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Originally published Friday, December 5, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Some in Fremont fear metered parking will hurt shops

Fremont will become the latest Seattle neighborhood to have parking meters, a move business owners there worry will drive out small independent shops.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Fremont will become the latest Seattle neighborhood to have metered parking, a move business owners there worry will drive out small independent shops.

The city Department of Transportation released Thursday the result of its yearlong study of parking in Fremont. It found that between 75 and 100 percent of the street parking was full in the neighborhood during the workday, and residents are increasingly annoyed by commuters and bar and restaurant patrons using up the street parking.

"With such high utilization, it could be some people decide not to go to Fremont" because it's so difficult to find a parking space, said Mary Catherine Snyder, a senior transportation manager with the city.

In addition to about 13 to 20 parking pay stations in the neighborhood's retail core, the city will impose time limits on more of the free parking spaces and put a residential zone in the surrounding neighborhood.

"I think the residents are not opposed to the parking meters," said Erik Pihl, a board member on the Fremont Neighborhood Council. "I think the bigger concern residents had was how to kind of create a positive relationship between the business interests in the neighborhood and the residents."

The local business group was less enamored with the city's plan.

The transportation department initially proposed more metered parking spaces, but scaled back the number after the Fremont Chamber of Commerce complained that taking away free parking would drive customers toward Wallingford and University Village. Many of Fremont's shops survive on small purchases, said Jessica Vets, executive director of the chamber. An extra $3 for parking could thwart a sale, she said.

"Some of our smaller businesses are really in jeopardy and really have the potential that they will be hurt by parking meters," she said.

Fremont is the latest neighborhood to see the addition of metered parking. There is metered parking downtown, in the University District, on Broadway on Capitol Hill, on First Hill, in South Lake Union and in Ballard. The city is finishing up a study of parking on upper Queen Anne Hill and is recommending time-limited parking spaces there, but no pay stations. It is just starting similar studies of the West Seattle Junction and Pike-Pine neighborhoods.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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