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TALK BACK

We've asked you to 'Talk Back' to us; here's a sample of what your friends and neighbors have sent to us recently.

We'd like to hear from you. Please send your comments, suggestions, ideas or questions about local issues or this website to contact@seattlechannel.org.

Please be aware that the opinions expressed below do not reflect the thoughts or policy of the Seattle Channel or City of Seattle.


Steve has commented:

I wish to express my opposition to the viaduct tunnel. The current raised viaduct provides one of the few remaining vision links to what makes Seattle a unique place to live and visit. The increased skyline and stadiums have blocked the view to Elliot bay and the Olympics. A simple drive down the viaduct can rekindle the spirit of what makes Seattle special. You can see the ferries, the waterfront dock, smell the salt air, view shipping, smell the fish and enjoy a vista that is priceless. The waterfront is one of the last remaining vestiges of the old Seattle charm. I find it hard to believe that driving through a tunnel will elicit such exposure. Leave this gateway to the public in place. Rebuild it if necessary but don't deprive the public of one of the few ways left to experience what Seattle is all about.
Daren has commented:

It seems like our call for the monorail goes through a city leader's ear and right out the other. Their favoritism should be shifted to the people's interest, not elsewhere.
Christine asks:

Explain how a neighborhood park with a state of the art zoo is being turned into Disneyland with an above-ground parking garage, event center and administration building.

Why? The neighborhood dutifully attended meetings to build an underground garage near already existing parking. We were led to believe that was the plan. We were misled. Sorely.

Explain why that is okay to commercialize a plot of land that Phinney donated for the all to use. To make it available to conventioneers and gas guzzling SUVs when the major keeps talking about taking public transportation – he is funding an expensive parking lot which will be underused and an eyesore no mater how many people say it will be covered in trees and not displace trees. Explain please.


Diane sent these thoughts:

Pave paradise, put up a parking lot

Seattle taxpayers are helping finance a building boom at Woodland Park Zoo that does not benefit animals or Zoo visitors. Even some Seattle City Council Members are confused about what they’ve approved. Many are just waking up to the fact that the Zoo building plan they approved is not the plan citizens helped create and thought would be put before the City Council. There were last-minute changes made by the Mayor and Zoo Board. I am among the Zoo neighbors and supporters asking Seattle’s City Council Members to stop the empire building in historic Woodland Park.

The quick-change in the longtime plan for an underground garage at Woodland Park Zoo is being called "The Switcharoo" around here. Zoo neighbors can provide documentation of what appears to be a deliberate attempt by the Seattle leaders involved to switch to a cheaper, less attractive above-ground garage with as little public notice as possible.

The Zoo also plans to add a large office complex, events center and carousel. The Zoo’s North Entrance will be closed to accommodate all those buildings, and it's expected the garage will wipe out the kids pony rides - a Zoo tradition for many decades. The new buildings are also expected to cut the size of the North Meadow where the Zoo's Summer Tunes Concerts are held. A mechanical carousel is being planned for the grassy hill where kids play during the family-oriented concerts and many other times of the year.

Many Phinney/Greenwood neighbors are worried the garage will increase crime in the area. It's only a few dozen days a year Woodland Park Zoo actually fills its parking lots, so it's believed the giant garage will sit empty and open most of the year. Creating a dry, private space in the park may only add to its attraction to criminals.

Even The Zoo Society appears worried the garage won’t be used. Zoo attendance has actually gone down the last 4 years in a row, and many visitors prefer to use the free street parking surrounding the Zoo. Zoo Board members have discussed trying to force Zoo goers to pay for parking by asking Seattle's City Council to install parking meters on the residential streets surrounding the Zoo. The Zoo Board is also encouraging restricting parking in the neighborhood to residents only, by permit. That way, Zoo visitors would have to park in the Zoo lots and garage. The Zoo plans to gouge them by raising parking rates to $5, then $8, after the new garage is built.

The short-term solution is simple. Stop the flawed building plan. Then, stop charging for Zoo parking, and people will actually use the existing Zoo parking lots. That has even been suggested by The Seattle Department of Transportation, but ignored by the Zoo Board. Should the Zoo need more parking in the future, we can revisit the idea of an underground garage, better mass transit options, busy-day shuttles from near-by lots. The type of things Zoo Board members have paid only lip-service to supporting for too many years.


Paul sent these thoughts:

Seattle parks lovers throughout the city are outraged about the "switcheroo" -- the last-minute decision to change the Woodland Park Zoo garage from an underground, low-profile, south end structure to an above-grade, high-impact, west side monolith...while not informing the public of the change! Why cannot this decision be revisited -- just as the Monorail is -- before millions of dollars are wasted on an unneeded and ultimately unused, football-field sized monstrosity?

Thank you.


Ryal has commented:

Why don't you ask yourself and the members of this or any future board how did they get to work today? Was it in a vehicle made before 1958? Because that is what you are asking the people of Seattle to settle for. That is why I have asked the mayor , handed out copies of the web page at many transportation meetings,and I will tell you of now. It is called Skytran.net.... Please take a look at this page and think to yourself which is more picturesque a row of telephone poles or this modern form of mass transportation. Because the row of telephone poles represent an existing right of way corridor that we don't have to swindle people out of . Please, Please pull your heads out of the 1958 { Disney Monorail introduced } sand hole and step into the future. If you have any questions on this project please contact me at (number removed for privacy) I would be more than happy to explain it to you.


