WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Businesses’ new campaign for better relocation help – and more clarity

As the Sound Transit Board‘s decision on a West Seattle light-rail route draws closer, residents and businesses in its potential path continue looking ahead to what will happen when – and before – construction begins. The official Sound Transit timeline says that’s expected in 2027 – but even before the final route vote, it’s already been talking to some of those potentially affected. And some of the businesses in that category say that the relocation assistance for which they’re likely eligible is not nearly enough to cover the costs of finding and moving to a new site. So they just launched a new awareness and public-support-seeking campaign to ask Sound Transit for more, with an online petition drive and website.

We got first word of this from one of the businesses on the site that’s expected to hold the Delridge station, Ounces, the taproom/beer garden/community-events hub which has been at 3809 Delridge Way SW for almost eight years. We talked with co-proprietor Laurel Trujillo via email; she explains, “Relocation assistance in the financial form and transparency to the community is the big push here. Businesses don’t feel like the community is fully informed of which businesses will be forced to relocate and also on the details around the relocation assistance that is and isn’t provided.” They’ve already talked repeatedly with decisionmakers, she adds: “The sentiment from many of the businesses is that we’ve all had many meetings and discussions with the Sound Transit team, the Mayor, City Council, King County Council and so far nothing has resulted in any hint of a different outcome beyond the $50k max, plus moving costs in Relocation Assistance, nor has any consideration been given to our modification requests for shifts in route design. Because of this, our hope is that the collective voices of businesses and community members can help to ensure that the West Seattle businesses the community knows and loves are able to continue to thrive alongside light rail.”

The website has a rough list of potentially affected businesses, from the north end of Delridge to the proposed Avalon station site in the 35th/Fauntleroy vicinity to the proposed Junction station site at and around Jefferson Square. There’s also an extensive FAQ page which addresses these questions:

Do you support Light Rail to West Seattle?

Where can I see the route and businesses impacted?

Can’t these businesses and light rail exist together?

Don’t you get money to move?

How much do you get to relocate?

Is your relocation guaranteed?

Haven’t you known this was coming?

Can’t light rail just fly over you? Or go under you?

Do you have a choice?

Does Sound Transit cover 100% of your relocation costs?

When does this happen?

So you are just stuck waiting until Sound Transit buys your property?

Is the plan final yet?

Are you provided access to funding via grants or loans to help subsidize costs not provided?

Are you paid for your time/effort to relocate?

Have you started a go fund me?

Have you started to look for a new location yet?

Who makes the final decision to displace businesses?

How can I help?

What are the personal costs for business owners?

Many business owners invested life savings to start their business? Are you reimbursed for this?

Why might some businesses not survive?

On the FAQ page, you can click on any of those questions to see how it is answered. The campaign insists it’s not anti-light rail – the answer to the first FAQ is: “Yes! We support the value and access light rail will bring to our community. We just want to exist with it!”

WHAT’S NEXT: Sometime this summer, Sound Transit says, it will publish the Final Environmental Impact Statement; at some point at least one month (a mandatory period) later, the board will make final routing decisions. And for the businesses, they say they’re waiting in the dark. Trujillo says, “The outstanding question for all of us, is how much EXACTLY will ST cover. This is part of the issue –– many of us can only estimate, because we have to wait until our property is acquired before we can start working with an ST Relocation Agent and go through the exercise to actually know.”

26 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Businesses' new campaign for better relocation help - and more clarity"

  • walkerws June 18, 2024 (2:41 pm)

    I’m a huge proponent of light rain and think we need to move forward with speed. However, I also believe that $50k is insufficient compensation for many of these businesses. It can be much more expensive for a business to move, especially if they have a specialized build-out or equipment. With all the money being spent on this project, a greater amount should go to the business that will need to be displaced.            

  • Heylady June 18, 2024 (3:23 pm)

    I had NO idea of the number of businesses impacted. I have homework to do. 

    • JTM June 18, 2024 (4:56 pm)

      Remember that all 37 business in Jefferson Square are included, some of which are small office spaces for accountants, etc. 

    • Ray June 18, 2024 (11:51 pm)

      I’d love to know how much pull the Stewart family still has in Washington state that Sound transit doesn’t even consider the blocks across Andover from the newly proposed Delridge station? I am sure the office park and 2 empty parking lots are vital for the community but I would be willing to trade them for Ounces, Mode & the Skylark.

  • DC June 18, 2024 (3:37 pm)

    I’ve got an idea, rather than close any businesses, why don’t we put light rail completely in city right-of-way. Permanently close Delridge, Andover, Fauntleroy, and Alaska to all traffic. I’m sure no one will have any issues with that!

  • West Marge June 18, 2024 (3:50 pm)

    Love to see it.

