With high demand for late night spaces on Capitol Hill, city eyes extending paid parking hours

img_20150413_133712-614x1024-600x1001In his recently released budget proposal, Mayor Ed Murray included a provision to extend paid parking throughout Capitol Hill from 8 PM to 11 PM by late 2017. It is a response to recent city data that shows finding a paid parking spot on Capitol Hill is still tough well into the night.

The Seattle Department of Transportation has backed the idea, but said no to a parking benefit district, which would have set aside the extra revenue to be invested in Capitol Hill.

It is unclear how much revenue would be generated by extending the hours, but in 2015 Seattle parking revenues totaled $37 million across 12,250 spaces. In District 3, which includes all of Capitol Hill’s paid parking spaces, revenues amounted to $7.26 million — 19% of the citywide total.

SDOT says it plans to hold community discussions on extending hours in late 2016 or early 2017 to determine “whether extending paid parking hours would be the right tool to address neighborhood access needs.” The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce said it did not have a comment on the proposal. Officials say extending hours is meant to manage parking demand, not to just put money in City Hall’s coffers. 

UPDATE: SDOT spokesperson Norm Mah said the city has already collected enough parking data to warrant making the changes.

“As our business districts continue to grow and be great places to visit, we want to make sure we are keeping up to date with the street parking regulations,” Mah said.”Our goal is to manage street parking so that there is access; 1 to 2 open spaces per block throughout the day.”

SDOT divides Capitol Hill into four paid parking areas: Pike/Pine, Capitol Hill North, Capitol Hill South, and 12th Ave. So far, discussion of extending paid parking appears to be centered on Pike/Pine and one or both of the Capitol Hill areas. SDOT recently released its summer 2016 parking study which surveyed average weekday occupancies.

Parking was still around 100% full at 11 PM in Capitol Hill South, which includes Broadway south of Denny Way (occupancy rates above 100% indicate illegal parking or more cars cramming into a block than the City planned for).caphill-south

Pike/Pine fell into the target range at 10 PM.pikepine

Capitol Hill North, which includes Broadway north of Denny Way, was packed until 10 PM when spaces quickly open up.caphillnorth

According to the department’s 2017-2018 budget report (PDF), the data shows there is high enough late night demand to warrant additional hours. Also included in Murray’s budget was funding for an additional parking enforcement officer to cover the hours.

The 2016 data-collection effort showed very high late-night occupancy levels in three areas on Capitol Hill where paid parking hours currently end at 8 p.m. SDOT proposes extending those hours until 11 p.m. due to demonstrated demand. Funding will support a comprehensive public-engagement process around this change during 2017, with the extended paid-parking hours to take effect late in the year. Funding also supports installation costs, which include signage, pay station programming, and credit-card fees. The Seattle Police Department’s budget includes an adjustment that addresses enforcement of these extended hours.

Mah said SDOT is especially interested in reaching out to businesses for input on extending hours. The first opportunity for feedback will be during the City Council’s ongoing review of the mayor’s budget.

The report also showed a need for more spaces. In the first quarter of 2017 SDOT says it will install new paid spaces both in the Pike/Pine parking area east of 12th Ave.

8 PM paid parking, the latest in the city, was implemented in several business districts in 2011.

Meanwhile, an idea from Capitol Hill EcoDistrict to use the additional funds for neighborhood projects got a cooler reception from the city. During last week’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee session at City Council, SDOT officials laid out their case that there are significant logistical and legal concerns about earmarking any of the more than $30 million in paid parking revenue annually collected in the city for neighborhood-specific budgets.

SDOT is also gathering feedback on creating an expanded Restricted Parking Zone 15 that would include all of the blocks from Broadway to I-5 between E Olive Way to the south and Belmont to the north in the program that restricts those without zone permits to two hours or less in un-metered spaces.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

7 thoughts on “With high demand for late night spaces on Capitol Hill, city eyes extending paid parking hours

  1. I doubt this will do anything to ease parking, rather its a simple money grab. Even so, I’m all for it – especially if those funds can be allocated specifically for policing and maintenance in the areas where the money is collected. But that’s not likely to happen, I believe.

    • I think I would be fine with the City making some money off all people coming in to party the night away. It’s a shame though, like you said, that it is unlikely it’d be used to clean up the mess afterward or even be used for anything other than the general fund.

    • we actually know, for sure, that charging market rates for parking will ease parking shortages. read _High Price Of Free Parking_ for evidence.

  2. So parking opens wide up right around 10pm. Right around the time, for example, you’d be leaving a restaurant from a nice meal, if you’d scheduled your dinner for around 8pm (or a bit sooner, paying for a bit of parking before spaces fill up at 8).
    No prob. I’m sure restaurateurs will be fine with this plan.
    Just like they were in the International District.

    • Actually it has worked out fine in the ID. The restaurateurs were freaked out at first, but I’ve read that they’re fine with it now, especially when it’s being done all over the city. Paid parking frees up parking for customers, rather than people who just want to leave their vehicle in one place for hours. It’s a good thing for businesses. Really. The data shows it.

  3. Will they still all be 2-hour spots, though? Because I can foresee some serious issues with people paying until 10 and then deciding to stay longer and having to either move their cars or go pay again, especially if they’ve been drinking. If they’re going to extend the paid parking until 11, they ought to at least give people 4 hours.

  4. They should also extend the time restrictions of the 2hr RPZ times around the neighborhood from 8am-6pm to 8am-9pm. If not, I can foresee many (more) people parking in the neighborhoods to go out. It’s actually incredibly easy to find parking in the RPZs after 2am on a Friday or Saturday…