If you’re a person who cares about improving housing affordability, and reducing legislated car-dependence, stop what you are doing, and send an email to Mike.Podowski@seattle.gov, expressing support for the adoption of DPD’s proposed Directors Rule 6-2015.

This proposed rule change would create a sane definition of “frequent transit” near a proposed development, allowing transit service to be considered frequent if that service is provided by multiple routes with staggered schedules (e.g. Route 66 & 67 in the U-District), or if service is provided, in the same direction, at multiple separate stops within walking distance of the development.

It also clarifies the way frequent service is calculated, to vacate a flawed appeal ruling obtained last year by a West Seattle NIMBY group, which effectively prevented transit from ever being considered frequent if a single headway during the day was 16 minutes or more. Instead, only that hour with the substandard headway will not count towards the twelve hours of frequent service required.

You can be sure that DPD will be snowed under by messages from Lesser-Seattleites seeking to legislate their car ownership and lifestyle preferences onto the rest of us. They need to hear from people who chose to live car-free or car-lite, who want the right to make their own choices about housing, and who want the option to live car-free or car-lite not just in urban centers, but in the streetcar suburbia that comprises most of Seattle’s land mass.


23 Replies to “ACTION ALERT: Write in Support of Director’s Rule 6-2015”

  1. It’s a Very Good Rule Change if you care about the future of the city — not for your own needs now, but for those of our children and grandchildren.

    I personally support it, especially for urban villages and downtown. Car ownership and usage is year over year in constant decline. We have no way to control or constrain that, and it’s not fair for us to tell others how to live. Everything we ought to be with an eye toward the question of, “What is the best future outcome in this, for our children and grandchildren?” My own needs are secondary to that.

  2. E-mail sent.

    From what I’ve read this doesn’t even completely fix the problem, but it’s a big step toward fixing the harm done.

  3. Mostly, this seems like a good clarification of the rules. I worry that 1b might be overly broad relative to city ordinance, both letter and (to a lesser extent) spirit. The ordinance allows the exception for properties within 1/4 mile of a street with frequent transit, while the proposed rule seems to allow cases where a collection of buses running on separate streets combine to provide 15 minute frequency. It’s imaginable that a property might be 1/4 mile from several qualifying bus routes in wildly different directions, and sneak in. This may lead to both lawsuits and unintended consequences. I’d prefer if the language were tighter.

    1. Multiple routes and multiple transit stops may be identified to demonstrate transit at FTS levels as follows:

      a. Multiple routes at the same stop may be included; and
      b. Multiple transit stops within 1,320 feet walking distance may be included provided
      the transit is going in the same direction.

      Emphasis added.

      1. The biggest loophole to me seems to be what counts as “same direction.” Do the 5 and 40 count as “same-direction” service from downtown to Fremont? Do the D and 24 count as “same-direction” service north from Belltown, when they head to the same compass point, split in LQA, recombine on Elliot Avenue, and then split off again?

      2. How does that change the fact that if I want to go downtown, I can either walk 1/4 mile east to catch one bus with a 30 minute headway, or 1/4 mile west to catch a different bus with a 30 minute headway. That means I face a 15 minute average wait. That ain’t frequent service, either as defined by common sense, or as defined by the city council.

  4. I am on board with the goal of making car ownership less necessary by increasing the availability of frequent transit service, but I don’t understand how this actually helps. It appears to be a moving-the-goalposts exercise: it does nothing to actually improve the frequency of transit, and simply cheats, by pretending that multiple non-frequent options are somehow equivalent to actually having frequent transit. How is this a win? Doesn’t it just paper over the real problem, which is that we don’t have frequent transit?

    1. Mars,

      The rule does not have the effect you describe. The rule allows the schedules of multiple routes to be considered in combination but they must still not have any gaps of more than 15 minutes, just as if they were one route. In practice, this headway condition will only be met when two or more routes have specifically been organized to provide frequent service, again, like Routes 66 & 67.

      It’s true that this rule does not create more transit by itself; of course, no DPD rule could. It does, however, clarify DPD policy to provide more sensible definition of high-quality transit. And while I realize that 15 minute service is not “high quality” transit in the context of big cities, the council has decided that 15 minutes is the cut-off for usable service that can allow someone to get around without a car, and DPD’s implementation of that policy choice should be as sane as possible.

      1. I am not familiar with 66 and 67, so I looked them up, and it appears that they are actually the same route. If the rule is simply allowing the city to recognize that metro has arbitrarily divided the same route among multiple numbers, and combine them back again for planning purposes, then it makes sense. But why on earth is metro dividing the same route into multiple numbers to begin with? If it’s the same route, why doesn’t it have the same route number?

        It’s just as confusing as the bit where they have two different bus routes which are both called “3”…

    2. Depends on which problem we’re talking about. If the problem is “there’s not enough frequent transit corridors” then it neither helps nor hurts. If the problem is “not enough housing is currently being built to meet increasing demand, driving rents ever higher and making Seattle an increasingly inhospitable city for the non-wealthy” then it clearly helps.

