October 8 – ST3? Try, try again…

Public transit in Seattle and the Puget Sound region has had a fitful history.  November’s ballot initiative Prop 1, the $54B Sound Transit 3 (ST3) expansion is yet another chapter.

Using Forward Thrust as the starting point of this saga, voters in 1968 and 1970 rejected plans for an urban subway system that would have seen as much as 75% of the $1.3B price tag federally funded.  A 60% vote was needed, which was hard to achieve during the severe “Boeing recession.”  In 1972 voters approved an all-bus Metro system, then in 1990 as a result of the passage of the Growth Management Act, planning was authorized which led to the formation of Sound Transit.

The first Sound Transit ballot initiative in 1995, a $6.7B package that included at-grade light rail from Lynnwood to Tacoma and across I-90 to Overlake, along with bus and commuter rail was rejected, but a downscaled initiative passed in 1996.  That package, called Sound Move, proposed a starter light rail line between Northgate and SeaTac and included more express bus services. It has resulted in the 14.6 mile Central Link line that runs between the UW Husky Stadium and Angle Lake (below SeaTac airport) today.  Failed negotiations with potential contractors resulted in delays and management turnover, so Sound Move has cost nearly $5B and had overruns of over 86% more than originally projected.

A second stage for Sound Transit was proposed as part of a regional transportation ballot measure in 2007. The joint highways and transit measure (called the Regional Transportation Investment District, or RTID) was defeated, but the transit portion was brought back to voters in 2008 as Sound Transit 2 (ST2). That $17.8B measure was approved to expand Central Link north to Lynnwood, east to Bellevue and the Microsoft campus, and south to Federal Way.   When built out in 2023, this expansion to the system will have added another 36 miles of light rail service.

Now with the original Sound Move’s final stations open (UW Husky stadium stop opening just this spring and Angle Lake and its 1,100 parking spaces last week) voters will decide this Fall whether to fund ST3, a $54B package that will add 62 more miles to the light rail system completing the original system vision mandated in Sound Transit’s state enabling legislation to connect Everett, Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue with a spine of high capacity transit service. Continue reading

September 10 – Neighborhoods Mini-Summit

Last month’s panel discussion, The Future of Neighborhood and District Councils, was in response to Mayor Murray’s executive order dissolving the City’s support for Neighborhood District Councils. It was moderated by Nick Licata, and can be seen here.

The panel discussed the history and intent of the District Council system and neighborhood engagement, and they dispelled many of the falsehoods being perpetuated by the Murray administration and provided correctives to them.

There was much discussion about next steps and what should be done.  There is already community action on pulling together a citywide neighborhoods summit (the SNC arranged one years ago with over 350 attendees to discuss how to get the City to implement the newly adopted neighborhood plans).

Hence the theme for this month’s meeting – a mini-summit on what to do next:

  • what are the core issues for your neighborhood and District, and which of these are shared across districts or unique
  • what can the City be doing better to empower neighborhoods and facilitate communication with the various and diverse neighborhood interests
  • how can neighborhoods broaden citywide communication and response to the City
  • what should District City Council members be doing to improve communication with their constituents
  • what can neighborhoods do to counter the developer-funded HALA and 2035 propaganda from astro-turf organizations like Seattle for Everyone and the tightly controlled conversation in the HALA Focus Groups
  • what should a citywide neighborhoods summit look like
  • what can individuals and groups do to make their communities better

We want to hear from neighbors in each of the seven City Council Districts.

As usual, you are encouraged to sit wherever you like for breakfast. We will ask you to chat with your table-mates about the questions above.  Please take notes about what you hear and jot down your own ideas.

After breakfast, we will ask you to shift to marked geographic tables 1-7.  Each of the 7 groups will talk about the issues they see within their neighborhood, District and what they’ve heard from others throughout the city.

In the last hour, we will compare notes, and give feedback on the ideas which seem the most compelling — as a “to do” list for community organizers, City Council and the Executive.  We will make note of the proposed action items, and prepare a report from this meeting for you to share with your own neighborhood.

Please join us on Saturday, September 10th  at 9:00am for for this important discussion  Bring your neighbors and help spread the word about this program.  We look forward to hearing from you.

More information can be found here.

June 11 – Who speaks for the neighborhoods?

Former Mayor Mike McGinn ponders “who speaks for Seattle’s neighborhoods” in a recent Crosscut op-ed.  This month we will hear from a panel of neighborhood activists who represent organizations that feel they speak with a “neighborhood” voice:

  • Catherine Weatbrook – Co-chair of the City Neighborhood Council and past chair of the Ballard District Council
  • Ruedi Risler – President of the University Park Community Club, a neighborhood council that does not allow renters to be members
  • Zachary Pullin – President of the Capitol Hill Community Council, a neighborhood  council that tries to engage renters in the organization
  • Deborah Jaquith – Chair of the newly formed Crown Hill Urban Village Committee for Smart Growth

Read more about the issue here…

May 14 – Council member Lisa Herbold

May 14th we will be joined by Seattle City Council member Lisa Herbold.
The long time council staffer turned freshman council member will talk about preserving affordable housing stock, displacement and HALA affordability, quashing the arena deal, Pronto bikes, and many other issues.

April 9 – Can Seattle beat its Heroin Addiction problem?

Could safe injection sites in Seattle’s neighborhoods be a way to help counterbalance the more negative impacts of our heroin epidemic? Will the newly assign Heroin and Prescription Opiate Taskforce help identify solutions to the problem, and, more importantly, can the City and the County fully fund the services and solutions identified by the Taskforce that are necessary to help meet the needs of these vulnerable people?

Please join us on April 9 as our panel discusses the issue.  We will be joined by Brad Finegood, Assistant Director of King County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Division and co-chair of the King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s Heroin and Prescription Opiate Taskforce; Tim Durkan, who has closely observed the homeless and addict community in Seattle (and currently has a photography show on the issue); and Shiloh Murphy, founder and Executive Director of the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance, and member of the Taskforce.

More on the issue here.


March 12 Meeting – Roger and Us

To many neighborhood activists, Roger Valdez is an iconoclast.   I suspect Roger would be pleased with that designation.  In the on-going battles over the future of Seattle and how it will grow, Roger continues to march to his own beat.

There is no doubt that he is a controversial figure in Seattle.   The Director of Smart Growth Seattle is a paid lobbyist for a segment the development industry, and his views are often at odds with both City Hall and residents in relation to how Seattle with grow.

The SNC is pleased to have Roger Valdez joining us on Saturday, March 12 at 9am for what should be a lively and wide ranging conversation about Seattle’s housing future, the density we should embrace, bathroom sinks, and how the City may not be doing everything it can to keep the city affordable.

Continue reading

February 13 Meeting – Will HALA deliver housing affordability or only result in further gentrification?

To look closer at the possible negative displacement and gentrification impacts of the HALA recommendations, and explore how “the market” will produce so many deeply affordable units, we will have a panel discussion of HALA and the 2035 Equity Analysis.  We are pleased to be joined by Geoffrey Wendlandt (tentative) from the Seattle’s Department of Planning and Community Development, Prof. Henry McGee from Seattle University (whose did the seminal analysis of changes to Seattle’s Central District), activist and organizer Amir Islam (United Hood Movement), and a member of the HALA committee (TBD).

This will be an important conversation about what lays ahead in 2016 for the city and our neighborhoods, and what you need to know to assess impacts of HALA on your neighborhood.

Please join us on Saturday, February 13 at 9am for what should prove to be a informative and lively discussion.

More background information on the topic of HALA and gentrification can be found here.