140 Replies to “Open Thread 24: November 2023 Election”

  1. The Seattle Times reports no clear winner in Seattle’s city council races. All incumbents are trailing. (Surprising!)

    King County’s site shows Mosqueda and Aragon are within 1% of each other in King County 8. Balducci got 98% running unopposed in King County 6. Seattle’s housing levy is ahead; Tacoma’s renters’ measure is 2% behind. Hollingsworth is 17% ahead of Hudson in Seattle City council 3, with 25% of the votes counted. Elections director Julie Wise is at 84%, so our future elections are safe from that election-denier.

    Auburn is in Pierce’s results; did you know part of Auburn is in Pierce County?

      1. Auburn’s races disappointingly mostly flip to conservative candidates. At least our fire levy passed.
        Yes, a little bit of Auburn is in Pierce County. 90% is in King County though.

      2. Define conservative. Are they just disappointing on housing and P&Rs? Or do we have to worry about anti-transit people, anti-tax zealots, election deniers, etc?

  2. Cathy Moore will win in District Five. Joy Hollingsworth will probably win in District Three. Districts seven, six, and two will need all week to count.

      1. So, do we worry about Hollingsworth being lukewarm on transit? Or will she be OK?

        (I’ll just check my ballot in the tracker to make sure it doesn’t have a signature problem…. Looking for the stub in my “New” folder… Ballot is counted.)

  3. This is the reality of mail-in voting. After Sawant overtook Conlin’s 7% lead on the election night in 2013, I’ve learned never to trust the first drop if the gap is even remotely close to 10%.

    Bellevue incumbents (Zahn and Stokes) are leading but the Stokes-Clark race is much tighter (which indicates that the Seattle Times endorsement is actually quite weighty). I don’t think there is the same thing as the late liberal surge in Seattle in Bellevue, but I expect that margin to tighten.

    The seats vacated by Jennifer Robertson and Jeremy Barksdale will be occupied by more moderate candidates, as they were running against wacko perennial candidates in Hirt and Tsimerman.

  4. NAR and other housing and landlord groups spent really big against init 1 in Tacoma. It terrified them. I was getting spam fear texts all week. That should be illegal, and pushed me to a yes, though I had to think carefully how it would impact future housing development, if at all. 500 votes is a lot to make up. They should have waited for an even year.

    I was disappointed to see Deputy Mayor Walker come out against.

    1. With interest rates high, landlords are not exactly raking it right now. In fact, rising interest rates have actually caused many apartment buildings to become unprofitable, and unless rates for or rents rise further to compensate, it could cause many landlords to even go bankrupt.

      A couple years ago, I invested in a half-finished apartment building in Tacoma, so I actually have a personal financial stake in this measure failing. Today, the building is fully operation and filled with paying tenants. But, had init 1 been in effect at the time of investment, I probably would have been scared off and other investors too. One will never know whether the building would have actually been finished under such conditions, or whether it would still be an abandoned construction site.

    2. Interesting, asdf. What part of the the initiative would have scared you off? The relocation assistance if you jacked the rent? Were there more than 4 units? Not being able to evict people in the winter? Just more paperwork?

      I was actually a landlord in Seattle, and it seems like most of the measures were just saying “just be a human being with compassion”. But maybe I missed something.

      I would guess the building would have still been sold and finished, though it might have gone for cheaper. Maybe not a terrible thing?

      1. For starters, the prohibition against winter evictions feels extreme. That means if somebody were decide in fall to stop paying rent, the landlord is forced to host them for free for 6 months before they can evict. Depending on the unit size and neighborhood, that could be over $10,000 in lost income for the landlord compared to being able to quickly evict and rent the unit out to a new tenant.

        I get that we don’t want to dump people out on the streets in winter without heat, but that’s what charity shelters are for, and the landlord is trying to run a business, not a charity. The analogy here is to solve the problem of poor people going hungry by allowing poor people to just take what food they need from stores without paying for it for up to 6 months. Such move would improve food security without costing taxpayers, but it would impose enormous costs on the local supermarket, forcing them to raise prices for everyone else to avoid going under.

        Also, the inevitable reaction to landlords who don’t want to become forced charities will be to tighten their income qualification standards and/or security deposit requirements in order to reduce the chance of having to deal with a delinquent tenant in the first place. The net effect on poor people will that simply qualifying for housing becomes more difficult, and now, some people that can afford rent go homeless because no landlord is willing to trust them when the consequences of getting it wrong are having to absorb 6 months of free rent.

      2. I get that. It makes sense.

        It sounds like you are suggesting you prefer that Pierce goes with a big-government solution. The recently passed affordable housing tax is expected to bring in about $20 million a year. My highly detailed and thoroughly vetted analysis suggests that is about 3% of what we would need to implement said big-government solution, given the number of homeless in Pierce County. Any idea how to get the other 97%?

        Any real solution will have to be a balance of public and private efforts. Perhaps this Tenant’s Bill of Rights goes a bit too far in eviction language, but I would say only a bit. It should be hard to evict someone and subject them to the trauma and life-destruction associated with making them homeless. It really crushes people.

        It’s also incredibly more expensive to bring someone out of chronic homelessness than to just prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place. But that cost is born by the psychic wounds of those who end up becoming homeless and the vastly inadequate and dwindling Pierce County Human Services budget.

      3. “It sounds like you are suggesting you prefer that Pierce goes with a big-government solution.”

        The reality is that we’ve painted ourselves into a corner so that’s the only solution. In Seattle rents started rising faster than income in 2003, forcing people to spend an increasingly larger share of their income on housing. We should have nipped it in the bud by relaxing zoning enough to keep the vacancy rate at a stable 5-10%. But we didn’t, and the problem accumulated for two decades. At first it was just lower-income people in the Central District being displaced to Rainier Valley, then Skyway and Renton, then Kent, then Auburn, then Tacoma and Snohomish County, then Thurston County, and now to only a very few areas in the US that are depressed, have few jobs, and are losing population.

        Market-rate housing can’t come down in price quickly because nobody wants to take a loss. So the only alternative is subsidized housing, and lots of it. And maybe alternatives like nonprofit land trusts and tax reform, that can suck the air out of the land-price balloon.

        And relaxing zoning, especially middle-level in the peripheral areas around urban villages, so that more apartments, condos, and close-together houses can be built near walkable transit/retail. There’s a problem beyond just getting any housing you can afford, but also getting it in an area where you don’t have to have a car.

      4. I agree on both points, Mike. I just like to remind people that is what they are championing when they say that we should choose an alternative to the Tenant Bill of Rights. It will be very, very expensive. Inslee got in the ballpark with his 4 billion dollar number, but even liberal dems couldn’t stomach it.

        I’m on the record for complete unzoning, and I am only half-joking when I say I’m tempted to start getting signitures for an “Old is not Historic” citywide initiative to roll back historic designation protections, though my neighbors would hate me (I live in a designated “historic” house, situated among a thousand others who also live, and must abide by, that historic designation).

        As Tacoma is poor, any comprehensive solution would take between a quarter and half the city’s budget, which is clearly a non-starter. My current thoughts to fund subsidized and supportive housing lean towards a land value tax, which taxes vacant land at a much higher rate than land that is in use. It would help generate revenue for housing, and the same time get speculators to either build or sell.

      5. “though my neighbors would hate me”
        To me said people need to touch grass and get a dose of reality. And that is a lot of historic houses or buildings often aren’t really historic and they don’t own the house so why are they needing to be so nosy into how people take care of their houses.

        People joke that a lot of historic houses only exist on “local registered list of historic places” because of some very obscure citizens or civic members who owned or rented in said house for a brief period that you’d only know of because of checking their obituaries in the archives of the News Tribune than of any actual historical significance that happened at the house.

