“T” Sans “D” (UPDATED)

WHEN SOUND TRANSIT Light Link Rail makes its debut this July, outside of downtown Seattle, not a single significant new private development will be there to greet it. Transit-oriented development (TOD) is widely recognized to be an ideal land-use pattern for achieving sustainable growth. But while our “T” is finally arriving, so far the “D” is a no-show. What happened, and what might the future hold for development?

That’s the opening paragraph of my piece on TOD in SE Seattle that ran in the Daily Journal of Commerce yesterday.  And sorry but that’s all you get to see unless you’re a paid subscriber.  An unbearable tease, no?  Though if you read this, you already know the gist of it.

UPDATE:  The DJC was kind enough to unlock the piece, so you can now read the whole thing.

Apparently the DJC still clings to that so-last-century notion that if information has value then people should pay for it.  How quaint.   In this century, journalists like Josh Feit — who is currently producing the most dynamic political reporting in Seattle — subsist on Ramen noodles.

It’s totally understandable that the DJC charges for content, and because they have a well established niche of readers they can get away with it.  But at the same time it’s unfortunate that, with their content inaccessible to most, they are missing out on being a part of vibrant local discussions on urbanism at sites like this, this, and even this, not to mention this.

16 Responses to ““T” Sans “D” (UPDATED)”

  1. Matt the Engineer

    I run by there daily anyway, just to get the headlines and read their blogs. It’s a great source of local construction news, and next time I’m employed I’ll try to get a subscription from my employer.

  2. Sara

    I’ve been thinking about starting a Josh Feit support group, maybe get thirty people signed up and we each take one night per month to make sure he gets a proper dinner. We gotta make sure his site doesn’t go away, and you can only last so long on ramen before the mind starts to slip. I hope he’s getting some protein in there.
    Great article in the DJC, Dan. Nice blog too. Thanks.

  3. Ben Schiendelman

    Sara, I’d join that group.

    I’m seeing if I can find a copy of DJC today to read this…

  4. Andrew Smith

    Great piece, Dan.

    I’m not tremendously surprised that no TOD has opened yet. During the light rail’s construction, MLK was closed and re-routed intermittantly. All that disruption would certainly have increased the cost of the development. Unfortunately Sound Transit waited until the real estate boom was over to open the line, so now that MLK is back to normal, there’s not much of any development taking place.

    I 100% agree that an up-zone is needed. It’s hard to make redeveloping a 1-story building pencil out when you can only build four stories.

  5. Max Jacobowitz

    o man! I really want to read this!

    The DJC’s content is top-notch and really on the ball compared to the Seattle Times. I think they should allow ad sponsored access to the older articles, it’d allow them to preserve the value of a subscription, and open a revenue stream for those who can’t afford to pay.

  6. Matt the Engineer

    I honestly don’t think they need to. With newspapers folding (heh) due to loss of revenue because of free content on the Internet, DJC seems to be doing fine. What they have is a large amount of original content that is useful or even necessary to several industries. They could charge double what they do now and not likely lose many subscribers. Of course, it does make stories hard to blog about when all you can point to is a headline.

  7. Jon Silver

    I’m a reporter at the DJC. Matt the Engineer touched on this, but I wanted to amplify the point that not everything on our site is behind a pay wall.

    Readers should check out Katie Zemtseff’s Building Green blog and Shawna Gamache’s blog, SeattleScape, which has a stellar lineup of guest contributors. Both offer ample opportunities for non-subscribers to discuss our built environment. (I’ll be assuming Shawna’s blogging duties next week when she goes on maternity leave.)

    Our special sections, too, are free to read online. They come out more than a dozen times a year and cover topics such as green building, urban development, real estate and construction. The articles are written by experts in the field, and tackle a wider range of subjects than our reporting staff could on its own. (Dan Bertolet has contributed in the past.) You can find those special sections here.

    I’m all for fostering community online, but I’m thankful to be working at a paper that can pay a living wage. Part of that formula for success is avoiding the trap that so many other papers have fallen into — allowing the Web site to cannibalize the paid readership.

  8. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    We have these things called “libraries” that provide access to a lot of information including business resources. Search the SPL catalog for “Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce” or just ask a librarian.

    The news revenue model is broken. I’d be glad to buy Josh some real ramen at Samurai Noodle. :)

  9. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    We also have a lot of “D” sans “T”… from the look of Green Lake or up Madison you’d think they were about to open light rail stations there.

  10. Kathryn

    Which is why it’s better for transit to go to and from where people already live and work to enhance density. I think they did good in general in the routing.

    I also get the notion of using it as a development driver — that’s been the history. I find it interesting that many who objected to the at grade light rail in SE supported a raised monorail. Pretty as it is, there is an element of ‘living down by the tracks’ in the vibe now in SE.

    But I would suggest that the true believers get themselves a home near those stations so you can be a booster for the development you want to see. I will admit when I was looking, I did look on Beacon Hill and in SE. I just couldn’t stand to move away from the neighborhood I had always lived in. Have enough on my plate worrying about placemaking in my own area without pronouncing or speculating about what others must do.

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