FOLLOWUP: Seattle Public Schools takes Alki Elementary ‘no parking’ fight to court

(WSB photo, Alki Elementary demolition site last Friday)

After three weeks, Seattle Public Schools has made its decision about how to respond to the city Hearing Examiner ruling granting neighbors’ appeal of a zoning exception that would allow the new Alki Elementary to be built without off-street parking: It’s going to court. That’s one of the options if you lose a case before the Hearing Examiner – going to King County Superior Court with a “petition seeking review of a land-use decision.” That’s what SPS filed today, according to documents we obtained tonight. The petition contends in part:

… The Examiner concluded that the SDCI [Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections] Decision lacked sufficient supporting information on this issue alone. The Examiner’s conclusion regarding the vehicle parking departure is incorrect. … Petitioner is aggrieved and adversely affected by the Decision because the Decision prejudices Petitioner’s ability to use its Property and is intended to interfere with the Petitioner’s legal use and enjoyment of the Property and the ability to develop the Project … the Examiner engaged in unlawful procedure, erroneously interpreted the law, made a decision that is not supported by substantial evidence, and committed clear error where it concluded that the Appellants met their burden to demonstrate that it is not necessary to eliminate all parking to meet the school’s educational needs. … The Decision’s determination that the parking analysis did not accurately reflect parking conditions was not supported by substantial evidence in the record. … The Examiner chose to give greater weight to anecdotal statements that parking conditions in December 2021 must not reflect normal parking conditions instead of expert analysis that concluded, in both the report and in testimony, that the parking conditions in December 2021 were likely higher than normal conditions given that many people chose to stay home (and park on the street) rather than leave due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the West Seattle Bridge closure.

This is not likely to end quickly. The initial schedule set for the case requires a hearing by October 20th, but the case itself might not be fully heard until next January. The district has a permit for demolition, excavation, and grading of the school site, and has completed most of the demolition, but can’t get a permit to build the new school until this issue is settled. Building the school without a zoning exception for parking would require 48 spaces, and presenting a revised plan providing them was one of the other options the district had for responding to the Hearing Examiner’s ruling.

106 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Seattle Public Schools takes Alki Elementary 'no parking' fight to court"

  • Admiral-2009 August 30, 2023 (10:33 pm)

    Wow – The Petitioner is aggrieved from using their property.  They can use and develop the property if they provide the required parking per the zoning.  I’m not saying they need to provide 48 stalls, but zero parking is not reasonable.  

    • K September 1, 2023 (4:07 pm)

      That school should be permanently closed and rebuilt at Schmitz park.. ing.

      • SayWhat? September 2, 2023 (4:21 pm)

        Schmitz Park is awful. It’s old and dirty. The only thing better than the Alki campus is the playground. The portables are nice and have AC, but are far from the main building and small for 3-5 students. Most teachers agreed there should be parking, but 48 spaces is unrealistic. I counted 20 spaces available to park at 7:00AM driving by the school several times during the week. 

    • Dom Goodwin September 9, 2023 (9:53 am)

      I have a Home on Walnut Ave SW close to West Seattle High School and Hiawatha Park. During School Days there are severe parking issues, on Walnut Ave SW between Hanford and Lander . My concerns after trying to work with Seattle Public School, the Seattle City Neighborhood Group, the Seattle City Council and the Mayors Team, I realized they don’t care about the Neighborhood near West Seattle High School and Hiawatha Park and thier lack the ethics and lack of wanting to be inclusive with the community.  The Seattle Public School and the Seattle City Neighborhood Group in March of 2023 said they would have a Public Meeting with our Neighborhood Community. Then they would never meet with us. I asked multiple times for them to meet with the Neighborhood Community,  and they refused. I certainly understand that decisions can go either way. But there is NO reason not to meet with and be inclusive with the Community and the Citizens who are paying taxes. On School Days there is no parking available on Walnut Ave SW between Hanford and Lander. I and other Neighbors sent multiple pictures and e-mails to the Seattle Public School, the Seattle City Neighborhood Group, the Seattle City Council and the Mayors Team, and they did not care about our parking challenges.  In our Community we have Senior Citizens who’s Friends no longer come to visit due to the parking challenges during School Days.  People are struggling to unload groceries, especially if they have children in their car. I found that Seattle Public School, the Seattle City Neighborhood Group, the Seattle City Council and the Mayors Team, just don’t care about the tax paying Citizens in our Neighborhood Community. I personally have worked on and been responsible for large, and expensive projects.  I always included all of the Stakeholders when I found there were more Stakeholders than I originally knew before the project, these  Stakeholders were included in the process. I wanted all StakeHolder to be included and that I valued thier input. Inclusion is a major part of any successful project.  I have included a  few of the pictures I sent to Seattle Public School, the Seattle Neighborhood Group, the Seattle City Council and the Mayors Team.Don Goodwin, West Seattle Resident and concerned citizen.Don

  • onion August 30, 2023 (10:41 pm)

    Somebody explain to me why Seattle Public Schools is being so tone deaf to the will of the community. I could understand this from a belligerent commercial property developer or such. But schools are all about community and fitting in. This fight is going to add a year or more to the rebuilding schedule and a huge amount to the cost — and leave a tremendous residue of ill will.

