Reader Opinion

Zero parking for new multi-family residences? Seriously?


Dear Editor,

Gee, wouldn't it be lovely if carbon-spewing automobiles were eliminated? Of course. But get real.

The city of Olympia's proposed parking reductions for new construction promote this ideal. However, reality must intrude. The recent article in The JOLT covered and quoted some of those who spoke pro and con regarding this proposal. If history is any indication, the council will approve these restrictions because being politically correct is more important than serving the real needs of their citizens. Their want is flawed.

Services to provide alternate transportation are not readily available. So what? The proposal suggests that 'if you don't build it (reduce parking spots), it (alternative travel options) will come. Seriously?

Look at the current range and hours of operation of transit services and tell me that it will backfill the needs generated by losing a personal vehicle. Tell me that street parking will not be impacted by an overflow of automobiles. Tell me that our aging population can handle more pedestrian activity. 

An 'expert' can tell me my concerns are unjustified, but that is only because that 'expert'  is blinded by the admirable need to reduce carbon emissions while ignoring the fact that automobiles will continue to exist.

Point of fact: The number of parked autos will continue to expand as single-family homes are replaced with muti-plexes or accessory dwelling units.

Legislation and/or regulations wishing for positive outcomes will only work if one considers the population's needs, not the desires for a better world.   

~ Fred Yancey, Olympia

The opinions above are, of course, those of the writer and not The JOLT. Got something you want to get off your chest? Write it up and send it to us. We'll likely run it the same day we get it. 


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  • olyhiker

    Well said, Fred.

    Thursday, March 23 Report this

  • JimSimmons

    Common sense is obviously lacking in the City of Olympia, sad!

    Thursday, March 23 Report this

  • PhyllisBooth

    Before the pandemic, I attended a WA state senate hearing on housing, one of the Democratic Senator asked a developer if all regulations for development were removed, would he build housing for those who make $60,000 annually? The developer said that they build where they can make the most money period.

    Furthermore, as a resident of the City of Olympia since 1995, I have personally tried to use cars as little as possible. When we bought our house, there was bus service every 30 minutes, but after Tim Eyman helped slash this service, the bus service decreased. I had to use the car more because I also helped transport others whose bus service had been slashed as they could not drive at all due to various disabilities and lack of income due purchase transportation.

    The policy makers who have pushed this idea need to take a bigger look at transportation needs. As a caregiver--many of us transport all at one time-- little children and disabled elderly, in addition to all our groceries and that is a very challenging job to do on the existing, inadequate bus system, especially in an area that rains and has few bus shelters. You try holding an umbrella, little kids, and and helping grandma stand up all at once at the bus stop. Get real.

    Thursday, March 23 Report this

  • Deanima

    I agree that Olympia needs a more robust public transportation system to make the parking reduction work.

    However, this letter to the editor is a bit inaccurate and hyperbolic (and a bit smug). First, the proposed parking reductions are part of the City's Housing Action Plan. They are intended to reduce the cost of building affordable housing, not to reduce carbon emissions. Building structured parking can cost anywhere between $30-$60k PER SPACE when you factor in travel lanes, etc. That adds to the cost of development, which adds to the cost of rents. Also, parking takes up a lot of space, and that space could be better used to build housing units.

    Are you aware that there have been no minimum off-street parking requirements in the downtown area for some time now? That does not mean that developers do not provide parking. Having a "no minimum" just means that the market has been deciding how much parking to provide. The developers know that a percentage of their residents will own vehicles and need parking, and they have been providing it, but at a lesser amount than has traditionally been the case.

    Also, did you take note that these reductions apply only to multi-family developments that are within 1/4 mile of public transit? It's not a city-wide thing, and will not affect single family areas (though there has been some commentary that inadequate parking will cause parking spillover into neighborhoods). Parking reductions have been implemented in cities across the United States. Several cities have eliminated minimum parking requirements entirely. Google it.

    Olympia is facing a housing shortage. Right now only about half of the number of housing units are being built to meet its future housing needs, and many people are being priced out of the housing market. One thing I would like to see with the reduction in parking requirements is that the reduction could only be allowed in exchange for a guarantee from the developer that the housing units would be affordably priced for lower income tenants. I would hope that most of us think housing for people is more important than parking for cars. Here's a link to an article on that very topic.

    Friday, March 24 Report this

  • Drutty

    Thank you Mr. Yancey. It does seem that sanity is lacking here!

    Friday, March 24 Report this