Afternoon Jolt

Constantine Picks New Council Member Johnson to be on Sound Transit Board

Urbanist Johnson beats out lefty Mike O'Brien for Seattle seat on Sound Transit board.

By Josh Feit January 7, 2016

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King County executive Dow Constantine has picked newly-elected city council member Rob Johnson to be on the Sound Transit board. The appointment comes at the expense of current ST board member, and veteran city council member Mike O’Brien.

Johnson, the former executive director of pro-transit non-profit Transportation Choices Coalition, says he’s “excited to bring his technical expertise” to the gig which currently involves making alignment decisions and resource allocation decisions (like how much Sound Transit should spend on parking—or not—Johnson says) as the board crafts ST3, the light rail expansion measure that will be on this November’s ballot.

Johnson is a transit oriented development advocate (or at least that’s what TCC is and has been all about for years) and says ST3 needs to “make sure to include affordable housing” dollars which he juxtaposed against spending on new parking structures. Johnson says he wants to look into using existing parking to accommodate future ST commuters.

Sound Transit is looking at nearly $1 billion in new parking as part of ST3.

Johnson also hyped making sure there are dollars in ST3 for adding in the Graham Street station on the existing Southeast Seattle line and making sure there’s a second tunnel in downtown Seattle to help Ballard and West Seattle hook up to the line.

As I noted in yesterday’s Fizz when I wrote about the battle between these two white guys, O’Brien went to the mat for a second downtown tunnel last year. However, in recent years, with his pod apartment regulations and proposal for a blanket linkage fee on development, O'Brien has irked urbanists as he's become more of a social justice champion. Former TCC director Johnson—TCC basically ran the 2008 light rail campaign and last year's Metro and transportation measures—is considered a steadfast ally to city planning and transit greens.

Constantine said today: "As the longtime director of the Transportation Choices Coalition, Rob brings exceptional knowledge and experience to the important decisions the Sound Transit Board must make this year. My thanks to Seattle City Council member Mike O'Brien for his years of service and his contributions to mobility in the city and the region."

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