This is an open thread.
The ferry article is behind a paywall.
If you open the Seattle Times in your browser’s “incognito” mode, you can usually get through.
Please add some symbol that indicates the link is to The Crimes. Non-subscribers need to ration our link-following. Thanks
I know Time$ links used to be tagged with “$”…
The Seattle Public Library has an online subscription if you’re a member, here’s the link to that article. I would assume other local library systems like KCLS and SnoIsle also have subscriptions. You can find links to all of their online subscriptions here.
Thanks, Ross, for the tip. And thanks, Skylar, for the link.
Sorry this isn’t a great news roundup. I sprained my wrist the other day, so I’m typing this with one hand. There is a shortage of articles on this blog, so folks like me were asked to write open threads, just to keep the conversation going. The point of an open thread is just that — it can be about anything — you can ignore the articles or video.
I would encourage people to pay for The Seattle Times (and The Stranger, Crosscut, etc.). We need good local journalism, regardless of what we think of the editorial staff or particular columnists. The Seattle Times still has excellent reporters.
I recently renewed my subscription to the Times, but was reminded of one of the many things that irk me about the them: their web-only subscription tier is the same price as their web+sunday delivery tier – $3.99/week (or, ~$17.30 per month). Almost every other reputable news source isn’t as fully paywalled and offers lower floors ($5/month, typically) for support/subscription.
I don’t really need a sunday paper, but if they’re going to charge me the same regardless, I’m going to get the paper. I just hope that their ink is compost-safe.
A newspaper subscription isn’t that expensive when you’re subscribed to just one. When it becomes problem is when you’re asked to subscribe to 5 different publications of which 90% of the content is the same, just to get the 10% that’s different.
In my case, I already subscribe to the New York Times for national news, and I don’t feel it’s worth the money to pay for the national news a second time, just to get local news, nor is it worth replacing the New York Times subscription with a Seattle Times subscription, since the Seattle Times has less national/international news than the New York Times.
So, when I want to view something on the Seattle Times, I just do the trick of combining incognito mode with logging in under a free account. Works like a charm.
I just switched from 7-day print subscription (print for my relatives in Bellevue, digital for me) to digital+Sunday (for me, because they can’t read it anymore, and digital-only is the same price).
I also subscribe to the New York Times digital. Because one Times has local news, and the other Times is the best newspaper in the country in my opinion. It doesn’t cost that much if both are digital: $16/month for one, probably similar for the other. I don’t have video subscriptions or cable TV, so that saves $100 right there, so why not spend $30 of it on newspapers? What other media I consume is YouTube, non-commercial radio, and (rarely) antenna TV.
The Sunday newsstand price is $4. So you can look at $3.99/week as either a free Sunday paper with your digital, or free digital access with your Sunday paper; it’s the same either way.
Coming from a town with nearly no press at all, I can assure you even biased reporting is better than nothing.
Also, I know that I really appreciate any new content on the blog, even if the news roundup isn’t as juicy as the others. Thanks for stepping in! I hope the wrist heals quickly – nothing like a bad sprain to remind us how much we use our joints.
I thought Jon Talton’s article in today’s Seattle Times was a good counterpoint to Florida’s article linked to in this thread I thought was a little optimistic.
It is interesting even today the two main studies are the Stanford Study that predicted 20% to 40% WFH early on in the pandemic (Florida only uses the 20% figure when the actual data in his article suggests closer to 40% to 60% WFH which is what Seattle is today) and the U. of Toronto article about how cities will need to reinvent themselves as “third places”. At some point I would like to see more research on actually converting commercial office buildings to residential and whether that is feasible or economical.
One interesting comment in Talton’s article is that Millennials who began to move to urban cities after the 2008 crash because they did not have the money to get married or buy a house in the suburbs began to move from urban to suburban beginning in 2015 when their economic situation improved and more were getting married. The pandemic only accelerated this exodus, while new young people are replacing them. I recommend reading Florida’s article and then Talton’s.
Thanks for getting something posted, RossB!
I would discourage people to pay for The Times or The Stranger for moral reasons. The former is owned by odious people and can’t distinguish between the news and editorializing, and latter is run by notoriously queerphobic individuals.
Where I live A Joy The Seattle Times is considered by many too liberal, and nationally The Seattle Times is considered quite liberal. And as for The Stranger, its readership is older and more suburban than most think, although I am not sure how many suburbanites rely on The Stranger for election recommendations. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/data/who-reads-seattle-weekly-who-reads-the-stranger/#:~:text=While%20The%20Stranger%E2%80%99s%20readers%20are%20a%20little%20younger,43%20percent%20of%20Weekly%20readers%20are%20Seattle%20residents.
I always thought The Stranger was too obsessed with sexuality and drugs, which after around age 25 gets a little old. But it was free if you went out for lunch alone without anything to read.
“nationally The Seattle Times is considered quite liberal.”
The Seattle Times newsroom is what’s worth protecting, and it’s funded by subscriptions, advertisements, and especially print advertisements (which is why they offer Sunday for free with a digital subscription). There’s a firewall between editorials and the rest of the paper, so the owners aren’t able to influence reporters’ articles. Even the opinion page editor goes out of their way to include alternative viewpoints to many editorials. This is what all reputable newspapers do. So the owner’s editorial opinion is a minor issue to me, and a small part of the total paper.
I’ve always thought of The Stranger as queerphile. Its content has been directed by Dan Savage for multiple decades.
The UW’s newspaper, The Daily, lurches between responsible and juvenile every year as a new class of student editors run it. The Stranger is more consistently juvenile, especially after Savage went from sex columnist to editor. But it did have serious news articles and was a City Hall watchdog, and it had the most extensive arts listings. I used to read the whole thing. Then I read just the two serious articles, the music-show listings, and the election endorsements. When it went digital-only I stopped reading it, because I’ll read it in a cafe or on the bus but not online. But I still go to it once a year for election endorsements. I balance the endoresments with STB and the Seattle Times, and any other reputable ones I know of.
A Joy: if you actually think the Times is a conservative paper… well, you haven’t read too many newspapers from the rest of the country. Check out any small town newspaper between Seattle and, oh, I don’t know, the Eastern seaboard.
Citation for A Joy: https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/seattle-times/
@Mike — Exactly. There is a strong firewall. The columnists (e. g. Westneat, Talton) are on the editorial side, even if they aren’t as reactionary as the editorial staff.
“There’s a firewall between editorials and the rest of the paper…”
I strongly disagree, and that is my main issue with The Times. The newsroom is far too editorial in its reporting off the editorial page.
“I’ve always thought of The Stranger as queerphile. Its content has been directed by Dan Savage for multiple decades.”
Yes, and that is the problem. Savage is strong on gay and lesbian issues/rights, but is actively antagonistic to trans and queer rights outside of that. Entire websites are dedicated to his transphobia in particular, and just a couple of years ago he permitted a hit screed on “detransitioning” that was so factually inaccurate it was even picked apart by right wing news sources to be printed. This has also been supported by Tim Keck, the owner of The Stranger, as many groups have brought these issues to his attention.
From their website: ‘Overall, we rate the Seattle Times Left-Center biased based on liberal editorial positions.’
If that doesn’t show how ridiculous their assessment is, there is more. From https://www.cjr.org/innovations/measure-media-bias-partisan.php
‘The site’s methodology is simple: Van Zandt and his team rate each outlet from 0 to 10 on the categories of biased wording and headlines, factuality and sourcing, story choices (“does the source report news from both sides”), and political affiliation.’
Both efforts suffer from the very problem they’re trying to address: Their subjective assessments leave room for human biases, or even simple inconsistencies, to creep in.’
‘…the five to 20 stories typically judged on these sites represent but a drop of mainstream news outlets’ production.”
I wouldn’t trust mediafactcheck if I were you. There’s no science behind their assessment.
“… ,so I’m typing this with one hand.”
So are these open threads skewed to The Left(-ist), or the Right(-wing)?
asdf’s comment hits the point, though, what are you getting for your money?
Truly unbiased reporting?
Ad revenue drives what you see – “If it bleeds, It leads”
I have a relative who worked for one of the local TV stations (retired 5+ years ago now), and he said it worked like this: To get on the news, you need to die, kill somebody, or know someone who did one of the first two.
My wife worked in local television news when young. The producer’s mantra for stories was “tits, tots and pets”.
Despite the issues I have with the Seattle Times, I do appreciate Mike Lindblom’s and his co workers reporting on local transit issues as it’s high quality reporting which is sometimes difficult to find in a lot of cities.
I have considered looking into getting a subscription for my local paper, the Denver Post.
I agree, Mike Lindblom does a quality job.
However, from the comments section in the Seattle Times, you wonder if the commenters even read the article.
SDOT asking for feedback on Ballard Ave re-striping: https://sdotblog.seattle.gov/2022/08/22/survey-ballard-ave-nw-feedback/
Also, SDOT making headway on the Route 44 improvements: https://www.myballard.com/2022/08/24/traffic-flow-changes-on-nw-market-st-near-15th-ave-nw/
(The work around the Aurora underpass of N 46th Street seems to be moving along well, too, from personal observations)
Sounder received 2 of the 11 new cars it ordered in 2020: https://www.soundtransit.org/get-to-know-us/news-events/news-releases/sound-transit-receives-new-sounder-cars
Also, I’m not sure if this got discussed last week, but the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) put out a report last week: “Move! That! Bus! Tactics for Transforming Transit in Two Years” https://nacto.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/MoveThatBus-FINAL.pdf
Summarized in this SmartCitiesDive article: https://www.smartcitiesdive.com/news/nacto-improving-bus-service-transit-ridership-emissions/630158/
Their guiding principles are pretty “common sense”: 1. Transit is public service, not a business (i.e. needs general subsidy); 2. More frequent bus service means more freedom (i.e. 4/hr or more is ideal); 3. People have jobs, lives and transportation needs outside of 9-to-5 office hours (i.e. peak commute isn’t the end-all); 4. Streets that work for transit work better for everyone (i.e. more space for buses = more space for everyone else).
As part of the “Transform Transit in Two Years” shtick, they propose three actions that we could probably all guess: 1. Offer Frequent All-day Bus Service; 2. Redesign Streets to Prioritize Bus Service; 3. Adopt Local Policy Reforms that Support Transit
The 3rd action (Policy Reforms) are likely the most contentious, as they focus on street-parking pricing, congestion pricing, and zoning reforms. Particularly, the zoning reforms they suggest include eliminating parking minimums, upzoning near transit, and allowing multi-family/mixed-use developments in all areas. All things that I think most “urbanist”-oriented folks would agree with, but it’s nice to see the point hammered home in publications oriented at public agencies and municipalities.
And of course they recommend “outdoor dining or extended retail” in their report. Pandering to businesses is not “urbanist”, but it sure is NACTO.
A 51-page document and you focus on that? There was absolutely no “pandering to business” in the report. Looks like you’re trying real hard to find something to be offended about.
By the way, what do you have against outdoor dining?
I have nothing against outdoor dining on private property. But the push for outdoor dining is to allow private businesses to use public property for the option. And I would be less against it if they paid market rate for the privilege, say the cost of local parking fees for 24/7 use for every parking spot sized section used. But at current rates, most locations aren’t even paying 1/10th that.
Public property is for the public. Not for pandering to businesses. Yet for many so called urbanists, the “vibrancy” (seriously, vibrant is so overused by this faux urbanist crowd it is practically a dog whistle rather than a mere buzzword) of outdoor dining in public spaces is a hallmark of urban life, walkable cities, and many other things the article is supporting.
Are you also categorically opposed to busking? Street closures for farmers markets & night festivals? Ice cream trucks cruising on suburban streets?
Busking, yes. Farmer’s Markets provide a common public interest in bringing higher quality foods and produce to those who normally cannot access them, although some of the ones that cross the line into more of a night festival market I am absolutely against, as well as the night markets. Ice cream trucks are less of a concern to me due to their mobility. But if they were squatting like a taco truck, I have an issue with them. I would ban taco trucks completely had I the power.
I appreciate the general socialist sentiments against privatized profit on public space, but it’s definitely unhinged to consider food trucks a more offensive use of curb space than a parked car.
To have Farmer’s Markets on thin ice if they’re too “festive” is venturing into “touch grass” territory.
It isn’t the festiveness that I take issue with. It is the tendency of some Farmer’s Markets towards allowing food trucks, arts and crafts, and other nonessentials I dislike. Many “night festivals” focus on food truck style eats and live music, and therefore aren’t fulfilling an essential public service.
Food trucks can be an attractive nuisance, as anyone can see just standing at Westlake Center during lunch rush. Many use ghost kitchens there, and illegally park to deliver their food to the “storefront”. Even then, I would take less issue with food trucks and outdoor dining if they paid their fair share for the privilege. They don’t. Parking rates are a rational assessment of value here, as it is the general public who uses such spaces at those rates. Honestly I feel businesses should be charged more than the general public for this use, and at the moment they are charged vastly less.
