1. At a Sound Transit committee meeting yesterday, Seattle city council member Rob Johnson, saying he was standing up for Seattle policy against building park and rides in the city, threatened to vote against the planned 450-stall parking garage that’s part of the 2021 Northgate light rail station.
“Have we done an analysis of why we might need a 450-stall garage there?” Johnson asked. “It strikes me that we’re building a lot of parking in a place that already has a lot of parking,” he continued, “and when we open up the Northgate link, we’re going to be reorienting a whole lot of bus service east/west to get a whole lot more people to that station and that it may not require us to be building up a 450-stall parking garage.”
Johnson faced push back from Pierce County Executive and ST board member Pat McCarthy, who told Johnson “I think it might help you” to review “the many many discussions” they’d “already had” about going forward with the garage. And ST CEO Peter Rogoff and ST chief of operations Ric Ilgenfritz told Johnson there was going to be a net reduction in parking spaces—from about 1,500 to 1,000—because they were removing some of the current surface parking at the mall to make room for residential development.
Editorializing here, but Rogoff and Ilgenfritz’s argument inadvertently made Johnson’s case; Ilgenfritz, for example, hyped the net reduction in parking by stressing the “reconfiguration for TOD [Transit Oriented Development]."
Exactly. With increased residential development at the station and at the mall’s front door, today’s assumptions about the needs for tomorrow’s retail and commuter parking should be reevaluated.
Unfortunately, the vote at yesterday’s ST meeting would lock ST into the garage. And Johnson, who said “this one doesn’t feel right to me,” ended up voting yes.
One thing that didn’t come up during the discussion was whether or not the Northgate parking would be paid parking; at $20 million for 450 parking stalls, you’d hope those tax dollars wouldn’t also be used to subsidize people who drive in perpetuity.
In 2012, calling themselves the 92 Percent, Northgate pedestrian and bike activists, citing stats that the planned Northgate station parking garage was only projected to serve eight percent of the riders, successfully pushed for a pedestrian access bridge connecting North Seattle College and the residential neighborhood on the west, back to the station. After losing a federal grant for the $35 million bridge, the city and ST scrambled to pull together funding for it, including putting some money in last year’s transportation levy.
Edmonds mayor and ST board member Dave Earling tried to comfort Johnson by telling him he'd have plenty of parking to vote against as the line heads north; indeed, ST3 calls for about $600 million for about 10,000 new parking stalls.
2. In a surprise move yesterday, King County Council member Joe McDermott, having come in third place in last week’s top two primary race for retiring U.S. representative Jim McDermott’s (D-WA, 7) open seat, endorsed state representative Brady Walkinshaw (D-43, Capitol Hill). Walkishaw nudged Joe McDermott out for second in a nail biter, but finished a distant second behind first place finisher state senator Pramila Jayapal (D-37, Southeast Seattle.)