    3. Isn’t it important when applications for development of high density housing are considered? If not, why not?

    4. It doesn’t cheat. Here’s the exact example I used in my letter: My residence sits at the intersection of two routes, each of which goes to separate places, and both routes in both directions are “frequent” by the reasonable standard of the law. Both of them are even frequent under both the 15-minutes-over-12-hours and 30-minutes-over-18-hours standards. However, both routes have a single, one-minute gap in the early afternoon (a 16-minute gap between one trip and the next, followed immediately by a 14-minute gap between the next two trips). Under the hearing examiner’s ruling, both of those routes are now “infrequent” by the city’s law because it occurs in the middle of the service day and, since neither route operates 24 hours a day, is mathematically impossible to meet the 12 or 18 hour standard. That’s not just silly, it’s violating the letter and spirit of the law.

      The “same direction” language is to account for things like 66 and 67, 71/72/73, 3/4, and so on. Those individual routes might not be 15-minute frequent, but added together they are frequent in specific corridors. Since they go to the same place (the 3/4, for example, go from First Hill to downtown every 5 to 7 minutes during some parts of the day), they should be able to be counted together in the specific corridor.

  5. Done! West Seattle NIMBYs are an increasingly strident but still tiny minority, and they must be opposed. I support this because it is a good proposal and encourages sustainable development and transit usage. Pissing off the WS NIMBYs is fun, but I can’t help noticing all of our District One candidates have been totally silent on this and other urbanist issues. They all throw a few bones to transit, but that’s all the urbanist cred any of them have. Ten candidates and no clear supporter of urban development. Sad.

  6. Bruce, I just emailed Mike to express my strong support for the proposed DR, but I’m leaving a comment to let you know that, as a West Seattle resident, I found the tone of your post very unhelpful. What exactly are “Lesser-Seattleites”? And why, if you want to encourage and influence people to take steps to reduce reliance on cars and support development of our transit network, would your insult such a large swath of the city’s population?

    For what it’s worth, you can count me as one “Lesser-Seattleite” who doesn’t think we should have minimum parking requirements anywhere, let alone near halfway decent transit service.

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_Seattle

      Lesser-Seattlites are people who are opposed to growth, and for whom any way to reduce density or slow development is a way of fighting growth. It’s not a reference to West Seattle, or any particular part of Seattle. The only reference to West Seattle I made was to the specific case, and specific group of appellants, which created today’s issues with a DPD rule. No offence was intended.

      1. Lesser Seattle was mostly a way for Emmett Watson to poke fun at he Committee for Greater Seattle (a local civic booster group).

  7. The Director’s Rule is ok. What we really need, though, is legislation from Council that to make the change referred to by the Hearing Examiner and to allow averaging to be used. Another possible solution would be for DPD to generate a map approved by Council indicating property that is eligible for reduced parking requirements.

    1. Like the averaging idea. Don’t like the idea of having to submit the map to the council periodically.

      1. Bruce –

        The previous Director’s Rule 11-2012 provided for both averaging and it provided a map maintained by DPD. Applicants could easily look at the map to determine if their property qualified. Or, they could undertake the costs of doing their own study under the averaging method.

        The appeal removed both the ease, reliability and cost savings of the map and it took away the averaging. Under the new Director’s Rule fewer parcels qualify and the process of documenting is more expensive.

  8. Emaill sent earlier today. And I’m another West Seattleite who thinks this is a good idea.

  9. I’m trying to figure out what sorts of situations might invoke the “multiple separate stops” thing.

    – The 66 and 67 have different stops near University Parkway, and do have coordinated schedules, but that area has loads of other frequent service anyway.
    – I can imagine the 4, 14, and 27 maybe combining in this way for some very small area, before the 27 was reduced to peak-only. But the area that isn’t covered by other individually frequent routes (7, 8, 48) is pretty small.
    – Under the proposed Metro cuts we avoided, Dexter likely would have dropped from 15-minute service to 20. If Westlake and Aurora’s local-stop routes didn’t make 15-minute/12-hour service on their own, a combination of services within a quarter-mile walk/climb of Dexter surely would.
    – The 33 and 24 aren’t scheduled to combine for frequent service, but if they were they could combine for frequent service at a few shared stops, or maybe few separate stops.
    – It takes the 24 almost 15 minutes to loop around from 34th/McGraw to 28th/McGraw, it runs about half-hourly, and the stops are less than a half-mile apart… so it is almost the case that the 24 combines with itself for 15-minute service at multiple stops within a quarter-mile walk of 31st/McGraw or so. This is only true in the most perverse way, and must never, ever be spoken of again.
    – More seriously, there are probably blocks on top of Queen Anne Hill halfway between the 2 and 13 that qualify.
    – There are tons of half-hourly routes between the U District and various parts of the NE, which may well combine for 15-minute/12-hour service somewhere. In Lake City the 72, 75, 372, and 65 all go to UW but the four routes typically stop in three different places. 125th/35th does have frequent service otherwise (41 to Northgate and downtown, 372/522 combination heading east), but areas immediately south don’t.

    So the areas where this distinction might matter today are Lake City just south of 125th and some blocks on the top of Queen Anne. It could conceivably matter in eastern Magnolia, and it might have mattered on Dexter given cuts. All these are places where additional low-car development makes sense, even eastern Magnolia if developers want to build it. Much of the NE is likely to see restructures post-North Link to bring frequent connections to Brooklyn or Roosevelt stations, and that will make low-car developments relevant over a bigger area.

    I can’t think of a part of West Seattle where it’s likely to matter. The C Line and 120 should be frequent by themselves barring total disaster.

  10. Do you guys usual hear about these things that require call for action the day they are due? I feel like you’ve posted several that said “TODAY IS THE DEADLINE!” and I always read them the day after. It would be helpful, for me at least, if you gave more than day of notice.

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