Transportation questions dominate mayor’s West Seattle Town Hall

May 3, 2012 at 6:13 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 20 Comments

Mayor McGinn has just wrapped up a two-hour visit to West Seattle, starting with a walking tour that began at Mountain to Sound Outfitters in The Triangle…

… and then moving on to an hour-long Town Hall Q/A session at the Senior Center of West Seattle. We’ll be adding more photos, but first, here’s our as-it-happened highlights from the Q and A:

QUESTION: Dick Hurley said he’s lived in West Seattle more than 30 years and sees lots of transportation expenditures “while my alley has fallen apart – it’s so bad that cars will bottom out, just in my alley.” He wondered why Local Improvement Districts to fix things like that are no longer available.

MAYOR: “It’s news to me … I’ve always thought we should make it easier to form those, because if people want to tax themselves, we should make it easier to form one.” He talked about his history in the Greenwood neighborhood and getting sidewalks put in to alleviate pedestrian challenges. He went on to acknowledge that the city has been neglecting road problems, though he is “blowing away pothole records set by previous administrations” – though he would just as soon not have the potholes there in need of filling. And he wishes he could find more funding for street and right-of-way improvements/repairs: “That’s what makes this special down here, how it feels on the street.”

QUESTION: From Sam with Standup America: “I spoke to you at another town hall last week about the salary gap” – he meant the mayor’s salary: “You’re talking about money you can’t get for roadways, but you’re giving yourself an annual increase … Why do you think it’s right that your income continually grows while (others’ income doesn’t)?” An audience member asks where Sam lives; “Capitol Hill” he replies.

Much more ahead, including news of a major paving project for Delridge Way:

MAYOR: Notes that he has had this exchange before. The mayor’s salary is set by charter, he says, and he donates $10,000 to charity each year, chosen by his wife and children, charities that “provide resources to people in need in Seattle.” He says that his adminstration has tried to streamline salaries, and has negotiated with unions, plus “my offices is one-third smaller than (mayor’s offices) in prior administrations.”

QUESTION: History teacher Jim Lockerbie says he’s concerned about transportation. “A good argument could be made that West Seattle is (the most poorly served part of the city). No light rail, no monorail, buses that are … 5, 10, 15 minutes late if they show up at all. … My friend and I set a record coming home from a Mariners’ game the other year; we left at 4:40, came home at 7:10. It’s faster to get to Husky stadium by driving to the Eastgate park and ride than to take buses from here.” He is concerned about synching lights, too.

MAYOR: Says he can’t answer all of Jim’s questions. Regarding lights at 7th and Olive, he says his staff will look into it and e-mail him back – he invites anyone here who has a question that needs a followup to leave an e-mail address. Regarding transit system: “You’re right, we don’t have a monorail … that’s one of the reasons we updated the Transit Master Plan … what we see for this trip out here, we’re looking at what Metro calls RapidRide.” He says he met today with Metro boss Kevin Desmond, regarding the challenge of 99 when there is no offramp once the tunnel’s built, and buses needing to get off by the stadium to get to the 3rd Avenue Corridor. “That’s one of the questions – how are they going to get there?” (Editor’s note – this was discussed at last night’s Southwest District Council meeting and the story’s coming up.) The mayor sounds optimistic about RapidRide in terms of reliability and speed and frequency. He acknowledges that “neighborhood-to-neighborhood connections aren’t as good as they could be.” He talked about potential cuts in Metro service looming if the Legislature doesn’t approve the authority for more money to be raised, beyond the temporary boost they approved last year.

QUESTION: “I’m known as mom, the worrier,” a woman begins. She mentions the city having plenty of preparedness information ready, but “I have looked very hard for how to communicate with the person in charge of the aircraft carriers.” She thinks that might be the solution to problems if the West Seattle Bridge is taken out by an earthquake and we are left in need of services such as health care and water desalination, and she wants to know who to talk with at the Navy regarding an aircraft carrier coming here to help if need be. The water is deep enough off Alki Point, she thinks.

