FOLLOWUP: Why do people visit the West Seattle Junction? Survey says …

(Aerial view of The Junction – west at top of image – photographed in 2018 by Long Bach Nguyen)

Three weeks ago, we first told you about the West Seattle Junction Association‘s survey, described by executive director Lora Radford as intended to help merchants “understand why people are visiting the Junction.” Now the results are in. More than 2,100 people responded – and here are highlights from the analysis (prepared by a consultant as part of a city Economic Development grant):

The majority of the respondents have lived in the area for over 10 years:

26% between 10.5 and 20 years
31% over 20 years

Visit WSJ at varying frequencies:

29% visit only 1-5 times a month;
34% 6-10 times;
25% 11-20 times

It is important to remember that this profile doesn’t necessarily match all West Seattle residents; those that took the time to complete the survey are probably more apt to visit the Junction and be interested in it.

Main Reason for Visit

When asked to choose from a list of main reason to visit the Junction:
“The atmosphere / friendliness / small town feel” (30%) and “It’s close by / on the way” were the main reasons.
Of the listed reasons, “Free parking” was the option least often chosen (10%).
Many of those that chose “other” explained that they visited for several reasons.

When asked directly later in the survey how much they agreed with the statement “I would not come to the Junction without free parking”:

43% agreed, but only 18% agreed strongly
Another 26% of all respondents were not sure.
Those who visit over 20 times a month were most likely to disagree (46%). The plurality of all others were unsure.
Additionally, of the 1,219 open-ended responses, 127 people (10%) noted that the current lack of parking availability affects their propensity to visit the junction.

Respondents also shared to what degree they agreed with other attitudes about West Seattle Junction:

There was overwhelming support for statements that spoke to WSJ’s atmosphere, as opposed to Mall options:
90% agreed that “Malls are too impersonal; I love the feel of the Junction”- 60% agreed strongly.

88% agreed with “The Junction feels like home” – 48% agreed strongly.

Additionally, of the open-ended responses, 217 people (18%) noted how much they value local businesses over national chains. And 117 people (10%) cited the diversity of businesses as one of their main reasons for coming.

However, there are some negative attitudes to keep in mind:

Almost half of respondents (46%) agreed that “The Junction is getting too over built,” but few (8%) strongly disagreed.

Three-quarters (75%) agreed that, “I come to the Junction only for quick errands,” although only 13% strongly agreed.

See the full report here (PDF). WSJA also plans to send the results to participants who provided their email addresses when responding to the survey.

27 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Why do people visit the West Seattle Junction? Survey says ..."

  • WS Realtor March 21, 2019 (1:17 pm)

    Lora, thank you so much for this concise reporting.  I hope the info. was helpful to see how we interact with the Junction.  I’m not sure if anybody mentioned that, actually YOU are a reason we  love the Junction so much.  The example you set when I see  you walking to work, eating at restaurants, shopping at the businesses and overall loving on the Junction the way you do, makes us truly want to support the Junction, too.  Thanks for being so great at what you do as Executive Director of the Junction Assoc.  

    • Coffee Snob March 21, 2019 (3:34 pm)

      I agree! Lora Radford: Seattle Mayor 2021. 

  • coffeedude March 21, 2019 (1:59 pm)

    I have to say, as a 15 year resident of WS, I am happy to see this report done.  I feel it should have been done before, and it is very good statistical information for businesses, new businesses, people who live here, people who want to live here etc.  

  • KM March 21, 2019 (3:07 pm)

    How did they get the word out about the survey? I’m curious about the sample.

    • HS March 21, 2019 (3:35 pm)

      I linked to it from here (WSB).

    • WSB March 21, 2019 (3:45 pm)

      It’s in the report, toward the start: “The survey was administered through a partnership with the West Seattle Blog, the Junction newsletters and multiple social media channels.” We should note that “partnership” is a bit of a misnomer – Lora told us about the survey and we published an announcement of it (as we routinely do with a variety of other public surveys and other public comment opportunities, both nonprofit and governmental), plus a reminder after we heard it was about to close.

      • KM March 21, 2019 (4:14 pm)

        Thanks! I saw it here, but nowhere else (I work part-time in The Junction).

