The City Council’s land use committee Wednesday morning wrestled with the ongoing shaping of Seattle’s Regulatory Reform legislation that could be especially important to Capitol Hill’s transit-heavy development zones. The committee weighed a set of options for two of the stickiest elements in the plan — enabling the introduction of small commercial uses in certain lowrise and midrise zones in the city and the elimination of parking minimums required of developments in areas near “frequent transit service.” The stickiest issue — related to how the city implements state environmental requirements for development — has been pushed to another committee meeting later this month.
- Our most recent report on Regulatory Reform from a committee meeting in April is here: Regulatory Reform’s mixed-use spread still coming to Capitol Hill — but smaller
- Community member and Capitol Hill real estate agent John Fox weighs in against the reform package here: Regulatory Reform and its Potential Dangers to The Hill
- The SeattleScape blog lays out support for the reform package’s potential to re-shape parking minimums here: Council may right-size parking requirements
Capitol Hill community members speaking during the committee’s public comment period prior to the session Wednesday morning were nearly uniformly opposed to the bill.
“We don’t need shops with neon signs on every street and right in front of our doors when we come out,” said one.
“What I’m really confused about is why is there this idea that we need to co-mingle commercial use with residential use,” said another. ”My husband and I chose to live in a quiet pocket next to a dense environment.”
One more asked the Council committee to butt out. “I appreciate you coming into the neighborhood so you can help us out. But we really don’t need you,” she said.
Many speakers complained that there have been no community meetings on Capitol Hill or in other areas of the city regarding the legislation.
Committee head Richard Conlin said it was his belief that the concerns — and the benefits — of the reform are being overstated ”I have to say, I think it is going to make some modest changes that I think will be generally positive,” said Conlin.
“I don’t think it’s going to have much noticeable impact.”
The memo below includes this map of where parking minimums would change and lays out the options being considered for how the reform package could change commercial zoning in multifamily zones as well as the latest set of options being considered for changing parking minimums. Proposals for a more efficient approach to SEPA requirements will be discussed on May 23rd. Options include increasing restrictions on elements like odors produced by commercial operations.
While the discussion of SEPA, small commercial zoning and parking minimums have drawn the most attention, the bill would also introduce increases in the size of projects that automatically trigger the design review process and changes in requirements for commercial space in some zones as well as a laundry list of small changes that are hoped to streamline the development processes in the city.