MAYOR’S ANSWER: He says he should check in with the Navy one of these days, and then steers the answer toward reassuring her with information about the city’s Office of Emergency Management, including the Emergency Operations Center. He says the EOC would also communicate with other jurisdictions including the federal government if need be. “We will be looking to the assistance of other jurisdictions in the case of a major event,” he said, and promised he will ask Emergency Management director Barb Graff what is set up for possibly checking with the Navy. “It would mean a lot more coming from you than from a little old lady like me,” she thanks him.

QUESTION: A woman says that “we in West Seattle seem to not be able to get in and out” – a reference to the bridge. That is a prelude to asking him “how do you feel about another stadium in SODO? There’s too much down there … and why is there so much pressure to build another stadium there?”

MAYOR: He explains about Chris Hanson, who is “prepared to commit hundreds of millions of dollars to construction of a basketball arena.” He makes a point of saying it would be a lot smaller than the existing baseball and football stadiums. He says the additional 4,000 or so vehicles a day that would result from a new arena “isn’t that big,” at least in the context of “what a city deals with every day.” He reiterates points she didn’t ask about (how it will be financed, jobs it will create). He then brings up a proposed project with “18 two-mile trains of coal coming through SODO” daily and says he just wanted “to raise that issue.”

QUESTION: A man who describes himself as a big fan of light rail says he winds up driving to Beacon Hill to take it – but “it’s tough, there’s no parking, and the 2-hour limit limits (usage).” He suggests longer-term parking should be available near the station there. “It’s asking too much of the average guy who is a convert to one form of transportation … the way it is set up is tough.”

MAYOR: “I agree with you,” he begins, and then mentions how he changed the rules so some extra parking could be created in that area. He also mentions that neighborhood businesses are often the fans of 2-hour parking, to ensure some turnover, and doesn’t want that to be lost, though he says he does support the concept of more longer-term parking in station areas. As for park and rides, he says Pacific Place is a seven-digit loss each year – “I don’t mind being in the parking business, I mind being in the money-losing business.”

QUESTION: A woman named Charlene offers a “beautification and transportation suggestion.” She says the Admiral Way hill is “a pretty disgusting-looking area when you come off the bridge … What about a beautification area, like (one in Ravenna)?” She mentions Walking on Logs (not by name) as the only “gateway” type decorations in the area.

MAYOR: Directs his staff to talk with her.

QUESTION: A woman who identifies herself as a bicycle rider thanks him for “taking a stand in favor of bicycle lanes.” She asks about Delridge, “what kind of plans you have for fixing Delridge, because they have great big wide bicycle-tire-size ruts in Delridge, and most of the city’s riders in the Cascade Bicycle Club … often come here to West Seattle … and come under the bridge and travel to Delridge a lot and it’s dangerous.”

MAYOR: “It’s hard to believe but it’s true – the overall amount of driving in Seattle has dropped by about 7 percent.” (He mentioned that point in his opening remarks, which we have on video.) “The number of trips taken by bicycles has skyrocketed – 150 percent of what it was a decade ago. A lot of people are choosing this mode and we have to keep adjusting our roadway to meet it.” Delridge, his staff confirms, is slated for repaving in 2013. Bill Bryant from SDOT comes up to talk about it. Actually, Bryant says, “partly in 2012 .. the limits right now are between Orchard and Henderson Streets, so it’s not the whole thing, and depending on what the costs look like … it could be extended all the way down to Roxbury, to the city limits. Where the streets are repaved, there will be bike facilities installed,” even if only sharrows.

QUESTION: Woman who lives on Alki says she is “delighted to see the number of people using the Water Taxi. The challenge for us who live there is when people fill the streets and those of us who live there can’t find parking … are you going to get us some relief?”

MAYOR: Says he talked with County Councilmember Joe McDermott about options for parking in areas during the offseason. He says he will followup with whether anything is being studied regarding commuter traffic around the water taxi area.

