To improve accessibility of on-street paid parking in the city, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is looking to make minor adjustments to the prices, paid hours, and time limits for Fall 2014.

SDOT published the 2014 version of the annual paid parking occupancy report earlier this month, which showed the occupancy rate and the Fall 2014 changes of on-street paid parking areas in core and peripheral areas of Seattle neighborhoods. The data collection effort is part of the Performance-Based Parking Pricing program that was established by the city in 2010.

Current Parking Rates

“Doing this data collection allows us to know if adjustments are needed,” said SDOT’s senior transportation planner Jonathan Williams.

The report explained that SDOT makes these adjustments in rates, time limits and paid hours as means of helping customers find parking within walking distance of their destinations and to increase access to businesses by ensuring turnover of parked cars.

SDOT bases its assessments of occupancy on whether or not the parking areas were between 70 to 85 percent of capacity. Areas that were five percent over or under the range were included in the watch list, meaning the adjustments will wait for at least another year. Occupancy rates below 65 percent mean SDOT will consider lowering rates, splitting the zone into subareas, and increasing time limits, while rates above 90 percent will lead to decreases in time limits and increases in prices.

“It’s a constantly evolving process,” Williams said. “We’ll adjust in 50 cent increments, which is not a really big change. We’re going to count these [occupancy data] every year, and if it’s above or below target, we’ll make these changes.”

Williams added that in addition to changing the prices, hours, and time limits, SDOT in the past has encouraged drivers to seek parking in the city’s edges or “periphery” areas, rather than the neighborhood’s core areas. He recalled an example from 2010 when the entire Ballard neighborhood was struggling to reach its target zone with 61 percent occupancy rate, despite having extremely full spaces in the area’s busiest blocks.

“When we got to looking through these blocks in the middle that were extremely full, we noticed that there were edges in the area where no one was parking,” Williams said. “So we ended up splitting up [Ballard] into cores and peripheries. In the core, we raised the prices and lowered the prices in the peripheries with the time limit to four hours. That helped the area get closer to the target range and where we wanted it to be.”

Such was the case for Chinatown this year as the core areas had an 89 percent occupancy rate (up by 12 percent from 2013) and the periphery area had 69 percent occupancy, down one percent from 2013. As a result, both areas will change in the Fall by 50 cents. Williams said he hopes that the added signs and the price change can encourage drivers in the areas to consider parking in the edges of the neighborhood.

“Folks are going out more,” Williams said. “Minus a few exceptions, the parking spots are a little more full than last year.”

Changes in Belltown North, Ballard Locks, Westlake Avenue North and the Pike-Pine already occurred earlier in the year, while most will be coming between September and November. The schedule for these changes can be found here.

Fall 2014 Rates

“Our current pay stations require a technician to visit each one to make changes,” Williams said through an email. “In addition, some require new signs. It’s a pretty big effort.”

20 Replies to “City to Enact Changes in Paid Street Parking”

  1. The areas with the highest incidence of workers illegally using disabled placards to park in metered spots for free all day, are also the areas with the highest rates. Coincidence? Could SDOT be jacking up rates in those areas to make up for lost revenue from the disabled placard scam, but calling it an occupancy issue?

    1. The city has been aware of this massive scam for years, but has done nothing. It’s a state law that allows disabled/”disabled” drivers to park for free, as if they are automatically poor. The city, I understand, CAN put a limit to the number of hours cars with the disabled placards can park in one spot, but have done nothing to remedy the situation. The city is indeed losing a tremendous amount of revenue due to these scammers. Look at some downtown streets–by 7 AM already lined with one disabled-placard car after another, up and down the street. They stay there until they leave work late afternoon. Not only does it cost all of us much needed revenue, but locks up spaces for later-arriving shoppers who, guess what, in some cases have given up on downtown and do their shopping elsewhere.

      1. The only solution is to verify that they are being used properly. Otherwise assume they are used properly.

    2. I’m sure you did extensive research to determine which

      “as if they are automatically poor”

      Disabled people have expenses that other people don’t.

      “The city, I understand, CAN put a limit to the number of hours cars with the disabled placards can park in one spot”

      I heard that it’s the other way around, that the law was intended to exempt disabled people from time limits, but that Seattle for some reason couldn’t separate time limits from parking fees so it exempted them from fees too. It may have been the capacity of the old parking meters. Another reason is that there aren’t enough disabled parking spaces around, and they aren’t everywhere, so the city allows disabled people to use an open parking space as if it were a disabled space.

