Townhouses Not Feeling The Love

No need to post a photo. If you live in Seattle, chances are you can throw a rock and hit one from your front door.

Over in West Seattle, architect and design review board member David Foster has been grumbling about micro-permitting, received this response from Richard Conlin, and even SLOG piled on. No doubt micro-permitting should be stopped, but there’s more to the problem, as I see plenty of shitty townhouses on single lots.

And over in the Central District, folks in the Squire Park Neighborhood have been raising concerns over proposed changes to multifamily zoning, while the Miller Park Blog and the Central District News hone in on the key issue: parking.

The best townhouses I’ve seen in my neighborhood are still highly compromised from an urban design standpoint by the requirement to accommodate cars. Even Seattle’s first LEED certified townhouses have an awkward ass-backward orientation to fit in two parking stalls.

So then, why is the City regulating parking at all? The market will provide parking if there is a demand. Currently, the City is in effect mandating bad urban design. And the same applies to larger buildings with their aircraft carrier-sized parking decks and gaping garage entrances.

We cannot have it both ways. Stuffing a building with parking stalls almost always leads to bad urban design. Here’s what Lewis Mumford had to say about it way back in 1961:

“The right to access every building in the city by private motorcar, in an age when everyone owns such a vehicle, is actually the right to destroy the city.”