As mentioned in Thursday’s news roundup and in a recent Publicola article, on Tuesday, the State Senate passed Senate Bill 6001, its supplemental transportation appropriations bill. Among the amendments tacked onto the bill was this strike at Sound Transit, sponsored by Sen. Bob Hasegawa:

“(10) As a condition of eligibility to receive grant funds under this section, a regional transit authority must:
(a) Consider the potential impacts of that facility on parking availability for residents nearby;
(b) Provide appropriate parking impact mitigation for residents, as determined by the authority in collaboration with the local government of the area in which the parking impacts occur. Parking impact mitigation may include, but is not limited to, subsidizing zoned residential parking permits in the vicinity of the facility; and
(c) Pay for the costs of the parking permits in the vicinity of the facility, if a local government implements zoned residential parking permits as a direct result of the parking impacts of the facility.”

The language of this amendment is similar to Senate Bill 6489, also sponsored by Sen. Hasegawa. That bill got out of the Senate Transportation Committee, but made it no further.

The amendment does not define “vicinity”. Nor does it specify a cap on how much a city can charge for Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) permits. In theory, the City of Bellevue could deem the whole city to be in the “vicinity” of Sound Transit infrastructure, declare the whole city to be an RPZ, charge $1 million per annual permit, and require Sound Transit to pay the entire cost of these $1 million annual parking permits.

It is unclear why Sound Transit should be accountible for difficulties neighbors have parking their cars, in the public right-of-way, in front of their own homes, when other public infrastructure, like colleges and ferry docks, have RPZs around them, and their governing agencies are not being asked required to pay for RPZ permits.

It is also unknown whether the senator tried to intercede with the City of Seattle over the $65 cost of a 2-year parking permit (or $10, for those who qualify as low-income). If the neighbors don’t want to pay this small amount to park in front of their homes, they have a more direct option: Dissolve their RPZ.

Requests to Sen. Hasegawa’s office for comment on the amendment have gone unanswered.

Update: Commenter cuyahoga points out that permits in some of the 33 RPZs (2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 18, 19, 20, A, and B) are fully or partially subsidized by the University of Washington, North Seattle Community College, Harborview Hospital, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, Providence Hospital, Group Health Cooperative, Swedish Hospital, and Landmark Theater.

21 Replies to “Senator Wants Sound Transit to Pay for City Residential Parking Permits”

  1. non starter. This amendment needs to be removed immediately.

    Enough of the transit money goes for parking as it is.

  2. It’s bad but it’s not the end of the world, so let’s keep some perspective. Worse would be if the legislature refused to give ST any grants or allow it to do ST3.

    The natural size of these zones is the area where people hide n ride to take the train. ST recently said that’s the main reason for garages on the Lynnwood Extension, so to some extent it’s already factored into ST’s planning. If Bellevue declared the entire city an impact area I’m not sure it could get past the courts because there’s no way that Crossroads or Wilburton will be impacted by Link.

    If the impetus for this is really Puyallup and Sumner and the man effect is to force ST to pay for RPZs there, then the net effect would be that the Pierce subarea would have to pay a greater percentage of its ST taxes to RPZs and less on Sounder, streetcars, or ST express. I don’t think the other residents of Pierce really want that, when they’re so eager for more Sounder, Link, and streetcars. But getting them to understand the issue will be difficult, as in so many other issues involving parking. If on the other hand this forces ST to pay for RPZs on the future Seattle lines it would have a far bigger impact.

    I don’t like this plan but at the same time I have some sympathy for residents affected by hide n ride.

    1. The impetus for the bill is a few constituents of Sen. Hasegawa’s, living in either the Beacon Hill Station RPZ or the Rainier Beach Station RPZ. One went down to Olympia to tesfity for SB 6489. She said Link does not serve the vast majority of residents on Beacon Hill and in Rainier Valley. She listed a few trips for which Sound Transit is not helpful, but some of those trips happened to be doable on a one-seat Metro ride. She also blamed Sound Transit, rather than the Seattle City Council, for the decision to run Link down MLK Way.

      I think there is a lack of perspective on how expensive these permits really are. At $65 for two years, that is still a lot less than I would have to pay for an uncovered parking spot at my apartment: $240 for 2 years, which is at the extreme low end for a private parking spot. Nor do most private parking spots come with a low-income rate.

      I have some sympathy for residents who lived there before the decision was made to run Link down MLK Way. If the bill were to simply cap the amount a local governmental entity can charge for residential parking permits for residents who pre-dated a decision to build infrastructure, that would make a lot more sense.

      1. I think its also a good idea, if Hasegawa is your rep, to go ahead and let him know what you think about this idea: p:(360) 786-7616 //

        It’s too late now but he should know that people in his district are paying attention and don’t agree with that move.

        In general, I have no sympathy for the politics of free street parking or held residential permit street parking. The largest Penalty people pay (currently) in areas like Beacon Hill and Rainier is inconvenience. There is parking available in those neighborhoods, for free, if you’re willing to walk. RPZ costs are a self inflicted wound.

    2. I don’t like this plan but at the same time I have some sympathy for residents affected by hide n ride.

      Really? I don’t. If you want guaranteed car storage immediately adjacent to your home, store your car on your own damn property. The notion that state-provided free, convenient, reserved car storage should be provided to homeowners at public expense is an unjustified demand yet another subsidy that makes car ownership seem cheaper and more convenient than it actually is.