    • DC August 31, 2023 (9:39 am)

      Believe it or not, the ‘community’ includes people who disagree with you. It’s not SPS delaying this project or adding costs, it’s the handful of people who care more about their parking than school children who are adding cost and delay. Even if SPS didn’t challenge the ruling, there would be significant delay as they redesign the whole thing to include parking and go through the whole permitting process a second time. 

      • EC August 31, 2023 (10:29 am)

        This ^^^

      • EM August 31, 2023 (11:39 am)

        Agree 100% SPS is well within their rights to bring this to court

        • Mike August 31, 2023 (5:57 pm)

          And tax payers can file suit against SPS, play ball!

    • Community member August 31, 2023 (1:15 pm)

      I’m a member of the community and I fully support the district going to court over this. Better to use limited land for uses that support education such as classrooms or play space, not for storage of people’s private property. You may not agree, but don’t pretend that you speak for everyone. 

      • Kyle August 31, 2023 (8:55 pm)

        Yeah but this will add likely a year to the rebuild timeline and that’s only if they win. That’s another year of the kids at an alternate site. How does that help anyone? No this feels more about pride. A reasonable solution would be to negotiate with the neighbors on some reasonable number between 0-48. Why must everything be all or nothing. Compromise would be a skill to show those students.

        • s September 1, 2023 (1:52 pm)

          Kyle – Or we could show the kids how to make decisions based on rigorous, expert analyses, rather than the emotions and anecdotes of a handful of community members? I’m a tax-paying community member, and I’m glad that SPS is not backing down.

          • Kyle September 1, 2023 (7:51 pm)

            I’ve read the districts “facts” have you?

    • Steve September 5, 2023 (10:50 am)

      The net increase in students is projected to be about 173 for a total of 542.  The increase in staff is projected to be 27 to 37.  That would be between 65 and 75 employees.  Are they all going to skate board or ride scooters? At the end of the day regardless of which party comes out on top the school district and the city will both be paying lawyers with public funds.

  • Why August 30, 2023 (10:45 pm)

    The school district wants to play hardball with the city and its citizens, just because they can. They are accountable to no one other than the volunteer school board.

  • Erik August 30, 2023 (11:35 pm)

    It’s really discouraging to see Seattle Public Schools being so unwilling to listen to the people that they serve. Clearly they need parking. Anecdotal evidence isn’t something for them to turn their noses up at. Anyone that has been to Alki in the last couple of years knows just how burdensome finding a parking space is. I remember a few years ago I could go and find a parking space in a reasonable amount of time and now I don’t even bother because it’s just a hassle. Their argument that “people stayed home” during the pandemic makes no sense and is actually contradictory to the point they are trying to make. With the Bridge open now and being back to pre pandemic routine, more people are visiting the area and parking than during the pandemic. This brings an influx of people requiring parking spots, versus fewer people visiting, which requires less spots.They say that the examiner didn’t have any actual evidence in the decision on parking but the school district similarly doesn’t have any evidence that the situation has not changed.It goes beyond that thought. This is government refusing to listen to the people that they serve. The community came together to say they wanted changes to the plans. The changes requested weren’t unreasonable or poorly thought out either.  SPS should listen to the residents that have to deal with this school, instead of creating additional cost and unnecessary burden to our judicial system, because they don’t want to admit that they were wrong. Hopefully this suit gets dismissed quickly. No reason to delay further on this.Shame on Seattle Public Schools.

    • Plf August 31, 2023 (12:21 am)

      Well articulated.  This process will be a wonderful example to the children this school is suppose to serve and to the citizens who pay for schools I can only hope that the outcome will demonstrate to children and the community that well thought out opposition and involvement can facilitate needed change

      • reed August 31, 2023 (9:57 am)

        What about the citizens who also pay for the school that want to see a less car-dependent city? I’m glad to see SPS challenging this.