        To me I don’t like the historic preservation movement even as someone who does advocate for it Because of how onerous regulations are around owning said home, how it’s honestly misguided in its attitude towards change in the neighborhood, that its primarly focuses on houses of certain styles (mainly older European styles), and some would argue is an infringement on personal liberty.

        I think said people need to remember these buildings are houses or businesses for people and not a personal museum for yourself. If you want to preserve the “character” of said neighborhood, then pony up the cash to buy the house instead of putting the burden on your neighbor to do something they may not actually be interested in doing in the first place or accept the fact that change is inevitable and that the more you fight it the more you look petty and stubborn to change.

        To give a local example to me, we had people here in Denver pushing to get Tom’s Diner historic status despite how much the longtime owner said he wasn’t interested in that. The owner at the time was reaching retirement age and was wanting to just sell the property to someone else to turn it into more housing along Colfax. Locals never asked him if he wanted that, but went ahead with their plans. It got historic status, he reopened the place as a cocktail lounge and now is looking for new owners because the revamp didn’t work and he’s ready to retire officially.

        Nostalgia for the past can be good, but I think a lot of people have an unhealthy obsession with it that they themselves can’t accept change is inevitable and is going to happen eventually.

    3. Cam Solomon,

      You do know that Walker works for “Downtown on the Go” a pro business and pro developer outfit? Sure she’s on City Council now and the Sound Transit board as well, but she’s still 100% “all in” on business interests in Tacoma. Walker talks the talk but rarely walks the walk.

      I actually think int. #1 would have really locked up the brakes on development in Tacoma, and would have that really been a bad thing? Both Seattle and Tacoma added a historic number of housing units since 2000 and what does either city really have to show for it? Does anyone believe that adding the same number of units over the next 25 years would make housing more affordable?

      Where I think this blog goes wrong (along with the Urbanist and Publicola) is the false idea that grass roots Lefty ideas can be advanced by development. Urban Development = Gentrification (there are no exceptions). It’s a type of colonization really.

      And I’m sure somebody is going to bring up some lame example of urbanization in Asia or Europe that isn’t gentrification , but these people have no idea what the real back story is. I know that Hamburg Germany has “revitalized” it’s Elbe riverfront into a pedestrian haven for Yuppies while quietly shipping out all the poor people who used to live there (many who are Turkish) into crappy government housing in the middle of nowhere (with bad bus service). But the tourists never see that part of Europe… we only see the shiny parts.

      I think you know that the light rail on Hilltop and Stadium District wasn’t built there to help the current residents hunkered down in crappy triplexes, right? Those people are going to be squeezed out by Seattle refugees squeezed out by Californian refugees. This is has been going on for thousands of years….

      1. Walker doesn’t work for DOTG and she isn’t even on the board, though she did cut her teeth there.

        DOTG is a transit and active transportation advocacy organization. That might be beneficial to businesses, but its mission has nothing to do with business or development.

      2. “Does anyone believe that adding the same number of units over the next 25 years would make housing more affordable?”

        You know what I’ll say, it all depends on whether the population increases by the same number as it did in the last 25 years. That’s both people moving to the region, children being born, teenagers turning 18, couples getting divorced and moving apart, minus people dying and moving a way and moving in together. People tend to focus on just people moving to the region and don’t think about the other parts, or how much they add up in a couple decades. There’s also the increasingly intolerable housing situation we’re in (i.e., the affordability gap), which can’t go on forever, and sooner or later the public will turn toward more subsidized housing, allowing small apartments in areas they were allowed in the 1950s but not now, changes in the tax code to take the air out of the speculation bubble, nonprofit land trusts that keep land prices stable (so that you’re only paying for the materials/labor in the house and the use of the land, which are more stable and down-to-earth than the land price), a tax on unoccupied buildings/underused land, maybe even a tax on foreign owners, etc.

      3. Cam Solomon,

        DTOG has done more harm to Tacoma than another organization I can think of. The problem is DTOG is a powerful booster for using tax money to “fix” downtown Tacoma…. and a few surrounding neighborhoods…. at the expense of every taxpayer in the entire city. It might seem like a good idea for you in the Stadium District but it absolutely sucks in Fern Hill.

        The problem with bullshit like investing in “walkable neighborhoods” and “retail density” is this steers the money to the more well heeled places in Tacoma, the places that have had massive public investment already, and makes the poorer neighborhoods pay for it.

        DOTG isn’t a friend of anyone living South of the freeways.

        Walker did everything possible to kill this project behind closed doors, because it wasn’t an invest in “downtown”. She’s a backstabber. https://www.cityoftacoma.org/government/city_departments/community_and_economic_development/lincoln_neighborhood_revitalization_project#:~:text=The%20Lincoln%20District%20Streetscape%20is,the%20Lincoln%20Streetscape%20web%20page.

      4. “Urban Development = Gentrification”

        Local/state/federal policies = gentrification, IF there’s substantial demand in the region. Obviously if the population is stagnant or falling, nobody is buying/renting anyway, so prices can’t go up.

        And gentrification properly refers to one neighborhood increasing in quality/class/price while the surrounding neighborhoods remain the same. That’s different from here where the entire metropolitan area and beyond is rising. You might think Tacoma and east Tacoma are un-chic so that’s where to escape the increases, but no, they’re increasing too. To see how much Greenlake or Columbia City or downtown Bellevue are gentrifying, you have to subtract out the amount that every neighborhood is rising. (Adjusting for things like density, closeness to the downtown Seattle-Bellevue-Redmond job center, microburbs like Medina where having your own government can be an advantage or not, etc.) When you subtract that out, the unique gentrification of some neighborhoods isn’t that big. Tacoma/Pierce prices and South King County prices are rising faster than Seattle, and Seattle/Bellevue neighborhoods that didn’t rise as much in the 2010s are rising faster than the neighborhoods that did, because many people just want to live somewhere/anywhere, and they’re taking whatever they can get, and what they can get is those Tacoma/Pierce/South King County units. So it’s like the prices are heading towards equalization throughout the region. They’ll probably never get there fully, because there’s only one Space Needle, and if you want to live near it there’s only a few neighborhoods to choose from. The same for job centers, a famous restaurant, a perfect park, etc. But many people just want a place with certain generic qualities, or any place, not the Space Needle. (“I can walk outside and see the Needle and I’ve seen it for decades, so why do I need it in my window?”) These are the people that are driving up prices in the non-top neighborhoods.

      5. “bullshit like investing in “walkable neighborhoods” and “retail density” is this steers the money to the more well heeled places in Tacoma,”

        That’s why it’s important to make other neighborhoods walkable, and bring retail to the retail deserts. Because there’s an intrinsic advantage in being able to walk to things, even if you choose not to. There’s an intrinsic advantage in other people being able to walk to things. Too often when investments go to non-walkable neighborhoods, they just perpetuate the non-walkability or make it worse. That’s what needs to stop.

      6. When you don’t build enough in an area to support the new jobs being created, I think of it as a rock thrown in a pond.

        A big wave of rent increases crashes through the close in neighborhoods, then proceeds out to the closer suburbs, then washes over the further suburbs, then finally hits the smaller close metros like Tacoma, and then beyond.

        If you look at vacancy rates, the wave is still pushing out into Kitsap County and even down beyond Thurston. Little places like Ridgefield are even becoming unaffordable, because they are getting waves washing over them from both Seattle and Portland.

    4. “rising interest rates have actually caused many apartment buildings to become unprofitable,”

      They have adjustable-rate mortgages? They’re taking out new loans on buildings they already have, I guess for renovations or maintenance? How did they survive in the 1980s when “good” interest rates were higher?

      1. No, most new apartment buildings have long term debit on a fixed repayment plan. Although most new buildings really aren’t anywhere as profitable as some renters believe. Many new buildings in Seattle are paying back investors 5-6% on investment…. a good return when the prime intreat rate as sub 4% These buildings are currently over 2k a month rent …. goes to show just how impossible it is to build “affordable” housing.

