On Sunday the Seattle Times ran an article about how Kemper Freeman, with a group of 8 others, is suing to stop the light-rail expansion to the Eastside. Freeman is trying to stop the $17.9 billion light-rail project that was passed by Puget Sound voters 18 months ago that would service the Eastside, as well as Lynwood and Federal Way.

His reasoning for suing is because, as he sees it, converting the center lanes of the bridge for rail violates the state constitution because a portion of the project was paid for with gas-tax money. Freeman has been outspoken on transportation options for the Eastside. He believes that there are less expensive alternatives that can affect more people, such as expanding the freeways, encouraging bus-rapid-transit, and making bus services free.

In the article Kemper states, “It is black-and-white illegal to do what they’re doing.”

The case will be heard by the Supreme Court this fall, and if successful, would halt both the I-90 and 520 light-rail routes from being built.

You can read the whole article over at Seattletimes.com, which goes into more detail about the issue at hand. We want to hear your thoughts, sound off in the comments section.


  1. I just don’t really understand why it is in his interest to oppose something that will make it easier for people to get around. Theoretically, couldn’t this bring even more people to Bellevue (his mall)? I think it is also realistic to think that people who may not be predisposed to riding a bus would not have a problem with a train. But maybe that’s just me. 🙂

  2. I would like to see Kemper Freeman come out of his Bellevue skyscraper penthouse and give up his driver and his helicopter for just one day, and try to get around Bellevue and Seattle in our traffic. Maybe once The Prince of Bellevue has to mix it up with the little people, he might see that it’s not all about him and what he wants.

    But I am sure that will happen when pigs fly.

  3. Chad, I’m with you. I don’t understand his theories. I’m curious to know if there is some larger cost for Freeman that he does not want to incur if the light rail goes up? I don’t understand how a business owner like himself would be against giving more access to his popular properties.

    Could someone explain to me his throery of why he is doing this, “His reasoning for suing is because, as he sees it, converting the center lanes of the bridge for rail violates the state constitution because a portion of the project was paid for with gas-tax money” Am I missing something? Currently i don’t know how his comment is bad, for me.


  4. I appreciate what he has done for Bellevue, but opposing mass transit while getting the city council to approve more helicopter rides for him is pretty bad…

  5. He is doing this because the light rail will NOT make it easier for people to get to Bellevue. That’s his point. This is the wrong solution to our transportation problem. Sound Transit’s own projected ridership numbers show it’s an inadequate solution and will not solve congestion. It just moves people currently taking the bus to Bellevue onto a train to Bellevue – at a tremendous cost. Everyone thinks he has some ulterior motive about this impacting him financially. The reason he is fighting this is because he wants a transportation solution that allows everyone to get around easily (just like all the light rail people do). He just doesn’t agree on the way to do it. Light Rail does not solve the problem. It’s been proven time and time again in western cities that light rail does not do what people think it’s going to do. By spending all our transportation dollars on the wrong solution we will still have congestion, pollution, and no mobility in our region. It seems pretty clear why he or anyone else should be against this. Electric cars and an amazing new high-tech bus rapid transit system might be the answer.

  6. What I want to see is the projected Kemper property value changes from both the current plan, and the one Kemper wants. That would be interesting conversation.

  7. Are people really just now getting the fact that Kemper and Co. don’t actually care about the community? They are about making money, and this light rail doesn’t help their cause….unless it has a stop at one of their properties, of course. They aren’t suing because they’re some sort of “watchdog.” If light rail gets built, people in the Bellevue “bubble,” are more apt to shop, dine, live in Seattle. Thus, decreasing the overall value of their properties. They would much prefer to keep us “trapped” on the Eastside.

  8. I think Kemper has done a lot of really great things for Bellevue and am very appreciative of them. However, I don’t think his alternative is any better than light rail. I do not think that encouraging bus-rapid-transit, and making bus services free will get significantly more people to ride them in our area. People have already made the bus or car choice. I don’t ride the bus but probably would ride light rail. If kemper proposed an alternative solution that people would realistically use, I suspect he would get more support for stopping light rail. Plus by the time light rail gets operational, there will be even more people living, working and shopping in the downtown bellevue core who would use light rail as a transportation alternative.

  9. By the time light rail actually gets operational here in Bellevue, the assumptions we have today about future ridership are going to be totally different. Look at how much downtown Bellevue has changed in the last 5 years. In 5 more the light rail will STILL not be running even if they started construction today. Does anyone really believe that they have a crystal ball good enough to tell what people will do that far into the future with so many unknown variables. We know buses are not cutting it today so what makes us think they will be able to do so so far in the future. I agree that the way it is being done against the state constitution is wrong but the solution proposed by Kemper isn’t a solution. It just prolongs the problem.

  10. Kemper Freeman is a doofus. He has no case to stand on. This is all just grandstanding, and insulting. A large majority of voters voted for Eastside light rail, and he still thinks he knows better and his money will “save” us from ourselves. No thanks, we don’t need his “help”.

