Starting in late October, paid parking hours on streets in Capitol Hill’s commercial core will be extended into the late night hours, from the current cutoff hour of 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM. It’s not all bad news, parker. Rates in some areas will come down. Of course, they’ll jump in others.
The policy shift comes as evidence shows that demand for evening parking shows no loss of appetite on Capitol Hill. Since 2010, SDOT has conducted studies of parking trends and behavior along Broadway and the Pike/Pine nightlife blocks. The most recent study from May 2017 showed that parking in these areas was at capacity between 7:00 and 10:00 PM. Data from the 2016 study illustrated a similar trend: there was no parking available between 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM.
“For the past several years it’s consistently shown that parking is very full until late in the evening which makes reliable access for customers and visitors very challenging,” said Mike Estey, SDOT’s Manager of Parking Programs. “Charging for paid parking until 10:00 PM should allow access on the block[s].”
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The fee rates for late night parking at the north end of Broadway will be changed to $4.00 per hour, down 50 cents from before, while the sound end and Pike/Pine will be raised for the former and reduced for the latter to $3.00 hourly in the evening hours. Notices of the rate changes will be posted on pay stations in the impacted area.
Flexible paid parking policies have been championed by city officials for some time now. In 2010, the Seattle City Council and then Mayor Mike McGinn adopted the “Paid Parking” policy, which asks that SDOT structure its parking fee and timing structure to ensure that there is an average of one to two spaces open for use per city block throughout the day. This prompted the annual collection of parking data, and corresponding regular adjustments of paid parking structures on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis. As such, fees get raised and lowered based on demand in the area.
“[We] lower rates when we need to when occupancy is below the target rates,” said Sue Romero, a SDOT spokesperson. “We’ve actually been lowering the rate in the morning on Capitol Hill and Pike/Pine.”
“The general occupancy in Pike/Pine is on target in the middle of the day. It’s in the evening that it’s much more full,” Romero added.
Prior to the fall of 2016, when implementing late night paid parking in the Capitol Hill business core was approved by the city council in the 2017 budget, Capitol Hill had no official ‘late-night paid parking’ policy (though rates up till 8:00 PM have been consistently raised in past years). SDOT backed the idea, citing the parking usage data they gather annually from the Hill, and, after the budget item proviso was approved, started conducting community outreach during the spring and summer of 2017 through individual stakeholder meetings and surveys. The policy change also has the endorsement of neighborhood business interests, according to SDOT.
As for removing parking time limits after 5:00 PM in the impacted areas, Estey said the change is intended to accommodate those who spend long stretches of the evening hours on Capitol Hill. “The idea is that not everyone who parks on Capitol Hill after five will choose the maximum amount of hours, but it allows flexibility for folks who want to do things like a dinner and a show,” said Estey.
SDOT officials said that they will start implementing the changes in late Cctober, though it takes “about three weeks to work all the way through Capitol hill and Pike/Pine,” so all the meters won’t be adjusted until mid-November.