        If Seattle was to lose population, a lot of buildings would go underwater financially. There’s no way to have rents back rent below that 2k a month line and pay off the loans on a lot of buildings. So there’s no way to ever increase the # number of units and lower rents in a sort of “supply and demand” way. Investors just have to get paid or the whole system fails. Apartment financing isn’t much difference from buying a house… you’re stuck with decades of fixed payments.

      2. “Many new buildings in Seattle are paying back investors 5-6% on investment”

        And excellent when inflation was 2% throughout the 2000s and 2010s.

      3. “If Seattle was to lose population, a lot of buildings would go underwater financially. There’s no way to have rents back rent below that 2k a month line and pay off the loans on a lot of buildings”

        If the owners go bankrupt, the building will be sold at a lower price, and the new owner will have less costs so they can lower the rent. The losers will be the investors and the original developer. That happened in the 2000 crash, and probably every recession.

      4. @ tacomee
        “Many new buildings in Seattle are paying back investors 5-6% on investment…. ”
        I’d be interested in seeing the source for those numbers, I’m curious as to methodology used and what stage is seeing these returns (developers, owners, etc.).

      5. @Alex H agreed, as someone recently laid off from a Seattle housing developer (because our new construction projects that came online between 2017 and 2021 are either underwater or distributing 1-2%) I’d like to know who I should be applying to for a job.

      6. My thought, too, Mike. Nobody does adjustable rates on construction for rental units. ARM’s are for people who think/hope/believe that they’ll be better off, or interest rates will be lower, when the rate resets so they can buy more house than they currently can handle. It’s betting on the come, so it’s no surprise that some many people get wrecked by them.

        Also agree with your reply to tacomee’s second comment. The folks who lose on a building bankruptcy are the banks if they still hold mortgages, equity investors if there were any, or the people who bought the mortgages.

        Remember The Big Short? Banks only hold (some) of the genuine Triple-A’s. They’re MUCH more on the short end of the stick on office and commercial buildings. That’s what will bite the regional banks if Seattle prices were to collapse.

      7. Tom Terrific,

        The las thing a renter would want if for a building they’re living in to be under financial duress. That means maintenance is put off and there is a high chance of a rent increase to balance the books. Banks often hire a management company to deal with bank owned default properties… and the first thing that happens is a big rent increase on all new leases. If the bank holds on to the property for a year and raises all the new leases by 10% (or more) the building is worth more for resale.

        The system is rigged so the renter gets screwed no matter what the market does. There are two classes of people in America… land owners and rent paying peasants. If anybody is personally insulted by that, well I’m sorry, but that’s the way the game is set up. Working with lots of low income families at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, I will say that immigrants and non-White people “get” the dire need to own housing much more that some college educated White people do.

        As far as community stability, the more home owners the better. As far as rental property goes, small mom and pop landlords are the gold standard. The bigger the property owners, the more risky the behavior. Mom and pop landlords actually understand the market they own in and have realistic expectations on return. Big investors just look at maximum return, getting the last damn 1% out of the system. And Big Money loves to cut and run, chase the next big thing.

        Strangely enough, most local governments in Puget Sound favor the Big Boys over the little guy. I think it’s because of the suits and professional power point presentations, the glossy finish. Tacoma has hundreds of apartments owned by foreign investors who have never even been to Tacoma. At some point those investors may just stop maintaining those buildings (after 20 to 30 years, building need a lot of work) and maybe even stop paying taxes on them. The classic slumlord move is to milk as much rent out of a building as possible and walk away when the roof is leaking (and it City has put a lean on it for back taxes). Corporate America has a mantra…. privatize the profits, stick the public with the loses.

        On the retail side of things, Walmart is the best in the world at doings this. Walmart builds a store north of some little town and puts a lot of locals out of business. The building is built on the cheap and in 25 years, it’s falling apart. Walmart simply walks away from it, and builds another shitty building down the road a bit. The family owned drug store Walmart drove under served the community for 90 years….

        I’m pro transit, but hate mixing big development with public money… especially transit money. The Big Boys just end up stealing most of the money.

      8. tacomee, your rant is generally correct, but you’ve moved to Salt Lake City, so why do we still have to read your insults to people like the readership of STB? Why do you care about the old rust bucket that is Central Puget Sound? You’ve jumped ship to a sleek new Queen of the Seas.

        More to the point, nothing you wrote in the reply had anything to do with ARM financing.

  5. The tone of all the mail I got disappointed me. I do hope the next council will see fit to move ranked choice voting from the primary to the general election, where it would make more sense.

    I would like elections to be more like a job interview, and less like single combat through the politics of personal destruction.

    1. Ranked choice? You’re kidding right? Ranked choice is the Lefty weapon of choice for voter suppression…. Make the whole election more complicated so only the “enlightened” will vote. People have real lives that are not in the internet and don’t involve politics 24-7… the majority of people don’t want a ballot that looks like some sort go multiple choice test or high school popularity contest.

      One person, one vote, one winner. Learn to live with it.

    2. “I would like elections to be more like a job interview, and less like single combat through the politics of personal destruction.”

      This is why I love ranked choice voting! A negative campaign approach can tank a candidate because no one likes a negative candidate unless they have lots of negativity in them. When you trash an opponent, you may get ahead at the first count but getting that 50+% can be elusive because many voters who aren’t angry will choose to rank you last.

    3. Presumably you mean that you want Seattle to cancel primaries entirely and use ranked choice voting to the general? Because ranked choice voting when there’s only 2 candidates left in the general election is pointless. Do cities actually have the authority to do that?

      1. I support having the top five candidates advance from the primary election (done by traditional single choice), and then RCV in the general election. This is basically the model voters passed in Alaska and Nevada.

      2. Brent’s scenario is the best plan. Single vote in an open primary to window out the no-hopers, and then RCV to press people toward moderation.

        The problem is that we have a State-level mandate that elections whether partisan or non, must have a primary to determine who competes in a top two general. That mandate has received the approval of the US Supreme Court after years of court battles, so the Leg is, um, “unlikely” to smile on the change.

    4. The great part about RCV is that it’s in many aspects better than the first-past-the-post system we have. The bad part about RCV is it’s in many aspects the worst of commonly proposed alternative voting systems.

      1. I mean anything’s better than first past the post. It’s so bad that we basically have to have another primary in front of it

      2. RCV is the only alternative election system that has gained wide support across the country.

        Approval voting comes in a distant second, at two locations (St. Louis and Fargo). You may recall Seattle voters were asked their preference between the two, and voters preferred RCV over approval by a 3-1 margin.

        FWIW, the state legislature in North Dakota passed a law banning RCV and AV, overriding the Republican governor’s veto, so now it is just St. Louis.

      3. Brent, yep. The Repubelicans [sic] will do just about anything to prevent “depraved” city dwellers from voting in ways they prefer.

      4. Brent,
        Yeah, I’m aware, that doesn’t make RCV (which is actual Instant Run-off Voting, IRV) a particularly good system (though as I said it is mostly better than FPTP). As the Seattle referendum showed, the alternative vote advocacy space is full of internecine conflict and jockeying for primacy.

        If you don’t remember the sequence of events, approval voting advocated had successfully gotten the referendum added to the ballet. This prompted FairVote, by far the nation’s largest and best funded alternative voting advocacy group and a supporter of RCV, to push the city council to add RCV as an option to the referendum. FairVote then used their influence to line up endorsements behind RCV, and it sailed through to easy victory over approval voting.

        I get the sense that FairVote actively does not want to see any alternative vote models succeed because they feel that damages their dominance in the space. Unfortunately, election scientists generally do not consider RCV (IRV) a particularly good system in comparison to other options: it’s somewhat confusing, prone to spoiler effects, and has a high instance of violating the Condorcet Criterion. It’s true that it is the alternative with the strongest real world pedigree, but FairVote’s efforts to prevent the implementation of other systems has limited the chance for these theoretically superior systems to be evaluated in practice.

