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Showdown in Seattle: Should Developers Forgo Parking?

A mixed-use project in Seattle's Phinney Ridge neighborhood has become a flashpoint in the ongoing debate over parking. Activists are fighting rules that let developers omit parking in areas with a certain level of transit service.
November 30, 2017, 11am PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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As Seattle's housing boom continues, parking is often optional. Jessica Lee writes, "In downtown and select areas near public transit stops across Seattle, nearly one-third of new apartments do not provide space for cars under years-old parking-optional regulations that aim to drive down construction costs so developers can build more housing."

A proposal to nix parking at a four-story mixed-use project called Phinney Flats has ignited debate between developers, the city, and activists who say "the lack of off-street parking will force vehicles onto already congested streets. Renters are not giving up cars at the rate city officials would like to believe, they say."

On one hand, an increasing number of Seattleites are doing without cars. "According to the city, about 40 to 48 percent of renter households in the city's neighborhoods with the most multifamily housing already get around without owning cars, and city planners expect that number to grow."

But neighborhood activists "say the parking regulations are unrealistic and misguided. They also argue that a lack of on-site parking disproportionately affects people who must rely on cars to get around, such as parents with young children."

The city has responded with a set of proposed rule changes that have done little to allay many activists' worries. "Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess has reviewed the proposed parking changes, including the definition of frequent transit service, and sent them to the City Council, the mayor’s office said Wednesday. Officials expect the land-use and zoning committee to review the proposal next month."

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Published on Thursday, November 16, 2017 in The Seattle Times
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