill them to once ask what is the dollar per rider mile for the different segments of WSBLE, or ST 3 in general. If funding is limited, and project cost estimates were lowballed and rising fast, something has to get cut in 4/5 subareas (with the fifth subarea transit agnostic and hostile to urbanism) and so the key is to PRIORITIZE, something folks hate to do if it is other people’s money but is necessary for ST because there is no effective way to increase total tax revenue with fixed rates in a high inflation market, and extending projects concurrently with ST taxes actually goes backwards.

    1. one common ST approach is delay; that brings more years of revenue to bear on costly projects. In the WSBLE projects, they often shared what needed third party funding; the unstated alternative is delay and a longer stream of tax revenue.

      ST has typically focused on capital projects and not on service. If the connection between Tacoma SeaTac is worthy of Link, why does Route 574 only have 30-minute headway? What is the fiscal tradeoff between service hours today and ST3 capital delivery?

      1. The problem with the ST approach (note: this is not criticizing your description, which I think is entirely accurate) is that it shifts the cost burden in a non-measurable way to a particular class of people (people who are here now). I have brought this up before – one problem with long projects is that people who suffer the burden of construction often end up not benefiting from the outcome, but if there are enough such projects in enough places things even out. One additional cost, however, is maintaining the status quo. We’re presumably doing these projects because they will make life better, for the population at large; if we delay them by say ten years, that’s ten years of life not being better. That has real cost, even if it cannot be measured.

        Of course, if the counter argument is that this cost isn’t real, then the projects are not worth doing in the first place. Which is where much of ST3 is, unfortunately.

      2. A bigger problem Anonymouse is government shifting costs to future generations. Right now ST taxes will last almost 60 years, or two generations.

        Right now the federal debt is $31 trillion. Nothing is in the social security or Medicare “trust funds”.

        Another way to shift costs to future generations other than debt is to ignore infrastructure repair and replacement, or to set aside funds for that.

        In the U.S. the biggest unfunded cost is our aging water and sewer lines. After that it is bridges, and Seattle alone has $3.5 billion in unfunded repair and replacement costs the council simply ignores until like the West Seattle bridge something breaks.

        Another issue is government buildings. Governments went on a building spree in the 1970’s but like in Seattle those buildings are becoming obsolete. WFH may allow governments to save on the costs of new buildings.

        Then you have mass transit systems that have such a huge backlog of capital maintenance and such sinking ridership some like MTA and Bart may have to be mothballed when we are probably a decade away from a new paradigm of online shopping/WFH and micro transit so there will be a gap.

        Everything is a little eddy in the river of demographics. All first world economies are aging fast, including China, and the ratio of workers to retirees is too low and life expectancies too high. Since the 1930’s the federal government has used the excess SS tax to fund things, but now that money is owed back, and the Boomers and Millennials just didn’t have enough kids.

        Moody’s just downgraded U.S. debt. Tax increases on billionaires just doesn’t raise enough money, and the reality is our military and entitlement programs will have to be cut pretty dramatically. Transit is the least of our problems, but what we have left our kids and grandkids is a crime. My guess is the first non-Boomer President will go after entitlements.

      3. DT, the cause of the ballooning national debt is because of the tax cuts to corporations and the super wealthy given by Donnie and his Republican friends.

        That’s unlike transportation investments that benefit public for several decades once opened. It’s much better to go into debt for infrastructure than just giving money away to people that don’t need the money to buy another private jet.

      4. I agree Al. Some of the 2017 tax law was good but without the promised spending cuts it ballooned the debt. Plus the cuts to marginal rates were too high, although it is the deductions the rich use, like exempting passive income from FICA tax.

        The point is the debt is so large both tax increases and spending cuts are necessary. There is a lot of pork in the infrastructure bill — cars, transit and other we just can’t afford anymore, at least at the federal level which often funds bad projects because the locals think it is other people’s money.

        The recent agreement to hold future spending to 2022 levels is a tiny if crude start. Over a decade spending would effectively be reduced by around 30% depending on inflation, but the cuts can’t come from just the discretionary budget. I think there will be a government shutdown over spending in Sept.

        Unfortunately productivity has declined the last five quarters so productivity doesn’t look like it will help grow us out of the debt.

        I think federal grants and funding will decline going forward so ST has to be honest about “third party funding”. Don’t start what you can’t finish and operate.

    2. The video makes several great points. I do think some more things should be considered though.

      1. DSTT2 is very deep in SLU. It’s not just opening up a spot for a station; it’s digging a station vault and protecting it in steel when it’s 125 feet underground. The depth issue was slightly mentioned but not enough.
      2. There was a sense of urgency that seems misplaced. That’s because there isn’t yet enough money to build what ST wants, and this guy wants even less austerity. I get how things get expensive as time goes forward, but ST is already pushing back schedules everything ST3. If austerity is the direction, there is time to study it but only if it’s promising. I think a bigger issue is how ST seems to wait out the clock —then turns around and uses that as a justification to not do things differently. I don’t get why the Board should suddenly rush to fundamentally change the system in 2023 after having six years of prior study where these things were not studied beforehand — because less significant changes were omitted because they were “inconsistent with ST3”..
      3. There is not enough discussion about ridership forecasts or travel times: two basic items that belong in a transit investment discussion. This omission is not only glaring by the ST Board, but here too. There was some discussion about station usage forecasts and no discussion about travel times. Note that when ST discussed travel times they don’t mention the time to go deep into or out of a DSTT2 station — twice as deep as University St Station. It’s impractical to ride Link just one or two stations when they are so deep and transfers that require unreasonable time and effort to do affect tens of thousands of riders (while ST never lets us know how many people they are making riding transit more difficult for). For example, they mention deleting parking garages rather than rationally building them to expected demand. The parking garage sizes should have been listed as maximums in ST3 and not given a fixed number without any study (a “maximum of 500 spaces” rather than “500 spaces”).
      4. I think that a bigger discussion on the ST feedback process is needed. Why isn’t every proposal reviewed by a committee of riders? Why is there no committee of riders given at least equal weight to other stakeholders? Why does ST imply that the CID doesn’t want the station when many in the CID do? Sometimes the way to make an investment better is to reform the process rather than try to be polite when the process is to let leaders ram a new backroom-created preference down everyone’s throats that is way outside of what the voters wanted.

      I will say that video conveys issues better than mere typing.

    3. The urbanist generally considers anything vaguely resembling transit to be automatically good, regardless of usefulness or cost-effectiveness.

    4. “increase faster than the additional tax revenue under tax rates that are fixed”

      That sounds like bad math. Tax revenues track with inflation.

      Costs go up with delay (due to inflation), but tax revenues go up with delay too.

      Tax revenues in 2036 > 2026

      1. “ Costs go up with delay (due to inflation), but tax revenues go up with delay too.”

        It should be true. However, there often are differences between tax revenue source inflation versus capital cost inflation.

        I think that the bigger culprit is the original inadequate budget estimating that was done for 2016. Of course, the agency (including Board members at the time) and their supporting consulting engineers will all conveniently forget or deny that they ever made a cost estimation mistake. They even assumed a 10 percent contingency when FTA said that it should be 30 percent when at the DEIS stage (where WSBLE is in 2023) — because the line was that they had the costs right at the time so that the FTA guidelines were irrelevant. So, now they blame inflation to cover their mistakes (for example, the public argument of “unanticipated real estate costs” sounds better than “ inadequate estimating of the amount of real estate needed in 2016”).

        There is also the aspect of adding on several years of collected tax revenue. When taking out a loan, a longer payback period will mean a lower monthly payment but a higher overall payout for the life of the loan. It’s a big factor to why ST3 was set at 25 years (now increased to something like 30 years and counting) while ST2 was only 15 years. I’m not a public finance guru but I suspect this is also a factor in project cost inflation.

      2. ST3 was raised from 15 to 25 years because 15 years wasn’t enough to get to Everett or Paine Field or have both Ballard and West Seattle. There was a feeling that we’d waited a long time between ST1, ST2, and ST3, and people and cities didn’t want to wait again for ST4 and wanted certainty that Everett and Ballard would be completed, and Kenmore and Bothell wanted certainty on Stride 3. Otherwise they have less incentive to build TOD and shift toward less car-centric design because they don’t know if the transit will be there.

      3. Actually, ST tax revenues don’t track inflation; they track the revenue sources the taxes apply to. It would like saying everyone’s salary increased because inflation increased (unless your salary is tied to a COLA in a CBA like police and fire, which is stressing municipal budgets).

        “Motor vehicle excise taxes (car tabs), property taxes and sales taxes make up just over half of Sound Transit’s total funding. The rest comes from federal grants, fares, interest earnings and miscellaneous revenue. In 1996, 2008 and 2016 voters within the Sound Transit District approved tax increases to build and operate the regional mass transit system.”


        These taxes are subarea specific under subarea equity. So for example, work from home reallocates tax revenue from downtown Seattle to where the workers now live and work. The decline in estimated ridership lowers farebox recovery.

        Al is correct the initial problem for ST is it underestimated project costs in order to keep tax rates low in order to sell the levies so there was little room for error (really none). In 2016 there was a lot of misinformation about future population growth, very optimistic revenue forecasts, and subarea revenue growth, and of course the pandemic had not happened. So tax revenue has not met estimates.

        As Al notes inflation hits different sectors differently. For example, inflation is cooling for some items in the inflation basket used to determine inflation rate like some food items, but not for housing (yet).

        Construction especially has been hit hard by inflation, both in the cost of materials and labor. Plus interest rates have risen dramatically since 2016 and so has the cost of borrowing (either bonding or inter-subarea loans). According to articles, ST is not easy to work for, and many of the large contractors who can do this work are adding premiums to their bids for ST, somewhere between 15% and 30%, if they bid at all.

        So we see a dramatic increase in project costs, from WSBLE to 130th St station to Everett Link that were underestimated to begin with, and less subarea tax revenue than estimated (plus much lower farebox recovery).

        So the inflation has definitely been one factor at increasing project costs when tax revenue has actually declined, and has been skewed among the subareas compared to original estimates with some subareas like E King Co. having much more revenue than it needs, or really wants, but most subareas having inadequate ST revenue for the projects promised in the levies.

        The Board can’t raise the tax rates. It believes it can extend taxes, and that would work if the projects were built on time but the taxes extended at the end (depending on borrowing rates, which today are very high). But if you extend the projects concurrently with taxes you go backwards because the cost of the projects (on top of the cost underestimation in the levies themselves that set the tax rates) means during each year of delay or extension the cost of the project increases more than the tax revenue for that extra year at the end.

        So we see WSBLE go from $6 billion leading up to ST 3 in 2016 to $15 billion today, according to ST, when many like me who originally questioned the cost estimates of $6, $9, and $12 billion think WSBLE will end up costing around $20 billion when done. I don’t think N KC subarea will have that kind of revenue, even with an additional five years of ST taxes, so some cuts — major cuts — will have to be made. Same with Pierce and SnoCo in my opinion based on the 2021 subarea report.

      4. Is there an impending financially-driven collapse of the ST3 capital program? The original cost estimation mistakes of ST 3 keep magnifying. Just in the past year, ST has announced that they need 20 percent more train cars with bigger OMF capacity, more real estate (and housing demolition) for Everett Link, more cost for TDLE because of a needed redesign, more cost and delay to Federal Way due to ground instability, and project delays on every major endeavor that prevent ST from collecting fare revenue. This is all on the backdrop of rising interest rates and flatter property assessments for tax revenue.

        The “realignment” effort was messy and resulted in merely kicking the can down the road rather than solve the fundamental problems — likely because too many Board members were there in 2016 to face their complicit role in the underfunded ST3 package. Note that these new additional costs were not fully apparent until after the realignment vote.

        The project trimming of “value engineering” won’t be enough. Extending taxes a few more years won’t be enough. Looking to the Feds is increasingly less viable as the Federal available shares drop with every new authorization. Even dropping a station here and there won’t be enough. Plus, most projects are subarea funded — meaning that dropping one major project won’t help every subarea.

        The only possible project to drop is DSTT2 since all subareas contribute to it — but ST has not been willing to revisit the decision to build the DSTT2 segment.

        I personally believe that the only financially viable solution is to drop DSTT2, to run three lines in DSTT, and built Ballard Link to Westlake as an automated line with shorter trains. Then, I see Everett Link terminating in South Everett or forgoing the Airport Rd/ SR 526 alignment, South Kirkland station getting erased and Issaquah also becoming an automated line, and substantial Sounder reductions as Link extensions siphon off Sounder riders and peak long-distance commuting continues to fade as a market.

        Unfortunately, many prominent advocates at the Urbanist and Seattle Subway also live in this “just build it” fantasy like the Board — failing to view how the money bleed is getting worse every year to the point that collapse seems unavoidable without a huge “lifestyle” change in how ST builds and operates.

    5. It’s truly a wonder that STB has not banned you from commenting on this site. But the people running this site have an obligation to do so. It’s time, STB management.

      Your intentional misrepresentation of people and routine personal attacks are very pathetic. Just watch the video and chill, dude.

      1. A blog that eliminated their own comment section, is now asking that certain commenters on other blogs be banned? What’s next? Banning the Blue Angels from Seafair?

      2. Sam, they were deleting comments on ideological grounds long before they stopped having a comment section. Either case , not the STB way.

      3. I don’t find DT’s comments particularly offensive here. Demanding a ban seems very out of place. I even see several of the comments about the omission of value (cost per rider mile) and financial reality discussions spot on! I get how a video has to be pared to play to a particular audience and not every issue can be discussed, yet the gist of the comment reads to me like the video asks for things without offering enough backup info to make a difference.

        I’ve also endured offensive attacks much more blunt by other regular posters in the past.

        It takes a thick skin to post comments. It takes a much thicker skin to post a video that others can make comments on. The goal should however be seeking a rational investment decision. After all, isn’t the goal to make things better for riders and to get more riders on transit? Getting comments on where a video is weak actually can help to make the creator’s ultimate objective stronger with a refinement or follow-up effort. A more skeptical respondent like DT is perhaps even more constructive to making a better case in the future.

        I’ll add that ST has not been forthcoming on what those “value” tradeoffs are, making it very hard for anyone — including STB posters, Urbanist, Seattle Subway and others — to substantively comment on what the Board does.