        • Erik August 31, 2023 (2:49 pm)

          I understand wanting to be less reliant on cars. But let’s be realistic. It’s more than people just saying “cars are bad, build less parking”. The topography of Seattle makes it almost impossible. The hills and rough terrain make walking and biking unrealistic for most, and particularly for busy parents that have a lot on their plates. The layout of the neighborhoods to the primary employment centers also doesn’t align with the ability to not use cars. Affordability issues make it so that people need to live farther away from their place of employment than is reasonably accessible by foot or bike. Our bus system isn’t comprehensive enough to get people where they need to be in a short amount of time either, and its very clear that sound transit doesn’t have enough bus drivers or equipment to handle a larger bus commuting population. We just aren’t built to rely on other methods than cars to get around in most areas of the city. The problem is that Seattle is out of space, overpopulated, and subject to unique topographical issues that make it impossible for us to create communities where people can take alternative methods of transportation. Removing parking isn’t a fix to that. 

          • Jort August 31, 2023 (3:54 pm)

            Well, we can either work to fix those issues, or we can keep pretending that car-focused social engineering will somehow actually work itself out if we just keep wishing for it enough? This is not a complex problem to “solve.” Cities of all sizes, populations, topography, weather, economies, governmental systems, etc. have solved this, in many cases decades ago. Seattle is absolutely not “out of space” and “overpopulated.” And it absolutely does not have “unique topographical issues” that prevent it from being like every other well-designed city on the planet. The reason Seattle is the way that it is, is because Seattle (and every other American city) engages in magical thinking that it will be the first city in human history to successfully prioritize planning exclusively around the needs of the giant machines we call cars. American cities are, in fact, the outlier on this issue, and it is resulting precisely in the kinds of outcomes you would expect: sprawl, death, injury, pollution, inequality, environmental destruction, and the list goes on. People LOOOOOOVE to say that cars are the “reality.” The only people who say this are the people whose “reality” extends to the borders of the United States of America. Actual reality, the one where actual people live and thrive, can be and is very different. It can be here, too. 

        • Eldorado August 31, 2023 (7:29 pm)

          Fair point, but that shouldn’t mean ‘no parking’ with the new construction of the school. I think the neighbors are asking for ‘some’ parking where as school board thinks they should provide no off-street parking. All because of money of course. Certainly there are still plenty of teachers whom drive to work. 

        • Rhonda September 1, 2023 (1:18 am)

          You obviously don’t live near the school and won’t have to deal with the onslaught of street parking teachers, administrators, staff, parents, etc.

          • Nadmiral September 1, 2023 (9:04 am)

            Obviously, it’s too extreme and doesn’t balance out the needs of the community with the school. There should be more than zero parking..  it’s unrealistic to dream on that people don’t need cars in a city that’s so spread out and full of hills.  Yes, the staff will be parking all over the place nearby so that people that purchased their houses can’t even park where they live. It’s ridiculous and arrogant of the school district.Maybe they should’ve went taller and left the parking?  Either way you can’t disrespect the people that live there. It needs to be a balance. That’s why we have legal process is to work this out… but planning anything with the zero parking spaces is insane and disrespectful

          • Oh Seattle September 2, 2023 (7:07 am)

            Street parking doesn’t belong to people “who purchased their houses”. If having private, reserved parking is important to a home buyer, they need to purchase a home with a garage or other reserved parking. 

    • Reed August 31, 2023 (7:05 am)

      This is the govt refusing to listen to some of the people they serve. Many of us want to see a city far less reliant on automobile use. I applaud the district for not backing down to this NIMBY nonsense.

      • Erik August 31, 2023 (10:59 am)

        Not everyone chooses to live in the false reality that we can all just take public transportation. Some of us actually need cars to get to work. And Alki is far enough away from employment enters that people NEED to drive to work.

        • reed August 31, 2023 (1:45 pm)

          I said less car-dependent, not non-car dependent. My reality seems far more reasonable than yours, where every driver is entitled to park wherever they choose. A lot of people are capable of making lifestyle changes to less their dependency on cars, but they take the lazy American way out and don’t. I live on the western side of Genesee Hill area, just as “far away” as Alki, have multiple kids, and ride my bike the 24 miles round trip to Fremont everyday for work. Good luck to you, because no matter how this turns out, that area will still be chocked with car traffic with same people back here on the blog complaining about it.

        • matt August 31, 2023 (5:26 pm)

          It’s very hard for me to feel as though the school needs to accommodate business commuters with its property. There are just trees with many more squirrels to bark up for someone commuting in for work.For one, it’s unacceptable that you can’t rely on public transportation from a reasonable distance, for example. This is not SPS fault, and especially not Ali’s kid’s fault.Why hasn’t the city metered a bigger portion of the parking here, or permitted it for public employees and local residents? Coordinating the bevvy of already available local parking is tenable and yields many hundreds of spaces at a time, not a dozen or so like a complete redesign might. With miles and miles of open street parking in walking radius it’s tough to join in a fight to make the school yield a few more spaces to the problem. It’s just about no control over the parking around the school, whatsoever.

