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Old March 25th, 2013, 08:51 PM   #1
Matt the Engineer
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THE planning discussion and ranting thread

(originally in the Renton/Tukwila/SeaTac/Burien Development News thread)

I should really just avoid reading this thread, but:

The absolute worst thing a region can do with regard to sprawl is to put a large amount of jobs outside its center. Every job in a suburb is commutable from a cheap home in the far suburbs, inaccessable by transit from most everywhere, and increases the odds of difficult commute options for 2-worker families. The trend toward moving jobs out to the suburbs a generation ago created our current sprawl. Build up jobs in Federal Way and people will be look at homes in, I don't know - Orting, and say "hey, I can get a bigger house there". I can enumerate why this is bad for the environment, our forests, our farmlands, our workforce, and general system efficiency if you'd like.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 09:13 PM   #2
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I'd see it more as some suburbia being a lot denser and more transit-accessible than it used to be. It's hard to guess the effect on Downtown Seattle but I suspect it's not much.

Downtown Bellevue and the Microsoft area have far better transit ridership than most suburbs. Being a node has its advantages. In Bellevue's case, and hopefully other nodes', mixing housing with offices also lets a lot of people walk. Others still drive but go 5% the distance.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 09:23 PM   #3
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Suburban cities and their growth (ala Federal Way) aren't going away anytime soon. We all have pie in the sky ideas of how cities, economies and governments should work but in reality there are all sorts of each and that won't change. It's one of the perks of the US.

Federal Way exists, I'd rather see it improve and aspire to be a more complete and providing city than to just remain stagnant. Increased cultural draws are a good thing. by Federal Way not growing doesn't mean the suburban types we don't like are going to change their lifestyles and move in to dense transit friendly cities.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 09:26 PM   #4
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@mhays But that's not how it really works. Some people in Bellevue commute to Redmond, people in Kirkland commute to Everett. Some people in Everett commute to Federal Way. Etc. When you have a metro region, the best system is hub-and spoke, where the spokes are housing and services. A mesh network turns into a web of commutes.

@Sealife I'd rather see cities like FedWay build up their residential density than their job density. Dense housing + good services + good transit to jobs downtown would be ideal.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 09:36 PM   #5
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I agree with that in theory. There are people that simply would rather commute to a suburban office though unfortunately.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 09:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt the Engineer View Post
@mhays But that's not how it really works. Some people in Bellevue commute to Redmond, people in Kirkland commute to Everett. Some people in Everett commute to Federal Way. Etc. When you have a metro region, the best system is hub-and spoke, where the spokes are housing and services. A mesh network turns into a web of commutes.
I agree that centralizing a large percentage of jobs is a good idea. But realistically, the question is less whether they'll be decentralized to a degree, but what form that decentralization takes.

Pedestrian commuting might be hurt by centralizing too much. In your scenario, few people could walk unless they lived in a single core area. With job/housing nodes like Bellevue and downtown Kirkland, a lot of people walk in each node. Actually regardless of method, they will often have a very short commute, even if the majority actually commute a long way.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 09:50 PM   #7
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I started to write about a dream where we demolish the suburbs and all live in high-rise yurts, warmed only by our own body heat and that of our animals, and where we recycle everything liquid and organic and commute exclusively via human-powered conveyance to our stress-free jobs at nonprofits, but I decided against it.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 09:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt the Engineer View Post
I should really just avoid reading this thread, but:

I can enumerate why this is bad for the environment, our forests, our farmlands, our workforce, and general system efficiency if you'd like.
That would be awesome if you would.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 11:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
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That would be awesome if you would.
Oh, I'm sure I will in some thread or other. Hopefully it happens in the Coffee Shop.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 01:34 AM   #10
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There are already a ton of jobs in Federal Way and adjacent suburbs, but they're all in industrial parks and strip malls. Isn't it better to put them in towers next to a transit center near other residential and hotel towers?
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Old March 26th, 2013, 02:20 AM   #11
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I don't think it's realistic to put all or even most of the jobs in metro Seattle in or near downtown Seattle (or close to the city). Heck, even metro NYC has tons of jobs in the suburbs even though Manhattan is dense up the kazoo. You can't expect all the jobs to be in the Seattle city limits, and everyone *live* in the Seattle city limits ... just because.

Personally I don't have a problem with sub-centers of jobs scattered around the metro area.

NEway this is off-topic. Please stick to the title thread topic. If someone wants to start an Urban Planning thread or something like that, that's where we could put discussions like this.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 02:22 AM   #12
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There, I made a new thread.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 02:29 AM   #13
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Isn't that what the Coffee Shop is for?
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Old March 26th, 2013, 02:35 AM   #14
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I thought the Coffee Shop was for *completely* off-topic chit-chat. Like, the latest movie you saw.

But if you want this kind of discussion in that thread too, I could merge this into it.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 05:53 AM   #15
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Alex brings up a good point. You can't really have heavy industry, manufacturing, and dense urbanity cohabitating.

People need to work at those jobs, and they're going to want to live by those jobs.

Now, another major problem today is that people don't tend to keep the same jobs, or even the same career as long as they used to. I myself have switched jobs and moved close to ten times in the last 12 years. Edmonds, Shoreline, Seattle, Marysville, Bellevue, Everett, Bothell...who knew where I'd be next? The point is: a lot of people can't afford to put down roots in a location when they don't know if their job is stable. I've moved close to work twice, only to have work move away. This is one reason we need the regional rapid transit system, just as Seattle needs its dense subway system.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 07:18 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bond James Bond View Post
I thought the Coffee Shop was for *completely* off-topic chit-chat. Like, the latest movie you saw.

But if you want this kind of discussion in that thread too, I could merge this into it.
I like the original intent of the coffee shop - having this as another thread allows folks to ignore the topic or be invested in it, which seems ok to me.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 09:41 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doomgoggles View Post
Alex brings up a good point. You can't really have heavy industry, manufacturing, and dense urbanity cohabitating.
In a perfect world, I'd place this near downtown as well. If we could trust industries to control emissions there's no reason a SoDo style area couldn't provide for a majority of our manufacturing, allowing a similar commute efficiency as downtown. This also allows for other efficiencies, for instance industrial processes use a lot of high-quality heat, cities need a lot of low-quality heat, which is a waste product of industry. For those industries we can't trust yet (toxic chemical related like PVC manufacturing), place them in a single distant node well connected by transit.

Of course, I've limited this discussion to "in a perfect world". I'm not sure how you control where people build their factories and businesses in a reasonably free market (though I'd think you'd retain better employees by giving them good commute and housing options). I was just trying to curb the enthuthiasm for Federal Way or Tacoma as large jobs centers.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 07:51 PM   #18
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Lots of industry just takes up waaaay too much room to put near a downtown. Imagine, for example, trying to cram ALL of Boeing's facilities around Boeing field? Ain't gonna work.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 08:21 PM   #19
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Boeing's a special case, as they make really big things. I'd still perfer them to put their plants all in one place so we can more easily serve them with transit.

But most of the "office park" light industrial work could easily be stacked. Build in a big slow elevator for heavy equipment, and put heavier industries on lower floors using concrete construction. Lighter industries like assembly can be stacked above.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 08:32 PM   #20
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Also, keep in mind these are just my ideals. We'll never reach this model, but we don't have to. The more jobs we can attract in or near downtown, the better. The more housing we can build near downtown, the better. The more housing we can build at transit nodes, the better.
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