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City says vandalism putting parking pay stations out of commission around Capitol Hill protest zone

Seattleites who seem to have both an unending appetite for paid parking and complaining about it might have a new reason to support the controversial “direct action” protesters who gather and march on Capitol Hill nearly every night.

The city says protesters have destroyed dozens of parking pay stations and there are currently no plans for repairs. The vandalism has caused thousands of dollars in damage and lost revenue for the city.

“It is unfortunately true that close to 80 pay stations have been seriously vandalized, and graffiti has abounded,” a Seattle Department of Transportation representative wrote to a CHS reader who contacted the city about the problem and shared the message with us. “The Capitol Hill neighborhood has taken the brunt of much of the damage to the City’s parking infrastructure.”

Some of the lost revenue might be offset by an increase in parking tickets with parking enforcement officers again issuing fines after this summer’s COVID-19 grace period. With the pay stations busted, many more drivers are risking a ticket over using the city’s online payment system. And searching for a working meter is a waste of time. Vandals have destroyed pretty much every station for blocks around Cal Anderson.

SPD says it is looking into parking enforcement issues related to the damaged stations but has not yet provided an update to CHS.


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Meanwhile, the demonstrators damaging and tagging the meters seem to be aware of the enforcement and revenue implications for the city. Most signage marking the paid parking and the location information needed to complete an online payment has also been heavily tagged, painted over, or torn down.

SDOT says it has tried repairing broken meters only to find them vandalized again.

“Although most protests have been peaceful, we are seeing recurring damage to our parking pay stations,” the rep writes. “We have repaired them previously only to have them vandalized in the next day or two.”

For the reader who contacted CHS, the meters and paid parking are part of life in the busy core of Capitol Hill. “I live in an RPZ and I’m close enough to walk or bike to anything on the Hill so it doesn’t affect me personally, but I know how tough it is for merchants as is so yeah, I admit I’ve taken the wanton assault on parking infrastructure a little bit personally,” they write. “What can I say, I’m not an anarchist, I actually believe that our local government has the moral and legal authority to manage the scarce resource of the public right of way.”

SDOT, meanwhile, says it does have teams working on graffiti, “though right now the outcome is similar, and the tags reappear very rapidly.”

“It is certainly our intention to repair and refurbish our paid parking assets and signage – we are working to understand when is a good time to make more repairs to equipment so that it will remain functional,” the representative writes. “Until then, we encourage people to use the mobile payment function, and to be as patient as possible.”

The City of Seattle says it operates around 1,700 pay stations “controlling approximately 12,000 parking spaces.” It predicted paid parking revenue to remain flat compared to 2019 with a forecast of around $39 million added to the city’s general fund this year before the COVID-19 crisis bit into the fees. Traffic fines revenue increased in recent years to around $40 million a year boosted by more than $1 million from camera enforcement revenue. In 2016, the City Council backed off a plan that would have directed some of the parking meter revenue to the neighborhoods where it was generated.

Seattle regularly rebalances its paid parking rates in an ongoing effort to balance capacity and demand with what costs drivers will withstand. In some parts of Capitol Hill like Pike/Pine on busy pre-COVID weekend nights, the city has found the appetite for parking to be pretty much insatiable — no matter the rate. In July, Seattle reinstituted on-street paid parking with initial rates set at $0.50 an hour, the lowest the Seattle municipal code allows.


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caphiller
caphiller
28 days ago

Last time I walked along the eastern side of Cal Anderson, there were a few old, inoperable vehicles parked on the street there, some with flat tires or filled with junk. Anyone seen if they’re still there?

James
James
27 days ago
Reply to  caphiller

Who cares? Seriously?

caphiller
caphiller
27 days ago
Reply to  James

Uh, those abandoned clunkers are taking up spaces that residents and visitors could use productively. We allocate street space for parking so that people can move around the city in their cars, not so they can store their old junk on public property.

RWK
RWK
27 days ago
Reply to  caphiller

Since the pandemic began, the city has a policy of not enforcing the 72-hour parking rule, and this has inevitably led to many junk vehicles on our streets, staying there for weeks and months at a time. I think this rule now needs to be enforced again.

Boo
Boo
28 days ago

Pretty terrible. I don’t see how this helps anything. And the city needs that revenue. Was noticing the meters seemed to be busted and that you’re supposed to use the app to pay now. What if you don’t have your phone with you, or it’s not a smart phone? Wish people would stop destroying stuff.

James
James
27 days ago
Reply to  Boo

Wish cities would stop charging you just to exist somewhere…

Steven Lorenza
Steven Lorenza
27 days ago
Reply to  James

You exist as a car? That’s far out.