        As is probably obvious, I find the whole situation mildly frustrating.

      5. I feel your frustration, Alex, as I spent a good part of my younger years pushing for IRV during the process of replacing the blanket primary.

        I saw the internecine bickering among self-proclaimed mathematicians (not scientists), playing crabs-in-a-bucket because some group somewhere decided to push IRV instead of their favorite concoction, and then campaign against IRV publicly, from afar.

        Eventually, they got it together and helped form the Center for Election Science, a body dedicated to raising and spending lots of money to actually try to get some alternatives to IRV passed somewhere, anywhere. They chose approval voting, for reasons unclear to the rest of the electoral reform community, and you could just feel the collective groan.

        And then despite finding little interest in approval voting when they came to Seattle looking for front men, they found a couple, put together the initiative, and proceeded to fund the petition drive.

        Once they got AV on the ballot, the existing local network of IRV/RCV supporters lobbied the city council to exercise its right to put an alternative on the ballot, and the rest is history.

        The supporters of RCV significantly outnumbered the supporters of AV at the hearings. This was a culmination of decades of grassroots organizing turned more professional when FairVote Washington was formed a few years ago.

        I am still grateful to the CES campaign tank for creating the opportunity for Seattleites to vote out our stone-age election system.

        My advice to CES remains: Put forward something more bold that involves letting voters rank the candidates, and you might find more grassroots support.

        AV doesn’t even give voters the opportunity to rank candidates, and so can’t comply with the Condorcet Criterion by default. I think it is more the former than the arcane latter that makes AV a non-starter among most electoral reformers. Blame the collective body of reformers like me, not Fairvote, for this trend.

      6. I do want to make it clear that I admire the effort the two local AV campaigners put into their campaign.

        My disagreement with AV is all about simple math, and the science of watching how it played out in Fargo, that it tended toward being reduced to plurality voting, which anyone could have hypothesized easily before Fargo provided data-based corroboration of the hypothesis. Do some actual science, CES, and choose something better. Oh, and yeah, shame on the ND Legislature for not allowing us to collect more data.

    5. “Make the whole election more complicated so only the “enlightened” will vote…. the majority of people don’t want a ballot that looks like some sort go multiple choice test or high school popularity contest.”

      Evidence? In most of the countries/cities that have it, it works well. This rant sounds like somebody who’s afraid of letting voters express their 1st/2nd/3rd because that would lead to a result closer to their wishes — which would be a disadvantage to you if you’re a politician who benefits from the current system. The idea that voters will be turned off by a ballot that looks like a “multiple choice test or a high school popularity contests” sounds like saying voters are stupid and will let the aesthetics of the ballot weigh more than getting their preferred kinds of leaders into power, or that they just believe whatever a right-wing radio host misleadingly says the new ballot is.

      People who don’t want complications can simply put “1” on their first choice like they always have and leave the other rows blank. I assume the ballot will be structured so they just have to learn to find the “1” circle to fill in, not write a number. Or if they want to be slightly more specific, they can put “1” and “2” and ignore the rest. Or if they’re really against somebody and are willing to fill out all the rows to show them where to go, they can put “1” and “2”, assign 3-5 at random, and put “6” (last) on the bad one.

      1. Ranked choice voting might have prevented Trump from winning the Republican primary in 2016, because of all the vote splitting between all the other candidates.

        Republicans came close to winning the governorship in Oregon because Phil Knight (Nike) funded a 3rd party candidate to suck votes away. Thankfully, her only policy declaration of “I’m one of the few citizens licensed to own fully automatic machine guns” didn’t appeal to a sufficient number of informed voters for her to throw the election.

      2. Ranked-choice voting typically benefits “consensus” candidates that may have a smaller “core” base of voters who love them, but are more broadly tolerated and have fewer people that hate them. This tends to mean moderate candidates on either end of the political spectrum, although there is no inherent bias in left vs. right.

        Of course, candidates that represent the ideological extremes – either on the left or the right – tend to be staunchly opposed to ranked choice voting because they know that if they don’t win outright, they will connect very few 2nd/3rd choice votes from other candidates.

        Overall, I think ranked choice voting is a great idea, and it’s something that could even extend someday to ballot measures, rather than just candidates. For example, suppose the ST3 vote, instead of just yes/no, had three options – a big expansion, a small expansion, and no expansion. It’s entirely possible we would have ended up with a package that was leaner and better. Lots of lots of people voted yes on ST3, in spite of significant misgivings, simply because they wanted more transit and it was either that or nothing.

  6. The street level escalator and elevator for University Street Exit C (the south exit) were both broken this morning with no signage until you actually got to the escalator. The elevator has been broken for months so no hope there.

    The only way to exit was to climb several flights of stairs or go back down to the platform and exit on the north end.

    Terrible rider experience – the least they could do when they fence off the escalator is to put a sign on the platform so we can get to the other exit.

    1. I’m waiting for the light bulb to go off with more of the Board that ST needs more emphasis on serving the riders (every day) and less on working on ways to use transit money for real estate deals for something that won’t open for 10-20 years. It’s clear that — especially for a relatively new system — that Link suffers from unprioritized day-to-day management and poor construction management mistakes. If things in 2026 (three years away) look this bad incumbents will see challengers openly attacking them on this.

      ST needs to quit hiring senior staff that don’t have a depth of experience to either build nor operate a rail system! Naïveté may give certain Board members the impression that they have more backroom power to control things, but it also means that major mistakes and rider-unfriendly choices will keep being made.

    2. Small update:

      3/4 of the escalators I tried to use today were broken.

      Fed up with this…

      1. If 3/4 of the 9 floors of escalators needed to get from New Westlake in the second tunnel to the surface are broken, it will probably take some 15 minutes to get from the platform to the surface.

      2. Every stairwell I have tried in the stations has worked perfectly, except for the time I was blocked by an “emergency only” exit door, and had to backtrack.

        The problem with the elevators is not primarily how long it takes to get them back into service, but the lack of redundancy, such as at Mt. Baker, TIBS, and the east entrance to SeaTac Airport Station.

        There is also the programming problem at Beacon Hill, allowing only one elevator at a time to be called, making it often take a few minutes to clear the egress queue. Let the elevators be called, independent of each other, please.

    3. I’ve been complaining to ST that whenever an escalator is out, the remaining escalator should always be placed in the “up” position. I sometimes use University St in the morning and see the disrepair constantly.

  7. Hoping Andrew Lewis goes bye bye even with all the gerrymandering to help him (moving Magnolia out of District 7). This man is so deluded with that last minute public drug use vote.

  8. Sawant lap dogs are struggling but could still win. So happy to put that nasty woman behind us…

  9. “The initial election results are out for King County, Pierce County, and Snohomish County. What trends do you see?”

    My big takeaway is this:

    Once again the overall turnout ratio is pitiful. We as Washingtonians should be ashamed of this considering that we make voting in our state about as easy as it can possibly be.

    An aside…My two family members on ballots in east coast states (city council, county council races) had mixed results with one being reelected and the other coming up just short. Nevertheless, with the results in OH, VA and KY thrown in, it was a pretty good night from my political perspective.

    1. “My two family members on ballots in east coast states (city council, county council races)”

      I have a great cousin who was once mayor of Mission Viejo, California. I know nothing about that city or what it’s like to be mayor there, and I’ve only met her twice in my life, but it sounds nice to have a mayor relative.

      “Great cousin” may not be the right term; I’m not sure precisely what one’s mom’s aunt’s daughter is.

      1. “I have a great cousin who was once mayor of Mission Viejo, California.”

        Well that’s pretty cool. One of my siblings was a mayor at one time but in that city they select the mayor from the council itself so it’s technically an unelected (directly) position. I just think it’s a weird format.

        Fwiw, your mom’s aunt’s daughter is her first cousin, or your first cousin once removed.

