New pedestrian zones: less parking for what benefit?

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:

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SEATTLE —

A new city plan would aim to cut down parking requirements in neighborhoods all over Seattle. The city's Department of Planning and Development said the plan is designed to encourage retail and pedestrian-oriented shopping districts. The city would reduce and change some parking requirements for new businesses in order to attract them. Surface parking lots in front of businesses along the street would be out. Lots behind businesses or under them would be in.

"This parking thing is crazy," West Seattle resident Robb Gray said. "This is a bedroom community. Why would you want it like downtown or anyplace else?"

There would also be rules about what's on the ground level. The plan would encourage restaurants, coffee shops and retail stores to move in, since they're the kind of businesses that attract pedestrians off the street. It would ban things like administrative offices at street level.

Capitol Hill already has this type of pedestrian zoning. A map from the Department of Planning and Development shows in yellow the other neighborhoods that have it as well. The purple shows where the city would like to add the zones.

"Overall I think it would be great to have local businesses coming in and getting people to walk out here more," Justine Zachara said.

But employees at the Thriftway where KIRO 7 saw more than a dozen cars drive in and out in just five minutes said they're already parking on neighboring streets. "We're just taking some of their spots and some of those homes have no parking to begin with," Kelsey Lipps. She said she believes the plan may cause more parking problems.

Businesses already in the neighborhood would be grandfathered in. The plan is still far from reaching the city council. In the next few months city staff will meet with community groups before finalizing its recommendations.

 

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