Posted by: The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

28 responses to “Local Development Roundup: November 2013”

  1. Kary L. Krismer

    With no parking apartments, Mayor McSchwinn will have a lasting adverse impact upon the City of Seattle.

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  2. Ira Sacharoff

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 1
    From an environmental standpoint, increased density sort of makes sense. But eliminating parking requirements for developers at the same time Metro may be eliminating 1/6th of their bus service? Who is being served? Not the people moving in. Not the neighbors. For a “progressive” city, it sure seems like developers get better taken care of than city residents.

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  3. softwarengineer

    Oh Come On You Bloggers

    Lighten up.

    Who needs a car anyway when there’s plenty of $20-50 a plate restaurants well within an hour’s walk from the condo. I hear the Subways delis are quite cheap too….

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  4. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 2 – I don’t have a problem with the density. And who knows, maybe in 20 or 40 years parking cars will be something from the distant past. I just don’t think they should make things worse in the interim.

    RE: The Tim @ 3 -Yes, I don’t think a lot of developers would sign up for that. I’m somewhat surprised anyone wants to build a building like that even without the restriction. On Capitol Hill I could see it, but not West Seattle.

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  5. softwarengineer

    RE: softwarengineer @ 4
    Speaking of Congested Living and No Room to Drive Anyway

    I was out for an after work lunch/dinner in Federal Way last Friday and made the mistake of thinking 320th would be easy to navigate around 1PM……good gosh was I horrified, 320th was made for 1/2 the businesses and residents that use it IMO….instead it was a “non-rush hour” parking lot unmovable with a 20 min delay to drive a mile or two [two cars almost smashed into me too, making me nervous and I took the wrong freeway exit, adding to the stress, was late for my hair appointment too]. I have to remind myself never go back….how do the Federal Way residents using 320th get home on rush hour????

    A more important question: why are the King County Councils completely “dim-witted” on proper population zoning to make streets usable? I know they don’t care, they don’t have to live or do business there anyway.

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  6. Matt the Engineer

    Is this the thread where we complain about the buildings people want to build on their own property while following the rules we’ve imposed on them? Can we also talk about forcing people to build parking? I’m feeling very entitled and judgmental and want an outlet for that kind of thing.

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  7. redmondjp

    RE: Matt the Engineer @ 7 – Whose fault is it that those car-owning residents are going to be attempting to park somewhere else in the neighborhood?

    It’s odd that we don’t see this issue on Mercer Island, or in Medina, and other such places . . .

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  8. Matt the Engineer

    By redmondjp @ 8:

    RE: Matt the Engineer @ 7 – Whose fault is it that those car-owning residents are going to be attempting to park somewhere else in the neighborhood?

    2/3rds of people with garages park outside. Do you think all of those people parked on the street every night in neighborhoods with garages are house guests?

    Requiring garages is very strange and ineffective tax on house building. The only “problem” we’re solving is people using up a free resource, which economics tells us will always happen. If having spaces available to us is what’s important, then we should be charging for street spaces.

    I’d even be open to giving everyone a gift of our public street parking. Every existing home gets a few free parking permits, but with a small annual fee to make sure they aren’t horded. Then let people buy and sell these permits. When the condo is built down the street with no parking, then they just don’t get to own cars unless they buy a street parking permit from a neighbor. That neighbor will start considering whether they really value that workout room they never use in the garage once the price gets high enough.

    Oh, and why this isn’t a problem in large-lot neighborhoods is simply the large space they take up. You can park a lot more cars in front of a mansion on acreage. But then, that’s like asking why parking isn’t a problem on farms.

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  9. Matt the Engineer

    RE: The Tim @ 10 – Effectively yes. That’s why such a system would be easy to adopt in Seattle. The only difference is they’d need to allow people to sell permits to each other, and it would be nice to have a central website to make those trades (though not required).

    “Doesn’t “a small annual fee” make something not actually “free”?” Sure. But parking’s not really free right now – we all pay to maintain these spots. Just shift that cost to the “owners” as an annual fee.

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  10. Ira Sacharoff

    It wasn’t like developers always had to provide parking. Plenty of those old Capitol Hill apartment buildings don’t have parking. And that’s one of the neighborhoods where they do give parking permits to residents.
    But then they made a change, maybe 30? years ago, requiring one off street parking space per residential unit. With McGinn’s support, that has largely disappeared. It’s a combination of encouraging development by requiring less, because the city wants to encourage density, and the encouragement of people to walk, bike, and take transit. All admirable things. but I think the developers need to either rent to non car owners only, or pay for expanded transit, if they’re going to gain the benefit of no longer having to provide parking.

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  11. Azucar

    Whether or not a place (rental apartment or purchased condo or SFH) comes with a parking space definitely affects what I would be willing to pay for it… particularly in areas where on-street parking is challenging. I’d have to be paying substantially less to sign for a place knowing that I’m going to be hunting for a parking space every evening when I got home from work.

