Got a Parking Opinion? Express Yourself!

Parking. Whether it’s on the street or in a garage, it’s something that many people do on a regular basis. While people certainly don’t drive for the sole purpose of parking, the act of finding a spot is inevitable. We want to hear about your experiences.

At SDOT, we manage the on-street parking network – all those pay stations, meters, and related signs. Right now, we’re working on a project that outlines different strategies to make paid parking in downtown and neighborhood business districts more available. The technical term is performance-based parking pricing. Other cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington D.C. are testing out new strategies too.

We’d like to get a better sense for business owner needs, understand the customer parking experience, and look for ways to make it better. Take a survey! You can find the survey here – it should take about 10-15 minutes. Thanks!

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  1. says

    Parking can also be an infrastructure problem. where I live the amount of duplex apartments means where one car was there are now three or four. And most families have 2 cars now instead of 1.

    Carol. dyson animal

  2. Nina says

    I am an RPZ permit holder. I paid the $65 in April at of this year to be able to park in my designated zone. I’ve noticed quite a few things since then that I would love to express;

    1. I notice many cars parked for several days at a time when the limit is supposed to be 72 hours.

    2. I see staff members from the nearby hospital taking parking spots and using disabled parking permits when they are obviously not disabled.

    3. My rear bumper is absolutely destroyed as a result of cars having to be crammed into tiny spaces in their zone.

    4. Way too many cars that do not use zone permits are taking up zone parking while spots that are not within the zone go unused.

    5. After 8 PM it is almost impossible to find a spot in my zone at all. I have wasted countless gallons of gas driving around in circles in the rain, almost hitting pedestrians at blind intersections, only to end up parking my car outside of my zone and waking up at 7:30 the next morning (I work at night) to walk half a mile up the hill to re-park my vehicle literally across the street.

    These problems could all be easily fixed if zone permit parking were available on either side of all streets within the zones. Why this isn’t the case now is beyond me. Although the effort to improve parking in and around the downtown area is appreciated, I won’t be suggesting people actually live here if they own a vehicle. I live in the first hill neighborhood and absolutely love it, but I will be moving soon, partly due to the parking headaches.

    • pegNielsen says

      Dear Nina,
      Thanks for writing to the SDOT blog. Sorry parking is such a problem, but we do have some answers to your questions.

      While the 72-hour rule applies to everyone parking on-street, there are obviously limitations to Seattle Police Parking Enforcement’s ability enforce this rule everywhere. When they become aware of potential violations through regular patrol or via complaints, they can give those locations extra attention. If you believe the 72-hour rule is being violated, please contact the police at the abandoned vehicles phone number, (206) 684-8763. Leave a message with the vehicle information (make, model, license, color, address) and Parking Enforcement will tag it to start the 72-hour clock ticking for follow-up enforcement when time is up.

      Disabilities are sometimes not apparent, so we don’t want to assume people are or are not disabled based on a brief observation. However, we believe there are many people illegally using disabled placards to get free, on-street, all-day parking. Please report these to SPD Parking Enforcement at (206) 625-5011. An SPD operator will take down the information and send a Parking Enforcement Officer to the location. Be assured that SPD Parking Enforcement has a disabled parking enforcement detail that spends time in the First Hill neighborhood and others where this issue is especially prevalent.

      People may park without RPZ permits in the zone if they abide by the posted time limits. It is public right-of-way, and we try to balance many competing uses. If there are people who overstay, the Parking Enforcement Officers who patrol the area should be ticketing them. If your area appears to require additional enforcement, please call them at (206) 625-5011 and request additional help.

      The First Hill parking plan, developed in 2009 and 2010, saw the need for additional RPZ parking and added approximately 16 blocks to the area (added to Zones 7 and 21). In that planning process, SDOT worked with the community to balance various needs of residents, retail uses, businesses and institutions, and the plan was developed with a great deal of public input. The changes to the RPZ areas were the subject of a public hearing and were supported by the residents.
      As you may be able to tell, parking is not simple. When there are too few spaces and too many cars, we try to find a way to account for everyone and prioritize consistent with existing policies in support of the common good. Good planning and adequate enforcement help, but can’t fix all problems.

    • pegNielsen says

      In Seattle, it is illegal to park large trucks or RV’s on-street overnight except in industrial areas (Seattle Municipal Code 11.72.070 Commercial and large size vehicles.) This language has been in our municipal code for many years. It addresses issues related to the challenges of safely navigating what are typically narrower residential streets during hours when visibility is limited. Outside of industrial areas of the city, RV’s need to be parked off street.

  3. Anon says

    With parking requirements being slashed all around the city and giant condos going up, street parking is becoming a premium. I think that zoned permit parking should be implemented in more neighborhoods where parking is getting harder and harder due to density. Limit it to one permit per household and maybe limit the permits registered to the larger condos.

    Of course there’s issues, such as when people visit from out of town, but I’m sure a solution could be found.

  4. Eldan Goldenberg says

    I would appreciate it if you didn’t restrict the options such that only business owners and drivers are allowed to respond. Those of us who don’t use underpriced street parking pay dearly in terms of wasted space, traffic, impaired road safety and public land given away at a fraction of its market value.