      1. RCW

        A local jurisdiction may impose by ordinance time restrictions of no less than four hours on the use of nonreserved, on-street parking spaces by vehicles displaying the special parking placards or special license plates issued under this chapter

      2. One of things you have to think about is that riding the bus is a lot more difficult for people who are legitimately disabled, in large part because a reasonable walk to and from the bus stop for most people might be quite difficult, if not impossible, for a disabled person. In some cases, a disabled person might even need to ride an additional bus and wait for an additional transfer, that an able-bodied person would not need to do.

        Because of factors like this, disabled people who can afford it are simply going to drive, and that’s the way it’s always going to be. Fortunately, disabled people represent a relatively small portion of the overall population, and the amount of overall congestion on the downtown streets caused by truly disabled people is likely negligible. Hence, this is not something to be worth worrying about.

        Of course, for able-bodied people abusing disabled parking placards, I have no sympathy for them, and something should be done to prevent the practice. I’m just not sure what can be done that would be enforceable at reasonable cost.

      3. @asdf. Unfortunately, my understanding is that in cities where people displaying disabled permits are able to rule bust, it’s not uncommon for over 50% of supposedly metered parking spaces to be occupied by such people. Anecdotally, there’s an enormous amount of abuse — everything from exaggerated injuries, to using other’s placards to outright fraud. It makes a mockery of using metering either to ensure an adequate supply of parking or as a revenue source. To make matters worse, Federal law surrounding the treatment of the disabled makes it prohibitively difficult to ensure that only those who genuinely need accommodations get them.

    3. Portland started charging something around $2.50 per 90 minutes for a parking place if a disabled placard was displayed. Supposedly this really helped the parking problem. Before, there were supposedly cases where cars would sit for weeks in prime parking places.

      1. Apparently a huge amount of spaces near the courthouse downtown opened up as soon as this was passed. I guess a few lawyers were taking advantage of this program. Good riddance…

  2. Looks very much to me exactly the same problem as transit passengers not paying as much fare as they’re supposed to. As a general rule, except for LINK and Sounder, transit agencies feel that intensive fare inspection would cost more money than the lost fares.

    If this weren’t true, Metro would copy San Francisco MUNI and put a card reader at every door of every vehicle, subject to fare inspection.

    For Metro drivers, the rules are extremely specific: a driver is NOT supposed to get into any dispute over a fare, period and paragraph. When I drove, when we knew or suspected inadequate payment, we were to hit the number 3 key on the fare box. In addition, we got a half hour’s pay for writing an incident report, which usually took five minutes.

    Having walked off a packed bake oven of a northbound 74 at pm rush hour at Westlake month or two back, five minutes into an argument between the driver and a passenger over a fare, I had to yell several times for the back door. Upon escape decided to skip the trip.

    Possible that driver didn’t know she could get well paid for just writing the report. If contract still provides this, KC Metro ought to post it.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Regardless of how much time she’s paid she can save herself a beating. Best not to get into those arguments.

    2. In extreme cases like this, would the driver be able to mark some sort of time stamp when each incident like this occurs? At the end of the day, this time information could matched to a video frame from the front bus cam, and an image could be saved of each of these potentially violent passengers.

      It would suck if that would happen for every confused tourist (God bless ’em) or with each defective/”defective” Orca card, but when someone displays confrontational and aggressive behavior I’d think that might be a red flag warning sign of possible violence ahead. Especially for crazies and bullies who repeat this sort behavior.

      1. when someone displays confrontational and aggressive behavior I’d think that might be a red flag warning sign of possible violence ahead. Especially for crazies and bullies who repeat this sort behavior.

        And this is the problem with Metro’s “no confrontation” policy. It just sends the aggressive/violent people into the back of the bus, endangering the rest of the passengers.

        Protect the driver, put the passengers at risk.
        Protect the passengers, put the driver at risk.

        Ideally, we could get sheriffs to occasionally ride the most troubled routes, but good luck getting them out of their cars.

    3. It’s more akin to the abuse made of Federal requirements to accommodate service animals. I’m surprised someone with animal allergies like my wife’s hasn’t filed an ADA complaint yet.

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