Get ready for Capitol Hill parklets — Seattle has new Public Space Manager

parkletsLast October, CHS explained how some Capitol Hill parking spots in the neighborhood’s busiest entertainment districts could be put to even better business use — parklets:

“These are public space — anybody can bring food, etc from anyplace. No waiter comes out, serves you. These are not sidewalk cafes,” said Brian de Place, head of “Right of Way Management” for the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Spring has sprung and the Seattle parklet plan has a new driver:

There is a new position at SDOT in the Street Use and Urban Forestry Division; Public Space Manager; and with this new role there is hope brewing for more permanent parklets coming to a Seattle neighborhood near you. The re-purposing of parking spaces into miniature open spaces has grown from the latest soup d’jour for urban areas across the nation with San Francisco leading the charge and most recently followed by Los Angeles’ activity parklets to a more common wrench in the toolkit of cities as varied as Philadelphia and San Jose. Now it’s Seattle’s turn. Let’s give SDOT all of our support as they move forward.

The Daily Journal of Commerce’s SeattleScape blog reports that Seattle’s new Public Space Manager is Jennifer Wieland. Wieland told the DJC, “Seattle can expect to see the pilot program roll out this summer with several projects in Center City neighborhoods.”

Image: City of Seattle… and not realllly a parklet technically but that’s ok!

40 thoughts on “Get ready for Capitol Hill parklets — Seattle has new Public Space Manager

  1. This is the worst idea ever! Take out even more parking and watch businesses continue to fail. Hey Seattle, let’s just get rid of roads altogether!! We’ll go back to the 1800s. Who are these granola idiots running the city?

    • Agreed. One lightrail station, which isn’t even built yet, and suddenly everyone thinks we live in San Francisco? Please. Public transit in this town is a complete joke. Simply taking away parking without expanding alternatives makes NO sense, especially at a time when apparently Metro’s already pathetically inadequate service is being cut even further. Taking way parking won’t force people out of their cars, it just forces the cars further out into the residential neighborhoods. People have to get around somehow- not everyone works downtown or at the UW. This parklet thing is a complete waste of resources. We need to focus our energy/money on EXPANDING transit options, not taking them away, so that people have some reasonable alternative to driving.

    • If the parklets draw more visitors/customers to come out and spend money than one single parking space does (average 1-2 people), then would you support them?

      • Getting people to come out and spend money is a great goal but is it the only goal? What about thinks like safety? This “parklet” looks onto the exact intersection where just yesterday a woman was run over by a car. That intersection has become a death trap because it is simply not designed to accommodate the massive influx of people, cars, bikes, etc. that have arrived with the new bars and restaurants.

        I might be more supportive if I saw one iota of evidence that the developers and businesses that are benefiting from increased traffic/density are also paying into some kind of fund that brings measurable increase in net transit capacity that people can actually be reasonably expected use. Instead what I see is a handful of businesses and entrepreneurs who are making hay on the sudden explosion in popularity of the neighborhood, without being expected to invest one red cent in increased infrastructure this increased density requires.

        • Last I checked, businesses pay taxes. Maybe not enough to make you satisfied but it is more than an iota…

    • Parklets are basically totally universally praised in San Francisco (their birthplace), which is a city with even less parking, less road surface, and more people. Parklets are fantastic pieces of public space that make the area around them more livable by creating an inviting atmosphere and by calming traffic at the same time.

      Also, it’s Capitol Hill – by 2016, there will be barely any need for a car. You’ll have a subway, a streetcar, still plenty of (actually pretty great) buses, sidewalks, amazing bike infrastructure, and yep – still tons and tons of parking.

      Give it a try. Even the most car-oriented parts of surprisingly super car-oriented San Francisco have parklets and the world has not ended.

  2. Oh Seattle. Parking is not bad, it contributes to commerce and tourism and yes, REVENUE. Not EVERYONE is going to be able to take public transit to enjoy the neighborhoods Sometims, three busses and transfers just aren’t worth it. I wish some forethought would go into the current car population and not penalizing these volumes while planning thoughtfully for future populations.

  3. On Capitol, the most densly populated place in our entire state, I think it’s a great idea to take away a little parking and make public space. I’ve seen the parklets in San Franscisco and they are great. They add to the beauty of the neighborhood and provide comfortable places to a rest or a meal in an area that has too few such places. Drivers can come anytime and use pay lots at places like QFC and Lyric when visiting the neighborhood. Drivers who come from outside the area don’t care about the neighborhood or what’s best for the those that live here. They are only concerned with the idea that they are entitled to free parking on the street. Our neighborhood has enough residents to support our local businesses, so if a few drivers are so turned off by a couple of mini parks then they can go hang out on Crown Hill, or North Aurora, or White Center, where free parking is in excess.

      • Ha, :Drivers who come from outside the area don’t care about the neighborhood or what’s best for the those that live here”.

