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RSS icon Comments on As Promised: Footage from Our Prop 1 Debate

1

Why should we even bother watching? Not like you guys made a decision that has any sense to it.

What you failed to grasp is that we face not just a climate crisis, but an energy crisis as well. The rising cost of gasoline, exacerbated by Peak Oil (if only Al Gore would make a movie on that issue), means that even IF all those roads and lanes got built - nobody would actually use them. The notion that Prop 1 would increase driving by 43% or whatever the number was only makes sense if we assume 2007 conditions remain constant.

But they won't remain constant. As the cost of gas rises, people drive less. Since that cost WILL rise in the coming years, it is very difficult to believe that the drivers will actually materialize.

Wouldn't that merely leave us with wasted concrete? Of course not. The added lanes make perfect light rail right-of-way. Convert the medians to rail (as in Dan's picture from Chicago below) or put it on the side as with the Green Line along I-205 in Portland.

In any event, the new roads are *irrelevant.* The drivers will NOT materialize. But if we don't provide people with a light rail system, the region will grind to a halt when the gas costs rise.

Your decision to oppose Prop 1 is unbelievably short-sighted. Like Dan's pro-Iraq War article, you will very quickly come to regret it. Such a tragedy, especially from the folks who did such an excellent job on the Viaduct.

Posted by eugene | October 18, 2007 4:27 PM
2

Shut up, eugene.

I'd rather watch the full thing. Why are you relying on YouTube? Make it a .mov and give us a link. This is cut to bloody hell.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 18, 2007 4:29 PM
3

Eugene, you dropped your rattle. Here ya go.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | October 18, 2007 4:32 PM
4

Good thing they hadn't started the hearings on requiring all US vehicles and transit to reduce global warming emissions by 70 percent before 2020 yet.

Would have been even more lopsided.

People don't like to pay money to do something and then pay money to do the exact opposite.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 18, 2007 4:41 PM
5

Rob Johnson is hot

Posted by blaire | October 18, 2007 4:46 PM
6

Will - the roads & railbeds cause the emissions?

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | October 18, 2007 4:47 PM
7

I think Prop 1 offers a model for regional development that isn't lopsided or uneven, which is why I don't understand this Eastside vs. Seattle thing. In planning stuff like this, everyone gets something, no one gets everything.

Sorry kids, but you haven't convinced me.

Posted by Ziggity | October 18, 2007 4:48 PM
8

My understanding of this package is that it's the culmination of a 5-year project to get all the different constituencies to agree on "something". The package isn't perfect, but it's got a hell of a lot of light rail, and it took a very long time to get this proposal put together. If the voters scrap it, I doubt that a clear pro-transit message will ring out, and I *seriously* doubt that a transit-only package will be ready in time for 2008. (I hope that issue is covered more in Part II of the interview? What's the reasoning that says it's easy or even possible to whip up a new proposal in one year?)

I agree in part with Eugene above: Yes, in theory we're going to build a lot of roads, but I think we're going to be seeing a lot of changes in how people use their cars over the next 5-10 years. We shouldn't necessary assume that those roads will be packed with cars. The perfect is the enemy of the good... that's what I'm going with when I'm voting Yes.

Posted by Uncle Vinny | October 18, 2007 4:55 PM
9

Hey Mike O'Brien-
I know you're worried about global warming, is that why you drive a Nissan Pathfinder?

Guess it's okay to compromise in your personal life...

Posted by Mr. Nissan | October 18, 2007 4:58 PM
10

I'm glad Sierra Club is making global warming a prominent part of the debate, but I agree w/ Uncle Vinny -- it's more about what kind of cars we drive (better technology in cars can easily meet the 80% reduction standard -- if everybody drove a Prius, we'd almost be there, and we'll be driving lower emitting cars than those by 2050) and how much it costs to drive them that will drive the debate. Add congestion pricing, carbon taxes, and light rail, and the 80% reduction is totally attainable with a few new lanes of road. And, like the P-I wrote in today's editorial on Prop. 1, the new 405 lanes can be used as bus-only lanes if that's what we want them to be. Despite their good intentions, I think the Sierra Club, if it's successful, will add another chapter to the Commons/Monorail/etc. Seattle/Puget Sound political paralysis syndrome.

