How will we live, work, get around in the future? West Seattle meeting Thursday to talk about Comprehensive Plan update

Back in 2014, the city invited residents to look into the future for what was then called the “Seattle 2035” Comprehensive Plan. At meetings like this one in West Seattle, people talked about options for steering growth, particularly whether to keep focusing it in “urban villages”/”urban centers” like The Junction. Now, eight and a half years later, a similar discussion is under way, and the city this time is collecting feedback for a “major update” now called the One Seattle Comprehensive Plan and now expected to look 20 years into the future. A West Seattle community meeting is planned for Thursday night (December 8), in-person at South Seattle College (6000 16th SW; WSB sponsor). This time some very specific alternatives are being proposed, starting with “growth strategy” that would result in zoning changes. In addition to studying “no change,” the city is studying four “potential growth models”:

These are being studied for an Environmental Impact Statement due next year. Other topics for discussion are laid out in this pre-meeting document, where you’ll also find the “potential growth models” graphics shown above. Those additional topics include anti-displacement strategies; the document include this map showing two areas of West Seattle considered “high risk” for displacement:

Also up for discussion per the document – parks/open space, climate, equity, transportation, and economic development. The plan is meant to span the next 20 years. More background on the plan update is here; the Thursday meeting is scheduled for 6-8 pm at SSC’s Brockey Center (here’s a campus map). If you can’t be there, you’ll find online opportunities to comment here.

29 Replies to "How will we live, work, get around in the future? West Seattle meeting Thursday to talk about Comprehensive Plan update"

  • Flivver December 6, 2022 (12:43 pm)

    What will the accommodation and access for cars be??  People will want to go to the ocean or Lake Chelan or San Juans or? Those are all places that transit options will not be feasible. People will also want family and friends to visit. Emergency vehicles will need access and don’t forget everyone seems to need to have a lot of stuff delivered. The city WILL need to evolve but the very real danger is that it won’t change to reflect what the majority actually need/want/do in the real world but would be the “vision” of what a few would like to see. 

    • M December 6, 2022 (1:47 pm)

      The instances you listed are already very well accommodated in our city. We can cede some of the priority for cars in favor of people. We have a lot car-centric design to fix (“free” parking, stroads, oversized emergency vehicles) to make this a healthy and equitable city, and we have to start somewhere.

    • Jort December 6, 2022 (2:23 pm)

      Should the best, maximal use of limited city space be devoted to the storage and movement of hundreds of thousands of private automobiles so that a person can, on occasion, drive to Lake Chelan or the San Juan islands? Can family and friends not ride on buses? Did you know that there are emergency vehicles in other countries, and vanishingly few of those countries  dedicate as much of their cities to the purpose of driving private automobiles as we do in the United States? Did you know that Amsterdam isn’t a smoldering crater full of burned-out buildings and people dead in their homes that ambulances couldn’t reach? Indeed, actually, Seattle, and by extension, the rest of the United States, are the actual outliers in global transportation and housing planning and policy. And most of that is because of Americans’ deeply illogical psychological attachments to driving cars. Pro-car comment section lobbyists always talk about the “real world” as the reason why we must double down on our failed choices for yet another generation. But what is the “real world?” The world we keep failing at, here in America? Or the actual real world that is actually out there in the rest of the world? Other countries have figured this out, and America and Seattle will, someday, too, because no city in the history of human civilization has figured out how to sustain healthy, growing cities and automobiles at the same time. Seattle will not be the first to do so.    

      • skeeter December 6, 2022 (3:31 pm)

        Posts like this remind me that my three favorite things in this world, in order of enjoyment, are: 1.  Eating delicious pizza right out of the oven 2. Reading Jort’s comments on the West Seattle Blog 3. Watching Game of Thrones

      • Flivver December 6, 2022 (4:54 pm)

        Jort. I deal with the REALITY that we ALL want and need to go places that require a car. And, by the way i have been to Amsterdam. I loved my time here and guess what! I saw a LOT of cars being driven around the city.

        • Jort December 6, 2022 (11:30 pm)

          Awesome! I’m glad to hear that you’d be more than eager to replicate Amsterdam’s transportation and housing planning here in Seattle. And guess what! You will NOT see a LOT of cars being driven around the city! You will, in fact, see fewer cars! Just like Amsterdam! Here’s a helpful infographic of Amsterdam’s modal share to help educate you, and thanks for your support of reducing cars in Seattle:

    • DC December 6, 2022 (2:47 pm)

      Do you think that developers invest millions to build houses/apartments people don’t want? If people actually didn’t want to live in apartments/condos/townhomes without parking, they’d sit empty and the investors would lose money. People can rent/borrow cars for traveling. With added tax revenue from denser housing, the city can invest more in quick reliable transit. And don’t worry, much denser cities still manage to plan around deliveries and emergency vehicles. If you don’t want to live in a dense city, that is fine. But the issues you bring up are easily solvable while drastically increasing housing. 

