City puts revised parking rates under review

Posted on January 27th, 2011 by Editor


Two weeks ago we reported on SDOT’s announcement that it would be implementing changing parking rates and extended pay hours all around Seattle, including a $0.50 to $1/hour decrease (paired with an increase in pay hours from 6 to 8 p.m.) in Lower Queen Anne. Many around the city, and here in QA, were displeased. And you weren’t alone.

A number of residents and community groups citywide have spoken out against the parking rate changes, particularly in the areas where hikes will push rates to $4/hour. On Monday a collation of local organizations wrote a letter to City Council voicing their concerns and urging them to revisit the methodology behind the rate hikes.

We do not believe that increasing meter rates to $4.00 per hour Downtown, or $2.00 per hour in neighborhoods such as Fremont and the University District, is consistent with the policy objectives established by the City Council nor do we believe the proposed increases are supported by SDOT’s study. Further, charging for on-street parking until 8 pm in some neighborhoods will directly impact many restaurants that bring pedestrian-scale vitality to our business districts.

The results of SDOT’s study demonstrate that occupancy levels in most Seattle neighborhoods fall below the threshold of 78% established by SDOT for a majority of the day. SDOT has indicated that their recommendation to increase rates is based on the occupancy levels at the point in the day when demand is greatest (“peak period”.) Setting all day rates based on the one hour of the day when demand is greatest is the equivalent of the Seattle Seahawks charging Super Bowl ticket prices for regular season games. We believe this approach is fundamentally flawed and will discourage people from parking in neighborhood business districts.

We urge the Council to look closely at the study methodology and the basis for raising rates. The proposed increases in meter rates are not in keeping with the letter or spirit of your policy direction and will have harmful impacts on the viability of small businesses in Seattle. Consider for a moment that under this proposal Seattle would have some of the most expensive on-street parking of any city in the country.

Groups represented in this letter included the including the Downtown Seattle Association, Fremont Chamber of Commerce, Belltown Business Association, Greater University Chamber of Commerce, Washington Restaurants Association, and Seattle Business Association. Read the full letter here (.pdf).

It seems the city was listening to these groups and neighborhoods, many of which would be facing a new $4.00/hour parking rate. According to a report by The Seattle Times, the city is putting these revised rates under review before making them official. From the Times:

At a lunch-time forum at City Hall, Councilmember Tim Burgess said the City Council has asked for a review of a parking study used by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to set the new rates.

Mike Estey, SDOT manager, said staff were “scrubbing the numbers, the data and methodology” in the wake of criticism that the rates would hurt small businesses and were based on peak-occupancy, not typical parking availability.

No word on what changes might be in order and whether or not this affects Lower Queen Anne/Uptown specifically, which was facing decreased rates in the new plan. At least for the time being you can expect parking to stay at the same-old $2/hour rates  at the foot of the hill.


  • MsFrench

    Although I really like downtown Seattle, if I want to go shopping, eat at a restaurant or see a movie, I think I’ll be far more likely to go to one of the Malls where parking is free and plentiful, than to spend $4 an hour (more like $8. or $12. total) to park downtown. If I were a downtown merchant, I’d be fighting this rate hike like crazy.

  • MsFrench

    Although I really like downtown Seattle, if I want to go shopping, eat at a restaurant or see a movie, I think I’ll be far more likely to go to one of the Malls where parking is free and plentiful, than to spend $4 an hour (more like $8. or $12. total) to park downtown. If I were a downtown merchant, I’d be fighting this rate hike like crazy.

  • ric

    I’m with MsFrench. This was an incredibly short sighted idea. If I had to weigh spending $8 -$12 to park so I could do some shopping vs a 10 minute drive up to Northgate, guess what I’ll take?

    I regret voting for McGinn.

  • ric

    I’m with MsFrench. This was an incredibly short sighted idea. If I had to weigh spending $8 -$12 to park so I could do some shopping vs a 10 minute drive up to Northgate, guess what I’ll take?

    I regret voting for McGinn.

