Op-Ed: City Council has chance to limit neighborhood traffic - will they do the right thing?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

SaveRichmondBeach.org is a community-driven non-profit organization dedicated to preserving our communities and Puget Sound through responsible and sustainable planning.

On Monday evening, June 15th, the Shoreline City Council is considering which Comprehensive Plan amendments to send to staff for further study and which to reject. This year there were nine potential amendments submitted. Of particular interest to those wanting to preserve the character of their local neighborhoods is the first amendment, submitted by Richmond Beach resident Tom McCormick. This proposed amendment adds a limit to the amount of traffic allowed on neighborhood collector arterials.

Quick Lesson on street classification
Shoreline assigns each street in the City to one of four classifications; on a general level, the classification denotes the level of traffic expected on the street.

  1. The busiest streets are classified as principal arterials (like Aurora Ave. or NW 175th St.)
  2. Streets that are a little less busy but still carry considerable traffic are classified as minor arterials (like Meridian Ave. N or Dayton Ave. N).
  3. Below minor arterials are collector arterials (like 20th Ave. NW or NW 195th St.); collector arterials are located in neighborhoods and are used to connect local streets to minor or principal arterials.
  4. The lowest level streets with the least amount of traffic are local streets.

Why do we need a traffic limit on collector arterials?
Every street has a calculated capacity based on the number and width of lanes and other factors. To ensure smooth traffic flow, Shoreline already sets a limit for principal and minor arterials: traffic on these streets should be less than 90% of their capacity. The Shoreline Development Code refers to this as a volume / capacity (v/c) ratio of 0.90. But Shoreline does not have any limit set for collector arterials. That means a neighborhood collector arterial could end up with more traffic than a supposedly busier minor arterial.

The Development Code states the v/c limit on principle and minor arterials is designed to maintain an adequate level of service on city streets as new development occurs. It prevents a large new development from being placed in a location where the resulting additional traffic from the development overloads a street that is already almost at capacity. The City has that protection in place for proposed developments located on principal and minor arterials, but not on collector arterials; this could actually encourage developers to place their developments further inside neighborhoods instead of along the larger arterials where they belong.

Save Richmond Beach has never been anti-development, we have always been for responsible development. This proposal to put a v/c limit on collector arterials is exactly that - a way to encourage responsible development at locations where the street infrastructure is able to handle the traffic.

What you can do
The vote Monday is not to set a v/c ratio limit on collector arterials, it's simply to direct staff to study the proposal and report back to Council. A final vote to set the limit would occur later this year. Comprehensive Plan updates are only considered once a year, so Monday's vote is important because if we lose, we'll have to wait another year before we can propose this change again. We encourage you to contact the City Council (you can email them at council@shorelinewa.gov) and ask them to approve Comprehensive Plan Docket item 1, directing City staff to investigate setting a v/c ratio limit on collector arterials.


Anonymous,  June 15, 2015 at 1:01 AM  

Thanks for speaking out SRB!

The people of Shoreline should know that the City has zero intent of negotiating with the Point Wells developer. This just isn't going to impact Richmond Beach, it will impact all of Shoreline. The Planning Commission is not on your side and the City Staff are most certainly not on your side.

Excepts from the City Council agenda for Monday night's meeting as well as the voting record from individual Planning Commissioners on this proposed amendment from March 19th:

"The Planning Commission tied 3 – 3 on the Privately Initiated Comprehensive Plan Amendment (Amendment #1) and, therefore, there is no recommendation to move forward. "


However, "Although he is not necessarily in support of the proposed amendment, Chair Scully said he supports including it on the docket." (Stealthy move, candidate!)

"Staff recommends that the Council approve the 2015 Comprehensive Plan Amendment Docket without the inclusion of Amendment #1 and updated to include Amendment #9. "

Karen Easterly-Behrens,  June 15, 2015 at 11:54 AM  

Most of us, even though we are not “urban planners” know that traffic impacts neighborhoods. If our children, our elderly, our infirmed and our healthy citizens cannot cross a neighborhood road without risk to life and limb due to increased traffic, we as a community suffer. We lose Social Capital…..and that is difficult to regain!

Traffic is not just an engineering issue. If you listen or attend any of our city council meetings, you will hear the discussion of traffic management as a dry matter of fact, car counting happenstance that small changes like timings of lights, turn lanes and those ugly misplaced “traffic calming devices” offered as solutions to problems.

Much BIGGER problems lay ahead! What is happening in one area of Shoreline affects all of Shoreline.

I support the continued involvement of our citizens in holding the city leadership and decision makers accountable to exercise thoughtful and thorough assessments before considering proposals that affect us all!

Let the sunshine in…..make thoughtful, informed transparent decision…..I am writing my letter right now and thank you SRB….it takes a lot of commitment to do what you do and we all benefit!

Anonymous,  June 15, 2015 at 12:31 PM  

Shoreline citizens are urging approval that the proposal be studied... will the City listen? We shall see...


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