  • No Car, No Problem March 21, 2019 (3:14 pm)

    Disappointed to see the appendix was loaded with pro-free parking comments. I know for a fact that they chose to selectively omit anti-free parking comments – because I submitted one! It’s clear that the Association has an agenda, and chose to hear what they wanted to hear in the results of this survey. The Junction could have a glorious future as the heart of a walkable community with outstanding transit access and a range of housing types affordable to all income levels, it’s just a shame that WSJA seems committed to keeping the Junction stuck in the past.

    • Mr J March 21, 2019 (4:26 pm)

      Not sure how you grasped all that from your comment being left out.  I think the fact that the last WSB article covering the Junction Free Lots was pretty self-evident that the free lots are unaffordable and the Junction Association seems to be laying the ground work for breaking up with the free lots. 

    • Gene March 21, 2019 (4:38 pm)

      Walkable- for you maybe – but not for me.Outstanding transit access for you maybe- but not for me. 

    • The King March 21, 2019 (6:05 pm)

      If they are committed to being stuck in the past well good for them. The recent past of Seattle makes me think of a time before free needles and banned plastic straws. 

  • Trickycoolj March 21, 2019 (4:12 pm)

    The comment about lack of disabled parking is spot on. When my dad’s wife was in chemo treatment it was a long drive to Seattle for hospital appointments and they liked to stop for a visit and dinner to wait out traffic. Many times we went to the junction and circled and circled and never got an accessible spot and had to go elsewhere or they just went home.  I also rarely see shopping hours addressed. Aside for art walk and the shop late thursdays at Christmas there are very few shopping establishments that 8-5 workers who have to commute home can visit. Sometimes I can get to Click before they close at 6 and NW Art & Frame are open later thankfully. But everyone else closes at 5 it seems, so I just assume that a mid-30s professional with no kids and some disposable income I’m not the target demographic for the stores that close before 6pm. 

    • DukeM March 22, 2019 (11:33 am)

      Tell me about it! I specifically had to push for an early shift at my last few jobs specifically so I could do things like run errands, go to the post office, etc. after work. It’s still become nearly impossible to shop at some of these 8-5 businesses during the weekend unless you live within busing/walking distance though because of the increasing density. I figure it has become easier to find an excuse to shop online or save my money, if I were to look for a positive here…

  • TheJunction March 21, 2019 (4:58 pm)

    Hi No Car, No Problem: The comments were selected by the consultant who conducted the survey. Actually, quite the opposite about the future of the Junction.  We all have an opportunity to create a visionary downtown core that will serve West Seattle for generations. If you follow the Junction newsletter, you’ll read that we plan to continue to share comments from our community.

    Here’s one we selected:” I live close enough to walk to everything in the Junction, so I very rarely use the parking. Although I do feel it is beneficial to have it available if I make a trip to get larger items or due to poor weather. With the future addition of the light rail, I think the junction needs to keep expanding to accommodate the future plans of the light rail and the people it will bring to the area. The small local shops and restaurants are what really make the Junction special, and I hope that they do not go away.”-Jay B.  


    • Jort March 22, 2019 (5:41 am)

      My pro-pedestrian,  pro-transit, pro-cyclist comment was also omitted by the “consultant.” I’m curious why the “consultant” felt it so important to highlight people’s pro-parking comments to the exclusion of others. The best thing that the junction could do for itself is pedestrianize the entire stretch of California between Oregon and Edmunds. At the very least, take two lanes away from cars and expand the sidewalks out so that we can have large outdoor seating areas. There is future in which the junction thrives if it depends on the geometrical limitations of how much space cars take up.

      • ttt March 22, 2019 (6:31 pm)

        But where will people park so they can drive from other parts of west seattle to utilize that cool, 2 block pedestrian street?

    • No Car, No Problem March 22, 2019 (4:39 pm)

      There were plenty of other questionable things in terms of what was included in the consultant’s report vs what was not. Best practice would be to publish the full results of the survey (and all comments!) so that folks can draw their own conclusions, and identify any areas where was was highlighted in the analysis doesn’t match the data. This is program evaluation 101. For example: Almost half of respondents (46%) agreed that “The Junction is getting too over built,” but few (8%) strongly disagreed.  How many respondents disagreed, how many were unsure, does the 46% include strongly agreed, etc.? We’re told that a negative attitude prevails, and we’re selectively given numbers that back up that narrative. The only conclusion I can draw is that either you or the consultant wanted to push a particular agenda, or else you picked a consultant who isn’t very good at their job.