    I found this interesting piece on the subject of paid (and unpaid at the time, but punished by a ticket) parking in Seattle…

    http://www.seattleweekly.com/home/947653-129/parking-seattle-karrasch-ticket-says-pay

    ====
    Seattle is not alone among cash-strapped cities that have upped ticket prices, bought into pricey new pay-station technologies, and filled its streets with additional officers in a desperate effort to shrink budget gaps. The question now is whether the city of Seattle will choose to turn down the spigot now that its economic situation has sharply improved in the past two years.

    Says Harrell: “You do not want to have a revenue stream based on bad behavior, and it’s clear that we’ve added all these new PEOs in order to realize new revenues.”

    No one in Seattle city government generates more income relative to their salary than a parking-enforcement officer. We should call them Rainmakers, in fact. The starting salary for a PEO is $45,760, and tops out after three ticket-writing years at $52,291 plus benefits.
    ====

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  12. WestSeattleDave

    I may be wrong here, but it seems to me that only having one parking space per unit, and very limited on-street parking, would limit the type/number of people who would be interested in the first place. A single person, with one car, would be a good fit for a one bedroom unit — either rent or buy.

    As far as no parking whatsoever, I’m familiar with the Junction project, and again — I would not even be remotely interested if I owned a car. I think all these types of developments are self limiting to people who have sworn off the automobile.

    Today, the trend is away from car ownership, especially in the in-city neighborhoods where space is at a premium.. They cost lots of money to buy, insure, fill with gas, and drive (and park). What’s so crazy about designing living space for these types of people. Maybe this type of design will even accelerate the trend.

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  13. Kary L. Krismer

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 12:

    It wasn’t like developers always had to provide parking. Plenty of those old Capitol Hill apartment buildings don’t have parking. And that’s one of the neighborhoods where they do give parking permits to residents.
    But then they made a change, maybe 30? years ago, requiring one off street parking space per residential unit. With McGinn’s support, that has largely disappeared. .

    Back when those older buildings were built there weren’t as many people and not as many cars. That means street parking wasn’t such an issue back then, and parking spots weren’t as valuable. And although I don’t know the history of building regulations in Seattle, I suspect developers started adding parking to buildings on their own, and at some point in time the city decided they were not adding enough. That’s why I said above that I’m surprised anyone would want to build a building in West Seattle without parking. The market on it’s own should result in some number of parking spots, although perhaps not the number that the Seattle City Council wanted in 2000, but more than the zero McSchwinn wants.

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  14. Astro Kermit

    John Nuler said it best:

    (http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/happening-now-neighbors-speak-out-about-36-unit-no-parking-junction-development/)

    He says he doesn’t see a parking issue in The Junction, and West Seattle is nothing like other cities where he’s lived. How many people here have cars they don’t keep in their garage – should they have to sign a contract? he asks. Regarding water and sewage, he says that efficient small apartments have less environmental impact than single-family homes. He also says 4,000 more units for a place with 80,000 residents is “a drop in the bucket.” He also says “everyone in the room is older, like I am, and the younger people are moving in … the future is not going to be as reliant on cars as” his generation is. “West Seattle needs to change and needs to embrace the changes.”

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  15. Kary L. Krismer

    By Azucar @ 13:

    Whether or not a place (rental apartment or purchased condo or SFH) comes with a parking space definitely affects what I would be willing to pay for it… particularly in areas where on-street parking is challenging. I’d have to be paying substantially less to sign for a place knowing that I’m going to be hunting for a parking space every evening when I got home from work.

    By WestSeattleDave @ 14:

    As far as no parking whatsoever, I’m familiar with the Junction project, and again — I would not even be remotely interested if I owned a car. I think all these types of developments are self limiting to people who have sworn off the automobile.

    Which is why developers should want to build a building with parking. It’s not like parking typically takes up all the desirable view locations in a building. Parking is relatively cheap to build, and the increased demand resulting from the available parking increases the revenue a building generates throughout it’s life, increasing the value of the building greatly.

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  16. mike

    Why should residents “own” the street parking? The more the city moves towards mixed-use development in places like downtown Ballard, the more businesses depend on parking that is shared with the residents, so why should residents automatically get priority?

    As much as people like to complain about these buildings with no parking, there’s another problem with the existing system. Residents are allowed to own up to 3 cars with no ‘enclosed’ parking. I lived next to a family with 2 drivers that had 3 cars parked on the street and one in the garage – meaning that people who could afford to park off street are in fact buying more cars with the intention of parking them for ‘free’ on the street. I’ve got a neighbor now with 4 cars who lives alone. Where do these extra vehicles end up? On the street.

    To me, it seems the city could get rid of a lot of these extra cars by cutting down on the number that can be registered at certain addresses – IE if you have only 1 off street parking spot, you either can’t register more cars or the additional registration for cars with no dedicated parking spot should cost a lot more. This could easily be tied in with a permit system to better regulate street parking.

