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Seattle officials tighten growth goals on UW

caption: Students enjoy the annual display of cherry tree blossoms on UW's quad.
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Students enjoy the annual display of cherry tree blossoms on UW's quad.

The University of Washington is planning for an influx of 35,000 more students in the next decade.

UW’s master plan for 2028 is intended to prepare for that growth by adding 6 million square feet of classroom, living and office space to the Seattle campus.

But Seattle officials reviewing the plan want UW to better offset anticipated growing pains.

A City Council committee approved the plan Wednesday, but added some new requirements.

Councilmember Mike O'Brien called for more housing for staff and faculty. "[There are employees] that likely will not be able to afford housing in the area and will require either very long commutes to distant places where they can afford it or subsidies," he said.

The plan will require UW to build at least 450 affordable housing units specifically for employees, up from 150 UW had proposed. 

Council members also adopted stricter car-commuter requirements to ease traffic congestion in the University District. They shrunk the maximum number of campus parking spots from about 12,000 to 9,000. The committee also called for UW to cut down on car commuters by 5 percent by the year 2028.

Councilmember Rob Johnson wants the UW to direct people to transit, such as new light rail stations scheduled to open in 2021 in the U-District, Roosevelt and Northgate.

"The goal here is to ensure that as the light rail system continues to progress and march farther north, south and east we will continue to ask the University of Washington to reduce its SOV rate" he said, referring to single-occupancy vehicles.

O'Brien said he supports the 5 percent reduction in car commuting, but wants to see UW exceed that goal.

This is the first stage of the campus growth proposal. The full City Council will vote on UW's plan September 24, but final approval isn't expected until sometime in 2019, after another round of public review.

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