Herbold: New parking regulations coming
If you have issues with development and the subsequent impact on parking in West Seattle and Ballard you will likely find it worth knowing that the City of Seattle is planning changes in parking regulation. But it may not be what you expect. District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold writes in her newsletter to constituents that the City is about to change its definition of "Frequent Transit Service" which has tremendous impact on the ability of developers to create projects that have limited parking.
"Since passing legislation in 2012 the City has not required parking for residential development in urban villages, when the multifamily development is located within 1320 feet (about ¼ mile) from a stop with frequent transit service. You can find maps of urban villages here.
In 2015, the Council passed Ordinance 124608, which specifically requested an analysis of the City’s vehicle and bicycle parking requirements for residential uses, here is the report. I asked several follow up questions to which I received a response in late October, you can see the questions and answers here.
The City is now taking up new neighborhood parking legislation and, among other things, changing its definition of “Frequent Transit Service.” In 2015, I expressed my concern with how the City was implementing the ordinance regarding parking exemptions in frequent transit areas. I sent a letter to the Hearing Examiner supporting an appeal of a project in West Seattle.
My specific concern is that if the City averages headways across all routes that pick up at a particular bus stop in order to determine Frequent Transit Service that doesn’t mean that this stop is actually providing frequent transportation to where a person needs to go.
The concept of Frequent Transit Service is linked to the idea that if a person has a bus near their home that comes often, and goes where they regularly need to go, then they may be less likely to have a car. There are 2 principles to test here. The first is testing the principle that being “more likely to take transit” also means that someone is less likely to have a car that they need to park. The second issue is, will a person be more likely to take transit (and less likely to have a car if principle 1 is true) if one has access to many buses that, on average come every 15 minutes, but the bus that is needed for a daily commute comes less frequently?
At the meeting this week Council Central Staff reported that the accepted average for the cost of creating below-grade parking is $35,000 per space, plus $300 a month in operational costs. I’m not convinced that reducing the cost to developers to provide these spaces will result in reduced costs for renters and have asked how rental costs differ between developments with and without on-site parking.
This kind of data is apparently not available in Seattle.
Additionally, the legislation would uncouple parking costs from rent. This would allow renters the ability to opt out of paying a monthly fee for a parking space. I certainly support finding ways for renters to reduce their living expenses, but I am concerned that the requirement of uncoupling parking costs from rent, without an obligation for a tenant to demonstrate that they do not own a vehicle, may incentivize more people to use limited on-street parking spaces instead of using the parking provided onsite.
On Wednesday, in Councilmember Johnson’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee, we had the initial discussion about the legislation the Council will take up. A process was outlined in that committee which includes a Public Hearing that will likely be in February and a potential vote on final legislation in March.
You can stay up-to-date by signing up for committee agenda’s here."