ReachNow car service has solved parking in Pike/Pine on a Friday night (for now)

(Image: ReachNow)

(Image: ReachNow)

While it and others like Car2Go bridge the gap to a future of self-driving cars shuttling us between millionaire-tax supported government farming communes and our favorite Capitol Hill craft cocktail bars, ReachNow has also figured out a stopgap solution for its  customers wanting to park its BMWs and Minis in Pike/Pine on a Friday night. The true test? St. Patrick’s Day on a Friday. Here is marketing director Laura Gonia:

We’re live tonight from 6:00pm – 10:00pm. We’ll have music, water and Rancho Bravo tacos for all members who swing through (if you sign up tonight, we’ll give you a taco, too). We’re expecting tonight to be a little busier since more people will be out for St. Paddy’s Day but our team will be moving cars so there’s always a spot.

For now, the ReachNow “dropzone” will only take over Rancho Bravo’s lot on Friday nights through March but Gonia said a longer term solution is “definitely something we’re exploring.” “If it continues to pick up and our members love it, we’ll definitely continue it,” Gonia said.

The BMW-operated service charges $0.41/minute (“reduced from $0.49 for a limited time only”) for driving, and it will cost your $0.30/minute if you just want to sit in your car and “park.” The service also offers flat-rate pricing. ReachNow launched in Seattle with a party on Capitol Hill and has continued to focus its marketing on the neighborhood. Car2Go’s fleet from Daimler AG rolled out in 2012. Both have become a ubiquitous part of the neighborhood’s transit solution — though, for some, the services are not ubiquitous enough with a clear ring of emptiness emerging around the Capitol Hill core around during key commute times. Drivers can park in any legal street parking space, including metered spaces and residential zones. The so-called “car share” companies pay the city permit fees to utilize resources including street parking.

New parking rates coming to Capitol Hill in 2017 — but no late night paid parking… yet

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In 2017, Capitol Hill and First Hill streets will join the busy avenues of downtown, and Pioneer Square as the first areas in Seattle where nighttime on-street paid parking will hit $4.50 an hour. Nighttime visitors — and neighbors who play the increasingly challenging shell game of keeping their parked automobiles one step ahead of the Parking Enforcement Officer — will be happy to hear that there is no specific plan for rolling out paid parking beyond 8 PM… yet.

The Seattle Department of Transportation announced the planned increases last week as part of its ongoing “data-driven” optimization across its 12,000 on-street paid parking spaces as demand for some Capitol Hill-area parking continues to hover well beyond 100% during peak hours — seemingly no matter how high rates climb. Continue reading

In 2017, RPZ 32 will fill in Capitol Hill ‘restricted parking zone’ puzzle

The last major swath of Capitol Hill where curbsides are not protected for area residents with a “restricted parking zone” is coming into the the City of Seattle’s fold.

RPZ 32 will be rolled out by mid-2017 covering the blocks between Belmont and E Olive Way below Broadway to the edges of the I-5 Shores. The Seattle Department of Transportation announced the decision earlier this month following a public feedback process this fall:

Zone 32 signs will be installed on the green blocks in mid-2017. Residents in the gray area will receive a letter with instructions for obtaining a Zone 32 permit. The pink blocks will move from Zone 15 to Zone 32. Residents on these blocks will receive further communication about this change. Continue reading

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.  Continue reading

$12 million to homelessness, 200 police officers, electric cars, more streetcar: What’s in the mayor’s budget for Capitol Hill

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-2-08-55-pmAfter taking on major initiatives like universal Pre-K and housing affordability, Mayor Ed Murray set a more restrained and “efficient” course for the City of Seattle during his 2017-2018 budget presentation at City Council Monday afternoon. That still didn’t keep dozens of protestors from chanting against the mayor’s police spending priorities just outside the council chambers.

Since the Great Recession, the city has amassed $35 million per year in construction fees, which Murray called out as a precarious financial situation. Projecting the rapid pace of construction will begin to slow in 2017, the mayor said his budget avoids making too many major longterm investments and puts money into the city’s rainy day funds.

“If 2014 was the year of the minimum wage, 2015 the year of housing affordability, and 2016 is the year of education, it is my intention to make 2017 the year of good governance,” he said. Continue reading

SDOT says nope to plan that would push parking $ back to Capitol Hill, yup to possible late night paid parking

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Across Broadway and Pike/Pine, Capitol Hill generated some 12% of the city’s parking revenue in 2015 (Source: SDOT)

Department of Transportation officials will argue Tuesday afternoon that the city shouldn’t move forward with a plan to create “parking benefit districts” across Seattle that would give neighborhoods a major slice of the revenue generated by pay meters on their streets.

In a briefing planned to be part of Tuesday’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee session at City Council, SDOT officials lay 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: Continue reading

SDOT looks at Restricted Parking Zone 15 expansion across I-5 Shores

caphillrpz8444334030_3d6c40fa08_o-1A new drive has begun to create a major expansion of Restricted Parking Zone 15 to cover most of the densely-packed streets between Broadway and I-5 north of E Olive Way with two-hour parking restrictions for drivers from outside the neighborhood.

