The credulous radio reporter treated the business owner's complaints with breathless concern, and a spokesperson for the monorail authority was respectful and contrite. The whiner's business? He owned a warehouse in SoDo, with trucks coming and going all day long, and he didn't want to work under or near a monorail track.
Enough already. It's time for the monorail authority to start telling people like the SoDo business owner to fuck off. In an effort to avoid appearing imperious and tone-deaf (to avoid acting like Sound Transit), the folks at the monorail authority have gone out of their way to take, or appear to take, all critics seriously. But this strategy has had the unintended consequence of conferring legitimacy on each and every criticism, creating the impression that the monorail can't be built until every last NIMBY, obstructionist, and whiner is satisfied.
While some of the criticism leveled at the monorail authority is legit--it's been rightly slammed (in this paper!) on funding projections, tax collection, and some openness issues--most of the "concerns" being raised are simply efforts to delay or derail the project. And it's past time that the monorail authority started calling bullshit on the bullshit artists and these bullshit issues:
Escalators Putting escalators in monorail stations will require larger, more expensive stations. So it's been decided that the stations won't have escalators. People will have to--gasp!--walk up and down actual stairs or wait for elevators. Oh, the humanity!
Critics complain about long waits for elevators and "public safety issues" presented by stairs. Meanwhile in New York City, millions of people walk up and down stairs to access that city's subway system. Likewise, people who use Chicago's elevated trains manage to get by without escalators. Both cities have been gradually installing elevators for the disabled, but able-bodied New Yorkers and Chicagoans are expected to take the stairs. And so it will be in Seattle: If you don't want to wait for the elevator, you'll have to take the stairs. If you don't want to risk life and limb on the stairs, you'll have to wait for the elevator.
The next time someone raises the escalator issue, a monorail spokesperson needs to point to New York's and Chicago's rapid transit systems, and then say this: "Look down, Seattle. See those things that attach your ass to your shoes? They're called legs--and you'll have to use them if you want to ride the monorail. Get the fuck over it."
Seattle Center When I conjure up images of a "sacred green space," it doesn't usually include bumper cars, creepy carnies, crap food courts, and basketball stadiums. Yet that's how Peter Steinbrueck, noted druid priest, describes Seattle Center when he complains about the monorail running through the city's crassest public park. Hey, Peter: The current monorail already runs partway through Seattle Center, and running it the rest of the way through the park--past Seattle's sacred log flume ride--won't detract one bit from the ambience.
The Garden of Remembrance Another supposedly sacred space: The Garden of Remembrance--a memorial to men and women who died defending our country--sits behind Benaroya Hall on Second Avenue, the proposed route through downtown.
I walk past the GOR twice a day on my way to and from work. Not once have I seen anyone in the act of remembering anything or anyone in the GOR. I have, however, seen drunks pissing in the fountains and straight people fucking on the benches. It's a nice little memorial park, and more people should see it--and more will if the monorail runs past it. And fewer people will fuck and piss in the GOR if the monorail passes by every few minutes.
And, I'm sorry, but if it's disrespectful to build the monorail across the street on Second Avenue, isn't it disrespectful to have all that traffic--all those cars, cabs, and diesel-spewing buses--running down Second Avenue? If we can't run the monorail past this "sacred space" on Second Avenue, shouldn't we close Second Avenue to all that profane traffic?
The next time a monorail critic starts complaining about the Second Avenue route, a monorail spokesperson needs to call a press conference at Second Avenue and Pike Street and ask the reporters to look south. With the exception of Benaroya and the Washington Mutual building, it's all parking garages, scant retail, and the backside of the ugliest art museum ever inflicted on an America city. The question isn't why we're building the monorail on Second Avenue, but why we aren't tearing down almost everything else on Second Avenue--including the Seattle Art Museum.
Parking Garages This non-issue hasn't raised its ugly head in a while, but let's slap it down just in case someone attempts to revive it: People who live near monorail stations are worried that people will drive into their neighborhoods--the nerve!--and park their cars near monorail stations. Again, let's look to New York City and Chicago: There aren't parking garages near subway or elevated train stations. The whole point of rapid transit is to get people out of their cars, and building parking garages at stations isn't the answer.
Building a large public-works project is not a recipe for making everyone in a city deliriously happy. Some people are going to be unhappy about the route, the stations, and having to walk their lazy asses up and down the stairs. It's past time that someone from the monorail authority stood up and said "tough shit" to the NIMBYs, obstructionists, and whiners, and it's past time that the media started asking themselves if a complaint passes the laugh test before they rush breathless pieces about it into print.
The serenity of SoDo, the sacred Seattle Center, the unmagnificent mile that is Second Avenue, and the supposed need for escalators and parking garages are all non-issues, nothing anyone should be taking seriously anymore--and the same goes for the NIMBYs, obstructionists, and whiners who are out there peddling these issues.