West Seattle NIMBYs' Nightmare Scenario: A 5-Minute Walk from Car to House
As Josh mentioned earlier this week, I've been on vacation, and will be back in the swing of things on Monday; however, as Cola's resident Crank, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a startlingly slanted story that ran on KING 5 last week about the supposedly impending threat that West Seattle will, thanks to developments that lack massive car garages, turn into a "parking jungle" for existing residents.
The story centers on a handful of new apartment buildings in a designated urban village (that is, an area with frequent, reliable access to non-car transportation options) that will include just over one parking space for every four units—122 stalls for 400 new apartments. That ratio, KING 5 predicts, will result in about 400 extra cars that "will have to find someplace to sit"—taking up parking spaces that rightly belong to "homeowners" in the neighborhood.
That doesn't sit well with the reliably anti-transit TV station, or with West Seattle resident Gary Reifel, who—despite being a single-family homeowner with a driveway where he can park as many cars as he can fit—worries that his neighborhood will become less "parkable" (a clever anti-urbanist twist on "livable") with all those new cars on the street.
We have a call out to the city's Department of Planning and Development to find out what, if anything, KING 5's estimate—which works out to a demand of 1.25 parking spaces for every apartment—is based on. However, given that the proposed new apartments are in an area which, by definition, has easy access to frequent transit and other non-car transportation options, we're skeptical that every resident of the new apartments will own a car.
But let's say they're right, and every single person who lives in a dense urban village with easy transit access will choose to drive instead. Even then, the nightmare outcome KING 5 envisions—"Imagine having to walk a quarter mile from your car to your home after work"—works out to about a five-minute walk from car to porch. Is that tiny inconvenience—a shorter walk than many transit riders somehow manage to undertake daily—really a sufficient reason to demand that developers add hundreds of new parking spaces, thereby driving up rents and forcing lower-income renters further out into the suburbs (where they'll definitely need to own a car)?
Talk about social engineering.
And, more to the point: Even assuming the story's absurd premise—everyone who moves into a new apartment building in a dense urban village will own a car—the fact is that no one, including Reifel, other homeowners, or even those theoretical multi-car-owning renters, actually owns the streets. You have no more right to park in the space in front of your house than you have to your favorite park bench, or the prettiest view, or the nicest spot on the beach. Public amenities like parking are just that: Public—not private facilities to be enjoyed only by those who happened to get there first.