Hays sent these thoughts:

Before the SMP becomes another blunder to Seattle history lets save what started as a good idea for our future can combine the link with the SMP Green Line. Let’s save our cities public transportation and unite the SMP with the Sound Transit Link, saving money using the data already collected, and keeping the project somewhat on track. At the core the project is over budget and could still be 14 miles long if it shares the rails with the link. Why pay for doubled up stations downtown? Why build an elevated monorail when both the tunnel and the future 99 will be underground? We can have elevated light rail too, we can consolidate maintenance stations and maintenance staff. Let’s get the SMP back on track by removing the "M", removing duplicate stations, and uniting the lines for united system.

I put this little image together to show just how nicely the Link could be. I do not work for the SMP or Sound Transit. I am just a Seattle tax payer. http://seattle.omita.com/combined.php

If the monorail is coming up for a 5th vote lets ask if Seattle would like the 14 mile Green Line to be light rail linked with the blue line.


Stephen wrote:
An open letter to the monorail board:
Why don't you folks get a life and a real job. Here's an e-mail that I just sent to the mayor regarding this brain dead idea of yours. You will not be forgotten as you move forward with your political careers. This idea is as deceptive as President Bush's argument for going to war in Iraq. If you want to be of service to this city, get on board with Sound Transit and do something that will benefit everyone!

Mr. Mayor:
I just wanted to take a moment to lend you support in your recent decision to withhold funding and support for the monorail project. The idea that we as a city spend 11 billion dollars on a 14 mile line between two parts of the city that has very little viable impact in the overall economy of our region at a time when the Seawall is eroding, the viaduct is becoming a death trap and the 520 bridge is in need of replacement is irresponsible to say the least. Not to mention that we now have to spend time and money closing and repairing our sparkling new bus tunnel for two years, due to design flaws that has made it inept to accommodate light rail.

As a life long resident of Seattle, it saddens and frustrates me to know that we as a city just can not get our act together in devising a comprehensive plan to do something as simple as move people around. A monorail between West Seattle and Ballard is a terrible idea. It will never pay for itself; it will not benefit the masses that will be forced to pay for it for countless generations and in my opinion, works against the rest of the region where the bigger picture of transportation is concerned.

It is refreshing to see a leader in a city as great as ours who for once has the backbone to call bullshit when he sees it and who sets the bottom line as a priority for once. The monorail board on the other hand ought to have charges filed against them for attempting to defraud the citizens of Seattle and I for one am not alone in calling for it to be dissolved at once. I am also compiling a list of names of every member on that board, so that I will know who to actively campaign and vote against whenever anyone of these morons decides to run for (God forbid) public office. Please forgive me for being so candid as I mean no disrespect to the office of Mayor or to the good people on your staff who are reading this.

As a life long resident, I am simply passionate about getting our act together before we someday are faced with a terrible natural disaster that leaves us with hundreds of bodies sandwiched between the decks of the Viaduct, trapped in their cars at the bottom of Lake Washington or floating in Elliot Bay, while a city full of the grieving and shocked stand around asking why we didn't do something to prevent this. It’s not rocket science to figure out that the clock is ticking; running against us and the time to act was yesterday!


Diane has commented:
Would the artists and musicians of Seattle be called upon to try and locate those artists, sculptors, potters, musicians and other creative people who've lost their life's work in this devastation? Could you put out a call for them to help with that. These folks have been defeated and despairing in all this even those who did get out before the hurricane came. We can't save their work in all likelihood, but if your creative communities would be alerted to help these national treasures to not give up and not give in and know we care about them and want them to keep creating then maybe we won't have a bigger disaster.
Thank you

Howard, a lifelong resident and 34-year employee of the city of Seattle, wrote:
I watched the program featuring Senator Patty Murray regarding her Committee on Veteran's Affairs - "Coming Home From Combat." I wish that every person in our nation could (and would) take the time to digest the information related in that program. It took me some time (a few years) to change my mind about Patty Murray from "Mom in Tennis Shoes" to an experienced, thoughtful, and articulate Senator that I now find her to be.

I must also thank you for the program that followed - The Republican Committee - that dealt with the Sound Transit fiasco. The host did a great job, and the guest was very knowledgeable. It makes one shudder to think of how misinformed the voters of our region are when placed in a position to make decisions on transportation matters.

Thanks for offering the viewers such informative programming,
Hays has commented:
Sometime I wonder if downtown public parks in Seattle actually make the city seem nicer, or do they just become gathering points for the homeless populations driving out any normal citizens from actually using them? I work in Pioneer Square and the last places anyone wants to enjoy a nice summer days is at a public park. Some are notorious for being public bathrooms and overly unpleasant area’s. Naturally, “public” park is for everyone, but what is being done to make sure these parks are safe for civilians and city workers that have to tend the plants and grounds. Why do city workers have to deal with human waste? Again, this is not an easy problem to fix. But parks like Washington St. Public Boat Landing are extremely unsanitary due to multiple individual’s defecating in the bushes next to the park.
Jim has commented:
Guys, People love those trolleys. They are so cool. It gives Seattle a living legacy of its culture. Pioneer Square really does seem like a true memory its Klondike past with those lovely trolleys clang-clanging all over the waterfront. Tourists are crazy for them.

