The Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee (pictured here are councilmembers Tim Burgess, Mike O'Brien and committee chair Rich Conlin) is considering a number of reforms to the city-wide land use development regulations. One of these reforms proposes to reduce or eliminate parking requirements. Four Ballard organizations are joining together to demand more time and study be given to the reforms.
Parking Reform: one size does not fit all
As the Seattle City Council considers a number of reforms to the city-wide land use development regulations, a number of Ballard neighborhood groups are joining together to demand more time and study be given to the reforms.
Intended to spur development and growth, City Council Bill 117430 proposes a number of reforms to development regulations, including controversial issues such as changing Environmental (SEPA) Review thresholds to allow bigger buildings; allowing commercial businesses in residential zones; releasing existing buildings from currently required street-level retail; and reducing or eliminating parking requirements.
While many of the proposed items will affect Ballard, it is the parking reform that concerns Ballard the most.
"The parking portion of these proposed reforms is especially concerning as our supply of on-street parking continues to disappear," stated Ballard Chamber's Beth Miller in an email. "We feel that these types of decisions should be made on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis, taking into consideration each district’s unique characteristics. The proposed approach is very much a one-size-fits-all way of dealing with development."
The proposed reform scraps the minimum parking requirement for residential and non-residential uses in urban villages within a quarter mile of good transit service. The no-minimum-parking requirements would also apply for education related major institutions in urban centers, consistent with other non-residential uses. Additionally, the reform suggests a 50 percent reduction in parking requirement for all uses in all other areas, except industrial zones.
"If adopted, less off-street options will be available and the Ballard business community will see an increased demand for our already limited supply of on-street parking," said Miller.
Led by the Ballard Chamber, the united front against parking reforms include the InBallard Merchants Association, the Central Ballard Residents Association, and the Ballard District Council.
"We are encouraging folks to let the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee (PLUS) know their concerns via e-mails, phone calls and at the next committee meeting," said Miller.
On behalf of its membership and the community as a whole, the Ballard Chamber sent a letter to Richard Conlin, Chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee, asking for more time and consideration.
"Ballard has been adversely impacted by the loss of many off-street parking lots, as well as increased demands for a limited and diminishing suplly of on-street parking. Our business district is also a vibrant industrial employment center, making its parking needs different from retail and restaurant focused areas," penned Miller in the June 4th letter. "The Ballard Chamber is asking that more time and consideration be given before PLUS makes its decision. These changes are too complicated and important to be rushed through without adequate study and public input."
In the letter Miller stated that she acknowledges City Council's intention to provide an economic boost and encourage more transit and walking trips in Ballard, but expressed concern about the long-term ramifications of a "one-size-fits-all" reform.
"Our transportation options continue to be limited, particularly to and from areas outside downtown and the University District," she wrote. "Please take these proposals off the fast track and facilitate further discussions with our individual neighborhood business districts, so that land use codes better reflect the circumstances and character of our communities and respect the needs and concerns of local residents and businesses."
The Ballard Chamber and its partnering organizations ask the public to voice their concerns to the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee by emailing or calling committee members.
The PLUS Committee Members are:
Councilmember Richard Conlin, Chair: email@example.com; 206-684-8805
Councilmember Tim Burgess, Vice-Chair: firstname.lastname@example.org; 206-684-8806
Councilmember Mike O’Brien: email@example.com; 206-684-8800
Councilmember Sally Clark: firstname.lastname@example.org; 206-684-8802
The PLUS committee meets again on Wednesday, June 13, at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall.