Tuesday, April 25, 2017

City Denies Special Parking Permit For Neighbors Living Around #78 Bus Stop Near Talaris WIth Commuters Using Area As Park N Ride

Last Spring, the Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) applied to SDOT for an RPZ 
(Restricted Parking Zone) for the residential portion of the Township of Yesler, a 12-block area of Laurelhurst behind the Laurelhurst business district adjacent to the Talaris campus.  

LCC published in their newsletter:

This area falls within a primary University of Washington impact area, bordered by UW’s Laurel Village and the Center for Urban Horticulture. The UW supports the request.  
Residents have experienced increased parking pressures in recent years due to rapid area development, higher UW enrollment and participation in near-by activities, the expansions of University Village and Seattle Children’s, and Link rail access. The three (to date) boarding houses with eight to 12 unrelated residents in this single family-zoned neighborhood impact parking availability as well.

The Laurelhurst Blog received many emails from those living in that area of the neighborhood, particularly, near the new Metro 78 bus stop on the corner of Mary Gates Drive NE and NE 45th Street. 

Neighbors commented that many drivers, most likely commuters, were parking on residential streets around the bus stop then taking the bus and returning in the evening, using Mary Gates Drive as a Park 'n ride to catch the bus.

One neighbor wrote:

It looks as if our area of the neighborhood is being used for commuter parking.  
Commuters in and outside the Laurelhurst neighborhood have been and are using Mary Gates Way and NE 41st Street and side streets as park and ride locations.  
Over the last year there has been an obvious increase in the number of parked cars in and around the Center for Urban Horticulture creeping into the side streets and neighborhood. They are commuters. They drive into the neighborhood, take out bicycles then head off to UW, UW Medical Center and even go on to Harborview via UW shuttle. Commuters show up as singles or pairs, park, and another vehicle swings by and shuttles them off to another location. Others park and walk generally in the direction of UW.  
With the start of bus line #78 with stop on NE 41st  Street and the UW Light Rail, increase in parking is inevitable. There are few or no restrictions on parking in the Laurelhurst and surrounding neighborhoods.  
It is so ironic that a great deal of money has been spent to provide public transportation yet environmentalists and proponents of walking and bicycling will drive to the least expensive place to park a car while in effective polluting the environment and filling in neighborhoods with their automobiles  and SUVs 8 to 10 hours a day.

Another neighbor wrote:
The bus stop on NE 41st Street at Talaris is an open invitation for commuters to use the neighborhood as a free park and ride location. I understood the bus route was put into place to shuttle people from the train station to Children’s Hospital. Human nature and the path of least resistance unless otherwise restricted will prevail. Is the next step is to put parking restrictions in place? It seems as if it is going to continue to grow with more and more cars using the neighborhood as a parking lot.

Here is the letter LCC submitted to SDOT requesting an RPZ: 
Pursuant to the Seattle Municipal code (updated in June 2009), Laurelhurst Community Club requests the establishment of an RPZ of the residential portion of the Township of Yesler, a unique, 12-block residential area of Laurelhurst, bordered on the north by NE 45th St with commercial establishments, on the east by Talaris (formerly Battelle Institute), on the south by NE 41st Street, and on the west by the University of Washington’s Laurel Village, along Mary Gates Way.  


This application is also supported by the University of Washington, whereby, when a residential neighborhood falls within a primary or secondary University impact area, the University will support development and implementation of the respective RPZ. The Township of Yesler falls within a primary University impact area.

The Township of Yesler has traditionally been a sleepy, residential neighborhood inhabited by UW professors, families, and retirees. In the past, there have been manageable residential parking pressures throughout the neighborhood; however, in recent years, the 12-block residential area has experienced a marked increase in parking pressures due to rapid development in the area, specifically:

·         Expansion of The University Village
·         Expansion of Children’s Hospital
·         Increased enrollment at the University of Washington
·         Increased activities at Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH)
·         Rapid development of commercial enterprises along NE 45th

Currently, most weekdays bring an influx of cars to the neighborhood due to:
·         Overflow of parking (including employee parking banned) from the businesses on NE 45th, forcing parking onto neighborhood streets
·         Residents/employees at UW Laurel Village
·         UW students
·         Participants of activities/employees at the CUH

Evenings and weekends also see non-resident parking in certain areas of the neighborhood due to:
·         Functions at CUH
·         Restaurants along NE 45th Street
·         Laurel Village residents
·         UW weekend activities at the sports fields, apart from Husky football games

Finally, increased commercial and residential projects in the area are further impacting parking for the residents, including:
·         Parking by non-residents to catch buses along NE 45th to the UW Link
·         New businesses along NE 45th with inadequate (or any) parking provided, forcing patron/employee parking onto the neighborhood streets
·         The recent construction of three (to date) boarding houses in this single family-zoned neighborhood, with inadequate parking for the eight (or in one case, 12) unrelated residents

While some residents of the Township have single garage parking available, many do not, and therefore they need to be able to find parking near their homes. In addition, there is rarely room for visitors or delivery vehicles to park nearby. It is becoming more and more difficult to live in this area.

LCC, supported by the University of Washington, therefore requests SDOT to establish an RPZ for the Township of Yesler.
The two contact persons for this project are:
Heather Newman

Barb Ragee

The City responded that the area did not meet the criteria to qualify for a new RPZ at that time stating:
The data we collected shows that the area does not meet the criteria to qualify for a new RPZ at this time. The criteria for establishing a new RPZ are very specific: 10 contiguous blocks (and/or 20 blockfaces) are filled to 75% full or greater and over 35% of the vehicles parked on those blocks do not belong to residents of the designated area.
The evaluation process begins with an initial field check to determine if an area of at least 10 blocks (and/or 20 blockfaces) is at least 75% full of parked vehicles. The initial field check for this area took place in late May and looked at 18 blocks (30 blockfaces).
On average, the blocks were 64% full of parked vehicles. Only 9 blocks (14 blockfaces) were over 75% full and those blocks were not contiguous.

Therefore, the area did not meet the required 10 blocks (and/or 20 blockfaces) necessary to move forward with the creation of a new RPZ.

LCC recently told the Laurelhurst Blog Staff regarding the issue: 
Residents of the Town of Yesler need to take the lead on this and get more signatures in support of the RPZ. If they do that, LCC will do all it can to support them.

The Laurelhurst Blog Staff contacted Barb Ragee several times regarding the status of neighbors pursuing the RPZ and did not receive a response.

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