So let me get this straight. You don’t want ground-floor retail. You don’t want want food trucks either. Basically, you want nothing but housing and streets.
Congratulations! You’ve just described the American suburb.
As with all public policy questions, it is worth asking what the Scandinavians do. Of course they have food trucks: https://www.yelp.com/search?cflt=foodtrucks&find_loc=stockholm, and outdoor dining that extends into the sidewalk: https://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=outdoor+dining&find_loc=oslo
A Joy, you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater with being a bit too extreme on a public space needing to be utilitarian in function. In Europe, many of the public squares are used for the public to use this includes private businesses that sit in said squares. In Florence, near my house we had 2 major piazzas and 2 minor ones. They’d have outdoor cafe or resturant seating, food trucks that served up local street food like lampredotto, bookstands and flower stalls. Along with benches and spaces for children to play soccer, friends to chat and meet up with, elderly people watching their granchildren.. And this was in the more blue collar part of the city center mind you where I lived, not so much the touristy part. This is what makes a public space vibrant and nightlife to thrive in an area.
Would also have twice monthly markets that could you pick up antiques, vynil, clothing, local artist wares, etc. Like you’re trying to say that the local culture shouldn’t exist because it doesn’t serve a purpose in your eyes even though it does in
RossB, you know better than that. You’ve commented on my posts where I have outlined what I want. I believe in mixed use neighborhoods with dedicated multistory commercial buildings and spaces inside of them. The best examples of which are in our most urban communities and cities. We have them in the heart of downtown Seattle. I am against floor level retail inside residential buildings, not commercial ones.
Zach B, people *are* culture. Not businesses. Not most objects. People. I am against profitmongering choking out the needs of the people. The needs of the many outweigh the wants of the few, plain and simple. There are many more residents of a place than the sum of all those who attend your list of culturally significant events. Why should they be marginalized, made to suffer, for the sake of conspicuous consumption?
“I believe in mixed use neighborhoods with dedicated multistory commercial buildings and spaces inside of them”
That’s a mall, you’re advocating for malls which are dying here from how separated they are from the community at large. That’d not mixed use that’s car dependency.
I’d also point out that Paris and Vienna Cafe culture, Italy’s coffee & aperitvo culture, Berlin’s alternative & vegan culture, Spain’s tapas culture, or Lisbon’s coffee kiosks culture wouldn’t exist as it does now without the public spaces there to help serve and bolster it. Farmers Markets wouldn’t exist without the local artists and makers who sell their wares, like public square markets have existed for centuries or millenia before they became trendy in the US.
You’re arguing for urbanism ideals but then contradicting yourself in the same sentence with NIMBY tendencies that just make your arguments look confused and shaky.
Zach B, Westlake sure isn’t failing. The Southcenters and Northgates of the world are, but they are very different beasts. Malls aren’t dying. Just the more suburban models.
And again, people are culture.
Not cafes, coffee & aperitvo, vegan food, tapas, or coffee kiosks. Why are you defining culture by what is consumed?
I visit quite a few of the county’s Farmer’s Markets, and can only think of one that wouldn’t exist without the local artists and non-food makers who sell their wares. One in Maple Valley, to be precise. Hardly a bastion of urbanism out there.
“That’s a mall”
It’s an arcade. There are some examples here, like the Melrose Market at Pine & Melrose. It’s as small as one or two residential buildings, and can fit into a lowrise block. A Joy may have a point that consolidating five or six businesses into one building per block may be better than one or two storefronts in every building. But it needs to be every block or two, not every half mile or mile.
And every block or two, occasionally most of a block in the densest urban cores, is exactly what I am talking about. That frequency leads to a walkable city, and makes the inevitable shopping at more than store for what have you much more convenient.
“And again, people are culture.
Not cafes, coffee & aperitvo, vegan food, tapas, or coffee kiosks. Why are you defining culture by what is consumed?”
The dictionary definition of the word culture is
“the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group”
Food is an integral part of any culture, it speaks to the norms of a society both in terms of eating habits and socialization/customs.
I spent a year in Italy studying the food and wine culture while there, a common thing to do while living there is going out for an evening stroll to meet up with neighbors, friends, or colleagues and talk about the day or whatever was on our minds. Sometimes it’d be a quick chat just to check up with friends, other times it’d be meeting with friends for aperitvo (Italy’s version of like Happy Hour) to drink a spritz in one of the squares sprinkled throughout the city and share some crustinis and cured meats/cheeses while we chat the night away and people watch from our table. Maybe we’d go for dinner afterwards or spring for gelato to eat while we’d walk some more before going our separate ways back home for the night.
In essence, the city public spaces become people’s living room and kitchen due to how small people’s own houses are and feel it’s inadequate to do proper entertaining in one’s own home unless it’s just one or two people. Which does soeak to the concept of the Third Place, which most here would say is like a Starbucks which blur the lines between a public and private spaces and is where the culture of a place is defined and cultivated. This is how a city’s or nation’s social customs come to be.
While it is technically correct that people define culture, it is on some level oversimplyfying and missing some important things that define culture. As the dictionary definition I posted earlier says a lot about how a culture comes to be and exists and would agree is how you would define a place or nation’s culture which includes food, art, cinema, music, etc in it and that coexists in public spaces where people congregate.
A people’s or nation’s culture is always going to be on some level capitalist in nature as to what public or social spaces are like. You can’t escape it, it’s the cornerstone of many societies for many millenias..
Trying to keep public and private spaces wholy separate and can’t coexist against or blending together as your saying only ends in no real sense of place or community. It’s why Americans talk about when they come back from Europe about the nice cafes they sat in and watch the world go by as they ate and chat with family or friends or even listening to a busker play the piano to a crowd of people as an older couple dance to the music. Those are moments people remember and define a place or the culture of a city or nation people’s.
Sociologically, a culture is the group that creates the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements, not those things in and of themselves. That’s the materialistic, reductionist standpoint, calling things culture. And there are indeed exceptions to that rule, especially with cultural art. But cafes, kiosks, and coffee picked from continents away? Please.
Food itself is an interesting case, but that would detract from the narrative.
“a common thing to do while living there is going out for an evening stroll to meet up with neighbors, friends, or colleagues and talk about the day or whatever was on our minds.”
Yes. People interacting with other people. That is culture. Where and over what? Often times just empty window dressing. There is nothing cultural about European cafes. I’ve been to them. They are empty facades pandering to tourists for an extra dollar. No thanks.
“That’s the materialistic, reductionist standpoint, calling things culture. And there are indeed exceptions to that rule, especially with cultural art. But cafes, kiosks, and coffee picked from continents away? Please.”
Because it’s an example of culture that I know and can speak about. Culture can be defined by shops, stands, food trucks, etc in public spaces. The focus on a very narrow utilitarian perspective on public spaces that when looked at brass tax isn’t really community oriented in my opinion and sounds more detrimental to fostering community. If people want to drive a wedge between the public and private spaces, then we just end up with car dependency and void of nothingness or nondescript places that people only go to because they need to not become they want to.
“Food itself is an interesting case, but that would detract from the narrative”
The French would be very angry at someone if told to their face that their street markets or cafe aren’t part of their people’s culture, even though it is an integral part of the culture to them. Lunch and dinner is a very sacred thing for them, either during the workweek or on the weekends. Be it visiting a cafe or brasserie with friends, family, or coworkers. I say this from my travels around France, as the French (as do Italians) take mealtime very seriously at home or when out and about.
“Yes. People interacting with other people. That is culture. Where and over what? Often times just empty window dressing. There is nothing cultural about European cafes. I’ve been to them. They are empty facades pandering to tourists for an extra dollar. No thanks.”
Looking at it as window dressing or just for tourists is ignorging the bigger picture, where a local cafe or restaurant in many places I’ve visited around Europe is an extension of space for many people and for the community at large in the area. It’s not just a space to get food, it is a place for people to gather and congregate, the evening’s entertainment, afternoon getogether for chatter, etc.
Like my school’s cafe in Italy when studying abroad wasn’t window dressing, it was intended as a place for both students, staff, and locals to congregate at as well. We held art exhibitions, small arts and crafts markets, music festivals, wine tastings, etc throughout the year while i was there. It was a popular lunch and aperitvo spot as well for local people to gather, in particular during the warmer months of the year. Tourists stopping by was just a bonus to them than anything.
Public spaces are defined both by people who congregate there and the businesses that coexist in said public spaces. It can be touristy as Westlake or more local focused like Beacon Hill, Wallingford, Phinney Ridge, or Ballard.
“The focus on a very narrow utilitarian perspective on public spaces that when looked at brass tax isn’t really community oriented in my opinion and sounds more detrimental to fostering community.”
In my opinion it is clearing away the useless cruft to stop choking the community and give it a chance to thrive. So long as capital is put before community, the community will wither and crumble.
“Public spaces are defined both by people who congregate there and the businesses that coexist in said public spaces.”
Never. The moment you define a public space by its interaction with private enterprise, it is a public space in name only. Public spaces need to be a respite from crass consumerism for the psychological well being of the public as individuals and as a whole. It should be a safe haven, not an opportunity to be exploited for profit at the community’s expense.
A Joy, people like food trucks and restaurants with corrals. They’re convenient, festive and cheap. Almost everyone likes them, truth to tell. If they didn’t (like them), and didn’t patronize the establishments, the establishments wouldn’t exist. You’re being un-democratic.
This is the main reason that people dislike Dialectical politics: it tells people to do “what’s good for them”, according to the Dialectic. It sucks, and almost always leads to a Gulag at a minimum, and “liquidations” when the Gulag proves insufficient.
It’s a bad trade-off for a bit of “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work.” “security”.
TT, if the establishments you list are truly that popular, then they should have no problem paying parking spot per square foot prices. Charging them the equivalent of 24/7 parking prices is equitable and fair. As is ticketing their deliveries made in no parking zones.
I may dislike food trucks immensely, but I know that will not stop them. But the nuisance they make in the community and the pittance they pay for the privilege of using public property is what really gets under my skin.
“I may dislike food trucks immensely, but I know that will not stop them. But the nuisance they make in the community and the pittance they pay for the privilege of using public property is what really gets under my skin.”
You say you’re for community and then in the same sentence say that local business owners or entrepreneurs aren’t welcome in your mind in public spaces because they don’t meet some absurdly high altruistic requirements to meet community needs. Even though they are clearly serving the community with a service and improve a community’s character to many local people in the area. There’s no need to hate or be downright hostile to food trucks when they’re just local business, usually mom and pop businesses that are usually just run by a 2 to 3 people. Like it’s not being neighborly in telling them they aren’t welcome here because they don’t serve the community like they’re a charity even though many are just there to make an honest living.
Running a business is not a charity, even when running a non profit. I would know since I help run a non profit in my spare time. We still need to make some level of a profit to keep the lights on. Along with deal with expenses that we incur on a daily basis even if it wasn’t about making big profits. Along with said profits being reinvestment back into improving the organization efficiency or community needs.
“You say you’re for community and then in the same sentence say that local business owners or entrepreneurs aren’t welcome in your mind in public spaces because they don’t meet some absurdly high altruistic requirements to meet community needs. Even though they are clearly serving the community with a service and improve a community’s character to many local people in the area.”
No. They’re not welcome in the public arena because they’re private enterprise. That holds true whether they are a mom and pop or a megacorp. They choose to cross that line voluntarily. They have no reasonable objection at that point. They made their beds. They can lie in them.
“Running a business is not a charity, even when running a non profit. I would know since I help run a non profit in my spare time.”
Then I question your skills and motives. I spent years as a ranking BoD member of a local nonprofit, and we never padded our books for a rainy day. We had and paid daily expenses, but they were always in our accounting reports and penciled out. Had we done what you do, we would have lost several of the grants that kept us going.
I was a BoD member myself as well. We did everything by the book and followed the laws set out by the state and federal government in terms of non profit accounting best practices. There was never any padding of books like your implying. Everything was expensed or penciled in on our spreadsheets and was audited by an independent third party separate from org to ensure everything was kosher and done by the book. There was never funny numbering or cooking the books. We’d get in trouble if we did that and would look bad if we did to the community we served.
No. They’re not welcome in the public arena because they’re private enterprise.
So basically you want all businesses to be beholden to land owners. Might as well close down the Pike Place Market as well. Same with public markets the world over. Malls are OK though — as long as they are privately owned. Cars on public space are OK as well, as long as they don’t try and sell you anything.
I must say, the public planners of the 1950s would have loved you.
As Zach pointed out, most food trucks are run by small businesses that can’t afford to pay rent. But I guess they made their bed, as you say. Hell, they can always work for McDonald’s. Either you have the start-up money to afford insanely high rent, or you should just work for a big company. Right?
