The ABCs of RPZs

 A Restricted Parking Zone is known as an RPZ

NOTE: Due to staffing reductions, it is taking longer to process RPZ permit renewals.  You will be able to use your existing (expired) permits until October 31, 2012 in the following zones: A, B, 1, 2, 6, 10, 20 and 22.  Parking Enforcement will honor expired permits through October 31, 2012. 

If you don’t have a Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) permit, you’re probably wondering what it is.  Let’s back up a bit; curb space is part of the public street system, a public good available for all people to use. To restrict the use of curb space for some requires a compelling reason. The RPZ Program was created to help ease parking congestion in residential neighborhoods, while also balancing the needs of all people. An RPZ is typically established on blocks that have adjacent residential uses (houses, apartments, or condominiums) to discourage long-term parking by non-residents. RPZs help neighborhoods deal with non-residents parking on neighborhood streets through the RPZ permitting system.  Residents displaying a valid RPZ permit in their windshield are exempt from the restrictions of parking time limits posted on signs in their neighborhood by SDOT. Eligible residents on an RPZ block may purchase one permit for each vehicle they own, and one guest pass (whether or not they own a vehicle).

How to Initiate an RPZ Program for your Neighborhood
In order to establish an RPZ, there must be a significant degree of parking by non-residents. The Seattle Municipal Code (updated in June 2009) specifies the threshold that must be met in order to establish an RPZ.  Generally, 75% of on-street spaces must be occupied with at least 35% of those spaces used by non-local vehicles, all in an area of at least 10 contiguous blocks (or 20 block faces). Additionally, a “parking generator,” or some event or service that is bringing traffic to the neighborhood, needs to be identified: an institution, a business district or transit service causing the high amount of non-local vehicles parking in the residential area.  If you believe your neighborhood may qualify for an RPZ, you are asked to please follow these steps:

Step 1: Document your situation.  If possible, have your neighborhood association or community council send a letter to Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) describing the parking problem, indicating the streets and blocks most affected, including which days and at what times, and describing (to the best of your knowledge) why the level of parking congestion is high (what is “generating” the parking demand). If the neighborhood community council is inactive, then send a letter signed by residents that are distributed across the ten block area.

Initial Determination
Step 2: Upon receipt of the written RPZ request, SDOT will conduct an initial assessment to determine whether an RPZ is appropriate for the area.

Parking Study                                                                                                                                                                                                        Step 3: If SDOT determines that an RPZ may be appropriate for an area, staff will conduct a formal parking study to determine if at least 35% of vehicles parked are non-residential in nature, if 75% of on-street spaces are occupied, and to confirm whether the conditions exist for 10 contiguous blocks.   Please note, RPZ development takes up to one year.  Requests are taken on a first-come, first-served basis.  If the number of requests for RPZs is high, a neighborhood may experience some delay.

Community Outreach
Step 4: If the RPZ study determines that an RPZ is warranted due to parking impacts from non-residents, SDOT staff will engage affected and interested community stakeholders to review parking study results and get stakeholder assistance in developing an RPZ.  SDOT staff will develop a draft RPZ design for community review, and will conduct a broad public outreach program to gather input on the draft RPZ design.

Prior to any decision to establish an RPZ, SDOT will hold a public hearing to provide interested persons a further opportunity to submit written and spoken comment into the public record, pursuant to SMC 11.16.317(C)(2).

SDOT Decision
Step 5: The SDOT Traffic Management Division Director will make a final decision whether to establish an RPZ based on parking data, staff analysis, and public input. Staff will notify all owners, commercial lessees, and residential properties inside the RPZ boundaries, and those outside the boundaries within at least 300 feet of the decision. 

RPZ Time Frame
The process to create an RPZ should typically take no longer than one year.  The time it takes to create an RPZ will vary significantly depending on local conditions. Such conditions include area size, severity of the parking problem, surrounding land use, and community commitment.

RPZ Follow-Up
An RPZ may be reviewed within six months of implementation and adjustments made to the design, if needed, so that the parking needs of the community are met.

Modification of an RPZ
An additional neighboring block(s) may be added to an existing RPZ if there is interest by the residents on those blocks and SDOT determines that expanding the RPZ to that block(s) would be appropriate. These requests will follow a similar, though less lengthy, process as the initial establishment of a zone.  

Please visit our website for more details about the RPZ Program.  More specifics about the RPZ processs, can be found here .