Seattle Planning Commission Urges Reimagining of the City’s Streets

A doc­u­ment sub­mit­ted to the city of Seat­tle by its Plan­ning Com­mis­sion out­lines an ambi­tious set of rec­om­men­da­tions aimed at reclaim­ing pub­lic right-of-way for peo­ple, mit­i­gat­ing the impact of cli­mate change, and improv­ing safe­ty on the city’s . The brief notes that road deaths and injuries are on the rise in spite of the city’s Vision Zero pledge.

“The brief goes on to note that the city will not be able to accom­mo­date the growth antic­i­pat­ed in the com­ing decades if streets to be used in the same way they are now, stat­ing that the sta­tus quo will ‘lit­er­al­ly kill us,’” Ryan Pack­er writes in The Urban­ist. The Com­mis­sion calls on the city to include their rec­om­men­da­tions in the update of the Seat­tle Com­pre­hen­sive Plan, which will under­go a major update in 2024. 

“Among the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions is the removal of vehi­cle stor­age from the cur­rent Com­pre­hen­sive Plan­s’s list of needs that should be accom­mo­dat­ed on city streets,” call­ing instead for “a city­wide park­ing pol­i­cy and plan that looks to bal­ance needs with oppor­tu­ni­ties for mul­ti- streets that more options, pub­lic space, and envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits.”

The com­mis­sion also high­light­ed the dis­crep­an­cy between the com­pre­hen­sive plan update and the Seat­tle of Trans­porta­tion’s Trans­porta­tion Plan, which, accord­ing to a let­ter sent to SDOT ear­li­er this , “appear[s] to assume a future high rate of trip-mak­ing by pri­vate­ly owned vehi­cles, with the only vari­able being whether those vehi­cles are elec­tric.” The focus on elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, the com­mis­sion point­ed out, “will miss an oppor­tu­ni­ty to eval­u­ate alter­na­tives that the City has far more influ­ence over, and that align with the forth­com­ing update to the Com­pre­hen­sive Plan.”

As Pack­er notes, it remains to be seen whether the may­or and city coun­cil will adopt the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion’s bold, trans­for­ma­tive vision for more and equi­table use and trans­porta­tion plan­ning.

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