Downtown Alley Code Amendment: It’s really elementary my dear Watson.

For over three years now, we have been making our case for a Downtown Alley Code Amendment. And despite agreement by City officials that it is needed, and promises from our Downtown District 7 Council Member, Sally Bagshaw, that it is one of her primary goals for the remainder of her term, it has not yet come to fruition. Our assessment is that it is being politically “slow walked”, which is very disappointing and totally unacceptable. Mayor Jenny Durkan won’t even grant a 15 minute appointment to discuss it.

Quite frankly, we’ve had it with broken promises at all levels of city government. This Alley Code Amendment is not an unreasonable request. It’s something that is long overdue in order to have functional design of loading, waste, and delivery facilities in downtown Seattle. Our proposal has been widely circulated among current officeholders as well as all aspiring City Council Candidates for our Downtown District 7. For any candidate who says they need to see an actual proposal before they can make a decision to support it, we would say you have seen our proposal. You have no excuse for “waffling” on the issue unless you really don’t support us on this issue and don’t have the guts to say so. And if that’s the case, you won’t get our vote.

See below the proposed Downtown Alley Code Amendment:


 Here’s what we need on all new construction:

  1.    Require sufficient alley setbacks [5’ vs. existing 2’], so that trucks can pass one another comfortably

2.    Require sufficient loading berth numbers, width, and depth, and with an angle so that it can be demonstrated that SU-30 trucks can back in and out of berths easily; and stay completely out of the right-of-way while loading and unloading [no exceptions for residential].

  3.    Require garbage dumpster(s) to be stored out of alley right-of-way.

Here’s why we need it:

1.    Climate friendly, because it will keep traffic moving, not idling, and provide more daylight and air to deep and narrow spaces between towers.

  2.    Safer, because it will improve pedestrian conditions in alleys and at alley intersections with streets.

  3.    SDOT supports call for clear alley ROW. [excerpt from SDOT letter on #3025502: “The project may not use the public alley right-of-way to meet the code requirements on the development of private property].

  4.    Definitely a step towards a long-term alley solution, not just a short-term fix. As older buildings are demolished and redeveloped, they will have to comply, providing the long-term alley fix we need.

  5.    UW/SDOT studies [Final Fifty Feet and Alleys] validates need for it.

  6.    Alleys behind relatively new buildings built to code do NOT work [ex. Escala, Helios, Charter Hotel].

  7.    Unfairness of public being burdened by delay, frustration, extra cost and diminished safety from new development’s inadequate loading facilities, in addition to having to incur tremendous legal expenses and volunteer time to get SDCI to do a better  job reviewing projects and requiring functional design.