‘Parking flexibility areas’ would bring changes to Ballard and Crown Hill

A proposal to build a new Ballard apartment building without on-site parking — due to a “parking flexibility area” — raised some questions after our story last week.

This designation is part of proposed legislation introduced by former mayor Tim Burgess called the Neighborhood Parking Reform. “This ordinance implements a new flexible use parking category,” Burgess explained, “which will expand access to off-street parking in neighborhoods across the city by opening up unused and underutilized parking spaces to new users, and establishes guidelines for the provisions of new flexible parking.”

Among the many changes is no longer requiring developers inside parking flexibility areas to build “a parking minimum” for its planned residents. “Off-street parking is expensive to construct, and unnecessary parking can significantly increase the cost of new housing.” Burgess wrote.

At the same time, the legislation would allow building owners to make parking available for public use when their facilities have excess capacity.

So where are these flexibility areas? Here’s the proposed map:

As you can see with the areas in dark grey, most of central Ballard and the retail core of Crown Hill — both are designated Urban Centers — would no longer require a parking minimum for new developments, with the exception of hospitals. The areas in the orange would reduce the parking minimum by 50% if “frequent transit” is within .25 miles away.

The proposal would also “update bicycle parking requirements” and “allow parking of up to 3 car share vehicles in the in front of buildings on private property.”

This morning the Seattle City Council’s planning and land use committee is beginning to review the proposed ordinance. You can see all the documentation with specific proposals and the full map.

23 comments on “‘Parking flexibility areas’ would bring changes to Ballard and Crown Hill”

  1. And to think light rail to Ballard will stop at Market Street when it is finished in the next millennium.

  2. You have to be sensible. If you allow developers to build apartments without parking…then prohibit those apartments from being rented by anyone with a car (Unless they certfify that car is parked off-street elsewhere).

    This Flexible Parking idea already happens, right?…can’t folks with parking spots already offer them to whoever wants to rent them?

  3. Matt – banning auto ownership for some? Allowing street parking only for some others? Feel free to ask your Congress member to get started on the work needed to repeal the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

    Your “so simple” idea is absurd. If someone, anyone, must have reliable parking at their residence, they should make provisions to have off-street parking available to them. Doesn’t matter if they moved here 20 years ago or 20 minutes ago.

  4. Here comes Matt with his “everyone should be banned from parking on the streets but me” idea! People without onsite parking would be banned from parking on the streets, but people with onsite parking would be allowed to park on the streets at will.

    There’s probably some logic in that zany idea, but I haven’t found it yet.

    In my opinion, we should just completely ban street parking throughout the City. I’d much rather use my street for grilling or other activities rather than allowing people to abandon their inefficient hunks of steel willy nilly. That would take care of your problem of no parking apartments, in a non-discriminatory fashion.

  5. I’m not suggesting we ban car ownership for some. I’m suggesting we don’t rent apartment without parking to people with cars. We already ban smoking in some buildings…is that mean we’re telling some people they can’t smoke? Of course not, just that they can’t smoke in the particular unit/building. They can smoke somewhere else or rent somewhere else. Simple.

  6. Utterly asinine approach to urban development. Why not just ban ALL further development until a full subway system is put in place ? This is putting the cart before the horse and only some life stylist fool could think otherwise. Tell the capitalist quick profit jerks to go build -build-build somewhere else …like Detroit or Spokane.

  7. @Matt: Smoking in an apartment is a health, safety and maintenance issue that affects the building itself and the owner has a right to ban smoking to protect their tenants and building. Same with pets.

    People owning cars does not affect the landlord nor building in any way. Forcing landlords to deny renters because they own a car would violate the rights of both landlords and tenants.

    Even if you could change the laws (and constitution?) to allow it, how do you enforce it? What if somebody has a car to their name, but it’s in another state, being used by a family member? What if somebody starts renting and then buys a car midway through their year lease?

    There are two scenarios that will actually have any affect: (1) ban all street parking or (2) make all street parking (outside of metered areas) RPZs, with 2-3 hour grace periods for permit-less cars. Neither are popular, but both are easily enforceable.

  8. As a retired professional city planner let me make a technical comment — this is insane. The profession has well established guidelines for on-site minimum parking requirements for new construction in an urban area for all types of proposed uses. These are formulas worked out carefully and tested over time. You can look them up in professional publications by the AICP and ULI. They can be modified in some situations such as building in areas with well established rapid transit systems (not just buses). I have never worked in an area that proposes to allow new multi-family construction with no on-site parking.

  9. @ Marty– the world is changing and car ownership will soon become a thing of the past.

    and if developers really want to put in parking, they still can!

  10. People have cars. They need a place to park. Street parking is limited and there’s not enough room. Why is it that when new houses are built they include driveways to park a car, but apartment buildings think they don’t have to.

  11. @ Kenneth F. It has been over one hundred years since people started buying automobiles. There are hundreds of thousands of miles of paved highways and streets. No related professional organizations such as city planning and transportation engineering have yet identified any trend that indicates car ownership is disappearing. There are variations in the rate of car ownership depending on how old you are, where you live, your income, and the availability of mass transit. But I guarantee you that the millenial techies in Seattle. as they get older, get married, and have children, will be one and two car owners in the near future.

  12. @Kenneth F. Do you think the thousands of people who work to construct these buildings take the bus?

  13. @ Truth. New York City is a ‘one-off’, compatible to European cities. (Maybe only including the central cores of Chicago or Boston.) Not compatible to any other American city. How many miles of rapid transit do those 3 cities have and how long have their systems been in place? How many miles does Seattle have? Zero. And we have just been told that Ballard has to wait 20+ years for LIGHT RAIL, not even rapid transit. Ballard has to be included in the established professional parking standards and requirements of the American Institute of City Planners, the Urban Land Institute, and the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

  14. Could our city government officials have any less spine? No development without dedicated infrastructure! Brazen disregard for the citizens who are here.

  15. @Marty: You might want to talk to the PSRC. They are the ones that define (or mis-define) what urban villages and future growth centers are. They have a very naive, suburban thinking to their definitions.

    But hey, if you want developers to include parking, I’m sure they’ll gladly take your donation. Parking spaces run between $60,000 to $100,000 per stall for an underground garage.

    Meanwhile, apartments are selling/renting like hotcakes, with or without parking. So free market or whatever.

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