Why would you possibly close the trolley down for two years to build a park of sculptures and trees? Why not delay that portion of the park until the new trolley barn is built? This is another example of asinine behavior that puts the abstractness of art above the practicality of reality. Are not the trolleys art in themselves? Do we think that it will be easy to access this park now that one of the best ways of accessing it are gone? This kind of “cart before the horse” thinking is the reason why we are not going to have a monorail even though the people voted yes four times for something the council did not really want and ultimately found a way to derail. Is there any kind of worse lip service to any kind of mass transit than to close down one of the best examples we have of one that really works? What about lost tourism because of clogged streets? Have you actually been down there when one of those giant cruise ships is embarking and disembarking? Do you know how many hundreds and perhaps thousands of people ride those trolleys to and from the stadium games?

I love how the explanations seem to make sense, we can’t do this because we didn’t do that. Why not find a way to put in a temporary barn until the permanent one can be built? Put a few “Quonset” huts under the viaduct – nothing could be uglier than what is now there.

Start thinking like problem-solvers rather than masters of expediency.
Find a way to save something beautifully practical– it is your job.
Thanks for listening.
Ginny has commented:
Has public-private sponsorship of the monorail been explored? For example, corporate sponsors could put their name on one of the trains or one of the transit stations (eg Washington National Bank, Sprint, etc). Even trains funded by private citizens may work (eg Paul Allen, Bill Gates, etc). The supplemental funding may supplement the current funds enough to keep the monorail viable.
Eileen has commented:
Perhaps it is un P.C but I love driving on the viaduct by the sound. Now how many people drive this everyday and how many people would benefit by being to walk on it if it was turned into a tunnel?

Currently people can still walk under it and get to the ocean. But if the viaduct was turned into a tunnel that would be a long and dark commute. The viaduct is a unique and wonderful driving experience (and I am generally against car culture but this is different).

Also what would be the environmental impact of digging up the earth to create a tunnel? I am strongly against a tunnel and think you should just fix the viaduct, cheaper and safer (i.e. who wants to be in a tunnel in an earthquake anyway!).
Bob has commented:
As an ardent monorail supporter, I implore the agency to reopen the bidding process to Team Monorail. As I understand it, the main reason they dropped out of the process was the joint and several liability requirement, but that this requirement was later dropped for the remaining single bidder, Cascadia. Thus it is highly unfair for Team Monorail not to be invited back into the process now that significant issues have arisen with Cascadia’s proposal.

I share in the criticism of the financing plan that was revealed recently. We need to find out whether this is an artifact of Cascadia’s specific proposal or a fundamental problem that any bidder will face. I have heard compelling arguments that suggest Team Monorail may have a more affordable proposal, and anyway, a little competition between bidders can only help shake out the truth. I and the majority of Seattleites who support the monorail project will not accept the project being scuttled after only one bid is considered.
Daniel has commented:
I find the idea of the Monorail brilliant, and I have wondered why Portland had developed its own mass rail transportation before we have. I have lived in Seattle for 19 years and been around the world, all the while I took the subways to get around in cities such as Paris and Tokyo.

Paris has been said to have the best subway system in the world, and Tokyo the most complex. Both of which have done wonders, and offer different ways of accomplishing the task of building railways. Paris is heavily subsidized by the government and draws on all the countries resources. While Tokyo has both public and private rail. What is the vision of the future for Seattle? Will it be an open market system as in Tokyo? or more a way to give incentives to live in the city? One thing that may be missing from all the calculations about how much the Monorail will cost is the increase in real property values surrounding each stop. I also do not see the non-economic costs put into play, those of less pollution, less traffic, gains from tourism etc.

From the plans I have seen so far, excluding the cost, my main concerns lie in the expandability of this line, and why does it stop short of the Airport? It seems that expanding down to the Airport would give a substantial boost to its use and reduce the number of cars going to and from the Airport. The second idea is on expandability. How much thought has gone into leaving options open for expanding the line to the East side to a leave the strain on our bridges? And connecting UW and eastern Seattle to downtown core?

I would love to get involved with making the Monorail happen for Seattle and if there is anything I can do I please let me know.
Joanna has commented:
I have long felt the Seattle Monorail was a misguided vanity project with countless design and environmental impact flaws. I hope the recent financing boondoggle will serve as a wake up call to all local politicians who have silently watched the SMP squander millions of dollars.

Pull the plug before any more money is wasted.
David have commented:
Now is the perfect time to recall City Council Member Richard Conlin, Chair of Transportation. He typifies the road-block mentality to the monorail that has forced the general public to tell the city four times that it wants the monorail. Voters in 2005 might recall that the "Recall the Monorail" initiative, which was put forward to the public by the City Council in 2004, failed when nearly two-thirds of the voters rose against the recall. What voters "recalled" in 2004 was that they had already voted to support the monorail three times and that they did not need to be asked a fourth time just to make sure they really knew what they wanted.

It's almost unheard of that a single civic project would have to be voted on four times. It is even more spectacularly rare that a major civic project would survive all four votes with nearly a two-thirds majority supporting the project by the fourth vote. Typically support erodes with each new vote as detractors begin to accumulate in numbers and gain financing.

Voters might now want to recall that one big reason the cost of the monorail has gone up is that the City Council voted to reroute it over the top of some very expensive downtown utilities that will have to be moved. Advocates of the monorail at the time claimed that the reroute was nothing but an attempt to derail the monorail in the future by making it more costly to build. The higher cost of the reroute becomes substantial when you factor in forty years of interest. The expensive rerouting was due to the objections of downtown business owners who said, in grand Seattle fashion, "Not in my backyard."