  5. Seattleite says

    In my opinion Seattle has too many parking lots.I’ll walk 5 blocks in the rain over driving 3 miles to an ugly space wasting parking lot any day. Street parking is your product please sell it at the market rate. Yes even tax surface parking for big box retailers.

  6. says

    oh, yes forgot to add, why don’t we tear up all of Broadway and put in a trolly. The Lake Union “SLUT” was a huge success which huge ridership and full trollies. We already have electric buses running on Broadway that are servicing the same routes. I am all for public transportation, but be smart people!

    • pegNielsen says

      The First Hill Streetcar will be an important link in the regional transit system, providing an alternative to the originally proposed deep tunnel light rail station on First Hill. The First Hill Streetcar will also connect diverse and vibrant neighborhoods on Capitol Hill, First Hill, and in the Chinatown/International District, while serving medical centers (Harborview, Swedish, and Virginia Mason) and higher education (Seattle Central Community College and Seattle University). Although these areas already have good bus service, there are no bus lines that make these new connections. The South Lake Union line has helped to spur significant employment growth in South Lake Union and has seen significant ridership growth in each year of operation. This year, the streetcar service in South Lake Union has become so popular with employees in the area that several employers donated additional funding to the City to increase peak hour service.

  7. says

    Let’s see what else we can do as a “city government” to drive-out small business out of our city. We already have the highest minimum wage in the nation! Some of the highest payroll taxes! (Boeing was smart they are big and were able to move their headquarters to a state with more favorable business environment) Oh yeah, let developers come in one of Seattle’s most eclectic diverse neighborhoods, and let them bulldoze whole city blocks into ruble, so they can put up ugly concrete buildings with vacant retail spaces for years to come. Now the rest of us can try to attract customers that have to pay a lot for parking and walk by blocks of construction sites and empty store fronts. Why do I want to shop and dine here when the mall has free parking, and everything I need in one stop?

    • pegNielsen says

      Thanks for your comment.
      It’s places like Julia’s and the tons of restaurants, bars, and quirky shops on Capitol Hill that draw people to the neighborhood. We’re aiming to make street parking more available so more people can get to your business. We hope you had a chance to take the survey and let us know how we can improve the situation for your customers.

  8. Jamie Lutton says

    Dear sir or ma’am:

    Please do not raise our parking rates. WIth a shop vacancy rate hovering around 20%, we do not need new reasons for people to not shop here.
    I have had a shop on Capitol Hill since 1987, continuously. I have seen this problem get worse and worse.
    Please call me up anytime to get my ideas on how to fix this – like encouraging DIAMOND PARKING to give us parking vouchers, which they have so far refused to do, even though I have gone to their offices in person and asked, nicely.
    Jamie Lutton
    Twice Sold Tales

    • pegNielsen says

      Thanks for your comment, Jamie. An SDOT parking staff member will give you a call in the next day or so to talk more about Capitol Hill parking.

    • says

      Hi Jamie,

      Doug Campbell, here, of Bulldog News. I’ve known you for over 25 years and I have a lot of respect for your business acumen, but I think you might be wrong on this issue. As you know, street parking is critical matter for we retailers who do not have our own lots. So here is my take.

      When you worked for Bulldog in 1985(?) I had no problem keeping the store open until 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights. There was enough parking that our customers would reliably park in the U-District, buy some mags, and get on their way.

      Times have changed. U-District parking is now totally socked in after the meters stop running at 6pm. On evenings when school is in session, it is likely that a potential customer will circle block after block looking for on-street parking in the U District. I’ve taken to closing my store earlier and earlier during the school year due to lack of evening sales. For this reason I welcome the extension of parking meter hours to 8pm this fall.

      I don’t know the score on parking availability in your neighborhood, but I have learned this: Parking availability trumps parking price as a customer issue. If there is no reliably available neighborhood parking, your driving customer will definitely go to a competitor who provides a parking lot. That’s probably Half Price books in your case, and B&N in mine.

      Because you don’t know about the customer who shops elsewhere, you tend to hear from the ones who don’t like the price they paid at the parking meter. Still, I’m told time and again by my customers that they don’t mind paying for parking, AS LONG AS THEY KNOW IT WILL BE THERE!!! A higher parking price is one of the only ways to insure that street parking spaces will turn over and stay available.

      I too would like to work more with private parking operators. Bulldog News does validate UDPA parking for larger purchasers at a cost to us of $1.50 per hour, same as our local meters. I guess the U-District is better off in this way. Wouldn’t it be great if the city gave us a way to rebate customer paid meter parking?

      Doug Campbell
      Bulldog News

  9. Liza says

    All you will do by increasing the parking costs are drive away the customers. Guess what will happen? I will drive to stores with a parking lot, instead of walking to one 2 blocks away in the Seattle rain.

    • pegNielsen says

      Thanks for your comment, Liza.
      Hopefully you had a chance to take the survey. It’s related to our Performance-based Pricing project, that involves looking into both raising and lowering parking rates based on demand. Earlier this year, the city lowered rates in 11 out of 23 areas with paid parking. We raised parking rates in four areas where demand was outpacing the availability of parking.

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