          • Eldorado August 31, 2023 (7:34 pm)

            I think everyone (with few exceptions) can absolutely rely on public transportation, but driving one’s own car to work as a teacher does in fact remain a choice… and a right that they should be allowed to exercise, whereas setting a precedent that ‘this’ doesn’t need to provide its own off-street parking is rather dangerous. 

          • Its JC August 31, 2023 (9:58 pm)

            Not true. A teacher on METRO will add a good 45 minutes one way to their day, being 90 minutes. And if you are a parent needing to get your own kids to a childcare METRO can be impossible.  Or better yet being that teacher needing to go to their 2nd job to support themselves.  And SPS provides METRO passes ONLY for those who work at the John Sanford Center, not for staff in schools. 

    • RossB August 31, 2023 (3:59 pm)

      You should try protesting. Here are some suggested signs:We want parking, not playgrounds!Kids can play on cement!Recess is overrated!Look, it isn’t up to the school district to provide parking. Their goal is to educate kids. If you want parking, try to raise some money for a parking garage. Maybe have a bake sale.

      • Eldorado August 31, 2023 (7:36 pm)

        That is categorically hyperbole. You must know the school board’s position on why they ‘shouldn’t need to provide off-street parking like every other new building in Seattle’ is all about money, right?

      • JakS September 1, 2023 (12:21 am)

        Well the irony is that Alki school has neither parking nor  playgrounds. You know SPS does not have any property outside the four walls of the building, right?  (To be precise, the school district does own a thin strip behind the school and a chunk of steep slope between the school and Admiral Way) The cement lot that’s currently used as a playground is not SPS property. It’s not a question of sacrificing a playground for a parking lot.

      • Designright September 1, 2023 (9:14 am)

        If the school district is creative, in design, they can make a multi story school. They can even include a playground inside on the main floor.(which might even add more safety for the children. And time out of the rain.) AND have parking..  seems very likely all this could be met with a creative design. 

        • reed September 1, 2023 (10:34 am)

          No, kids shouldn’t be forced inside to accommodate cars. What will this keep them safe from, melting in the rain?

  • PopcornAndPennants August 31, 2023 (2:33 am)

    love to see this. good on you, SPS. “…anecdotal statements that parking conditions in December 2021 must not
    reflect normal parking conditions instead of expert analysis that
    concluded, …” too often car folks are just the ones screaming the loudest without reality to back up their feelings. makes me smile ear-to-ear seeing SPS isn’t going to buckle under the outcry and give the medicine of less surface parking communities sorely need

    • SoCloseItHurts August 31, 2023 (12:12 pm)

      Lack of facts?  What are you talking about?  Lack of parking is a fact. It is a tangible and quantifiable fact. 30 parking spots minus 30 parking spots equals zero parking spots. We “car people” have that fact to back up our statements.  What community needs less surface parking?  Where are you even getting this stuff?  Do you even live in Seattle?

    • Eric August 31, 2023 (12:18 pm)

      IDK saying it’s realistic that a large school should have ZERO parking for their teachers and staff and/or families of children with disabilities seems rather devoid of reality…  

  • Niko August 31, 2023 (3:19 am)

    So in other words SPS is going to waste more taxpayer money when they know they’re in the wrong instead of just doing the right thing

  • AC August 31, 2023 (3:31 am)

    Nice to see SPS continuing a great Seattle tradition of making every
    project take twice as long, cost five times as much, annoying everyone most directly impacted, and dying on every
    last ideological hill within sight.

  • Pauline August 31, 2023 (5:18 am)

    The Building/land was built in early 1900s for a small population of students. Now more housing developments more growing families in close proximity to the school. maybe the city should consider limiting parking for people visiting the beach and give zone permits to residents and teachers/staff. Then again residents guests :/  I don’t know. This would be difficult to appease both parties…

  • David August 31, 2023 (6:03 am)

    I have voted for every school levy for the last 40 years. I believe it is time to start voting no and defund what appears to be a bunch of spoiled children who are in charge of our schools – They easily could have built a new school at the old Schmitz Park site and paid for it by selling the land at Alki – Alki is a horrible location for anything particularly a school that has several hundred people coming and going daily. Just vote no!

    • Lola August 31, 2023 (9:39 am)

      David,  I agree with you.  They can’t sell the Schmitz Park land they can only use it for School stuff.  There is more than enough room to build a new school or add onto what is already there.  Enough room for Parking some cars as well.  Sell the Alki School to the Parks and Rec since they own the field and play space.  

  • anonyme August 31, 2023 (6:20 am)

    Seriously bad move on the part of SPS.  Anyone who lives near a school can attest to the problems created by school parking in a residential area.  Why would a school go to such lengths to be a really bad neighbor?