Since the Council's Chair of Transportation is now up for his own revote, now is the perfect time to recall him. The citizenry of Seattle has spoken four times to say unequivocally that they want the Council to be highly pro-active in creating the monorail, not re-active against it. A pro-active council does not look at the high cost of financing the monorail as a reason to derail it; it looks at the fact that the city clearly wants a monorail then seeks to create funding methods that will reduce the high interest costs so the public gets the best value.

Do we vote for a City Council that sees itself as the primary check to the public will, or do we vote for a City Council that clears a forward path for Seattle transportation? Recall Conlin.


Mike has commented:
I would like to comment on the proposed South Lake Union Streetcar.

As I do so, I fully appreciate that discussions and planning are fairly advanced; nonetheless, I wish to make a suggestion that I believe will greatly enhance the value of the streetcar to the City.

I would like to see the South Lake Union Streetcar be a direct extension of Sound Transit's LINK light rail system.

The current streetcar proposal, as I understand it, would have a single track from Westlake Avenue (between Stewart Street and Olive Way) to just shy of Virginia Street and then two tracks out to Valley Street and Fairview Avenue, using street right of way on Westlake and Terry Avenues.

A "fact sheet" states that the proposed route "Connects South Lake Union and Denny Triangle to downtown, the monorail, bus and future light rail service at Westlake." However, the proposed stop on Westlake Avenue, between Stewart Street and Olive Way (the southern terminal) will be across a very busy street (Olive) from the nearest entrance to Westlake Station (light rail and buses) and separated by two street crossings (Westlake and Fifth Avenues) from the Green Line monorail (assuming that it actually gets built). This is not convenient.

Further, if all of the disparate rail projects currently contemplated or being constructed are built, Seattle will have five (5) very different systems (Sounder, LINK, Green Line, Waterfront streetcar, and South Lake Union), owned by four (4) different government agencies (Sound Transit, SMP, Metro, City of Seattle), each with its very own maintenance facility. To make matters worse, none of these systems will share a common passenger loading platform with any of the others. This is absurd.

Suppose, instead, that the streetcar is routed to the Convention Place Station and connected directly to the light rail tracks. The route south of Denny Way could be straight up Ninth Avenue, resulting in about the same length as the current alignment on Westlake Avenue. Alternatively (and I have not looked at this in detail - it might not work) an alignment entirely on Terry Avenue, south to Denny Way, and then southeast on Terry Avenue to Convention Place. This would save as much as 1,000 feet of track, a definite savings in both construction and operation costs as well as travel time.

Either way, once the streetcar tracks enter Convention Place, they would be connected to LINK's light rail tracks, allowing through travel from South Lake Union into the Downtown Transit Tunnel. The supposition here is that LINK and the streetcar use compatible technology: same vehicle envelope and electrical power specifications, etc. (or, heck, why not just use identical vehicles?).

What do we gain from this? First of all, the City won't need to build and operate yet another maintenance facility - it could contract with Sound Transit to use the one that is currently under construction for LINK. If the streetcar used identical rolling stock, then both Sound Transit and the City might benefit from a combined purchasing power. For South Lake Union passengers, the southern reach of the streetcar wouldn't end on the north side of Olive Way but would extend all the way to SeaTac airport. In the opposite direction, visitors traveling to any of the hotels in the South Lake Union area will be able to take light rail/streetcar (as they would now be indistinguishable) in a single ride from the airport to their lodgings.

The proposed extension out Eastlake Avenue to the University District makes this connection even more compelling - a single ride for students to the ferry terminal or King Street Station would be possible. It would not be unthinkable to build a future branch line up Westlake to Fremont - it'd be a pain to cross the Ship Canal, but I think there's a strong market for travel between Fremont (a growing urban village) and downtown. Another gain: local property taxes on the land that would otherwise by occupied by the proposed maintenance facility site would not be lost, as that land could be developed.

Nothing's free, and I see some minor negative considerations. The biggest is the loss of the two stops on Westlake Avenue south of Denny Way. The terminal between Stewart and Olive is replaced by the existing Westlake Station, so this is not a real loss. The other stop would be replaced by one near Lenora Street, about a block away - again, not significant (the new location would be closer to the 2200 project, now under construction).

There is also the lost planning for the section along Westlake Avenue south of Denny Way, but I imagine that this is relatively minor.

This alternate alignment would need to cross Olive Way and Howell Street, something that the original proposal avoids. However, it might be possible to cross under these streets - and this might even be preferable, as the track level inside Convention Place is lower than the surrounding street level. This under crossing (if chosen) most likely would be the biggest construction challenge, but - given the savings realized from not building a maintenance facility - it all might be a wash.

Even if it did cost a bit more, I think it would be worth doing for the gains that come from creating a truly "seamless" connection with regional transit - a light rail system that is greater than two unconnected rail lines ever could be.
Wolfgang has commented on Broadband:
I could use it right now!

I am doing video production out of my home office and some video conferencing. The 1.5/300 ADSL is not fast enough. It takes me several hours to upload a full resolution video clip for my clients to check. That limits me to short clips and low quality.