      • Frog December 6, 2022 (3:54 pm)

        I recently heard anecdotes from two middle school girls, completely unconnected with each other:  one refuses to ride any metro bus alone, and would only ride with friends or fellow students (so parent chauffeur in private car is the only option for any place she needs to go alone, or else a lot of life would be closed off); the other girl carries pepper spray on the bus (12 years old, 6th grade).  Whatever rosy things are said in blog comments, there is no real will in Seattle to create reliable public transport, if reliable encompasses safe, usable, non-scary.

      • Flivver December 6, 2022 (5:02 pm)

        DC. People do move into buildings with no parking. Guess what. They park in the neighborhood near their building. I’ve seen it with my own eyes here in WS. As far as “borrowing and renting”. Those are cars that need parking and road space too.

        • Cars have feelings too December 6, 2022 (7:21 pm)

          Those are cars that need parking and road space too.”

          Won’t someone please think of the cars!  They have needs too, you know!

          In case the sarcasm is over your head: cars don’t need parking.  Cars don’t need “road space” (whatever that is supposed to mean–Seriously, is “road space” different than roads?  Is it just empty roads?  Is that what each car needs, just a lot of empty, empty, roads, all to itself?  How’s that gonna work?).  Anyway–back to my point.  Cars don’t need anything.  People and other living creatures need things.  Inanimate objects are just that… objects.  Get a grip.

  • Kyle December 6, 2022 (2:03 pm)

    The displacement areas are all of the affordable areas in Seattle…

  • WestSeattleBadTakes December 6, 2022 (3:31 pm)

    You know America has a car obsession when the first comment on a post about housing and zoning is “where will the cars go?”

    • Flivver December 6, 2022 (6:42 pm)

      WSBT. That’s because we ALL have and use cars. So, where will they go? They’re certainly not going away.

      • JOrt December 6, 2022 (11:26 pm)

        They are going away. The per capita ownership of automobiles in Seattle has been steadily dropping in recent years. This is a fact. We do not “ALL have and use cars.” That is a wildly false statement.

  • Joe Z December 6, 2022 (4:49 pm)

    Alternatives 4 or 5 make the most sense. Arterial streets are undesirable places to live due to noise, pollution, traffic, etc. Midrise development needs to occur over a broader area encompassing several blocks around frequent transit. Legalize “missing middle” housing everywhere within a 5-minute walk of transit. Legalize triplexes on every residential parcel in the city. It’s insane that we allow for giant McMansions on single family lots but not three or four units that would add up to the same amount of square feet. As for the traffic issues, it’s pretty obvious that there is now a ton of excess capacity on the West Seattle Bridge, plus light rail coming in 2032, so there is plenty of room for growth. 

  • AMD December 6, 2022 (5:06 pm)

    I really hope that Seattle gets a radical overhaul of building codes.  Zones that are exclusively for single-family homes don’t make any sense in a city, and force people into bigger homes than they need, or into outlying areas because of prices.  Duplexes and triplexes are great, and offer a great balance of space and yard with density.  They should be allowed EVERYWHERE.  

  • wscommuter December 6, 2022 (5:26 pm)

    As a (mostly) bicycle commuter and light rail supporter, I am nonetheless amused by the anti-car fringe ranting here, especially in waiving the “rest of the world” around as though one size fits all and circumstances are the same globally.  For better or worse, European cities are far more dense than U.S. cities (especially true the further west one goes in the U.S, as we’re a relatively young country).  Because of that centuries-old density, where people were already living near where they work, most European cities necessarily and easily  built transit infrastructure that made living without cars easy for many urban Europeans … but if you’ve left European cities, you’d see that European suburbs are about as car-centric as U.S. cities, for the same reasons (sprawl, etc.).  We had the luxury of space and built our cities accordingly.  Perhaps unfortunate, but it is just truth.  I’m all for building good transit and getting people around in an environmentally responsible way.  But the logistical challenges of how that happens are still decades away … and most likely, the solution won’t be eliminating most cars, but getting to a technology (hydrogen) that solves the fossil fuel problem (electric cars being a mere transition technology).  But in the meantime, by all means … let the anti-car fringe look at Amsterdam with distant longing and pretend European (or Asian) transportation needs are the same as ours.  

