Waterfront Businesses Challenge Waterfront EIS

Businesses Say Waterfront Project “Not for All” if Public Access Not Improved
November 15, 2016
Ryan Smith (206) 521-0506
Seattle – The Seattle Historic Waterfront Association announced today it has challenged the
adequacy of the City’s analysis of alternatives and impacts of rebuilding Alaskan Way and creating a
new park along the Seattle waterfront. The Seattle Historic Waterfront Association is a non-profit
made up of waterfront businesses and property owners to protect, preserve, and enhance the
historic Seattle waterfront for the benefit of the entire community.
“We are very excited about the vision for an enhanced Waterfront for this great city, but as with any
great project, the devil’s in the details and that’s where the Waterfront Project EIS falls short. If the
project proceeds on the basis of this EIS, it will fail,” said Ryan Smith, of Martin Smith Inc, which
owns and operates several properties along the waterfront.
“The City is proposing to double the number of visitors to the waterfront while eliminating most all
parking and public transportation along the central waterfront. It will not work and this is too
important a project to let that happen,” said Kyle Griffith, whose family owns and operates Miner’s
Landing and the Great Wheel.
“If you care about the waterfront and take the time to read the City’s EIS, you will see that the City
has designed the Central Waterfront to be inaccessible to the very families and customers who have
been the majority of the visitors to the Central Waterfront,” said Kyle.

News Release
Waterfront Businesses Challenge Waterfront EIS
Page 2 of 3

Seattle Historic Waterfront Association
November 14, 2016

“The City is currently planning to spend over $700 million on this project,” Ryan said. “Shouldn’t
we get this right? Unfortunately, the City has failed to address certain critical elements and
challenging the EIS is the only way to make the City address these shortcomings.”
The City of Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) on October 31 issued its Final
Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the projects that will follow completion of the deepbore tunnel, tearing down the SR99 viaduct, and rebuilding the seawall. The three principal projects
are to relocate Alaskan Way, build a waterfront promenade, and build the Overlook Walk, a major
new pedestrian overpass connecting the Pike Place Market with the waterfront.
In the Waterfront Association’s appeal of the FEIS, the group points to critical flaws, including:
1. The FEIS legally fails to describe and evaluate the project’s effects.
2. The FEIS fails to consider important alternatives and current data.
3. The new waterfront as designed will be inaccessible to most visitors.
In its appeal of the FEIS, the waterfront businesses said market research shows 53%-74% of
waterfront visitors arrive by car. They are day visitors, not downtown commuters, typically family
groups of three or more people to a car, frequently with children in strollers, grandparents, or both.
They are unable to walk long distances, are unfamiliar with Seattle’s transit system, and want to park
within sight of their destination. The SDOT FEIS omits these essential points.
The FEIS reveals the project will remove 453 on-street parking places as well as 189 off-street
parking places. These 642 parking spaces are essentially all the line-of-sight parking for the
waterfront, as well as a very large percentage of all parking reasonably available to family dayvisitors. There is no basis to conclude that those visitors would actually come to the Central
Waterfront if they had to park as far away as the City’s FEIS assumes. Compounding the lack of
accessibility, there is no transit service planned for the new waterfront and the planned First Avenue
streetcar will remove more nearby transit and parking.
These practical facts elude the City’s analysis, so the FEIS presents a waterfront project that is fatally
flawed. It assumes that the majority of visitors, people who cannot walk great distances and are
unfamiliar with the city, will somehow make their way into the downtown core and then attempt to
get to the waterfront.
The FEIS says a key goal is to connect the new waterfront to downtown, but it fails to improve the
East-West pedestrian connections at multiple streets. In fact, the FEIS never recognizes that the
affected environment of the Waterfront Project is one of the most important visitor destinations in
the City of Seattle, with at least 4.5 million unique pedestrian visitors per year needing to come to,
and cross to the west side of, Alaskan Way.

News Release
Waterfront Businesses Challenge Waterfront EIS
Page 3 of 3

Seattle Historic Waterfront Association
November 14, 2016

A sober reading of the FEIS leads to one sorry conclusion: the City has designed the Central
Waterfront to be inaccessible to the very families who have been the majority of the historic visitors
to the Central Waterfront.
The EIS should never have been completed without properly considering alternatives and impacts,
which include replacing more of the lost parking, and creating more effective ways to safely move
pedestrians – especially families and people with mobility challenges – to the Central Waterfront.