Bring on the fiber!
Carl has commented:
I understand that there will be a vote on the South Lake Union Streetcar project next Monday - 6/27/2005. As a KC Metro employee, I'm concerned about the use of transit hours that might be used to operate the streetcar. If I might offer a suggestion for a funding source:
If Paul Allen wants a streetcar, Seattle should do what most American cities have always done, sell him a charter to build and operate one at his expense, no public money. It would appear that he believes strongly in this project, certainly as an integral part of his master plan for South Lake Union and the Mercer Street Corridor. Therefore, he builds it, he runs it and he gets to pick how much he wants to charge for it. Oh and he pays for the maintenance of it. That's the way we've always operated with street cars and I see no reason to change.
Sally has commented:
Hello - I'm chair of Allied Arts' Waterfront Project. Allied Arts is working closely with the City, DSA, Downtown Residents Council, environmental groups, transportation groups, business leaders and others to create excellent urban spaces. Allied Arts' position on the streetcar is YES keep it, YES move the line to Western where it can better serve the Pike Place Market, Belltown, new Olympic Sculpture Park, base of Queen Anne, south of Seattle Center, and connect to the proposed South Lake Union Streetcar, YES connect the line to the International District and Pioneer Square. Moving the trolley barn to Occidental Square works well with this position which has growing support from people in the business and downtown community. In other words, make the waterfront streetcar part of an integrated and useful transportation circulator system, not just a north-south tourist attraction.
Pete and Dianne have commented:
Please know that this family has no interest, nor desire to be trapped and drown in a black flooding hole, or be crushed to death while driving through your Billion Buck Leaky Waterfront Tunnel Lunacy when the Next Earthquake Strikes Our Ever Shifting Sand Waterfront -- Thank You.

Our Viaduct Can Be Fixed for less than a tenth of what your leaky tunnel lunacy is "Guestimated" to Cost by Harvard's Fruit Loop Engineers...

Let's get Real for a change -- The view from either viaduct deck is beautiful... It's a Tourist draw, and they spend the bucks we can't because Seattle Property Owners and Businesses have already been "Taxed Beyond The Max" for a Gaggle of Runaway Boondogles by you folk and your Pipe-dream Olympian Cousins of Economic Disaster.
John has commented:
I was wondering if any of the present planners for the streetcar system have a direct knowledge of how the old systems ran. I recall the St. Paul/Minneapolis system in the '30s and '40s which was phased out after WWII. The tracks were located on each side of the street's center line. That meant that getting on and off required having all automobile traffic stop in the curb lane so riders could get on and off. Your interview with Mr. Conlon talked about 13 stations on the line (City Inside/Out April 29, 2005). Will the tracks be out in the street or will they curve into the curb at stations. It sounds to me like cars will have a hard time on any street where a trolly runs. Good Luck!
Mike has commented:
I support One Percent For The Arts. I think it's absurd that anyone would complain about money spent for it. The art adds interest to any site. It provides the opportunity for dialogue between individuals. It makes a person feel better. Which makes that person in turn, feel better towards others.
Richard has commented:
This article [from Las Vegas Review-Journal] updates the status of the Las Vegas monorail. 3 years ago, the Elevated Transportation Company embraced the Las Vegas monorail as an example of how the Seattle Monorail would look and operate. Since the opening problems, SMP officials have not mentioned anything about the Las Vegas system.

The Las Vegas system is a mere 4 miles yet the standard 1-way fare is $3.00 A round trip costs $6.00 since no transfers are given. Even with this steep price for a short ride, the system is not breaking even. Monorail planners in Seattle have promised that the system will break even. Tax revenue cannot legally be used to operate the monorail after an initial startup period. If it cannot break even, it will have to cut back hours, much like the Seattle Public Libraries, many of which are not open on Sundays.

The system was in operation 73 or 74 days, which is a 98.6% operating reliability, far short of the 99.9% reliability which is required by the SMP.

Ridership averaged 23,033 for the days it was open, 34% short of the 30,000 goal.

The Las Vegas monorail experienced its first column strike by a vehicle, which shut the system down for 10 minutes. Recently a truck lost its brakes on James St in Seattle and hit the Sinking Ship garage. Had the monorail been built, it's very likely that the truck would have struck a monorail column. While monorails rise above traffic, the large concrete columns are subject to being struck by vehicle traffic below.


Anonymous has commented:
I was recently watching an episode of C.R. says where it was mentioned that more people actually drive to work alone now that 25 years ago. [City Inside/Out 4/1/2005] From my own experience I can say that public transportation is only a part of the issue. I would love to live in Seattle, close to my office, where I could easily take a bus to work. Housing costs have dictated that we live way out in Kent, a good mile from the nearest bus route. If you want people to take public transit, you must make it feasible for them to live in (or at least near) the communities where they work. Otherwise if you have a choice between a 3 hour bus ride involving several route changes, or a 1 hour commute in heavy traffic on 5 - well it's sort of a no brainer.

With so many jobs these days requiring you to be flexible in working extra hours as needed, changing shifts, etc. options like van pooling, where you must coordinate your schedule with several other people, just aren't realistic for many of us. Fix the problem of affordable housing in Seattle and nearby suburbs, and I guarantee more people would take advantage of public transit. I know I would.
A. Kay has commented:
I can not believe that the City of Seattle is doing away with the charming trolley transportation on the waterfront of Seattle. With all the congestion and parking issues in the down town area why would anyone want this to happen.

There is enough strange sculpture in Seattle. I am all for art ... however taking the trolley transportation away from the public is not the answer. This trolley allows people to get around and see other things and to go shopping as well as get to appointments etc.

