West Seattle Transit Coalition launch: ‘We’re all underserved’

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The lively launch meeting of the West Seattle Transit Coalition was as much an attempt to map a route as anything else – almost one year after changes and cuts in Metro service pushed bus concerns further into the peninsula spotlight than ever before.

Many of the 30-plus people in attendance at High Point Center were neighborhood activists from around the peninsula (and from White Center/North Highline too).

Two elected officials, State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon and City Councilmember Richard Conlin, also showed up – to listen, not to talk, though both did the latter briefly on request.

Metro/county reps were there listening as well, including Chris Arkills, the West Seattleite who is County Executive Dow Constantine‘s transportation adviser.

As organizers had hoped, the loudest voices were those of the West Seattleites who say this is the time for a peninsula-wide effort to advocate for our growing population’s transit needs. “We’re all underserved” was a declaration early on that resounded.

As was sharply pointed out by some, including reps of the Transit Riders Union, advocacy efforts have not been in short supply – what has been missing, organizers contend, is a West Seattle-wide voice.

(There is no WS-wide general leadership group or individual, in part because the city handles West Seattle as two districts – Southwest and Delridge – so neighborhood-group reps meet in two groups, as two separate “district councils,” and also in part because the City Council is elected at large, not by districts.)

The WSTC meeting concluded with 11 people volunteering to serve on an interim board (listed at story’s end).

It began with slides prepared and presented by Joe Szilagyi from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Neighborhood Council, where the coalition idea sprouted, as transit issues emerged early in the new council’s life as a top priority, given past cuts, potential future cuts, and Westwood Village swelling into a major transportation hub, particularly starting with the launch of RapidRide C Line in fall 2012. Download the PowerPoint here via the WSTC site, or see the slides below via Scribd:

West Seattle Transit Coalition launch meeting slides

(If you haven’t been following the Metro situation, do note that the “17 percent cut” shown in the slides is “not a done deal,” as Kate from the Transit Riders Union reminded – it is what the county first warned back in April would be necessary if the Legislature does not pass a transportation package allowing at least a funding source replacing what Metro will lose when the Congestion Reduction Charge expires next May.)

After the opening presentation, attendees were invited to stand up and offer their thoughts on the problem, and potential solutions.

A reasoned voice near the end suggested it was vital to fully define the former before trying to recommend the latter – and others warned that if this effort truly is to advocate for West Seattle’s specific needs, it can’t merely seek to solve the Metro funding crisis, it needs a wholistic look at the local situation.

Some suggested that Seattle raise money – some sort of citywide tax – to ensure it is not hurt by a transportation funding gap. Councilmember Conlin offered a word of warning, that such an action might simply let the state off the hook for a problem it needs to solve.

There was a much-shared perception that West Seattle isn’t getting what it deserves, given its population size and its dependence on bridges. North Delridge’s Jake Vanderplas declared, “We need the attention that other parts of the city get.” (He also pointed out that the recent announcement of money for community-proposed Neighborhood Street Fund projects did not include funding for even one of the projects proposed by West Seattleites, a concern raised by local neighborhood leaders earlier this month, with SDOT director Peter Hahn responding that the two local districts were getting funding for street projects from other sources, and that had factored into the decisionmaking.)

Sustainable West Seattle‘s Chas Redmond said that West Seattle Bridge transit trips outnumber those of North Seattleites whose needs have been more squarely in the spotlight.

And it was amply pointed out that West Seattle’s population will continue to grow, with thousands of apartments under construction or on the drawing board, including projects being built with zero or few parking spaces because of their proximity to frequent transit (such as 4535 44th SW, with 36 units and no parking, and 4400 SW Alaska, with 40 units and 5 parking spaces, and 3050 Avalon Way, “microapartments” with 104 units and no parking).

Diane Vincent wondered why developers aren’t required to pay some sort of transit-impact fee, especially those who are saving money on project costs by not building parking, since it’s been widely reported that each parking space carries a five-digit construction-cost price tag.

The seeming lack of a master transportation plan specifically looking at West Seattle conditions and impending development was a concern raised by Kevin Broveleit among others. Conlin said “there is a West Seattle transportation plan … but I doubt it’s as comprehensive as what you are talking about here tonight.”

The bottom line was voiced early on by Delridge District Council chair Mat McBride, declaring that it’s not a case of West Seattle needing to “ask” for what it needs, but that “we can require that the city require the county and require the state to give us what we believe we need.”

Others suggested those needs include information as well as transit service – information, for example, on what exact effects the Highway 99 changes will have on transportation and travel times for our area.

How the demands are made, what solutions are suggested, will depend on how the WSTC’s work proceeds from here. The interim WSTC board – those who volunteered, when asked for a show of hands, to serve – will meet on October 8th, they decided in a huddle of sorts immediately post-meeting. All welcome – time/place likely the same, but watch westseattletc.org (and WSB) for confirmation.

From the list published by Szilagyi on the WSTC website, the interim board members are:

Cindi Barker
Deb Barker
Kevin Broveleit
Barbara Dobkin
Amanda Kay Helmick
Mat McBride
Tod Rodman
Carolyn Stauffer
Joe Szilagyi
Michael Taylor-Judd
Diane Rose Vincent

(Those who are on neighborhood councils are not necessarily officially representing them on the board, but we are noting those affiliations here separately as a datapoint: Cindi Barker and Deb Barker, who are not related, are communications officer and president respectively of the Morgan Community Association; Dobkin is president of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council; Helmick and Szilagyi are chair and secretary respectively of the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council; McBride chairs the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council; Rodman is with Friends of Morgan Junction Parks; Stauffer is co-chair of the Highland Park Action Committee; Taylor-Judd is from the North Delridge Neighborhood Council; Vincent is an Admiral resident who participates in a variety of councils, groups, and other civic activities around the peninsula.)

