Why is Seattle trying to relax transportation Level of Service (LOS) standards?
Historically, Transportation Concurrency described a state of traffic equilibrium measured by a Level of Service (LOS) standard. LOS was based on the ratio of traffic volume to surrounding street capacity. Proposed developments generating vehicle trips that exceeded a functioning ratio would require remediation or a waiver in order to be approved.
As downtown density exploded and street capacity remained the same, the LOS standard became unattainable. Rather than address its development approach and tower designs, the City is proposing legislation to change course and focus on LOS as it relates to one traffic element—reducing the percentage of Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOVs) on the road.
Reducing SOVs is a great goal but it’s only one source of congestion. The old standard measured tower traffic impacts on specific blocks and intersections; the replacement standard will measure general SOV use across a broad area of Downtown, Lake Union and West Capitol Hill.
The proposed legislation also exempts new downtown towers from traffic mitigation measures. This is based on an unsupported assumption that because tower occupants are close to multimodal transit options like buses, bike lanes and covered sidewalks, they will prefer to use these options. Should we count on that?
What you can do:
Write to the Seattle Planning, Land Use and Zoning (PLUZ) Committee meeting this Wednesday, December 5, 2018. Address emails to Committee Chair, Rob Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org and reference CB 119398, the ordinance to relax the transportation LOS standards.
1) State your concern that the proposed LOS standards will lead to more congestion and less safety and quality of life on Seattle streets.
2) Request all downtown towers be accountable for their transportation impacts.
3) Insist tower developers are required to quantify and pursue incentives and infrastructure solutions to mitigate transportation impacts, including:
Produce full Traffic Impact Assessments (TIAs) detailing impacts on surrounding arterials at peak hours,
Consider reducing the number of parking stalls in new towers,
Provide the full code-required internal loading and waste collection space to keep service trucks from parking and blocking public right-of-ways.