Tuesday, 25 June, 2019

Community Transit Hints At Service Boost and Restructure Post-Lynnwood Link

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It’s been well known for awhile that Community Transit plans to expand the Swift network further by 2024 to complement opening of the Lynnwood Link extension and I-405 and SR-522 bus rapid transit (Stride). That said, how the overall network might be shuffled around for local and commuter service has been less clear. Recently, Community Transit announced that the transit agency is currently evaluating what an overhaul of the full bus network will look like once the light rail extension is open at a briefing to the Snohomish County Council on service planning.

What the network in Southwest Snohomish County with Link could look like in 2024. (Community Transit)
What the network in Southwest Snohomish County with Link could look like in 2024. (Community Transit)

The 2024 concepts indicate that the local bus network will grow and improve service to Snohomish County communities with more frequency, coverage, and span of service due to saved service hours from truncating and eliminating commuter routes and increasing revenues. Much of the service planning emphasis will be on how to get bus riders to and from light rail and Sound Transit’s forthcoming Stride service. Community Transit’s own bus rapid transit lines (Swift) will continue to be major workhouses to do this work with the addition of a new Orange Line between McCollum Park Park-and-Ride and Edmonds Community College as well as an extended Blue Line southward to the NE 185th St light rail station in Shoreline. Community Transit will also look at how other first- and last-mile mobility options could factor into connecting local riders with several major transit centers near the county line.

Level of Service to Grow

Service hours are set to jump. (Community Transit)

In recent years, Community Transit has been increasing annual service hours with bouying tax revenues and a sales tax increase authorized in 2015. Once approved, the transit agency began a six-year process to grow annual service hours about 40%.

Annual service hours stand at about 450,000 right now, which made about a 10% year-over-year jump, primarily due to the introduction of Swift Green Line service in March. That number will jump to over 600,000 in 2024. A good chunk of this will become available with saved service hours (noted in orange in the graph) of buses that currently operate on I-5.

Commuter Route Concepts

Community Transit currently has 25 commuter routes (including six Sound Transit-branded routes) that operate between Snohomish County and King County, mostly to Downtown Seattle and University District. Buses spend much of their time stuck in congestion on I-5 and I-405 as well as deadheading (out of service trips to route terminals). The opening of light rail and Stride to Lynnwood will greatly reduce the need for commuter routes running into King County. With the new connections, the I-5 and I-405 service hours could be reinvested to more local versions of the commuter routes to reach light rail and Stride.

MASS Forums Reveal Stark Differences in Council Races

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Candidates with their rapid fire round placards. (Credit: Doug Trumm)

The Seattle City Council candidate forums hosted by the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) coalition zeroed in on transportation and housing issues and revealed not all races were created equally.

The District 4 (D4) forum displayed a considerable consensus around adding density in single family zones and making streets safer for people walking, rolling, biking, etc. Granted, this consensus was furthered by the absence of Alex Pedersen, homeowner group groupie. Apparently Pederson was talking with some Magnuson Park neighbors about public safety instead. Here’s a tweet recap of the D4 debate by yours truly. (See D4 forum transcript.)

On the other hand, District 7 (D7) candidates were much more hesitant to go all-in on a safe streets and urbanist platform; our own Ryan Packer had a tweet thread from the D7 forum. In fact, most were much more excited to blow something like a half a billion dollars doing a one-for-one replacement of the Magnolia Bridge to expand car capacity in D7 rather than grapple with funding more pressing needs for transit, sidewalks, and biking infrastructure–which the same candidates often painted as too expensive. Queen Anne Greenways tweeted that they’d like to trade for some D4 candidates. (See D7 forum transcript.)

Likewise, a wide variety of transportation and housing takes were on display District 6 (D6) and some were not too into the MASS platform. Retiring Councilmember Mike O’Brien has generally been a stalwart for safe streets and housing justice, but some in the district are taking his retirement as a chance to go in the opposite direction. (See D6 transcript.)

District 2 (D2) was somewhere in-between with some candidates telling MASS supporters to take a hike on their priorities and/or making stuff up (cough: Ari Hoffman). But frontrunner Tammy Morales (who lost by less than 400 votes to retiring Councilmember Bruce Harrell last time around) displayed a firm grasp of the issues. (See D2 transcript.)

