The City Council’s planning committee Wednesday morning is scheduled to continue its work reshaping Seattle’s parking policies in an effort to reduce building costs and, hopefully, help address the city’s growing affordability crisis.
CHS wrote here in January about Seattle’s so-called “Neighborhood Parking Reform” process and the hope of reducing requirements, “unbundling” costs, and opening up the city to “shared parking” for motor vehicles and bikes. Here’s a rundown of the elements in the latest version of the legislation under discussion Wednesday from a City Hall staff memo on the proposals:
- “Unbundling” of parking: requiring that renting or leasing of parking be covered by a separate agreement from rental agreements and leases,
- Calling non-required or public parking “flexible use parking” and broadening the locations where flexible use parking is permitted and how it can be used,
- Allowing more flexibility for park and rides,
- Allowing for more flexibility for the public to use required accessory parking,
- Adopting a new definition of frequent transit service through a Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) Director’s Rule,
- Adopting new bicycle parking quantity and design standards,
- Expanding the distance off-site, off-street parking is allowed from a use,
- Adjusting parking requirements for affordable dwelling units,
- Adding design standards to allow for the public use of accessory parking,
- Limiting exceptions to maximum parking requirements, and
- Clarifying SEPA policies
The memo (PDF) says the proposals “build on a body of scholarship and practice that finds significant negative impacts to requiring more parking than will be used” —
Among those negative impacts are additional car trips and resulting congestion; increased development costs and reduced development density, resulting in increased rents; and negative urban design character and reduced pedestrian activity. In recognition of these impacts, Seattle has chosen to reduce or remove off-street parking requirements in areas where there is good access to transit, starting with Downtown Seattle in the 1980s, commercial zones in 2006, and multifamily zones in 2009.
The proposals would also address weaknesses in defining “frequent transit service” and the rules that reduce or eliminate parking requirements for projects in commercial and multifamily zones near transit lines.
Slides from a presentation scheduled to be delivered Wednesday on the proposals are below.