  • K August 31, 2023 (6:44 am)

    Good for them.

  • Resident August 31, 2023 (7:23 am)

    Yes, tone-deaf to the neighborhood. West Seattle High School neighborhood:  SAME THING!  No added parking in an already impacted community,  despite objections, when added portable classrooms displaced 30 cars from the School parking lot.  Now 30 more cars endlessly circle the surroundjng crowded streets for parking that doesn’t exist.

    • Tony August 31, 2023 (10:01 am)

      I live a block from the high school and have never seen a shortage of street parking during the school year. Two blocks away (Walnut south of Hanford) there are always parking spaces available during the school year; I think you are making this up. If you want to discuss a real issue, how about the way these kids drive through the neighborhood when school gets out, whether they park on school grounds or not?

    • YT August 31, 2023 (2:12 pm)

      Holy cow!  Complaining about added classrooms for students, because it displaced 30 cars might be the best example I’ve ever seen of putting cars before people.

      • Why August 31, 2023 (8:25 pm)

        This is not realistic.  Adding classrooms for students, when enrollment at SPS has been declining since 2016, and, according to the school district itself, is slated to continue declining on through the limit of the study period, 2032,  building a school that no one can reasonably get to, that few will attend anyway, is the best example I’ve seen lately of fiscal mismanagement. If the school district has a new, secret plan to consolidate schools and drive the bulk of regional west Seattle elementary students to Alki, forsaking neighborhood schools, they should have told us before we voted on the BEX V levy.  The nature of the construction project was misrepresented to the voters with SPS’s usual sleight of hand trickery.

    • Eldorado August 31, 2023 (7:50 pm)

      What are you talking about? West Seattle High School DID provide off-street parking when the remodeled the school. That parking is intended as teacher parking. Parking for school sporting events, etc. that doesn’t mean some won’t park on the street instead because it’s more convenient. You want to REALLY make a point. Blame the housing developers whom have a fantasy that most young couples that buy the condos each have a car to park somewhere, whereas the city of seattle building department requires only one off-street parking spot per dwelling unit. Park that. 

  • SE August 31, 2023 (7:26 am)

    The biggest head scratcher is why SPS didn’t build their super-sized school on the gigantic Lafayette property and consolidate the two schools there.

    • SoCloseItHurts August 31, 2023 (11:59 am)

      Because that would be too intelligent and they wouldn’t be able to milk us for more money if they just do it right the first time.

    • Why August 31, 2023 (8:31 pm)

      This exactly! What the heck! It makes too much sense. To build a supersize school on the smallest school parcel  in Seattle,  which doesn’t even have a playground! is just insanity.

    • Tony August 31, 2023 (9:30 pm)

      SPS only owns the property that the current Lafayette building occupies; the rest of it (huge playground area) is owned by Seattle Parks.

      • Why September 1, 2023 (6:13 pm)

        Tony, this is not true.  Seattle Public Schools owns the land on which Lafayette School is built, as well as the playground and parking lot behind it.  There is no property owned by the Parks Department in that area.  Is it just that people can say anything online, whether it’s’ true or not, right?

  • Neighbor August 31, 2023 (7:57 am)

    Absolutely awful!! Now hundreds of kids have to wait even longer for this project to be completed. What a waste of money and time. WS blog can you look into the conversations SPS has had with the park department on using their portion of the land for parking? My understanding Parks is not willing to work with the district. This project must continue as planned. Kids (and families) really don’t want to be at Schmitz for a minute longer than the projected two years. Infuriating. 

  • KinesthesiaAmnesia August 31, 2023 (8:04 am)

    Who pays for the aggrieved petitioner, or Seattle Public Schools’, legal fees in this fight?

    • WSB August 31, 2023 (9:30 am)

      The petition is the district vs. the city, with the four appellants listed as “additional parties.” The district asks for attorney’s fees as well as a reversal of the Hearing Examiner’s decision.

      • anonyme September 1, 2023 (1:30 pm)

        The way I read this, taxpayers pay the legal fees for both sides.  Figures.

    • Melissa Westbrook September 2, 2023 (2:58 pm)

      The taxpayers. And the district won’t be using their in-house Legal team so they will be hiring outside lawyers. All this from a district crying poor.

      • WSB September 2, 2023 (4:15 pm)

        This is true. As with the earlier proceedings, the district is using lawyers from Seattle land-use specialists McCullough Hill.

  • Neighbor August 31, 2023 (8:19 am)

    Does anyone know why the district didn’t choose to rebuild Schmitz Park or Lafayette, with both having a much larger footprint, allowing more available parking space?