      2. She’s your first cousin once removed. Your mother and her aunt’s daughter share grandparents, so the controlling relationship is your mother and her cousin. There’s then a “removal” because you and your mother’s cousin are not the same distance from those shared grandparents. You’re one more generation away.

        It looks like this:
        Grandpa and Grandma (“Greats” to you)
        Your mother’s mother or father The mayor’s mother, your mom’s aunt
        Your mother The mayor

        To my knowledge, there are no “grand” relationships among cousins.

      3. Lol. All good Tom.
        My spouse still asks me questions similar to Mike’s no matter how many times I’ve attempted to explain these family relationship matters. I had to do a family tree project way back in my high school days so I had to get a handle on this sort of stuff a long time ago. I was glad to help clarify the matter, but thanks for the assist nonetheless.

      4. I still find those relationships hard to understand or calculate, even with the video or Tom’s explanation. Common ancestor level what, add what, call it what??? I’m not good at high math either, probably for the same reason.

        I said great cousin to indicate she’s older, because most people I know with cousins, the cousins are the same age as them. My cousins whom I call cousins are 10-14 years older than me. But this woman is older than that, old enough to be my mother or almost.

      5. Mike, that’s what the “removal” is getting at. It’s not foolproof, because some families have children over a twenty year period or longer. I had nephews who were three and five years younger than me. Since my daughter was born when I was twenty-eight, they were both easily old enough to have been her father, but were “straight-across” first cousins.

        But you aren’t the same generation as your “cousin” the mayor. Your mom is. That’s why she seems like shs might be your aunt.

      6. “It’s not foolproof, because some families have children over a twenty year period or longer.”

        That’s exactly right, Tom. I come from just such a family and as a result I’m closer in age to my oldest sibling’s son (just three years difference) than I am to my own sibling. It was kind of funny growing up being called “uncle” by a kid that’s basically my same age. I guess your experience was similar.

        But getting back to the original question, I wouldn’t worry about it, Mike, as I’m sure you just called her by her first name anyway. Lol. However this relative is indeed your first cousin once removed. That’s just the long-standing convention that’s been utilized in this genealogical realm.

      7. I call them the same thing my mom does. So my great aunt is “aunt”, and my first cousin once removed is “cousin”, regardless of the generation difference.

      8. Tom Terrific, you win the internet for the genealogy explanation today. That was fun.

        Election takeaway: nothing changes in America. We are still all slaves to Wall Street. The only hope my children have is that I teach them foreign languages and they develop the urge and ability to emigrate to whatever country offers them the best quality of life.

      1. Yes. It would make for an even bigger ballot, but it would draw greater participation for the “local” races. That’s something the local folks are completely free to do.

      2. The more I read of and from Balducci the better I like her. She has the heart of an honest broker and a good set of brains to give it a means to do some good.

      3. My only counterargument to that is that state initiatives and referenda can go on any November ballot. Having no Seattle or King County races on the ballot could become unilateral disarmament against Defund-the-government initiatives.

    2. I voted, but it gets tiring to hear individual voters get blamed when there is not really an incentive to vote. It costs a lot of money to run a serious campaign, so there is rich person selection bias to candidates. When initiatives get voted in, it often seems like the people aren’t listened to or considered for any further decisions (station placement, escalators, information systems). You need to realize that voting doesn’t have much impact in our systems and change takes other actions.

      It’s tiring seeing the people that shame others and act like voting is the most important thing in the world sit on their asses and not take any other compromises in their personal lives to change the world.

      1. I also get tired of being shamed for voting for who I want to vote for, on cue, every four years. It just motivates me to help voters in swing states have the same right, since our votes here in Washington State are taken for granted.

        In terms of the voters’ will on Tacoma Dome Link, Everett Link, West Seattle Link, and Ballard Link, maybe the opposition talking point should be “All we are asking for is one more re-vote”.

        I happen to support, and be excited for, all four. Hearing North Seattleites say the other three projects are not worthy, while suburbanites say the Seattle projects are not worthy, makes me glad we got to vote for or against the whole package. If we had voted on each project separately, they all would have probably been defeated.

        I don’t have time to go to lots of meetings. I depend on the people who I vote for (or not) to have enough expertise on their staff to be able to tell whether ST staff is doing a competent job, and when politicians inserting themselves in the process is causing more problems than help.

  10. I was torn between Hollingsworth and Hudson. I didn’t want to vote against the former head of Transportation Choices Coalition who had done so much good (Hudson), but I didn’t like her defund-the-police position or ultra-progressive stance. At the same time Hollingsworth said nothing about transit in her priorities. So it’s below the top 4? Or below the top 50 given all the programs she’ll be busy addressing so she may not have time for anything else? Then I thought, “She can’t be anti-transit. And how much will the council do on transit anyway in the next term, beyond shaping the next Move Seattle and Transit Now. And how much difference is there between them anyway, maybe not much?”

    I finally voted for Hudson based on a quote in one of the endorsements that she’s exceptionally qualified on transit and land-use issues and would pursue a seat on the ST board. I hope the first two are true. And I usually vote primarily on candidates’ transit and land-use positions, since if they get those right they’ll probably get other things right. But I hope refunding the police goes through in spite of her, and that she wouldn’t be an annoying Sawant/Oliver-lite. But now that Hollingsworth is ahead, I hope that transit will get some attention and priority and won’t be ignored. I also hope she keeps her voter-pamphlet promises that she’s a “community connector, problem solver” and will “build coalitions”.

    I also found it hard to choose between Mosqueda and Aragon for similar reasons. I think Mosqueda is the one who’s been best on transit issues for years, isn’t she? At the same time I don’t like her recent defund-the-police bent or ultra-progressive stance. But something in Aragon’s endorsements made me say “No”, and I went with Mosqueda.

    I just hope that whoever we get, they’ll be OK.

    1. Like so many of the issues surrounding the election, defunding (or refunding) the police is a BS issue. They never defunded the police. The police budget goes up and down, but right now, they are trying to hire lots of officers to replace the ones that left. In other words, there is funding — they just can’t hire the cops. In that sense, it is like the bus driver shortage, although in the case of the police, they have offered much bigger bonuses.

      Spending projects are largely a zero-sum game. If someone (e. g. Hollingsworth) said she was going to hire more cops, the first thing I would ask is “Who are you going to fire?”. If she said, “No one”, I would ask where she was going to get the money. I suppose they can try and raise taxes with a levy. Good luck with that.

      Transit is in better shape, since transit measures always pass. Same with most social services. But spending on the criminal justice system is not especially popular. I think the last Seattle levy that failed was for a new jail.

      The city council can shift money around, but generally speaking, that doesn’t have a huge impact. There is a general consensus on spending, and the needle doesn’t move much. Oh, some folks talk a big game, but no one wants to do anything radical, or even, dare I say, progressive. It would be quite reasonable to try and progress to a system more like Scandinavian cities. This means a much smaller, better educated and far more effective police force. But it also means a much bigger social safety net. We know this works, but transitioning to that is difficult. It is much easier to just play political games, and pretend they help.

      In the mean time, the big issue in this town is zoning. Nothing else comes close, really. That is because nothing else would result in such a big change. Taxes won’t be lowered. Taxes won’t be raised. The budget next year will look a lot like the budget of previous years. But the only way to actually address homelessness (and improve the lives of people who don’t already own a place) is to make it easier to build new places. That’s it.

      Of course it makes sense to elect smart, knowledgeable people who know what they are doing. A lot of the people running would get a “Not Qualified” rating by the Muni-League back in the day. Now they get endorsed by The Stranger or The Seattle Times. Some of the other things the council does will have an influence, but this isn’t a “weak mayor” system — it is up to the executive to implement a lot of the things that people want (while the budget is largely limited by the state).