    6. I don’t think that is Fesler’s video. I think he is “sharing” the video.

      1. Bingo. I actually don’t know who runs the Yet Another Urbanist account on YouTube. This was the first time I came across their work.

      2. The world wants to know what I think of the video. The video was good. The only problem I had with it is I think it downplayed the role of CID neighborhood organizations in helping to derail CID2.

      3. Here is the title in The Urbanist:

        “Sunday Video: How Austerity Is Ruining Sound Transit 3”
        “By Stephen Fesler -August 6, 2023”


        There is nothing to suggest the video was not “by” Stephen Fesler nor was credit given to anyone else. There is no accompanying text to the video outlining any agreements or disagreements Fesler has with the video, or noting he did not make the video, or who did as is customary when posting someone else’s work. So I think it was legitimate to assume the video was “by” Stephen Fesler, and he agreed with the points made in the video, some of which I disagreed with.

        Fesler then writes:

        “It’s truly a wonder that STB has not banned you from commenting on this site. But the people running this site have an obligation to do so. It’s time, STB management. Your intentional misrepresentation of people and routine personal attacks are very pathetic. Just watch the video and chill, dude”.

        Again Fesler does not reveal the video was made by someone else. Banning comments is what The Urbanist did when it eliminated comments from its readers because the editor and staff were too thin skinned to handle anything other than an echo chamber. Rather than debate the points I had with the video, and others on this blog had, Fesler’s first reaction is to silence any voices that disagree with him or the video.

        The problem with an echo chamber is too often those in the chamber don’t understand why decisions are made they may not understand or like. That is the entire point of dissent, as least for me as a lawyer in which every case has someone very smart on the other side who disagrees and works to identify differing views.

        Most often those decisions — like station placement at CID and SLU — come down to power and money, so it is important to understand why the powerful and wealthy (or a bunch of CID activists) don’t want a station, and why Constantine and Harrell are listening to them.

        The irony no one seems to understand except maybe Al is the stations at CID N/S and the alternate in SLU cost MORE than the original preferred location. It isn’t austerity that is driving those decisions, it is politics, although austerity will definitely be the driving force for WSBLE, Everett Link, and TDLE.

        When the video states ST should just get on with building WSBLE and ST 3 based on their belief of the promised stations and routes without understanding the politics and lack of funding they simply do not understand either, or the decisions being made for WSBLE and ST 3, which are going to get a lot worse as budget deficits increase and/or are finally acknowledged that go back to the original dishonest project cost estimates in the levies themselves. Silencing me isn’t going to change that, although The Urbanist likes to think so.

        Silencing people who point this out won’t help transit riders, or return stations to CID or SLU, or magically create the money to complete ST 3 without substantial cuts because tax rates can’t be raised, and each year a pro will raise. Fesler should know that.

      4. Tangential to the topic of moderating other people’s comments, I do find it interesting that there was no explicit attribution in the Urbanist post. It seems like it would be a very useful thing, both to distance oneself from potential misinterpretation/misattribution of positions, but also (perhaps even more importantly) to promote the original source further, which would strengthen the overall urbanist community.

        Perhaps this is a good learning opportunity for everyone.

      5. It’s not my job to spend my time refuting an abusive commenter, Daniel. Grow up.

      6. “I don’t think that is Fesler’s video. I think he is “sharing” the video.”
        This is basically it. I have watched Yet Another Urbanist’s videos before so I know the author of the article and video is separate people. As Yet Another Urbanist is from Reno, NV and has talked about at length the RTC Washoe (Reno’s transit system) system and Reno’s urban planning. For both the good and bad about it.
        He also talked about why he moved from Reno to Seattle a few months ago

        For all intents and purposes, I believe that outsiders opinions are sometimes necessary as they lack the personal skin in the game or aren’t as cynical about local politics or other local factors and able to look at the issue with an unbiased opinion. And I think his opinion on austerity is very valid because of the points he laid out where short sightedness affects riders when the people who are passionately against a project are the ones likely to be dead by the time the problems come to roost. Alongside pointing out the fact that we are moving a station from a major destination node (SCPL, Federal Courthouse for Midtown & The Intermodal connection for King Street, International Disrict, and commuter rail for CID.

    1. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/seattle-light-rail-passenger-attacked-by-knife-wielding-man-fellow-riders-step-in/vi-AA1eV2eb?ocid=hpmsn&cvid=da9b5911734b4115b5546959a936672a&ei=23

      “Sound Transit surveillance video shows suspect Ishmail Brown attacking a fellow Seattle light rail passenger in what prosecutors call a “random and incredibly violent” attack. (Source: Kind County Prosecutor’s Office”.

      This video highlights how a passenger is stuck in a cage on a light rail train, and how long it is between stops with no way off and no way for law enforcement or ST enforcement to board until the next stop.

  17. https://downtownbellevue.com/2023/07/18/free-electric-shuttle-program-bellevue-begin-august-1st/

    This is interesting. Originally when Bellevue moved East Link to 112th the plan was for an electric driverless shuttle basically going in a fixed route from Main to NE 8th and from 112th to Bellevue Way to move riders on East Link from the stations on 112th to Bellevue Way.

    This shuttle is obviously opening earlier than East Link. My guess is the increased housing and work density in downtown Bellevue makes a shuttle like this viable, although the app will determine everything, because otherwise folks will just use Uber for this short and basically inexpensive Uber ride. In the past these kinds of shuttles (including Metro) have failed because the app is not good, or the shuttle does not arrive in a short time from the call. If this shuttle is a reserve in advance kind of shuttle it will fail because folks will just walk or Uber. Bellevue wants to be a national leader in ACES (driverless electric shuttles) and also wants to appear “green”, so some of this shuttle might be hype.

    I think this shuttle is one the green shoots in what I think will be a paradigm shift in which mass transit migrates to more micro transit, especially buses at the first/last mile access stage, which Uber has cut into in urban areas. This kind of shuttle makes more sense to me to serve Link stations that tend to be away from the actually places folks want to go to.

    1. This not a shuttle; it’s an app-only taxi claiming to be a shuttle. Bellevue said it would have a shuttle, but that implies a fixed route and bus stops so you don’t need an app. Calling in Bel-Hop is even worse, because the previous Bel-Hops really were shuttles. This implies that even on major corridors like 112th & Main to Bellevue Way & Main you can’t just go to a shuttle stop, you have to download an app and create an account and request a custom trip and wait an unpredictable amount of time. It means the downtown Bellevue taxi has a different app than Metro’s taxi areas.

      1. Mike, they are calling themselves a shuttle. Are you are refusing to call them what they prefer to be called?

    2. “because otherwise folks will just use Uber for this short and basically inexpensive Uber ride.”

      There is no such thing as an inexpensive Uber ride anymore. Even Uber rides that are short enough to walk still run at around $8-10 each way, double that for a round trip, plus tip.

    3. The other thing I’ll mention about the Bellevue shuttle is that it doesn’t take very much usage before the waiting and/or detouring for other passenger becomes so slow that the shuttle ends up slower than even walking.

      Even on Bainbridge Island, earlier this year, the wait time for a microtransit ride on a random Saturday afternoon was about 55 minutes (not including an additional 15 minutes just fiddling with the app to get a number to appear). I ended up just walking the three miles to the ferry instead.

      If microtransit can’t even handle the very limited demand volume of Bainbridge Island, I don’t see how it handles a much more populous place like downtown Bellevue – unless, of course, the idea is that almost nobody knows about the app, leaving sufficient resource capacity for those few that do.

      1. Microtransit also assumes an unlimited number of drivers. OrcasShuttle doesn’t work due to the driver shortage.

    4. By the way, people won’t be coming just from Link; they’ll also be coming from the B, 226, 240, 249 (270), 250, 535 (S2), 560 (S1), etc.

    5. Here’s a link to the cities where the company, Circuit, that runs BellHop, operates. Can anyone detect a pattern with how they select cities, or how they determine which part of the city the service will run? Are they all somewhat wealthier cities or towns? Do they choose an area within a city that has an upscale mall? I honestly don’t know, but maybe some of you who are more familiar with some of those towns will know. If you click on an individual city, it will show you the area within the city where it operates. Their Palm Desert service looks odd. It’s a somewhat short, very narrow service area.


      1. El Paseo is the high end restaurant/retail strip in Palm Desert. The rest of the area is mostly strip malls spread out with true stroads between walled HOA communities. . Bel-Hop Service ends early in PD. Not much of a late night crowd, although the restaurants are very good along El Paseo with nice outdoor seating.

        The rest of the cities I am familiar with are all very wealthy areas with high end malls or retail/restaurant centers.

        To answer Glenn’s question about finding drivers, my guess is Bel-Hop pays more than Metro, no part time or split shifts, no drug use or homeless, no night shifts, and no dangerous areas. Plus tips.

        The first place I would advertise for drivers is with the lawyers representing the Metro or other drivers who were fired for refusing to get vaccinated. Or just Metro riders in general if the pay, working conditions, and schedules are better.

      2. Isn’t this Bellevue’s long-planned “shuttle” and Circuit is the contactor? Or did Circuit privately decide to expand into Bellevue? The article says it’s a partnership between the city and Circuit, so it must be the city’s shuttle, unless the city is planning another one.

  18. ““because otherwise folks will just use Uber for this short and basically inexpensive Uber ride.”

    “There is no such thing as an inexpensive Uber ride anymore. Even Uber rides that are short enough to walk still run at around $8-10 each way, double that for a round trip, plus tip.”

    A cocktail at Lincoln Square costs $15. In downtown Seattle parking can cost over $20. So Uber/Lyft can be competitive pricewise, and both offer a ride share feature if cost is the most important factor. Most transit is not free either, and even just for one a bus would cost around $6 round/trip, $12 for two. I doubt Kemper or Bellevue is subsidizing this shuttle for poor folks to come to Bellevue Way based on the areas served.

    I guess my main point was “frequency” matters for ride shares just as much as it does for transit. Most folks I know have Uber, Uber X, Uber XL, Uber Select, Uber Black, Lyft apps, on their phones. If a pickup is more than 10 minutes with one app in an urban area — for some five minutes — they compare another rideshare. People hate to wait on the street for an Uber, and with a phone in the hand have nothing to do except compare ride share apps.

    So the “shuttle” will need to have the same frequency, i.e. time from contacting the shuttle to the time of pickup, to be popular IMO. That is going to require a lot of shuttles based on the size of each shuttle and 4-mile radius. Plus a passenger won’t want a lot of stops along the way.

    I kind of agree with Mike. A shuttle on a fixed route like Main to NE 8th on 112th, NE 8th to Bellevue Way, Bellevue Way to Main, and back makes more sense if frequency is good. Of course, after East Link opens because the 550 continues to Bellevue Way today.

    The fact this shuttle is being rolled out today and will serve The Spring Dist. and Wilburton, two future East Link stations that today really don’t have anything folks would want to take a shuttle to, or housing/office density they would want to take a shuttle from, makes me think this shuttle is a bit of advertising for developers. I have been noting for a long time any area, including Bellevue, has only so much retail and retail density for the population, and The Spring Dist. and Wilburton and “East Main” were visioned as office complexes with meager retail, but some kind of easy shuttle or transportation to Bellevue Way where the Class A office space and true retail density are that The Spring Dist. and Wilburton will never be able to compete with, and never planned to. (Much of the rest of the 4 mile radius serves residential areas like Meydenbauer so I don’t understand that.
    The reality is downtown Bellevue does not have a 4 mile radius of density, and neither does downtown Seattle).

    Today post pandemic I have my doubts those office complexes will get built in The Spring Dist. or Wilburton or East Main so don’t really see the point of a shuttle serving those car-oriented, low-density areas with free parking. As the last comment to the article noted on August 2 the shuttle was still not up and running, and it wasn’t clear if Bellevue was still going to run the “electric green” shuttle.

    1. “A cocktail at Lincoln Square costs $15. ”

      And a pack of socks costs $20 and a pair of shoelaces costs $5. Do you think the only reason people go to downtown Bellevue is for cocktails and fine dining? If you take Link to Bellevue Station for a pack of socks or shoelaces, it would be kind of ridiculous to spend $10 on the last mile to get to the store. Or maybe you’re going to the Bellevue Park, which is free and for everybody. But you should spend $10 on Uber because Bellevue doesn’t want its lower-income residents to go to the park?

    2. From the article: “According to Circuit’s website, the goal of the on-demand and free shuttle service is to make navigating Downtown Bellevue easier, greener, and more affordable.”

      easier navigation: for more than just cocktails.
      greener: to reduce carbon emissions by getting more total trips onto transit.
      affordable: for those who can’t afford cocktails.

    3. I actually did buy shoelaces two months ago. I think with inflation they were around $8. Since I live in central Seattle I first tried the stores there: Bartell, Nordstrom, Target. There seems to be a pandemic-like shortage on shoelaces because all of them had half-empty racks, a small selection, and not the size/type I needed. Then I went to the Ballard Fred Meyer, three miles away, and found one that fit. That may seem like a long way to go for shoelaces, but I needed a pair because mine were fraying, and I wanted a place with a large enough selection that they’d likely have what I want.

      If I were still living in east Bellevue, I’d try Macy’s and Nordstrom, taking the B or 226 plus the Bel-Hop. Or if I were still living south of Main and Macy’s and Nordstrom didn’t have it, I’d take the Bel-Hop plus B or 226 to the Fred Meyer on 148th & 20th.

      1. The best way to buy things like socks or lightbulbs, shoe laces, batteries, filters, and so on is on Amazon. If you sign up for Prime shipping is free (and you get a free subscription to Prime Video with access to thousands of free movies and TV shows). Stores just can’t afford to stock a full inventory of these low profit staples, especially in high lease areas, whereas on Amazon the selection is limitless and it is easy to compare costs and reviews.

        If money is an issue I would not shop at Bellevue Mall or Lincoln Square for these basic staples, just as I would not recommend buying a cocktail at Lincoln Square or ordering the halibut at Carmines by the park. The 4mile radius of Bel-Hop didn’t include any low income areas I could see so I doubt the goal is to serve poor Bellevue citizens get to Bellevue Square or Lincoln Square to buy $20 socks (you can get 6 pairs on Amazon) or $8 shoelaces.