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  17. softwarengineer

    RE: mike @ 18
    There’s One Big Problem Mike

    “…Single-earner households, including single-parent families, often have difficulty affording a two bedroom/two bath apartment with wages in many common occupations. In addition to the occupations mentioned in the prior example, the average wage paid to high school teachers in the Seattle area is not enough to afford a two bedroom/two bath apartment. The average two bedroom/two bath apartment in Seattle requires an hourly wage of $30.17 in a full-time job, or an annual income of $62,760….”

    2009‐2012 City of Seattle Consolidated Plan, Ordinance 123057 – Adopted August 2009

    Hades, even the engineers can only afford a 2 bdrm apartment on their “avg” incomes, RNs barely can afford a 2 bdrm apartment in Seattle from report above too….

    House

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  18. mike

    RE: softwarengineer @ 19 – Do people having difficulty affording a 2 bedroom apartment have to live in a chi-chi neighborhood where they’re competing for parking with affluent yuppies that own 4 cars? No.

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  19. Matt the Engineer

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 15:

    The market on it’s own should result in some number of parking spots, although perhaps not the number that the Seattle City Council wanted in 2000, but more than the zero McSchwinn wants.

    This is hyperbole, not fact: you’re changing the actual situation here. The debate is requiring parking vs. not requiring parking. The debate is not allowing parking vs. restricting parking. It’s legal anywhere in the city to build as many parking spots as you want, and I’m not aware of anyone even propose they be limited (and certainly not to “zero”).

    Keep in mind that a parking spot costs more than a car. That’s in land value alone – if you need to put it underground that’s a good $30k+ per spot for construction costs. Developers shouldn’t be forced to build more than the number of parking spots their clients want to pay for.

    @18 “Why should residents “own” the street parking?” That’s a great point – we should definitely reserve space for businesses when there are businesses in a parking zone. I was thinking purely of residential.

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  20. joedirt

    One problem I have with promoting units without parking is the difficulty of exiting driveways nearby.. It can be very dangerous for the person trying to back out and other drivers/bicyclists when there is no visibility due to every street packed bumper to bumper with parked vehicles. Especially on a high traffic street.

    I was over in West Seattle last summer and there were so many cars I had to park at least 1/4 mile away from where I was going. Must be hell for homeowners.

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  21. Blurtman

    RE: joedirt @ 22 – That’s why you really should consider the Hummer H1. Homeless folks camped out in their cars? No problema!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er_TtX5i2-0

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  22. Mike

    Eventually the situation on the streets will get bad enough that the economics of these buildings hopefully won’t pan out. We rented for a while in Fremont and the lack of parking and progressively worsening street situation drove us out. At a certain point of recurring frustration and wasted time driving around in circles, an apartment or a house with a driveway becomes something you’re willing to pay a decent amount for.

    Not driving is an admirable goal and might work for basic commuting where you can pick a bus line that works, but the idea that most people can get by in Seattle without a car at all is a joke.

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  23. mike

    RE: Matt the Engineer @ 21 – In Ballard many of the ‘no parking’ apartments/apodments are going into an area 1-3 blocks north of Market st in an area that has quite a few small businesses located on those blocks. None of the buildings are open yet, and it’s already getting to the point where I end up parking blocks away just to pick up take-out. There seems to be a mistaken assumption by some people that because the neighborhood is walkable that somehow the business are all going to serve only walk-ins. Seems unlikely. During the cold wet winter months, I’m not going to park 6 blocks away to pick up some thai food. Having the street parking clogged up by residents sitting home watching TV is a waste. The growing parking issue is one of the reasons I looked for a house a little further out of the ‘urban village’ boundary.

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  24. Matt the Engineer

    RE: mike @ 25 – And that’s exactly the problem that this solution can solve that *force everyone to have a garage* doesn’t. You set the number of permits allowed per street, and don’t pass out more than that. If there are businesses, allow fewer permits.

    I’ll ask the question. Did you have a garage when you lived in Fremont? Did you use it, or was it full of junk? If you used it, why does it bother you that the street parking is full?

    Parking will always fill up unless you charge an appropriate price or control it in some other way. Seattle has a policy of setting pricing such that there’s a free parking spot on every block (that has paid parking). This would extend that to the neighborhoods.

    (looks like my last comment – don’t expect another response)

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  25. Megan R

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 1 – I agree 100% with your comment!

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  26. Megan R

    RE: Astro Kermit @ 16 – John Nuler is a greedy pig, that does not give a golly about how his developments impact West Seattle neighborhoods, as long as that development is not in HIS neighborhood. I am speaking from personal experience. You don’t EVEN know what it’s like to have the value of your home decimated, and the fact that you agree with and support this tool is appalling. He’s an ass, that made his fortune in Hollywood, only to come home and ruin once pleasant neighborhoods.

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