QUESTION: Dennis Ross from Admiral has a public-safety question, regarding 3rd and Pike downtown, where bus riders wait to go back to West Seattle. “It’s getting worse every day.”

MAYOR: Talks about his “Center City Project … pulling together a multi-agency response to this.” He says a work plan is being developed.

QUESTION: A woman who says that she is with Sam from StandUp America and has similar questions – “as a member of the younger generation” she has questions about income inequality. She wants to know if he thinks it’s a dangerous trend.

MAYOR: Says yes, he does, and has felt that way for a long time. “Everybody has to have hope, and a sense of fairness and justice …. associated with the income inequality issue, people who should be assets to our community, some of them are just struggling to hang on.” Regarding his salary, he says it’s the best he’s ever been paid, and also “the hardest job I’ve ever had.” But he says he’d “probably do it for a lot less.” He alludes to next year’s election, saying “I’m not a career politician, I may not have a career in politics, we’ll see how it turns out.”

QUESTION: Pete Spalding from Pigeon Point follows up on Delridge, saying the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council has a committee working with Councilmember Tom Rasmussen on “a plan for the entire Delridge corridor.” Spalding notes that the mayor did not even mention the greenways – “there are other things that are going on in addition to the Bridging the Gap levy money” (which funds paving).

MAYOR: Thanks him for mentioning greenways and talks about looking at residential streets for a different use. And, “Next time we come to you folks and ask for money we’ll make sure we have a good plan,” a reference to the ballot measure that was defeated last year.

20 Comments

  1. Amazing the mayor already knows what the traffic situation will be re: new stadium in Sodo, when there hasn’t been a real study or EIS commissioned. And the coal trains *already* go through Seattle to Canada. Not sure why he wouldn’t want them to unload in the USA but it seems he just doesn’t like jobs for blue collar people.

    Comment by LPMM — 6:38 pm May 3, 2012 #

  2. These meetings are such a charade. Does anyone really think this mayor is going to stop his war on cars or get tough on violent crime, regardless of what citizens tell him in a listening session?
    .
    He already knows people are fed up with crime, traffic and parking problems. He just doesn’t give damn. And frankly, neither do any of the liberal Democrats who run this town.

    Comment by JoAnne — 6:43 pm May 3, 2012 #

  3. war on cars, lol

    Comment by Marcus M — 8:29 pm May 3, 2012 #

  4. Keep complaining about things on the Internet while doing zero to make the world a better place to be. Blame political affiliation too, that’ll really solve some problems.

    Comment by Doris — 9:26 pm May 3, 2012 #

  5. Ah, right, the “war on cars” meme. Always a kick to hear that one get brought up time and time again!

    Comment by JN — 9:27 pm May 3, 2012 #

  6. Please don’t assume it’s Democrats that are responsible for this mess. I’m a Democrat and I didn’t vote for this Mayor. I have not been happy at all with his work. My parents are Democrats and they DID vote for him and now are very unhappy with his work. I think its crazy to say that all Democrats fall in-line with this Mayor. I agree with you however on the violent crime issue – where is the outrage over the 21-year-old woman pursuing her dream shot and killed in a drive-by in Pioneer Square last week? Not a word about that – just a random senseless killing. It’s a bunch of THUGS running wild in Seattle!
    He is turning his head at gun violence in the city – there have been 12 homicides since the New Year already and countless more shootings. Transportation (and apparently West Seattle) are his thing, we get it. But there are many other issues that need his immediate attention right now.

    Comment by herewegoagain — 9:40 pm May 3, 2012 #

  7. It’s too bad he didn’t come during the morning hours to the Triangle and try to find parking.

    Comment by Bonnie — 9:50 pm May 3, 2012 #

  8. Correction: Re: my comment to the mayor about artwork/ beautification – I didn’t say the Ravenna I-5 artwork was the ONLY gateway beautification, just that it was an example. These highway access points can be great places to create something out of concrete and urban blight.