      2. You want people to order online, use app-based Uber, and take app taxis. I see a pattern.

      3. Mike, Amazon Prime has 180 million paying U.S. customers in a country with 260 million adults over 18. I am not alone, and according to my kids I am a Luddite.

        Do you not own a cell phone. If you do you will see it comes with apps already installed, and thousands more for free in the App Store. You may want to live like the Amish but the rest of the country doesn’t, especially the young who live their lives online. Welcome to the 21st century. You might find you save a lot of money — and time — buying things like socks and shoelaces online.

        There is no morality in not using technology. Taking two buses to buy shoelaces when the round trip transit fare (not sure if you have an Orca card which is essentially an app) is $6 seems wasteful to me, time, money and carbon. That’s why so many moderate and poor citizens pay for Amazon Prime: it saves them time and money.

      4. Amazon Prime is incredibly convenient and definitely does make car-free living much, much easier than it otherwise would be. For the most part, the days of needing to ride buses – or rent Zipcars – simply to go from home to store and back home again to buy stuff – have become obsolete. I would also argue that smartphones have become a near necessity these days, even for bus riding – without it, you have no idea when or if your bus is going to show up.

        That said, I still consider the statement “Taking two buses to buy shoelaces when the round trip transit fare (not sure if you have an Orca card which is essentially an app) is $6 seems wasteful to me, time, money and carbon.” often an exaggeration. It’s not a waste of carbon because the bus is running anyway. It’s not a waste of money if you already have an unlimited-ride transit pass. And, it’s not a waste of time if you have some other reason to already be in the area of the store, so the shopping simply means walking a couple extra blocks before heading to the bus to go home, not actually riding extra buses, just to shop.

        It’s also not like car owners are super-efficient at managing their time either. Lots and lots of people spend lots and lots of time sitting in traffic driving cars to and from stores to buy stuff they could have easily ordered online, or simply purchased from a store closer to home. Wasting time is not at all specific to transit riders.

      5. I still go to JCPenney, Kohls, Home Depot, Target, etc for shopping primarily as someone who is one of the younger Millennials (29y) here. I may order online and do pickup in store where I may end getting a few extra items or do grocery shopping. A lot of stores have gone to such a hybrid model, see Nordstrom Bellevue Square where they spent money into building a space for a large in store pickup in their store but they know people will still linger and browse in store for items they may of missed or new arrivals.

        Some people view Amazon as a killer to retail, but I don’t really. Amazon basically carved out their own niche as the every store, like Sears was in its heyday. But at the same time, I’m seeing the move away from Amazon towards other stores by some people my age (late 20s/early 30s) because the quality control of products on Amazon has dropped like a rock and people are more wary of counterfeit items on Amazon nowadays. Alongside seeing some people wanting to shop with smaller or niche brands for either their fashion or hobbies.

        Like even when I lived in Europe, the shopping street was still popular for many before going to Amazon. Via Pietrapiana & Borgo la Croce near my apartment in Florence was always busy throughout the day. They have Home goods & DIY store, Fashion & Beauty shops, travel store, pharmacy, drugstore, supermarket, €1 shop, bookstore, furniture, etc. So there isn’t much need to shop online whem I was there cept for people with limited mobility/disability or an atypical item they needed to buy.

        Amazon is really only useful in my opinion at least for me with odd or unusual items I can’t find in store, like mainly electronics and some home goods.

        And for some people like me shopping in person is more practical than online. I personally cannot do online shopping for most clothes as sizing for my body type does not fit the cut of most off the rack brands.

  19. Off topic, but this is a project I have ties to. Anybody want to buy a gorgeous condo near Greenlake?

    Some folks on this board have talked about changing the single family zoning in Seattle to drive up density and maybe create some (more) affordable housing. This project is 3 units on one lot… with 3 parking spaces where one house used to be. In Old Seattle this house had a family of 5 living in it. New Seattle tears that house down for 3 units with maybe 7, 8 people living there? And if you can’t afford a million dollar mortgage… oh well?


    1. The price is more than $1000/ sf of lot area and a little under $1000/sf of GFA. Whereas jurisdictions like MI limit GFA to 40% of lot area this property has almost a 2 to 1 ratio of GFA to lot area, which means not a tree or lick of vegetation. Talk about massing.

      I wonder if the 3 onsite parking spots are due to code or the builder figured folks who can afford a $1.4 million condo would drive and demand a parking spot. Density doesn’t always equal transit (or affordable housing), especially if the new owners are rich and want to drive.

      1. Worth noting that the property listing mentions amenities such as “dedicated off-street parking” in addition to the one car garage. So presumably there is at least some shared (to the triplex) free-for-all parking too.

        FWIW, while our current property does have a two-car garage, we are using the second bay as storage + workshop. People talk about how the lack of garage requirements would allow more flexibility in how the space gets used; however the garage space itself is flexible in that it is not uncommon to use some of it for storage or as a work area, as we do. The previous owners of this property had gone a step forward in that they were using both bays for woodworking, and their (also single, I believe) car was parked onto the driveway instead. Such a place suited both our families (theirs and mine) better than a place with more bedrooms would have.

    2. There used to be one small home on the property valued at about $700K. Now there is a new three-unit condo building on the parcel, with each unit valued at $1.3M. Does that sound accurate, tacomee?

      1. Yeah, close. I think one unit is smaller/cheaper…. maybe like 850k. One has already sold. There’s zero trees or vegetation and the 3 story building towers over the rest of he neighborhood. I mean it blocks sunlight from next door neighbor’s house. Sucks to be them! On the street parking is already bad… this makes it worse. Except for the 3 rich people who buy these units, everybody loses.

      2. If the condos are going for $1.3 million, then the house would go for more than $1.3 million. There’s also the possibility that the owner overpriced the condos and will have to lower the price.

      3. All new homes eventually become old homes with enough time. And it’s still a net increase in the housing supply of two units.

      4. Ross Bleakney,

        You’re the guy who believes zoning creates affordable housing, right? This isn’t affordable housing, right?

        Look, the old house that was there was the smallest, crappiest one on the block. The lowest income people in the neighborhood lived there. Now it ‘s gone and higher income people live there. That’s gentrification. So let’s change the zoning and let developers take down every small funky house in whole damn city and put 4 overpriced condos on them. I’m sure that’s going to make housing affordable. In fact the real reason zoning in Seattle will change is because there’s big money in redevelopment. Money changes zoning. Money changes everything.

        I lived in Wallingford and kicked around this neighborhood in the 1980s. It was pretty affordable then, so it always hasn’t been a “rich” area. There’s been some development over the years in this area… and it’s always wiped out cheaper housing to replace it with more expensive housing.

      5. Where do you think those 3 richer families would be living, if they didn’t live in these condos?

      6. Cam Solomon,

        That’s a good question. California? There’s a great many of out-of-State buyers for this sort of development. Remember this would be an absolute steal in San Francisco. UW pumps out graduates who can afford this sort of home all the time… engineers, programmers, STEM fields. Public school teachers, nope, they can’t afford this. Painters… drywallers … line cooks… can’t afford this. This was built for people with plenty of money.

        I’m going to guess the square ft. of housing per person has been going up in Seattle a pretty steep clip for decades (and the rest of the USA somewhat slower). Tacoma, and much of the South end of King county used to have families with kids living in houses that are 1200 sq ft or less. That’s like 400 sq ft of living space a person. There used to be a lot of rental houses in this area (U-District, Wallingford, Greenlake) that groups of people used to rent… again, I’d guess sub 400 sq. ft. per person. The guy running the fryers down at Spuds could rent a room around this neighborhood… there was always a heavy student vibe around this area.

        Because the people moving in have more money and can’t imagine sharing a bathroom with 2- 4 other people (my life story). The square footage per person shoots way up…. the desire to live alone makes it even worse.

        So the net population gain for the neighborhood for the condo complex I posted earlier might be as small as 2 people over the craptastic house that used to be there. There will be 4 more cars however, and a lot more disposable income in the neighborhood.

        Things change, I get it. But I’m judging this change as bullshit. This project did absolutely nothing positive for the neighborhood.

      7. “You’re the guy who believes zoning creates affordable housing, right?”

        No, that’s a strawman an anti-upzone commentator keeps repeating.

        Adding more units has a long-term effect of keeping the market-rate price curve from going as high as it would without the additional units. That doesn’t magically turn $2000 rents into $1000 rents. We’ve gone so far into the hole over so many years that it would take a lot to reverse it. Allowing 3-plexes or expanding urban villages horizontally will have a limited effect, but it may keep us from heading into a deeper crisis or slow down the rate it worsens. It gives renters/buyers more choices and more leverage.

        That’s separate from expanding “affordable housing” for those making less than $70K. Since there’s such a huge gap between affordable $600/$1000 and market-rate $2000+ and a lot of people in the gap, we need a lot of subsidized housing to bridge it. That’s separate from additional market-rate housing that upzoning allows. We need both.

      8. “let’s change the zoning and let developers take down every small funky house in whole damn city and put 4 overpriced condos on them. I’m sure that’s going to make housing affordable”

        What you’re missing is that non-redeveloped houses are rising in price too. They’ve already gone above the level of affordability. There are articles of people buying uninhabitable broken houses in West Seattle for $500 or $6000 that need major repairs like floor replacement before they can be lived in. If even uninhabitable houses are going for that much, what do you think average houses are going for? Calling these “affordable” is disingenouous. If anything should be preserved, it’s old apartments that cost much less than those houses. But even without upzoning or adding units, prices on those older houses and apartments are marching up and people have been displaced from them. Saying they’ll remain affordable is just false: they’re becoming ever-less affordable even without densification. There may be a lull now in rent increases due to the post-covid situation, but it’s not clear it will last more than a couple years. Work from home is partly reversing, some people are moving back to the city, etc.

      9. “the old house that was there was the smallest, crappiest one on the block. The lowest income people in the neighborhood lived there. Now it ‘s gone and higher income people live there.”

        In unchanged old houses throughout Seattle, residents have been replaced by wealthier residents. This has been happening for twenty years. It’s why Wallingford, Mt Baker, and Northgate (north of the mall) have much richer residents on average than they did twenty years ago, and people like the former residents have been shut out. This is in UNCHANGED houses, either with or without an upzone in their neighborhood.

      10. Mike, you and others repeat this point over and over — Seattle’s high housing prices were caused by new housing starts that lagged population growth — but it simply isn’t true.

        “Let’s start with some relatively good news about housing: we built a lot over the past ten years. Between 2010 and 2020, Seattle’s population grew by 21.1%, and housing unit growth almost kept pace at 19.4%. Obviously more would be better, but compared to most American cities — and most cities in Washington State — that is a phenomenal achievement, especially when one considers that Seattle is by far the largest city in the state. In Everett, housing actually outpaced population growth; in Vancouver (the suburb of Portland, not the one up north) housing was virtually on pace. Bellevue grew its housing base by 17.1%, but still couldn’t keep up with the frightening pace of population growth the city saw (24.1%). Of the larger cities in the state, the laggard was Spokane, where population grew 9.4% but housing only increased by 3.5%.


        “And yet despite all that population and housing unit growth over the past ten years, within each district the number of housing units per person has changed little — a small tick down in D5 and D7, but overall remarkably steady.

        “The fact that as a whole Seattle’s housing construction nearly kept pace with the torrid pace of growth is somewhat surprising. It certainly didn’t feel that way over the past ten years, and we didn’t talk about it as if we were keeping up. To be fair, the building boom wasn’t steady and even across all ten years. Still, there’s an opportunity to do a retrospective on the past decade to figure out what we did right (and wrong) so that we can continue the trend — and perhaps even have housing growth outpace the population over the next ten years.”

        If housing growth has matched population growth in Seattle over the last decade then why has Seattle’s average median housing price risen so quickly? Because AMI has risen, and the bottom half of the median price — older more affordable housing — has been replaced by new more expensive housing.

        This entire housing growth upzoning strategy is based on one false assumption: this region will see 1 million new residents by 2040, although that prediction was made in 2018, and today we are 250,000 new residents short of that assumption. In fact, most believe Seattle is approaching a glut of multi-family housing.

        I don’t know how many times I or Seattle’s rep. at the hearing over HB 1110 can repeat it: it is the loss and replacement of older more affordable housing that is the problem. What is driving the rise in the AVERAGE MEDIAN housing price in Seattle is the reduction in the number of housing units in the bottom half of the median. If there were more older affordable housing in Seattle by definition the average median price would be lower.

        It is time to stop basing housing policy on false assumptions about housing vs. population growth, or on future population growth estimates that were fantastical pre-pandemic.

      11. “there’s a great many of out-of-State buyers for this sort of development.”

        There’s a great many in-state buyers too. Without these units, they’d buy an existing comparable unit, live in a lesser house, or remain in a rental apartment. All of these would increase competition on the existing units, raising prices. Those out-of-state buyers might also bid for an existing comparable unit, causing the same problem. Out-of-state buyers don’t just suddenly appear when new units are added but not if no units are added. If the price is less than California and they want a unit (either to live in or as an extra), they’ll bid for it. They’ll bid for whatever units are available, in a context of either fewer units (if there’s no densification) or more units (if there is densification).

      12. “Between 2010 and 2020, Seattle’s population grew by 21.1%, and housing unit growth almost kept pace at 19.4%.”

        I heard there’s a 25% gap between job growth and housing growth. Seattle’s “population growth” can only increase to the extent that housing units grow. You’re not counting the people who have been displaced from Seattle and had to move to South King County, Snohomish County, or Pierce County, or who never tried for Seattle because prices had risen so much. They should be able to come back to Seattle if they want.

        Yes, Seattle and the Eastside and Snohomish County have added a relatively large number of units per capita compared to more restrictive California and many other cities. That’s a good thing, and we’ve celebrated it repeatedly in these pages. But the should do more, as New York and Chicago and Dallas have done over the past hundred years. We may focus more strongly on the negatives because that’s what needs to change, but they should be congratulated for the positives they have achieved.

      13. “This entire housing growth upzoning strategy is based on one false assumption: this region will see 1 million new residents by 2040”

        It’s not about that; it’s for the existing backlog and the current needs now. Even if growth is much less than that 1 million, we still need a lot more units.