        This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I drive into capitol hill quite often on the weekends and used to live there until recently, and I do care about what happens there. Not all outside residents are evil leeches on the neighborhood. Because I’m willing to walk, I never pay for parking on the Hill, ever. Like a previous commenter stated, I’ll just park in a residential area instead and walk the few extra blocks.

        Until the transit in this city gets me from North Seattle to Capitol Hill in under 20 min, it will always be worth it to drive in. Currently I would have to bus downtown 30 min and than another 10-15 so to get up to Cap Hill. In any off peak traffic time the drive is only 15 min.

    • Your response is so holier than though and flawed. I lived on the hill for 15 years before I moved and care very much for it. I still visit as I have many friends that are central there, getting to them is a bit of challenge w/ the lack of parking (PAID AND FREE). Your view on ‘free parking’ is very, very flawed as there sure aren’t many spots left, and the pay lots are dwindling by the minute. It’s residents like you that are so short sided and selfish with your reality that are a part of the problem. It’s gross really that you try and keep others out…clearly.

  4. At one time I would shop on Capitol Hill. Now I only shop on Capitol Hill if I am purchasing goods or products that can fit in a small bag that can be carried a reasonable walking distance. Any major purchases – even trips to the grocery store for more than sundries – that I would need more than a single hand to move, I spend an extra ten minutes driving to Northgate since I can’t use a vehicle in Capitol Hill in any practical sense anymore.

    Perhaps those people who want to chase all business out of Capitol Hill and transform it into a 100% residential zone should move to a housing development on the Sammamish Plateau which are specifically designed to provide that vibe? Some of us live on CH because we like the mixed milieux.

    • Such bullshit. Go to either QFC on the hill and there is a parking garage. Same with PCC. Whole foods down the hill is the same. QFC on Madison is the same. Go the Red Apple down Madison, parking all the time. What grocery store can’t you find park for? Total crap. This is the problem with comment threads. People literally make stuff up.

      • Franky – Do you live on the Hill? Please tell me where the PCC is (there isn’t one anywhere near). Red Apple is, well, on Madison in MADISON PARK (two miles from the Hill) — not sure I’d park there and walk to anywhere on the Hill. There is no QFC on Madison. Parking at the QFC on 15th (literally behind the picture shown) is very limited, and — yes — they do watch and ticket if you aren’t actually shopping at QFC. Perhaps you mean the QFC on Broadway, with the parking garage where they will validate if you actually shop at the QFC?? Oh, and there isn’t a Whole Foods on the Hill either — the closest one (S. Lake Union) has a pay parking garage and they’ll validate if you shop there (another REALLY long walk if you want to park there and hike to the Hill). Perhaps you’re thinking of some of the Safeway lots? Just be careful using them as a parking lot for your excursions, as they ticket as well. So, yes, there is a big need for more street parking here on the Hill and saying just park in a grocery store parking lot (a) invites a nice ticket (b) many a pretty small to begin with, so you might not find a space even if you were planning on simply going to the grocery store and (c) your perspective is more worthy of consideration if you know your geography and the stores that are actually here.

        • SeaJambon – Do you actually have a point or are you just trying to show what a jerk you can be? Because I think that Franky did a pretty good job of showing that it’s complete BS for someone to claim that they have to drive to Northgate to shop for groceries because they can’t find parking at Capitol Hill stores (which is what Fannigan claimed).

          Did he confuse PCC with Madison Market? Sure. Does it matter? Nope.

          Did he claim that there’s a Whole Foods on the Hill? Nope, he wrote “down the hill”, exactly where it is. And is down the hill (to either the SLU Whole Foods or Mad Park Red Apple) a hell of a lot closer than Northgate? Yup.

          Not sure what he meant by the QFC on Madison, but you corrected him by writing about THE QFC on Broadway. There are actually TWO QFCs on Broadway. Should I question you as to whether or not you live on the Hill since you don’t seem to know that?

          Did he forget Trader Joe’s and Safeway on Madison? Yup. But that even further proves his point.

          To your point (c), I’d say that even with a few nitpicky mistakes, his perspective is far better than yours.

          • Simple point -sorry you couldn’t see it — hard to take a rant seriously if the facts are so wrong. Personally, not only do I live on the Hill, I’ve had the joy of paying parking tickets for parking in grocery lots and wandering off. Suggesting that there is plenty of parking because it is available at non-existent grocery stores, is … delusional? It is also very abusive of the merchants who make parking available to their customers — merchants who make the Hill a great place to live. Yes, there are two QFC’s on Broadway — but only one has a garage — the other has a lot. Only in the garage is validation required. I’m just amused that someone who starts his rant with profanity and ends it with “This is the problem with comment threads. People literally make stuff up” should have his facts so completely wrong. Or perhaps I missed the irony of his statement — he was making things up to prove his point about people making things up?

