RapidRide Triangle parking removal: ‘5 businesses (possibly) ruined’

By Karen Berge
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

More than 25 people filled a room at the Senior Center of West Seattle last night for a special meeting about the RapidRide “C Line” bus service’s potential effects on the West Seattle Triangle area.

This topic brought together members of the West Seattle Triangle planning advisory group, Metro Transit, Seattle Department of Transportation, project architects, local business owners, community leaders, and neighborhood residents.

A big concern for many is the potential elimination of street parking on SW Alaska between Fauntleroy Way SW and 35th Ave SW; that topic became the main point of discussion.

First: The Triangle planning process’s lead city planner, Susan McLain, emphasized that there are many constituents to consider with Triangle development, “much, much broader than the group in this room.”

So who was in the room? A show of hands indicated that many had attended previous meetings about Triangle development and are also already familiar with RapidRide – the Metro service scheduled to come to West Seattle in September 2012 – and aspects of its proposed implementation here.

This meeting included 3 fairly short informational presentations, followed by discussion and Q&A. David Hewitt of Hewitt Architects, who’s been part of the Triangle advisory-group process, was the first presenter; he gave a review of the Right-of-Way Concept Plan that’s been presented to the group, using several large architectural illustrations on easels. Regarding some of The Triangle’s streets, Hewitt noted, “With 80-foot right-of-ways, it could allow for back-in angle parking on one side, parallel parking on the other.” He also pointed out, “Everything will be vetted through some sort of public process” and “input from the community can shape what the area can morph into” – potentially a true gateway for West Seattle. (The Right of Way Concept Plan is viewable online – see the links on this page, under the October 27th meeting heading.)

Second, Paul Roybal of Metro gave a RapidRide overview, similar to those he’s presented at several recent community meetings (here’s our coverage from the Morgan Community Association last month). He noted the buses will get signal priority at some stoplights and will have dedicated lanes, “Business Access and Transit (BAT) lanes” – which have been the crux of community concern, because, on SW Alaska, BAT lanes would require the removal of parking spaces.

Bill Bryant and Christine Alar were there on behalf of SDOT; Bryant provided a briefing on SDOT design work for the C line, now 60 percent done; the last major solicitation of community feedback, he noted, had been two years ago, when the design was at 30 pecent completion. Following up on the subject of BAT lanes and parking removal, “BAT lanes usually require parking removal – that’s the hardest piece of this”; he reiterated that he understands “how important this issue is, especially for businesses. The current design would turn over the two lanes of parking for transit lanes and right-turning cars.”

After his presentation, attendees who had listened quietly, but intently, moved into actively voicing questions, concerns and ideas – either pushing back, probing for more details, or trying to brainstorm alternatives. Highlights and quotes from the comments and questions portion include:

o “There are at least 5 businesses that will potentially be ruined by taking away the parking here.”

Several people described the potential impacts and hardships to nearby businesses:

o One of the doctors from the office at 37th and Alaska spoke passionately about how many of their most vulnerable clients need to be able to park near their entrance and will not be able to use alternative parking that is further away or on the steep side streets. Another staff member from that office echoed those concerns.

o Impacts to business deliveries were noted as a concern.

o Several people voiced concerns about the removal of parking near the VFW.

o Someone asked if they’d analyzed the increased risks of crossing Alaska, especially for children going to or from the West Seattle Family YMCA (WSB sponsor); he noted how dangerous it is even now to lead a rope-line of small children across that wide street, which will become more dangerous with two additional lanes and more traffic.

o “Have you considered the impacts to the fire station there on Alaska? Is there a study from RapidRide on impacts for that?” Reply: “Yes, we’ve been talking with them.”

o “Why is there going to be a BAT lane there (along that stretch of Alaska) but nowhere else?” “Having such a lane there would give most speed benefit in terms of travel time savings. BAT lanes offer a huge benefit to reliability and speed, particularly approaching intersections. There are other proposed BAT lanes including one along Avalon approaching Spokane.”

o “Are BAT lanes during peak hour only?” “The current agreement is they are from 7 a.m. -7 p.m. daily.the agreement would have to be changed. Both agencies (SDOT and Metro) have expressed willingness to minimize impacts and that may result in changes. ”

o “Can the time savings be made up elsewhere?” “Not easily, because each minute saved here is worth a couple down the line, since more riders are on the bus here and later will have gotten to their destinations and gotten off the bus. ”

o “You’ve said that Rapid Ride would shave about 4 minutes off of a route; How many seconds of the 4-minute savings would be gained there?”

