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Fauntleroy Watershed Council Annual Report; New Parking Legislation Proposal; Bus Service to Admiral and Alki; In-District Office Hours

Fauntleroy Watershed Council Annual Report

In my Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts committee meeting on Tuesday we heard from the Fauntleroy Watershed Council who presented their annual report. The Fauntleroy Watershed Council is a venue for volunteers interested supporting and maintaining the Fauntleroy Creek, Park, and other natural areas within the Fauntleroy watershed. The Council was founded in 2001 and their mission is “to further restoration, stewardship, and responsible public enjoyment of the park and creek.” Among the highlights in this year’s report, the Fauntleroy Watershed Council:

  • hosted 764 students releasing salmon in Fauntleroy Park.
  • funded and installed emergency erosion control in the lower creek.
  • enhanced educational experiences for Salmon in the Schools students.
  • celebrated EarthCorps’ eradication of knotweed from the Kilbourne ravine.
  • supported planning for replacement of Fauntleroy Creek culverts.

At the committee table we discussed some work that Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is beginning to undertake regarding three culverts that are in need of repair and expansion to better facilitate the water flows and wildlife in the area.

Additionally, I learned that SPU has worked closely with the Fauntleroy Watershed Council in the past but, reportedly due to budget constraints, the partnership isn’t as strong as what it once was. I have already connected the Fauntleroy Watershed Council to SPU’s General Manager Mami Hara in order to discuss a renewed relationship to better facilitate the utility’s involvement in the Watershed Council’s work to restore and maintain Fauntleroy Park and Creek.

New Parking Legislation Proposal

In January I wrote about the pending new neighborhood parking legislation. I have been tracking this issue since 2015 when I shared my concerns with the Hearing Examiner regarding the implementation by Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI, previously DPD) of the definition in the Seattle Municipal Code of “Frequent Transit Service.” This definition is important because it determines the requirement for the provision of onsite parking in developments depending on whether they are or are not within Frequent Transit Service areas.

In previous committee discussions I have questioned whether or not relieving developers from the cost of creating parking ($35,000 per space, plus $300 a month in operational costs) will result in reduced costs for renters. I had asked how rental costs differ between developments with and without on-site parking.  Though this data is apparently not available in Seattle, we’ve got some regional data that suggests that housing without parking has lower rents. From the 2015 American Housing Survey, rent for tenants in the Seattle area who moved between 2010 and 2015 into multifamily rental buildings and compared rents for buildings with and without garages or carports. (Caution because sample size is small.)

Seattle Area Nationwide
Garage? Rent Count Rent Count
Yes $1,370 135 $1,299 1,877
No $1,069 441 $931 6,052

In the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee last week Council and Executive staff introduced and discussed an alternative frequent transit service definition in the neighborhood parking proposal. This alternative is distinct from the definition that was proposed in late 2017 when Mayor Burgess proposed the legislation. The new proposal begins on page four of this memo. I still have to analyze the impacts of the proposed changes, but my fundamental concern is still that I question whether the case has been made to demonstrate a correlation between transit ridership and a reduction in car ownership, and therefore not needing a place to park a vehicle.

The new proposal came with a new map that shows the potential expansion of frequent transit service as well as an overlay (as I previously asked for) of the potential Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) overlay which shows that if an urban village is expanded, where that expansion would occur and how they proposed parking legislation would interact with that expansion. This gives the committee a better understanding of how both of these pieces of legislation would affect our neighborhoods.

I also asked for a map of multifamily housing with vehicle ownership rates; however, I was only able to get data on renters. This map shows quartiles of renters by census tracts and the numbers are the percentages of households that do not have a vehicle. Finally, this map overlays the two previous maps to give a clearer picture of where new frequent transit service will be in comparison to renters as well as car owners. The significance of these maps is to show that the oft reported statistic, that is being used as the policy basis for this legislation is misleading.   The SDCI Director’s report says that ““For the one-quarter of Seattle census tracts with the highest proportion of renter households, 40% of all renter households have no vehicle.”

In other words, these maps show that, regardless of a low rate of car ownership in these particular choice census tracts there is still a high rate of car ownership in the areas where allow developers to build without providing parking. For instance, District 1 has an 82% car ownership rate which has stayed mostly flat since 2009.                      

This legislation will continue to be heard in the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee and there will be a public hearing held on Wednesday, February 21st at 9:30am located in the Council Chambers.

Bus Service to Admiral and Alki

As District 1 Councilmember, I regularly hear from residents of the Admiral and Alki neighborhoods about the lack of daytime and evening bus service to and from Downtown. Non-rush hour service on Bus Route 56, which connects Alki and Admiral to Downtown was eliminated in 2012.