    • Jort December 6, 2022 (11:37 pm)

      No, not really. Cities of many different sizes and density levels still rely less on cars than any American city, and honestly it’s not even close. The reason you can tell this is because no city in the entirety of human history has been successful in accommodating the movement and storage of private vehicles as its primary transportation and housing priority, like we do in America. I promise you that America’s cities will not be the first ones in human history to solve this geometrically unsolvable problem. We can keep doubling down on sprawl and cars-first and connect Issaquah with North Bend, and then North Bend with Cle Elum, and Cle Elum with Ellensburg …. but the issues with cars-first planning is that it is literally an unsolvable geometric problem and believe me we are not going to break the laws of geometry here in Seattle. This is an indisputable reality that our society will be forced to confront and you can be on the winning side or the losing side, but only one side will win, and it will be the one that has geometry and humanity as allies.

  • Ryan December 6, 2022 (5:34 pm)

    As someone who lived abroad for a few years and then came back, I find it rather obvious that opening the city’s zoning system up to a more natural free market is definitely the way to go. I love WS, but I don’t think a lot of the people who live here even know what they’re missing being shackled by the drab, suburby urban planning style we’ve had since the latter half of the 20th century. Alternative 5 all the way. 

    • Ross December 7, 2022 (7:22 am)

      100% this

  • LK December 6, 2022 (5:44 pm)

    It’s such a bummer that they scheduled this on the Art walk night. With music this month and local businesses needing people to come in, this seems like a big oversight.

  • MM December 6, 2022 (6:01 pm)

    West Seattle’s current population is 82k+ people – I wonder what the max would be before overloading any/all the systems (sewer, electrical, waste mgmt, cell, transportation, grocery, schools, daycares, vets, medical clinics, dentists, fire, police). What infrastructure would be required for mass growth overtime and what is the future population max cap?

  • Rhonda December 7, 2022 (2:23 am)

    As of 2019, Seattle has more car owners per capita than Los Angeles, which is the car center of the universe:

    • CAM December 7, 2022 (10:38 am)

      That’s some very cherry picked data. Other information from that same article ( the total number of cars was rising until 2017 and then stopped and stayed flat despite the population continuing to grow and the per capita numbers dropped yearly after that; 2) Seattle is a “renter majority city”; 3) the bulk of cars are owned by home owners “they have about 265,000 of them, while renters have 195,000. And only 4% of owner-occupied households are car-less, compared with 31% of renter households.”; 4) “Seattle’s densely populated neighborhoods have much lower rates of car ownership than the citywide average. The Chinatown-International District and Pioneer Square neighborhoods have similar numbers of cars per capita to New York. Parts of First Hill, the University District, and downtown Seattle are just a little higher.”; 5) the highest per capita car ownership neighborhood is a single family home neighborhood in West Seattle. From an article in 2019 by the FYI Guy you would have found the data that told you per capita car ownership was dropping faster in Seattle than any other of the 10 major cities in the US. That is likely because we have farther to fall but also suggests people are moving towards using cars less. 

      • Rhonda December 7, 2022 (1:28 pm)

        Our DOL’s own data shows a shocking amount of personally-owned vehicles in the State. You can see in their website stats that they issue over 7 million registration reminder mailings per year, among other interesting statistics. As of 2017 our State had 870 private vehicles per 1000 residents, which is 29th out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Seattle is a very small area compared to our state’s 71,362 square miles. The volume of cars streaming through Seattle per day from outside the city is likely greater than the city’s population. They park here, shop here, work here, visit here, and recreate here and must be factored into the stats.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident December 7, 2022 (10:09 am)

    I wonder if the anti-cars zealots have jobs.

    Mass transit, bus and/or LLR, don’t work for most of us, here is my situation. In order to get to my job, it would take 2 busses and a LLR ride (or THREE busses without the LLR) after a one mile walk to get to the bus stop, and a 1/4 mile walk from the LLR station (1/3 mile from bus stop). My hours are 6AM-4PM, I would have to leave the house at 4AM, and wouldn’t get back home till after 6PM.I wonder how long the zealots would last doing that?

    Oh, by the way…I live EIGHT (8) miles, door-to-door, from home to work. Even if I wanted to, and were willing to use mass transit, there are NO busses running at 4 AM to where I have to go.   

    • Aaron December 7, 2022 (1:38 pm)

      I’ve definitely been in this situation, which is how I started bike commuting. I know it’s not for everyone and Seattle is definitely not flat, but it’s much cheaper than a car and much more reliable than transit (currently). You get into pretty good shape, too.  And, that being said, we should all *demand* better transit. It is really fundamental to alleviating traffic issues.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident December 7, 2022 (10:18 am)

    Stop comparing Seattle to Amsterdam. Seattle is NOT flat, whereas Amsterdam is.

    The ONLY thing comparable between the two cities is the weather.

  • Matt December 9, 2022 (11:56 am)

    Since getting an e-bike my 11 mile commute has become a breeze, regardless of traffic, bridges, whatever. Highly recommend it, and hope that the planning will include a complete network of miles of protected bike lanes. Good for health, environment and businesses too. 

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