        All the new houses/apartments that get built are being filled. They aren’t sitting around unbought/unrented. The inventory of available for-sale houses is very low — and has been since 2008 — because sellers aren’t selling like they used to. They’re staying put or holding on to their house. Any additional units like the 1-to-3 townhouse expansion just brings the very-low inventory back up toward normal. It would take thousands or tens of thousands of redevelopments like those or similar expansions before there would be a concern about too many. We’re a long way away from that.

        In any case, if the market reaches saturation, developers will stop building, and a couple years after that, all the excess units will be absorbed. It happens every time there’s an increase/decrease in the economy. A catastrophic population loss like Detroit or a demise like Rust Belt cities is not likely.

      14. “It’s not about that; it’s for the existing backlog and the current needs now. Even if growth is much less than that 1 million, we still need a lot more units.

        “All the new houses/apartments that get built are being filled. They aren’t sitting around unbought/unrented.”

        That just isn’t true Mike. You are making statements that are contrary to the data. Today there are 12,990 apartments for rent in Seattle just on apartments.com. https://www.apartments.com/seattle-wa/

        HB 1110 was explicitly sold on the assumption by the OFM that 1 million new residents would move into the region by 2040 (50,000/year). That estimate was made in 2018-19. So far King Co. alone has lost 43,000 residents. So we are 250,000 short of that estimate today but OFM and the PSRC refuse to revisit their assumptions.

        The Dept. of Commerce under Inslee has simply been dishonest in its population growth estimates, and the builders (who are the major contributor to state Democrats now) repeat the falsehood about housing not keeping pace with population growth over the last decade, and we will need 1 million new units for the 1 million new residents, that people who don’t know better — including the press and progressives who want a magic bullet for housing affordability — believe it, and so repeat it even when others post articles based on the 2020 census disproving these claims.

      15. Mike Orr,

        “That’s separate from expanding “affordable housing” for those making less than $70K. Since there’s such a huge gap between affordable $600/$1000 and market-rate $2000+ and a lot of people in the gap, we need a lot of subsidized housing to bridge it. That’s separate from additional market-rate housing that upzoning allows. We need both.”

        Oh My! Where on earth would Seattle get enough money for enough subsidized housing for those under your 70k threshold? The median Seattle income is like, 75k? (I’m guessing). So 50% of the population needs subsidized housing? That’s billions of dollars! At what point do the I-135 crowd put down the hash pipe and use the calculator in their phone to do some 8th grade math? There’s no free lunch in America!

        What do you think should happen? Every homeowner in the City needs to kick down an extra $500 a month so everybody under that 70k income line gets a break on rent? Honestly, that’s what the basic math would turn out to be. It’s pure fantasy– it cannot happen.

        Let me share how the I-135 myth bites the dust. We agree that the lowest 30% of incomes deserve subsidized housing first…. and the money to build that really low income housing never really materializes. How could it really? We haven’t funded low income housing over the last 50 years and we’re not starting now.

      16. “That just isn’t true Mike. You are making statements that are contrary to the data. Today there are 12,990 apartments for rent in Seattle just on apartments.com.”

        I said there may be a lull in apartment tightness right now. If so, it started around 2002 (one year ago), and it may last for a year or two — or maybe longer. We can’t make long-term decisions based on short-term fluctuations like that. If we reach a stable 5-10% vacancy rate that last for more than a few years, then I would say we can stop worrying about needing more apartments. But we’re not there yet. People thought the 2011 situation meant we didn’t need more apartments,. but then 2012 happened, and it took a couple years for developers to scale up again. The same thing could happen again in 2024. Not at such a high rate — I don’t think the extremely high rate of 2012-2017 will be repeated — but enough that we have to increase apartment costruction again.

        That 12,990 figure is a snapshot in time: those units will all be filled in a year or two. It translates to something close to or within a normal vacancy rate. The vacancy rate is always above 0%, for the same reason the unemployment rate is always above 0% — because there are always some people quitting or searching for jobs or moving, and there are always lags when the economy changes but developers need another year or two to scale up/down.

        As for owned houses, the market is much tighter. There have been repeated news articles on this.

      17. Daniel & Tacomee,

        There is, in fact, a housing shortage: link text
        Housing is not immune to the laws of supply and demand, although there are many variables at play. As Daniel often points out, an increasing AMI has increased the demand side of the equation. But zoning is often the largest factor in reducing supply. Why are we artificially constricting supply by maintaining restrictive zoning?
        Most naturally occurring affordable housing is old housing stock. Developers aren’t going to build cheap housing without significant subsidies if they can build expensive housing instead. However, eventually new units age and filter down to lower market segments. If you limit supply, not enough ever filters down.
        Tacomee seems to lament the loss of an old “affordable” unit, replaced by three units. But that house would have been replaced either way, if not by three units, then by one larger new SFH. The affordable unit would still be lost, but at least with three units there is an increase to supply, lessening stress on the housing market as a whole.

      18. Justin H

        I’ve said this before, but the reason zoning will change in Seattle is there’s money, big money, in doing so. As far as making housing affordable, the construction industry has little interest in that. Zoning doesn’t build housing. Investors and contractors do.

        If you smell a national housing racket with investors and builders throttling supply by building less (often high end) units then is needed, you may be right. The housing shortage may have a negative effect on you or me…. but not the building industry. And those people call all the shots. There is always the fear of building too much housing and having the price drop, so the industry is pretty darn risk adverse. I know some top folks over at DR Horton (maybe the biggest home builder in Washington?) They are wonderful folks to work for, very inclusive, great workforce development, immigrant friendly…. but they don’t really give a crap about the “housing shortage”. The shortage just means endless high profit work for them. Let’s just say the people who “could” fix the problem have no interest in doing so. It’s not fair, but I have no idea how to change that.

        What often happens on this blog and in many urbanist circles is this idea (hope maybe?) that zoning or some other kind of government intervention can step in and solve a free market problem. That just can’t happen. You can’t kidnap Matt Farris (head cheese over at DR Horton) and force him to build homes. I retired a couple of years ago and I still get several calls a week asking for me to work on projects. Zoning aside, the construction industry can only kick out so much housing a year. We’ve been working overtime in the construction industry for decades now. It isn’t magic.

        I don’t know what the answer is…. but I doubt it’s Seattle. The governor needs to go to Amazon and work out transferring jobs to Eastern Washington… may Zillah would be a good choice? Then plan a couple of new cities of a 100,000 out there. That would be the German solution to this problem…. industry–government–construction all on the same page.

        Seattle can’t fight market forces alone.

    3. This 3 unit lot takes advantage of the zoning reforms adopted a few years back that allow 1 single family home + 1 attached accessory dwelling unit + 1 detached accessory dwelling unit. In order to sell each unit separately, the property is condominiumized. It’s a workaround developers have discovered recently and is becoming more popular for development in single family zones in Seattle. With the new state law allowing for additional units on soon to be formerly single family zones, this legal way of splitting lots will probably go by the wayside and follow more typical lot splits you see in low-rise zones where you currently see zero lot line development for townhomes.

      1. The one thing I’ll add:

        These are popular enough that they are beginning to proliferate across the city because it allowed someone to afford to live in a neighborhood that they would otherwise not be able to afford (caveat being that the buyer is buying a brand new “turn-key” home with modern amenities and NOT an older home needing hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring up to date…. Yes I know the original house sold for 700k). The trade-down is that you do not own the lot due to the condo arrangement. Enough folks are making that trade-off to make the construction of these homes economical. It’s not for everyone.

      2. Looking at the photos, this appears to be three 3-story townhouse condos, two attached and one detached. The two listed are each 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bath, 1915 sq ft, “1811 sq ft loft” (whatever that means). I assume the third unit is the same size. So these are larger than average houses, or at least larger than North Seattle small-lot houses. I’m surprised they could fit three such large houses on one lot. But that partly explains why they’re so expensive; they’re not just a 2 BR 1-2 bath house.

        I looked to see if they’re a block from Greenlake because that would also explain a high price. They’re at 6048 4th Ave NE, which is not really Greenlake. It’s south of 65th, a block east of Latona Ave, in that residential area between Greenlake and Latona proper, and two blocks west of I-5 (meaning potential freeway noise). I actually used to go to a weekly potluck at a house near there.

        Still, with average houses going for $700K last I heard, it’s hard to see how they could sell a condo for twice that, especially with it not being a block from Greenlake or in central Seattle or something. On the other hand, they are 3 BR 3.5 bath. Still, $1.5 million seems like wishful thinking. I can’t see average houses going up that far that quickly, when it’s taken them fifteen years to get from $300K to $700K. If everything does end up going above a million, that will be bad, that’s what happened to San Francisco and San Jose.

        But let’s take a moment to celebrate the fact that three housholds will be living on that lot instead of one. That’s infill development. If Alonso is right that there will soon be a lot of 3-plex condo-houses, that’s one way of increasing density, even if it’s backing into it.

        One problem that has happened with previous townhouse developments is the parking requirements really constrain how you can lay out the houses. That’s who the layouts are often the same and sometimes awkward. It has been described as “building parking spaces with houses around them” rather than “building houses with or without parking spaces”. I don’t know how much this applies to 3-plex condos, since there are fewer parking spaces to fit. But it’s worth keeping in mind if this becomes an issue.

      3. I have seen about half a dozen townhomes built in Seattle in the last couple of decades, at least. None of them were 2bd 1bath setups. I believe that all of them were 2/2, 2/2.5, 3/2.5, or 3/3.5 setups. The smaller ones (2/2 and 3/2.5) had only one spot parking garage on the bottom level; the others had two spot garages, with an extra room tucked behind the garage in the largest one. I cannot imagine a 2/1 townhome ever being built in today’s age in Seattle, because the bedrooms are invariably on the top floor (where you would have a bathroom and there’s always a full bathroom in a home) and then there would be at least a powder room on the “entertainment” level. If someone has seen a 2/1 townhome I would be curious to see the floor plan. Mike, do you know of any?

      4. Mike Orr,

        Back in the 80s I lived in 4 bedroom house in Wallingford with 5 other people. Moved to a small two bedroom house in Southworth with 3 other people. Lived in an 850 square foot house in Tacoma with between 2-5 people over time…. I’m pretty sure my housing footprint has taken up much less square footage over the years that the average single person household living in Seattle. I grew a heck of a lot of food in yard over the years as well, had a garage full of bikes that saved on a lot of driving.

        If you really want to save the environment…. live family style in house. Stay away from eating meat. Grow your own food, walk to the store, ride bikes for transportation and fun. Explore your local library an parks. Try not to fly places on airplanes.

        Of course I’ve worked in construction, so I’ve destroyed much, much more than my share of the environment. I own that.

        Are you sure Sound Transit is good for the environment? Construction projects are terrible for the environment…. will Sound Transit ever have enough riders to break even? Also Sound Transit has this core belief that millions of new residents are moving to Puget Sound. Maybe that’s true, (I doubt it). But let’s make one think perfectly clear– the more people who move to Puget Sound, the less trees there will be. And salmon. The environment will go the same way the environment of New York City has… down the toilet.

        And if you want to believe that tearing a modest house down and paving over an entire city lot for 3 million dollar condos is the way forward, that’s your business. But I smell bullshit. It’s not personal, but there are some younger folks need to read this. Look at that Realtor listing again. Is that what you want in Seattle?

        Knocking down single family houses to build 3-4 million dollar condos isn’t going to make Seattle that much more dense. Too many Seattleites want to live alone.

      5. Tacomee, I have friends in the construction and development business and they would say this kind of development is all good.

        First it is new construction and so exempt from the property tax levy. It won’t reduce anyone else’s property taxes, but it increases the amount of property tax revenue the city will have to spend. Plus the builder paid sales tax on the construction. And it employed folks in the construction industry, who of course all live near Auburn and Kent in a SFH.

        Second, it replaces the former owners/tenants with a wealthier, higher-class, higher educated resident. This in turns leads to more development like this in the neighborhood, higher property values, more higher-class folks moving in, higher class restaurants and retail. It is called gentrification.

        One irony is the higher-class group is much less likely to use public transit, and not surprisingly the packed lot devotes a lot of lot area for parking, probably a decision the developer made understanding the demographic that can afford $1.3 million condos. These folks, WFH, Uber. They are not taking the bus to Trader Joe’s. One of the great myths on this blog is new expensive high-cost construction increases density so increases transit use. Just the opposite.

        The loss of trees and any lot vegetation, and the height and lack of yard setbacks, are unfortunate for the neighbors, and makes the neighborhood a heat sink and rather unpleasant looking, but those are the things that must be sacrificed on the altar of more housing, even though there is not a large net gain of housing when comparing bedrooms (and now three kitchens and probably 5 bathrooms among the three units), and of course just as the Seattle rep. told the committee at the hearing on HB 1110 what this type of construction does is replace older more affordable housing with new less affordable housing, so the average median housing price increases, not so much due to the cost of the new housing but the continual loss of the lower priced housing. That is why there is South Seattle, and then South of there.

        On MI in 2017 we went in the opposite direction. We upzoned the town center where there is walkable retail and transit, and we downzoned the SFH to reduce GFAR (gross floor area to lot area ratio) to reduce massing, passed a tree ordinance to preserve significant trees, and require tree replacement during development. Different vision for different folks.

      6. Yes, Alonso, I believe you are right. It is somewhat strange, as the King County Assessor lists this as one property with three units. But I can only find two units on Redfin. There is this one, which is by far the biggest. Then there is this one, which sold a little while ago: https://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/6046-4th-Ave-NE-98115/home/182622152. So there you go, Anonymouse, there is your 2 bedroom/1+ setup. (Still not a 2/1; as you correctly suggested, folks don’t want to go downstairs just to pee.) Also worth noting, this is technically a condo, so there is HOA fees. This goes back to what Alonso wrote. These aren’t townhouses where you own your own land. You are part of a three-unit condo setup. One very expensive, one fairly expensive (although cheap for the neighborhood) and one that I can’t seem to find. It is all about the regulations.

        Second, it replaces the former owners/tenants with a wealthier, higher-class, higher educated resident. This in turns leads to more development like this in the neighborhood, higher property values, more higher-class folks moving in, higher class restaurants and retail. It is called gentrification.

