(Seattle Channel video from Tuesday’s Transportation and Sustainability Committee meeting)
Next Monday, the full Seattle City Council is scheduled to consider the SDOT speed-limit-reduction proposal, primarily proposing that all non-arterial roads to have a speed limit of 20 mph. First word of the proposal a week and a half ago sparked much discussion; it was one of three major topics at this week’s meeting of the council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee.
SPEED LIMITS: As you can see in the video above (starting one hour, 29 minutes in), the SDOT presenters stressed that they believe lower speed limits will reduce pedestrian deaths and injuries; they presented this slide deck to underscore that.
As for what’s planned for other arterials, SDOT reps said this specific bill does not include any speed-limit changes for arterials outside downtown, but noted that others remain under review, especially the ones with the most crashes. They also pointed out that the city has reduced speed limits relatively recently on four arterials around the city, two of them in West Seattle (Fauntleroy Way SW last February, and 35th Avenue SW). And they said they’re reviewing some areas – many in West Seattle (though specific roads weren’t mentioned) – where they need to add signage reminding people of current speed limits.
The speed-limit proposal needs a majority vote at Monday afternoon’s full-council meeting. No one opposed it at the committee meeting.
PARKING BENEFIT DISTRICTS: While this item did not directly involve West Seattle, some information of interest emerged – particularly, the revelation that SDOT expects to review West Seattle Junction on-street parking again in 2018. That would be nine years after the last full review in 2009, which included SDOT‘s announcement that paid on-street parking did NOT seem to be warranted in The Junction. The review did result in some mostly minor changes, including time limits.
The committee briefing was about a proposal to look at Parking Benefit Districts – in which revenue from paid on-street parking would go back into the geographic districts where the parking was located, theoretically to give community members an incentive to support the paid parking. Specifically, there was a proposal for a pilot PBD in Capitol Hill. SDOT recommended against it, saying it prefers to stick with what it’s been doing, including “time-of-day” variable pricing in some areas and potentially extending paid parking later into the night in some parts of the city. The latest online update from our area’s Councilmember Lisa Herbold (who was not at Tuesday’s meeting of the committee, for which she is an alternate member) has more details on SDOT’s rationale for opposing PBDs.
Back to the meeting – Councilmembers Rob Johnson and Mike O’Brien had a notable exchange involving constituents’ concerns about parking. O’Brien said he hears most often about new development projects without offstreet parking and said he wasn’t sure that PBDs would have any effect on those concerns. And separate from that, West Seattle’s “remarkable growth and increase in density” was mentioned in passing a few times during the discussion.
CUTTING UP STREETS: This briefing got a little technical but here’s what you really need to know: The city is tightening up the rules for when and why streets can be cut into, and how long the cutters get before they have to restore the pavement. With the Move Seattle Levy funding new pavement, SDOT reps explained, “One of the things we wanted to avoid were a bunch of asphalt cuts turning (newly repaved) streets into Swiss cheese.” You can read here what they are working on, in addition to listening to the discussion in the meeting video (1 hour, 9 minutes in).