This bill sets a new LOS standard to encourage multi-modal transportation by focusing on reducing the percentage of Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOVs) across the city. But the devil is in the details! While smaller projects outside the urban core will need to mitigate their traffic impacts, new downtown towers are exempt. The bill eliminates Director’s Rule 2009-5 that says if a tower’s projected vehicle trips exceed street capacity at key intersections, it’s required to address its adverse impacts. This is unacceptable and needs to be amended.
Seattle is the fourth most congested city in the U.S…this bill will make it even worse. How we measure and plan for traffic matters, especially downtown in the epicenter of gridlock. Using the Seattle Comprehensive Plan 2035 as its guide, this bill abolishes the current measure of volume-to-street capacity and makes tower Transportation Impact Studies optional.
The City’s new LOS standard is a goal to encourage multi-modal transportation by focusing on reducing the percentage of Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOVs) across the city. Seattle’s Comp Plan 2035 already shows downtown with the City’s lowest percentage of people driving alone in cars at 23%. Its target goal is 18% by 2035. That raises a lot of questions….
What’s the composition of the other 77% of non-SOV traffic downtown?
Even with zero population growth, commercial deliveries to the city core will double within 4 years, and ride hailing services are proliferating. What role does traffic from these vehicles play in congestion and how will it be counted and mitigated?
Comp Plan 2035 and this legislation were based on big transit improvements in the Move Seattle Levy. Now that levy has been scaled back. Will it still provide the transit capacity to handle increased density and demand for service downtown?
The EIS that supports Comp Plan 2035 and this legislation assumed 12,000 new housing units would be built downtown between 2015-2035. In just three years in just a small cluster of towers off Virginia St., 6,500 new housing units and 2,450 new parking stalls have been approved or are in planning. Does the accelerated rate of downtown growth invalidate the new LOS assumptions?
Does it really make sense that a 48-story residential tower with 1,000 people and 300 parking stalls won’t have an oversize impact on the number of SOVs and traffic from ride hailing services and trucks delivering residents’ food, packages and furniture and making moving and service calls?
The viaduct’s days are numbered and a traffic crisis is looming. If you’re alarmed by the questions surrounding CB119398 (and you should be!) write to Rob Johnson, Chair of the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee at email@example.com and our Downtown Councilmember, firstname.lastname@example.org.
*2016 TOMTOM Traffic Index