        I don’t mean to be rude here, but you are completely wrong. First of all, this is Tangletown, a high-end neighborhood with highly-educated residents. Anyone who knows Seattle knows this, but if you aren’t clear, you can look at the census data, and the historical census data. You are within walking distance to Green Lake, and not very far from the University of Washington (where they educate a lot of those highly educated people). Old houses — that require a lot more maintenance, and may need a new kitchen remodel (which I’ve heard is loads of fun) — routinely go for well over a million. Even those on small lots approach 2 million (https://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/2320-N-58th-St-98103/home/303981).

        More importantly, you have it backwards. New construction does not create gentrification. Gentrification creates new construction. Harlem gentrified. Brooklyn gentrified. Neighborhoods that were once seen as “too scary” were considered “very convenient” with “good bones”. Basically, white people stopped being so scared of black and brown people. As a result, demand went up. This increase in demand — which means more wealthy people moving into a neighborhood — is what is called “gentrification”. The construction that follows (or doesn’t) has nothing to do with it. In fact, if you didn’t do any construction, you would still have gentrification, with old places going for exorbitant sums. (This has happened in plenty of places.) If all it took to gentrify a new neighborhood was to build a bunch of new housing, cities across the country would do that. Detroit, Saint Louis, Buffalo — they would build a lot of fancy new condos so that people who are well-to-do could live there, creating a cycle of wealth and prosperity for the area. But that simply won’t work. Build those condos, and no one is buying.

        This neighborhood was never gentrified, because it was never poor. It was also nice and desirable, but has become more so over time. There is an increasing demand for housing, and if you can afford it, this is a great neighborhood. Meanwhile, housing supply hasn’t kept up. This explains the very high prices. 800 grand for a new townhouse/condo? Sure. 2 million for a house over 100 years old, requiring boatloads of maintenance? You got it. This is just a very desirable neighborhood, without that many places to live.

      7. “More importantly, you have it backwards. New construction does not create gentrification. Gentrification creates new construction. Harlem gentrified. Brooklyn gentrified. Neighborhoods that were once seen as “too scary” were considered “very convenient” with “good bones”.

        I think you have cause and effect mixed up Ross.

        Gentrification is the effect. New construction is the cause, because it displaces lower income residents from a neighborhood when their affordable housing in a marginal neighborhood is replaced with new expensive construction. Displacement is the harm in gentrification. Otherwise, gentrification is mostly good, except the diversity of the neighborhood declines and poor residents have to move to a different part of the city or leave.

        Any neighborhood can gentrify, although the wealthier and less affordable housing in a neighborhood the less it can gentrify. Gentrification really isn’t the new construction; it is the replacement of the existing affordable housing with new construction which displaces the existing lower income residents. Tangletown still has plenty of gentrification to go.

        Gentrification ends when all the affordable housing in a community has been replaced, and those residents displaced. Medina and Hunts Point are two good examples: the land and neighborhood are so expensive that over time any older or affordable housing has been replaced, and there is no diversity of income in the community.

        In distressed communities like The Central Dist. or Columbia City gentrification is actually a slow process. It begins well before the neighborhood stops being “scary”. It often begins with artists moving to an area, because the housing is affordable because there is a lot of crime and the schools are not good (or existing residents Black). Slowly it improves, upper class residents are drawn to the area for the artistic vibe, then developers, then new construction, and the artists are driven out.

        The neighborhood’s “scariness” slowly dissipates as more and more affordable housing is replaced with new housing matching the higher AMI of those now willing to move there, and more of the existing “scary” residents are displaced. It took Harlem and Brooklyn decades to gentrify, block by block, and both began with artists displacing minority communities being displaced by effectively Yuppies. The Central Dist. is closer to being fully gentrified while Columbia City is in the early stages but gentrifying fast (which you know when eastsiders start going there for the bars and restaurants that today look just like they do).

        I have finally come to accept something Ross once stated: you can’t stop gentrification in a city with a rapidly rising AMI and growing population. Yes, today as I have posted before the pace of new housing has kept pace with the new population growth https://sccinsight.com/2021/09/14/what-the-2020-census-data-tells-us-about-housing-in-seattle/ but at the expense of the destruction of so much older affordable housing.

        That is why Tacomee is correct: it is fools gold to think new construction or creating new dwellings will create affordable housing, because despite all the new construction over the last decade the average median price of housing in Seattle has soared, because the older more affordable housing has been destroyed increasing the average median price. Lots of expensive housing available in Seattle today a decade later (at least multi-family) but less and less even marginally affordable housing, which is the definition of gentrification.

      8. Myth: Upzoning will increase the supply of affordable housing.

        “When a part of Austin upzoned, in order to increase affordability, it triggered redevelopment, and within 10 years, the Black population decreased by 66%, the Latino population decreased by 33%, and the White population increased by 442%. Blanket changes in zoning, especially in prosperous metro areas like Austin, are likely to result in gentrification and displacement.”


      9. “Blanket changes in zoning, especially in prosperous metro areas like Austin, are likely to result in gentrification and displacement.”

        Not upzoning also leads to gentrification and displacement.

        Columbia City and the CD gentrified in the 1990s, long before there were any upzones there. More affluent white people just stared moving to those areas and renovated the existing houses and storefronts. Soon the nature of the area changed and the average wealth went up. The upzones followed later. If there hadn’t been upzones, the prices would have risen anyway, and probably faster and higher.

      10. “Myth: Upzoning will increase the supply of affordable housing.”

        Why do we keep repeating this strawman? Only two people are saying it, claiming that others (urbanists) are saying it when they’re not. And one troll is saying it, because he likes to troll.

      11. Mike,

        It might be because some (apparent) urbanists do say it, for example this particular student’s thesis:


        The money quote, as it were: “The goal of upzoning is to increase housing density, eliminate single-family zoning laws deemed inequitable, and ultimately increase the supply of affordable housing in the United States.”

        The abstract goes on to say that this is, in fact, likely to happen:

        “My model indicates that the 2040 plan is responsible for increasing single-family home values by approximately 3%. Single-family homes in upper income areas appreciate more than those in lower income areas in response to the 2040 plan. Multi-unit properties in Minneapolis experienced a decrease in value due to the 2040 plan, indicating early success in increased affordable housing.”

        You can argue with whether this is accurate or not – I don’t know, I did not read the whole thing. But urbanists do in fact say this – whether you specifically do is another question, of course, and I do not mean to imply that you do so. But I would suggest not making blanket statements that urbanists do not do it when it is easy to find counterexamples.

        You might also say that I cherry picked my example. Here’s another one, this time an editorial on a blog, I guess.


        The money quote in this one:

        “Upzoning not only increases the supply of housing within these gentrifying areas, it also reduces building costs, by dividing the fixed costs of real estate development across more heads. ”

        (to be fair, they don’t say that the overall costs are reduced, just building costs)

        Here is another post which points out the fallacy in assuming that upzoning reduces housing costs, while also referring to the fact that it is, in fact, a common belief.


        The money quote: “A growing chorus of market urbanists and YIMBYs make the case: Restrict supply, and demand and therefore prices go up. So, it follows, liberalizing codes to make it easier to build—and to permit taller, denser structures—will increase supply and cause prices to fall, which will then make housing (and expensive cities) more affordable.”

        I could go on. So, no, it’s not just “two anti-urbanists propagating the myth”. That particular claim is in itself a myth, and I would appreciate if you did not propagate it further :)

      12. Sam,

        The problem is Liberal educated “urbanists” only want to live in a few places in America. California… Seattle…. Madison WI… NYC….. Portland. Because the demand is high for housing in Liberal stronghold cities (and there’s no really Liberal place with affordable housing) it’s just expensive to live in these places. For every unit of new housing built in Seattle, there’s somebody in California looking to move here. California has a housing problem that dwarfs Seattle’s…. just the inflow of Cali people thwarts any attempt of “fix” the housing problems in Seattle.

        And I know somebody is going to bring up St. Louis as an affordable “Liberal” city. Well, pack your stuff and move to St. Louis! I’m afraid you’ll find that like Chicago and many other Midwest cities, any place you’d really want to live in isn’t that affordable.

        Austin is such a cool place! There’s just no way the housing supply can keep up with demand, zoning be damned. It’s impossible to micro-manage housing in one US City because the freedom of movement won’t let you. Housing on the wrong side of Muncie Indiana is dirt cheap because nobody wants to live there. Housing in Austin is gawd-awful expensive because many people want to move there. This isn’t rocket science, it’s just the flow of capital and money across the landscape.

        Stop tech companies from creating more jobs in Seattle and the housing problem goes away…. maybe we even have a totally different housing problem like more Muncie Indiana. https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-search/Muncie_IN?view=map

      13. Here’s the permit info for the project. Interesting enough, looks like a tree was preserved on site:

        Project Description
        6048 4TH AVE NE
        Establish use and Construct single-family residence with attached accessory dwelling unit [AADU] and detached accessory dwelling unit [DADU], per plan.

        Building use & occupancy
        Floor or Area:SFR + AADU + DADUFloor Area (square feet):3698Occupancy Group:R-3 Single Family DwellingType of Construction:Type VB

        Key Inspection Issue:Tree Protection RequirementKey Issue Description:One 22″ DBH cedar to northwest of site requires protection fencing and signage, see site plan.

      14. “The goal of upzoning is to increase housing density, eliminate single-family zoning laws deemed inequitable, and ultimately increase the supply of affordable housing in the United States.”

        Nobody on STB is saying this. At least not in the sense of “affordable” that would require an immediate 50% rollback in rents so that people making $1000 or $2000 a month could live in average market-rate units. If “affordable” is understood as gradually restoring the income-to-rent ratio toward what it was in the 1990s to some unspecified extent over some unspecified number of years, then maybe. But affordability advocates generally avoid definitions like that because it obscures the major need for housing at entry-level and working-class wages (“workforce housing”) and those on fixed income (who often get only $1500 or $2000 per month).

        So if you want to say that some non-STB urbanist academics are saying this, OK, but please make it clear that’s not what STB urbanist advocates are proposing or expecting.

        As for the Claremont article, based on your description I’m I’m skeptical about it. I don’t know what they mean by “affordable”, and I don’t know how much its claims about delta differences in different neighborhoods applies beyond that one study case. Prices of multifamily (mostly rental) and single-family (mostly owned) often go in opposite directions for a myriad of short-term reasons. Did Minneapolis add a lot of subsidized apartments? That would be independent of whether there was a general upzone at the same time, and could lead to “more affordable” multifamily and “less affordable” single-family.

        As for single-family increasing at different rates in different neighborhoods (affluent/better units vs poorer/worse units), I don’t know. Those are largely different markets even if they overlap. Lower-income people can’t afford Queen Anne or the Lake Washington Shore and don’t even try. Higher-income people can afford anything, and some choose to “slum it” for various reasons, but most choose the highest-level unit/neighborhood they can afford. So there could be delta differences in higher-priced or lower-priced areas independent of zoning.

      15. Mike,

        Your specific claim was “Only two people are saying it, claiming that others (urbanists) are saying it when they’re not. ”

        You didn’t say anything about people on STB being involved, you just said “others (urbanists)”. Yes, this is nitpicking, but definitions matter, as you noted in your longer post as well.

        FWIW, I do draw a distinction between what the 15 people who chat regularly here say, and what the broader community does. And I don’t think that the regular posters here are necessarily representative of any particular group of people. I’m certainly an outlier in a number of ways, myself (as I’m a never-driver who has primarily lived in suburbia during his adult life). So I see myself as supporting urbanism while not being an urbanist myself. I think that each of us here is unique – and that’s what makes it interesting, to me. But it’s also worth realizing that people will and do stereotype us into being representatives of bigger groups, and/or grouping us into those groups, too. So when people say “urbanists say” it’s often not trying to put words into anyone’s mouth here at STB, while still being influenced by the broader rhetoric in other places. And that rhetoric matters, because that is the bias that people have. We shouldn’t blame people for it; we should accept it as a given and work with it in our own advocacy.

      16. Year Rental Vacancy Rate
        2015 3.7
        2016 3.3
        2017 3.4
        2018 4.8
        2019 4.4
        2020 3.6
        2021 5.3
        2022 4.8
        2023 3.6

        Vacancy rate is already plummeting again. 2023 through Q2 (US Census).

        I don’t have the year-over-year rent increases handy, but I recall they were tickling double digits every year until we got back up to 5%. So we certainly do not have enough housing right now. And certainly not enough for our future residents.

        And can the word police please stop. If that vacancy rate jumped to 30%, we would certainly see declines in rents. Mike is simply smart enough to realize that is a very unlikely scenario, and actual declines are unlikely. Moderation in rent increases is the best we can hope for.

      17. Cam,

        FWIW, I try to be precise in my definitions because people do talk past each other quite often. A great example of this is conflating the affordability problem in the long run (which zoning improvements will help, as you and many others point out) with the affordability problem now (which is leading to homelessness, which is a huge factor in itself in the increase in drug usage with all the problems – personal and societal – that has). So when people talk about how zoning will help – yes, it helps the long-term problem, but not the short-term one. And some of us are (perhaps due to our age, perhaps due to politics, whatever) very worried about that. As I like to say, it’s “yes, and…” and when people just say “yes”, the “and…” can get missed.

        I say “age” is a factor because it certainly is for myself. As I am getting older, I find that what matters to me is what I can do for people who are suffering now, rather than worrying about what might happen in 50 years. Yeah, both are important for society, of course. But there are so many things that are outside of our control that I just can’t predict what will help the most. 50 years ago people were talking about Seattle shutting down because of the Boeing effect; I don’t think (but please prove me wrong) that many were worried about how Seattle would become one of the most expensive cities in the country in a half century. We’re one missed technology revolution or one volcano eruption or one earthquake away from the region being, not to put a fine point on it, in big trouble. So at some level I just don’t think it’s worth agonizing over whether ST3 will go on one side of Casino or the other and how many riders it will get in each case. What does, however, matter (to me) is how many people it displaces, what communities it breaks up, what gentrification effects it has, how to help those people who may end up living in the streets, _today_, or in a year, or in five.

        I respect that others have different viewpoints, interests, goals, whatever. But please do not minimize our attempts to actually tease apart what people are talking about by calling it word policing, because the intent is not control, but clarity. And I hope that you can also appreciate how clarity does, in fact, matter.

