Vehicle Noise Legislation: Relief for Alki Coming SOON
As a beachside neighborhood and a regional destination, the Alki neighborhood and nearby areas face unique public safety and health challenges, especially during the warm-weather months. Residents, community groups, and visitors from elsewhere have expressed concern about public safety, and the growing impact of motor vehicle-related noise issues.
During the last two warm weather seasons, I’ve asked SPD to add additional officers; SPD recently announced they’ll be doing enhanced patrols this summer as well. I thank them for doing this.
I’ve also been working with community members to address vehicle noise in the Alki neighborhood since last year, when together we developed the Alki Public Safety and Health Survey. The survey showed noise from modified vehicle exhaust systems as the #1 community concern.
On Monday I’ll be introducing legislation to address vehicle exhaust system noise in the Alki neighborhood.
The legislation, if passed, will simplify enforcement by allowing officers to issue citations for muffler and engine noise that “can be clearly heard by a person of normal hearing at a distance of 75 feet or more from the vehicle.” This is the standard used for the City’s motor vehicle stereo noise law (SMC 25.08.515 (A)(2), in effect since 1989.
The current City law that covers motor vehicle exhaust noise requires use of sound meters, which are time-consuming and require calibration, and are thus very difficult to use for enforcement. This was underscored as a problem by SPD in their report to Council re: enforcement of vehicle noise on Alki. While there are muffler laws on the books, they are specific to whether the muffler is modified, rather than the amount of noise being made, and since it is difficult to determine whether mufflers have been modified, are consequently also difficult for police officers to enforce.
The legislation will be heard at the June 13th meeting of the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans and Education Committee chaired by Councilmember González. This meeting starts at 9:30 a.m., with public comment at the beginning.
Working with the City Attorney’s Office and SPD, we’ve been able to clarify that the current City motor vehicle noise laws for stereo noise and screeching tire noise can be enforced as written. My office also worked to clarify that noise meters are not needed to enforce these motor vehicle noise laws, and it is not required to have a complaint from someone separate from the officer. Some sections of the noise code do require meters, and a constituent complaint.
This legislation will apply citywide, on city streets. Although the legislation mentions “highways,” in the Seattle Municipal Code section for noise enforcement, this just means any City road.
Also, the SW Precinct (2300 SW Webster St) will be hosting a community meeting the evening of June 12th at 6:30 p.m. to hear Southwest Precinct Captain Pierre Davis’ plans to address noise and speeding in Alki. SPD has committed to emphasis patrols (i.e. extra officers) in Alki during the warm weather months. I thank them for their commitment, and for reaching out to Alki residents early in the warm weather season.
Good News: Service Additions for Admiral Bus Service
I have, since taking office in 2016 heard concerns from dozens of constituents about the need for better bus service for Admiral and Alki. I’d asked King County Metro over the years to consider restoring service lost in 2012. The response I often received was that the area has a small walkshed with water on one side and a big hill on the other, minimalizing the likely ridership and usefulness of the investment of finite and scare resources. Further, King County Metro pointed to the fact that historically, the greatest ridership on the 56 was during the peak. King County Metro added the route 50 to address Alki’s needs with a bus that served more destinations. Metro King County priority is generally to add services to lines that are overcrowded, rather than to add service to lines will minimal service.
Since Seattle voters had approved funding in 2014 for bus services, meaning Seattle had some say in how those resources are allocated, in February, I wrote a letter to SDOT requesting that SDOT assess funding additional non-peak hour service to Bus Route 56, which currently only operates on weekdays during rush hour. The letter noted that the among “Seattle’s 30 Urban Centers and Urban Villages, the Admiral Urban Village is one of only two not included the High Capacity Transit Network, and uniquely 1) is not served by the current Frequent Transit Network, and 2) has no off-peak bus service to Downtown. In addition, it saw a decrease in bus service to Downtown, with the 2012 elimination of off-peak service to Downtown on bus route 56. No buses leave for Downtown after 9 a.m., and return buses from Downtown operate only during evening rush hour.”
King County Metro has agreed to add an extra bus trip 30 minutes later in the morning, arriving Downtown around 10 a.m., and a new trip 30 minutes later in the evening, departing Downtown around 7:15 p.m.
SDOT noted in its reply that adding hourly service would likely require approval by the King County Council, and additional information.
SDOT also indicated their willingness to evaluate potential alternatives, including working with Metro to explore on-demand connections to the Water Taxi, and all-day circulator service around Alki and Admiral. I’ll continue working with them on this.
Mandatory Housing Affordability Program and District 1 Public Hearing
On Monday, June 4, in the Special Committee on Citywide Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA), the Office of Planning and Community Development briefed the City Council on the proposed zoning changes located in District 1 that would be necessary to put MHA in place and require developers to contribute to affordable housing.
