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Phinney Ridge housing project delayed over Metro bus ruling

A developer wants to put up a 55-unit apartment building on Phinney Ridge that comes with zero on-site parking, but now the project is on hold over transit concerns. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - A developer wants to put up a 55-unit apartment building on Phinney Ridge that comes with zero on-site parking, but now the project is on hold over transit concerns.

City planners had approved the project under the "urban village" criteria, which requires a bus to go by every 15 minutes. That's when neighbors fought back by showing how the bus schedule doesn't match actual service.

Developers often rely on frequent bus service to save them from having to build parking lots with their housing projects.

Irene Wall and her fellow neighbors with the group Livable Phinney argued that the No. 5 bus doesn’t run frequently enough. Now it’s possible that her battle with the builder could reshape Seattle’s long-term growth plans.

“What we've discovered is the city can make mistakes and they do need to be challenged sometimes,” Wall said.

The mistake, Wall said, is how often buses drive by. The developer used bus schedules to say transit was frequent enough that no on-site parking was needed. Members of Livable Phinney checked that against Metro's actual performance data. They found that bus service failed to meet that every 15 minutes rule nearly 40 percent of the time.

Under an appeal, a hearing examiner halted the project in its tracks.

“What we really want is for this case to establish a precedent for determining how much additional parking is needed," Wall said.

Seattle is granting these parking exemptions for projects along transit lines. This ruling could now be a game changer for neighbors living in areas designated as urban villages.

“This is for everybody's benefit to get this right," Wall said.


Calls and emails to the developer and the company’s attorneys have yet to be returned.

More detailed information on the fight against the project at 6726 Greenwood Ave. N can be found at livablephinney.org.

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