There is an ageing population of baby boomers that will not be able to navigate the hills in Seattle either by walking or driving. What a shame this is going to happen. This is a huge mistake. I would like to see the trolley saved for the 400,000 + people who use it ... Can you please help. Thank you for your time ...
Anonymous has commented:
I've been meaning to write for some time. There are lots of us out here that doubtless share my opinions, but like me, don't find enough hours in the day to comment.
  1. Seattle doesn't have enough money for all its needed projects. That's patently obvious.
  2. So, where does the mayor get off stating that the viaduct WILL be torn down and a tunnel WILL be built?
    *It is definitely not the most cost effective solution. It will cause our deficit to skyrocket.
    *Traffic will be in utter chaos for years during construction.
    *This authoritarian determination that the tunnel WILL be built is the mayor's gift to real estate developers - not the people who commute via the viaduct and enjoy the view. His decision should not dictate our decisions. VOTE.
  3. The plan to develop the Mercer Corridor is the same kind of sop to developers.
We do not have the money to cater to them. There are many other places in the city that need attention and money such as a propped up Magnolia Bridge and other places where safety is an issue.
Again - citizens need to vote on these issues. They may not find time to write you, but a formal vote usually gets attention. We cannot afford to give Seattle away to developers.
Heidi has commented:
I have to agree with Mandy on her comments regarding the Seattle Monorail tax. I don't plan on using it and don't want to budget an additional $235.00 a year for something that I can't afford. The majority of the people that will use it are not going to be paying this tax either because they don't own a car or they live outside of the area being taxed. For homeowners that live in the area being taxed they will actually benefit from the Monorail because it may increase the value of their homes, but for renters it is unfair. If the Monorail tax was charged to all the of the out lying areas of Seattle that will also be using the Monorail or even residents that don't own cars but voted for the tax, it may decrease the burden on the rest of us paying for this project. It isn't fair to request such a high Monorail tax from families that have dependable cars. Let's face it $235 is a lot of money to most families and there are more important items that this could be used for.
Anonymous has commented:
I would like to know why the concord is being given so much more positive attention than the Kalakala. In my opinion the Kalakala is so much more important. It gave Seattle 30 years of music and happy times and look what it is getting in return. I am ashamed of Seattleites for their complete lack of caring about what happened to this once beautiful ship. It is terrible the way it was treated and is still being treated. Where is your pride and support for something so important to the history of Seattle. I now reside in Oregon but I was born and raised in Seattle. I remember the days of the Monday moonlight cruises across Puget Sound. I was a child then. We lived across from Puget Sound and I would wait for Monday nights when i could watch the Kalakala cruise by. It was such a beautiful sight. Gain I say I am really ashamed of you Seattleites for the complete lack of support in this matter.
Allan has commented:
Every day west bound on 520 and I 90 individuals alone in their cars go to work at banks, grocery stores, hospitals, doctors offices, lawyers offices, schools, and many other businesses. At the same time east bound on 520 and I 90 individuals alone in their cars go to work at the same types of employment as those heading west. If there was some tax break or other incentive for these folks to switch jobs, for the individual and for the business, we might be able to lessen the number of cars going back and forth across the bridges day after day.
Leah has commented:
It was pure serendipity that had me tune in to Channel 21 and see a replay of a Cornell West lecture. I didn’t even know Channel 21 existed as it seems not to be listed in the TV section of the paper. This channel has become my “default” station...the one I turn to automatically when there is not a specific program on one of the PBS stations which I choose to watch.

I’m especially lucky to be able to see arts and lecture series, or lectures at Town Hall via this channel.

I was reading listeners’ feedback today and confess that I have great difficulty understanding comments regarding “a more balanced view” [see comments re: Michael Moore]. Considering that currently 99% of the media is tipped towards the right it would actually seem a more compensatory balance if all your programs had a more liberal slant. Other than Democracy Now where else can I learn what, to my way of thinking, is an other point of view. Folks who want a balanced point of view have 99 other choices. Me, I’ll stick to Seattle 21 and Amy Goodman for my balanced point of view. Thanks for the valuable service you provide.
Mandy has commented:
I'm going to try express my dissatisfaction with the Seattle Monorail tax politely with no profane language but believe me, I'm so angry about it, that will be difficult.

My personal tax obligation for the Seattle monorail is $201. I, personally, have to pay $201 to in addition to regular fees to register my 2003 Mazda. I can barely afford my monthly car payment and now I'm being forced to pay for something I will never use.

The fact that voters approved the tax carries little weight with me. Where is our legislative representation, anyway? Given the lack of construction and even studies for the project, this tax hardly seems legal.

It is especially galling because I have long been opposed to the monorail because it will cost over $1 billion and is scheduled to run from Ballard to White Center, which doesn't begin to meet our traffic needs which should be focused on getting people out of their cars commuting from Tacoma to Seattle, Everett to Seattle, Bellevue to Seattle and vice versa. Those are the real traffic problems, not someone traveling from Ballard to downtown or West Seattle.

It's outrageous to me that I have to pay this huge amount because it's regressive and unfair. I have voted against the monorail for years, have debated my friends and even petition signature gatherers for years and now to have to come out of my own pocket for this huge amount.

Does anyone else feel this way? Never would I have guessed so many would be willing to pay so much for so little.
Kimberly has commented:
The most recent City Inside/Out program (11/05) was one of the best for me. Thank You C.R. and the whole City Inside/Out team! Listening to City budget information for 30 mins., that is so interesting it seems like 10 mins. is the definition of good public affairs programming to my mind. Budget even!!! I particularly liked the item by item discussion that led up to the question for Councilman McIver of does so many capital projects fit with the "people first" slogan. And I always appreciate guests such as Mr. Bush and Mr. Howland that are not shy at speaking about what they've learned is happening in Seattle and City government.