Posted by hot air | October 18, 2007 5:07 PM
11

Mike O'Brien, so why do you drive a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder that get's an emission rating of 1 out of 10?

You are making global warming worse.

Care to explain?

Posted by path (finder) to global warming | October 18, 2007 5:27 PM
12

Michael McGinn's comments about marching to Olympia and demanding that the Legislature base all future transportation planning decisions on climate change issues were amusing, if nothing else. Michael forgets that the Sierra Club's "No" campaign is piggybacking on Kemper Freeman's much larger and more powerful "No Light Rail" campaign. If Prop. 1 loses, Michael M. and Michael O. will arrive in Olympia to find that Kemper is already there, saying that Prop. 1's failure "proves" that people don't want light rail extension and that the next package authorized should be roads-only.

Keep in mind that the Sierra Club has claimed from the start that they opposed linking roads and transit two years back, but lacked the necessary pull in Olympia to influence the decision. No matter the results of the Prop. 1 vote, the Sierra Club is still a group of fringe lefties.

Posted by J.R. | October 18, 2007 5:48 PM
13

I'm fucking sick of paying for roads. I won't pay for any roads. I am telling EVERYONE I know (all 2 of you) to vote against this silly RTID wasteful bag of poop. If you want rapid transit get the fuck out of your car and show up late for work along with 200,000 other poeple because you took the bus and it was packed. Stop bitching and get out of your car.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | October 18, 2007 5:54 PM
14

No, even if everyone drove a Prius we'd at best cut the emissions in half.

We are looking at 70 percent reduction.

And that's half of the increased 30 percent from the RTID/ST2 package.

So it's even worse.

We're talking MAJOR reductions.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 18, 2007 6:00 PM
15

Sims/Sierra Cub Scouts are extrememly confused as to whether they like congestion or not. In the past, the EarthFirst crowd always told us congestion was a good way to limit driving. Now they are saying the exact opposite. They now want rich and upper middle class people to drive MORE.

On one hand, these clowns claim to be trying to get people out of their cars. On the other hand, they are also trying to make freeways work better (allowing more people to drive) with congesion pricing.

This contradiction proves neither Sims nor Sierra Cub Scouts have ANY idea what the f#%k they are doing.

http://www.metrokc.gov/exec/news/2007/0912_LocalEditionTranscript.aspx

-Sims: So we expect that people are going to move much better. You know our goal is to have an average speed of 45 miles per hour, which is a lot faster than they're going now.

Ventrella: That's for sure. So congesting pricing basically allows people to shop for a time of day when it is maybe a little less convenient but certainly less expensive to go.

Sims: And it works. People should have their lives back. You shouldn't have to sit there and say, I can't get home till 6:15 or 6:30, and miss out on a lot of your life. And those commutes are pretty demanding on people.-


And here is Sierra Club chair Mike O'Brien admitting people like the Roads and Transit package, but whining at the same time about its cost and schedule:

"When they tell people what's being built, people get excited about it," O'Brien said. "When they tell people how much it will cost and how long it will take, they aren't so excited about it."

Earth to Mike O'Brien - if the projects were sped up, they would COST A LOT MORE per taxpayer. Get it? Could you please join us in reality one day?

And can you say "super-naive"?

-O'Brien says if there is a "no" vote he would expect a new package on the ballot quickly. -

Posted by Matchstick Man | October 18, 2007 6:08 PM
16

"Michael McGinn's comments about marching to Olympia and demanding that the Legislature base all future transportation planning decisions on climate change issues were amusing, if nothing else. Michael forgets that the Sierra Club's "No" campaign is piggybacking on Kemper Freeman's much larger and more powerful "No Light Rail" campaign."

These guys are just useful tools of the road-building right, but they like it because they get a lot of free media attention for their latest pet cause.

