Council Bill (CB) 119173 will be presented before the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning (PLUZ) committee of the City Council on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. If the committee approves, the entire Council may vote as early as Monday March 26. If the Council decides to vote this legislation in, it would only have to be signed by the Mayor to become our new way of having much less parking – both on our residential streets and along any business district close to so-called “frequent transit.”
NOW is the time to make our voices heard and get in touch with our representatives – both the City Council and Mayor’s Office.
Livable Phinney has reviewed CB 119173 carefully. If approved “as is”, this bill would allow Phinney Flats to go ahead without any on-site parking, and create a negative parking impact throughout much of Seattle. Below is a summary of our major concerns about CB 119173:
- Frequent Transit Associated with Parking. This bill continues to associate parking and car ownership (and the need to park) with frequent transit. That association is fantasy! Just because folks who do not have a car might choose to live near a bus route, it’s in error to conclude that those of us who live near that route don’t need a safe place to park cars. There is absolutely NO study that justifies elimination of parking to the extent that nearby streets would be way over capacity or local businesses will lose customers. This is legislation is based on ideology, not independent study or a practical, rational approach.
- One Size Fits All Policy. CB 119173 is not neighborhood specific but instead blankets the entire City. Parking need, and capacity for less parking, varies considerably by area/neighborhood. What might be reasonable for Capitol Hill might not be so for Greenwood or West Seattle.
- Redefining Frequent Transit. We were able to challenge the permit for Phinney Flats (a high density project with no parking) by proving the #5 bus didn’t meet the definition of frequent transit. Now, the Council PLUZ Committee wants to redefine “Frequent Transit” to the scheduled, hypothetical frequency of service, to justify proliferation of the parking exemption for developers along nearly all of the in-city King County bus routes.
- Restore SEPA Authority. The Council should restore SEPA authority to require mitigation for parking impacts when on-street use of parking capacity reaches 85%. This has been the practice citywide, but is currently prohibited in urban villages with “frequent transit within ¼ mile.” This exemption encourages developers to build apartments with many tiny units like Phinney Flats with no on-site parking, even when surrounding streets lack capacity for more cars.
- No Parking Required for Low Income Housing. CB 119173 seems to discriminate against low income residents by assuming they don’t need or have cars. How fair is that?
- Is CB 119173 “Age Friendly”? We think not – especially for residents currently in single-family homes who desire to keep their homes that are now affordable and/or age in place – and continue to drive. Unless one only goes downtown, transit simply doesn’t go where residents need to. Some areas (like Phinney Ridge) have steep grades that would preclude walking 1/4 mile to one’s car. Seattle has inclement weather. Making it difficult to find parking in areas that are already at capacity is not age friendly. Seattle has committed to being an Age Friendly City (http://www.seattle.gov/agefriendly)
- Will Providing Less Parking Result in More Affordable Housing? According to the City, this is a major justification to CB 119173 (see FAQs at this link). Once again, the City Council is jumping to a conclusion without facts to back up the theory. There is no accepted study, including King County Right Sized Parking Study, that shows that reducing the parking supply results in more affordable housing. What reduced parking does lead to is an undersupply of parking – especially in areas already at full capacity. The only “gain” from undersupplying parking is profits for developers. The often quoted $50,000 per parking space in residential construction is at the very highest end of the spectrum – $25,000 is the more commonly agreed upon estimate. If properly priced, such parking will pay for itself over time just as apartments do. The connection between undersupply of parking and affordable housing is simply not there.
- Public Use of Accessory Parking. CB 1119173 proposes to mandate public access to unused parking – presumably in private parking areas. It is incredibly unclear how the City proposes to do this without legal challenges by those who own, use and pay for secure private parking.
PLEASE WRITE TO THE CITY COUNCIL ABOUT PARKING CODE CHANGES
The Council needs to hear that creating an undersupply of parking in new buildings is NOT going to result in more affordable housing. Ask the council to withdraw any code changes associated with Frequent Transit until we can work out a right-size parking approach. Rather than changing the definition of “Frequent Transit,” they should focus on improving transit performance and rider appeal so more people will reasonably use transit for more trips (and leave their car parked safety at home!)
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