  • Matt the Engineer

    I’m guessing that you currently do shop at Northgate because you can actually find a parking spot. If I’m shopping downtown and I drive I pretty much plan on parking in a lot because street parking is all but impossible to find.

    This will actually free up spaces, which I consider a good thing. How many hours of my life have I wasted circling for parking spots?

  • Matt the Engineer

    I’m guessing that you currently do shop at Northgate because you can actually find a parking spot. If I’m shopping downtown and I drive I pretty much plan on parking in a lot because street parking is all but impossible to find.

    This will actually free up spaces, which I consider a good thing. How many hours of my life have I wasted circling for parking spots?

  • phil

    I agree with Matt. If I can park on the street downtown, it’s usually at one of the hidden spots I know about that is on the edge of downtown. Would be nice to see a few empty spots actually in the downtown.

    I think I spent 10 minutes at one of the intersections near Northgate in Dec, so I don’t know about “a 10 minute drive up to Northgate”.

  • phil

    I agree with Matt. If I can park on the street downtown, it’s usually at one of the hidden spots I know about that is on the edge of downtown. Would be nice to see a few empty spots actually in the downtown.

    I think I spent 10 minutes at one of the intersections near Northgate in Dec, so I don’t know about “a 10 minute drive up to Northgate”.

  • ric

    Umm, I wasn’t weighing time spent searching for a spot. I’m weighing money spent paying for parking vs free parking. Let me spell it out for the dolts above.

    I can park for free at Northgate. I’d have to pay $8-$12 (under McGinn’s proposal) to park down town. Twelve bucks is lunch for two people.

    I’d much prefer to shop downtown as it’s more convienent and way closer, however, the idea of spending up to $12 to simply shop is absolutely absurd.

    Mark my words, once folks reject spending that money to do their shopping and they are hit with $40 tickets, downtown shopping will dry up. I gurantee it.

    If it does pass, I expect the vandalism against the ticket kiosks to increase exponentially. That will eat all the increased revenue.

  • ric

    Umm, I wasn’t weighing time spent searching for a spot. I’m weighing money spent paying for parking vs free parking. Let me spell it out for the dolts above.

    I can park for free at Northgate. I’d have to pay $8-$12 (under McGinn’s proposal) to park down town. Twelve bucks is lunch for two people.

    I’d much prefer to shop downtown as it’s more convienent and way closer, however, the idea of spending up to $12 to simply shop is absolutely absurd.

    Mark my words, once folks reject spending that money to do their shopping and they are hit with $40 tickets, downtown shopping will dry up. I gurantee it.

    If it does pass, I expect the vandalism against the ticket kiosks to increase exponentially. That will eat all the increased revenue.

  • MsFrench

    Phil, Going shopping ANYPLACE in December, whether downtown or Northgate is usually frustrating at best, and impossible at worst. If you had trouble getting to Northgate during that time, I imagine it would have been ten times more difficult to go anyplace downtown.

    But on a normal day, it’s not too hard to get to Northgate. I prefer downtown shopping, but I can’t see paying $12 for the privilege. Yes, this new parking rate structure may make parking spots turn over a little quicker (or may not), but that’s not the issue that most people will have. It’s the cost more than availability.

  • MsFrench

    Phil, Going shopping ANYPLACE in December, whether downtown or Northgate is usually frustrating at best, and impossible at worst. If you had trouble getting to Northgate during that time, I imagine it would have been ten times more difficult to go anyplace downtown.

    But on a normal day, it’s not too hard to get to Northgate. I prefer downtown shopping, but I can’t see paying $12 for the privilege. Yes, this new parking rate structure may make parking spots turn over a little quicker (or may not), but that’s not the issue that most people will have. It’s the cost more than availability.

  • Matt the Engineer

    [ric] //Umm, I wasn’t weighing time spent searching for a spot. I’m weighing money spent paying for parking vs free parking.// Well then you clearly have more time than money. That’s fine. But then I’d argue the best deal for you would be the bus. Most of us are time constrained and would rather find a spot at $4 an hour than not find a spot.