As a result, Admiral is the only Urban Village in Seattle without off-peak transit service to Downtown. It is also the only Urban Village not served by the Frequent Transit Network included in the Seattle Transit Master Plan. Urban Villages were adopted by Seattle in the 1994 Comprehensive Plan to direct growth to areas with enhanced services, so the lack of service is noteworthy, and unique. The lack of off-peak service to Downtown for an urban village also does not seem consistent with our approach to managing growth.

I have written a letter to SDOT Director Goran Sparrman, requesting that SDOT assess the costs associated with improving off-peak transit service on Route 56, and inform me of the City’s funding capacity to meet this need with Seattle Transportation Benefit District funds passed by Seattle voters in Proposition 1 in late 2014, which directly funds bus service in Seattle. You can see the letter here. While King County Metro operates bus service, since 2015, with the passage by Seattle voters of Proposition 1, Seattle funds additional bus service.

Background information is included below about how the Admiral Urban Village fits into the city’s transportation and growth plans.

After the State Legislature passed the Growth Management Act in 1990, to stop regional sprawl and direct growth into designated areas. The City of Seattle adopted the Urban Village Strategy in its passage of the 1994 Comprehensive Plan. By 1999, the City had completed passage of neighborhood plans throughout Seattle, to implement the state Growth Management Act, and to direct growth into areas with enhanced services to match the growth.

Seattle has six Urban Centers, six Hub Urban Villages and eighteen Residential Urban Villages. Of those 30 areas targeted for growth in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan, only Admiral lacks off-peak transit service to Downtown.

Figures from the Seattle Transit Master Plan illustrate the unique status of the Admiral Urban Village. Figure 3-1 shows the City Capacity Transit Vision for High Capacity Transit Corridors. Figure 1-2 shows how these current and planned corridors align with the Urban Centers, Hub Urban Villages, and Residential Urban Villages adopted in Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan.

All of Seattle’s six Urban Centers and six Hub Urban Villages are included in a corridor—nearly all of which go to Downtown. In addition, 16 of Seattle’s 18 Residential Urban Villages are included in a corridor. The only ones that aren’t included in one of the transit corridors for RapidRide, Light Rail, Priority Bus Corridors, and the Streetcar are 1) Admiral and 2) South Park.

Figure 4-1 shows the status of the Frequent Transit Network as of March 2016; it notes a few areas on the map for “Priority Upgrade to Frequent”, including the Admiral Urban Village.

The Frequent Transit network included in the Transit Master Plan is designed to provide service every 15 minutes or better, 18-24 hours a day, seven days a week. This document shows bus routes that meet the frequent transit service level for land use purposes (SMC 23.84A.038), i.e. 15 minutes or less for at least 12 hours per day, 6 days a week, and transit headways of 30 minutes or less for at least 18 hours every day.

The current Frequent Transit Network using land use standards serves 29 of the 30 areas targeted for growth, but not Admiral.

Transportation Figure 5, from the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan, shows the Planned Frequent Transit Network, which includes SW Admiral Way through the Urban Village.

It appears that among Seattle’s 30 Urban Centers and Urban Villages, the Admiral Urban Village is one of only two not included the High Capacity Transit Network, and uniquely 1) is not served by the current Frequent Transit Network, and 2) has no off-peak bus service to Downtown. In addition, it saw a decrease in bus service to Downtown, with the 2012 elimination of off-peak service to Downtown on bus route 56. No buses leave for Downtown after 9 a.m., and return buses from Downtown operate only during evening rush hour.

Given the geographic distribution of jobs and work patterns, direct access to Downtown is important. Unless we are able to provide sufficient bus service to the Admiral Urban Village, it is less likely it will be able to accommodate its share of growth.

Metro Service prioritizes crowding, schedule reliability and service frequency. Proposition 1 noted that revenues would be used for these purposes, consistent with the Seattle Transit Master Plan and Metro’s Service Guidelines.

However, I believe we are missing an important element of equity in not considering how we can increase ridership in areas with low ridership and minimal options available to improve ridership. The lack of off-peak service to Downtown for an Urban Village also does not seem consistent with our approach to managing growth.

While King County Metro’s Service Guidelines target a minimum service level of at least every 60 minutes, even an exception for less frequent off-peak service would be an improvement.

In-District Office Hours

On February 23, I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) from 2:00p.m. – 7:00p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 6:30 pm, the final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

Date Location Address
Friday, January 26, 2018 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, February 23, 2018 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, March 30, 2018 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, April 27, 2018 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, May 25, 2018 Senior Center of West Seattle 4217 SW Oregon St
Friday, June 15, 2018 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, July 27, 2018 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, August 17, 2018 Senior Center of West Seattle 4217 SW Oregon St
Friday, September 21, 2018 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, October 26, 2018 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, December 14, 2018 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S




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