There’s a battle in Luna Park developing over businesses that will lose parking to become transit lanes for RapidRide C.
“I’m really nervous right now,” the block’s major landowner, John Bennett, picked up from there. “We need to build up our defenses and get a plan going … That’s 80 percent of my parking.” He turned to the proprietors of Avalon, the new restaurant taking over the former Café Revo on the block. “You’ll be out of business before you even start,” Bennett warned them. Later, he and others pointed out the small business district already has barely enough spaces to deal with their needs: “If anything, we want MORE parking” (than currently exists)…
The business owners stressed they weren’t opposed to buses or even RapidRide. Said Bennett, “We all agree we need rapid transit – but if we’re going to do this, why don’t we do it right?” He went on to suggest that would mean above-grade or underground transit, rather than buses, and briefly lamented the loss of the once-planned monorail.
As a rail guy I’m really tempted to see an ally here, but that’s a mirage. If we build light rail to West Seattle in my lifetime, it’s very likely to be at-grade at this spot, which means the road will be either very expensively widened, or more likely, the city takes away the parking.
Metro planner Jack Lattemann was at the meeting at visualized an alternative future:
“I disagree about blight. We’re heading into a future where we simply have to rely less on cars. This [RapidRide] is the biggest transit improvement that West Seattle is going to see this generation. There’s no money for light rail [etc.] …” Lattemann suggested that ultimately, RapidRide would be a boon for Luna Park businesses: “This area will be known as one of the areas that’s easy to get to by bus.”
I don’t mean to demonize Mr. Bennett and his allies; if I were a business owner I’d probably be pretty conservative about changes to my situation as well. However, demands for unlimited free parking are something we simply have to overcome if we’re going to achieve the densities that make high-capacity transit worthwhile. There are still many, many places in West Seattle that are entirely car-oriented, but there ought to be at least a few patches where another future is possible.
The article has much, much more about mitigations that King County is offering to the merchants, none of which are apparently satisfactory. KCDOT invites interested parties, particularly those in West Seattle, to comment to Victor.Obeso@kingcounty.gov.
In other West Seattle news, some parcels near the Admiral District are likely to be upzoned from NC1-30 to NC2-40.