Ken's View: Schultz, the tunnel, population growth and Federal Way
By Ken Robinson
An over-caffeinated candidate
Watching Howard Schultz paw the ground to see if anyone wants to watch his dance in a bid for public office brings up notions of why anyone would want to be a politician these days.
Schultz, arguably the nation’s largest drug dealer, obviously has been bitten by the need for more attention. After selling the Sonics because we would not give him a stadium at our expense, he has kept his profile pretty low. But now that he has picked up a sword and says he wants to do battle with Trump, he is likely to be embarrassed on the battle field.
Trump does not play fair. Schultz will be vilified and shamed in some ways that will make him look like a buffoon whether deserved or not.
Dad always said: “Let the shoemaker stick to his last.” Advice to Schultz, a very smart and lucky guy: do not get in the mud pit with Trump. You will only get dirty. You have no experience in government and while neither does the current office holder, we don’t need another self-aggrandizing billionaire calling the double-shots.
A big hole
The surprise occurrence of a big snowstorm and the opening of the hole under Seattle gave us all something to think about. While it was a big adjustment to our commutes, most motorists seemed willing to cooperate because we were all in the same predicament.
The utility of the tunnel upon us now makes it clear how we must all compromise with getting around town.
We were opponents of the tunnel from the get go and remain so. We still see it as an extravagant alternative to the viaduct and a grand financial burden on the denizens of the city. We have no argument with the need to tear down the viaduct (even though the tunnel was sold to us on fear). But making it harder to get into town on other surface streets and that choke-point exit off Seneca Street are by products of political maneuverings under Christine Gregoire.
See those people in the cars around you on the freeway? They didn’t live here in 1990
The idea that you will always be able to get into a car and drive into town from the Westside is slowly becoming a fiction. As the city council continues to allow construction of multi-family dwellings in Ballard and West Seattle, the need for public transit grows.
In some European cities (Frankfurt, Germany for example) they have long had public transportation that makes it easier to get around the city without the gridlock we have here. That system of trains and busses was developed after the Second World War and few people owned automobiles.
We didn’t that here because of Manifest Destiny that allowed us to spread like spilled milk across the landscape. So we need cars to get around.
Elected officials in Seattle seem bent on forcing us to live closer together by agreeing to dense development without room for our cars. This approach is parochial and based in some measure on the 1990 Growth Management Act (designed by our mayor’s sister).
The desired side effect is to bring in more tax revenue to support the services needed to be responsive to the large population for police, fire, sewer and water, parks and all the rest.
Want to get a sense of how our population has grown since 1990? The census count for the region that include Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue was 2,559,164.
The estimate for 2017 is 3,867,046, a difference of 1,387,882.
Where have all the people gone?
The City of Federal Way, once an area of city farms and the first shopping center in the state, is blossoming. Most of the chickens are gone from the backyards (you know, regulations about keeping livestock in a city…).
We lived there in 1973, had chickens and started our family there. We owned the newspaper The Federal Way News, at one time three editions a week, now shuttered. In 1975, a developer from California turned a horse pasture that glowed bright yellow in the spring into a shopping center called SeaTac Mall. That center never did well and some of the majors, like Sears, eventually pulled out. The mall has since been greatly improved and except for the annoying presence of cruising teenagers, is a pretty good place.
Across 320th Street, the main arterial into and out of town, land to the north has been developed and dotted with commercial entities and a very good transit center that gives good access to adjacent cites and the airport.
Very good parks have been developed and the city has take on a character beyond its ‘bedroom city’ nickname. Population there is nearing 100,000 people. The is a strong ethnic mix. While more than 54,000 whites were counted in 2017, there are also 13,000+ Asians and 10,000+ blacks living there. These ethnicities are represented in the commercial mix of markets and services.
About half the occupied dwellings in Federal Way are rentals, as there was a boom in building after incorporation in 1990. We worked on the effort to incorporate in 1971, going door-to-door. Then, interest in becoming a city among those we contacted was about as welcome as having hot wax poured in your ear.