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Originally published Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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City should maintain parking requirement

Seattle should not allow developers to build apartments without parking.

Seattle Times Editorial

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THE city of Seattle would be making a mistake to expand the area in which developers can build apartments without parking. The city should keep to the general rule that outside of urban centers, one new apartment unit requires one new parking space.

The proposal being considered by the City Council is that in commercial and multifamily zones outside of urban centers, the parking requirement be abolished for all new apartment buildings within 1,300 feet of a well-served bus stop or light-rail station.

The proposal is part of a package to lighten regulations that discourage investment and development. Seattle is a highly regulated city, sometimes to the detriment of reasonable development, and generally this package of reforms is good. But to allow the spread of housing without parking is utopian and anti-family.

It is utopian to think that many people will abandon their cars. A few will, but the vast majority who can afford market-priced housing in Seattle will have a motor vehicle, now and always. If they have a vehicle, they will park it — somewhere.

It is an old story. We know what happens when neighborhood density reaches a certain point, and a number of Seattle neighborhoods reached that point long ago.

More city people these days have bicycles also, as the mayor does, but they still drive, particularly if they have children or elderly people to take care of. Seattle is famously a city with a low proportion of children, said to be second only to San Francisco. Still our leaders should think twice about making Seattle any less welcoming to families than it already is.

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