Opinion: Stop Paving Seattle Playgrounds for Parking Lots

Seattle schools are often forced to reduce their playground space in favor of parking and circulation for private cars, but altering the city code could change that.

March 5, 2021, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


School Drop Off

Tom Gowanlock / Shutterstock

An analysis of recent retrofits at two Seattle schools shows that "if the Seattle School District had complied with the City requirement for private car storage in the recent retrofits at Magnolia and Queen Anne Elementaries it would have obliterated all outdoor play space and a significant amount of indoor education space." Margaret McCauley argues that city code requiring Seattle schools to replace playground and activity space with surface parking and car traffic doesn't address the needs of bike riders and pedestrians and takes away valuable outdoor space.

With low-income families less likely to own cars, devoting "scarce land resources to circulation for privately owned cars is inequitable." McCauley writes that "encouraging a dispersed traffic pattern, where families (excluding the medically fragile of course) park remotely in the neighborhood and walk the final block with their kids, produces a safer setting" and encourages friendlier interactions than expecting families to "be able to easily drive to and from the school at arrival and departure times."

According to McCauley, a city code change that prioritizes "safe routes to school instead of a requirement for on-site parking and drop-off zones" would "allow Seattle’s School Traffic Safety Committee to focus efforts on safe routes to school rather than parking plans that are counterproductive to safety."

Friday, February 26, 2021 in The Urbanist

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

Single-Family Housing Construction

New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives

The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.

May 16, 2022 - The White House

Complete Street Vancouver

Study: Most of Vancouver Is a ‘15-Minute City’

A large majority of Vancouver residents can access a grocery store in 15 minutes or less by bicycle or on foot.

May 20 - Vancouver Sun

Montreal, Quebec

Urban Design, Transport, and Health

The Lancet medical journal published a series of articles that explore how to evaluate and guide urban planning decisions to create healthy and sustainable cities. Live long and prosper!

May 20 - The Lancet - Urban Design, Transport, and Health

MoGo Bikeshare Bikes

Detroit Bike Share Celebrates Five Years

In its five years of operation, Detroit’s MoGo bikeshare has added electric and adaptive bikes to its fleet of more than 600 bikes.

May 20 - MoGo

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.