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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Nickels, Clark call for review of sidewalk requirements

3/25/2009  3:52:00 PM

Nickels, Clark call for review of sidewalk requirements
City will re-evaluate requirements in urban villages

SEATTLE - Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has ordered the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to review sidewalk requirements in urban villages as they apply to homeowners who want to build a new home on their lot.

"I am committed to building more sidewalks in our city and requiring developers to do their part, but let's make sure there aren't unintended consequences," said Nickels.

In January 2008, the land use code was amended to require sidewalks when any new development is proposed in urban villages, urban centers and along arterial streets. Jesus Barajas, a homeowner in southeast Seattle featured recently in The Seattle Times, would be required to build a sidewalk under current regulations because his lot is within the MLK at Holly Street urban village. A sidewalk would not have been required if this were an addition or remodel to the existing house but Barajas plans to build a new home.

"Mr. Barajas is an example of getting caught in the web of best intentions. We're going to find a way to make his project work and keep our commitment to building out sidewalks in our neighborhoods," said Councilmember Sally J. Clark.

The mayor has asked DPD to quickly re-evaluate the regulations and determine if changes need to be made. The department has informed Barajas' contractor to stop designing and building the sidewalk, and that the city intends to resolve the situation.

Urban villages and centers have been identified in Seattle's Comprehensive Plan as areas most suitable for accommodating additional housing and employment growth. The city has put a priority on making these areas more pedestrian friendly.

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