Finding an evening paid parking spot on Capitol Hill should have become slightly easier since 2011, that is if you don’t mind the occasional “wow, how did that car fit that space?” feat of inspired parallel parking.
In 2011 the city extended paid parking hours from 6 PM to 8 PM on Capitol Hill and other areas to prevent drivers from locking up a space for an entire night — a great deal for the enthusiastic happy hour crowd, not so great for anyone trying to find parking for an evening show.
An annual study released this month by the Seattle Department of Transportation found extended paid parking in 10 nightlife areas around the city lead to 20% more available spaces at 6 PM and 18% more available spaces at 7 PM. On Capitol Hill, significantly more spaces opened up at 6 PM in 2013, but nearly all official parking spaces were still being occupied by 7 PM. By 8 PM spaces around the neighborhood begin to open up — according to the study.
SDOT split Capitol Hill into three sections: a north and south section divided at E John, as well as a Pike/Pine section. Metered parking occupancy at 7 PM in all three areas was well over 100% prior to extended pay parking.
“It’s an indication that parking is proving tough … people are willing to risk parking illegally,” said SDOT’s parking strategist Mary Catherine Snyder.
Here’s what it looked like in 2013 — as you can see, Pike/Pine’s fever line never really dips into the easy pickings zone.
All in all, the three regions still show that the Hill’s paid parking is stuffed to the gills.
% of parking capacity utilized during 7 PM:
- North Capitol Hill: 98%
- South Capitol Hill: 101%
- Pike/Pine: 104%
Metered parking was similarly overstuffed at 6 PM prior to extended pay. In 2013, North Capitol Hill saw the biggest drop in parking oc,upancy at 6 PM among the 10 areas, falling from over 120% into SDOT’s target range of 70%-85%. South Capitol Hill also fell into the target range in 2013, and Pike/Pine fell just above it. We’ll check in with planners to see what, if anything, they can do to push Pike/Pine into the target zone — what’s the maximum hourly rate you’d pay for an E Pike parking spot at 7 PM?
Throughout the 10 extended pay areas, evening paid parking reduced the 6 PM occupancy rate from 93% to 73% and the 7 PM occupancy rate from 103% to 85%.
SDOT will be meeting with City Council in May to recommend rate changes and other strategies to help open up more parking in areas like Pike/Pine. SDOT representatives told CHS they will not be extending paid parking past 8 PM.
SDOT also identified several other explanations for why parking occupancy may have dropped in recent years:
- Additional changes to rates and time limits, which occurred in multiple areas
- Different blockfaces included in the annual survey
- Neighborhood changes, such as new developments or popular new attractions
- Seasonal variation, as data were collected during different months from year to year
- Random variation, as occupancy observations are gathered for only one day each year