  • N June 18, 2024 (4:01 pm)

    How many years have light rail or a monorail been talked about for West Seattle? Feels like its been talked about & considered a very long time. 

    • BlairJ June 18, 2024 (6:03 pm)

      Since the 1968 & 1970 Forward Thrust rapid transit proposals, which did not get the required 60% voter approval.

  • Karen June 18, 2024 (4:32 pm)

    It looks like many of these businesses are nonprofits or community organizations. I wonder if one of the schools that Seattle Public schools is looking at closing could be given over to the nonprofits and community organizations. There are not a lot of places in West Seattle that can be rented cheaply and those organizations are going to struggle. If SPS allows a school to be used, that would open up funding for some of the other businesses that should admittedly have more financial support for moving and building in a different location 

    • Sam-c June 18, 2024 (7:05 pm)

      I feel like I commented this as an option for Alki Beach Academy.  It would make great sense for them I think. School already more set up for an operation lime theirs. 50K is no where close to establishing an entity like that in a new location. 

    • KB June 19, 2024 (8:31 am)

      I’m almost certain Seattle Public Schools owns the Jefferson Square property and leases it out. I don’t know if it’s a help or hinderance to the SPS budget if STS aquires the property 

  • New Deal June 18, 2024 (4:42 pm)

    That is a lot to lose plus all the displaced home owners for a train to nowhere (at least to nowhere that a bus doesn’t already serve).

    • k June 19, 2024 (8:22 am)

      When I-5 was built, it displaced thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of residences in the downtown segment alone, just for a road to places already served by other roads and a train.  There is no displacement-free option to move people around and light rail is the least disruptive option. Remember that buses take up less space than every person in a single-occupancy vehicle, but they still take up space on roads.  The “keep adding more buses” mentality will eventually still lead to the need for more roads (and more displacement), just not as quickly as cars.  The best option to save these small businesses is more relocation support for the new light rail, which will help connect new customers to the businesses in their new homes.

      • Anne June 19, 2024 (10:04 am)


  • West Marge June 18, 2024 (4:46 pm)

    Love to see this. The real human impact to our community has not been as transparent as it should be. Not only will West Seattle lose these businesses, but what about the impact to those employees who will also lose their local jobs in the process? Next list needs to be the number of homes that will be gone, and an  FAQ to address the same issues for the people who can’t sell their homes right now because they are in exactly the same seller’s pickle as the local businesses as they hang in limbo.

  • Duffy June 18, 2024 (10:35 pm)

    Paralysis by analysis. More of the same.

  • Scarlett June 19, 2024 (10:06 am)

    The cost of this absurd albatross per foot of rail, including lives and livelihoods upended, is really quite staggering.  Such is the power of a cool sounding concept to overwhelm critical reasoning faculties.  But when you’re dug in this far, the only way to save face is to keeping digging.  

    • Bbron June 19, 2024 (11:32 am)

      “new Scarlett condescension just dropped! wonder how they’re gonna be misinformed this time?”

      • k June 19, 2024 (12:31 pm)

        Scarlett said it themselves.  They’re dug in pretty far by now, so the only way to save face is to keep digging.  They seems to have moved away from claiming construction jobs are bad, so that’s good at least.  I’m hoping this “keep telling the neighbors they ‘have no reasoning faculties’ or just that they’re stupid” thing is the last gasp.

  • skeeter June 19, 2024 (1:04 pm)

    In summary:  I support light rail.  Just tear down someone else’s property – not mine.  

    • seattleskater June 19, 2024 (8:16 pm)

      the light rail destroys multiple family owned businesses why shouldnt your home be demolished if someones reason they can afford a home is?

  • THOMAS LAXTON June 19, 2024 (7:45 pm)


  • Admiral-2009 June 19, 2024 (10:39 pm)

    ST is a bully armed with attorney’s and can run roughshod with small business operators.  The $50,000 compensation for many small businesses is a pittance to the cost of moving a business.  There needs to be a fair mechanism developed to work with small business operators to make them whole after the move.  The issue can be fraut with chronism if not set up well with good safe guards.

  • Lala June 20, 2024 (10:13 am)

    I was never a fan of the idea of having the light rail in WS, we dont need more added construction and detours but upon seeing the list of impacted business. I cannot support it, it’s pushing out so many business and its going to affect so many people’s job. It’s really heart breaking. $50,000 is not enough for businesses what a joke. 

  • platypus June 20, 2024 (12:20 pm)

    Genuine question, how is this any different from a business who rents their spot, being told by the land lord that they aren’t going to renew the lease? 50k is more than fair, sure it may not cover moving costs but that isn’t the responsibility of Sound Transit.

    • West Marge June 20, 2024 (5:40 pm)

      Wowsers. Your level of empathy is a sparkling reminder of why this project should never move forward. 

Sorry, comment time is over.