P.S. to Jessica, you can see Amy Goodman on channel 77/29 every weekday morning at 5 - 6am. Thank goodness for VCRs. Also, I did see the Cornel West speech on that channel. Seattleites really do have a lot of very good TV to inform and ENJOY between the "Seattle Channel" 21 and channel 77. Too bad corporate owned TV listing services do not donate the listing of such worthwhile programming.
Jessica has commented:
I really appreciate these schedule updates (from the tune in newsletter). If I'm reading the schedule right, it looks like the Angela Davis program began airing...I'm sure -- like me -- many folks in Seattle would have liked to attend her recent talk here but ticket price was prohibitive. I really appreciate the way SeattleChannel.org helps bridge the opportunity gap (be it a gap of finance or time/availability) for us. I also feel the increase in awareness/consciousness we are seeing here in Seattle is largely due to the kinds of coverage/programming found on the Seattle Channel. I personally recall the morning several months ago when I stumbled across a broadcast of Arianna Huffington's Town Hall talk (April 27). I was so grateful for such a hopeful, uplifting message during a time when I still was unable to stomach any form of news media b/c it was so biased and one-sided. It was a breath of fresh air, and not long after that I caught a replay of Amy Goodman's (Democracy Now!) talk, which was an absolute revelation for me. I had no idea there were still real journalists out there doing honest reporting, the kind of thing I used to find on NPR. It's been a real awakening, and I finally feel plugged back into news of what's really going on. Thank you, Seattle Channel!!!

Finally, I had hoped to see a broadcast of Dr. Cornel West's recent talk at Town Hall. I might have simply overlooked it in the listings but it was such an important talk, I would hope there would be room in the on-air schedule for at least another cycle, or two, very soon. I was very fortunate to be able to attend that talk live (although with some of the applause interruptions and acoustics, not all of his talk was clearly audible), but the talk was filled to capacity and about 100 people standing outside Town Hall were unable to get in & were very disappointed.
Stefan has commented:
I am concerned that some of the Seattle Channel's programming sometimes crosses the line and engages in inappropriate advocacy of candidates and ballot measures. The body of this email [sent to talkback] is also posted on my weblog, here: http://www.soundpolitics.com/archives/002817.html

The Seattle Channel also broadcasts, at taxpayer expense and seemingly in violation of city law and its own stated policies, a fair amount of political advocacy. Seattle Municipal Code, 2.04.300 prohibits
the use of any of the facilities of a public office or agency, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of any person to any office or for the promotion of or opposition to any ballot proposition.
The Seattle Channel's policies require "Objectivity and Fairness" and "Balance".

Here are some examples of what seems to me to be inappropriate and unbalanced political programming on the Seattle Channel.
The website has a page about the 2004 elections:
Twenty-two million single women did not vote in the 2000 election. Watch a short video about women and voting at onevotefilm.com.
It's nice to encourage people to vote, but only if you encourage all of your citizens to vote, and you don't just speak to the one demographic group that the Democratic Party has identified as the most promising category of likely but unregistered Democratic voters.

The cable channel broadcasts the lectures of "Foolproof Performing Arts", a local 501(c)(3) that violates IRS regulations by engaging in partisan campaign activity. Every Foolproof lecture, from Joseph Wilson to Gore Vidal to Arianna Huffington, is an anti-Bush campaign rally, whose broadcast is subsidized by Seattle's taxpayers.

Former Clinton aide Eric Liu is the host of "Seattle Voices", featuring "one-on-one conversations with some of the most interesting, provocative and inspiring people in Seattle". Liu is also a board member of the League of Education Voters, which crafted I-884, the proposed ballot initiative to raise the state sales tax by a billion dollars a year. Among Liu's recent guests were Nick Hanauer and Charles Mitchell, who are both involved in the I-884 campaign and in whose interviews Liu guided the discussion toward promoting I-884. Neither Liu nor any other program presented any perspectives arguing against I-884. Similarly, Liu broadcast his interview with former Mayor Norm Rice during the time when Rice placed himself back in the public spotlight to campaign for the Families and Education Levy. Liu steered the interview towards the Levy. The Seattle Channel website also contains materials that promote the Levy, but opponents of the Levy were not given any equal time or space on either the cable channel or the website.

I spoke yesterday with the Seattle Channel's programming manager, Beth Hester. I expressed concerns about the inappropriate advocacy and lack of balance. She was courteous and respectful of my concerns. She said that it's hard to find non-liberal speakers without going outside of Seattle, but that they "make every effort" to find a variety of viewpoints. She pointed out a few examples of conservative events that have been broadcast recently, such as Condoleezza Rice's Seattle speech and Jeff Kemp in conversation with Eric Liu. Still, the preponderance of programming is left-liberal. I find it hard to justify the use of tax dollars for broadcasting anything other than, say, official public meetings. But if they are going to spend our money on non-essential political programming they have a legal obligation to present a more balanced schedule. They should either try harder to present more center-right voices, or cut back on their left-leaning political programming. Period.