    [MsFrench] If you’re paying $12 then you’re going over the maximum 2 hour limit. And you’d find a better deal at a lot at that point anyway. The real question is $5 now vs $8. Will that extra $3 keep you from downtown, even knowing you’d waste less time looking for parking? If so, then that’s one more free space for the rest of us.

    “this new parking rate structure may make parking spots turn over a little quicker (or may not)” This is like saying that *nobody goes there, it’s too crowded*. If it isn’t easier to find parking, then that means downtown shopping hasn’t lost any customers, right?

    One nice factor is that if there are more spots then there are fewer people circling for parking, which means less traffic.

  • Matt the Engineer

    [ric] //Umm, I wasn’t weighing time spent searching for a spot. I’m weighing money spent paying for parking vs free parking.// Well then you clearly have more time than money. That’s fine. But then I’d argue the best deal for you would be the bus. Most of us are time constrained and would rather find a spot at $4 an hour than not find a spot.

    [MsFrench] If you’re paying $12 then you’re going over the maximum 2 hour limit. And you’d find a better deal at a lot at that point anyway. The real question is $5 now vs $8. Will that extra $3 keep you from downtown, even knowing you’d waste less time looking for parking? If so, then that’s one more free space for the rest of us.

    “this new parking rate structure may make parking spots turn over a little quicker (or may not)” This is like saying that *nobody goes there, it’s too crowded*. If it isn’t easier to find parking, then that means downtown shopping hasn’t lost any customers, right?

    One nice factor is that if there are more spots then there are fewer people circling for parking, which means less traffic.

  • mickey

    “But then I’d argue the best deal for you would be the bus.”

    Argue all you want, Matt. As a woman, I can tell you know nothing of the way women shop. Many of us like to get a lot of things in one shopping spree. That means at least two hours, maybe three. More importantly,that translates into many bags/packages, some of which may be hanging bags. I don’t know one woman who enjoys the hassle of walking to the bus, laden down with that many packages, wading through the drunks in the free ride zone and trying to find a spot on the bus — with all those packages — and then having to carry them again while walking the six blocks from the bus to home. Especially if it’s raining. Especially if we’re wearing heels. Especially if it’s dark outside.

    Here’s a clue for you:

    I drive to Northgate (which is closer to and less travel time from my house than downtown), I park the car right near the front entrance of the place I want to shop — FOR FREE — shop for as long as I want, without the stress of my meter running out, and then get to throw all the packages into the trunk and drive home — without getting rained on, without having to deal with a molasses-slow bus full of knuckleheads.

    Guess who’s really going to lose out on business? The downtown and Capitol Hill restaurants. Diners who wouldn’t otherwise park in a lot after 6:00 are not going to pay $8 to park on the street during dinner. Guaranteed.

    And I don’t feel bad about voting for the knucklehead at City Hall, because I was smart enough NOT to vote for him.

  • mickey

    “But then I’d argue the best deal for you would be the bus.”

    Argue all you want, Matt. As a woman, I can tell you know nothing of the way women shop. Many of us like to get a lot of things in one shopping spree. That means at least two hours, maybe three. More importantly,that translates into many bags/packages, some of which may be hanging bags. I don’t know one woman who enjoys the hassle of walking to the bus, laden down with that many packages, wading through the drunks in the free ride zone and trying to find a spot on the bus — with all those packages — and then having to carry them again while walking the six blocks from the bus to home. Especially if it’s raining. Especially if we’re wearing heels. Especially if it’s dark outside.

    Here’s a clue for you:

    I drive to Northgate (which is closer to and less travel time from my house than downtown), I park the car right near the front entrance of the place I want to shop — FOR FREE — shop for as long as I want, without the stress of my meter running out, and then get to throw all the packages into the trunk and drive home — without getting rained on, without having to deal with a molasses-slow bus full of knuckleheads.