RossB, the size of the business is irrelevant. Big or small, they simply have no eight to damage the well being of the community around them by encroaching on public space. Public markets are the exception that proves the rule. They are public spaces yes, but they are designed for and dedicated to commercial use. Sidewalks, parking spaces, streets, plazas, squares and parks simply are not, and as such should not be abused by businesses.
Cars are not a good use for public spaces, no. But they are better than commercial interests. Especially cars owned by members of the public, as it is the public using a public resource. Privately owned vehicles frequently abuse the community, parking in public parking spots, no parking zones, at bus stops, and even on the sidewalks all the time. Honestly they should be banned from center turn lanes too. Yellow commercial zones or nothing, including private parcel delivery services.
I do not understand why this is such a difficult concept to grasp.
A Joy, I confess that I am indeed having trouble grasping your argument. You say that you’re in favor of “members of the public” operating their own vehicles on public roads, but then you say that you’re against privately-owned vehicles operating on the same roads. Those privately-owned vehicles are often owned by the members of the public, so are you only in favor of government-operated vehicles? Are you against vehicles owned by corporations but not by individuals? What about vehicles that are performing services for members of the public, like delivery services? Some of these are owned by corporations, but many (especially with FedEx) are owned by independent contractors that are essentially self-employed. Taking this argument a bit further, isn’t the fact that roads are publicly-funded but the vehicles that operate on them are produced by corporations just a hand-out to the corporations, when they should be maintaining the roads for the benefit of the vehicles they sell?
Really, though, this is a bit of a specious argument. The fact is, as many have said, the public *wants* those amenities and since we are (sort of, idealistically) a representative democracy, those amenities happen to be where the public wants them to be. This can be distorted by zoning and lobbying, but I’d rather have businesses that I can walk/bus/bike to than something I would need a car to get to, especially since I don’t drive.
I was just in Irvine, CA a couple months ago. It’s a planned community owned by the Irvine Company. Everything is segregated as you want: retail businesses are only allowed in a couple malls (Spectrum and Gateway), office workers in office parks, residences elsewhere (though the Company still has to vet you), all connected by 40-50mph 8-lane highways. The sidewalks, where they exist, go by a wasteland of concrete, and will just end without warning. The bike lanes, where they exist, are unprotected with no bike sensors, requiring cyclists to cross the 40-50mph right-turn lane to operate a button. There’s only a couple all-day bus routes that serve the city, with 45-minute headways *at peak*. All of the retail in the malls are chains because they’re hand-picked by the Irvine Company; no corner stores or independent bookstores are allowed. There are no food trucks allowed either, and in fact one way you can see the city limits is to search “food trucks near irvine, ca” in Google Maps because it turns out the demand is there even if the Company doesn’t allow it.
I’ll take what we have in Seattle any day over that.
A Joy’s views can be unique. A little bit of “religion is the opiate of the masses”. But she is articulate and entitled to her opinions. No reason telling her she is wrong.
Skylar is correct IMO: a majority of citizens like outdoor restaurants and food trucks and retail activitiy on the streets which is critical to safety and perceptions of safety: “eyes on the street”.
So elected reps grant those things. There isn’t morality in land use zoning. Just consensus.
As someone has noted A Joy’s view is not unlike a SFH in the suburbs. But a SFH zone has different goals. Urbanism IS retail vibrancy. There really isn’t any demarcation between street and private retailer because the entire point of population density is to create retail density to create vibrant streets because so many live is small and claustrophobic units. The street is their yard. Vibrant streets are the entire point.
Private retail contributes to the vibrancy, and so do other uses of sidewalks and streets. It is a symbiotic relationship, and by far the most difficult thing for any city to zone and create is retail density, and even the most successful city has some areas that are vibrant (where rents are highest) and some where there is no vibrancy, often called slums because the streets are dark and empty.
Recently the closure of stores like Walgreen’s in POC neighborhoods was a huge blow because they created light, vibrancy, eyes on the street, and safety.
If there is really a legitimate lament it is too many poor neighborhoods of color are the ones without retail density including grocery stores, pharmacies, and so on. But there is very little a government can do to create retail density where it doesn’t want to grow.
“Are you against vehicles owned by corporations but not by individuals? What about vehicles that are performing services for members of the public, like delivery services?” Aside from the stretch that all vehicles are owned by the public since businesses are owned by the public, I feel all vehicles operated for business use need to be much more highly regulated. Delivery services, owner operated, corporate owned, the works. And delivery vehicles are not performing services for members of the public. Aside from USPS, they are performing services for the profit of their owners.
“Really, though, this is a bit of a specious argument. The fact is, as many have said, the public *wants* those amenities and since we are (sort of, idealistically) a representative democracy, those amenities happen to be where the public wants them to be.”
I don’t buy this for one bit. I feel these amenities are supported by a tyranny of a moneyed minority and the relative handful that use their services. There’s nothing representative about a food truck or illegally parked delivery van outside of a socially collapsed dystopia.
“Urbanism IS retail vibrancy.”
Absolutely not. Private enterprise on public property is urban blight and decay, the opposite of this so called ‘vibrancy’..
“the entire point of population density is to create retail density to create vibrant streets because so many live is small and claustrophobic units. The street is their yard.”
Do you have a food truck in your yard? A delivery service maybe? Or do you have grass, a place to sit and/or play, and maybe a parking spot? The park is their yard, not the street. Which is still irrelevant, because retail for the most part isn’t in parks or yards, and parks are where I’d argue the vibrancy really is.
7 uses of vibrant/vibrancy in 3 paragraphs? Can you beat that dead buzzword any harder? Any time I hear that word in talks about urbanism, I know I can just roll my eyes and let the meaningless hollow dissertation go in one ear and out the other.
A Joy, all I am saying is your view is in the very small minority, among rich and poor. It has nothing to do with “classism” So that is the end of it.
I disagree, and feel my view is that of the silent majority. A majority that feels silenced by and due to moneyed interests. I understand we are at a diametric disagreement here, but that does not change my mind.
A Joy, if I am not confused you actually raise two different but very traditional zoning concepts but muddle your position with class warfare.
1. First if I understand correctly you believe retail does not belong in a residential zone, whether SFH or multi-family. The light, noise and traffic are an incompatible use with residential. Plus limiting retail to the “commercial” zone condenses it which creates retail density and walkability. I agree, and so do most cities which segregate uses in their zoning codes.
Modern urban planning has moved toward mixed use zoning. Some argue that is necessary to create adequate housing although others argue better to upzone the surrounding multi-family and SFH residential zones, although that is contentious.
The keys to mixed use zoning are housing is added to the commercial zone and not the other way around, and you understand the different uses have different profit margins for developers. If like me you believe retail and restaurants are the most important and fragile use in a mixed zone you need to realize it is the least profitable and reserve space for. If there isn’t the space for retail there won’t be retail.
Although some on this blog retail should be allowed in all zones I disagree and instead agree with you on that issue.
So on this point we agree I think.
2. Second you prefer a strict demarcation between private retail space and sidewalks. Again this is very traditional zoning, and before the pandemic cities required lengthy and costly conditional use permits to use sidewalks, especially if alcohol was to be served. Yes you can have retail density and vibrancy with a bright line demarcation.
What changed was cities were afraid retail would die during the pandemic so allowed outdoor dining and retail on public places because indoor gatherings were prohibited. You are correct outdoor uses can cramp sidewalks. But most citizens like shopping or dining outside the few months/year you can do that here so cities have continued the emergency ordinances that allowed that without a CUP.
Although outdoor retail is not necessary for vibrancy it does contribute to a perception of safer streets. You have a very high risk tolerance when out in public and so this might not be an important factor for you.
For example, the Sam Israel parcel that spans 1st and 2nd and Pike and Pine was always designed with shops and restaurants and deli’s spilling out onto the sidewalk because although there is little loitering, drugs or crime on the west side of first that is an extension of the Market just one block east on 2nd and 3rd where there is no street retail there is lots of crime, drugs and loitering. Unfortunately Bartells and Macys closed before this parcel was developed so the dream of a “retail mall” from the Market to the Convention Center is probably dead.
Especially in urban or areas where public safety is an issue you don’t want residents siloing by using Uber and Sky Bridges to go from demarcated and closed retail/restaurant door to door without ever being on the sidewalk.
So although your view of private retail using public sidewalks is very traditional cities are moving away from it because most citizens like shopping and dining outside and don’t see any class warfare in it, and are hoping the additional eyes on the street drives out crime.
DT, you are definitely mistaken. I have repeatedly supported mixed use zoning, including in this very thread. But I support dedicated commerce buildings within that mixed use, ie no floor level retail in residential buildings, but collated and semi frequent clusters of businesses. That way it is easy to walk from one business to the other and centralize one’s shopping.
“What changed was cities were afraid retail would die during the pandemic so allowed outdoor dining and retail on public places because indoor gatherings were prohibited.”
No. Just no. This isn’t the first major pandemic humanity has ever had. The Spanish Flu didn’t make retail die. The Black Plague didn’t make retail die. The thought that COVID-19 would make retail die is absurd. Cities saw an opportunity to use COVID-19 as an excuse to put profit over people, sell it as a good thing, and then keep it when eventually the danger is over. Any look at human history could tell you retail was in no danger.
Your safety/crime canards and calls for vibrancy (again? Seriously?) aren’t worth responding to.
That is very odd zoning you propose A Joy: within a single zone commercial buildings with presumably the same regulatory limits must have retail and must be located within a certain distance of one another so one could walk to the retail in each, while residential buildings with the same regulatory limits cannot have retail. Is there any area you can think of with this type of zoning. I don’t quite understand prohibiting retail in a residential building if the zone and adjacent buildings can have retail, and don’t know it that is legal.
The problem with such a zone as I tried to explain is each of the uses has a different profit for the developer. So in such a zone you would likely get all commercial buildings with anemic retail on the street level since building heights and other regulatory limits are the same. Unless you micro or spot zone which is tricky legally.
It wouldn’t be worth it to build a residential only building in that same zone even without a floor of street retail because commercial development is generally cheaper and rents higher (and without affordable housing set asides) unless building heights were limited to two or three stories maximum which generally rules out commercial anyway, which is consistent with retail only zones like Old Main Street or Old Front Street that use both use limits and height limits to limit the zone to retail.
It is unique zoning for sure, and I doubt would achieve your desired effect (and I can’t fathom the desired effect). Progressives are pretty notorious for misunderstanding developer motives when zoning.
I can understand your objection to private use of sidewalks by retail businesses, and before the pandemic I think that was standard zoning. You may be correct that is not necessary post pandemic but people like eating and drinking and shopping outside so councils like MI have consistently readopted their emergency ordinances allowing it without any citizen objection, which is rare for any land use ordinance on MI.
As I like to say, land use is politics.
“I disagree, and feel my view is that of the silent majority. A majority that feels silenced by and due to moneyed interests. I understand we are at a diametric disagreement here, but that does not change my mind.”
You paint farmers markets with arts and crafts as a nuisance to public spaces.
You paint night markets as a nuisance to public spaces.
You paint food trucks as a nuisance to public spaces.
You paint small mom and pop businesses as a nuisance to public spaces.
You’re really not bringing anyone to your side in trying to paint all businesses in public spaces as a nuisance to public spaces as if it’s black and white morality when the reality is more of shades of gray and a gradient. As Skylar pointed out we are in a representative democracy, which is the case for many western countries and people have spoken that they want these amenities in their public spaces because they see the value in having them. People want to be on the streets, not cooped up in their houses like how many suburbs currently are.
We don’t need the extreme of shunting all businesses out into a single space or building in an area when the best mixed use is businesses being sprinkled throughout a neighborhood. You can have businesses for ground floor retail, that’s how it is in many places around the world. My walk from my house to school in Florence had many residential buildings that had ground floor retail ranging from local restaurants, food stores, bookshops, spas, clothing stores, wine bars, variety shops, coffee bars, laundromats,, appliance shop, copy centers, and antique shops all within a 10 minute walk of my house. And the street was always busy never dead, and was able to do my errands pretty efficiently.
It is really that much to expect Farmer’s Markets to primarily provide materials grown/raised or derived from well, farms? It’s right there in the name, after all. A Craft Faire should be its own separate thing, should it not?
And you can itemize out individual groups of businesses all you want. The extra granularity doesn’t help your case at all. Private businesses choose to operate. They aren’t forced to. They can take the limitations that come with that choice, or they can not be a business. It’s that simple.
“You’re really not bringing anyone to your side in trying to paint all businesses in public spaces as a nuisance to public spaces as if it’s black and white morality when the reality is more of shades of gray and a gradient.”
