Fighting the Good Feit

Josh Feit:

Supporting the $904 million on I-405 expansion in this November’s regional transportation plan (the same plan that Seattle voters must vote for if they also want to expand Sound Transit light rail) GOP King County Council Member Reagan Dunn told the Seattle Times:

The I-405 project, especially, will improve traffic for people who must “drive until you qualify” for affordable suburban homes, said King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “The benefits are real. It will help young people; it will help our future,” he said.

His point is: People can’t afford to live (“live” meaning big houses, big yards, two car garages) in the city and so, to provide affordable housing we have to provide roads for them.

Josh must not get off the “Hill” much. “Drive Until You Qualify” is not some GOP trick. It’s exists. My folks bought land in what was rural King County, built a house, and raised two kids. My parents weren’t rich; my mom was working in social services, and my dad worked at the gas company. Even back then, gas company wages didn’t get you a house in Seattle. Or Bellevue. Or lots of other places. If they wanted a safe places to raise children, they had to look further away to unincorporated King County.

More Josh:

It’s a clever bit of demagoguery because it plays to the truth that yes, housing is becoming more and more expensive in Seattle. However, the GOP solution is a Catch-22. The more you drive people out to the ‘burbs, the more you keep Seattle from addressing its housing and transportation crisis, because suburban development takes dollars and developers away from transit and in-fill density.

No matter how much Josh Feit protests, young families are not going to buy “in-fill density” in Seattle. Maybe some will, but they are the exception that proves the rule. You can’t force young families into condos. Not when they can buy a house in Algona for the same price.

You can, however, give people options. Let’s build transit- lots more- in the city and elsewhere. Let’s expand HOV lanes. Let’s spend a little less time telling people what they should want and more time giving them options.

Josh has too much passion for correcting other people’s behavior (except when it comes to smoking indoors, in which case Josh is a flaming libertarian!). If Josh thinks the winning strategy is to lecture suburban folks, and to accuse them of defiling the environment, then he’s got another thing coming. People can only be “lectured to” so much. They can, however, be convinced. Perhaps we should try to convince people instead of just pointing fingers at them.

UPDATE (Goldy):
Josh will be joining me on “The David Goldstein Show” tonight at 7PM on 710-KIRO. Will knew that when he posted this. But I guess Will’s not man enough to come down to the studio and say to Josh’s face. He’s afraid of Josh’s passion.


  1. 1

    Left Behind by the New Democratic Party spews:


    Uh-oh, Will. Better be careful… that kind of thinking could get you kicked out of the party.


  2. 2

    michael spews:

    I hear ya Will. Don’t forget, Most folks (me inc.) could give a flying F about The Stranger.

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Let’s send all the Republicans to the moon.* Then there’ll be enough housing for everyone!

    *Not you, Richard! You’re a Democrat now.

  4. 5

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    It would be more cost-effective to Rapture ‘em, but there’s no telling when the Rapture will get here, and meanwhile I don’t want to wait. So let’s build a humongous big fucking spaceship …

  5. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Why should I pay higher sales tax for a freeway in Bellevue? What’s wrong with toll roads?

  6. 7

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    The problem with transportation packages requiring voter approval is they turn into Christmas trees. To get people in south Pierce County to vote for it, they throw in a south Pierce County project. To get people in Bellevue to vote for it, they throw in 405 lanes. To get people in Snohomish County to vote for it, they throw in a bunch of projects in that county. Instead of building a few core projects the region needs, you end up with an ornament hanging from every branch, and it all costs five times as much as it should have.

  7. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    But I’ll gladly vote for a higher sales tax if they use my money to build one-way rapid transit to the moon and put Republicans on it!

  8. 9

    OPA spews:

    “The problem with transportation packages requiring voter approval is . . . .”

    – The bond lawyers that draft them (the same ones who will get rich later off them) write the measures deceptively so voters won’t know the true costs.

    – The boards in charge of the “projects” get to reduce the scale of the projects years after the vote.

    – For five decades after the vote the public will be unable to either reduce the taxing, influence how the money is spent, or object to reductions in the scopes of the improvements the boards may want to sign off on.

    – The leadership of Seattle area transportation-governance boards (including Sound Transit and Seattle Monorail Project) have conclusively demonstrated they are deceptive, spendthrift, deaf to legitimate criticisms, unaccountable to the public, and unable to deliver anything like what they promise voters on anything like a reasonable timetable.

  9. 10

    OPA spews:

    “The problem with transportation packages requiring voter approval is . . . .”

    – The proponenets of these propositions are incentivized to lie up front about the costs. No elected official can be held accountable for the lowball cost estimates that were presented to voters. The consultants paid to come up with the numbers were paid off years before when the truth finally emerges. Taxpayers in the future become completely responsible to make up the difference between the lowball cost estimates and the actual costs that crop up as the projects get going decades after the vote.

  10. 12

    Bryan spews:

    Goldy, Why to you print this crap on your blog? There are plenty of other places for these silly ideas.

  11. 13

    Bryan spews:

    If Will’s argument were true, the urban core would contain only the wealthiest people and that is not the case. If we subsidize long commutes, a few hundred people will take the subsidy. Homes near the highway will become more valuable and we will have more long distance commuters.
    I believe that locations with an equal cost can be found at every distance from downtown Seattle. People just have a different idea of what a good value is. I estimate that someone who lives a 20 minute walk or bus ride from their downtown office saves about $250/month relative to someone who drives 45 minutes to the same office when you account for the time and effort, vehicle cost and fuel. The person who lives near their office will likely spend the $250 on a higher mortgage, and even with the higher mortgage they will not get the 4 car garage and yard that requires a lawn tractor. Instead they get a neighborhood with easy access to parks, theaters, libraries, restaurants and cafes that becomes part of their after work living space. Some of us like yards, garages and long commutes and others like cafes and small homes. If you like yards, garages and long commutes support more roads but don’t kid yourself into thinking that commuter subsidies are vital to the struggling middle class or that they give people options.

  12. 14

    BigD spews:

    Simple numbers show how Will is correct, and how Feit and his hapless defenders – such as Bryan – are simply swimming against a rip-tide of basic economic reality:

    How much money do you need?

    Here’s the minimum household income you needed to buy a median-priced home last year in these areas, assuming a 20 percent down payment and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 5.87 percent (the national average for 2005).

    Queen Anne: $135,309

    Central Bellevue: $129,406

    Green Lake: $107,838

    W. West Seattle: $104,421

    Lake Sammamish: $104,206

    East Ballard, Bothell, Central Area: $90,811

    Lake City, Beacon Hill: $76,281

    Source: Seattle Times analysis of King County assessor’s data, 2006