West Seattleites fear 'urban villages' will create parking jungle

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 11, 2013 at 7:40 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 11 at 7:40 PM

Imagine having to walk a quarter mile from your car to your home after work. That's what some fear will happen if a city plan to curb parking happens in their already crowded neighborhood. 

Seattle likes to consider itself a very livable, walkable, bikeable city. On the other hand…

“It's certainly becoming less "parkable," said Gary Reifel, as he drove through his neighborhood Thursday. 

With streets already full, Reifel worries what will happen as four new apartment buildings go up along the 3000 to 3200 blocks of Avalon Way in West Seattle.

About 400 new units are expected, with 500 estimated vehicles, but just 122 parking spots. That means about 380 cars that will have to find someplace to sit.

“It does seem a little irrational,” Reifel said.

Reifel is part of a community group called Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development (NERD). Organizers worry all those newcomers looking for parking places will find them in front of people’s houses. The way things are going, Reifel says, the walk from the car to the front door could become more like a hike.

“I would bet probably a quarter of a mile could be possible,” he said.

As the city grows, politicians want to get people out of their cars. They passed the Growth Management Act, which, among other things, allows developments like those proposed along Avalon Way to opt out of providing any parking whatsoever. That’s because they’re considered "urban villages" – high density housing built close to shopping and transit.

Reifel believes the city is going too far.

“I think we do need to free ourselves of cars, to some extent,” he said. “But we need to do it in a managed fashion.”

The NERDs are also concerned that they may end up having to pay the city for a permit to park in front of their own homes, as is the case in many other neighborhoods across the Seattle.

For now, the city is spreading the parking pain. Parking enforcers are cracking down along Avalon Way - the price of growing pains in Seattle.
 

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