Letters from the Laurelhurst Community Club:

 

University Village Shopping Center

From the October 2008 Laurelhurst Letter:

U Village Expansion Scope and Impact Require Review, Public Hearings


LCC has been briefed twice by representatives from University Village regarding their proposed expansion plans (DPD Project Number 3008972) and has reviewed their September 2008 traffic impact analysis. Due to the size of the expansion and the resulting impacts on the area, LCC has requested that the City mandate an Environmental Impact Statement, redo the traffic study, and schedule public hearings.


Traffic Study Flaws: The University Village traffic impact analysis relies on the traffic analysis in the Children’s Hospital Major Institution Master Plan DEIS. In that draft document, existing trip generation data was not based upon standard Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) rates; therefore, the DEIS underestimates vehicle trips per day by 33,600. Even with the grossly underestimated trips in the Children’s report, the estimate of the impact on Montlake Boulevard at NE 45th Street for overall travel times is increased by 29 percent. Further, University Village notes in its study that traffic associated with expansion of Children’s Hospital is not directly included because that expansion is proposed, not yet approved, and speculative. The construction impacts of Children’s expansion will commence in 2009 and the significant impacts cannot be discounted.


Cumulative Impacts: The cumulative impacts of other planned development in the area should be analyzed in a revised University Village traffic study and a DEIS, especially those relating to transportation (traffic volumes, traffic circulation, parking) and land use. The analysis should include impacts of the not-yet-constructed Talaris project and other projects in the permit pipeline, expansion of Children’s Hospital, transformation of Magnuson Park into a regional sports field complex (a plan that has been approved), and SR 520 replacement.


Parking: University Village currently has insufficient parking spaces. University Village is asking to increase its building square footage by over 26 percent but only increase its parking by 14 percent. The only possible outcome of that equation is insufficient parking most of the year. Transit service in the area is poor, so it is unrealistic to expect shoppers to hop on the bus with kids, babies, strollers and packages from shopping. Adequate parking with standard-sized spaces should be required to meet the needs of patrons and the surrounding communities.


Mitigation: In its traffic study, University Village concludes that no mitigation is warranted by its proposed expansion. Because of the major deficiencies in the traffic study and the magnitude of the expansion, LCC questions this assertion. Village employees and some shoppers currently park on both sides of NE 50th Street and on the east side of 30th Avenue NE, especially during holiday seasons. This makes navigation of those roadways difficult and dangerous for cars, bikes, and pedestrians alike. Any growth of University Village should trigger mitigation on these streets, at minimum, requiring University Village to bring the streets to regulation widths and install sidewalks on both sides.


LCC appreciates that University Village is willing to work voluntarily with community groups to enhance vehicle and pedestrian safety; however, that is no substitute for the mandated mitigation required under the State Environmental Policy Act.

To read LCC's full comments to Seattle's Department of Planning and Development, click here.

 

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