    • Neighborino August 31, 2023 (12:47 pm)

      This is *the* key question. Why did they choose Alki as the school to supersize? Lafayette has a larger footprint and is more centrally located, with much more reliable transit service and walkshed. SPS needs to answer that question publicly.The Alki issue is also connected to SPS’s plans to close perhaps a dozen or more schools. If Lafayette and/or Schmitz Park are closed and students sent to Alki, that will lead to a significant increase in vehicle traffic around Alki, since it’s much less accessible without a car than those other two sites.

  • DC August 31, 2023 (8:53 am)

    Homeowners in Seattle care more about free state owned and maintained parking than they do school children, homeless people, and pedestrian/cyclist safety. It is really disappointing. Glad the SPS is challenging this and looking beyond the unrepresentative ‘community’ of complainers to the whole community who supports our children and a future that doesn’t prioritize cars over people. 

    • Eric August 31, 2023 (12:22 pm)

      We must be living in very different Seattles considering the money and resources that have been sunk into all the projects you mentioned. Asking for some parking considerations (remember SPS started with 0) is not prioritizing cars over people.  

  • jissy August 31, 2023 (8:58 am)

    SO….. we tear down a building without a building permit for the new structure.  Yep, sounds about right.  If this drags on long enough and enrollment continues to dwindle, I wonder if they end up bailing on the whole thing and off to another neighborhood that isn’t so disagreeable?   Your tax dollars at work, paying lawyers!

    • WestSeattleBadTakes August 31, 2023 (10:09 am)

      Sounds like they could make it a parking lot at that point, which is how many want our tax dollars to be working.

  • Mike Hodges August 31, 2023 (9:06 am)

    Quite the “community organization” SPS is.Wow!!”We didn’t get special treatment, which saved us lots of money, and are upset about “enjoying our property””?

  • Craig August 31, 2023 (9:46 am)

    Parking at the school makes sense. With many lots in the Alki School area being converted from single family to multi family (a good thing) the density of cars per home lot around the school continues to increase x4. This trend will continue and amplify over decades making parking near the school rarer – add in WFH meaning cars don’t move and it’s worse. Second, with the (just the city of) Seattle gaining 10k new residents per year more people will be heading to Alki Beach, thus taking up more parking near the school. Finally, the removal of the existing 20 spaces for the employees of Alki School and asking them to disperse to the neighborhood affects quality of life for teachers and therefore students (nobody is their best self after hunting for a parking space stressing about not being late, then trotting 2-3 blocks in the rain to their job). In the end my fear if SPS ignores parking now is the school will have its play area blacktop converted to parking at some point in the future. That’s not child centric planning. None of this foolishness by SPS is. 

    • Josh August 31, 2023 (10:44 am)

      There is ample parking there on weekdays throughout the year. People crowd Alki on summer weekends so much of your argument does not apply. My kid went to Alki and most of the families lived within walking distance and those that didn’t had no problem finding a place to put their car for the moments it takes to drop kids off. The school does not need a parking lot. The dumb thing is thinking that the school needs to have almost twice its current capacity in a neighborhood where no young families can afford to settle in and those that do send their kids to private school. 

  • Bill August 31, 2023 (10:50 am)

    Seems to me that all new construction should include parking.  Relieve the demand for on street parking by requiring the school provide parking.  Additionally all new home construction in the area should require parking on-site too.  If we can do that, then it leaves space of all the older homes to park on the street.  When those get remodeled, or torn down/replace they too should be required to provide on-site parking.  Long term goal, get as many cars as possible to park off the street.

    • WSB August 31, 2023 (11:24 am)

      We’ve mentioned this in previous coverage but since you bring it up, residential construction in Alki remains under the Alki Parking Overlay – 1 1/2 spaces for every house or unit. In fact, one of the district’s arguments in this case is that the hearing examiner shouldn’t have paid attention to that.

    • Eldorado August 31, 2023 (8:01 pm)

      That’s true except in very special cases. And that’s true for virtually all new construction, not just for housing and houses alike. Naturally it should apply to new construction schools as well. Pretty much the root of this whole lawsuit as I see it. 

  • Hg August 31, 2023 (12:52 pm)

    Wow, just wow SPS. Somehow the existing school at half capacity met educational needs but they can’t find room for parking?The thing that bothers me the most about this whole fight is all the individual homeowners and builders that have to find a way to make room for parking, but SPS is special and doesn’t when the impact is SO much larger. Unreal. The same SPS that doesn’t have money to fund reading intervention at all your elementary schools is now paying lawyers for this BS. I don’t care if it’s from different funds – it’s ALL taxpayer dollars. 

    • S September 1, 2023 (4:53 am)

      Enrollment will be increasing soon. And I’m glad that SPS is using my tax dollars to make decisions based on rigorous studies, rather than community anecdotes.

