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Friday, August 10, 2007

Where the Sidewalk Ends

posted by on August 10 at 11:43 AM

Seattle’s numerous sidewalk-less neighborhoods could soon join the civilized world if Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) get their way. DPD spokesman Alan Justad says the city wants to require developers to build sidewalks in front of new “urban villages,” a fancypants term used to describe condo and townhome developments.

Sidewalk construction was previously required for all large construction projects, but now developers may have to install them around smaller townhome developments too.

Even if DPD’s proposal goes through, neighborhoods still won’t get full-on block-long sidewalks. DPD is only requiring sidewalks to be built in front of new development, so sidewalks won’t be built in front of older properties. “There will be gaps in the sidewalks,” Justad says.

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Great idea! These gaps in sidewalks leave the city open to lawsuits for non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Not that any of these great new condos will have the wheelchair ramps necessary for compliance themselves, thus basically keeping the neighborhoods free of people with disabilities itching to fire up a lawsuit (or get down the street or whatever). I mean, why do something right the first time?

Posted by Ziggity | August 10, 2007 11:50 AM

I think Ziggity's got it. A patch of sidewalk in front of one lot on a street is not a sidewalk.

Posted by Fnarf | August 10, 2007 11:52 AM

The city needs to step up and fulfill the commitment they made to those of us north of 85th Street when we were annexed, and get us our damned sidewalks! This piece-meal solution will do nothing to address the problems that a full-on city-built honest-to-god sidewalks will.

Posted by Willis | August 10, 2007 12:11 PM

Oh, joy. Our building codes are finally going to catch up to those of most other states.

Posted by Gitai | August 10, 2007 12:13 PM

Oh, come on, Gitai, you think they have sidewalks everywhere in Mississippi? Why, they'd be grateful just to have MUD in Bangladesh. Sheesh. So greedy.

Posted by Fnarf | August 10, 2007 12:21 PM

Why would new condo developments need ramps to be ADA compliant? Condos, like most traditional apartments, are built in stacked configurations, and thus require elevators, making them perfectly accessible to disabled people, so long as they have access at the ground-floor and/or parking levels.

Posted by COMTE | August 10, 2007 12:23 PM

I think we should study this for 20 years, vote for it four times and then have a vote to do nothing at the end.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 10, 2007 12:51 PM

Forcing new construction to build new sidewalks, especially unconnected ones, is legally tricky in Washington. As a practical matter, this regulation will help, but the city should step up and take responsibility for finishing the sidewalk system.

Posted by An Interested Party | August 10, 2007 12:54 PM

@5 All I know is that in New Mexico, the backwards, retro, twenty years behind the time state of my birth, developers couldn't build any building without first putting in sidewalks. Any time I drive past a neighborhood without sidewalks in Seattle, I think I'm going to see barefoot children running around wearing nothing but a '87 Minnesota Twins t-shirt.

Posted by Gitai | August 10, 2007 1:25 PM

@9 - you say that like it's a bad thing ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 10, 2007 1:37 PM

Sidewalks are basically standard on every arterial street in Las Vegas and most non-arterials, and it always shocked me that an allegedly advanced urbanist metropolis like Seattle did not have this as a de facto practice.

Posted by Gomez | August 10, 2007 2:03 PM

Don't hold your breath. This town can't even install readable street signs.

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