The City Council, seeking to lower single-occupancy-vehicle trips from outside the city center, has voted to require developers of medium- to large-sized buildings outside the downtown core to take on some responsibility.
Developers of medium- to large-sized buildings outside the downtown core must review the potential impact on traffic and offer tenants alternatives to driving alone, the Seattle City Council has decided.
As part of the permit application, developers of residential buildings with at least 30 units and commercial buildings with at least 4,000 square feet must assess the effect on streets, transit systems, and bicycle and pedestrian networks, the new ordinance says.
The ordinance also requires developers to choose from a list of options to reduce single-occupancy-vehicle trips, such as providing bus passes for tenants, building sidewalks or limiting the amount of parking available.
The ordinance was approved on an 8-0 vote on Monday. It would take effect 30 days after Mayor Jenny Durkan signs it or within 40 days if Durkan does nothing.
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The intention is to encourage developers “to allow for folks living or working in their units to get around without needing to have a car,” said Councilmember Rob Johnson, who introduced the bill.
The city seeks to lower single-occupancy vehicle trips from outside the city center by 2 percentage points to an average of about 36 percent of all trips by 2035. The single-occupancy trips from Capitol Hill, the Central District, downtown and neighborhoods bordering Lake Union would be lowered by 5 percentage points for the city to meet its goals.
Traffic-mitigation efforts are currently required only for larger developments through the environmental-review process. Under the new ordinance, developers would also have to provide tools to reduce drive-alone trips.
“This is the shift necessary to ensure people can get around,” said Michael Hubner, who works in the city’s Office of Planning and Community Development.
Megan Kruse, who testified before both the city’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning committee and the City Council, doesn’t think the city’s effort is broad enough.
“They ignored all the other causes of congestion — the delivery trucks, the rise of Uber and Lyft, more bikes on the street, the lack of transit,” said Kruse, who lives downtown and advocates on behalf of the condominium Escala.
“They’re focusing on one aspect,” she said. “They’re not thinking about the big picture.”
In response, Councilmember Lisa Herbold said downtown projects undergo environmental review and that policies, such as limiting parking for commercial development, are already in place.