      1. The Seattle City Council didn’t cut the police budget but they did everything else to come out anti-police to the point where hundreds of officers have either retired or quit because of the lack of support from city hall. Right the city has less then 1,000 officers which much below on it should be with the city population.

        To recap in 2020 they cut the salary of Chief Carmen Best and some of her senior staff without even talking to her. She said screw you people and quit. That year we had the “Summer of Love” as proclaimed by Jenny Durkan which turned out to be the summer of violence where the fire department could not respond to shootings around the abandoned East Precinct where at least one person died because of the lack of aid by first responders because it was not safe for them to do so. His family is suing the city. And there are a number of lawsuits from businesses on Capitol Hill against the city because they lost business during the “Summer of Love” because it was not safe for their customers.

        You say police defunding is BS. Well they didn’t do it but they did everything else to drive officers away. And you should notice that so far in the last election that the candidates leading for Seattle City Council campaigned on more police and law and order. And in the previous election Sara Nelson and Alex Peterson were elected on a pro police campaign and so was the latest city attorney.

        You should look past just transit and see what the voters are saying and that is lets back off from the previous city council and return to more centrist ideas.

      2. “That year we had the “Summer of Love” as proclaimed by Jenny Durkan which turned out to be the summer of violence”

        The first few days weren’t like that. I went through it on my way to Trader Joe’s when they were just writing chalk on the street (the BLM sign), and I stopped on the way back to see what all was happening, and my thought was “Haight-Ashbury”. That must be what Durkan was referring to. My friend who’d lived on Capitol Hill but was now in California called me and said, “I hear there’s a no-go zone in Seattle.” I said it wasn’t no-go; it was fine. The violence happened later.

      3. I’m not sure if smart, knowledgeable people are the best to change zoning if they also own single family houses and are calculating politicians that are optimizing their financial futures for their families. They could be able to weigh the trade-offs of their housing prices and how nice it will be to live in a growing region, but that is not guaranteed.

      4. Zoning needs to be directly on the ballot at least once in my lifetime. How many of you have ever been asked to *directly* vote on zoning? I bet an initiative to allow 4-plexes and townhouses throughout the city’s residential areas would pass in Seattle. Such a measure needs to get on a ballot, any ballot.

      5. I would vote for an initiative that removed all zoning, and then added back the stuff that wasn’t historically racist and classist.

      6. I like the idea of voting on zoning. I’m troubled by the increasing use of initiatives though. Often it’s unclear whether the initiative writers have expertise in the field, or have thought about all the consequences of it and how it would relate to the laws around it. That’s what city planners and councilmembers give us: they understand these things and have experts on call and can ensure the proposal is complete and integrated and well thought out. With these initiatives we often don’t know who wrote them or what expertise they have or whether it’s well thought-out or whether it has a hidden agenda that won’t be obvious until after the election.

      7. As for 4-plexes and townhouses, the state already override zoning to allow them near frequent transit stops. It will take years to see how much difference that makes. And it won’t incentivize housing until they relax the other restrictions that prevent 4-plexes from being practical (setbacks, FAR, parking, etc). And 4-plexes aren’t enough anyway to add a substantial amount of housing, especially since only a few homeowners will build them. We need to re-allow 4-8 unit small apartment buildings, courtyard apartments, corner stores, etc, like Seattle used to allow in the 1950s and are scattered in residential neighborhoods but we can’t build any more. That’s what would add a substantial amount of housing.

  11. https://www.theurbanist.org/2023/11/08/centrists-off-to-fast-start-in-seattle-election-results/

    Haven’t had time to process all the most likely candidates but while these aren’t the first candidates for transit it doesn’t seem like overall any of them are ardent pro car either. More likely to have a harder setback is with the upzoning plan. Most likely it’ll stick to the urban village and maybe corridors (rather than growth everywhere) reading the candidates responses to the urbanist survey

    Regarding the suburbs and king county im kinda pleasantly surprised that so many candidates in favor of more transit or pedestrianization went through.

    > In Bellevue, Urbanist-endorsed Mo Malakoutian and Janice Zahn both won their City Council races, as did incumbent John Stokes, who faced a conservative. Malakoutian will replace Jeremy Barksdale, keeping the seat on the more progressive-leaning side.

    > Bothell Mayor Mason Thompson is on course to win reelection easily and he’ll have reinforcement from incoming councilmembers Carston Curd and Amanda Dodd. All of them are pulling 60% of the vote or more. Thompson has been an outspoken advocate for adding missing middle housing and safe facilities for walking, rolling, and biking. With a friendlier Council, big things could be in store for Bothell.

    1. Bothell has been an odd oasis of small town walkability and urbanism for a while. I ‘m quite sure why, but I’m definitely jealous.

      1. My brother and his family have a house in Bothell. While enjoying property ownership, they’re within walking distance of SR 522, and they can get to Seattle via transit and not have to worry about parking, etc. That’s a nice combo.

    2. More likely to have a harder setback is with the upzoning plan.

      That was my initial thought. However it may not be that bad. Note: For want of better terms I’ll use “nimby” and “urbanist” to represent the political spectrum on that issue.

      Rob Saka: Seems like an urbanist to me: https://www.voterobsaka.com/priorities. Most of the criticism of him was that he was just flaky — he didn’t have a handle on the issues. He has been extremely vague about the Seattle Comprehensive Plan.

      Tanya Woo: According to The Urbanist questionnaire, she wants to basically go with the flow (which to her means option 5 or 6). Like Saka, a lot of the criticism is that she just doesn’t know the issues.

      Hollingsworth: Supports option 5, but also wants to pursue plans that add more housing. Didn’t mention 6 (which would add more housing). To be fair, 6 isn’t an official option yet.

      Rivera: Probably the most NIMBY of everyone on the city council (assuming she wins).

      Moore: Supports 5 for now, but wants 6 to be officially added as an option.

      Hanning: Like Saka, his website makes him sound like an urbanist: https://www.votepeteford6.org/. So far as I know, was vague when it comes to the comprehensive plan. The Urbanist thinks he is a Nimby, despite the website. Hard to say who will win this anyway (it is a toss-up) but as far as this issue goes, there may not be much difference between the candidates.

      Kettle: Similar to Hanning.

      It really isn’t as bad as I thought. Most of the candidates are urbanists in my book (at least they claim to be). Mostly it is just a missed opportunity to get candidates that are even more pro-housing. The one exception is Rivera. This was the toughest race to lose (assuming it is lost) in my opinion. I was very much impressed with Davis, while Rivera looks really bad.

      When it comes to transit, it is quite possible that “pro-transit” candidates end up screwing us over. Last time there was a levy to increase funding for transit, it got watered down. Bus service was cut substantially. The mayor played the biggest part in the reduction, and since many of these candidates were endorsed by the mayor, I expect Harrell to have even more power when it comes time to renew it.

      References: Here is the endorsement page for The Urbanist. They specifically asked candidates about the plan, and there are links to that questionnaire. The Urbanist also has a pretty good rundown on the comprehensive plan.

      1. Don’t accuse The Urbanist of using the n-word (“NIMBY”). They are adamantly opposed to using that word.

  12. Well it looks like real estate developers and mega corporations are designing another Link station location (rather than anyone who cares about riders):


    If only the powers that be would open up the possibility of an automated line with shorter, higher frequency lines — like Vancouver, Honolulu, Montreal, London, Paris, Singapore, Toronto and dozen of other cities! Then the challenge of long deep station vaults shrinks dramatically.

    Meanwhile, will anny elected Board member care about riders more than corporations? Us riders are second class citizens on something that our taxpayer money is supposed to benefit us! It’s so systemically bad that no one even publicly questions the corporate ruling class making these decisions to inflict on us riders/ serfs.

    1. Could any of the potential city councilmembers play a positive role on the ST board, to draw ST away from its downtown madness? Would any of them be inclined to consider any of our positions? I don’t know what other chance we have. Except if Balducci keeps doing her thing and somehow succeeds in something.