  11. Considering the enormous state debt, it would be in the best interest for both the state NOT to go through with this multi-multi-multi million dollar project (considering there is no guarentee it will have any impact on traffic), and for Kemper Freeman NOT to go through with his lawsuit- suing the city/state is suing the people.

  12. “trapped on the eastside.” Please, I lived in Bellevue for 19 years, and for the past 2 years I have lived in Seattle. When I can I ESCAPE to the eastside.

  13. William C Bonner

    Kemper Freeman should spend his money on optimal connection between his “Bellevue Collection” and the transit center instead of on lawsuits.

    I’ve lived in downtown bellevue for the past 12 years, and seen amazing changes in that time. If light rail comes in on schedule, it’ll still be 10 years from now before it’s operational.

  14. So if Kemper is so in favor of Bus Rapid Transit, there’s lots of evidence for him actively lobbying for, writing ballot initiatives for, and spending money for bringing BRT Bellevue. Right?

    Oh wait, I forgot… his BRT solution is just transitwashing delay tactic so he can keep any sort of mass transit out of his autotopia until he retires and can cash out.

  15. Like many in this forum, I’m appreciative of what Kemper Freeman did to Bellevue, but I think he is totally misguided on this public transportation issue. How could a densely populated city center survive successfully without a viable public transit? If we want to do the right thing by making downtown Bellevue more vibrant place for living and working, more residents must move in, which will support more businesses. Bus is not an option for a very simple reason: it is unreliable due to traffic congestions as it has to compete with other cars! Believe me, I tried many times to ride buses to work, but eventually gave up as it was too unrealiable and taking too long. However, when I traveled in Europe, I never rented a car in cities because subway was so much easier and fun! If Kemper can’t even see this simple fact, he is either too dumb or too self-interested, and he doesn’t deserve my respect.

  16. I live down in the bay area and I actively follow business in the puget sound area and Mr Freeman should be highly respected for his reasons; he has done so much for the greater eastside. when Kemper Freeman talks you need to listen (carefully)!!

  17. Freeman thinks the light rail will bring the wrong kind of people to Bellevue, ie not shoppers but those that will try to snatch the purses of the shoppers. He wants his malls and centers only available to those driving a private car.

  18. do you think kemper or his people will come across this thread??

  19. Even if he’s right, why the would you want to stop the eastside expansion when the rail is going in everywhere else?

  20. Danderson,
    Your comment:
    “I live down in the bay area and I actively follow business in the puget sound area and Mr Freeman should be highly respected for his reasons; he has done so much for the greater eastside. when Kemper Freeman talks you need to listen (carefully)!!”

    Oh really? Then why are there still poor & needy people roaming around Bellevue? So you obviously kiss the ground he (Kemper) walks on!! You idiot!

  21. I have beeen using mass transit to get back and forth from Seattle to Bellvue for the last 5 years, 5 days a week. I would be one of the people affected by possible light rail. Obviously I am biased but Kemper has been very outspoken since the start and I don’t think he really has any reason to keep light rail out of the Eastside other than protecting what sees as the “White Palace”. Keep in mind even more people are shuttled into Seattle every morning going the opposite way I do. That is where most of the jobs are I assume. They are the real ones that would benefit form light rail expansion. What is he really keeping out of Bellevue?

  22. Kemper’s autocracy at work… This was voted in, was it not!?! Wouldn’t using gas tax dollars would be of highest & best use – if it’s reducing road wear & tear, and reducing carbon emissions? Light-Rail would benefit those that live in downtown Bellevue (like me); as well as those work here and commute from either direction. Retailers and businesses most definitely would benefit from Light-Rail.
    Bellevue is just NOT pedestrian, bike, or bus friendly; and no free bus pass will fix that. I’ve researched this extensively over the last seven years of how I could commute eight miles to my LARGE corporate campus work in a “green manner”. It’s logistically impossible without adding two hours to my daily work schedule, most notably – is extremely hazardous if I want to avoid to be mowed down by text messaging distracted masses.
    It’s clear this is about one or two things:
    1) Hyper inflating property values here by making it more “exclusive” in every sense of the word.
    2) Easements that require Kemper & company to take reduced price of their real estate.
    What Kemper & company fail to realize are the financial & environmental impacts of failing to get on the Light-Rail Bus, hopefully before getting run over by it. This will improve the quality of life for ALL in the area, including Bellevue’s elite.

  23. How do the elite avoid the traffic problems? They can’t, as they would have to sit in the same traffic going over the same bridge for anything. I don’t have to commute to anywhere, but I still have to fight the same traffic anytime I want to go to a ball game. Is Kemper Freeman exempt from this traffic mess? He might in the future by taking his helicopter (hence his application for a pad on top of Hyatt), but most elite don’t have this access. In a way, a bad public transit system affects everyone, particularly the average folks.