      • Why September 1, 2023 (5:52 pm)

        The school district itself predicts enrollment will continue declining until at least 2032, based on their “rigorous studies.”  There have not been any rigorous studies predicting what will happen after 2032.

      • Why September 1, 2023 (7:18 pm)

        According to the school district itself, school enrollment will continue to decline, at least until 2032, based on the district’s “rigorous studies.”  As of this moment, there are no rigorous studies predicating what will happen post-2032.

      • Melissa Westbrook September 2, 2023 (3:00 pm)

        And you know enrollment will be increasing soon how? The district certainly hasn’t said that; they have said the opposite.

  • Derrick August 31, 2023 (1:40 pm)

    One thing I am curious about for those who are opposed to parking, what is your proposed detailed plan? Specifically, on a teacher’s salary, where would you propose a teacher live, and what public transportation option would they take to get to this school? 

    • heartless August 31, 2023 (9:01 pm)

      Completely agree.   Spend less money on f&cking parking lots, and more money on teacher salaries!  OHHHH–wait.  That’s not what you meant at all, was it?  

    • Reed September 2, 2023 (5:34 pm)

      Park a few blocks away and walk like everyone else.

  • Jon Wright August 31, 2023 (2:15 pm)

    Make people pay market price to store private property in the public right-of-way (aka “street parking”) and you’ll quickly discover there is plenty of parking after all. When a good or service is free (like street parking) it shouldn’t be any surprise that it is completely consumed with gusto.

    • matt August 31, 2023 (5:14 pm)

      Alki Beach parking, a true tragedy of the commons

  • Jort August 31, 2023 (2:19 pm)

    Does SPS stand for “Seattle Public Schools” or for “Seattle Parking Services”? I will just add this ridiculous example to my ever-growing file of how we insist on designing nearly every single aspect of our society to cater to the needs and preferences of machines, rather than making cities desirable for human beings. There are already 2.2 miles of street parking within two blocks of this school. (And that’s not even counting the streets that have parking on both sides of the street.) Why do we adapt our society to cars, rather than make cars adapt to us?  This is a school. For children.

    • YT August 31, 2023 (4:06 pm)

      At first I thought “there’s no way there could be 2 miles of parking space within two blocks.” Then I got on google maps and did a quick measure. There literally are over 2 miles of parking within 2 blocks of the school. This really puts into prospective the absurd amount of physical space in our cities taken up for the storage of our cars. 

      • John August 31, 2023 (5:29 pm)

        Perhaps the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?

      • Eldorado August 31, 2023 (8:12 pm)

        Now do 2 cars (or in some cases more) for every single family house and dwelling unit. Then add guests. Then add all of those people whom live to visit Alki. Oh… and now add all of the cars associated with the new school because Seattle Public Schools wants an exception that despite the fact that’s it’s new construction, they should be exempt (all while saving taxpayers money) to not ‘need’ to provide off-street parking for teachers, vendors, counselors, principals, tutors, et. al. What happens to that two miles of parking now. Even though Jort thinks cars should be all but eliminated from our society.. and our world, I’m guessing 95% of ALL citizens in Seattle (in addition to all of the commenters on this thread) own a car, if not 2. So what are we talking about then?

      • Why August 31, 2023 (8:47 pm)

        End-stage capitalism. The public has been sold cars, cars, cars since Henry Ford figured out how to mass produce them for the common man. I don’t fault the US citizens who bought into the propaganda via sophisticated marketing, advertising, public relations.  Trying to convince people to use mass transit now, when no place in the USA, except marginally Chicago and NYC, has anything even vaguely resembling mass transit, is laughable.

        • Rhonda September 1, 2023 (11:58 pm)

          Has is ever occurred to you that we, the North American people, bought cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs because we LIKE them and greatly prefer them to public transit? Most Americans, Mexicans, and Canadians have ridden public mass transit here and abroad and voted with our dollars for private, personal vehicles.

          • Why September 2, 2023 (5:16 pm)

            Rhonda, thank you for making my point!

    • Alki resident August 31, 2023 (8:15 pm)

      This is a school for children. Who do you think teaches them, cooks for them, answers the phones, cleans the schools? ADULTS. So you think all of those workers just happen to live around the block and can walk to work? I find it funny you always have a comment about cars yet you drive one yourself. 

  • Actually Mike August 31, 2023 (2:45 pm)

    SPS frequently seems to thumb their nose at the neighborhoods that host public schools, unfortunately. It’s not not as though schools pay taxes like the rest of us, and having a school for a neighbor isn’t a give-and-take, reciprocal relationship like with other neighors. When SPS jams more kids and more programs into the same building, so there are guaranteed to be more staff working there who need to park SOMEwhere, and more parents dropping kids off and picking them up, it’s the neighbors who suffer the resulting traffic jams, cars parked illegally and blocking driveways, trash thrown in yards, etc.  Subtracting parking on top of that is just an unreasonable burden to impose on the neighborhood.

