City puts revised parking rates under review
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.