20 Replies to "West Seattle Transit Coalition launch: 'We're all underserved'"

  • miws September 25, 2013 (4:23 pm)

    Thank you for this report.


    I would like to have been at the meeting last night, but had a 5:30 Doctor’s appointment.



  • adam September 25, 2013 (5:03 pm)

    we really need a lightrail. with all the people moving here the bridge is going to get crazy busy. rail is the only way to move people through without the effect of all the traffic

  • McBride September 25, 2013 (5:58 pm)

    Agreed, we really need a light rail, in addition to other transit improvements. However, all solutions are in play right now, including those that aren’t themselves transit. SDOT can make adjustments to key intersections and through ways which increase flow of traffic. DPD can require more transit compensation in return for parking, things of that nature.
    All of these things work towards better, that’s the objective and goal.

  • Old Timer September 25, 2013 (6:01 pm)

    Or a Monorail.

  • dcn September 25, 2013 (7:04 pm)

    I agree we need to push hard for light rail to West Seattle. But even if such a project were approved today, it would be at least a decade before one was operational. The reality is, we are probably more like 2 decades away from a light rail solution, since the next decade of light rail construction is already mapped out and it doesn’t include West Seattle. So, other ideas, such as the ones McBride mentioned, are also critical to improve traffic flow, because we need practical solutions much sooner than the light rail dream can provide.

  • Joe Szilagyi September 25, 2013 (7:15 pm)

    dcn, one area we will focus on is a West Seattle-wide transit plan, for deliverables and results we can pursue with the city, county, and state. We will likely break it up as a sort of master transit plan of West Seattle’s own–it was conceded last night that ours in the official city books is nowhere near as forward looking or comprehensive as we all need it to be. Ours will take input from all over and mold into things we can achieve in <1 year, <3 years, < 5, <10, <20 and so on. Ours will and certainly should influence or guide the city and county plans. Since there are SO MANY affected people, we will take our cues over time from the neighborhood councils and various local chambers, who in turn are supposed to control and guide the district councils. Things are going to happen and things are going to get done.

  • Joe Szilagyi September 25, 2013 (7:19 pm)

    Old Timer, anything is fair game for discussion. Like my slides said in the Orwell quote, hard and difficult things need to be examined and decided. Perhaps a zeppelin from Alki to downtown? There are few bad ideas–just practical and impractical ones.

  • let them swim September 25, 2013 (7:31 pm)

    It’s so easy to repair!
    Less people = less traffic.
    Westside needs to tear down more apartments.

  • West Seattle Hipster September 25, 2013 (7:40 pm)

    Another affirmation for light rail. It’s needed, and it has shown it works in Seattle.


    I hope Ed Murray makes it a priority.

  • Amanda September 25, 2013 (8:08 pm)

    Sound Transit has it’s hands full with Sound Transit 2 – but “Sound Transit 3” is not yet determined. The City has it’s ideas for the next phase, but Sound Transit is not fully committed to the City’s plan. It’s true that it wouldn’t be next year – but better start the dialogue now. Thanks to all who came last night.

  • marcia September 25, 2013 (8:09 pm)

    We have a big problem with port orchard southworth vashon that are building like crazy over there and use the bridge how many cars how many ride the bus fauntleroy down to one lane

  • let them swim September 25, 2013 (8:23 pm)

    And they are not building like crazy in West Seattle? At least those people can only arrive via the ferry system. Very limited.

  • marcia September 25, 2013 (10:32 pm)

    The ferrys should go to downtown keep the traffic of the bridge

  • Joe Szilagyi September 25, 2013 (11:11 pm)

    If anyone wants to follow us on Facebook, we’re live now!

  • Jeff September 26, 2013 (6:39 am)

    Will there be an option for people to put their money where their mouth is, and vote for a special property tax assessment to support rail ASAP? I’d pay it.

  • sam-c September 26, 2013 (9:07 am)

    thank you so much for the thorough report. one of the middle paragraphs seems to be missing the rest of the thought, and I am dying to know what Peter H said: “…..with SDOT director Peter Hahn responding that other”

    • WSB September 26, 2013 (9:13 am)

      Sam-C, you win the award for reading the fine print! Sorry about that, I think I know what happened and what’s missing, will get to that in a few minutes … TR

  • Chris Arkills September 26, 2013 (11:57 am)

    I was inspired by the passion and commitment at the meeting. Metro welcomes this group and hopes to work with you in the future. The more voices we have fighting for funding for more transit, all the better. Thanks for the great report, Tracy.

  • AlkiGrl September 26, 2013 (12:06 pm)

    I agree that a fee should be applied to developers building transit-oriented development, such as the 4755 Fauntleroy megaproject. If they are going to market high-rent apartments based on easy access to transit, shouldn’t they be expected to contribute something to transit capacity to allow for the increase ridership?

    I wasn’t able to make the meeting this week but will be attending future meetings when possible.

  • Riverviewres September 26, 2013 (1:20 pm)

    I recently moved to the Delridge/Riverview neighborhood (Dec 2012) and commute downtown on the 125. Just wanted to say thanks to all those who attended and shared the concerns on coming cuts and the need for a long term West Seattle transit plan.

    Aside from strategies on mitigating the impacts of proposed cuts, I’m especially interested in what will happen to routes currently using the viaduct to get downtown once it comes down.

    I’d also like say thanks to WSB for the great coverage of our corner of Seattle. You are what all neighborhood news blogs should be.

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