    Guess who’s really going to lose out on business? The downtown and Capitol Hill restaurants. Diners who wouldn’t otherwise park in a lot after 6:00 are not going to pay $8 to park on the street during dinner. Guaranteed.

    And I don’t feel bad about voting for the knucklehead at City Hall, because I was smart enough NOT to vote for him.

  • Matt the Engineer

    [mickey] If you’re already driving to Northgate, how are downtown businesses affected at all by this rate hike? They already don’t have your business. And if you do go downtown for mall shopping for 2-3 hours, you’ll park in a lot. Why do you care about street parking? It is not for you.

    The businesses that care about street parking downtown aren’t Nordstrom and the Gap. That’s what parking garages are for. It’s restaurants, bars, and small retailers. These are the types of places that need high turnover for parking. If you see a parking spot in front of a little store you might stop and go in. If you have to circle for 10 minutes to find a spot you probably won’t.

  • Matt the Engineer

    [mickey] If you’re already driving to Northgate, how are downtown businesses affected at all by this rate hike? They already don’t have your business. And if you do go downtown for mall shopping for 2-3 hours, you’ll park in a lot. Why do you care about street parking? It is not for you.

    The businesses that care about street parking downtown aren’t Nordstrom and the Gap. That’s what parking garages are for. It’s restaurants, bars, and small retailers. These are the types of places that need high turnover for parking. If you see a parking spot in front of a little store you might stop and go in. If you have to circle for 10 minutes to find a spot you probably won’t.

  • ric

    Matt- the lots aill increase their price. Mark my words.

    And the bus is for losers.

  • ric

    Matt- the lots aill increase their price. Mark my words.

    And the bus is for losers.

  • ric

    will

  • ric

    will

  • QARunner

    I can tolerate the bums, druggies and boozers downtown and in Belltown (barely) when out for dinner or shopping but throw in the $12 parking and I just don’t see myself spending much time or money downtown anymore. I’d rather go to a restaurant in one of the neighborhoods with free parking and do my shopping at a local mall.

  • QARunner

    I can tolerate the bums, druggies and boozers downtown and in Belltown (barely) when out for dinner or shopping but throw in the $12 parking and I just don’t see myself spending much time or money downtown anymore. I’d rather go to a restaurant in one of the neighborhoods with free parking and do my shopping at a local mall.

  • Matt the Engineer

    Have fun with that. I’ll never understand the type of person that loves malls. You know you’re actually paying for parking there too, right? It’s just rolled into the price of their bland overpriced clothing and low-grade food court food.

  • Matt the Engineer

    Have fun with that. I’ll never understand the type of person that loves malls. You know you’re actually paying for parking there too, right? It’s just rolled into the price of their bland overpriced clothing and low-grade food court food.

  • ric

    Who said anything about food at the mall Matt? Or even loving malls? The issue is the outrageous cash grab McGinn has put forth.

  • ric

    Who said anything about food at the mall Matt? Or even loving malls? The issue is the outrageous cash grab McGinn has put forth.

  • Matt the Engineer

    Outrageous cash grab? It’s called slightly reducing the parking subsidy to approximate a market rate.

    There’s no free lunch. Make any good or service free or artificially cheap and you just trade time for money. Require massages to be $1 and you’ll never get an appointment at a massage parlor without waiting in line all night. The same is true for parking, which explains our current system of circling for a spot.

  • Matt the Engineer

    Outrageous cash grab? It’s called slightly reducing the parking subsidy to approximate a market rate.

    There’s no free lunch. Make any good or service free or artificially cheap and you just trade time for money. Require massages to be $1 and you’ll never get an appointment at a massage parlor without waiting in line all night. The same is true for parking, which explains our current system of circling for a spot.

  • ric

    Artificially cheap is subjective, Matt. People making $200,000+ most likely wouldn’t balk at paying $50 to park, but that doesn’t mean it’s market rate.

    In fact, you’re the only one here calling the proposed rates market, while the majority (ie true market) of us are saying it’s too steep.

