City Councilmembers’ first discussion of proposed changes in city parking policy – offstreet parking, especially what will or won’t be required for buildings – began with a primer on who owns cars in Seattle.
You can watch the entire briefing for yourself starting 12 minutes into the Seattle Channel‘s video of the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee‘s meeting. The briefing was presented by council staffer Lish Whitson, who said car ownership is growing as the city’s population grows – though not at the same rate; as the city’s population grew 25 percent in recent years, car ownership grew 20 percent.
Other numbers included: 83 percent of Seattleites own cars; 75 percent of renters, and 95 percent of homeowners. “When people have access to ‘free’ parking, they are more likely to own a car,” Whitson noted.
Another number – $35,000 is the average cost per space to include underground parking in a project.
Whitson also provided a history lesson – saying that parking requirements didn’t make their debut in city zoning until 1957. He also touched on how a Hearing Examiner ruling (in a West Seattle-based case) had required the city to re-evaluate how it determines an area has “frequent transit service”; a new definition of that plays a large part in these new recommendations. West Seattle-residing Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Lorena González had questions about that part of the plan in today’s discussion. Herbold also said she hoped to hear more about the contention that housing might be cheaper if parking wasn’t required, and was looking for data comparing rents on apartments with and without it.
What today’s 26-minute briefing didn’t do was get into details of the proposed changes, originally released in November by then-Mayor Tim Burgess (WSB coverage here). Committee chair Councilmember Rob Johnson noted that more reviews are coming up, starting at PLUZ’s next meeting (January 17), and a public hearing is planned in February. Johnson also said that on-street parking recommendations are in the pipeline too, pointing out that those would be under the jurisdiction of the Sustainability and Transportation Committee, chaired by Councilmember Mike O’Brien.
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