Hester offered to videotape and broadcast my upcoming interview of Michael Medved. That would be a good step towards more balanced programming. But the Seattle Channel is already in a pretty big "equal time" deficit and has some catching up to do to provide alternative programming. It would only be fair, for example, to offer equal time to the No on I-884 campaign to balance the time used by Eric Liu. And I don't know yet whether the Seattle Channel is planning to broadcast Michael Moore's upcoming Foolproof speech. I would have a very serious problem with a taxpayer-funded Michael Moore broadcast unless it was balanced by something like Celsius 41.11 or Michael Moore Hates America.

UPDATE: Hester confirms that the Seattle Channel is planning to broadcast Michael Moore's speech. She is willing to present additional programming designed to balance Michael Moore.
Dennis has commented:
I saw Stefen Sharkansky's article http://www.soundpolitics.com/archives/002817.html about the Seattle Channel and I visited it for the first time at http://www.seattlechannel.org/.

I don't share Sharkansky's view about equal time. Just the same, I am a bit appalled by what I see on the Seattle Channel web page. It strikes me as more public relations than content, especially when it involves press releases from our elected public officials. Somehow, these releases need to be written with less advocacy or something, but it is clear that there is a point-of-view being expressed, and that makes the Seattle Channel a pulpit. I don't like that. What I would like is accountability and straightforward factual material.

I am not sure how to characterize the bad taste this leaves me with. I think it is about persuasion. If you can provide something that isn't trying to persuade anybody about anything, but equip them to have information and, where it is relevant, formulate their own analysis, that would be great. I am tired of the relentless effort to persuade me of things (which is why I don't even have a television and I don't subscribe to newspapers), and I will willingly look at information and accounting for things. Maybe that can be found on the Seattle Channel, but the wrappings would suggest otherwise.

With regard to information about public and civic events, I guess my question would be how notices are chosen and who chooses them. Somehow, I think KUOW and other outlets already do that job, and it would be interesting to see who is the most even-handed. I think it would be great to have a city government and services portal (and I thought we had one of those). What does the Seattle Channel do that can't be handled that way? It is also valuable to know about all of the issues that are being advocated by various groups and individuals and how to follow-up on them. That could be handled by a guide or directory, with clear, as neutral-as-we-can-make-them rules for being listed. But I think subtle and not-so-subtle advocacy should not be embedded in the content of the Seattle Channel itself.

I think part of it is the difficulty for elected officials being clear about the role they are playing in conducting their work and then telling us about it. Maybe it would be best just to televise the meetings and cut out the PR?

I also think that the Talkback mechanism itself is symptomatic of the conflicted purposes of the Seattle Channel web site. It is one thing to moderate a feedback mechanism for appropriateness (with some clear latitude on the cookie-cutter for appropriateness in the case of a civic site) but seeing someone selected, quoted and perhaps edited is weird. I am so accustomed to being able to comment directly on web material these days, that seeing the "talkback" (rather than "discuss" by the way) approach was startling for me. The experience is simply weird. If I wanted to write a letter-to-the editor and go through that selection process, I know how to do that.; That model seems inappropriate for the Seattle Channel site.

One plus: The talkback button is for a mailto-address that has my own e-mail client compose this message. That way I have a copy of what I said. That's much better than forms-based web pages for feedback, where my own feedback expression vanishes into the cyber-ether, possibly to never be seen again. Thanks. I think I'll post my copy on one of my places of web expression.
Rob has commented:
Your show that just aired on kcts (channel 9 in Seattle) with that nice ecologist (bearded oriental guy who once had his own show) who communicated about ecology being much more important than economy is correct. Without clean air to breathe and fresh water to drink we are all dead. There is an interdependence on nature for our existence and survival (and the survival of other important species -- both animal and plant). We should be caretakers of this near sacred planet instead of destroying and raping the Earth. It is why I'll vote for Kerry rather than Bush corp.

It is always nice when a little truth touches the tv screen and far too rare an occurrence.

(Field trips to old growth forests for kids and elderly would be a nice thing to have happen...and also as an educational thing for the rest of us -- many city born have never been).
Doug has commented:
"I find it appalling that the City of Seattle is planning to build a new streetcar line, while the present one, the George Benson Waterfront Streetcar is threatened with closure by King County Metro. They announced on September 8, 2004 that the maintenance facility will have be torn down for the SAM Sculpture Garden Park in June 2005. Service will end in February 2005 unless they build a new storage and maintenance building by then.

The City of Seattle built the Waterfront Streetcar with a LID tax on the Waterfront businesses in the early 1980s and then gave it to Metro to operate. What guarantee do we have that the same will not happen in South Lake Union if the Waterfront Streetcar closes in 5 months? What about this expansion plan for the waterfront line? How can that happen if it is closed? I'm sure that the merchants on the Waterfront and Chinatown will be greatly impacted just like the merchants at Westlake Center are with the closing of the Seattle Center Monorail. Maybe we should save and keep running one streetcar line first before trying to plan to build a new one."
Ben has commented:
"15th avenue is a loud, polluted, busy, and ugly street that isn't fun to drive or walk on. I think that some large street trees would fix all these problems. Take 35th Avenue NE, it has huge trees that create a beautiful canopy over the road. The trees provide shade for hot days and the sun that filters through the leaves looks a lot better. They also remove air and noise pollution that is created by the cars on the street. I've heard of people that just drive on 35th because of those trees. Studies show that trees raise property value by as much as 10% and increase foot traffic to businesses. These trees would help create a better community, especially for the young people that attend the many schools in the area. I was wondering if there were any plans to plant trees on that street or if the city would even consider it. "




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