July 26: Livable Phinney issues press release.

Here’s the text of a press release issued July 26, by Livable Phinney. Click here to download a PDF version.


Phinney Ridge Appeal Stops Building with No Onsite Parking

SEATTLE – In a decision issued July 24, 2017, Deputy Hearing Examiner Ryan Vancil
reversed and remanded the City’s approval of the controversial “Phinney Flats”
project, a 57-unit building with no onsite parking in the Phinney Ridge
neighborhood. The project had generated unprecedented opposition in the

“This Decision is a game-changer for making the City accountable for
applying the Land Use Code properly,” said Irene Wall, a board member of Livable
Phinney, the Washington nonprofit corporation that had appealed the City’s
approval of the Phinney Flats project.

The Examiner agreed with Livable Phinney that: 1) the building was too
close to the rear property line and violated the required setbacks, and; 2) the
building had an illegal rooftop structure that did not meet the definition of a
clerestory, and that this structure was placed improperly on the rooftop. A revised
building design will be required.

And, in a ruling with city-wide ramifications, the Examiner also agreed with
Livable Phinney that the City was required to look at actual bus frequency, not just
bus schedules, when allowing an exemption from onsite parking requirements. The Land Use Code allows a multi-use project in an Urban Village to proceed without any onsite parking, regardless of parking impacts, if the site is located within a specified
distance of “Frequent Transit Service,” which requires 15-minute intervals between
buses. The City insisted that a bus schedule showing 15-minute intervals was

But Livable Phinney presented a statistical analysis of actual Bus Route #5 bus times, derived from King County Metro data, which showed that actual intervals between buses grossly departed from scheduled intervals.

“While analysis of bus schedules might be sufficient in most circumstances, when
presented with reliable data showing that bus service does not meet the definition
of frequent transit service well over a third of the time over a period of months, the
[City] cannot simply ignore such information,” the Examiner concluded, and
remanded this issue to the City to consider the actual data.

“This is the first time that statistical evidence has been used to show that bus
schedules are meaningless in the ever-increasing traffic congestion in Seattle,” Wall
explained. “When a bus is unreliable, the City cannot expect people to forego their
cars and rely on unreliable public transportation, and people who ride the bus also own cars.” If the project site does not qualify for the “frequent transit service exemption,”
onsite parking will be required. The developer’s own traffic analysis concluded that
the project will generate more cars than can be accommodated on the surrounding

In addition, Wall noted, “this decision is timely in light of the city’s ongoing
study of parking code changes and changes to the design review process. Despite
extra review sessions, the code violations were overlooked in the case of Phinney

Although the Examiner upheld certain aspects of the City’s decision, the
Examiner’s reversal on key Land Use Code provisions halts the controversial project
for now.


Jeff Eustis, attorney for Livable Phinney: 206-625-9515
Irene Wall, Livable Phinney Board Member: 206-501-9684

2 thoughts on “July 26: Livable Phinney issues press release.

  1. I’m confused by the circular logic here. Bus doesn’t come frequently enough due to traffic, so you can’t build a building with no parking because people have to drive cars. Providing parking induces a demand for people to park and increases traffic, making the bus more unreliable because more traffic. Rinse and repeat. Does Livable Phinney support removing a lane of parking along Phinney in order to provide bus only lanes to increase bus reliability or is this just a bunch of BS to preserve street parking and fight against increased density in your neighborhood?


    • See if it makes more sense. People in the micro units will own cars even if they do not have to for their commute, perhaps most will, even if no parking is provided, they will not be induced by no parking on site to live without cars. The developers own parking study admits the project will introduce more cars. Many that own a car will attempt commute by bus or bike, but they still own cars. The developers plan… who cares where these cars park… If the required every 15 minutes bus schedule is actually every 35 to 40 minutes during commute hours, that will cause many of these car owners to drive to work, or drive to some other bus stop. So it’s not anti-density neighbors putting more cars on the road, it’s the voluntary choices of micro-unit dwellers, not good enough bus service doing it, along with a developer who could not care less about what the impacts to the neighborhood are. The developer also could not bother to include any units suitable for a family with children. This building may as well have a sign on it, “NO FAMILIES ALLOWED.” It’s hard to feel sympathy for the developer who stubbornly ignored reasonable public input, for months, because his right to profit in his mind, trumped any other right. Let him build micro units on the lot next to his own home, on both sides, and front and back. If it’s good for us, it aught to be good for him. It will make his life more vibrant.


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