Funny how the right wingers have been very careful in debates and forums not to criticize their Nader-bound friends, the Sierra Cub Scouts

Posted by Matchstick Man | October 18, 2007 6:10 PM
17

My live blogging while listening to Part 1

First Dan's tongue. No more to say on that.

Rob Johnson is HOT (his arguments also make sense to me)

That slouchy guy is distracting because of his slouch. And he is BORING.

Time
passes
slowly.

Slouchy Boring Guy is still blathering on.

Sandeep flirts with Erica and then puts on his wise owl persona.

McGinn versus Sandeep. Fun stuff.

McGinn is pissed that elected's in Oly actually negotiated connecting Transit and Roads. He wants a list of who said that and is going to personally go kick their asses.

Rob Johnson (being hot again and) using David Hillers own argument against him. Zing!

Mike McGinn say's "We are running on Global Warming. We are running on Global Warming"
Dan Savage answers with 'I don't see how this package going down is good for global warming'. Zing!

Sandeep goes off track but brings it back and scores a good point - Sierra Club is in bed with Kemper Freeman. Triple Zing!!!

Everyone is talking at once - ugh -someone get control!

Posted by Mrs. Y | October 18, 2007 6:54 PM
18

Michael McGinn is a shameless hypocrite. He has no problem living in a single-family, in-city home that he was able to buy on the cheap. Now he wants to deny other people like him not only the opportunity to do exactly what he did, but the only truly competitive alternative. That alternative is density that is backed up by reliable, fast transit. Yeah, the easiest sacrifices are the ones you can impose on other people, even if those other people no different than you.

It's stunning to me that such vapid, self-righteous people like Michael McGinn and Michael O'Brien, with smirks on their faces, can pontificate about what to do about global warming when they don't have the first clue about global warming. Not surprising, really. If they can't get something simple like the political reality outside their little single-family-Seattle cocoon, how are they supposed to get something complicated like the impacts of planning decisions on global warming?

In some sense, though, I have to cut these guys some slack. It's hard to have a clue when you don't have any integrity or humility backing it up, when you already know it all.


Posted by cressona | October 18, 2007 7:41 PM
19

I think this vote is going to be incredibly close. And my fear is, just like in the 2000 presidential election where Gore lost it all by a 537-vote margin in Florida, the Sierra Club is going to make a small but decisive difference.

I truly believe that, if Prop. 1 goes down, the political prospects for light rail are grim. Never mind Ed Murray's governance reform gambit. Even if that doesn't happen, where will the coalitions and the money and the sheer will and goodwill come from to mount a successful light rail campaign, never mind to get Olympia to allow a light rail on the ballot in the first place? People and businesses and organizations can't just keep fighting for transit in perpetuity; at some point, they've got to cut their losses.

Sure, the little, starter line will open in 2009. But by the time service is up and running successfully and have a "Look, it works" effect, the election year will be 2010. And even then, let's not so easily assume that an operating line will be political Teflon. Look how hard it has been for TriMet in Portland to win public votes to extend their system.

By the time 2010 rolls around, it will probably be too late. By that time, we'll never have a real light rail system up and running in time to provide the foundation whereby Seattle can compete economically in a post-peak oil world.

But there's a larger point here about being too late. In politics and business and life, timing really is everything. You have to strike while the iron is hot. The businesses that would have sustained the economy and made it wealthy enough to tolerate a tax increase will look at the congestion (and the lack of an alternative) and say, "Fuck this; we're moving on." The private citizens who care deeply about transit and the environment will say to themselves, "Fuck this; we're moving on."

Once the moment passes, there's no bringing it back. Seattle will have come to its fork in the road. One way is Houston. The other is Vancouver. We'll have chosen Houston, and we'll have to live with that choice. People who like a dense, pedestrian-friendly lifestyle won't gravitate to Seattle. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Once we decide to be like Houston, we make ourselves less able to change course and try to be like Vancouver.

I'm reminded of how Poland is trying to have a Jewish revival now. There's only one small problem. There aren't any Jews left in Poland. Keep this in mind when Seattle tries to have its mass transit revival.

Posted by cressona | October 18, 2007 8:15 PM
20

It's kinda ironic that Michael McGinn's righteous little organization is called the Seattle Great City Initiative. A truly great city is the last thing Michael and his do-nothing, know-nothing contingent wants. You can't keep implicitly making arguments like, "Seattle ends at the city limits," "We want to keep our predominantly single-family zoning," and "Suburban density is sprawl," and say you want a great city.

Maybe Michael should rename his group the Seattle Nice Town Initiative. Or perhaps the Historic Seattle Preservation Society.

Posted by cressona | October 18, 2007 8:24 PM
21

Cressona I like the Historic Seattle Preservation Society.

These guys don't have a clue. Not building roads hasn't reduced vmt anywhere. For 20 years we didn't invest in roads in the Puget Sound. Guess what happened, vmt went up, way up. That same PSRC data that the 700 club uses to show that Roads and Transit will increase vmt by 43%, shows that doing nothing increases vmt by 52% And it is worth mentioning that that data is from 2001. So by no means is it a judgement on this plan which wasn't put together until 06 and 07.

Posted by ted | October 18, 2007 8:39 PM
22

@19 - Cressona
I take it you quire familiar with Houston's no-zone zoning and the more-LA than LA result. So, I'm also assuming from the comments Seattle vice Houston that you have a dark outlook. That's depressing. I don't think Seattleites would ever willingly or even accidentally allow this to go down that bayou path that Houston took.

Then again, we're not clever enough to pull of a Vancouver version, either. But then we don't have the help of the state here and BC government was a positive partner in their public transit. Alas, it will come down to all of us lobbying Olympia and setting a few legislative minds free.

Maybe a junket to Boston, NYC, DC, Chicago, SF to check out real public transit would convince our state house denizens of the worthiness of good public transit. There's still a lot of money to be made building good public transit, all the money isn't necessarily in roads - if you are a construction company, or a labor union, or a wealthy developer, seems to me that a fast-track, large-scale, integrated and well-thought-out (meaning it gets the most people to the most places they want to get to) rapid transit system could make a handsome profit even with full-cost disclosure.

Think more positively, please.

Posted by chas Redmond | October 18, 2007 10:10 PM
23

Chas. Redmond, you're right. We're not Houston. We've got the Growth Management Act, and they've got uncontrolled sprawl. (Never mind that Houston's also got an operating light rail system, and we don't.) It's hard not to be flippant when saying, "Here's the city we will become if we do A instead of B."

It's strange. Because of the Growth Management Act and our tight geography, Seattle does have a bit of a "neither fish nor foul" quality to it. But let's not flatter ourselves. On the continuum between dense, pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented cities and sprawling, auto-dependent cities, we're a lot more the latter.

You can stop freeway expansion all you like. But when you don't have viable alternatives to driving, you become an auto-dominated city de facto. We can't hold our breath and keep our options open indefinitely and be at this perpetual crossroads. When we fail to make decisions about our future, fate makes the decisions for us.

Posted by cressona | October 19, 2007 7:02 AM
24

Even if a transit-only measure comes back in 2008, 2010, or whatever, what makes anyone think that it will pass?

A transit vote could win in Seattle proper, but the city's tax base simply isn't large enough to build a serious system in a fiscally responsible way (see: Monorail).

Out there in the rest of the region, you've got
1. people willing to vote for transit, not roads
2. people willing to stomach roads for transit
3. people willing to stomach transit for roads
4. people not willing to vote for transit

Prop 1. captures (2) and (3). A transit-only measure loses you (3) -- probably the biggest group. And how many of group (1) do you end up actually getting? It's apparent that a ton of them aren't very happy with ST2, and will hold out for some other plan that does nothing for most residents and will get slaughtered at the polls.

And all this assumes that Sound Transit itself isn't slain by legislative action, creating some new agency with a crappy credit rating that will spend 5 years getting its stuff together, just like ST and the Monorail did.

Posted by MHD | October 19, 2007 7:43 AM
25

you guys are shitty moderators.