But it isn’t. Being a business is a Boolean choice. You are, or you aren’t. Now, how much of a public benefit that business provides is a much greyer thing, I will admit. Which is why I make the exceptions I do. The higher quality produce and meats, as well as the artisan refined products benefit the overall health and therefore welfare of the individuals who visit Farmer’s Markets. Food trucks, coffee shops, and most restaurants and things at night markets do not. Thus the delineation is simple. Be more than a parasite, and your business gets special privileges.
“As Skylar pointed out we are in a representative democracy, which is the case for many western countries and people have spoken that they want these amenities in their public spaces because they see the value in having them.”
Have they though? Or has a small, vocal minority, likely with vested financial and family interests, just spoken loudly enough to get their way? There is such a thing as the tyranny of the majority in a representative democracy as well. Shouldn’t the public be protected from the predations of private enterprise no matter the special interest money?
” People want to be on the streets, not cooped up in their houses like how many suburbs currently are.”
What does that have to do with anything? Honestly it also works against your argument. Food trucks and outdoor dining cut off the streets, crowding out the ability for people to be on them. They are impediments, sometimes literally for the disabled. If the public wants out, they need room to be out, not have people shilling their wares in their way.
“We don’t need the extreme of shunting all businesses out into a single space or building in an area when the best mixed use is businesses being sprinkled throughout a neighborhood.”
Who says that is the best mixed use?
“You can have businesses for ground floor retail, that’s how it is in many places around the world.”
You can, yes. But that does not mean it is a good idea, especially in the severe housing crisis we find ourselves in at the moment. With all the units we need, floor level retail is not only just a bad idea, it will literally cause people to die who need those crowded out units. I choose life over profit every day of the week.
“And you can itemize out individual groups of businesses all you want. The extra granularity doesn’t help your case at all. ”
That’s just how I speak as I’m fairly detail oriented, it’s just who I am and how I communicate with people when trying to get my point across. There’s nothing wrong with the extra detail in my case because I’m just saying what was between my house and school when living abroad in Italy. As that’s the best example from my own experience in terms of how a good mixed use neighborhood is like. I can point to many others places while studying abroad as well that share a lot of similarities either in big cities or small towns that i visited during my time there.
“What does that have to do with anything? Honestly it also works against your argument”
Because people want walkable and liveable neighborhoods. Like where I lived abroad, Via Pietrapiana, Borgo la Croce, and Piazza Sant’Ambrogio in the Eastern part of Central Florence was the place people wanted to be dayor night. During the day, it had all the shops for the errands you needed to run like the grocery store, pharmacy, bakeries, speciality shops, public market, etc. In the evening it was the place people would stroll, connect with their neighbors, or meet up with friends. Most days it was busy, even fairly crowded on the weekends.
Where there’d be throngs of people just standing and chatting with each other over some wine or a spritz in the streets or public squares along said area. There was even a coffee shop serving up coffee and cocktails till midnight in one of the main squares where people were just sitting around chatting while having a drink.
And the thing is that every business along the street is primarily locally owned and operated. There was only 4 or 5 chain stores out of the 40 or 50 shops, bars, or restaurants along said street.
It was one of my first experiences being in a place where I didn’t feel honestly depressed or annoyed to go run errands as I could get everything done that I needed for the day within an hour and my walk back home is just 5-10 minutes. That’s a lot more manageable than here where upwards of 3 hours for even a couple of errands is needed. And you just are buying by the day or week instead of monthly here which is a lot more manageable in terms of grocery shopping.
People want spaces that feel like extensions of their living space out into the community and don’t want to feel closed off from it. Walkability and public spaces plays a role in that but also having local hangouts or stores where you feel like you know the people who run it as well.
Neither the plural of anecdote nor your personal nostalgia are data though. You seem to take a very specific experience of yours and project it upon the rest of the world.
It also doesn’t make much sense. People have night markets in their own homes? Coffee shops? Bars and crowded rooms?
Public spaces crammed with private businesses aren’t an extension of the public living space. That’s one of the reasons I am against most of them. Also, to the extent your forced argument can go (restaurants are extensions of the kitchen and dining room) you have to pay for the privilege. And I am not against restaurants. I plan on visiting over half a dozen specific ones soon, as I have been out of town for a little. But none of them used or needed outdoor dining to survive just fine.
A Joy, yeah, charging the daily rate for parking seems entirely fair. I don’t have a problem with that; it’s a lot less than the equivalent interior space.
About that tile task at Columbia City station: Does anyone else feel like this two week announced closure was too excessive? The other one was completed in about in about 11 days and this one now easily in 9 days. I can maybe see how the first time they were excessively cautionary but this time they clearly knew better.
And most systems don’t do this kind of closure for something like this. At most, they would do a segment at a time over 4-5 weekends with some overnight work. If the work required preventing people walking on them, they would simply not allow riders on the train car whose doors were where the problem was. Why does ST think they are so unique and special that they can punish their riders for longer durations with 20 minute trains for two weeks? These kinds of things scare away riders.
Yeah, it seems like they could just close one side of the station at a time. When the northbound platform is closed, send people people south to Othello to connect to a northbound train, et cetera.
I rode the light rail during both construction periods and went past the Columbia Station and what I saw was construction equipment and workers on the closed track explaining why they had to run the trains on the one track.
Reducing service during the construction periods was not ideal but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Yes you had to wait longer for a train but I checked the schedule on the ST website so I knew when the train could come.
Some of you make it sound like the reduced service was the end of the world but it was only for short periods of time and shorter both times as originally scheduled.
If you want to complain point the finger for shoddy construction on the original panels installed and it goes right with the elevators and escalators problems at numerous ST stations.
And I didn’t take Link at SODO last weekend because I thought reduced frequency was still in effect. Instead I took the 132 from Costco to Intl Dist and transferred to Link for Capitol Hill. I thought I could transfer at Stadium (a closer surface station), but I wasn’t 100% sure 20-minute service wasn’t in effect there, so I skipped it. Then at Intl Dist I heard, “Trains are running every 10 minutes.” Wait, don’t you mean 10 minutes north of Stadium, and 20 minutes south of it? The announcement seemed to suggest 20-minute service was over. And it was.
I don’t mind it that much. I’m happy that reduced service ended early, as I expected it to. Of course, I don’t live in the south end or have to make a lot of trips there; I might feel different if I did. I just bagged trips to south Seattle for a few weeks, or used the bus workaround to get from Costco.
The Spring District is a victim of small ambition. Only 3,000 residents: not enough people to sustain much in the way of local business. If Facebook has over 10,000 employees there, then yes, it’s not going to be much more than a corporate campus.
Which is fine. It’s a perfectly fine place to put a bunch of offices. Nothing that can’t be improved by upzoning Wilburton, either.
Wilburton and The Spring District are upzoned. But commercial office space is more lucrative than housing and it is expensive to mix the two in one building. Currently office space in downtown Bellevue is more expensive than Seattle.
Developers don’t believe they will be able to create the retail density in The Spring District or Wilburton to attract residents. and don’t want to try. Look how little retail density there is in Seattle’s downtown commercial office core. It is like a retail desert. Bellevue Way is too stiff of competition, and the Eastside can support only so much retail density. . No developer considers a light rail station as a factor.
However there was an article in Friday’s Wall St. Journal noting how large pension funds are exiting the commercial office building market rapidly. I am not sure how strong the current market is for upscale urban condos, especially if not within walking distance of retail vibrancy.
My guess is developers will have trouble filling all the new office space in Bellevue, especially in Wilburton and then The Spring District. The workers Bellevue hoped to steal from Seattle don’t want to go back to any office, and the predicted massive population growth doesn’t look like it will occur if King Co. is losing residents. Bellevue was never going to be an urbanist dream of living where you work, unless it is WFH in a SFH.
Developers think people want a lot more apartments. See the second link.
The Spring District was supposed to have a balance of jobs and housing, so that people could theoretically both live and work in the neighborhood, and so that trips in and out wouldn’t be so one-sided. Some earlier articles suggested that failed and there was too much offices and not enough housing. Cities often push for that for the tax base. But this article suggests the brewpup feels like it’s in a sea of housing, which is the opposite effect. I don’t know which is true. But if housing is too low, then Bellevue should have zoned it for a higher percentage of housing rather than letting most of it go to office space. Because the people who lose are those who have to commute to Spring District jobs — some from Snohomish County — if there’s not enough housing in the Spring District.
I doubt that the “brewpub” is disliking being the only island of refreshment in a “sea of housing”. That sounds like monopoly pricing power to me. Jes’ sayin’.
The Urbanist posted a good video: “How to Design Cities to Move Goods Faster” (10:16)
tl;dw: 2-part video (with a 3rd part as a “bonus” video on a subscription stream)- 1) spotlights UW’s Urban Freight Lab which is testing using cargo e-bikes and open-use parcel lockers (like Amazon lockers, but for all parcel services) to speed up individual deliveries; 2) discusses how to take large delivery trucks off of neighborhood streets to reduce congestion (also discusses failure of drone delivery)
Couple thoughts: First, middle (turn) lanes are great for deliveries. This keeps drivers from using the transit or bike lane. Second, I like the idea of delivering things at off-hours in busy places. To a certain extent, a lot of places already do that. Outside lanes allow parking, but only load/unload (15 minute) and only outside rush hour. More limited parking windows are found in busier places.
Here are some more articles I think are interesting:
“London’s new $25 billion subway line finally opened earlier this year. The Elizabeth line took 13 years to build and will increase central London’s rail capacity by as much as 10% when it’s fully operational, according to Transport for London (TfL).”
“Aside from wider carriages and stations with artistic ceilings, the Elizabeth line also offers commuters the chance to experience something a little different: a ride on glass elevators that travel horizontally alongside an escalator, rather than vertically.”
$25 billion sounds like a lot except when one considers the likely final cost for WSBLE will be close to $20 billion and serve a fraction of the riders with a much less dramatic design.
“Rolling down the track: Germany debuts the first hydrogen-powered passenger train service.”
The benefit of this is it doesn’t require electrifying an existing line to reduce carbon emissions, although Germany is looking at restarting idle coal plants for this winter in part due to Germany abandoning its nuclear plants it is also looking to restart.
“Census Bureau: 3.8 million renters will likely be evicted in the next two months — why the rental crisis keeps getting worse.”
In speaking with brokers involved in the rental market in this area other factors for the reduced number of apartments available today are: 1. Many needed extensive repairs after tenants who didn’t pay rent during the eviction moratoria moved out leaving the units in bad shape; 2. Even ready to rent apartments are being kept offline because property owners have learned it can be more expensive to rent to the wrong tenant than keep an apartment vacant, especially with the eviction moratoria and costs of eviction; and 3. The cost of repairing and renovating apartments is taking longer due to the labor shortage and is costing more than anticipated. Those repairs and lost rent will have to be made up by raising future and existing rents.
Finally, here is an article in the PSBJ I will reprint because many don’t subscribe:
“Seattle region’s multifamily production forecast to hit 5-year high”
“Soaring apartment rents nationwide are prompting developers to build a staggering number of new homes with 420,000 units expected to open this year, according to new report this week by leasing platform RentCafé.
“The last time apartment completions surpassed 400,000 was 1972, when according to the company, developers delivered 464,000 rental homes.
“The Puget Sound region is in on the action with construction starts announced regularly, from a 35-unit micro-apartment development in Seattle to a two-tower project with 345 residences nearby in Yesler Terrace.
“With 15,341 units expected to open in the Seattle region by year’s end, Seattle ranks seventh in multifamily production among the top 20 U.S. metros.
“Half of the 20 metros, including both Seattle and Portland, are on track to hit record highs in 2022 compared with their total deliveries in each of the last five years.
“The Seattle region’s production dipped from nearly 12,250 units in 2018 to just over 9,550 two years later. In 2021, the region saw 12,856 apartments open.
“I think having construction of apartments hit a five-year high could be a good, if not a welcome sign,” wrote Hart Hodges, associate professor at Western Washington University’s College of Business and Economics, in an email to the Business Journal. Looking at the big picture over the last decade, apartment construction has been somewhat slow, leading to big rent hikes.
“Construction catching up might help realign rents with income, he added. But there are always concerns if one looks at broad metrics, including absorption rates.
“The college’s Center for Economic and Business Research produces the Puget Sound Economic Forecaster, which tracks job growth and population trends.
“Our model has been calling for relatively steady net migration and slowing, but still positive, job growth. So again, no red flags,” Hodges wrote. “But will the apartments be built where people want to live?”
“He said his question keys on hybrid work. While there was strong demand for apartments in the downtown core before the Covid-19 pandemic, “now we are in a wait-and-see period with employers asking workers to come back to the office, at least to some degree.”
“He added, “We don’t know what that means for exactly where people want to live,” and wonders if the current slowing in the economy will prompt developers put some of planned projects on hold.
“Even with an increased level of production, the Seattle region’s supply is struggling to keep up with demand, according to the RentCafé report, which noted that Seattle, like other major coastal cities, has been facing “an extreme lack of housing for several years now.”
