Seattle Met: Sound Transit Expansion Plan Likely to Include Large Investment in Parking Facilities

SeattleMet.com, March 24, 2016
Josh Feit

1. Last December, when Sound Transit presented potential options for ST3—the proposed super regional light rail package to extend the current plan from Lynnwood to Everett, from Redmond to Kirkland, and from Federal Way to Tacoma, with new lines within Seattle such as Ballard to downtown and West Seattle to Downtown—one jarring element of the presentation was $1 billion (out of the estimated $30 billion in projects) for expanded parking facilities.

Given that Sound Transit’s regional mission is to reduce the Puget Sound’s future reliance on car travel, I wrote at the time, you had to wonder if $980 million for 18,000 cars—at $52,000 per stall —was the best proposed investment.

Overall, according to my review of the ST3 proposal at the time, ST3’s parking component considered: 11 parking projects in the Southern portion of ST3 for roughly 8,400 new stalls, four projects in the east corridor for roughly 4,600 new stalls, six projects in the Northern portion for 3,513 new stalls, and two projects in the central corridor for about 1,300 new stalls.

Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick said at the time that there was indeed a high demand for park and rides in the suburban corridors, but he also took issue with my assumption that ST3 was considering spending $1 billion total on parking. “Your headline is not really accurate in saying ‘Sound Transit Three Assumes Nearly $1 Billion for New Parking Stalls,’” he said. “Not all of the candidate projects can be built, and the study results are to inform further narrowing of priorities to shape a ballot measure of as-yet undetermined scale. Once the board identifies a draft plan you will be able to analyze how much parking is assumed.”

That official draft plan is coming out today at ST’s 1:30 board meeting; the public will vet it over the next few months and the board will send some final version of ST3 to voters this summer for a November vote.

I’m hearing that the price tag, which includes a new property tax along with the sales and motor vehicle excise tax already authorized by ST1 and ST2, will be around $32 billion.

I’m also hearing that the parking allocation is, indeed, $1 billion.

2. In addition to hearing a live set from Alicia Keys at yesterday’s Starbucks annual meeting, Starbucks shareholders and execs heard from 19-year-old Rainer Ave and MLK Way Starbucks barista Darrion Sjoquist.

Sjoquist stood up and asked CEO Howard Schultz if the company planned to address the emergent issue of “secured scheduling”—the new labor cause to prevent management from upending hourly workers’ lives with unpredictable weekly schedules and oftentimes, scaled back hours.

Watch the YouTube of Sjoquist and Schultz at yesterday’s meeting.

Schultz said the company was well aware of the issue and—facing a challenge of scheduling two groups of workers, some who want part time work and some who want full time work—was trying to develop technology to help managers with scheduling demands.

Sjoquist, whose initial specific question to Schultz had been whether employees like Sjoquist who “feel the effects of scheduling….could talk to you about it,” pressed Schultz after the CEO’s initial cordial response.

Sjoquist followed up:

“The one voice I really feel is missing are the partners [Starbucks store staff] themselves, the employees. I think they have a lot of useful things to say, and I think if you let them, they’ll talk a lot.”

Schultz concluded the conversation saying: “Okay. Thank you very much for that. Thank you,” as the audience broke out into applause.

3. My latest article for the magazine is out and, go figure, it’s about the city council’s recent vote to allow the Seattle Department of Transportation to buy out Pronto. More specifically, though, the story strays from the media narrative that Pronto itself was a disaster and takes a tougher look at SDOT’s own screw ups that hastened the bike share nonprofit’s troubles.