    • heartless August 31, 2023 (8:53 pm)

      Those pesky schools and their lack of tax paying!  if you can’t find parking for yourself, that’s your problem–build a garage (or rent one), and your problem is solved.  If you’re living right next to a school in Alki and complaining about traffic?  Just grow up.

      • Maryanne wood September 1, 2023 (12:07 am)

        I am one of the appellants on the original appeal and also a candidate for school board. There are problems related to doubling the size of Alki Elementary beyond just the traffic and parking but I have chosen to start there( the lack of ADA parking is particularly troubling to me). Asking that SPS involve communities in their designs for schools is not childish.

        • S September 1, 2023 (4:46 am)

          Hypothetically, what if the community asks for something that a SPS study concludes is not necessary, and would actually hurt student education? Wouldn’t it be responsible for SPS to decide against that community request?

          • whynot September 1, 2023 (11:10 pm)

            I would love to see evidence of some “rigorous studies” conducted by Seattle Public School, or are they hypothetical too?   If you mean the Heffron Traffic Study, errors in the report have been pointed out throughout this process, including by the traffic expert hired by the appellants.  And speaking of rigorous studies, it’s high time for a rigorous study of the efficacy of Seattle Public Schools.  Why do families continue to leave?  A big new shining building is not going to draw them back.

        • DC September 1, 2023 (9:33 am)

          The fact that you only got a tiny percent of the vote shows that those who think parking is more important that children is a tiny percent of our community. Too bad that you and that tiny percent of the community are delaying the construction of this school.

        • Actually Mike September 1, 2023 (11:50 am)

          Thank you–I appreciate your rational and reasonable perspective on this issue, and will remember that when I cast my ballot.

        • Why September 1, 2023 (6:19 pm)

          Maryanne, thank you for running for the school board and I apologize for the people who lack the ability to make a point without being rude.  Grace and finesse are lost arts.

    • Shufflerunner August 31, 2023 (9:31 pm)

      You realize that the school is providing education to the children of the surrounding community, right? That’s the give-and-take. They take space and tax dollars and give education. 

  • anonyme September 1, 2023 (1:39 pm)

    I’m not pro-car by any stretch of the imagination.  What troubles me about this situation is that alternate solutions should have been considered far in advance of the demolition stage, and without SPS suing the City.  I’m sure taxpayers would much rather have tax dollars go to teachers and actual education than pay lawyers for one body of government to sue the other at our expense. Nobody wins.

  • J September 1, 2023 (10:32 pm)

    This is the EXACT same thing Seattle Public Schools did with Magnolia elementary.completely railroaded the people in the community in regards to parking. Now it’s a nightmare. Good for the hearing examiner sticking it to SPS.They should turn half of whale tail field into parking. Problem solved. Besides, all athletic fields in Seattle prohibit dogs from being on athletic fields. People down on Alki just let their dogs pee and poop everywhere down there anyway and the city does nothing about it. Turn it into a parking lot!!

  • Nancy September 2, 2023 (12:26 am)

    Wait – there was a situation recently where Bellevue schools had to close elementary schools due to declining enrollment. I assumed Seattle was losing population as well. We are actually building new elementary schools/

    • Melissa Westbrook September 2, 2023 (3:06 pm)

      Nancy, here’s the explanation for that.SPS has lost enrollment (starting this school year they will be under 50,000 students for the first time in a long time) and they say it will continue. They are going to close schools and “consolidate” them into these newer, large buildings. Lafayette is likely to close and consolidate into Alki. Either McGilvra or Stevens will close and consolidate in to the much larger new building that will be Montlake’s home. And so on.The Superintendent slipped at one point and said there could be 20 schools closed. I hope it’s not that many. The savings realized actually isn’t that large and will not close the budget deficit. The list of schools is supposed to come out in November. One key item is that the state’s charter school law allows that a charter school gets the right of first refusal for any school building that is closed or up for sale. I suspect that charters will cheer SPS’ moves and SPS will see leasing the space to charters as a new revenue stream.

  • Yet another neighbor September 2, 2023 (12:56 am)

    I would love it if Seattle had a transit infrastructure to make Alki Elementary parking unnecessary for staff and ADA needs students. But sadly, that’s not the case. Pretending otherwise is just wasting money and going to cause long term problems.

  • K September 8, 2023 (5:51 pm)

    An entire beach strip of parking is one block away for short term parking. If you look at the other elementary schools they don’t really have parking beyond staff parking either. 

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