“The report added that Seattle’s pace of construction isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon, with Seattle’s population projected to hit 1 million by 2044.”
This article suggests the UGA zoning is working in Seattle, although when increased supply will result in lower rents, or just lower rent increases, is unknown.
“$25 billion sounds like a lot except when one considers the likely final cost for WSBLE will be close to $20 billion and serve a fraction of the riders with a much less dramatic design”
It’s a bit of comparing apples to oranges here, the Elizabeth Line is essentially a suburban commuter/RER style line that is using existing National Rail infrastructure for the suburban branch lines with the only new construction being the Underground section in London between Paddington and Whitechapel/Canary Wharf that interlines all the branches together. Whereas the WSBLE is a light metro line that has multiple underground sections and no real existing infrastructure like an old ROW to use to make the line cheaper in the grander scheme of things.
They also have cheaper labor costs due in part to less overhead and administrative costs, UK employers don’t really have to deal with health insurance as they have NHS for example. Which in the US, is often one of the biggest expense for an HR department to deal with for a company’s employees and just balloons costs for any project when having to pay for 100s of workers to be on-site.
Fortune for the day!
“The start of the new month will bring new opportunities”
The bearded man from the north will be heading home.
The time is getting closer,
I read it on a po….
The underprivileged privileged waterside dwellers will soon be privileged to follow the bearded man north.
The Time Has Come Today
Seattle Times reprinted an article today from Bloomberg regarding environmental review delays to a new graphite mine in Sweden that’s intending to help lessen European reliance on Chinese minerals for EVs (link to original): https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-08-28/sweden-s-mining-hurdles-impede-the-eu-s-domestic-battery-push
As many transit advocates have warned, the need for new mineral supply chains to build the batteries and motors for electric cars will face significant headwinds in counties with laws protective of native culture and the environment.
Sure, the surveys of economical global resources indicate that the materials exist in the upper crust of the Earth to build all the electric cars we want, but the perennially understated problem is how to actually get all those materials without destroying the natural landscape we’re trying to preserve by pivoting away from fossil fuels in the face of a changing climate.
The German (and general European) reliance on Russian natural gas is a sad result of the so-called Green Parties being anti-nuclear, despite the French neighbors proving that nuclear is a perfectly safe and (generally) reliable option. However, the lack of investment in new reactors in France is apparently coming to a head they’ve taken many reactors offline to check for unexpected corrosion issues discovered in their oldest reactor (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/18/business/france-nuclear-power-russia.html).
“As many transit advocates have warned, the need for new mineral supply chains to build the batteries and motors for electric cars will face significant headwinds in counties with laws protective of native culture and the environment.”
The standard workaround is that you import the minerals from countries that are less protective of the environment and look the other way. At least, that’s how oil has worked for the last 100 years.
The U.S. only four years ago was a net exporter of oil and gas with very little environmental damage. This allowed the U.S. to not turn a blind eye toward human rights abuses in countries like Saudia Arabia, or to beg for their oil because inflation was killing middle- and lower-income Americans. One of the biggest issues with maintaining resolve in the war between Russia and Ukraine is Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas.
More and more after Ukraine and the tension between China and Taiwan countries are learning energy independence is a huge part of national security (and political survival). The recent CHIPS bill recognizes both manufacturing and raw material mining must be encouraged in the U.S. It is a double-edged sword at the same time. Most Cobalt comes from Congo, and of course the environmental damage is substantial, and the wealth not evenly distributed, but would the Congo be better off without that foreign investment and income?
The real issue is pandemic and supply shortages or not there isn’t the capacity to meet EV goals, especially with states like CA and NY and WA pledging to end sales of gas cars in 2035. CA alone will need to go from around 75,000 charging stations today to over 1.3 million by 2035. Most don’t understand that most current electric grids can sustain EITHER EV charging or air conditioning unless massive new electricity generation is created, and this year some southwest states may be forced to choose electricity from dams or water.
Meanwhile some want to remove the lower Snake River dams while Ferguson is suing to block a natural gas pipeline when most of the reduction in carbon emissions over the last decade is from shifting from coal to natural gas.
EV technology, especially the battery, is in its infancy. Sure you can now drive around 300 miles on a charge and recharge rapidly, but most don’t know that buying a used EV can mean a new $17,000 battery because they wear out.
When the EV demand is there the battery technology that is over 100 years old has to massively change to something less heavy and less rare earth intensive. It is a shame the recent Inflation Reduction Bill includes so little toward innovation. We have great chips and great car technology but shitty batteries. Maybe hydrogen was the way to go. Probably much less carbon intensive when you include the carbon from mining and manufacturing the batteries in EV’s and the gas station infrastructure already exists.
There are also some really nice alternatives being developed. Apologies for their popup ad.
My own opinion is that we really need to use sodium metal instead of lithium for a lot of these applications. We don’t need the light weight and its in the same column on the periodic table, with the same reaction properties.
There are numerous reasons why batteries are more practical than hydrogen. Hydrogen is vastly more expensive than not only electricity, but also the gas/diesel fuel it’s supposed to replace. Hydrogen fueling stations are vastly more expensive to set up an operate than even the fastest EV charging stations, which means there will be fewer of them. And, with hydrogen, you are completely dependent on hydrogen stations and can’t drive anywhere where isn’t one, no exceptions. With batteries, anyone with a plug at home can charge their car, whether public charging stations exist or not.
And then, there’s the problem of where to get the hydrogen. Most hydrogen today comes from a chemical reaction derived from fossil fuels, which directly emits CO2 into the atmosphere, even if the energy powering it is entirely clean (which it usually isn’t). There is so-called “green hydrogen” produced by electrolysis from water, but you have much higher energy losses making and burning hydrogen than do you by charging and discharging a battery, so if the grid cannot handle everyone driving an EV, it will have an even harder time handling everyone driving hydrogen.
Of course, better battery technology will help a lot, but even current battery technology has a lot of potential. Three things that will make a huge difference are 1) batteries getting recycled at end of life instead of being thrown in a landfill, 2) EVs having decent energy energy, allowing a smaller battery to provide the same range (e.g. the opposite of the hummer), 3) cheap EV options available with smaller batteries so people aren’t forced to buy a giant battery for a 2nd or 3rd car that will never be driven outside of the city.
1) is technologically feasible, it just hasn’t yet been deployed at scale because so few EVs have reached their end of life. 2) and 3) are limited mostly by psychology, which is a real shame. Most US households have multiple cars, which get replaced at different times, so most people, when they shop for their first EV, will still have a gas car sitting in their driveway. A family that lives in a city and also has a gas car does not need an EV with 300 miles of range – 100 is more than plenty. Yet the $12k car (after tax credits) with 100 miles of range is not available. It’s either a $50k luxury car with a 250-300 mile battery, a $30k plugin hybrid, or a gas car.
But, just like with gas cars, the big macho stuff is what makes the big profits. And the IRA awarding bigger subsidies to bigger batteries is also not helping things. The cheap EV that is actually affordable by the masses will probably be all over China long before we see anything like it here.
“My own opinion is that we really need to use sodium metal instead of lithium for a lot of these applications. ”
I’ve read about that too and generally agree. The additional energy from the extra weight is probably small, and well worth it if it makes the battery much cheaper. Where weight is really important is consumer electronics that humans are expected to carry in their hands. Not the case here.
The US has only been a net exporter of natural gas since ~2017, and only became a net exporter of crude oil in 2020 after domestic demand crashed for some reason. The natural gas is from fracking in the midwest, and to say fracking has “little environmental damage” is another classic Daniel Thompson massive understatement in support of his own bias. I don’t have the time to argue about the real impacts of fracking, unless you’re also a licensed geologist who’s worked in oil exploration.
“Would the Congo be better off without that foreign investment and income?”
Have I got a book for you: Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness is a heartwarming tale of Congolese prosperity under the guidance of Belgian colonial leadership. Worth the read!
This is a transit and land use blog. If only there were any well-documented and relatively simple solutions to reducing energy costs for transportation and home heating/cooling, such that no one had to decide between a comfortable home and reliable transportation.
“Most don’t understand that most current electric grids can sustain EITHER EV charging or air conditioning”
I’ve always wondered why few people noticed that charging millions of electric cars would require beaucoup additional electricity.
Hydrogen is also not a particularly efficient solution. The best current fuel cells are about 50% efficient and that doesn’t include energy required to make it. Storage batteries are about 75%. It has its uses, and the Alstom regional train using it is pretty nice (I got to see it at Innotrans in 2016).
As far as energy required to charge electric vehicles, keep in mind peak energy consumption is a fairly limited time range right now. Any energy consumption outside that range helps balance demand vs capacity. Electric vehicle charging almost always falls outside the peak times.
Daniel, you do realize in your haste to crow the accomplishments of switching natural gas (which is methane, by the way) to lower carbon emissions, you are completely ignoring that it is in fact a *worse* greenhouse gas than carbon is?
On the battery issue, I expect that the long-term result will be that Daniel is right; they’ll be quite expensive to build and operate for the life of the vehicle and overall environmentally challenging.
For transit agencies I believe this means that ETB’s will quickly come back into favor for core routes. Yes, there’s the one-time cost of hanging the overhead and some ongoing adjustment maintenance, but after construction your main cost is buses that are essentially boxes with a motor in them. They are simple, extremely sturdy and very frugal with energy.
So far as cars, I think asdf2 has the salient point: let short-range “urban” EV’s proliferate and THEN you can raise the cost of fuel for existing cars to the level that folks don’t drive the “country car” anywhere but to and from the countryside. The past decade’s splurge on ICE-powered SUV’s make them a “natural” for this use.
Most modern ICE cars will go between 200K and 300K miles; if their owners don’t beat them up commuting, they’ll last a lifetime of camping and fishing trips. Think Cuba with it’s thousands of 1950’s Chevvies and Fords meticulously maintained. They’re the main source of wealth for many Cubans.
One thing to consider is requiring all parking lots in urban areas to be covered with solar arrays which are primarily used to power charging stations for the vehicles in the lot. For parking lots at distributed surburban office parks, every slot should have a charger. This makes the high-intensity mid-day the primary charge for the employees; an overnight trickle-charge to top up for the morning drive would stress the existing grid much less than having it be the primary charge for most people.
For shopping center lots something every third slot might have a charger and any electricity not used for charging would go into the buildings or back into the grid. I was recently at a resort in Arizona which had a similar system over its parking lots, though they used the electricity in the buildings, rather than for car charging. It kept the cars cool, too.
There is a LOT of urban area dedicated to car storage that could be generating power without a long transmission grid to take the power elsewhere.
Spokane: STA is boosting bus service this week with new routes in north Spokane, Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake
(article says “Next Week” but is from the 22nd)
Pierce Transit Runner is a on-demand service now serving Spanaway, Parkland and Midland (article is on Mass Transit Magazine, but I’m guessing it is a “reprint” from a local source of some sort.
Looks like Honolulu is finally starting its final testing stages of its rail line.
I’m going to Bellevue a few times a week now for family medical reasons, so I upgraded my monthly pass. Here’s a breakdown of two common pass levels.
* $99 monthly pass ($2.75 fare) includes: all Metro; CT, PT, ET, KT local buses; Link distances up to Westlake-Rainier Beach and Northgate-Mt Baker.
* $117 monthly pass ($3.25 fare) includes all the above plus: all ST Express; Link distances up to Westlake-Angle Lake and Northgate-TIB.
Neither is enough for Sounder or the CT express routes. But you can pay the difference with e-purse, and you’ll get a 2-hour transfer for the higher fare.
Downtown Seattle woes.
Both sides of Pine Street sidewalks are closed between 9th and Boren. The north side because of continuing convention center construction. The south side because of something in the Paramount area.
24 Hour Fitness is no longer 24 hours. It’s Mon-Thu 5am-10pm, Fri 5am-9pm, Sat-Sun 6am-8pm. Staff say it’s because of the downtown situation.
The BECU ATM at 2nd & Pine has been closed evenings/weekends for several months. The one at 6th & Pine was closed for a while but is now open again. Staff say it’s because of vandalism.
Anyone using an ATM at 2nd and Pine is a masochist.
Danny Westneat had a column in today’s Times about crime, drugs and murder in Seattle. It was a little kumbayaish where everyone volunteers to solve Seattle’s problems.
The reality is the past animosity toward police by the council and progressives will make it impossible for at least a decade for Seattle to come close to its police staff needs. The council and progressives wanted to defund the police. Well, they did, and it turns out it isn’t easy to reverse course. I would rather be a bus driver than a police officer in Seattle.
Now we have tough on crime Biden trotting out Clinton’s pledge to hire 100,000 police officers because when crime is an issue on a ballot it is the only issue.