“RPZs are intended to improve parking access for residents, while balancing the needs of others to use the public right of way,” SDOT said in its announcement of the newly proposed expansion. “RPZs help neighborhoods deal with parking congestion from traffic generators through signed time limits from which vehicles displaying a valid RPZ permit are exempt.”

Here is how SDOT is explaining the proposal:

  • The gray area on the map is the new RPZ, using E Roy St and Belmont Ave E as the northern boundary.
  • In the gray area, RPZ signs would be installed on the color-lined blocks, limiting vehicles without zone permits to 2-hour parking Monday to Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm.
  • All residents in the gray area would be eligible for permits in the new RPZ.
  • Permits are currently $65 per vehicle for two years. Guest permits are also available.
  • Signs would not be installed next to commercial properties, nor would they replace existing paid or time limited parking.

You can provide feedback on the plan with this SDOT survey or by emailing capitolhillparking@seattle.gov by September 26. SDOT staff will also be available “to take comments and answer questions” at Top Pot Doughnuts, 609 Summit Ave E on Saturday, September 17, 2016, from 10 AM to 12 PM. Continue reading

Details key for apartment project set to replace 15th Ave E parking lot

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Developers are ready to trade a 15th Ave E parking lot for a new 36-unit apartment building. Now, they hope to convince the review board they have the finishing touches necessary to do the job.

The Wren building will take its second and likely final pass in front of the East Design Review Board Wednesday night after getting kicked back in the process in July for a design proposal that lacked in the “materials and detailing” department on its 15th Ave E-facing façade. “The Board struggled with how the design relates to adjacent buildings and creates its own sense of place and identity,” the report (PDF) on the July session reads.

Wednesday night, developer Isola Homes and the architects from Caron Architecture will come to the table with a plan for cedar siding and aluminum that they hope convinces the board the four-story, 36-unit project with a planned 1,400 feet of commercial space is ready to move forward. Continue reading

‘Chatbot lawyer’ could get you out of your next Capitol Hill parking ticket

(Image: City of Seattle)

(Image: City of Seattle)

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The whole thing about parking on Capitol Hill being impossible is dumb. Paid parking zones have made open spaces mostly guaranteed during pay to park hours. Overnight parking and the insatiable human urge to not pay for parking that leads drivers to explore Capitol Hill’s more ticket-risky parking strategies — those problems are real.

City living (and city news reporting!) with a motor vehicle pretty much guarantees parking tickets. It is the cost of doing business.

But here is some good news for the Capitol Hill parking ticket-plagued. A young genius has found a way to put the artificial intelligence of chatbots to work for something more than customer service or tricking people on dating sites. And the new “chatbot lawyer” is coming to Seattle — as soon as the system’s inventor takes on some small issues like “flight delay compensation, as well as helping the HIV positive understand their rights and acting as a guide for refugees navigating foreign legal systems” — The Guardian reports:

Dubbed as “the world’s first robot lawyer” by its 19-year-old creator, London-born second-year Stanford University student Joshua Browder, DoNotPay helps users contest parking tickets in an easy to use chat-like interface. The program first works out whether an appeal is possible through a series of simple questions, such as were there clearly visible parking signs, and then guides users through the appeals process. The results speak for themselves. In the 21 months since the free service was launched in London and now New York, Browder says DoNotPay has taken on 250,000 cases and won 160,000, giving it a success rate of 64% appealing over $4m of parking tickets.

Makes you wonder what other repetitive, mundane tasks could be taken on by a chatbot, no?

In the meantime, there are other parking problems — and opportunities — on Capitol Hill to solve.

Hat tip to @sleepylemur for sharing the news.

21+ things CHS heard at Capitol Hill Housing’s annual community forum

Capitol Hill Housing served up a buffet of neighborhood discussion during its 9th annual community forum Thursday night. Five Capitol Hill speakers touched on a range of forward-looking topics, ranging from lidding I-5 to expanding the Broadway Business Improvement Area to retaining arts spaces in the neighborhood.

This year’s theme was Gearshift, “all about how we respond to the rapid changes facing Capitol Hill.” The presentations and follow up discussions could have been pulled straight from the headlines of CHS:

Expanding the Broadway BIA — Sierra Hansen of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce
Lidding I-5 to create developable land and open space — Scott Bonjukian of Lid I-5
Creating a Capitol Hill parking benefits district — Alex Brennan from Capitol Hill EcoDistrict
Building leadership and power for renters on Capitol Hill — Zachary Pullin of the Capitol Hill Community Council
Incentivizing developers to build or maintain arts space — Tonya Lockyer of Velocity Dance Center

Participants, who gathered for the event at The Summit on E Pike, took a dive into each topic and city leaders presented the results.

During the group discussion about how to build renter power, City Council District 3 rep Kshama Sawant said many people echoed Zachary Pullin’s concerns that renters are given far too little consideration in the city’s development planning.

“Our democracy should not be dependent on property ownership” said Pullin during his presentation.

There was considerable support for a parking benefits district — wherein a portion of metered parking fees are spent within the neighborhood — as long as it did not result in cuts to underserved neighborhoods. Participants proposed extending paid parking hours past 8 PM on Capitol Hill and using those extra funds for neighborhood projects. Continue reading