When we reported last week that the city had no plans to study the economic impact of paid parking changes on Capitol Hill, we were only partly right. Turns out, the City of Seattle already commissioned an “intercept survey” on the Hill and in five other “Neighborhood Business Districts” across the city. Below are the results of that survey that reveal why Capitol Hill residents and people from across Seattle visit Broadway and Pike/Pine, why they don’t and what they want when they get there.
The result is an analytics-based snapshot of the strengths and weaknesses of some of the key business communities in the city. “Visitors to Admiral are looking for a wider variety of restaurants,” the marketing firm who put together the research for the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Office of Economic Development writes. “In Othello, it’s variety across the board – shops, restaurants, services and activities. Improved transit access is the top mention in Ballard. In Columbia City, visitors mention a cinema and grocery/Trader Joes. Capitol Hill is looking for smaller/better variety shops and transit. Fremont visitors are looking for more grocery options and a Mexican restaurant.”
Science! Below, we’ve pulled out the Capitol Hill highlights from the results including some illuminating datapoints on just how pedestrian and bike-friendly we are (very) and that, yes, lack of parking does come up as a ding against our ‘hood by visitors from off the Hill. First, a few notes on the survey’s collection methods:
- A total of 1,447 interviews were completed in six Seattle neighborhood business districts (NBDs).
- Interviewing took place from September 29th to October 16th, 2011 at 2 to 4 specified intersections in each NBD at between 9am and 10pm, Thursday through Sunday.
- The questionnaire was a single page (front & back), letter-sized, self-administered handout. Two interviewers were on-site for each shift to distribute and collect surveys. They were also available to assist respondents with visual or physical impairments.
- To minimize selection bias, interviewers approached every 5th visitor passing their location to participate in the survey during normal and heavy traffic periods. For extremely slow periods, interviewers approached as many visitors as possible.
- To ensure that results reflect voluntary visitors to each neighborhood, people who were on their way to or on a break from work were screened out of the survey.
- The survey was printed in English. A Vietnamese version was offered for visitors in the Othello neighborhood and 3 were completed. Interviewers reported approximately 102 refusals due to general language barriers.
First, the results revealed that Capitol Hill’s business zones do well as year-long destinations — 58% of non-residents said the Hill is a weekly destination for them throughout the year.
We also hold onto our visitors for longer than the other business districts — 64% of non-residents said they regularly come to the Hill for visits of three hours or more.
Why do Capitol Hill people do business on Capitol Hill. The survey says we need to eat — 52% of residents responding said they were on the street to do some grocery shopping.
But the non-residents reveal where the whole Party Mountain thing comes from. 46% of visiting survey respondents said they were here for friends, drinks and happy hour.
While there are still plenty of drivers — especially among visitors — 89% of Capitol Hill residents reported either walking, biking or taking the bus to do their bidness and 53% of non-residents reported the same. Only Fremont, at 49%, and Othello, 47%, came close.
Across both residents and non-residents, the top reason for choosing to shop or recreate on Capitol Hill after the obvious “because it’s the closest” is our variety, according to the survey.
Why not shop or drink or dine on Capitol Hill? Too expensive, not enough parking, some of the largest groups of respondents said. You’ll note that Capitol Hill was the only business district where lack of parking climbed into the top response tier. Which brings us back to the whole walk/bike/bus thing.
Finally, the survey also provided some tips on how Capitol Hill could improve as a business destination. The largest scoring answer was that the Hill needs “more independent or small business/fewer chains.” Parse that how you will. Same goes for the desire for improved public transportation and more restaurants. Reading between the lines, the suggestions seem to be telling Capitol Hill to keep doing what it’s doing. And, yeah, Fremont needs a Mexican restaurant.
The complete survey results are below. You can learn more about the study here.