      1. I agree wholeheartedly. There’s no logical reason why people who spend time in an area at night should receive priority over those who visit during the day. If the public parking spaces are too full, put in meters and charge everyone equally.

  3. This’s only cleared the Senate; what’re its chances in the House?

    Also, section (b) specifies that Sound Transit must provide mitigation “in collaboration with the local government.” It isn’t specified who determines whether the RPZ is “a direct result of the parking impacts of the facility,” but it makes sense that’d also be the local government. If that’s the case, we won’t be seeing any Sound Transit – sponsored parking on the future Seattle lines unless the City of Seattle asks for it. This would greatly mitigate the amendment’s impact.

    1. Seattle has already said it doesn’t want any new P&Rs in the city because it would contradict the walkable neighborhoods it’s trying to achieve.

    1. The best is to contact your own representatives.

      The representatives with the most power to determine the motions that will be made on SB 6001, or if the House will even vote on the bill, are Speaker Frank Chopp and Transportation Committee Chair Judy Clibborn.

      There is probably a lot more in SB 6001 you might not like. I have not studied the whole bill at length.

  4. Contrary to what some people think, people do not own parking spaces on a public street just because it happens to be in front of their home.

    1. Yep, but what people think the law says and what it actually says are two wildly divergent things. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it isn’t. Much like all other political things, good luck convincing someone that he or she is wrong, *especially* when it comes to parking or the home being sacrosanct (which often go hand-in-hand). Where I live currently has no on-street parking and Seattle is debating adding it as part of a street rework. I’ve actually written and asked for that to be deleted because it would make the off-street parking more difficult to access (since, as we know, everyone always respects yellow paint and driveway cuts).

  5. I’m having trouble following the logic. Problem – Residents around Link stations are having trouble finding parking spaces. Solution – ST should pay for station-area residents’ RPZ stickers. How does ST subsidizing people’s parking stickers fix the initial problem of lack of parking?

    1. You’re right, Sam, even though you might not realize it! (I see the logic trap you are setting.)

      If parking remains free and privatized, then there will be plenty of incentive for future homebuyers around the stations to take advantage of this perk not offered to homebuyers all over the rest of the city. So, the gradual migration from car owners living around stations to transit riders living around stations will be slowed significantly. Free RPZ stickers will salve the problem in the present, at the expense of the future.

      As I suggested in an above comment, grandfathering homeowners from before the date the decision was made to route Link down MLK Way might be a reasonable compromise. This is something Sound Transit could opt to do, of its own volition, without state legislation. Better yet, the City could administer the grandfathering, since it is the city’s RPZ.

      Indeed, free RPZ stickers for long-time homeowners who pre-dated station-siting decisions might be a better model for future stations than the construction of a bunch of parking garages. It might also be a better model for the rest of the RPZs.

      1. Brent, the problem is it’s difficult to find parking near Link stations. Will giving neighbors free parking stickers make those filled parking spaces empty? No, it won’t. Do we want to solve problems or do we want to ignore the problem and buy people off?

      2. “Buying people off”, but limiting it to homeowners who pre-dated the routing decision, would allow for more and more open parking spaces to appear over time. The City could then sell a controlled number of permits to non-residents, for a much higher fee.

    2. Because it makes the cars parking there for the train go away, so there’s less competition for parking spaces on the block. That means when you want a space there’s more likely to be one open on your block or the next block.

  6. How are these zones handled? I ask this because the signs I have seen in Seattle that indicate what is and isn’t allowed in these zones left me quite baffled. In the cases that I saw, there was the typical “No Parking Except Zone G Permit” or what have you, with several appendage signs adding and subtracting various “Except” clauses. What was or wasn’t allowed depending on the order you wished to place the “Except” statements.

    Here in Portland, the way these zones work, if you have a parking permit for the zone then you can park there long term, but without the permit you can only park for a limited amount of time. This discourages the use of these parking places by commuters as the allowed time is short enough to visit local businesses but not to go into town and spend time there. The wording on the signs is pretty simple: “3 Hour Parking Except Zone G Permit” and that is it.

    If these parking permits are handled in this fashion, then it should mean that nobody is parking in the zone area (except residents) and taking transit elsewhere. That is, after all, what the zone parking permit is supposed to prevent. That is what the time limit is for.

    In other words, it is the residents and the people who drive there to visit the zone that are clogging the parking places. Park and ride transit commuters are excluded by the zone in the first place.

    Therefore, if the existence of transit is a problem for these zones, then the zone policies need to be changed to exclude the uses that they are intended to exclude.

    Or, if you want to free up parking places, maybe have “Pay to Park except Zone G Permit” and make the parking permits less expensive. Parking meters do a reasonably good job of encouraging people to not use parking places to excess..

    1. It depends on the zone but the ones near the light rail station only allow you to park for 2 hours (M-F, 9a to 6p) without a permit. On weekends and 6p-9a there are no restrictions on parking.

      Some RPZ’s are fully/partially subsidized by local businesses like the UW, SU, SPU or the hospitals.

      1. At the speed Link operates in the tinnel, you would have to have some pretty brief business in downtown for that 2 hours to be useful.

        So, I see the direct transit impact as zilch.

        Indirectly, development patterns tend to lead to parking problems near these stations but the fact that certain apartment buildes plop huge buildings into areas with no off street car storage for residents shouldn’t be SoundTransit’s problem.

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