But the problem is it takes decades of drug and crime and prosecution policies to move the needle. It took from the early 1970’s to mid 1990’s to restore America’s urban cities. From the very beginning crime and public safety gave birth to the suburbs, and no matter what sins the suburbs might have people (especially women) flee to the suburbs if safety is an issue, and if you are a straight male you learn to follow wherever the women go.
Harrell has done a pretty good job with the tents. But the commuters are not coming back, nor are the police officers, which is the early 1970’s all over again.
“The reality is the past animosity toward police by the council and progressives will make it impossible for at least a decade for Seattle to come close to its police staff needs. The council and progressives wanted to defund the police. Well, they did, and it turns out it isn’t easy to reverse course. I would rather be a bus driver than a police officer in Seattle.”
A lot of people from both within the city council and general public took issue with the police department because of longstanding cultural issues within SPD. Like racism within SPD itself, racial profiling on patrol, shooting instead of deescalating, among many other problems. The police also haven’t been great at rebuilding trust in the last couple of years from the bridges they burned in light of the George Flyod protests. We can say it’s the council’s fault, but SPD has to clean house too if it wants to move forward as an organization.
That BECU happens to be my favorite to use. It is convenient to Link, right between University Street and Westlake Stations. And they are next to impossible to vandalize.
Unless I have my locations wrong, it is a pair of ATMs, on the inside of a glass door. They’re the busiest BECU ATMs I have ever seen, busier than the one downstairs at the UW HUB. They have had a guard standing next to them in the past. And here’s the real kicker. They’re locked after hours, requiring a BECU card to open the door to access them. Crimes need an opportunity to happen. There’s practically no opportunity to vandalize these ATMs.
And I’m no masochist. Downtown Seattle is perfectly safe, regardless of what you might think. Most of these safety measures are rather common at BECU banks.
Both locations require an ATM card to get into after hours. The one at 2nd & Pine has two machines. (A third is inside a second door and inaccessible off-hours.) That’s the one whose ATMs still close at 6pm. The branch at 6th & Pine has four machines. That’s my local branch, so I’m glad the ATMs have been restored. Otherwise if you live in the area it’s hard to get cash because you have to do it during the workday, use a non-downtown ATM, or use a commercial bank ATM that charges $2 per transaction.
You don’t have to be a masochist to use the one at 2nd & Pine. I’ve been downtown in the evenings to catch buses ever since 1980, and I’ve never felt like a masochist. In the 80s I caught the 226 to Bellevue at 2nd & Union, at a building that’s no longer there. The loud crowd does not congregate at 2nd & Pine, but variously at 3rd & Pine (McDonald’s), or 3rd & Pike (ex-Kress, 131/132 stop).
Zach, you may be right the SPD needed reforms, but the reality is police officers retired or left for other departments, including Chief Best who was not a racist and objected to the surrender of Capitol Hill and Floyd riots that damaged so many vulnerable retail businesses downtown which never recovered and likely never will with the pandemic on top.
The SPD in 2022 and 2023 will again experience a pretty significant net decline of officers. Already the SPD has announced cutbacks have made investigating certain felonies like sexual assaults against adult females effectively impossible. That is very scary to many women.
The Council has reversed course and voted for a financial incentive package to attract new police officers but like most industries labor is tight and being a police officer in Seattle disfavored compared to say Bellevue when police job openings are plentiful. Plus these are experienced police officers and detectives being replaced by rookies.
According to interim chief Diaz it will take Seattle at least a decade to return to pre-pandemic police levels while some are predicting population gains in Seattle during this same time period and post pandemic crime has just naturally increased.
For the ordinary citizen or business the solution to Seattle’s problem is not their problem, although to his credit Harrell understands it is his problem although as Ross has pointed he was also part of the cause.
Just like the police officers in Seattle the citizen’s simple solution is to move.
So like the period from the early 1970’s to mid 1990’s look for deurbanization, and a repeat of the migration to Eastside suburbs and downtown Bellevue which historically has been the wealthier citizens and businesses. The difference today is eastsiders no longer have to commute to Seattle to work.
When a new breed of mayors and police chiefs reversed 20 years of crime in large cities beginning in the 1990’s residents and businesses slowly returned, although the huge Millennial class does not exist today to move to urban cities and is deurbanizing. Then tourism returned.
My guess is for some cities like Seattle it will take another 20 years because perception trails realty for many years, especially when personal safety is at stake, the Eastside suburbs and commercial centers are now self sufficient, and probably will need a new council. For Portland that is also beginning to finally see this insidious decline it is probably too late because Portland has so few natural benefits to attract businesses. Like Portlandia Portland’s attraction was its retail and quirky charm that don’t do well with high levels of serious crime. But again there are many other areas to live.
If the council cannot attract more police officers it should at least follow through on its promise to replace departing police officers with “community resource officers” although budgets are very tight and what Seattle really needs are police officers because not all criminals are not just confused and good people who are disadvantaged. Some are just killers.
Zach, you may be right the SPD needed reforms, but the reality is police officers retired or left for other departments
Yes, they cashed out. Either that, or the reforms were too much to handle (the job just isn’t as much fun if you can’t beat the hell out of a suspect). What is absurd is to think that a cop cares what what the city council thinks. That is like a referee quitting because someone booed.
From the very beginning crime and public safety gave birth to the suburbs
Ridiculous. American suburbs came from cheap cars, cheap land and heavily subsidized automotive infrastructure. In every other part of the world the poor live in the suburbs, simply because it is less convenient. In America, we encouraged people to flee, and they did.
Of course race was an issue — it always is. A lot of people left because black people were in the city. But sprawl in places that have few people of color continues to this day. People moved to Lake Stevens or now Marysville not because they are afraid of Everett, but because it is (or at least was) really cheap.
Ross, the car was the method to leave the urban city, not the reason why. A car doesn’t have a brain. Just like the existence of cars was not the reason folks began to move back to urban cities from around 2008 to 2015 because Millennials did not have the economic security to marry or buy a house and large cities had become safe, even for women. When they did have the economic security to marry and buy a house Millennials began to move back to the suburbs.
If an urban city is safe and vibrant folks will want to live there even if they own a car. If the city is not safe or vibrant they will move out of an urban city whether they own a car or not. . It is a common cycle. It has nothing to do with the car. A car is simply an inanimate object that too many on this blog blame for the real issues.
It is the Seattle City Council that is now reversing course and offering financial incentives to police officers to join the SPD. So far it isn’t working. Harrell was elected on a law and order campaign along with mayors of large cities across the U.S., and even cities like San Francisco are recalling DA’s who are soft on crime.
I know several police officers. They truly believe they are doing one of the hardest and most dangerous jobs at a pay scale that doesn’t afford the nicer neighborhoods. You and I would never do that job. It means a lot to them if they are vilified. It does to any employee even if not placing their lives on the line. They know folks like you hate them so would rather protect some other city.
Like nurses police officers are unsung heroes and in great demand. We love our police on the Eastside. Like bus drivers young kids don’t want the crummy and dangerous job. So they can pretty much work anywhere. The amazing thing is so many want the challenges of an urban environment, or did.
We saw beginning in the 1970’s how crime can rot an urban city. We are seeing it today although not as bad, yet. Downtown Seattle is dead because it is perceived as dangerous, and there are so many safer options. WFH got so much traction because commuters no longer wanted to go to downtown Seattle. Hard to blame them.
The number of boarded up storefronts is telling. So is a council that has to offer financial incentives for private businesses to move into these boarded up storefronts that fail for the same reasons the prior businesses failed.
Probably few things are as sensitive to public safety and crime as transit, and downtown Seattle is definitely hurting transit.
Westneat’s article laid out the crime statistics. If the council like you still believe “community officers” will do a better job then begin hiring some to replace the loss of 300 experienced police officers. But I still remember the shooting victim who died at Chop because Medics would not enter an area that had not been secured, and the self-proclaimed Chop medics were as stupid as the protestors so the victim died.
If you think an unarmed “community officer” is going to respond to a shots fired call at 3am in the RV you are mistaken.
People can make up their own mind. The old “racist” rant about suburbs neglects to factor in the fact Bellevue and many areas of the Eastside are much less white than Seattle. Why did these people of color move to the Eastside? The same reason white people did: public safety and schools.
Nothing is as racist as crime. It is poor neighborhoods of color that become prisons for residents and wastelands for the kids where the only option is gangs. Look at Chicago.
People will always choose what they think is best for them. The mushrooming population on the Eastside is not due to cars but the lack of public safety in Seattle and disappointment with public schools which is why 23% of parents in Seattle choose private K-12 schools, second highest in the U.S.
Whoa up. Ross doesn’t hate police. He despises the ones who are in the profession for the strutting and intimidating, and they exist, whether you believe it or not.
A much greeter number are good people who believe that society needs peacekeepers because, as you said above, some criminals are rotten people. There are probably sociological “accelerators” that push them over the edge, but something is miswired about them. They deserve fair justice, but some do just need to be constrained, at least until they’re old. And they have to be caught when they commit crimes.
But 49 bullets fired at one man’s body is not justice, it’s a summary execution. If an officer cannot see that, she or he should not wear the badge.
It’s a brutal job Tom. No doubt the endless shit lives and constant danger wear on a police officer. But “defund the police” was systemic. It was not targeted, and it was gerrymandered to force out Chief Best, Seattle’s first female police chief of color.
The important thing is not what you, Ross or I think because we would never consider being a police officer. Too dangerous, too shitty, too low pay, too “low brow”, too little respect. All that matters is what current and prospective police officers think.
They think Seattle progressives and the council despise all of them. Right now Seattle is down around 300 officers and detectives and that number will increase.
So Seattle will have to learn to live with a very small and dispirited police force who are quietly quitting. We will learn whether defunding the police really does result in less crime. So far the results are not good. I am glad I am a spectator across the lake at this sociological experiment, but I wish the distance were greater.
How many here have relatives that work, or have worked for law enforcement?
From current times or from the past.
I would argue that it’s the car culture that has disconnected the police force from the citizens they are supposed to support. With a vehicle, a police officer can cover a bigger area, but they are only called when a situation has escalated to a dangerous level.
Surplus military tactical equipment sold to the law enforcement agencies can change the flavor of policing.
Remember when Officer Friendly ‘walked a beat’?
I don’t hate cops. The city council doesn’t hate cops. The cops in Seattle didn’t leave because they were “dissed”– what are they, gang members? (OK, some of them probably are, but not at the levels of Los Angeles.)
Police, by their very nature, have to have thick skin. If you can’ handle criticism, you aren’t cut out for the job. This is valid criticism, from one of your own: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-15929017. This is far more damning than anything any Seattle council member said.
Meanwhile, the department has “a pattern or practice of constitutional violations regarding the use of force that result from structural problems, as well as serious concerns about biased policing.” according to the DOJ. When that report came out, I can understand why a cop might want to leave — who wants to be part of that organization? But that isn’t what happened. It wasn’t until years later, when the council wanted to reform the department that we had the mass exodus. Why would you leave if the council wants to reform the department — finally getting rid of the “bad apples”? I can think of two reasons:
1. You aren’t interested in a reformed department.
2. You figure you won’t be paid well, as the city moves to a more cost-effective way of reducing crime.
The important thing is not what you, Ross or I think because we would never consider being a police officer. Too dangerous, too shitty, too low pay, too “low brow”, too little respect.
Bullshit. I was a security guard. I knew a lot of former M.P.s, as well as guys training to be cops. I definitely considered it as a career, as the money would be great compared to what I was making. But several of the reasons why I wouldn’t want to be a cop are precisely the type of things American cities want to change. Drug laws (which have changed for the better fortunately) are an example. Another is requiring all officers to carry a gun. A lot of security guards won’t take jobs that require carrying guns, even though it pays better. Then there is the culture. I heard stories, which made me think there were deep, systemic issues with the department. Sure enough, a judge ruled that way years later (https://www.aclu-wa.org/pages/timeline-seattle-police-accountability).
Would people like me want to be a cop? Maybe not now, but if we keep reforming the department — making it more like the police in more advanced countries — then absolutely.
Ross, the car was the method to leave the urban city, not the reason why. A car doesn’t have a brain.
Right. And guns don’t kill people.
Enough with the strawman bullshit. I searched for “why suburbia rose in North America” and the very first reference was this: https://americanhistory.si.edu/america-on-the-move/city-and-suburb. Just to quote the opening paragraph:
A rapidly growing dependence on the car helped reshape life in American cities and suburbs after World War II. It created the suburban landscapes and culture that have come to dominate much of contemporary American life. Owning a car made it easier for white middle- and working-class families to move to sprawling new suburbs. Local and national transportation policy often encouraged suburbanization, to the detriment of older cities.
If you keep reading, you can see paragraphs about race as well.
Daniel, here is a good article that illustrates how transportation technology is central to the size of a city and therefore the scope of the built environment. Cars + highways* facilitating suburban sprawl are simply the most recent of several technological innovations that have allowed cities to grow.
