Photo by Oran

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.

24 Replies to “When RPZs Attack”

  1. ” 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. ”

    This argument doesn’t disprove the claim. Just because *some* other neighborhoods have RPZ, doesn’t mean the Valley isn’t being singled out (for inclusion into the program) .

    Isn’t your point that RV is correctly being singled out for RPZ because the policy is not not allow long-term street parking around light rail for those evil “park-and-hiders” and you agree with that policy?

    1. The fact that the RPZ program has been around long before Link opened is proof that the Valley is not being singled out.

    2. Every single station area in the RV has an RPZ, and they have been largely uncontroversial in all the other station areas. Rainier Beach is not being singled out in any way — they’re being treated like every other similar area in the city.

  2. It’s strange to me that this is even a debate. My neighbors collected signatures to implement an RPZ when a few coffee shop and new little condo complex (still sitting unfinished and for sale after 3 years of being half-constructed) moved in. Even with this little change in traffic it passed easily – people love their free street parking, and will pay a little bit to protect it.

    1. Yes, but your neighborhood didn’t have the big evil moneybags Sound Transit boogeyman to blame for its imposition.

      1. People will complain about anything. It’s unbelievable how cheap people can be. I just shake my head in disappointment when I hear BS like this.

      2. My hunch is the people that don’t like the RPZ are some of the same people that fought against Link in the first place.

  3. Has anyone done any analysis to determine where the people parking their cars are coming from? Do they have reasonable access to bus service, for example, that is as good as, or nearly as good as their car? What businesses are they traveling to…what types…and where are they located.

    It seems like many of these discussions are done in the absence of specific data about transit customers that might provide insight into the behavior…rather than simply applauding or deriding it.

    1. These decisions have nothing to do with transit customers. It’s about parking supply and demand for residents.

      1. I agree that establishing an RPZ adjacent to RBS is appropriate and consistent with what has been done at other stations. But it turns out there has not been demand or contention for parking near most rail stations.

        John has a valid point about understanding those that do “park and hide” about what the demand picture is. So is it really about “protecting local residents” or is it about generating revenue for the city? In comparison, neighborhood parking zones in Chicago are usually only enforced in the evenings when people typically return to their homes. (albiet the area w/in a block of stations is typically metered) Why couldn’t that be the case here?

        Until there are adequate east/west transit connections to the denser neighborhoods I think the city should accommodate “hide and ride” behavior. And none of that “you can walk” bs please…

  4. Could the residents living inside this particular RPZ have a vote, repeal it, and live with the consequences of hide and riders?

  5. Sigh.

    Why are you disagreeing with me, when we agree?

    Sherwin: it depends on your conceptualization of “singling out”. I noted that the neighborhood was, in a sense, being singled out because it currently doesn’t jive with current RPZ policy, while others with light rail do.

    Bruce: We’re saying the same thing.

    You know, the passion and commitment on this blog can be really inspiring- but sometimes it’s just obdurate.

  6. Exactly.

    Maybe we should revert the Agenda from Transit back to good old Transportation.

    You can’t just force people into using a train, then take away their access to the stations by building density around them, which makes the housing too expensive for them to live there, then reduce feeder bus service and then criticize them for making an effort to park near a station so they can get to work on time! Essentially what Transit Social Engineering is doing is creating a walled city where only those who live near a station can get access to jobs and money.

    Transportation assumes that people want to make the best choice for them were to live and work and its job is to move them quickly from point A to point B.

  7. Many of us who live in the Rainier Valley like riding rail, especially since downtown parking is getting so costly, and in comparison to stop and go, slow buses.

    But many people believe that there is not sufficient east-west feeder or circular transit, and Sound Transit omitted a station at a blatantly obvious location, Graham Street. The obscure costs of transfers from Sound to Metro Transit are also an issue. It’d be great to see explicit info about transfers on info kiosks/schedules for BOTH systems, since they want to take us into the cyberworld of ORCA cards but not tell us much. Find out what people need, meet them at least half way, and provide INFORMATION. Though that’s confusing too, since if you call Sound Transit info, you get transferred to Metro without being told that Metro provides BOTH systems’ information. Oh, and how about the youth fares for Metro heading towards 1.25, which matches the youth fares for light rail… very inclusive. I could go on for a while about poor communication and not recruiting diverse ridership.

    PS- When I’m in a hurry, I often park near a station and walk for 2-5 minutes when I don’t have time to walk for 15-20 minutes from a Beacon Hill workplace or Hillman City home. I rarely see crowded daytime parking except on the seam between restricted and open parking. I AM keeping my car close to home.

    1. A remindar: the Graham St station was declined by the neighborhood of residents and businesses who voted against having a station at that intersection.

      1. Do you have a citation for that one? Most everyone in the valley that I’ve met or spoken to seems to have wanted that one.

  8. I participated in the RPZ program last year but I’m not going to bother this year. Not once has parking enforcement checked on my street for illegal parkers so why should I pay for an ineffective RPZ prgram. It’s the same result if I don’t than if I do, ie., no parking enforcement presence whatsoever. Not once has the RPZ been enforced in my neighborhood. I’m going to put the money in the bank.

  9. I just heard this same story repeated on Q13 Fox News tonight with the same misinformation, that the RPZ fee is paying for the light rail station in Rainier Beach. The headline was “Light Rail Parking Fees.” Doesn’t anyone bother to fact-check anymore? I’d expect shoddy journalism from a local blog, but it’s pretty sad that a major broadcaster is repeating the same story without checking the accuracy.

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