  13. Pine/Pine rechannelization reaches a new phase.

    On Saturday, November 18 or soon after, the westbound car lane on Pike Street between Bellevue Ave and Hubbell Place will close permanently, making Pike Street one-way eastbound to Bellevue Avenue. The space will be used for a wider sidewalk, bike lane, and a row of planters between bikes and cars.

    Crosswalks on one side of Pine Street between 7th & 9th Avenues, and on one side of Pike Street between 8th & 9th Avenues, may be closed at various times. Work will be Monday-Friday between 7am and 5pm.

    1. will eastbound routes 10, 11, and 49 be stuck in congestion? note that the southernmost lane nearside Boren Avenue is delayed by pedestrian crossings.

  14. ($) Victim in Belltown car, bus crash remembered as ‘quiet little force’


    Amanda Joelle Schneider, 28, was killed instantly when struck by the E Line bus forced onto the sidewalk on Saturday. She was a block away from her apartment and likely returning home work work as a physical trainer at the Washington Athletic Club.

    Per the article: “In the past decade, a total of 24 people died in Metro-involved crashes or incidents.”

    1. I don’t know if the collision between the bus and the pedestrian and the building has been ruled preventable, but the car driver involved has been arrested.

    1. Thank common sense we allow a few weeks for votes to be counted (which particular benefits overseas militaryfolk, since we don’t do like some southern states and send them a ranked general election ballot with their primary ballot.)

      Happy Veterans Day (observed) to everyone who has served their government in uniform. I’m not sure what happened to the past tradition of letting y’all ride free today, or ST letting y’all ride free in uniform every day.

      I have been learning that a lot of y’all got cheap government housing after serving in combat, and a lot of y’all who served in combat were denied that housing for being the wrong ethnicity. I hope that travesty has been fixed and that those of you so denied at least get financial reparations worth more than the whites-only houses. I guess I better not hold my breath for that to happen.

  15. ST System Expansion Committee (currently ongoing, finishing at 4:30pm today) is seeing presentation (by Cathal Ridge, Executive Corridor Director) of a potential additional alternative for the SLU stations of DSTT2.


    Would move the proposed Harrison station from the Preferred location east-adjacent to SR-99 to being east-adjacent with Seattle Center, at 5th and Harrison. Depth quoted at “the 130-foot” range, “somewhat deeper than typical stations”. ST staff saying that a “feasibility study”, if directed to be completed at the December board meeting, would determine costs and other impacts with no immediate delay to overall project delivery, but incorporation into the DEIS would impose a 10-24 month delay to EIS completion.

    Claudia Balducci, as usual, was the only one who seemed to be paying attention and thinking ahead.

    1. Now why in the world would a station at Fifth and Harrison need to be one hundred and thirty feet deep? The SR99 roadway is still in the cut leading to the north tunnel portals, and, so, can’t be deeper than perhaps thirty feet below grade. Yet ST wants to tack another hundred on? Are they worried that some overweight lorry is going to crush the roadway and fall into the tubes?


      1. starting to think there’s a 5th column of mole people attempting to make these projects appear impossible via onerous engineering

    2. If the SLU stations are that deep, will they even be able to get to the surface at the desired location?

  16. Nathan: yes, Balducci is great.

    See slides six and seven. The west shift of the Harrison Street station was one I suggested. Other powerful folks, such as Vulcan, did as well. If the station was at the latitude of 5th Avenue North, it would serve the Taylor Avenue North electric trolleybus routes, the Gates Foundation, and the Seattle Center. ST and their consultants figured how to avoid the stadium parcel.

    1. I liked it. If it was a how-to on how to get and maintain funding for usable frequency for said buses, I’d have liked it better.

    2. It was a good video! Nice to see Reese giving buses the proper shout out. I personally love buses. It’s a great way to get around the city and feel part of what’s going on. I was just visiting Chicago for a week and rode the CTA buses very frequently since the L Train is so downtown oriented. The bus is the most efficient way to get across town and the CTA lines follow the grid.

      Like Reese says, buses are an integral part of a great transit system. They supplement and complement the existing train system. When I’m visiting San Francisco or Vancouver, I’m using the frequent buses to get around the city even more so than Muni or Skytrain.

      Here in Seattle we are pretty much dependent on the buses until Link gets expanded. It’s hard to imagine living car free in Seattle without using KC Metro buses occasionally, which run frequently enough and are dependable overall. Overall I think we have a good thing going for us with the buses. Could be much worse.

    3. My concern with bus projects is not that they will be returned to car lanes, but that they will be watered down so much from the outset as to be not much better than busses in car lanes. Is there any recent example in the US of a bus project that actually got *all* of the transit priority that was initially envisioned? Trains have the advantage that as a matter of physics, cars are either de-prioritized or not an issue (grade separation).

  17. Saw that several of my recent 1 Line trains had the elevated seating closest to the drivers cab in Car 1 chained off with a sign that says “This Seat Closed: For the Protection of Riders and the Operator.”

    Does anyone know why this is the case? Bodily fluid spills? People banging on the operator cab door sometimes?

    1. If it is that way just sometimes, it may be at operator’s discretion.

      If the chains are deployed during peak, that might become a problem. But then, I think the peak crowd tends to scare off the smokers looking for the sort of privacy they think they have on a mostly empty off-peak train.

      But then, if their brain is still capable of second-order thinking, they might want someone to find and revive them.

    2. It’s a holdover from the covid lockdowns, so that drivers could get in and out of the cab without walking past infected passengers and getting sick. It’s now probably because of fentanyl. Too many people get on the train to smoke fentanyl, and there have been conflicting news reports about whether being around the smoke is unhealthy or addictive. At first they said yes, then a UW study said no, or that it’s insignificant if you’re briefly near it but maybe more significant if you’re a bus driver around it for eight hours. Train drivers are isolated in the cab but still have to get into and out of the cab.

  18. “Here in Seattle we are pretty much dependent on the buses until Link gets expanded. It’s hard to imagine living car free in Seattle without using KC Metro buses occasionally”

    As I’ve been to different cities I’ve noticed how widely different they are in terms of whether you can use rail for all or most of your trips. In cities with a multi-line metro resembling a grid, perhaps supplemented with higher-quality streetcar or BRT lines, a higher percent of residents and visitors can use just those and ignore regular buses. I’ve seen it in New York, DC, London, Moscow, St Petersburg, and Cologne. Even going to residential areas, or to small nightclubs scattered throughout the city, there’s almost always a metro station within walking distance, or an extension is under construction.

    Chicago’s L is purely radial. The part I stay in and go to is along the Clark bus between Fullerton and Lawrence stations. The Red and Brown lines go north-south through all these and on to downtown. The Blue Line is further west and runs diagonally northwest-southeast serving the airport, Logan Square (a friend’s house), downtown, Amtrak, and Greyhound. So going from the airport to the north side, you can either do a V shape on the Blue and Red, or go partway on the Blue and take an east-west bus. Because the Blue Line is diagonal, a longer L ride means a shorter bus ride, and vice-versa. So no matter which combination I took, the travel time was always 45 minutes.

    The buses are impressively frequent and busy. All these routes run every 5-10 minutes daytime, 15-20 minutes evening, and there are half-hourly night owls a mile apart. But they’re SLOW. The train-to-train trip was a longer distance and backtracking, but at least it didn’t have the infuriating stop-and-go the buses did. Still, I took the buses sometimes for variety, or because they stopped closer than the L did. So Chicago is a city where fewer people can just take the L, and where buses are necessary more of the time.

    Seattle didn’t have a metro until 2009, so buses were the only choice. I remember living in the northern U-District and having a friend visit from Ohio. I told him to take the 194 from the airport to the downtown tunnel, and transfer at the same stop to a 71/73X and get off at 55th. I then took him around to various sites. In the end he said he’d never ridden so many buses in his life, and he was surprised at how convenient they were here. Of course, I didn’t take him to areas where they aren’t as convenient, and I think he understands that the higher-quality service serves only part of the city/region.