o Several people brought up moving the proposed BAT lanes to Fauntleroy Way SW rather than SW Alaska Street. Reply: “There are problems with moving all negative impacts to another area. Wherever you’re giving priority to transit..you’re going to have impacts somewhere.”

o The issue of commuter parking in the residential areas was an issue that generated comments from the group.”What about Park & Ride lots? I don’t understand city’s policy on Park & Ride in West Seattle and why people are parking in the neighborhoods.” “The City policy places parking at a low priority.” “Wait! Don’t go all ‘Party Line’ on us, because Party Line also places a priority on small businesses …”. “Why is Park & Ride off the table?”

No one spoke out in support for the proposal to remove the parking; even bus riders who said they took that route daily were asking about other ways to make up the lost time or other places where the buses could be rerouted.

The meeting wrapped up with the presenters emphasizing that “One of the reasons we’re out here is to gather feedback,” and “we’ll be taking a long look at the concerns.” Metro also says it plans community open houses next fall – a year before RapidRide is scheduled to start in West Seattle – to discuss remaining details and concerns.

Meantime, the Triangle planning process – looking years into the future as the area continues to evolve – will have its own community open house early next year; no date set yet.

21 Replies to "RapidRide Triangle parking removal: '5 businesses (possibly) ruined'"

  • Mary November 18, 2010 (12:04 pm)

    I sympathize with the businesses, and yet I think we need to consider that a lot of people ride the bus. We need a bus system that is going to move people. I’m sorry, but removing parking along the street will not kill businesses.

  • thelmasue November 18, 2010 (12:22 pm)

    wow. all this upheaval to save 4 minutes? hardly seems worth it.

  • Que November 18, 2010 (12:23 pm)

    Won’t lots more people be able to get to their businesses with the additional bus access?

  • old timer November 18, 2010 (12:28 pm)

    Could Metro offer
    property tax abatement/incentives
    to affected businesses?
    Would that help ease the pain?

  • junction profile November 18, 2010 (12:32 pm)

    Rapid Ride should turn onto Fauntleroy at the Alaska Street intersection, a direct shot to Avalon. Then you can save valuable time, money and reduce the walking by several blocks when you shop at Trader Joe’s!

  • dsa November 18, 2010 (12:34 pm)

    That stretch does not need the lane. It just looks good on paper.

  • Krystal November 18, 2010 (12:42 pm)

    Agree with Junction Profile!

  • ws jen November 18, 2010 (12:54 pm)

    Keep it on Fauntleroy. Both the businesses on Alaska need access and putting Rapid Ride on Alaska basically isolates the YMCA with three fast, large arterials making it inaccessible.

  • DC November 18, 2010 (4:11 pm)

    It seems they are trying to keep the stop on 35th at Avalon – probably estimated to be a big transfer point for routes that follow 35th. To keep that “transfer” stop and turn on Fauntleroy as junction profile suggests, you would have to add a stop on Avalon near 35th – not an easy proposition when you think of the traffic there. Especially coming from downtown.

  • Josh November 18, 2010 (4:29 pm)

    Sat at the meeting. The line will be going down Alaska, that’s a given that won’t change. The “Business Access and Transit” lanes are a dedicated bus lane, removing 40+ parking spaces on Alaska between 35th and Fauntleroy, a segment of road that has verified significantly lower traffic volumes than Alaska west of Fauntleroy. BAT lanes along this 4 block stretch will not add significant time savings to the route (less than 1 minute?), will remove access to medical practices and other businesses, and will create a pedestrian nightmare for those trying to cross Alaska – 4 lanes of traffic. This result directly contradicts the walkability that the Triangle Advisory group has been doing over the past year, ignores the input of neighborhood residents and businesses in the Triangle. Putting curb bulbs is good enough for miles of the route on Barton, Fauntleroy and California, why is it not possible for these four blocks?

  • Parislady November 18, 2010 (5:00 pm)

    Hewitt and team, you are seriously EVIL. You are among that ‘elite’ group of planners be it healthcare or street design who have no worries about ruining a community, endangering children, lowering property values because people have nowhere to park except neighborhood streets, knowingly go against almost 100% of the community and KNOW ahead of time that the result will do NOTHING, save zero time, HURT the MOST people possible at the highest cost, but hey you and your ilk have ‘GOOD INTENTIONS’ and you will get good VIBEY vibes when you think of harming all us evil car drivers, home owners and especially all the business pigs on the street, huh! Come on West Seattle, can we not stop this? RISE UP.

