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The Seattle Planning Commission On Maximizing Transit Investment

2011 June 30
by dan bertolet

< The recently completed 351-unit "Station at Othello Park" apartments is the only new large-scale private development in any of the 5 southeast Seattle light rail station areas; photo by Dan Bertolet >

Yesterday the Seattle Planning Commission sent a letter to Seattle Department of Planning and Development Director Diane Sugimura spelling out the Commission’s recommendations for maximizing our public investment in transit. Hot and bothered yet?

Well you should be, because it’s quite the spicy letter (if you’re into that sort of thing). Read the whole thing, or if you’re more in the mood for a quickie, here are some passages that caught my eye:

  • We contend that now is the time to outline a clearly defined and transparent citywide Transit Communities policy.
  • We recommend transit communities receive the vast majority of new households and jobs in Seattle.
  • Transit level of service should be more strongly factored into rezone criteria.
  • A citywide TOD policy should model the federal approach that aligns HUD, DOT, and EPA.
  • In transit communities, reevaluate single family zoned land within the five to ten minute walkshed.
  • The Commission is intrigued by the concept of an iconic tower being explored in the Capitol Hill Urban Design Framework.
  • The single use station proposed at Roosevelt will significantly reduce opportunities for activation, vibrancy, and ridership to support Sound Transit.
  • Here in Seattle, our deep bore LINK tunnels could provide the opportunity to integrate geothermal loops into the tunnel shells, transforming our transit lines into clean energy generators and our station portals into district energy hubs for green development.
  • In several Seattle neighborhoods, the elevation and alignment of the tracks (Mount Baker) or the footprint, height, and/or roof system of the station buildings (Capitol Hill, Roosevelt, Northgate) may inhibit the ability to create vibrant transit communities.
  • [Parking] minimums should also be eliminated in areas with frequent transit service.
  • The Planning Commission recommends establishing parking maximums and shared parking programs in transit communities.

Good on the Seattle Planning Commission for coming out of the closet on three of Seattle’s biggest taboos: single-family zoning, parking, and building height. Too bad the Commission doesn’t have more authority.