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May 03, 2005

Good Parking Karma

As expected, the Seattle City Council announced yesterday that it would reduce the number of parking spaces that developers are required to include in new projects in some of the city's densest neighborhoods--part of the city's new "tall, skinny, and livable" plan. This is an innovation that we've been excited about for years. Kudos to councilmembers Peter Steinbrueck and Richard Conlin for their work on the issue.

Slashing parking requirements frees up urban space for other amenities such as parks and plazas; encourages drivers to switch to other modes of transport; and reduces gas use (and the money we send out of the region to pay for it).

Let's hope the Council also pursues some of the complementary steps they discussed, such as more bicycle parking in developments and incentives for providing car-share spaces.

Posted by Elisa Murray | Permalink


This is good stuff.

Now, if we could only change that silly monorail into an elevated bicycle route...

Posted by: Jon S. | May 3, 2005 6:12:47 PM

Not sure why you think the monorail is silly, but at least it's *some* kind of rapid transit system, which is better than nothing. It's not like we have a surplus of transit options right now.

As far as reducing the number of parking spaces in dense neighborhoods, well, I sure hope we have a fully built transit system before the parking crunch really starts to hit, or this will do nothing but squeeze out lower-income residents.

Posted by: Mars Saxman | May 4, 2005 12:18:21 PM

I no longer live in Seattle (close, tho), so I miss the bus system as it's sparse out in the boonies. Perhaps it's not 'fully built', but it's pretty good.


Posted by: Dano | May 4, 2005 6:38:42 PM

Do we really believe that people won't drive if there are less parking spaces available? It's a nice idea, but I fear that this will just make parking more hellish in places like Capitol Hill. And for the current residents of the area (such as myself) who do own cars (I own an 84 Mercedes that runs on biodiesel(B100) and drive it very rarely), we end up getting shafted.

There have GOT to be better ways to get people out of their cars. If there were, say a usable monorail, or even a bus system that wasn't inconvenient to use after normal business hours, I might not even have bought my biomonster.

Posted by: Charles Redell | May 6, 2005 4:07:34 PM

The quick answer to Charles' semi-rhetorical question is: YES. Anecdotally, anyway. I know many people (myself included on occasion-- although I much prefer the bike and Jon S's reference above) who refuse to battle the 20 minutes for a parking spot-- and instead use that 20 minutes to pedal or ride the bus.

The real point here is that parking is *never* free. At $20,000 - $30,000 a stall, someone's picking up the tab and we're relying on the tragedy of the commons to keep our $5. We (I'm not exonerating myself at all!) refuse to pay for parking because we're trained not to. There's really plenty of parking on Cap Hill and in places like the U. District where these new parking standards go into effect. Just look for the copious signs that say "parking."

The reverse is true, too. If you live on Cap Hill and drive a biodiesel car (good on ya, Charles- classic!), hopefully you're saving some $$ on your condo/house/rent because parking wasn't included in the deal. So, to address Mars' good point, it actually might help residents afford housing-- if they choose to eliminate or limit use of that money pit, the auto.

Finally, it must be stated what these parking standards really do-- and that's make a better match to demographic data that show lower per capita car ownership than the previous standards.

Posted by: John Mauro | May 6, 2005 5:12:17 PM

I want to see fewer cars in the city too, but this current strategy of "reduce the number of parking spaces and let the problem solve itself" is overlooking two inconvenient but necessary steps.

One it neglects to ask how people are currently using their cars (the frequency, destination and length of their trips) and two it makes no attempt to revise the current transit system in order to address the current car drivers' needs. Tossing off a casual "let them walk/bike/take the bus" is both callous and counterproductive if you haven't even made the attempt to see if those are viable options.

Posted by: Brian Hosey | May 9, 2005 10:17:12 AM