    Now we have Link from Northgate to Angle Lake. That opens up a lot of possibilities to travel only on Link. And again, more so for visitors than residents. Seattle’s largest job centers are now on Link. But only a relatively small amount of housing is within walking distance. Only a handful of stations are in residential areas, zoning is somewhat stingy, and the wide stop spacing means there are gaps where housing exists but a station doesn’t. I live in one of those gaps, halfway between two stations, so I have a minor last-mile problem. While I could move closer to a station (if I can afford it), I don’t have as many choices as somebody in Chicago or New York would, and a small percent of Seattlites do. And even if apartment buildings around stations exist, they’re mostly full, so a few people could move there, but a lot of people couldn’t. And I haven’t even gotten into the neighborhoods that don’t have Link at all, both those that are on Ballard/West Seattle, and those that aren’t on it either. Then there’s the suburbs, where Link will have basically one radial line in an entire sector.

    So hardly anybody can live exclusively on Link. Some people can live mostly on Link, but only if they only go to a limited number of places. Almost everybody has to use a bus part of the time, and most people have to use it all the time.

    1. “So going from the airport to the north side, you can either do a V shape on the Blue and Red, or go partway on the Blue and take an east-west bus….”

      We have good friends who live in the north end of Chicago (Andersonville neighborhood) and visit there every so often. We have tried both approaches, i.e., blue line and bus vs blue line to DT and backtracking on the red line, and have settled on just taking the train. It’s just easier imho. It’s comparable timewise and in the colder months the train to train transfer is a whole lot warmer. Lol. The CTA does a pretty darn good job all the way around based on my own experience of taking many trips there over the years.

      The red line currently is updating and replacing multiple stations and very old infrastructure in the north end as well as extending the line’s southern terminus with assistance ($$) from the FTA, some new taxes and the city of Chicago. I think the locals and visitors alike should be pretty excited to see these projects come to completion in the next several years.


    2. Mike, it’s funny you mentioned Logan Square, that’s where our Airbnb was. We stayed there in part because it’s along the Blue Line which as you know also goes to O’Hare. Our most frequently used buses were the 56 and 76. The L trains we used were Blue and Red. I also took the Brown Line for its entire length after watching a YouTube video on it. That was an amazing experience. An entire week of public transportation in Chicago for $25 (loaded a weekly pass onto a Ventra Card). You can’t beat that deal. I can only imagine what visitors to the city spend on Uber and Lyft. Not even considering alternatives either because of the stigma of riding public transportation or not knowing how to use it.

      As far as living in a neighborhood without Link at all, it’s very frustrating living in West Seattle and having the WSLE project drag along so slowly. Meanwhile car-centric suburbs like Lynnwood, Shoreline, Redmond and Federal Way are making visible progress with their Link stations, along with their giant parking garages. I get the arguments people make on this blog why WS shouldn’t have Link but I think the urban population who lives close to the city core that loves and votes for public transportation deserves Link more than the car centric suburbs where people like DT live.

      Until we get Link, we have to make do with the C Line, H Line, 128, 50, 21, 56, 57 and Water Taxi, which isn’t bad in the meantime.

      1. We could have an entire article and comment section on riding transit in Chicago, and maybe we should someday. I had to look up the 56 and 76. The 76 is the Diversey bus, so I took that from my Day’s Inn to my friend’s at Logan Square and the airport and Costco. (Yes, Costco is on a Chicago bus route.) The 56 is Miklaukee (the Blue Line corridor) and Desplaines to the Loop. I’ve never been there so I don’t know what’s there.

        The first time I went to Chicago in 2002 I stayed with somebody at the north end of the Brown line. At the time I was scandalized the first three stations are surface so the train is slow there. And another time I must have transferred to Metra at Damen to get from my Day’s Inn to Great Lakes where another friend had just finished basic training. When I got there he said there’s nothing non-military to go to there, so we took Metra back south until we saw a village with a restaurant somewhere, and then went on to Chicago.

        The north end of the Brown line has old row houses, and my friend had a basement unit. His wife was a potter and had a studio somewhere south on the Brown line, maybe around Fullerton. She drove to it. :( But they did take the L on some occasions.

        Logan Square, it was a few blocks from the station, I think a house surrounded by houses. The square itself didn’t seem like much more than decaying concrete. I’ve heard it’s been renovated since then.

    1. Schoettmer has a counterintuitive take — which is that the candidates were all kind of alike. The election was often presented as being some Titanic struggle between right and left lane competing visions for the city. But Schoettmer says many of his students said they couldn’t really tell the candidates apart.

      “In most of the races, there weren’t strong distinctions being drawn,” he says.

      I strongly agree with this take. I basically only voted in D6 because I felt the civic duty, but functionally, there was little difference between Strauss and Hanning. Hanning was slightly more pro-status-quo, but that’s about it. Otherwise, I’m not a parent and thus don’t have a great sense of what’s going on with the SPS Board; the Housing Levy was going to pass whether I voted for it or not.

      The primaries really produced a lot of “same-same but different” pairings – maybe there’s something to be said about the reduced polarization relative to the maximum polarization exhibited in the NTK v Davidson vote.

      If our state legislatures will allow us to move our council elections back to even years, I think we could motivate a lot more turnout among the youth.

    2. Great piece. Thanks for the link; missed it in my morning read.

      It mirrors what I had stated in an earlier comment about my initial takeaway from the Nov 7th general election. I don’t buy into the argument/philosophy like commenter Paul R gives above: “I voted, but it gets tiring to hear individual voters get blamed when there is not really an incentive to vote.” Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but I was raised with the idea that voting is one’s responsibility.

      In my ~50 years of voting I have seen many election outcomes decided by small margins ( *cough* POTUS 2000 *cough*, WA Governor 2004, just to name two big “recent” ones) and others clearly decided by “missing” pieces of the electorate. A family member of mine just lost his race for a county seat in a state back east and in discussing the outcome with him over the past couple of days it appears that the most likely reason for the loss is low turnout among young voters (exactly what his GOP opponent was banking on). I just don’t buy the excuses; we have made voting here in our state just about as easy a thing to do as possible. Look at all the places around the country where folks still have to go stand in line at their local precincts/polling locations, sometimes for hours on end. Or any of the other barriers and voter suppression tactics that have been employed in other states for the precise GOP intent of contracting the franchise. But that’s not the situation here.

      Just turn in your damn ballots, kids, undervotes and all. (Ok, getting down from my boomer box now.)

      1. Addendum:
        Do we really need to give out $10 gift cards to SB or Molly Moon’s to give young voters an “incentive”? Give me a break.

      2. +1 that voting is about as easy as it can be here. My college-aged son wanted to vote at the last minute but I didn’t have time to mail him his ballot, so he got online, printed out a ballot and envelope attachment, filled them out, and put them in the mail. For free. Total investment was a little bit of time, a couple sheets of paper, and an envelope. The problem would seem to be in understanding why voting matters, especially in local elections.

  19. Nick Andert released a new video on LA Metro et al this week. It’s fascinating to see all that’s happening with LA transit — but it’s also disturbing to see how political decisions and delays get in the way of executing systems planning. It’s simultaneously exciting and depressing.


  20. Ryan Packer live-tweeting on budget amendment votes:


    The Seattle city council just voted to reduce the city’s contribution to its employee retirement fund by about half a percentage in order to fund an amendment by Alex Pedersen that will fund bridge maintenance.

    Four CMs (Mosqueda, Strauss, Sawant, Juarez) were opposed.

    Since CM Herbold just used the closure of the West Seattle bridge as the main reason that her colleagues should vote yes, I am going to once again mention that the West Seattle bridge did not close because of a lack of maintenance dollars.

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