  • Josh November 18, 2010 (5:20 pm)

    Hi Parislady, too much caffiene today?

    Although I don’t always agree with David Hewitt, and he knows it, he’s not “EVIL”. He knows I love driving my truck and doesn’t judge me. David has been a good partner in this process, listening and participating in conversations with businesses and neighbors. Throwing ALL CAPS BLOG BOMBS at him doesn’t help us have a serious conversation with City Planners (which David is not). We need to work diligently with City and Metro planners to get results in the coming RapidRide implementation that will promote businesses, provide access for drivers, pedestrians and busses. There are good answers possible here, and they are not in the extremes.

  • knm November 18, 2010 (6:22 pm)

    I don’t understand why we need BAT lanes for 5 or 6 blocks of street. Am I missing something? I lived in that area (up 38th from the fire station) for 6 years. I KNOW those business WILL BE hurt if the parking is taken away. I think this is a horrible idea.

  • Yardvark November 18, 2010 (6:29 pm)

    I agree with Parislady. Rapid Ride is obviously a govenment plot to kill children and my parking space.

  • redblack November 18, 2010 (8:14 pm)

    has anyone considered acquiring land from huling on the east side of fauntleroy for a bus terminal? hell, it’s already paved, and it’s at the intersection of alaska and fauntleroy. and there’s a big patch of ground on the west side of the street that wouldn’t even impact the produce stand.
    another thought: make curb parking illegal on alaska st. at rush hours – like on eastlake and aurora avenues.
    how about putting the BAT lanes in the center of alaska, not at the curbs, and allowing businesses to use the huge sidewalk rights-of-way to expand curb parking?
    just spitballing.
    i noted last night that when the light at westbound alaska turns red during rush hour, traffic backs up to 36th ave. adding BRT to this mix would be disastrous.
    i strongly advocate for reconfiguring BRT and BAT lanes and acquiring land from huling rather than making alaska street any worse.
    but lastly – and more importantly – wtf good is BRT if it only gets nicer, more expensive buses to the traffic jam on the bridge(s) 4 minutes faster?
    we need grade-separated transit, not more buses. and we need it yesterday.

  • Avalon resident November 19, 2010 (8:42 am)

    Really you think you need a BAT line on Avalon, I dont know if you know this already but there is alot of people who live on this street that have to park on it and it’s already hard enough to find parking on it due to peoples ability to park and also people who park on it to catch the bus! Plus it is already hard enough for us to safely pull out from our garages without adding another *potential* lane for the Rapid Ride.

  • Weiss November 19, 2010 (9:44 am)

    Certainly four minutes doesn’t seem like much time savings on a small scale, but that isn’t how city planners view it. They typically look at the big picture. Four minutes a day is twenty minutes a work week, tweny minutes multiplied by fifty weeks is a thousand minutes. That’s about sixteen and half hours of work productivity that can be gained by saving four minutes a day. In otherwords, two full work days for most people.

  • george November 19, 2010 (11:11 am)

    If this would keep buses from parking on the north side of Alaska at 37th that seriously impedes the vision of drivers crossing on 37th southbound, then I might be for it. Those ST buses sit there forever and force drivers to inch out on to Alaska before you can see around them.

  • junction profile November 19, 2010 (2:09 pm)

    The articulating busses traveling south on 35th cannot turn right onto Alaska without pulling into the east bound lane of traffic currently! There is no possibility of having four lanes plus a bicycle lane on Alaska from 35th Avenue S. W. to Fauntleroy. Rapid Ride does not have a stop between Avalon and Fauntleroy…so what’s up with having the route on Alaska? That’s a residential street with lots of kids walking to the Y not to mention the businesses. Push the route to the arterial Fauntleroy that designed for heavy traffic.

  • JoB November 19, 2010 (2:36 pm)

    i like the idea of an Alaska junction bus depot on the Huling lot….
    combined with a park and ride it could take enough cars off the bridge to justify tat 4 minute save.

  • Blue Collar Enviro December 8, 2010 (11:36 pm)

    *Everyone* needs to park on Avalon Way because *nobody* would move next to a RapidRide stop to have a quick bus ride downtown.

    Those packed buses are actually full of Martians.

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