    This will go no where if you want stipulate that this is McGinn’s attempt to increase revenue and shore up the budget. This has nothing to do with freeing up spaces. And, it it does, it’s elitist. Marking parking prohibitively expensive for school teachers, cops, nurses, students, and laborers ain’t cool. But you can think it is if it makes you happy that you took three courses in undergrad.
    .

  • ric

    Artificially cheap is subjective, Matt. People making $200,000+ most likely wouldn’t balk at paying $50 to park, but that doesn’t mean it’s market rate.

    In fact, you’re the only one here calling the proposed rates market, while the majority (ie true market) of us are saying it’s too steep.

    This will go no where if you want stipulate that this is McGinn’s attempt to increase revenue and shore up the budget. This has nothing to do with freeing up spaces. And, it it does, it’s elitist. Marking parking prohibitively expensive for school teachers, cops, nurses, students, and laborers ain’t cool. But you can think it is if it makes you happy that you took three courses in undergrad.
    .

  • ric

    “if it does ”

    and

    “Makeing parking”

    and “you took three Econ courses in undergrad”

    I should proof before posting.

  • ric

    “if it does ”

    and

    “Makeing parking”

    and “you took three Econ courses in undergrad”

    I should proof before posting.

  • Matt the Engineer

    Artificially cheap is not subjective. We can use two measures – one is the market for real estate. Looking at the price of land downtown, renting out a parking spot should cost somewhere between tens to hundreds of dollars an hour. That’s why buildings are tall downtown, because the value of each square foot is so high. The only reason you see flat parking lots downtown is that they’re place holders for future tall buildings.

    The other way of finding out the value of a parking spot is supply and demand. Sure, people on a blog say they wouldn’t pay $4 an hour. If everybody stops parking downtown and the streets are empty, then you are right and I’m sure they’ll change the rates back immediately. But people are right now paying an average of $7 an hour in lots downtown. This is closer to the real market price.

    If you want to subsidize teacher parking, then subsidize teacher parking. Keeping prices low wastes the time of those teachers and everyone else.

  • Matt the Engineer

    Artificially cheap is not subjective. We can use two measures – one is the market for real estate. Looking at the price of land downtown, renting out a parking spot should cost somewhere between tens to hundreds of dollars an hour. That’s why buildings are tall downtown, because the value of each square foot is so high. The only reason you see flat parking lots downtown is that they’re place holders for future tall buildings.

    The other way of finding out the value of a parking spot is supply and demand. Sure, people on a blog say they wouldn’t pay $4 an hour. If everybody stops parking downtown and the streets are empty, then you are right and I’m sure they’ll change the rates back immediately. But people are right now paying an average of $7 an hour in lots downtown. This is closer to the real market price.

    If you want to subsidize teacher parking, then subsidize teacher parking. Keeping prices low wastes the time of those teachers and everyone else.

  • ric

    Artificially cheap is subjective. That you and I disgree on this is proof.

  • ric

    Artificially cheap is subjective. That you and I disgree on this is proof.

  • ric

    Gross.

    My neighbor just pointed out that I was arguing with a guy who used “massage parlors” as a barometer. Don’t know how I missed that.

    I guess that explains why “Matt” is ok with high hourly charges.

  • ric

    Gross.

    My neighbor just pointed out that I was arguing with a guy who used “massage parlors” as a barometer. Don’t know how I missed that.

    I guess that explains why “Matt” is ok with high hourly charges.

  • Matt the Engineer

    Ha! Of course I meant the innocent kind of massages, but I suppose the economics would work either way.

    I was at a conference recently where they had a relaxation area set up with free 10-min massages (that’s relaxation massages) for attendees, and the entire day’s wait list filled up within the first half hour. That’s the reason for the strange analogy, but it works for anything.

  • Matt the Engineer

    Ha! Of course I meant the innocent kind of massages, but I suppose the economics would work either way.

    I was at a conference recently where they had a relaxation area set up with free 10-min massages (that’s relaxation massages) for attendees, and the entire day’s wait list filled up within the first half hour. That’s the reason for the strange analogy, but it works for anything.