      18. “The problem is Liberal educated “urbanists” only want to live in a few places in America. California… Seattle…. Madison WI… NYC….. Portland. Because the demand is high for housing in Liberal stronghold cities”

        Housing affordability is actually a national problem that started when the program operated by the department of agriculture got cut in the 1980s. It’s just more obvious in some urban areas than in rural areas.

      19. Cam Solomon,

        I think much of the new Seattle apartments built are looking for $2000 + a month to provide a modest return on investment… if rent was to have a big drop, it wouldn’t be good for a stable housing supply. Steady as she goes is really the best. Some of high rent costs are pass though property taxes– a 20% of drop in rents could cause investors to neglect their properties.

        Tacoma is currently flirting with rent control (God only knows if it’s even legal in Washington). I think it would be a good deal for current renters, but it would kill off any future housing growth. Of course if you asked around at Campfire Coffee, the idea of voting out endless construction AND rent hikes would go over well with potential voters. The NIMBY force is a strong one… locking in an affordable apartment for me now and screw everybody else in the future is how we got into this mess. Rent control would be more of the same.

      20. Glenn in Portland,

        Yeah, I know we have a housing shortage all over the USA. But it’s most acute in some places because of political and social reasons.

        Take GOP stronghold Boise ID. Great little city, nice downtown. Wouldn’t mind living there myself. Over the last 15 years, Conservatives “escaped” the Left Coast with bucketfuls of cash from Cali home sales and completely blew up the housing market. Boise is in the same mess Seattle and San Jose are in. Town the road in Twin Falls ID? they have a housing problem too, but not anything near the Boise mess. Bulh ID? housing is cheaper still.

        Right now there’s just so much Liberal money chasing housing a dozen or so markets to messes things up. Right now I have a friend in Spanaway Wa with an aging split-level house he’s trying to sell to buy a better house in Bend Oregon. He’s pretty pissed off because he can’t trade straight across. But Bend is in hot demand… but it’s a free market.

        It’s not that I’m some Liberal hater either…. Out of State Conservatives are blowing up the real estate market in my home State of Montana. The locals just can’t complete.

        Then there’s places like Muncie IN. Home of Ball State. Great town to raise a family in and housing is cheap. In real wealth terms, a high school teacher in Munchie is much better off than a high school teacher in Seattle. So why don’t Seattle teachers just move? It’s not about money, it’s more about politics and social issues. https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-search/Muncie_IN?view=map

      21. https://www.noradarealestate.com/blog/boise-real-estate/

        Boise real estate prices have dropped nearly 9% in the last year.

        A client of mine from SnoCo who was very right wing moved to a small Texas town when he retired because SnoCo was becoming too liberal and the cost of living was rising rapidly. Got a good price on his house, and Texas housing prices were much lower, but found out small town Texas Christian conservatism is something completely different.

        It’s very hard to compare housing prices for entire cities. Today it is the suburbs of cities like Seattle or San Francisco or Atlanta that are rising fastest because you get the best of both worlds. SFH are in short supply despite endless zoning for more in this three county region because Boomers are not downsizing and so many refinanced at historic interest rates and can’t move.

        The U.S. is moving toward a market rate multi-family housing glut although that market rate housing replaced existing affordable housing. SFH are still in short supply because Millennials are finally marrying and wanting the American dream but running into a temporary SFH shortage that will ease when mortgage rates decline and Boomers finally start dying and transferring trillions in wealth to their kids.

        Even today a couple in Seattle each earning 100% AMI ($115,000/yr) have combined almost $6000/mo. to put toward a mortgage and still be below the 30% of gross income federal definition of affordable. They just need mortgage rates to ease.

        The demographic most at risk is seniors. 28% now live alone (almost double non-seniors due to late life divorce or death of a spouse) which is draining their fixed income and savings with really no support system for when they require assistance, which is a virtual certainty unless you die quickly while in good health. A very large percentage of Boomers are going to have a miserable end of life because Medicaid drains all funds and private assisted care ranges from $7500 to $30,000 per month. The best solution is a SFH or condo that has been paid off over the decades so housing costs are maintenance and taxes and there is a nest egg for assisted care. Over the next decade the biggest impact for housing will be Boomers dying or being forced to move to assisted care, and trillions in wealthy transferring to their heirs.

      22. Texas real estate prices are relatively low compared to Seattle, but property taxes are quite high. They also don’t have the property tax increase limits imposed by California and Oregon. It makes Texas less attractive to the real estate speculators that are dumping money into other states.

      1. I really don’t know what trees were there before the project started. It really doesn’t matter, they’re long gone now. These silly “tree wars” are completely misguided. Seattle wants to be a be big grown up city with a subway system. That takes concrete and steel, not trees. Development kills Douglas fir trees easily– they’re not meant to grow in cities. Back in the 80s I worked on big housing projects in North Bend where environmentalists wanted some of the fir trees left between houses. The insurance companies didn’t think it was a good idea. The few fir trees that were left died because construction damaged their roots or they blew over in big wind storms, sometimes hitting houses. These trees activists are trying to “save” are likely firewood soon anyhow. You can’t stop progress, or the repercussions it causes. You either want single family homes and yards with cool trees or you want to build density. I see value in both, but there is also a price to pay.

      2. Tree and nature development is becoming important aspect in many cities around the world for new housing developments. Having good shade trees cut the outside air temperatures by a quarter to a third. It also helps clean the air. Alongside having grass, shrubs, moss, etc to help absorb and collect rain water.
        Berlin, Germany has been experimenting with this in new high density neighborhood developments for 20+ years to help combat rising air temperatures during the summer and managing natural resources like rainwater as Berlin can be naturally drier than other regions in Germany.

        ‘The sponge city’: Berlin is striving to absorb and collect rainwater – France 24

        Berlin is Becoming a Sponge City – Bloomberg

        Turning Cities Into Sponges to Save Lives and Property – New York Times

      3. For anyone who wants to see what a property used to look like going back about to 2008, don’t forget, Google’s Street View let’s you not only see fairly current photos of a place, but you can also see older Street View photos going back years. Look for “See more dates” when you’re looking at a current Street View photo. For example, using that feature reminded me what the S Bellevue P&R used to look like, and, just how popular it was.

      4. Not upzoning does not actually prevent tree removal or displacement. The cheap home will still be torn down, the trees still chopped down, the only difference is that instead of a few townhomes being built instead sold to people in the top 10%, you end up with one large mansion sold to somebody in the top 1%.

        If the goal is to protect trees, the rules should target tree protection and not use restrictions on the number of living units as a proxy for tree protection. But, ensuring that old homes never get torn down and replaced with new homes is something fundamentally impossible, no matter what the zoning is. The zoning simply affects what gets built in its place.

      5. As a follow-up on the tree topic, the Wedgwood tree was saved, at the cost of reduced housing density. So, asdf2 – no, it is not always the case that “the tree is still chopped down”, but there is tension between density and maintaining tree cover and it is something that we should not minimize with glib comments.


        One reason why it may be easier to save the tree with fancier SFH projects: they are already custom projects so it is easier to slot in one-off changes like this, I believe, and the owners are willing to eat the cost. Whereas more “cookie cutter” developments will not allow as much flexibility while still maintaining low costs. This is particularly an issue when we desire to have affordable housing – the reason those projects can pan out seems to be, in part, by reducing the cost on the developers by not requiring too much change from what they already have plans for, etc.

      6. Anon, this same comment section that now says they are pro-tree, and are enraged by the idea of a homebuilder cutting down one tree in Wedgwood, not too long ago said they were fine with Sound Transit cutting down 5000 trees along I-5 to make room for Lynnwood Link.

      7. I don’t think the general take on this blog is that inconsistent. I’ve yet to see much support for preserving trees, other than in the general “we should have trees preserved” sense, but no single example has elicited strong response, that I recall, anyway. Can you point to some examples?

        Personally, I was pretty sad to see the big copse in the I-5 median in S Everett be turned into a parking lot and freeway station, back in the mid-late 2000s or whenever. I get why it was viewed as a good thing (Eastmont P&R is a pain to get to and does add delay to bus routes) but there are only four routes stopping there – 532, 510/512, and ET 29. ET29 already goes to Eastmont, too (or at least right by it), the detour wouldn’t be bad at all. I did ride ST buses from Eastmont many years ago, it was a bit slow but I would’ve taken the 3 extra minutes a day to see those trees preserved.

      8. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/will-doug-the-fir-survive-seattle-residents-battle-to-save-beloved-tree-from-developers/ar-AA1eVFQr?ocid=hpmsn&cvid=29468c33df9e4ccb9c97b3cd1009d86a&ei=76

        If a city truly wants to preserve significant trees and increase its tree canopy here are some steps MI took in 2017 during its rewrite of the residential development code (although Sammamish has probably the strictest tree ordinance):

        1. Require any tree removal during permitted construction to be part of the permit process. Usually it is during development — especially new construction — when most trees are removed. Often developers would remove every tree on a lot because it was cheaper to build that way. Make any tree removal during permitted construction to be part of permit approval.

        2. Place restrictions on when a private owner can remove trees prior to development on the lot. This prevents a private property owner from removing trees after agreeing to sell the lot to a developer but before formal sale. It also requires a private property owner to remove no more than 30% of significant trees in any five-year period.

        3. Require private property owners to obtain a permit to remove a “significant” tree, i.e. 24″ diameter. Also require a developer to replace the same canopy if a significant tree must be removed because it is in the building envelope, usually a 6 to 1 ratio since the replacement trees are small. The key is to make sure tree removal does not profit a developer.

        4. Require siting of a house to take into consideration significant trees. If 85% of the maximum GFA can be built a significant tree the tree stays.

        5. Adopt code provisions that preserve pervious lot area. Trees don’t grow in concrete. This means yard setbacks and limits on lot coverage (impervious surfaces). MI is the strictest with 60% of lot area reserved for pervious surfaces (all driveway surfaces including gravel or pavers are considered impervious).

        6. Prohibit tree removal in critical areas.

        7. Require periodic tree canopy measurements to make sure the city is enforcing these rules. It was a pre-2017 tree canopy study that indicated the city was not doing enough to preserve trees because of the loss of canopy.

        8. Make sure the city prioritizes planting of trees in public spaces.

        9. Have a city arborist and enforcement ordinance.

        10. Don’t forget trees in the rights of way, and don’t let franchisees like utility companies using the ROW butcher trees in the ROW with bargain basement tree pruning companies. The ROW’s contain a lot of the mature tree canopy, but an evergreen that is pruned incorrectly will die. If necessary have the city arborist tag along during tree pruning in the ROW.

        Some libertarians on MI objected to these restrictions on their property, some of us felt the rules did not go far enough regulating tree removal on private property in the SFH zone that was not being developed, and I imagine density junkies wouldn’t like them, but at least on MI citizens were very angry at tree removal, and our comp. plan prioritizes trees and a rural character in the SFH zone, which also increases property values.

        Seattle recently made a big deal about adopting a new tree ordinance but reading it my suspicion is it was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Seattle’s council has a habit of adopting aggressive tree canopy increase policies but not meaning it. As a result Seattle never gets close to its public goals. It is never good to see so many stories about Seattle residents having to fight their city in the press to preserve a significant tree during removal. Seattle has one of the most pro-developer land use departments in the region, and one of the weakest tree ordinances.

      9. My area of Portland tends to run 10° or so warmer than the rest of Portland due to the amount of parking lots and highways. Absolutely tree canopy is a vital part of livability. This will be increasingly important as climate change increases.

        Trying to get that to happen in an effective manner is a different matter.

        By far the largest loss of trees we have going on here is due to smaller houses and apartments being demolished and being replaced with structures that consume the entire lot.

      10. The ultimate solution for tree preservation is that we need trees to be located on city-owned property, between the sidewalk and the street, rather than depending on private property owners to keep the trees intact. Here’s some street view imagery of a block from Vancouver, for example, that does this right:https://www.google.com/maps/@49.2519151,-123.1071268,3a,75y,90.19h,91.42t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sOcOEEMaYHd3yFR1fjbkErw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?entry=ttu

        Yes, it’s single family homes. But, notice that even if the houses were to be, one by one, bought by developers who tear them down, clear the site, and build something bigger, the tree canopy would remain, virtually unaffected. Between sidewalk and street is also the objectively best place for a large tree to go anyway – it focuses the shade on the sidewalk, where people are walking and need it, while avoiding branches over roofs, which would get in the way if the house were to be replaced with something taller in the future. Older neighborhoods, such as Queen Anne Capitol did the trees-on-public-right-of-way thing pretty good. The problem is, since then, cities have gotten lazier and we now have sidewalks up against the roadway with no or almost no green space in between, with trees at the mercy of private property owners. When the reality hits that economic pressures prevent the trees from outlasting the house, the neighborhood pays the price.

        Now, given that we obviously can’t go back in time and have public right away set aside for trees, tree protection rules is the next best thing, and certainly better than nothing, and I agree that developers should not be allowed to chop down large trees simply because they are architecturally lazy and want to use a cookie-cutter plan that assumes a “cleared site”. However, just because there is are tree/density tradeoffs on one property doesn’t mean it’s the case everywhere, so trees should not be used as an excuse to limit density on other SFH lots that don’t even have any trees. And similarly, chopping down trees should not be ok, just because the building going up instead is a mansion for one family, rather than townhomes for several.

        I’ll also mention that if you want to strike a good balance between density and tree preservation, getting rid of minimum parking requirements definitely helps. Quite often, there are situations where there is room to add one more unit while preserving a big tree, but there isn’t enough room to both add the unit *and* add two additional surface parking spaces for it. So, the developer proposes to remove the tree to replace it with parking while, maybe, in a world without parking requirements, they’d just build the extra unit without parking, and if the future resident wants a car, they can park on the street.

      11. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/discontent-over-tree-removal-process-in-seattle/ar-AA1f4kri?ocid=hpmsn&cvid=b7fc89eb15a44c8ca36c59cd6694416c&ei=31

        The key is the city land use departments often represent the developers because those permit fees pay their salaries and staff levels, and developers don’t want citizens to know about tree removal until it is too late (and land use departments often keep the city arborist in the dark). Notice before removal is key, and of course a real tree ordinance.

