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April 10, 2012 at 11:16 PM

Discussion of Seattle parking proposal for developments near transit is delayed until May

The Planning and  Land Use Committee of the Seattle City Council is scheduled to take up Wednesday morning a package of proposals designed to streamline development rules and jump-start construction.

But the most controversial parts of the package — allowing developers to eliminate parking in new construction within a quarter-mile of frequent transit and eliminating some environmental review for large, mixed-use developments — won’t be discussed or voted on until May 9, according to a council staff briefing paper prepared for the 9:30 a.m. committee hearing.

The package of reforms was proposed by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and a 28-member roundtable that he appointed to find ways to encourage job growth and eliminate red tape in city development rules.

Other proposals in the package include: allowing small commercial development — up to 2,500 square feet — in what are now low-rise residential zones; dropping the city’s current requirement for ground-floor retail along arterials outside of neighborhood business districts; and eliminating the parking requirements for major institutions such as colleges and hospitals in urban centers when they expand.

At the first hearing on the proposals March 28, neighborhood activists complained that the roundtable was weighted toward developers and transit advocates and did not include community groups.

But environmentalists and labor leaders said eliminating parking requirements allowed developers flexibility to add parking only where it is likely to be needed. They also said it would help get people out of cars and promote less-polluting modes of transportation.

Neighborhood groups also raised questions about a proposal to eliminate state environmental review for projects smaller than 200 units or 75,000 square feet — about the size of a full-service grocery store — if it’s located in an urban center or near a light rail station. Community activists said the change would deny residents the right to comment on and participate in land-use decisions.

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