I'm really torn on this issue. On MHD's scale I'm between 1 and 2

Posted by poo choo train | October 19, 2007 9:10 AM
26

My live blogging while listening to Part 1

First Dan's tongue. No more to say on that.

Rob Johnson is HOT (his arguments also make sense to me)

That slouchy guy is distracting because of his slouch. And he is BORING.

Time
passes
slowly.

Slouchy Boring Guy is still blathering on.

Sandeep flirts with Erica and then puts on his wise owl persona.

McGinn versus Sandeep. Fun stuff.

McGinn is pissed that elected's in Oly actually negotiated connecting Transit and Roads. He wants a list of who said that and is going to personally go kick their asses.

Rob Johnson (being hot again and) using David Hillers own argument against him. Zing!

Mike McGinn say's "We are running on Global Warming. We are running on Global Warming"
Dan Savage answers with 'I don't see how this package going down is good for global warming'. Zing!

Sandeep goes off track but brings it back and scores a good point - Sierra Club is in bed with Kemper Freeman. Triple Zing!!!

Everyone is talking at once - ugh -someone get control!

Posted by Mrs. Y | October 19, 2007 9:40 AM
27

My live blogging while listening to Part 1

First Dan's tongue. No more to say on that.

Rob Johnson is HOT (his arguments also make sense to me)

That slouchy guy is distracting because of his slouch. And he is BORING.

Time
passes
slowly.

Slouchy Boring Guy is still blathering on.

Sandeep flirts with Erica and then puts on his wise owl persona.

McGinn versus Sandeep. Fun stuff.

McGinn is pissed that elected's in Oly actually negotiated connecting Transit and Roads. He wants a list of who said that and is going to personally go kick their asses.

Rob Johnson (being hot again and) using David Hillers own argument against him. Zing!

Mike McGinn say's "We are running on Global Warming. We are running on Global Warming"
Dan Savage answers with 'I don't see how this package going down is good for global warming'. Zing!

Sandeep goes off track but brings it back and scores a good point - Sierra Club is in bed with Kemper Freeman. Triple Zing!!!

Everyone is talking at once - ugh -someone get control!

Posted by Mrs. Y | October 19, 2007 10:01 AM
28

Rob Johnson:

For those of you who have been anywhere with a significant light rail system, you can see the investments around those stations come in when the stations open. Places like Washington DC, places like Portland, places like San Diego, places like Vancouver, have all seen similar results. You build light rail, you get density around the stations.

Development may be dense around urban rail stations in the cities that Rob listed (since most of those cities' rail stations are near urban centers), but it's not the case for the suburban stations around those cities.

Here are some more maps of suburban stations around the cities Rob listed. I didn't cherrypick stations -- I just looked at one station at each line in the suburbs around the distance ST2's light rail stations would be.

Washington, DC -- Glenmont Station has single-family homes directly across the street and strip malls all around. It looks like some condos or townhouses are nearby, but it's "bad density" that Erica has posted about before, completely dependent on cars to travel anywhere.

San Diego -- Chula Vista Bayfront Trolley Station (their light rail is called the Trolley) is the most dense of the three, but it looks more like Aurora than Queen Anne or even Wedgwood. There's a run-down Black Angus with a parking lot across the street from the light rail station and if you click on the cool "street view" you won't see a walker or biker in sight. This is barely outside of San Diego since their light rail is mostly intra-urban. Go to maps.google.com and search for the station name since I can only post 2 links.

Vancouver -- Surrey King George Station has single family homes across the street too. The first big box stores and sprawling strip malls are just a block away.

Where's the dense development? If anything, it looks like the huge parking lots and high car traffic surrounding these stations drives away density, if anything. Note that ST2's light rail stations will have larger parking lots than any of these stations except the DC one.

Posted by jamier | October 19, 2007 10:19 AM
29

@ 13, From some reason I have a feeling you don't actually contribute very much money to what pays for roads...unless there is a PBR road tax??

Posted by Bill | October 19, 2007 11:33 AM

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