        Asdf2 doesn’t believe there should be any tree requirement on private property, even in the SFH zones that generally have a restricted GFA to lot area ratio (50% in Seattle I think) so there is plenty of impervious surfaces for trees, but what is most important is what do a majority of citizens want for their neighborhood. Not everyone wants to live in an urban concrete jungle, and treeless neighborhoods are generally less valuable, and you find them in the poor and minority communities because those folks have little power compared to the developers, and these neighborhoods turn into heat sinks. You see a lot more successful efforts by neighbors to save a significant tree in Seattle’s north neighborhoods rather than in the southern minority neighborhoods, in part because there still are significant trees in the north. Few cities are as segregated as Seattle.

        We discovered all of this on MI beginning in around 2013 in which we had a progressive council who kept the citizens in the dark about tree removal for the development revenue, urbanist ideology, and developer friends who contributed to their campaigns through phony fronts like the Master Builder’s Assoc. shill, The Affordable Housing Council. Once ND came on the scene and we were able to educate the citizens they demanded a new residential development code, tree ordinance, permit notice ordinance (all of which I helped write), and got a new council, city manager, asst. city manager, city attorney, boards and commissions, finance director, HR director, parks director….you get the idea.

        Turns out most voters really, really, really like mature trees.

    1. They could probably find a new home in Everett, there is plenty available, but Sound Transit seems to help very little with the relocation costs. West Seattle is much more challenging as there is hardly any housing available and even more displacement. Alki Beach (child) Academy will get displaced. West Seattle does not have any large property to accommodate such preschool. Even if they find a location, it would cost them about $2m to relocate as Sound Transit would only pay 15% of the relocation cost. That will effectively put them out of business!
      And all this for some politicians to have a ribbon cutting ceremony and some pictures to claim success…

      1. I don’t remember if it was this article or the Herald where it is mentioned, but some of the businesses slated for potential relocation have invested significant amounts of money of their own into the properties which they are renting long-term. One of them apparently would have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to move each of their custom pieces of equipment. This is no small feat. So it’s not just housing that has to be dealt with. In a sense some of these businesses are literally the heart of their communities.

  20. “Liberal Suburbs Have Their Own Border Wall
    Residents of rich blue towns talk about inclusion, but their laws do the opposite.”

    “Overly restrictive zoning is most prevalent and problematic along the West Coast and the Northeast corridor from Washington D.C. to Boston.” “These areas lean heavily Democratic in national, state and local elections.” “The most restrictive zoning is found in the more politically liberal communities.”

    Paywall. Could see full article on cell, but not on laptop.


    1. Sam,

      Oh this is completely true! Thanks for sharing.

      Let’s talk about the new Puget Sound “Redlining” that’s been set up over the past 25 years. You can take a map and draw redlines around any neighborhood with an average home value of over a million. The new “Red line” doesn’t use race to exclude people, it uses income and the access to credit. The Liberal dream for many people is to live inside these “Redlined” areas– young Liberals who can’t pony up a million look to zoning changes to make more “density” so somehow they can get in. I don’t see that happening because money is really good at looking out after itself. Queen Anne isn’t about to actually change much.

      The folly of this is that spending huge money on transit projects and changing the zoning isn’t going change those lines between the haves and have-nots. Seattle is never going to build even half of the low income housing it needs. Changing the zoning on SFH areas only creates a limited number of million dollar condos. Money takes care of money. It’s really that easy.

      The smart thing to do would be to just forget Seattle. Stop trying to fight your way into one of the those Liberal “Redline neighborhoods” and just move on. Personally I’m unwinding my Tacoma life and going to Utah. There’s more opportunity there right now than in the PNW. Seattle is sorta played out.

      I think the smart folks running this blog, the Seattle Subway gang, the kids over at the Urbanist, Publicola and Crosscut, the Seattle Transit Union…. should all just pack up and move to middle of country. Because they’re just spinning their wheels in Seattle. There’s just more opportunities in other places and there’s real talent in Seattle’s young progressive braintrust.

      In the end some of this comes down to educational and class privilege. Young educated Seattle renters feel attached to the city, they see it is “their” city. They fight tooth and nail to somehow change things so they “fit in” or stay even though Seattle is tough for people making less than 100k a year. Seattle is a cold, mean place, just like every other City in the world. Seattle doesn’t care about people because it just isn’t made that way…. no city is.

      So if you want to rent an overpriced apartment for 20 years and rage against the machine, nobody is stopping you. Of course all that rent money is going to investors and not towards your future. I’d rather be paying a mortgage on a house I can retire in, but hey! that’s just me.

      1. “The folly of this is that spending huge money on transit projects and changing the zoning isn’t going change those lines between the haves and have-nots. Seattle is never going to build even half of the low income housing it needs.”

        Tacomee, a reality is that as AMI rises the gap between the different levels of AMI increase. For example, if the AMI is $65,000, the gap with someone earning $20,000 is not as great as in a city with an AMI of $115,000 and someone earning $40,000. A poor person is always better off in a poor city.

        What is also missed is when you see an AMI of $115,000 it means half of all residents make more than $115,000/year, and those are the folks who put the real pressure on the housing market. It is the top 25% in the AMI who really create the enormous spread in housing affordability, and of course those are builders favorite customers. Think about it: if a city has a sizable population who earn zero or not much more than zero just how the icnomes at the top 10% must be to average that out to $115,000/yr. Those folks can afford, and want, a SFH, or they want a dramatic view condo on 1st near the market (or even a pretty pedestrian condo in Tangletown, no insult intended), and whether Medina or MI or even Queen Anne although it is in Seattle so HB 1110 really hurts they will not change what they like about their community, which often means excluding the bottom half of the AMI.

        You are right about low-income housing. The problem again is as AMI rises — and $115,000/yr. AVERAGE is very high — more and more become “low income” when it comes to housing even if working full timre, and a city can’t keep up because …. drum roll … there are more who now need subsidized housing, more and more affordable market housing is replaced with new expensive housing, and even worse the cost per sf for construction rises with AMI.

        So the same low-income housing unit is going to cost twice as much in a city with a $115,000 AMI as in a city with an AMI of $65,000 (plus you need more low-income units) just due to competition for land and builders. It is like battling the tide, and the irony is the housing rising the fastest in price is the urban multi-family housing in the best urban zones (D3 and D7 et al) that used to be filled with market rate older affordable multi-family housing, unless a city council screws the city up.

        The great leveler for some is WFH, and we are seeing that. No longer does someone need to live in or near San Francisco, LA, NY, Seattle or any other very expensive city. They can earn the same income and live in a city that is much less expensive, visit a big city when they want, which is why cities like Spokane, Tacoma, Boise and so on are growing fairly fast. The reality is over the next decade and two WFH is going to increase, not decrease, which like AI or driverless cars/transit will be a fundamental change but a beneficial change. Rarely does a huge change in technology survive if it does not benefit society as a whole and large percentage of citizens. Computers, the internet, Uber, WFH, smart phones, change life for the better so they thrive.

        Around 3% of the U.S.’s 2.3 billion acres is any kind of city (of any size). The best thing going forward is to disperse more folks in very expensive (and decaying) urban areas to the rest of the U.S., certainly those who can WFH, which is what we saw when Amazon went WFH.

    2. Ford, Chevrolet, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Jaguar, Ferrari, Fiat, Lexus, Toyota, Honda also segregate based on economics. So do restaurants, and universities, airlines, hotels, and pretty much everyone in a capitalistic society.

      It isn’t as if popular urban areas don’t segregate based on economics. Look at the recent condo in Tangletown. The price per sf was higher than many SFH, and Tanglewood is not very exclusive. Yet. The article I posted yesterday https://sccinsight.com/2021/09/14/what-the-2020-census-data-tells-us-about-housing-in-seattle/ shows most of the multi-family housing built in Seattle in the last decade has been in Seattle’s most expensive urban neighborhoods, D3 and D7.

      Tacomee has made a very good point all along: if anyone thinks they are going to remove private market incentives from housing they are foolish (and probably don’t own tools). Builders want to build as expensive housing as possible because the profit margin is much higher, they don’t care about affordability, and they want to buy low and sell high. In fact, they hate affordable housing set asides, but pimp affordability when trying to loosen zoning restrictions in the most expensive neighborhoods where they do want to build.

      Here is the unfortunate truth: new market rate construction will mirror the area’s AMI because private market builders are targeting those at 100% AMI AND ABOVE, and will be per sf the most expensive housing, whether SFH or multi-family. Tanglewood was cheap compared to some of the new multi-family construction near U Village that ranges from $2000 to $6000/mo., or the housing in downtown Kirkland Sam posted about with prices from $4000 to $13,000/mo.

      I will say it again — although folks don’t want to believe the facts if they are inconvenient: We just went through a multi-year process at the Growth Management Planning Council to determine future population growth (which the Office of Financial Management predicts will be 1 million new residents by 2040 which is political fantasy used to support upzoning expensive neighborhoods because builders and realtors switched their campaign donations from R’s to D’s at the state level) and the ZONING each city needed to adopt to accommodate its fair share of the needed new housing.

      Guess what? Every city (except maybe Sammamish) ALREADY has zoning in place that can accommodate future population growth — including the 1 million new residents who so far after five years are not showing up — plus several more million in a three-county area with 6500 sq miles.

      Of course, I have posted several times the article above that relies on 2010 and 2020 census data and painstakingly points out that new construction has matched pace with population growth in Seattle over the last decade, and the units per resident ratio has not changed in the last 10 years, but folks on this blog will deny that too because the animus toward SFH zones that have no walkable retail or transit is about privilege and envy, although the writers (and owner) at the Atlantic are some of the wealthiest people living in the most expensive city (NY multi-family) writing about the poor over some of the most expensive wine and food with incredible soft hands. If only builders read The Atlantic, once a very good magazine I subscribed to for 20 years.

      1. Actually Daniel Thompson, “soft hands” is the reason for a lot of problems in America right now. Seattle has a huge homeless problem and a small army of underpaid social workers trying to help them. The sad truth is there’s no housing (or other “real” resources) available for the social workers to give to the down and out. It’s just one big circular referral machine.

        Maybe if half the social workers were retrained in construction and we funded Habitat for Humanity at a higher level, Seattle could move the needle on the homeless issue?

        Heck, maybe we could start paying bus drivers a higher wage and Metro and Pierce Transit would function again!

        I don’t sense much support of blue collar workers on this blog… It’s all about White collar zoning and planning. Master Class. Like changing the zoning and believing the work of actually building housing is just going to happen… or endless thinking about light rail builds 15 years out…. while bus service is currently terrible.

        For the record I’m 100% behind transit! But only in here and now. What happens with transit in 30 years is question we’ll answer in 30 years. Same thing for housing. Let’s build it now.

  21. https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/iconic-smith-tower-on-the-market-again-amidst-seattle-s-office-space-slump/ar-AA1eYUsd?ocid=hpmsn&cvid=13b2bd074778493891499f940e43d73e&ei=13

    My old office building is for sale. We moved out in Sept. 2022 when our lease finally expired. I have posted many times about how Seattle’s deteriorating conditions and kicking eastside buses out of the tunnel to 2nd and 4th, made it hard to attract staff.

    Unico, which was a good landlord and bought the building for a song (or so it thought) when a German Bank foreclosed on the prior owners for $137 million four years ago is now selling. Not sure what price it will get. I am told the lenders of Southport in Renton pulled the planned auction when interest was not there at any price https://www.bing.com/search?pglt=169&q=southport+renton&cvid=9cf6aaeb4b19401d884a0d25690401af&aqs=edge.0.0l9.3606j0j1&FORM=ANAB01&PC=U531 . The Smith Tower is not in a good part of Seattle and has no onsite underground parking in a dangerous area, and Pioneer Square is pretty dead retail wise, at least during the day.

    “The Tower has more than 268,000 square feet of office space, and Colliers reports that Seattle has a 22% office vacancy rate as of the first quarter, with that number expected to rise.”

    This is the concerning comment in the brief article. Vacancy rates are office space with no lease, whereas occupancy rates are space with a lease (and lease payments) that is or isn’t occupied. Just a year ago, vacancy rates reached 13% which was alarming, although as I posted then the theory is vacancy rates and occupancy rates will generally equal each other over time because tenants don’t want to lease more space than they will occupy.

    Most downtown office buildings have loans that are based on an assumption of 95% occupancy and leased space (5% vacancy) and fairly high lease rates, and interest rates often rise as vacancy rates rise because that is a sign of default. 2024-25 is supposed to see several trillions of dollars in office loans reset at new interest rates, which will likely lead to a lot of defaults.

    Ironically, Dow Constanine, Harrell and the ST Board claim “capturing” the development potential in vacant county and city buildings near CID N will help offset its increased cost of $168 million over a station at CID (more likely either CID N or S stations will get cut).

    1. My question is…. how does this “capturing” development potential work? Will the Country and City just tear buildings down and open up space for housing? (plus some retail I suppose?). Is it well lighted indoor parking with security guards to invite visitors to drive to the City and park their car with less fear about crime?

      Secure parking and a cool visitor’s center? What elected official in America says no to that?

      I’m going to guess that after 30 years…. Sound Transit ends up about building parking garages. Auburn, Kent, Seattle…. all get parking garages. Because the mayors in those cities look at all the freebees Sound Transit could give cough up for them…. and yell, “More Parking!!”

      If you disagree with this… take a trip down to the T-Dome and downtown Tacoma. It’s a toy streetcar and a huge parking garage. If (when?) light rail ever does make it to Tacoma…. the mayor is going to want….. more parking at the T-Dome. Because it’s not about riding light rail into King County. It’s just more parking for suburbanites to ride the toy train into downtown Tacoma.

      I’d never trust any elected official not to try and redirect transit money into parking. Parking wins elections.

      1. “My question is…. how does this “capturing” development potential work? Will the Country and City just tear buildings down and open up space for housing? (plus some retail I suppose?). Is it well lighted indoor parking with security guards to invite visitors to drive to the City and park their car with less fear about crime?”

        Today the buildings are worthless. They have been closed so long it would be impossible or very expensive to reopen them, and they are near the end of their useful life. It doesn’t look like city or county employees are interested in returning to office work.

