Sometime this month, the RPZ (restricted parking zone) permit rules will be put into effect for Zone 31 around the Rainier Beach Link Station. To clarify, the RPZ and its rules have been there since 2009 when Link first opened, but residents will now have to start paying a $65 biannual fee for up to two permits (one for each car) per household. The RPZ fees were waived for the first two years by the City to help neighbors transition into the RPZ.
If you want the negative slant on this, then you’ll want to see the article put out by the South Seattle Beacon, which, unfortunately, contains some inaccuracies worth pointing out:
This fee, enforced upon residents who live near the Martin Luther King Jr. and South Henderson St. intersection — or Residential Parking Zone 31 (RPZ 31) — will pay for the operating costs of the Henderson light-rail station.
The Henderson light-rail station has not generated the level of riders and revenue needed to operate, according to Sound Transit, since the city doesn’t have park-and-ride lots.
The Beacon notes that the enactment of the RPZ fee was initiated to help plug up funding for operating the Link Station, when in actuality, the money goes to fund municipal parking enforcement, not Sound Transit coffers. There’s also no indication of the true nature of RPZ 31– an agreement publicly formed years ago after extensive public outreach, not some deal struck overnight.
Some of those quoted in the article imply that Rainier Valley residents are being unjustly singled out to bear the brunt of RPZ costs. But not only are RPZs not just limited to the Valley, they’re prevalent across the city, even in neighborhoods that supposedly get the preferential rock-star treatment. The Beacon also doesn’t any mention of an important component of the RPZ program–a discounted $10 permit available to low-income households — less than 2 cents a day over two years.
Both Adam and SDOT’s Rick Sheridan left some worthy comments on the story tackling more of the article’s misinformation, so I’ll let their words do the work. It’s just unfortunate how many inaccuracies were produced by the story’s slant. It needlessly creates a trap that a lot of community members and social justice advocates fall into by rhetorically alienating transit/social service providers like Sound Transit and the City, who, at the end of the day, would be doing a greater injustice by not the fighting hide-and-riders hogging parking in Rainier Valley neighborhoods.
*Disclaimer: The author is currently employed by Sound Transit. However, all opinions expressed in this article are completely his own and may not reflect the views of anyone else.