*important to note is the combined technologies that unlocked suburban sprawl, not the car alone; arguably the highway (‘expressway’ in the article) was the more important technology innovations in the 1950s, as the car was mostly a pre-war innovation.
Ross, guns and knives don’t kill people. They are just inanimate tools. That is why we don’t put knives or guns in prison when they are involved in a crime. Or cars.
People wanted to leave urban cities well before the car. There was lots of undeveloped land around cities that was pretty cheap. When people from the city got there there was not much density, and many still had to work in the city, so a car was necessary, which began America’s love affair with the car and the need for roads and highways. But it wasn’t purchasing a car that created the situation in large urban cities that made people want to leave. But they did need a car when they got to the suburbs and found out they liked having a car.
So what is your alternative? Imprison people in large urban cities they don’t want to live in? Around 3% of the U.S.’s 2.4 billion acres is some kind of municipal zoning so sprawl is hardly an issue.
Of course race was a factor in the mid 1940’s. During WWII the entire U.S. military was segregated based on race by FDR (Japanese Americans were interned), probably the most progressive President in U.S. history. In 1968 the federal government outlawed redlining in those states that had not already banned it. Today because there is much more wealth among POC eastside “suburban” cities like Bellevue are much less white than Seattle. Did POC of color move to the eastside because they were racists? I don’t think so.
You live in Pinehurst. Pinehurst began as a suburb for Seattleites wanting to leave the city center. Basically Pinehurst is still a suburb. It certainly is not some kind of urban mecca.
If you don’t want folks to leave Seattle for the eastside my advice is to ask them why they are leaving, so like the 1990’s new police strategies and new mayors can address the problems. Since about a million articles have been written on the reasons for migration to the suburbs let me give you the Readers Digest version:
1. Public safety.
2. Public schools.
3. Less density.
4. More park acres per 1000 residents.
Since some don’t want to believe that they come up with other reasons that make them feel better, like buying a car is why folks move to the suburbs although Seattleites own 460,000 cars, or “racism” even though Seattle is much whiter than the eastside and is one of the whitest cities in the U.S.
In the 1990’s when things had been very dire for 20 years in large urban cities people were willing to ask the hard questions why, and addressed them, which encouraged the huge Millennial class to move back to urban cities which created a renaissance. Unfortunately, progressive councils have repeated many of the mistakes from the 1970’s to 1990’s and so people are fleeing the city again. It is a very common cycle.
The one big difference today is suburbanites don’t have to commute to the urban city they fled in order to work like my father did, both due to WFH and the fact in this region large employers opened eastside offices and gave employees the option where to work. As a result we are seeing much higher commercial rents in Bellevue than Seattle, and much higher housing prices on the eastside.
People will always do what they feel is best for them and their families. Very few if any residents of Seattle who got to the eastside suddenly felt they had made a mistake. Few if any move back, although maybe their kids will some day. The suburbs should never be able to compete against the vibrancy and excitement of a major city, especially one as pretty as Seattle, unless public safety, schools, and density/green spaces are the difference.
Very interesting article AJ. I liked the history.
Of course the big difference today is the concept of “urbanism” — living near where one works — and commuting are irrelevant for many, both because of WFH and because suburbs have become so self-contained, especially with Amazon Prime. Very interesting is this 2019 article predicted WFH pre-pandemic, but then states:
“Despite evidence to the contrary, employers remain skeptical of the productivity of remote workers. And any number of human drives keep people stubbornly collocating to be closer to family, friends, and cultural amenities as well as their workplaces. These drives are unlikely to change with technology—and thus, our transportation dilemma is likely to endure.”
The article then concludes:
“For a century, we lived off the legacy of rapid innovation. It allowed our cities to grow exponentially and, therefore, the cost of our housing to decrease dramatically. But we’ve now pretty much burned through the benefits of these gains and there aren’t obvious technological saviors on the horizon. We must make do mostly with building up and densifying the urban areas we already have. As transportation goes, so go our cities.”
The Achilles Heel in the past — as with my father — was suburbanites still had to commute to the city they had left to work. Hence the 26-minute commute standard in the article (which I think got expanded during the commute hey day before the pandemic). Now they don’t.
The author predicted the future, but just didn’t trust his prediction, and started with an ideology — urbanism — as his conclusion whether folks like urban living or not (and many do, depending on the city) forgetting the original reasons folks fled suburban cities from 800 BC to 1700 AD.
The fundamental reality is people hate commuting to work but also don’t live to live in an urban setting that was the original impetus for them to move out of the city. So post pandemic they kept the suburban living style they like and got rid of the commute.
This article was obsolete within a year of it being written.
“Around 3% of the U.S.’s 2.4 billion acres is some kind of municipal zoning so sprawl is hardly an issue.”
So, does this mean that you don’t support our state’s GMA?
“Since about a million articles have been written on the reasons for migration to the suburbs let me give you the Readers Digest version:
1. Public safety.
2. Public schools.
3. Less density.
4. More park acres per 1000 residents.”
About twenty years ago I reluctantly moved to the burbs after living in several Seattle neighborhoods since moving to Washington state in the late 80s. My family did so for one principal reason: housing prices and value. The four reasons you’ve listed above weren’t even in our top five.
Tisgwm, you moved to rural Snohomish Co. Folks moving from Seattle to most eastside cities are moving to more expensive housing, so the cost of housing is not their key issue. For example, my niece recently sold her unit in Belltown and bought a townhouse in the Issaquah Highlands which was more expensive.
From 1970 when my family moved to Mercer Island to today the most common reasons for leaving Seattle are the ones I listed (depending on the situation in Seattle), not housing costs as most already owned a house in Seattle, although no doubt some leave the city due to housing costs (mostly renters) but more likely go south or north, although Kitsap Co. is becoming quite popular with WFH.
I supported the GMA when first adopted and have litigated under it many times. Its primary purpose is planning, and requiring cities and counties to plan although leaving most cities discretion to zone how their citizens want.
The two key priorities are citizen notice and citizen participation. I think the GMA has been coopted to some degree by transit, TOD, the PSRC, and climate activists, and of course the master builder’s assoc.
The basic premise is good: plan for growth, although growth estimates are fuzzy and IMO often politically calculated. Very hard to create a 2050 Vision Statement 30 years from now, especially when a pandemic hits (and for some reason the 2050 Vision Statement omitted EV’s despite that being the major plank of Biden’s and Inslee’s climate legislation). The early litigation had to do with rural counties who felt aggrieved at the need to identify and protect sensitive areas, including Snohomish Co. That part I agree with. But today the GMA is mostly a tool to upzone and urbanize.
The irony is by moving to SnoCo you were part of sprawl. With the upzoning of your property I am sure you could sell and move back to Seattle if you wanted to. But “sprawl” depends on the land that is developed, and its environmental sensitivity. Cities are a tiny percentage of all land in the U.S. so forcing citizens to urbanize is not going to do much to affect the planet or the U.S. and is a red herring for urbanism IMO, and of course the MBA’s desire to reduce minimum lots sizes on all those very expensive eastside SFH lots.
“How many here have relatives that work, or have worked for law enforcement?
“From current times or from the past.”
My maternal grandfather was a NYC beat cop for the majority of his working life in the first half of the 20th century. Interestingly, he and my grandmother had eight children and none of them followed him into the field. Likewise, myself and my nine siblings did not pursue a career in law enforcement either. Of all the cousins in my large extended family only one ultimately became a police officer that I know of.
I still remember most of the stories my grandfather shared with us from his days of policing the streets and tenements in lower Manhattan. He had some doozies. Maybe it was those stories that influenced his progency to pursue other careers in the city. Lol. He himself had no regrets, even though he eventually was injured on the job and had to leave the force, long before he actually retired.
“Tisgwm, you moved to rural Snohomish Co.”
Nope. We moved to Edmonds. The burbs. Something I swore I would never do actually. Lol. But here we are.
I would’ve loved to have stayed in my old neighborhood of Wallingford but I didn’t want to be house rich and cash poor (as the maxim goes).
That’s pretty much the case for friends of mine who moved recently to North Tacoma after renting for over a decade around the Seattle Metro. They would’ve liked to stay in the city, but one of them was a reverse commuter and housing was out of reach for them in Seattle proper and didn’t want to be house rich and cash poor as they pay off the mortgage. They like their new home though and happy to have a house they can call their own and renovate to the liking.
In our suburban enclave in the NY metropolitan area, both my father and my uncle were cops. My father for only a few years, but my uncle until he retired. My uncle walked the beat on the street where I lived. Our street was a high-density area adjacent to the business district just 2 blocks away from the train station. Everyone knew my uncle. It was a quiet town, and an easy job. (My father only told about the “Help Police!” coming from one of the apartment windows, but that was about it).
The downside of living in a small town was that I couldn’t get away with anything. (“Oh, you’re so-and-so’s kid? What’s the matter with you? You should know better!”)
More recent was a former in-law that said he worked for “AAA with a Gun”.
In my customer service career I happened to run into someone who I recognized as my children’s DARE officer in elementary school. He said he had moved on from that, and was primarily traffic enforcement (Bothell motorcycle cop). I asked him if he ever pulled one of his former ‘students’ over. He smilingly said every time he ran into that situation, the kids would feel so guilty that they were disappointing him. Worth more than any citation.
My point being. We’ve gotten so far away from the police having anything common with the people they’re protecting, that the people that need help aren’t getting it, and the ‘bad guy’ that really needs to be corralled gets lost in the situation that a police officer walks in on (not knowing anything about the participants involved).
CA is preparing for rolling brownouts. The Governor is asking citizens to not charge EV’s during the day and only 1/4 at night, and to turn thermostats to 78. And this is CA.
I simply don’t understand how in the next 13 years we can move cars, trucks, trains, boats, planes, furnaces, water heaters, leaf blowers, cooktops, etc. to the electric grid while building more office towers and Bitcoin mines and installing more AC while reducing natural gas production and pipelines, dams, nuclear, and coal.
The reality is a significant portion of electricity in the U.S. is generated by coal, followed by natural gas, including PSE. In fact most carbon savings since 2005 is from switching coal to natural gas, and the dirty secret in the IRA is the future carbon savings are based on …drum roll.. switching coal to natural gas to generate electricity. Solar does not work at night and wind so far has been a very minor percentage of electricity.
The reality is the one source of electricity that can be expanded rapidly — as Europe is discovering — is coal. The U.S. would be better off reducing demand for electricity to allow phasing out coal than switching gas and natural gas uses to the electrical grid which today can only be supplied by coal.
The obvious solution for the U.S. is nuclear power. But whatever innovation the U.S. comes up with must be something India, Africa and China can and will use or we will never reduce carbon emissions. Do we really want millions of nuclear reactors throughout the second and third world?
Am I the only person who sees the irony in a Governor announcing CA will stop selling gas cars in 2035 while asking citizens to not charge those (relatively few) EV’s, to turn the thermostat to 78, and who now is desperate to continue the nuclear plants he promised to shutter because his state has inadequate electricity?
Wouldn’t the sane approach be to create adequate green electricity for current needs before adding more to the grid?
Central America has been seeing ≈90 crop failure for several years now. This year the droughts extended to Europe, southwest USA, India and China.
So, we have a choice: convert everything to non-carbon power and continue to eat, or continue as-is until only rich people can afford to eat.
Someone I know living on San Juan Island put some solar panels on their house, and has an electric vehicle she charges regularly. Her electric bill this month was a credit of $8 for net power generated. So, we have ample capacity. We just need enough people to be interested in avoiding mass starvation.
Probably a large house with a lot of solar panels. Not practical for somebody in a small house, condo, or apartment. Or if they have a garden on their roof for food.
Also, do they drive the car only on the island? It may not rack up that many miles if they only drive within a small area.
And the typical suburban development pattern has some 3/4 of land occupied by parking spaces that could very easily have solar panels above them. All those huge warehouses being built around Lacey or the one in the middle of nowhere between Chehalis and Toledo?
Is not about what is possible in one spot, but about cumulative. We’ve more than enough capacity total.
As for her place:
It’s an older farmhouse that’s two floors. Probably less than average in terms of roof availability, especially compared to the huge single floor stuff in places like Magnolia and Kent.
Statistically, the vast majority of car trips are on the ≈ 15 mile and under range. Sure, she drives to places on the island, but also to places off the island because a lot of stuff isn’t there.
I’m not sure her driving habits are any different than most people, except for needing an hour ferry trip intermission to get to medical appointments in Seattle.
Daniel: you may wish to read actual news reports about what is happening in California before commenting on energy shortages.
California is having a drought. A very severe one. This means no water.
No water means no hydroelectric power. It also means no cooling water for thermal plants, such as the coal plants that use the Colorado River as a source of cooling water, or nuclear plants. Until a couple of years ago one of Los Angeles biggest sources of power was the Navajo coal plant in northern Arizona. The decades long water shortage has gotten bad enough they could no longer economically operate for much of the year.