Glenn
Glenn
27 days ago
Reply to  James

Wish I lived in Nirvana too James. But it cost money to live. Nothing is free. Believing it is wrong to have to pay moneyto exist in the city is just pathetic.

Dustin
Dustin
28 days ago

How would this be another reason to support the black block “DA” demonstrators? Seems to me this is yet another reason NOT to support these nihilists.

Joe
Joe
28 days ago
Reply to  Dustin

Pretty sure that was a joke. But who knows these days?
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Steven Lorenza
Steven Lorenza
27 days ago
Reply to  Dustin

That ‘joke’ was on par with presidential nonsense ‘jokes’.

If you (vandalizer) don’t understand the bigger picture value in managing scarce resources for the benefit of most people, maybe stop the nonsense and think for a couple minutes.

Nope
Nope
28 days ago

So are we getting fined ?

Perhaps the anarchists can block the property tax collection monster next….

James in the CD
James in the CD
27 days ago
Reply to  Nope

So taxes/espenses you don’t like are the only ones that are “bad?”

Vandalism is seriously just part of living in a city. I don’t get why people need sterilized concrete. Welcome to a city. Put your big boy pants on.

Nope
Nope
27 days ago

You should look at the fine and late fees for property tax. No notification if say they lost your payment, you then owe 8% of total.

Most of us are now paying over $1k month to support the many tentacles of the city, apart from renters who feel somehow immune to property tax and keep endorsing spending…

jonc
jonc
28 days ago

I didn’t know there was an online payment system. It sounds inconvenient. I’m imagining filling out a form with your name, address and credit card info. Then how do they give you the receipt to show you’ve paid?

HTS3
HTS3
28 days ago
Reply to  jonc

Actually the PaybyPhone App is really easy to use. Once your car is in the system, you just punch in the code on the sign and pick the length of time and you’re done. It even lets you know when you are about to run out of time. And yes, it would be great if people stopped destroying our Hill.

jonc
jonc
28 days ago
Reply to  HTS3

So.. Another account to keep a balance and log your trips. That’s not a ‘convenience.’

Ariel
28 days ago
Reply to  HTS3

Cosign on the Pay By Phone app being super easy. Use it all the time.

Also can we start like a Sunday morning community cleanup or something? Just head out with a couple garbage bags, say hi to anyone else you see with garbage bags, tidy up our hood?

I mean, it’s a drop in the bucket when it comes to the systemic failures right now, but I mean…. I have garbage bags and arms. I could be doing more, even if it’s just on my block.

HTS3
HTS3
28 days ago
Reply to  HTS3

No balance to manage. It just charges your credit card. Easier than sticking things on your window. Those things just became litter anyway. And good idea, Ariel. I walk every morning and I’ve started carrying a bag.

EnjoytheChaos
EnjoytheChaos
28 days ago

In addition, traffic cops have been pulled off to patrol neighborhoods since police are understaffed. So you can speed around on the freeway if you’d like. Driving under the Influence will be in vogue again. BLM! No cops mean no crime, right? Why should we pay for government at all? We’ve just elected a senile old codger to be President who will soon be investigated for corruption with the Communist Chinese and the Ukrainians plus a few other countries. Ha, ha, ha!

RWK
RWK
28 days ago
Reply to  EnjoytheChaos

Just want to point out that it’s the Washington State Patrol which is in charge of the freeways, and they aren’t going to stop giving tickets for speeding.

RWK
RWK
28 days ago

“Seattleites might have a new reason to support the controversial “direct action” protesters who gather and march on Capitol Hill nearly every night.”

This is a really offensive statement. I suppose you are implying that people are supporting the criminal actions because they will not have to feed the broken machines, but in fact they are still expected to pay via the mobile app. I doubt if anyone would agree with your statement.

Vandalizing the parking pay stations is yet another senseless action on the part of the leftist criminals. And, by reducing parking revenue for the city, they are directly impacting how much money could be available for spending on issues they claim to care about. And I wonder how much it will cost to repair and/or replace the stations? (alot, I’m guessing).

Steven Lorenza
Steven Lorenza
27 days ago
Reply to  RWK

Leftist or rightist. Its moronic for anyone and shouldn’t be celebrated. Somehow causing the City tens of thousands in damages helps social justice? Nope.

Inga
Inga
26 days ago

We are still in the covid pandemic and many, most stores are closed so why not have free parking through the New Year or until a vaccine is out. Why why why punish those of us who live here and are in the middle of a pandemic.

LinkRider
LinkRider
24 days ago
Reply to  Inga

Surely people still want to use the parking for reasons other than shopping. Having a fee keeps any one person from hogging spots and lets others find one without too much circling. It would be nice for the time limit to automatically adjust upward if more empty spots are available, though.