  • dsa March 21, 2019 (6:49 pm)

    What I tried to express in my response is that free or pay-to-park, parking lots are needed if I expect to continue to patronize the junction.  All bets are off once light rail opens.

  • Thistlemist March 22, 2019 (6:42 am)

    Not wanting to be snarky, but I really do wonder if people who live closer to the Junction/California core areas understand how “fantastic” metro is for people who live anywhere off the main North/South path (say west of 35th, Arbour Heights, etc….). The majority of these West Seattle areas have no or very limited weekend buses and even the Weekday busses are limited to three morning/three eveing downtown routes. While it has gotten better, East/West routes from Delridge are still minimal and most people have to take two busses to get to the main Junction core. My husband and I filled out the survey and made a point of mentioning that while we rarely drive to the Junction (lucky enough to be healthy 30 somethings who live in the Morgan area with walking/C Line options), the vast majority of our friends who live closer in to 35th/White Center/Seattle College areas drive in because a bus is either truly non existent or would take 45 to an hour. They love and want to support the Junction but there is a transportation reality to consider. Not sure large parking lots are an answer but it gets old hearing how “easy” it is to get somewhere with no context to the actual realities of our current metro system.

    • ACG March 22, 2019 (2:50 pm)

      +1 !

  • anonyme March 22, 2019 (3:40 pm)

    Exactly, Thistlemist.  If Arbor Heights actually had decent bus service, I would probably spend more time in the Junction – and elsewhere.  I also think Jort’s idea is excellent:  expanded sidewalks in the Junction to allow for more social gathering and events.  It makes no sense to have town centers that are hostile to pedestrians.  Way too much emphasis on accommodating cars rather than creating vital, urban communities.  It was encouraging to see that most people want to maintain the small-town feel of the Junction rather than just packing in as many bodies as possible.

  • BJG March 22, 2019 (8:06 pm)

    Sounds ideal to have “walking” town center in the Junction, but since it remains a major north/south arterial there is nowhere to send the major traffic flow. I sympathize with the wonky bus service for most of West Seattle. Smaller van transit service could be so helpful.

  • Matt Hutchins March 23, 2019 (9:43 am)

    California is closed to traffic and there’s no street parking every week for the Sunday market, and it’s the best day of the week. You could look at this report and say a minority “…would not come to the Junction without free parking” and that only 10% “noted that the current lack of parking availability affects their propensity to visit the junction.”I’d also note from the survey that that the people who come to the Junction the most (and probably the most loyal customers/regulars) are also the segments least likely to care about the loss of parking. 

  • PDiddy March 24, 2019 (1:52 am)

    I love the attitude of the anti car in assuming that their stance is the only one. Transit is NOT great in Seattle. If anything its often inconvenient. Instead of whining about how you are not being heard, think how you are not contributing to the roads you still use. Yes everyone would love alternatives to driving but honestly they dont exist for most. You sound like a pampered princess. We dont have a proper metro and standing in the rain taking two or three busses and an hour plus to go a few miles is not effective and not going to get you anywhere. WSJ thrives on the balance of free parking and still holding on to that little bit of Seattle that seems to have gotten lost when folks like no car no problem moved here from somewhere else.

    • JAT March 25, 2019 (9:18 pm)

      Pdid, when you say “not contributing to the roads you still use” do you mean because (whomever you’re talking about) no longer pays property taxes or rent (which of course contributes to property taxes)? Because that’s of course where the overwhelming majority of road funding comes from. that’s probably not what you meant though…

  • Ken Kinyon March 25, 2019 (4:22 pm)

    I have been away for a while.  When I lived on Alki, the junction was California and Admiral Way.  What area has stolen the name?

    • WSB March 25, 2019 (4:24 pm)

      The Junction refers to California/Alaska and vicinity and has for more than a few years. California/Admiral is Admiral Junction (although The Admiral District is more common) and California/Fauntleroy is Morgan Junction.

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