        These buildings (and foundations) are expensive to dismantle, unlike the old concrete buildings they replaced. Really, even pre-pandemic they were Class D buildings in a Class C/D part of downtown (which is why the city and county built them there in the first place). So the value to the city/county is the price the land would sell for less the cost to remove the old buildings. Today that is probably net zero (assuming there is no site pollution).

        The thinking is CID N will lead a revitalization/gentrification of this area of town, and suddenly the land the buildings is on would become quite valuable, even with the cost of removing the old buildings. The sale price of the land to private developers, sales tax on new construction, future property taxes and business taxes on the gleaming new office towers would offset the cost of CID N over a station at CID ($168 million). I really don’t see the city or county having the money for some kind of joint public/private venture, at least not one that would generate $168 million.

        That is a big ask for a light rail station. Apparently, the CID, DSA (midtown) Bellevue (Bellevue Way) and Amazon (SLU) didn’t see that kind of “gentrification” from a light rail station, but what do they know.

        Of course, for someone like me the bigger question is where does ST get the additional $2.2 billion to build DSTT2 in the first place, because I don’t think the estimated price of $2.2 billion in 2016 is accurate. ST, N KC, Seattle or King Co. are going to have to come up with $2.2 billion in additional funding before it can build CID N and DSTT2 in order to “capture” $168 million in old office buildings.

      2. I think it would be a bold, but politically tough choice, for Seattle to spend a billion dollars tearing down office buildings in downtown to make room for housing. But it takes money to make money. Getting new housing stock, and the property taxes they bring, would really help the City. What I’m afraid of happening is the City sits on its hands hoping the office space somehow fills back up, (along with city tax coffers). Buying a building, tearing it down and selling off the lot to developers would be a political landmine.

        So what does this have to do with transit? Everything. We’ve spent billions on providing transit to downtown Seattle. Instead of expanding transit, why not double down putting more housing in an area with heavy transit spending? Sound Transit is just going to get in the way.

      3. “how does this “capturing” development potential work? Will the Country and City just tear buildings down and open up space for housing? (plus some retail I suppose?)”

        They sell it to a developer. Link Capitol Hill Station where they made a master plan saying the station will go here, and residential towers will go there. ST keeps the station but surpluses the other lots to developers. In Capitol Hill’s case ST gave them away for a song and a requirement that many units be subsidized. In the Adminstration case it sounds like the county will sell it the usual way to the highest bidder who promises the right combination of housing and retail. ST now has a tradition of donating surplus land for affordable housing, but since the county owns the property, it doesn’t have that limitation and ST is out of the decision-making; ST just receives what the county gives it (or declines to accept it).

      4. Mike Orr,

        Yeah, I know how the basic nuts and bolts of the deal. But where’s the money the tear down the crap county and city office buildings? Those properties are underwater– the cost of tearing the buildings down outweighs the price of the land. Add finding toxic waste onsite (a sure bet) and the cost might skyrocket. Who’s on the hook for this? Not Sound Transit.

        The whole “work from home” explosion has changed everything! I personally want City workers working mostly from home, forever. Why should tax dollars be spent to build offices that need to replaced every 30 years? The less office space the city owns, the better. work from home is the new standard and the money we used to spend on silly offices can go to public housing.

        If Seattle had a forward looking government with flexible spending, the City would use all that Sound Transit “second tunnel” money to acquire office buildings and tear them down. Sell the land to housing developers and start getting paid back on investment though property taxes. That second tunnel will cost a mint and never return a single penny on investment. You want to know why urban planning and transit work so well in Germany? A city like Hamburg would never sign up for an inflexible 50 year tax district like Sound Transit. Seattle has a perfectly good subway– now fill in the housing.

    2. “My old office building is for sale.”

      I thought that had been your offfice and was going to ask. I’ve never been inside the Smith Tower. What’s it like inside? Is it beautiful art deco like I imagine?

      1. “My old office building is for sale.”

        “I thought that had been your office and was going to ask. I’ve never been inside the Smith Tower. What’s it like inside? Is it beautiful art deco like I imagine?”

        Very pretty and old school art deco. Marbled walls in the entry, dramatic carvings in the lobby, brass elevators that you can see through (and for the first 25 years had operators). Interesting original metal doors painted to look like wood on the lower floors. Tile floors. Much less sterile than modern office tower entries that are designed to intimidate people.

        The offices, at least in the tower, are dramatic with nothing to block the views. The elevators opened directly onto our floor. We had a 360-degree view from our tower offices. My office looked out over Puget Sound and up second so in the winter I could see the city lighting up in the afternoon. The ceilings are 12′ high with windows that extend from around three feet to ten feet that open. (They are historic and single paned (so the HVAC isn’t great). Before the earthquake the lights were antique pendants that were replaced with much less attractive fluorescent fixtures. I never saw an office as pretty as mine in Seattle. We were a young firm when we moved into the 25th floor and the offices gave us a certain gravitas with prospective clients.

        Without underground onsite parking, and with small tower floors and not great elevator frequency (especially with the operators), The Smith Tower had a hard time attracting the large blue-chip tenants like the large law and accounting firms who want Class A office space. For a while it was the darling of tech start ups. Pioneer Sq. was until around 2017 very vibrant during the day, with a lot of places for lunch or drinks afterwards, and it was pretty easy to walk to the waterfront. For many years we had partial season tickets to the Mariners and friends would come by the office for drinks before heading to the game. Plus the King Co. courthouse and library were across the street. Women didn’t feel very safe crossing third, but I didn’t mind, until folks started getting assaulted at the courthouse entrance and the courthouse closed and the city park became a homeless camp which was closed and revegetated. It is a pretty park when closed.

      2. The Cobb building at 4th & University had my dentist’s office from the early 70s until the 2020s, when it became condos. I loved using the elevator with beautiful doors and a semicircular display of the floor numbers. My dentist relocated to One Union Square, which is one of the most beautiful modern buildings. I go to a periodontist in the Medical & Dental Building on 5th & Olive, which was renovated with a nice old interior on my floor at least (but the lobby is uninteresting).

      3. P.S. I’ve had downtown doctors and dentists since I started working. (The Cobb dentist had been my parents’.) Not because the downtown clinics are necessarily any better, but because no matter where I live or work, there would always be transit to a downtown appointment.

  22. https://fortune.com/2023/08/09/minneapolis-housing-zoning-real-estate-inflation-yimby-nimby-minnesota/

    Straight from the desk of “Duh”.

    ““I can’t tell you how many people were like, ‘Oh, look at all this supply, look at all these just brand new buildings,’ and kind of scoffing at it like this was going to lead to gentrification or rents skyrocketing,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, a two-term Democrat, in an interview. “The exact opposite has happened.”

    1. Also straight from the desk of “Duh”:

      “The Twin Cities benefit from some unique characteristics: […] While peer metro areas including Dallas, Phoenix and Jacksonville saw a mass influx of residents in recent years that sparked demand shocks in the local housing markets, the Twin Cities population has remained close to 3.7 million people.”

      No population growth correlates with reduced housing price increases, color me shocked.

      Not to say that the supply increase doesn’t also help, of course it does. But let’s be real, it’s much easier to pull it off when your population increase is sane.

      1. The Twin Cities population increased 12% from 2010 to 2020. Seattle metro increased 16%.

        It’s not a qualitative difference, it’s a quantitative one. They started earlier, and did more. And it worked. And it could work here too. Seattle exceptionalism is bullshit.

      2. Do you have the source for that? I am using the information provided in the article you linked. If your article is wrong then that would be useful to know.

        I didn’t say anything about “Seattle exceptionalism” and neither did the article you linked. Their comparison is with Dallas, Phoenix, and Jacksonville. Do you have the population increases for those, too? That seems to be the comparison to vet out.

      3. If it looks wrong, apologies. The footnotes said census data, but can go direct to the source. Was being lazy.

      4. I have no “universal truth” source, I just wanted to know what you were using so I could understand :)

        Looking at the tables in your source, it looks like both Houston and Dallas increased by about 20-21% during the 2010-2020 decade, higher than Seattle’s 16% and Minneapolis’ 12%. The tables do not show Jacksonville. So the article you pasted earlier appears to be correct about Houston and Dallas growing (much) faster than Minneapolis, but perhaps is not quite accurate in claiming that Minneapolis population growth is low – then again, US population growth in the 2010s is about 9.7% (per Wiki*), so there’s an argument that Minneapolis grew only by 2% more, which is low (vs. Houston/Dallas’s 11% more). I guess looking at it that way, the claim in the article sort of tracks.

        To wind back to the broader point, I definitely agree that building more helps keep prices down, yes. No question about that. I just wanted to understand the impact of other variables, population growth being the one I was immediately interested in. Job pay growth would be another interesting one but I don’t have time to try to dig into it now… :)

        Wiki*: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_history_of_the_United_States

      5. Seattle just got blasted by well heeled refugees from California and dynamic growth from the tech industry bringing in way too many well paying jobs. As long as these factors continue, Seattle housing is going to be really expensive, zoning be damned. Blame Amazon. How many jobs did that outfit bring to South Lake Union? Can Seattle add housing faster than Amazon can hire people?

        Unless you’re in tech, there’s really no reason for young people not to get the Hell out of Seattle. Think the Twin Cities have the answer? Rent an U-Haul and make the move. What I’m talking about is real solutions to real problems. Seattle is not going to reinvent itself so you can afford to live here. Tech still loves Seattle. Californians still love Seattle. If the City is too rich for you, you got to go.

      6. As far as I can tell, nobody is asking for advice on where to live.

        We are looking at society level problems and looking for society level solutions.

        Telling people to go live in bumblefuk, Indiana completely misses the point.

      7. The claim that inflation — which is a variety of factors in the “inflation basket” used by the Fed (which includes a factor for housing the Fed uses that is considered antiquated because it has such a lag) — is lower in Minneapolis than the rest of the U.S. is bogus. https://www.bls.gov/charts/consumer-price-index/consumer-price-index-by-region.htm Let alone because it is lower due to new multi-family housing or zoning.

        And, of course, I have posted a dozen times before an article using 2010 and 2020 census data that shows housing starts in Seattle have kept pace with population growth over the last decade but that is conveniently ignored, and the number of units per Seattle resident has not changed over the last decade. Apartments.com shows 12,790 apartments available today. https://www.apartments.com/seattle-wa/?gclid=4bf7380aa10e10b1c4105cdc11772bb9&gclsrc=3p.ds&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=APTS_B_DMA_Seattle-Tacoma,%20WA_SRP_KWT_PST&utm_term=apartments%20for%20rent%20in%20seattle&utm_content=APTS_B_DMA_Seattle-Tacoma,%20WA_City_Seattle_Generic_SRP_KWT. Every single day apartment.com shows over 12,000 apartments available for rent in Seattle alone. That is not a shortage, although white progressives want to live in D3 and D7, but pay rents like it is MLK.

        “Household income in Seattle, is 50% more than it is in Minneapolis and is 35% above the National Average.” Plus Minneapolis has a 7% income tax.

        https://www.bestplaces.net/compare-cities/minneapolis_mn/seattle_wa/economy (The AMI for Seattle is actually $115,000, not $105,000 so this article is a little old).

        Not surprisingly, housing costs in Seattle are nearly 3X those in Minneapolis when comparing the larger metro area. https://www.nerdwallet.com/cost-of-living-calculator/compare/minneapolis-mn-vs-seattle-wa Transportation is 19% higher in Seattle, food 29%, entertainment 24%, and 29% healthcare, and not because Minneapolis has more of any of these things.

        If a city has a high AMI and increasing population it will need more new housing, which is what Seattle has gone through over the last decade. That new housing will and did cater to the new rising AMI, new housing is always the least affordable per sf, and will cater to the 100%+ AMI. New construction will inevitably replace older more affordable housing (gentrification) and although housing increases and matches population growth the ratio of expensive to more affordable housing skews more and more toward expensive. So average median housing prices rise, mostly due to the replacement of older more affordable housing, and of course some neighborhoods increase faster.

        Same with food, entertainment, healthcare and transportation.

        Zoning is only a factor if zoning restricts the number of housing starts, which is limited by labor, supplies and financing, especially of some kind of affordable housing even though new. The GMPC just concluded every regional city has CURRENT zoning to accommodate population growth through 2040, even if another 1 million residents moved to the area, which they are not. A city or region can increase the zoning but the number of housing units built won’t change, just where.

  23. Cam Solomon,

    You posted about the Twin Cities having more affordable housing that Seattle, I didn’t. The Mountain does not go to Mohammad. The Seattle housing market is what it is. A change in zoning? Best case scenario, that might work in a decade or two. Worse case scenario Seattle neighborhoods end up being worse places to live.

    I think you’re a Tacoma person, so I’ll keep it local. Sound Transit and Pierce Transit are planning to spend more than 100 million? on a ridiculous fake BRT project on highway 7 (the #1). The project will not add a single bus trip anywhere in the City and it *might* make the #1 bus 7 minutes faster? It’s bullshit. Everybody on this blog knows it’s bullshit and yet they’re still Sound Transit cheerleaders.

    The worst part about this Sound Transit made promises it can’t keep and it’s been sucking up transit money (though taxes) that Pierce Transit needs to run a reasonable bus service. I don’t care about the “future of transit” in Tacoma. I want good transit right now! I don’t have for time for stupid talk and stupid plans that don’t work out after 20 years anyhow.

    In the next couple of decades, economic factors will dictate the price of housing in Puget Sound, zoning be damned. If Big Tech lays off a lot of workers, Seattle might again find itself an affordable place to live. If global warming goes full tilt boogie and the the entire State of New Mexico moves to Seattle, housing will be incredibly expensive, zoning be damned. Who really knows?

    “Telling people to go live in bumblefuk, Indiana completely misses the point.”

    No my friend, telling people to go live in “bumblefuk Indiana” is entirely the point. Maybe good old bumblefuk has a house you can afford to live in? A place to build your life and be happy? Because you can control where you live. You can’t stop Sound Transit from pissing away money on stupid projects. You can’t make a house on Greenlake worth less than 2 million. You can’t change Greater Seattle… you can only live there and do the best you can.

    Email all your Tacoma politicians and ask them to intervene in the Sound Transit disasters. Not one of them will spend one penny of political capital to change things. I’m on first name basis with a bunch of them. None of them will help you because fighting with the dimwits at Sound Transit is waste of time.

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