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Originally published September 12, 2011 at 4:01 AM | Page modified September 12, 2011 at 9:47 PM

Mixed results from revised street-parking rates

Raising street-parking rates in four busy Seattle neighborhoods has made it easier to find a parking space there, but lowering rates in 11 other neighborhoods didn't fill on-street spaces as much as city leaders hoped, according to a study the Seattle Department of Transportation plans to release Monday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Seattle parking study

quotes "...the findings concluded people are willing to pay a lot for parking in... Read more
quotes "The study concluded more study is needed." Big surprise there. Read more
quotes Hmmm.... more (government) common sense ? Not providing parking needed for taxpayers, ... Read more

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Raising street-parking rates earlier this year in four busy Seattle districts made it easier to find a parking space there, according to a study the Seattle Department of Transportation was to release Monday.

But lowering rates in 11 other neighborhoods didn't fill on-street spaces as much as city leaders had hoped.

The City Council requested the study last year when it agreed to raise parking rates downtown and in First Hill, Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square, and to lower them elsewhere. The study concluded more study is needed.

In a detailed look at the way drivers use street spaces, the findings concluded people are willing to pay a lot for parking in neighborhoods with high demand, but that cheap parking won't draw them somewhere they wouldn't go anyway.

Councilmember Tim Burgess said the city has changed the conversation about parking to one about supply and demand — "performance-based parking management" that hopefully will help the city make more money and keep spaces turning over often.

The study also hinted at future possibilities, such as time-of-day and seasonal parking hikes, allowing people to stay past the current time limit if they're willing to pay a premium, and a system to pay for parking by cellphone.

At the start of 2011, Seattle boosted rates from $2.50 to $4 an hour downtown to raise revenue and increase turnover, so that it would be easier to find a street-parking space.

Rates of $4 an hour make Seattle among the most expensive places in the country to park on the street. The city also extended until 8 p.m. the hours during which drivers have to pay to park.

The city also lowered rates in 11 less-busy neighborhoods, in the hopes that doing so would fill up the spaces, and left rates the same in seven.

Eventually, the city likely will charge a higher rate for the busiest times of day in some neighborhoods and a lower rate for times when parking is in less demand, said Burgess.

In 2004, Seattle started replacing parking meters with 2,200 green pay stations, which allow people to pay with credit cards. The machines spit out a sticker as proof of payment.

Almost three-quarters of the machines around the city are too old to program with different parking rates at different times of day, but they are to be replaced in the next few years, according to the study.

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

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