The Executive included in their presentation a recap of the efforts they made over the previous two years to give the community a voice in how this proposal was shaped, including input on how to create more housing for people at all income levels and minimize the displacement of current lower-income residents. After in-person talks, town-halls, mailers, and focus groups, the Growth and Equity Analysis from the Seattle Comprehensive Plan was then utilized to determine where each urban village fell in terms of displacement risk and access to opportunity. (Figures 1 and 2)
The final analysis of the urban villages is below:
Admiral is considered a community where there is high access to opportunity and low risk of displacement, meaning that larger scale rezones (M1 and M2) have been proposed. Existing single-family lots are proposed to be zoned for residential small lot development (i.e. cottages, duplexes, and triplexes) and some areas for lowrise development (i.e. townhouses and lowrise apartments). Admiral is below the transit threshold to qualify for urban village expansion. Mixed-use development of the corridor on California Ave SW up to NC-75 will be encouraged.
West Seattle Junction
The West Seattle Junction is considered a community with high access to opportunity and low risk of displacement. Larger rezones (M1 and M2) will be used to support transit and other community principles. The plan is to expand the urban village to include a 10 minute walkshed (travel time) to frequent transit. Existing single-family lots are proposed to be zoned for residential small lot development (i.e. cottages, duplexes, and triplexes) and some for lowrise development. More intense mixed-use development of the corridor on California Ave SW with development allowed up to 75-feet in height will be encouraged. Mixed-use nodes and corridors up to 95-feet in height will be encouraged towards the center of the village.
Morgan Junction is considered a community with low access to opportunity with low risk of displacement, so smaller zone changes (M) are proposed. There are very limited M1 and M2 (larger rezones) proposed. Existing single-family lots are proposed to be zoned to allow residential small lot development(i.e. cottages, duplexes, and triplexes) and some lowrise development to create transitions from higher density areas to lower density areas. There is no proposed urban village expansion, as Morgan Junction does not have 2 or more frequent transit nodes. Mixed -use development of nodes and corridors with heights up to 55-feet are proposed. Zoning changes adjacent to critical areas, such as steep ravines, are limited.
South Park is considered a community with a high risk of displacement, and low access to opportunity so little to no zoning changes (M) are proposed, except near frequent transit. Existing single-family lots are proposed to be zoned for residential small lot development (i.e. cottages, duplexes, and triplexes), and there is no urban village expansion proposed. Commercial zones are proposed to remain commercial or neighborhood commercial. There will be continued support for the existing mixed-use node at Cloverdale.
Westwood-Highland Park is considered a community with a high risk of displacement and low access to opportunity, so little to no zone changes (M) are proposed, except near frequent transit. Existing single-family lots will be zoned for residential small lot development (i.e. cottages, duplexes, and triplexes), and there is no proposed urban village expansion. Commercial zones are proposed to become neighborhood commercial. There will be continued support for the existing mixed-use node at Westwood Village (up to NC-75’) and along Delridge Way SW (up to NC-55’).
Outside Urban Villages
Outside the 5 urban villages, little to no zone changes (M) are proposed for exiting commercial zones along corridors.
On Tuesday, The City Council sponsored an evening public hearing at Chief Sealth High School. The support for MHA and concerns about MHA were pretty balanced. Supporters pointed to concern about the current unaffordability of Seattle being driven by current development. Under current zoning, development in most places doesn’t require any contribution from developers towards affordable housing at all. Similarly, there was support given because of a desire to build more housing to help address homelessness, and to make sure that our workforce can live near their work place.
The concerns about MHA were wide ranging:
- A desire to accept density (and MHA) as a result of a neighborhood planning process, as opposed to the process to-date, that would inform where the density should be focused
- A concern that units being built are not family-sized rental units, where houses that may be demolished in the future are family-sized rentals
- Concern about added density in areas around the Fauntleroy Ferry
- A concern for City supported concurrency for open space and transportation (the C-line is packed)
- A desire to protect tree canopy, particularly in the Junction where it is only 15.8% (city goal is 30%)
- Given the cost of homes, an interest in preserving opportunities for first-time home ownership
- A concern that the numbers don’t add up – more affordable units demolished than units added
- Concerns about Final Environmental Impact Statement insufficiencies related to sewer and drainage plans and Seattle Fire and Police Department response times
There was strong agreement, from many testifiers both strong supporters of MHA and those with concerns about MHA, that a. affordable housing is a community good with broad public support and b. developers should build their affordable units on site and that if “in-lieu fees” are permitted, they should return to the community from where the fees derived.
Map: D1 Constituent Accomplishments
Some of you may have already seen that a couple months ago, I added a new section to my city website. It’s a map of issues that constituents like you have brought to my attention and we’ve worked with you and the City to get addressed. Some of these issues include addressing lighting concerns across District 1 to address public safety, added bus service, street repairs, as well as other public safety issues. I encourage you to take a look at the map to see some of the issues that, together, we’ve been able to solve for the District. You may recognize a few that you brought to my attention. If so, thank you! I want to thank those of you that have contacted my office with these issues which, when addressed, help improve the quality of our life in our neighborhoods. I will continue to update the map as we locate previous cases to add, as well as tackling new ones.
Think Green Recycling & Reuse Event
Have an old appliance, clothing, electronics or other hard to get rid of household goods? The annual West Seattle Think Green event is coming up on Jun 30 where you can recycle and reuse many difficult to dispose-of items. See the flier below for more information.
In-District Office Hours
On June 15, I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) from 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 6:30 p.m., the final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.
These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.
Friday, July 27, 2018
Southwest Neighborhood Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, September 21, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
Friday, October 26, 2018
Southwest Neighborhood Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, December 14, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S