Two headlines out of tonight’s meeting of the West Seattle Junction Parking Project Committee: First, 21 months after first word of the then-impending review, it’s all over. Results: A relatively minor set of changes in the works – anticlimactic since the city announced in July that the Junction study would NOT result in pay stations. Second, while the city’s original plan called for the 2009 Junction review to be followed up by a 2010 Morgan Junction review, Community Parking Program boss Allison Schwartz confirmed tonight that only 2 neighborhoods in the city will be studied next year (down from 5) because of budget cuts, and neither will be in West Seattle. So, back to the conclusion of The Junction’s parking review – read on for details on the changes, and what happens now:
Perhaps the biggest result is what’s NOT in the plan – besides pay stations: Despite strong advocacy from Junction Neighborhood Organization president Erica Karlovits and others for a Restricted Parking Zone in part of the residential area on the east side of The Junction, the city does not have any RPZs in the final plan. A draft final map shown by SDOT’s Dante Taylor tonight isn’t available in electronic form yet, but it has only two tweaks from this one, showing where 2-hour zones will be put in place, or where 1-hour zones will become 2-hour zones:
The final map’s changes from that map are:
-Leaving California between Dakota and Genesee without restrictions, mostly by request of the businesses there
-Leaving most of the east side of 42nd between Oregon and Alaska without restrictions, because the slated-for-demolition homes there are likely to be around longer than first believed, without a timetable for the 4502 SW Oregon development to start construction
Area residents will get mailers within a few weeks explaining the overall plan, which will then be put into place – signage and all – sometime in the first quarter of next year. The SDOT team stressed that they will be open to revisiting the decision not to go with an RPZ; Taylor promised they’ll “check in” after six months. “This is not a black hole, this is a malleable plan,” he said; Karlovits warned that the problem in her neighborhood “is not going to go away” and worried aloud that restrictions on adjacent streets will drive even more day-parkers to the residential areas; Schwartz reiterated, “We want to hear from residents if you are seeing a significant change.”
The main concerns there remain long-term day parking by “park and hide” bus riders who drive in from other parts of West Seattle, and by Junction-area employees; David Allen from SDOT’s Transportation Demand Management program talked about incentives available through the Way To Go project for those who try driving less.
West Seattle Junction Association executive director Susan Melrose suggested an idea that’s come up before – shuttle buses from other areas of West Seattle, to try to make it more convenient for people to try driving less.
She and Allen discussed conversations with major local employers regarding how to get workers to use transit; he said he’ll be meeting soon with the management at the new QFC (where, according to Karlovits, more than 80 percent of the staff is driving to work) and promised to talk to the future Office Depot‘s management too.
Karlovits suggested set-aside parking for employees would solve more street-parking problems than trying to cut down on car use: “We just don’t have a good enough transit system to have (more) people not using cars right now.” Allen agreed that was generally true.
The oft-voiced question “why can’t the city build a park-and-ride?” came up, and the SDOT delegation reiterated that city policy wouldn’t allow it, but maybe a private developer could take on the challenge.
The talk then moved to bicycle parking, which had been discussed at previous committee meetings; Taylor says no location’s been finalized yet for a sizable bike-parking rack on the street, but the space in front of Elliott Bay Brewery remains a major contender.
As the meeting wrapped up, we asked about the status of the plan to study more West Seattle neighborhoods, since – as noted in our February 2008 story – it was originally rolled out as The Junction this year, Morgan Junction in 2010, Admiral in 2011, Alki in 2012. That’s when Schwartz said factors including budget cuts had changed the plan, and no West Seattle neighborhood would be formally studied next year. (What the timetable is beyond that – too soon to say – they haven’t even settled yet on which neighborhoods they WILL study next year.) But she said they do want to hear from anyone who feels they have a neighborhood parking problem/concern – firstname.lastname@example.org.