City Hall

Arena Debate Extras: Car Traffic, Steinbrueck's Alleged Conflict, and O'Brien's Comeback

By Erica C. Barnett July 31, 2012

O'Brien and Steinbrueck talking with the crowd at last night's Cola arena forum.

A few more notes from last night's arena debate, which PubliCola and Seattle Met hosted at EVO on Capitol Hill:

• Former city council member Peter Steinbrueck, who has been retained as a consultant by the (anti-arena) Port of Seattle but was speaking on his own behalf, had an interesting suggestion for arena proponents: Given that the city has committed itself to carbon neutrality, why not do a carbon analysis of the arena proposal?

Current estimates are that 65 percent of arena attendees will come from outside Seattle, and that fewer than 20 percent of all arena users will get there by transit. So what is the carbon impact of all those cars driving in from the suburbs? So far, the city has only committed to do an analysis of traffic impacts on the area around the arena as part of its environmental review.

• Speaking of Steinbrueck: In an email to PubliCola (as well as during last night's forum), he denies that he was hired by the Port of Seattle prior to July 1. (Steinbrueck, as we reported yesterday, testified against the arena at a city council committee meeting on June 19, but said he was speaking only for himself and did not disclose any connection to the Port; however, a June 18 email from Manufacturing and Industrial Council director Dave Gering says the group had "retained" Steinbrueck as of that date.)

Here's Steinbrueck's response: "Dave Gering’s email to Mike Merritt at the Port  you posted on PubliCola falsely stated that the Manufacturing and Industrial Council had 'retained' me prior to my testimony before the King County Council on the arena deal. That had not, and I was never hired by the MIC. I had been invited to speak to the Transportation Committee on land use and planning issues of [County] Councilmember Larry Phillips. I did the research and provided testimony before the Council entirely on my own accord as I had stated before. I’m sure that Dave Gering will confirm the mistake."

Gering confirms that although the MIC "reached a verbal commitment" to hire Steinbrueck in June, Steinbrueck subsequently "decided that he would rather be a private citizen working on this issue" and was never officially hired by the MIC.

• Finally, city council member Mike O'Brien got off the quote of the night. Asked whether arena investor Chris Hansen should be responsible for funding transportation mitigation around the facility, city council member Mike O'Brien (who signed a letter yesterday saying some of the tax revenues from the arena should go to transportation improvements) said, "It's not the arena's responsibility to fix everything in SoDo."

For those who weren't able to attend last night's event, we'll have audio up shortly.

Josh is working on his own post about last night's event. (Apparently he has a quibble with something City Council member Mike O'Brien said.) But he also flagged something that I agree is worth noting here: We pressed all the panelists about the possibility of losing the arena to Bellevue. Did they feel any anxiety about losing out to the suburbs?

We were surprised to learn that no one thought it would be a problem if the arena wound up in Bellevue. "This is the deal on the table," O'Brien said, noting that as a Seattle City Council member he was certainly interested in making it work out for Seattle—and that he thought the nexus of transit was better in Seattle. But in general, everyone, including O'Brien, had on their regional hat and thought a Bellevue arena would be okay.

Photo via, which also covered last night's event.
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