SW District Council: Traffic-calming how-to, plus backyard cottages

July 16, 2009 at 4:13 am | In Development, Safety, Southwest District Council, Transportation, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

The Southwest District Council usually meets the first Wednesday of the month but moved and shortened its meeting this month to combine with an SDOT presentation about neighborhood traffic calming – and that brought out more than a dozen extra attendees. At left, SDOT’s Christina Legazpi with a radar gun, which her colleague Jane Rebelowski explained is often the first tool to determine if your neighborhood really needs help. If you sign up and get at least four more people on your street to join you, you’ll be able to take a class on how to use a radar gun, which will be loaned to you. She suggests neighbors work in pairs to track how fast cars are going and what type of cars are seen speeding. They notch two hours of logged observations to gauge the speed problem. Then comes the next phase – SPD enforcement and/or installation of calming measures. They can include signs, humps, chicanes, chokers (chicanes right across from each other) … all explained here, all potentially funded by money you can apply for. So how effective are the various measures? she was asked – and: Why not put up more stop signs? She says the federal government outlaws simply using stop signs for traffic calming – and they’re easily ignored anyway. Some attendees said they’d applied for traffic calming and gotten turned down; Rebelowski said she’d take a look at the specifics of their applications. If you’re interested in finding out more about how to confirm whether your neighborhood has a problem, and then figure out what to do about it, e-mail her: jane.rebelowski@seattle.gov – and note that this year’s deadline to apply for projects like traffic circles is fast approaching, end of the month.

The group also heard from Andrea Petzel with the same presentation on “backyard cottages” that she gave to the Delridge District Council last month – the city is considering allowing them in more areas. One attendee asked if there would be a vote or whether the City Council would “just ram it down our throats.” Junction Neighborhood Organization president Erica Karlovits expressed concern about density; Petzel said the cottages would only be allowed on single-family lots, but Karlovits pointed out that in The Junction, single-family residences are in close proximity to the ongoing new high-density building. Petzel countered by saying the city planned a maximum of 50 permits per year and she didn’t think that would ultimately affect density. (According to the “backyard cottage” program website, they’ve been allowed in Southeast Seattle for three years, but only 18 permits have been sought.)


  1. Yeah, baby!

    All you people who use Charlestown (east of California) as an arterial here I come!

    Comment by Smitty — 7:03 am July 16, 2009 #

  2. My neighborhood is already infested with every calming device known to man.

    Is slows a few sane people, but that does not apply to the vast majority of my neighbors. Whether it is high school jerks, cell phone attached yuppies or demented locals trying to beat their neighbors to the single lane allowed for traffic, most treat the obstacles as a challenge to see how fast they can take the circle or narrowed street. Trucks just drive over the circles.

    I can’t really blame them. The street was a standard long time route from 35th and Morgan to Delridge for decades. It cuts off nearly a mile over the next nearest place to cross that ridge. That was when it was 40ft wide. Now it is 22′ 2″ and has parking on both sides.

    So beware of what you ask for. Or what your dumb neighbors ask for.

    Comment by Ken — 8:59 am July 16, 2009 #

  3. Smitty – I’ll help.. Watching the “Dukes of Hazzard” jump as they came Eastbound at 41st was always fun.

    Comment by Mr. JT — 10:09 am July 16, 2009 #

  4. People always tear up and down Oregon to/from the bridge. Can I just walk around town clocking cars? That’d be fun.

    Comment by JBL — 10:36 am July 16, 2009 #

  5. 85%? 85%???

    Why not just kill someone first.

    Comment by brandon — 10:59 am July 16, 2009 #

  6. I love backyard cottages! I wish my lot down on Alki was big enough so I could build one but its about 200 sf to small. They are great options for multigenerational housing. My folks are getting up there and while I would love to have them in their own unit on the property, I am not excited about having them in the same house — a backyard cottage would be ideal.

    Comment by Barb — 12:35 pm July 16, 2009 #

  7. not to sound stupid, but can anyone tell me what the speed limit is on the side streets of west seattle? i always thought it was 25mph and i always go 25mph, no more than that, and have been yelled at by people on the side of the road because apparently that is too fast. i fear that radar guns will get into the hands of people who want you to go 10mph!

    Comment by ang — 1:07 pm July 16, 2009 #

  8. backyard cottages are ideal housing situations for many family situations, extra office space for use or rental – and can be quite beautiful – in a city I am always confused by folks that are concerned about density – this is a city, not the burbs or the country, or so I thought

    Comment by homesweethome — 1:36 pm July 16, 2009 #

  9. Ang, the speed limit is generally 25 mph on residential streets, unless posted otherwise, 30 mph on arterials. However, it is also unlawful to drive at an imprudent speed, taking into account existing conditions and potential hazards. The prudent speed might be lower than the posted speed limit. But the citizens with radar guns have no enforcement authority, so it’s up to you to decide how fast you’re going to drive.

    Comment by KBear — 1:43 pm July 16, 2009 #

  10. Be sure to bring this discussion to the Neighborhood Planning Open House. The Open House will be held at the Delridge Community Center Gym, 4501 Delridge Way S. W. from 6-8 p.m on JULY 28th. If you live, work or own a business in Admiral, West Seattle Junction, Morgan Junction, Delridge, Westwood/Highland Park or Georgetown, this is your opportunity to bring your ideas to the table to begin the process of updating your Neighborhood Plan.

    Learn more at: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Planning/Neighborhood_Planning

    Additonal perspectives for Backyard Cottages are contained in the article attached here.


    Comment by Sharonn — 2:41 pm July 16, 2009 #

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