The District 3 (D3) still has an incumbent in Councilmember Kshama Sawant so it had a different dynamic with challengers taking an aggressive stance in hopes of erasing the advantage of incumbency, as Natalie Bicknell reported. Fireworks aside, candidates seemed amenable to reducing the primacy of cars to make space for people, while their housing solutions varied along a spectrum from free market-focused fixes (Logan Bowers) to social housing centered platforms (Sawant). (See D3 transcript.)

Rooted In Rights recently released all the forum videos (complete with transcripts and closed captions) so you can see for yourself who were the standouts. Seattle Tech 4 Housing was nice enough to code all the rapid-fire responses into spreadsheets for each race to more easily see the differences.

Ride for Safe Streets this Sunday!

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Seattle’s streets should be safe for everyone: people of all ages, languages, ethnicities, genders, races, and abilities. But currently many of our streets aren’t and the Durkan administration hasn’t made fixing them a priority.

Join a coalition of groups that care about our safety, our climate, and our city on Sunday, June 16 to celebrate the joys of biking, rolling, and walking, and urge City leaders to fast-track improvements to make Seattle’s streets safe for everyone.

We’ll meet at Seattle City Hall at 1pm for a lively rally with face painting and other family activities and then travel with hundreds of people down 4th Avenue to Westlake Park. It’ll be a family-friendly fun Father’s Day afternoon coming together to make our streets safe for all families.

There’s also a bike train from Othello Station and Plaza Roberto Maestas to help the Southeast Seattle contingent arrive safely and in style. See below for details.

Ride for Safe Streets
Sunday, June 16, 1-3 pm
Seattle City Hall to Westlake Park
RSVP here and share the event on Facebook.

Unlike Seattle, Golf Really Is Dying

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Interbay Golf Center used to be a landfill. (Credit: Interbay Golf Center)

Last week, The Seattle Times ran an article headlined, ‘Study questions ‘best use’ of golf courses Seattle operates’. The article stems from a report that the City commissioned in 2017. The report was apparently due a year ago, but was only recently released, as reported by Erica C. Barnett at the C is for Crank.

A number of candidates immediately jumped into the fray, including former councilmember Heidi Wills on her campaign facebook page. “The City is wasting time and money studying the best use of our city’s golf courses. These green jewels are our inheritance,” she opined.
 
Merely studying what the best use of rarely used 528 acres (11%) of Seattle’s city-owned open space — amidst an open space shortage, a housing crisis, and rapidly devolving climate situation— is a waste of time and money, Wills alleges. The city’s report is mostly full of fluff, seemingly tilted to elevate the importance and forthcoming increased usage of municipal golf into the future, in order to justify the large expenditures it will require in coming years. Unsurprisingly, the data indicates the opposite.

Total rounds are in freefall. (Credit: City of Seattle Golf Study)

Golf’s Severe Lack of Diversity

The data shows a disturbing lack of diversity, heavily tilted toward men being the dominant user — no municipal course in 2016 saw more than 17% of users were female, and half saw as little as 10%. This isn’t really surprising, golf has long had a diversity problem, as well as a troubled history of misogyny. Also worth noting, according to the report, nearly 70% of players stated they don’t actually play most of their golf in Seattle. The report doesn’t have any data on racial diversity of users, but notes that until the 1960s, minority golfers faced significant discrimination.

City Council Approves Affordable Housing at Fort Lawton and Extends Showbox Moratorium

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Fort Lawton has been lying unused for many years. (Credit: Doug Trumm)

On Monday, the Seattle City Council took a big step in approving a rezone and development plan for the Fort Lawton site. The legislation will pave the way for an affordable housing complex with more than 235 homes to move forward. The city council also extended what amounts to a moratorium to block redevelopment of the Showbox and several other pieces of land use and housing legislation.

Fort Lawton

The redevelopment area of Fort Lawton has been rezoned from single-family residential to Lowrise 2, which will the denser affordable multifamily project to proceed ahead. This culminated a 13-year process with many delays and appeals along the way. The city council adopted the recommended redevelopment plan proposed by the Seattle Office of Housing. According to the draft redevelopment plan, the housing mixture, tenure of households served, funding, and sponsors will include:

  • 85 dwelling unit units for seniors. The units will be designed for supportive housing and set aside for households making at or below 30% of the area median income. Catholic Community Services of Western Washington and United Indians of All Tribes Foundation will sponsor these units. The total cost is estimated to be approximately $28.3 million with $9.1 million in funding coming from Seattle.
  • Approximately 100 dwelling units will serve low-income families and individuals. The apartments will include some two- and three-bedroom units and serve households making up to 60% of the area median income. Catholic Community Services of Western Washington will sponsor these units. The total cost is estimated to be approximately $40.2 million with $7.7 million in funding coming from Seattle.
  • Up to 52 “self-help” ownership homes. These dwellings will serve households making up to 80% of the area median income. Habitat for Humanity will sponsor these units. The total cost is estimated to be approximately $18.4 million with $4.7 million in funding coming from Seattle.

The proposed redevelopment, however, still suffers from lack of direct access to 30th Ave W. Residents will unnecessarily have to walk or bike long distances to access the local street network and other amenities.

The Final Head-to-Head Vote for the Crown of Seattle’s Worst Intersection

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After weeks of deliberation and hundreds of votes, we’re down to two finalists for Seattle’s worst intersection in 2019.

Now in its seventh year, the worst intersection in Seattle competition brings out the very best of the worst by inviting readers to nominate and campaign for those crossroads that impede commutes and frustrate people on foot, riding bikes, or riding the bus.

The two finalists advanced from a crowded field of over 16 nominees. One of them has been crowned the worst intersection before. The other is certainly well qualified.

Readers of The Urbanist voted for former winner Denny Way & Stewart St ahead of Mercer & 9th in South Lake Union. Denny & Stewart (& Yale) advanced past many worthy nominees in South Lake Union, so many, in fact that there was an extra play-in round to narrow down the options. Denny & Stewart was voted Seattle’s worst intersection back in 2017.

The former champion will face off in the finals against NE 40th St, NE 40th St, and 7th Ave NE in the University District. This intersection has the unique distinction of having four intersecting streets with the same name. In last week’s semifinal competition, this five-way intersection beat another five-way intersection, Rainier Ave S, S Jackson St, Boren Ave S and 14th Ave S. The latter intersection at the border of the International District and Seattle’s Atlantic neighborhood had twice as many unique street names as the winner, but it received fewer votes.

Latest Seattle Subway Vision Map Refines the Metro 8 Line, Adds Edmonds to Network

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Seattle Subway 2019 Vision Map. (Credit: Seattle Subway)

Seattle Subway isn’t an organization to rest on its laurels. Fresh off Sound Transit 3 (ST3) success–with voters greenlighting 62 miles of light rail and two bus rapid transit corridors–Seattle Subway continues to keep an eye on the next transit measure.

This is a yearly ritual for all-volunteer-run organization; this year Seattle Subway Executive Director Keith Kyle said the tweaks are geared toward zeroing in on lines that are attractive for future transit measures. As you can tell from the map, Seattle will be a centerpiece, but there are some interesting additions for the suburbs too. The major differences from past maps (like the 2018 and 2017 versions) include extending the Aurora line to Edmonds, picking up Shoreline along the way and extending the Metro 8–named because it would turn the perpetually late Route 8 bus into a workhorse rail line–line to Belltown and Pike Place Market.

“There’s a lot of people really excited about the Metro 8 line,” Kyle said. “So we kinda spent some time thinking about what would it look like if you could really pull in neighborhoods that aren’t getting great service. How would you improve service to a lot of dense areas? I haven’t seen a version of the Metro 8, for example, that serves Belltown before or that tries to serve the [Seattle] Waterfront.”

With the 2019 tweaks, the Metro 8’s eastern terminus would be Mount Baker and its western terminus would be Pike Place Market, pulling in the Waterfront, which will soon get a big-time makeover. Along the way, it’d pick up Belltown, Denny Triangle (interlining with the Green Line’s Denny station), South Lake Union, Summit Slope (aka East Capitol Hill), and Western Capitol Hill with a 15th Avenue stop. From here on, the Metro 8 follows the same course as last year’s version–next stop Madison Valley, where it’d connect with a Madison Rapid Transit line that the map envisions crossing Lake Washington to Kirkland and interlining with the planned Issaquah line from the ST3 map. It’d also serve the Central District with two stops and Judkins Park, connecting with East Link.

Sunday Video: Amsterdam’s Removing 10,000 Parking Spaces

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Streetfilms shows how Amsterdam is removing 1,500 street motor parking spaces per year to create green space, bike parking, and active park space. Amsterdammers appear to be supportive of the program.

Bike Works

Bike Works