One Question

One More Question About the Arena for Steinbrueck

Steinbrueck takes contrarian (regional) position on the arena.

By Josh Feit January 25, 2013

Peter Steinbreuck. Photo by Carryn Vande Griend


One Question

 In yesterday's Cola One Question, we asked mayoral candidate, former city council member, and emphatic NBA arena critic Peter Steinbrueck what he'll do about the arena if he wins the election. The $490 million SoDo arena deal, with a $200 million public investment, got a major boost this week with the news that arena owner Chris Hansen has a deal to buy the Sacramento Kings.

We left a piece of the arena coversation on the cutting room floor that's worth posting. First, though, here's the full quote from yesterday's post:

I am not suggesting that we want to see the Sonics go to the Eastside. I would like to see them in Seattle on a personal level. And it's a selfish level. Because It may not be the best location from a regional standpoint. From a traffic standpoint. When 60 percent of the fan base is on the Eastside. And 80 percent of the trips [total] to the arena—to and from—based on a limited number of events, [will be car trips]—a million vehicle trips per year coming into the SoDo industrial center. Who can say that's not going to have a traffic impact? You'd have to be an idiot to think it won't be. [Editor's Note: While 60 percent of former Sonics season ticket holders were from the Eastside, it's not clear what Steinbrueck's 60 percent stat is based on. Steinbrueck  acknowledged it's a stat he's heard, but couldn't cite the source. The traffic numbers are from the Seattle Dept. of Transportation study—Eds.]

While Steinbrueck was clearly making a point about traffic in general—a million trips from all over, including Seattle—I was intrigued by his contrarian suggestion that putting the arena in Seattle instead of the Eastside was, in his words, "selfish."

The dude is running for Seattle mayor, no?

So, I said: It's odd for someone running for Seattle mayor to ask, "Do we want people from Bellevue pouring in on game nights, 41 times a year?" Most people would say that's a great thing for the city. It's dollars, it's feet, it's sales. [And as he pointed out, it's also cars.]

Here's how Steinbrueck responded:

I'm a regionalist. I think Seattle is prospering better than most cities in the country and has a great future ahead of it. I'm smitten on Seattle. But we are a regional economy. We all share in the benefits and in the costs. And so that part of it doesn't bother me. I believe in a regional perspective. This is a regional facility. And so far, that has not been part of this discussion.

Seattle boosters probably view that kind of regionalism the way card-carrying Democrats veiw "bipartisanship"—it means Democrats voting Republican. Does that make Steinbreuck the Joe Lieberman of the Seattle mayor's race?

"We can’t even talk about this silly notion of carbon neutrality in Seattle if we ignore the traffic patterns of how people live, work, recreate, go to the airport. Seattle is not an island."—Peter Steinbrueck

"There's no doubt that Seattle is the center of cultural life," Steinbrueck says.  "It's the most exiciting place. But my real concern is that we're not working together on big problems."

He continues:

We won’t begin to see progress unless all of these jurisdictions begin to work together, which they’re not. We’re all in it together and we can’t even talk about this silly notion of carbon neutrality in Seattle if we ignore the traffic patterns of how people live, work, recreate, go to the airport. Seattle is not an island and we have to see that if we’re going to make progress in the future—around climate change, transportation challenges and densification, because densification itself also has to be shared between all of the urbancenters in the region.

I also see the opportunity to kick butt in the legislature, if we could find two or three common goals that we all agree on with some of the other cities and towns. For one thing, transportation funding is a huge one and it’s before the legislature right now. And we’re constantly being challenged and coming up short when it comes to revenue investments that we need. That’s one.

I do think cleanup of Puget Sound [is another], and I’ve been working this issue with my colleagues on the Washington Environmental Council—that we need to have a kind of congress of Puget Sound that will do one or two or three important things that we can agree to do. And I think it particularly has to do with land use and development that is low-impact, a change in the way we do urban development that reduces impervious surfaces and runoff. Streets are one of the single biggest factors in the ongoing, non-point pollution of Puget Sound. There’s no consistency. There is none whatsoever. There’s recognition at the state level that the state won’t do anything about it. The state refuses, for example, to pass low-impact development, a provision of land use that could require all of these jurisdictions to adopt best practice land use regulations that would reduce impervious surface runoff largely from cars and trucks and vehicles. So those are the kinds of things that I think Seattle cannot turn its back on.

Steinbrueck's not the only Seattle candidate hyping regionalism. Another mayoral candidate, State Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Seattle), also hyped regionalism last month when we asked him about transit

Here's Murray on Mayor McGinn's push to build light rail from Ballard to West Seattle.

We can’t afford [light rail from Ballard to West Seattle] by ourselves. There are probably things we could do as a city … that would feed in and make the light rail system work.The city is all gridlocked. More light rail is great, but that’s got to be built on the regional level.

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