So this leaves gas turbine with no combined cycle (because there’s no cooling water for the steam cycle) and diesel plants, which are extremely expensive to operate, so nobody uses them as base load power.
Wind and solar, however, don’t need cooling water. So, in many ways, they’re better off doing as fast a conversion to those sources as possible. The drought isn’t going to get any better as time goes on. Those sources lack the vulnerabilities the thermal plants have.
Glenn, 50% of electricity in CA is generated by gas with 65% by thermal. What are you taking about hurrying up wind and solar? How? Have you heard of the supply shortages?
Do you have any idea of the size of CA. It will take decades to replace gas, thermal and hydroelectric with wind and solar which are much less efficient.
My point is if all forms of generation are not enough today, and CA is adding electrical uses, switching 30 million gas cars to electric when there is insufficient electricity capacity today is risky. As gov Newsom is learning, if you have inadequate electricity you have to choose, and if it is 100 degrees AC is life and death.
Sure, hurry up and replace gas, thermal and hydro electricity with wind and solar. When you have done that, and have extra green electricity for 30 million EV’s by all means switch to EV’s. But don’t live in a fantasy world in which mandates for EV’s means the electricity exists for them, especially when it doesn’t exist for them today with much more efficient and cheaper thermal forms of generation.
It is very simple with today’s total electrical generation: you can power AC or EV’s. Green energy like wind and solar is much less efficient than gas so the expense and infrastructure to replace gas with green electricity in a state with 40 million citizens is probably the largest infrastructure project in history, before you switch 30 million cars and trucks from gas to EV’s.
I am a big fan of EV’s, but if the electricity needed to charge them is not greener than the combustion cars and trucks they replace there is no carbon savings.
The really big solar power plants I think are thermal as well, with steam turbines that would require a source of cooling (likely water) to run the condensers. That means even solar isn’t completely drought-resistant, unless we can come up with something cheap with a lot of heat capacity.
They’ve done one or two thermal mirror plants in California but the real untapped potential is in rooftops and otherwise wasted surface area. Large scale panel plants are cost competitive with any other generating capacity, including some of the older hydro.
What’s difficult about it is the preposterous situation where the power companies rely on homeowners to buy the panels. I think there would be better reception if the power companies owned and maintained the panels and rented the roof space.
One of the big untapped potentials is the reservoirs we already have. Putting solar panels over lakes reduces the heat gain, and thus improves the hydro outlook as it reduces losses to evaporation. It means less space available for freshwater skiing, but it seems like a small loss to me. Also, drinking water reservoirs aren’t usually publicly accessible anyway.
Many of the people I know who have gotten solar panels have done it to become independent of “the grid” so I’m not sure how much demand there is for renting roof space back to corporations. That said, there’s selection bias since the people who don’t have panels yet haven’t weighed in on why.
One of the qualms I have about photovoltaics is the environmental cost of mining the raw materials, for both the panels but also the energy storage. I know the manufacturing process has become a lot better but I think it has a ways to go before I’d call it truly green.
“Many of the people I know who have gotten solar panels have done it to become independent of “the grid””
Those are people who buy panels, spending tens of thousands of dollars (?) for long-term independence. Others are unwilling or unable to make that initial outlay, but might be willing to lease their roof to the local utility, especially if they get some money out of it.
There’s nothing about a utility roof leasing program that would exclude anyone from buying their own system if they wanted. With panels lasting decades and employment stability lasting perhaps 5 years, a long term investment like that only appeals to a minority.
Glenn, I’m curious as to what your opinion is on these so-called community solar farms that are popping up. I recently returned from a trip to see family in NY and NJ. Part of the vacation involved driving upstate to spend some time with an old college friend as well as one of my siblings who lives up there. While doing so, we passed by some old dairy farms that had been replaced by such solar installations.
Here’s some background on what I’m talking about:
I don’t think it’s a good idea to replace farmland with solar panels. We’ve so many square miles of parking and rooftops it doesn’t seem particularly desirable.
That said, the co-op model seems like a really good option. Ar least one wind farm in eastern Oregon is owned by the farmers co-op, and it has performed better than the nearby Portland General Electric wind farm. PGE seems to have decided to skimp on maintenance, while the better maintained co-op one has not had to shut down for emergency reasons and has a better record of producing power.
Of course, all of this flies in the face of my suggestion that maybe utilities renting roof space might help get more solar out there.
Electric co-ops helped bring electricity to under-served areas. I see no reason they couldn’t make a huge difference in renewables.
The more typical response in states with electrical grid shortages is a whole house generator. These can be operated with gas or natural gas/propane.
They produce a disproportionate amount of carbon for the electricity they produce, but they keep food in refrigerators and freezers cold, heat water and provide lighting, and in small areas generate AC which can be life saving during extreme heat when most electrical grids get stressed, which is when demand for generators is greatest. I suppose they can even charge EV’s although the irony is almost too rich.
Unfortunately they are not practical in multi-family buildings, although critical buildings like hospitals or digital storage buildings all have them.
My neighbor has one that turns on automatically if the power goes off. Luckily that is rare because it sounds like a 747.
They work better for multi-family buildings than they do for single houses. You get better economy of scale that way. They’re quite expensive though, so just as with single houses not everywhere has them.
Solar panel systems with a backup battery work really well at taking surplus power periods and evening out demand. Bad news is everyone seems to be using lithium based batteries, which are vastly more expensive than lead-acid per unit charge.
Bellevue Transit Center, 7:30pm today. I smell burning rubber, and assume one of the buses has a malfunctioning belt or tires, or some industrial chemical is around. Then I remember fentanyl smells like burning rubber. So I look around to see if anybody might be the source of it. I see three guys, one with something the right size for a pipe in his hand, and maybe foil though I’m not sure. I sit in a bench several benches away, to be away from the toxic smoke.
Drug addicts, not just in downtown Seattle anymore.
Was it ever a downtown only problem?
When I was in high school, the place that had the worst drug problem (from the perspective of fellow students who had friends develop drug problems) was North Clackamas Christian, a suburban private school.
The first time I saw sidewalk drug use beyond pot smoking was earlier this year downtown. Some days the crowd is a hundred people at 3rd & Pike (SODO bus routes), fifty at Pike & 4th (Capitol Hill routes), fifteen at 3rd & Pine (McDonald’s). Sometimes you see three people lighting up at once. Sometimes you see them hawking stolen products, or with implausable boxes that it’s unlikely they’re transporting by bus or just wanted to have while standing downtown. Sometimes you see people in wheelchairs, hanging out in the crowd for I don’t know why. They only congregate on a few specific blocks. Maybe a few I don’t remember, but those are the most common ones.
Last winter they congregated at 12th & Union (Little Saigon), although I only saw stolen goods there, not people lighting up. Daniel says it’s bad in Pioneer Square, and was worse in 2021 and early 2022. I haven’t been to Pioneer Square much since covid started so I can’t say. Daniel further says this problem is unique to downtown Seattle, and that the Eastside is blissfully safe and workers/shoppers/residents are switching to it as fast as they can.
But, I’ve seen a couple things wrong at Bellevue Transit Center this year, which I’ve mentioned on STB. Burien P&R is a gathering place for homeless-like people, especially at night as a friend who worked night shift at Kent warehouses and transferred there said. I haven’t specifically seen drugs or stolen goods at Burien P&R but they may be there. Kent Station bus plaza is the third suburban place I’ve seen homeless-like people, although only a half-dozen or less at a time. I suspect Everett Station, but somebody said no, it’s not there, it’s in downtown Everett.
I grew up in Belleuve and have had ties there since 1972, so I can confirm that as Bellevue has grown, it has become more Seattle-like in terms of big-city problems. Kirkland too. So you can’t assume the visible-homeless and visible-drug problem will remain only in Seattle. There was homelessness in the Eastside in the early 80s; it was just few in number and non-noticeable. It has never been like this at Bellevue Transit Center, but this year there are starting to be signs of it. Covid changed a lot of things, and accelerated trends. So the Eastside paradise may become less of a paradise in the future, with or without Link.
Mike, Pioneer Square has improved since Harrell became mayor. All the tents are gone (including along Dearborn or the old Nickelsville), although I understand Sodo is still bad.
Although some folks are clearly high on hard drugs I rarely see them take the drugs although I don’t walk the alleys. About the one bad spot is on 3rd between Yesler and James where the bus stops are. These stops and the entrance to Link are pretty dead. I definitely would not wait for a bus at 3rd and James. It really hurt when the courthouse closed.
The smell of pot is constant even in the morning. This summer the sectional for the National longshore organization held its meeting at the Sheraton in Seattle. Lawyers from around the country attended. Their comments were:
1. They have never smelled so much pot on the streets.
2. They have never seen so many cranes.
3. They have never seen so many boarded up stores in a town with so many cranes.
Many of these lawyers live in law and order parts of the country and simply can’t understand how the powers that be would turn such a beautiful city over to crazies and druggies.
The biggest issue during the day in Pioneer Square today is 2/3 of the stores and restaurants are closed, and in the past these restaurants (and food trucks) spilled into Occidental Square and created eyes on the street and retail vibrancy. Even Central Bakery is closed.
My brother-in-law lives in Pioneer Square and he says it gets a lot crazier at night, especially midweek when there are few people other than the crazies on the street.
I think returning retail vibrancy to downtown will be Harrell’s most difficult issue. Without the work commuter the downtown retail care is going to have to condense by half to have kind of retail density and vibrancy, even if Harrell can deal with the crime.
“a friend who worked night shift at Kent warehouses and transferred there said”
It turns out the earliest morning bus at 4 am from Kent to Seattle is the 161 to Burien P&R (4:45 and 5:15am), transferring to the 120 to downtown (starts at 4:16am). The 150 starts at 5:52 am. The 124 night extension to SeaTac may be an option, but the schedule doesn’t tell where or when it stops, so the 120 is surer bet.
Many of the newer urban developments always sound great until they actually get developed. They tend to disappoint from their lofty expectations. Spring District is no exception.
Neighborhoods take time to mature. I expect most new developments to be bland or sterile at first.
I think it depends on which zone or neighborhood you are talking about, and what you mean by “mature”, “bland” and sterile”.
If you are talking about a SFH zone, then maturity usually means trees and vegetation, although a smart city doesn’t allow mature trees to be removed during development. Also limiting house to lot area ratios will certainly help, as will large yard setbacks. It is the ruralness that is maturity in this zone. From a retail point of view these neighborhoods want serenity and safety so bland and sterility are not bad things just like bland in a park is not a bad thing. A HOA can produce pretty consistent architecture which some like and some don’t.
A multi-family zone often has no yard setbacks so no trees or vegetation on private property. The massing naturally can lead to sterility. They also want quiet and safety. So to avoid sterility or blandness they need to be within walking or short driving distance to retail. Otherwise all you have is residential housing with no green spaces or vegetation/trees.
A commercial zone like downtown Seattle is designed to be sterile and bland. It will never “mature” into anything different. There are no yards.
That is the problem. Developers like these kinds of zones because the profit is/was the greatest. They have very little if any mature vegetation on the property, their size shades the street, the facades are designed to be imposing and impersonal, and most have no retail at the street level. How to convert these to residential spaces post pandemic will be one of the toughest issues for cities like Seattle. Today the empty commercial towers are the epitome of sterility.
For a mixed-use zone the key is to realize which use is the most profitable, and which is the most bland, and that is the same use: commercial. So if not zoned correctly you will basically end up with The Spring Dist. because the retail space was not required when permitted and can’t really be added later. The point SLUer makes is most think of planned mixed-use zones and envision all the retail density and vibrancy they can walk to when the other uses allowed in the zone work against that. So people naturally envision retail vibrancy on the street like Bellevue Way but get commercial office space because it makes the developer the most money.
More and more I think urban planners need to rethink their fascination of mixed-use zones because the uses are often incompatible, unless it is converting a commercial zone that is empty. For a very long time zoning was all about segregating uses, in large part to condense retail and remove any competing use in the zone, because in the end retail vibrancy and density is what hopefully matures in a zone and is the opposite of bland or sterile. A mixed-use zone requires much greater population density than most think (more like New York), and most areas don’t have that so you get the commercial and some multi-family housing but still end up taking transit or driving to retail like U Village.
The Spring District is about 1% into its redevelopment. We won’t know for at least a decade if it disappoints. I suspect it won’t. One development I did see recently that disappoints was Totem Lake. What a mess. They should have eliminated that road (120th Ave) that cuts through the middle of it. Cars everywhere. A confusing maze of parking lots. And I’m not even an anti-car nut.
That’s funny Sam. On the eastside planners use the Village at Totem Lake as a great example of mixed-use zoning. https://www.thevillageattotemlake.com/uploads/explore/TLX_Directory8122_2022-08-02-155941_shjd.pdf
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