          • There’s definitely some irony. It’s ironic that SeaHam accuses everyone else of not knowing Capitol Hill grocery stores while saying that only one of the broadway qfc has a garage. Maybe you should visit our hood once-in-a-while. They both have garages. Intelligence FAIL.

  5. I’m excited that the architecture firm I work for is designing two parklets, one in Capitol Hill. It’s a pretty cool opportunity. Can’t wait to see them shape up!

    • People will love them once done – like they do in other cities – they really do connect the sections in neighborhoods that are between larger parks and get a lot of foot traffic. I love one’s in San Francisco and LA and tourists navigate their to relax and eat/drink what they bought at the stores around them.

      If the city needs parking they can remove a few of the “don’t park within 30 feet of here” signs – there are cities with tighter streets than Seattle that let you park right up to the corner and still provide enough room for fire trucks to navigate.

  6. It’s amazing — you want an urban lifestyle, but you seem to want some sort of suburban, car-centric version of it. Want to live in an urban core? Grocery-shop the way a New Yorker does — stop at the market every day to pick up that day’s food, or carry one or two bags at a time, on the bus, on foot, or in your backpack. Then take a cab or a rental for the big stuff once every couple of months.

    • Wow we live in Manhattan? Where’s the subway system? And did you miss the part where Metro is planning to reduce bus service even futher, apparently?

      Shoot son, half the time I can’t even get a taxi to pick me up at my place (in the heart of Capitol Hill) because I’m “outside their service area that night” or some bullsh**.

      This is not Manhattan. We don’t have anywhere NEAR the transit infrastructure of Manhattan.

      • Again, what crap. Use Taxi Magic and Uber and you can get a ride anytime, let alone any of the multitude of ride share services.

  7. I never have much a problem finding parking in Capitol Hill if I am shopping or going out for the evening, why all the complaining? And if you can’t find short term street parking there are plenty of pay for lots. And if I know it’s going to be a busy weekend in Cap Hill (like the Block Party weekends), I make sure to bus or cab my way up there.

    I think these Parklets are a great idea.

  8. They have these parklets in major cities across the country – NYC, SF, Chicago. As well as Vancouver, BC. They are wildly successful, perfectly safe, and great neighborhood amenity.

    The naysayers are just that – whiny naysayers who complain about everything. And easily ignored.

  9. Thank you SDOT for adopting another innovative idea to help support quality of life! A space such as the one pictured above can fit two cars (if parked correctly) or comfortably seat upwards of twenty five people. I can’t wait to have another space outside – within walking distance – to socialize, study, read a book, drink a coffee, eat a sandwich, listen to music, people watch, ponder, breathe, take a break, etc.

  10. Agreed with Iknowsnow. I’ve recently been in Manhattan, Montreal, London, SF and Vancouver. All do parkelets and they are great. I sat outside in one and had dinner in Montreal last summer. They served food and liquor to the parklet and it was awesome. I hope Seattle pushes this ahead and doesn’t listen to the commenters who want to live in their cars.

    I drive to Capitol Hill weekly. The only time I can’t park is after 8pm on the weekends. During the day, no problem to park within 2 blocks of where I am going, and that’s rare, it’s usually on the block. That makes it easier than a subway.

  11. Another fun fact about the picture — those are PRIVATE parking places that are being blocked off. In other words, not at all within SDOT’s purview. That “parklet” is a private-private partnership.

  12. Has anyone realized that the story opens with ADDING ANOTHER POSITION AT THE CITY?!!!!!!!!!!!!!! top heavy and wasteful already – huge salary and benefits to “supervise” these spaces>
    we (native Seattlites) have never felt that we have to be like other cities. Our topography and other factors make it that we sometimes walk, bus or drive – mixed use, independent, problem solvers.
    But the big deal here is adding, building and designing – all paid by taxpayers including another City employee……….we already have more and beautiful gathering places than just about anywhere in the country.

  13. With all its density, Capitol Hill is still a place where many of us drive to get around. Gloomy weather, poor transit and challenging geography all conspire to keep us in our cars.

    While I like the public spaces parklets might offer, I think the reduction in parking will do economic harm.

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  15. I love this idea and the positive impact it will have – aesthetically and community wise. I am curious about one main thing however: liability. Since parklets will be bringing people closer to roads and traffic, the concern does arise that traffic-to-human accidents may be increased. Yes, parklets will probably slow traffic down, but they will also bring people closer to cars. Here is my question: if a business in Seattle decides to put a parklet into the parking space in front of their business, if an accident occurs can that business be sued? I realize that parklets are “public space” but I am still seeking some clarity on this aspect. Also, is the the business owner’s responsibility to maintain the parklet? And, further, can another person (not associated with the business) make alterations to the parklet?

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  17. Horrible idea! It will be run over by homeless and crackheads. Take the money and buy your community bikes or something worthwhile.