    Thank you Mayor McGinn for coming out to WS!

    Comment by Charlene — 9:54 pm May 3, 2012 #

  9. LPMM, I wouldn’t want coal trains coming through Seattle because I don’t want sick kids, and sick people from the coal dust coming out of those trains. I don’t want to see the suffering, and I also don’t want to pick up the health care costs. The destruction of coal mining, added to the pollution from burning the coal, just for a quick buck (that not much of would end up here locally), seems nuts. It’s selling out our and our kids future, and certainly doesn’t help our “energy security” to ship the coal overseas. So yes, it’s an important issue, and I’m glad it was brought up.

    Comment by Gene — 10:17 pm May 3, 2012 #

  10. Thank you Gene for articulating how morally conscience people feel!
    I’m so tired of the red herrings. It’s not about blue collar vs white. It’s about leaving our kids a future.

    Comment by Neighbor — 9:32 am May 4, 2012 #

  11. @Gene The coal trains already go through Seattle to B.C.

    Comment by LPMM — 10:06 am May 4, 2012 #

  12. Mcginn is doing a good job considering we live in a selfish conservative society where the richer you are the less you have to pay. I do disagree with his transit plan we need rail buses suck

    Comment by Nick — 10:36 am May 4, 2012 #

  13. @LPMM Are you saying there are no plans to increase the amount of coal trains traveling through Seattle?

    Comment by newbie — 10:37 am May 4, 2012 #

  14. Man I wish I could have attended this in person. Hearing that lady ask about aircraft carrier service to West Seattle in an emergency would have been amazing to witness in person.

    Comment by Brian — 12:55 pm May 4, 2012 #

  15. Although any earthquake which would require an aircraft carrier to provide hospital and first-responder support to West Seattle might just as well be needed at home base in Bremerton. There are plans for cargo-container style field units and I believe one is already locally stored somewhere.

    Comment by chas redmond — 1:27 pm May 4, 2012 #

  16. The mayor was very calm and serious in his response to the lady wondering about the aircraft carrier (and I honestly don’t think I even heard any audience snickering). While it might sound completely off-the-wall here in flat black-and-white text (which reminds me, if I can find the Seattle Channel video of the Town Hall, I will add it here, we recorded his opening remarks only and I still haven’t uploaded them), you have to appreciate creative, even off-the-wall, thinking by those concerned about preparedness! – TR

    Comment by WSB — 1:39 pm May 4, 2012 #

  17. @newbie I haven’t heard of plans for more going through Seattle. If you have, would love to see the evidence. Council member O’Brien wants to outlaw all coal trains from going through Seattle. That’s interesting, because the city doesn’t have any authority whatsoever to do that. Good luck to him on that.

    Comment by LPMM — 2:14 pm May 4, 2012 #

  18. herewegoagain, I should not have blamed everything on Dems. There are still a few great ones who do a fantastic job in this state, like Brian Sonntag…also Brad Owen and Jim Kastrana and the “road kill” caucus. But the last good local Dem was Charlie Chong IMO.
    .
    The Democrats “serving” us now are hell-bent on destroying the neighborhoods that people have loved for generations. They deliberately make it tough to get around and spend our tax dollars to make life nice and easy for bums and thugs.
    .
    It’s hard to compare with local Republicans since there are NONE.

    Comment by JoAnne — 5:20 pm May 4, 2012 #

  19. Thanks for coming and visiting Mountain to Sound Outfitters Mayor McGinn!

    Comment by Greg Whittaker — 6:33 pm May 4, 2012 #

  20. JoAnne, can you please point to specific policies that make it “tough to get around”? The policies to encourage and enable more people to safely travel by foot, bike and transit get more people out of their cars and off the roads… which reduces congestion for other cars. Not to mention, it helps make people happier and healthier – which is another way to help reduce health care costs.

    Comment by Gene — 11:13 pm May 4, 2012 #

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