To protect those living in cars, Sawant calls for end of Seattle’s ’72-hour rule’

District 3 City Council representative Kshama Sawant is calling for the city’s to reinstate its suspension of restrictions that prohibit motor vehicles from being parked on streets for more than 72 hours.

Mayor Jenny Durkan and SDOT officials reinstated the rule this month after a year of pandemic moratoriums.

“For people forced to live in their cars – many of them working people – Durkan’s move could be catastrophic, costing them not only their vehicle, but also their only shelter and all their possessions,” Sawant writes. “The pandemic has worsened the severe housing crisis. We need affordable, social housing – not harassment of neighbors struggling to survive.”

The easing of Seattle parking restrictions last March including the city’s “72-hour rule” was positioned as a way to help residents get through stay at home restrictions during the COVID-19 crisis. Many on Capitol Hill celebrated the temporary end of having to shuffle their cars around the neighborhood’s high demand street parking every three days to avoid a ticket. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Seattle to turn meters back on after weeks of free parking for COVID-19 ‘essential trips’

(Image: SDOT)

With its businesses districts kicking back into motion after months of COVID-19 restrictions, the City of Seattle is ready to restore paid parking and enforcement across the city.

Monday, the city’s meters will again be active with the hourly rate set at $0.50 — the lowest the Seattle municipal code allows:

  • With King County’s transition to Phase 2 of the Safe Start Plan, businesses are reopening, and reliable access at the curb for customers is critical for recovery.  Beginning July 13, we’ll reinstate hourly time limited parking and paid parking enforcement.  Parking will be $0.50/hour in all paid areas; the minimum rate allowed according to the Seattle Municipal Code. Continue reading

It’s not a free for all but Seattle eliminating most parking tickets during COVID-19 restrictions

With life under COVID-19 restrictions already mostly a massive bummer, Seattle officials have recognized that parking tickets right now are adding insult to injury. Most residents are doing their best to stay close to home to help fight the spread of the virus while many essential workers must drive to work. Starting Saturday, Seattle is eliminating most parking tickets as paid parking and time limits are suspended on the city’s streets:

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced that the City of Seattle will temporarily eliminate paid and time-limited street parking rules to support residents and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following Governor Inslee’s extension of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, the City will immediately implement these changes to parking so residents do not have to worry about tickets while they remain at home. Elimination of paid parking will also facilitate easier access to essential businesses for employees and customers.

  • No payment will be required on streets with paid parking.
  • Hourly time limits will not be enforced outside of Restricted Parking Zones (RPZ).
  • Loading zones up to 30-minutes, including new food pick-up zones, will continue to be enforced.
  • Other previously announced temporary parking enforcement changes including suspension of the 72-hour parking rule will continue until further notice.
  • Special zones will still be in effect, including new zones for hospital and human services staff as well as existing zones for freight, food trucks, or charter buses. 
  • Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) time limits will be enforced so that people who live in RPZ neighborhoods can still find parking near their homes.

Like many alterations to daily life under COVID-19 restrictions, the changes to parking will be a major reset for the city. Reinstating paid parking will be phased in after the stay home order is lifted, the city says. At that time, SDOT will reinstate a minimum payment of $0.50 per hour in all paid areas for three weeks. The city will then begin to “adjust rates based on demand as customers return to business districts and need reliable access at the curb.” Continue reading

Where and when it will be cheaper to park on Capitol Hill in 2020 (and where the appetite for parking is apparently insatiable no matter how expensive it gets)

2020 mornings will bring cheaper paid parking to most of Capitol Hill’s streets — the nightlife crush means prices are rising. Seattle announced its annual adjustments Friday to be rolled out in its regular rebalancing of pricing for the city’s paid parking based on demand studies over the past year.

“Our goal is to make it efficient and accessible for people who need to drive to find a parking space,” SDOT says in its announcement and explainer of the 2020 adjustments. “This reduces how much time drivers spend circling for parking, which provides other important benefits” —

  • Improves safety for pedestrians and cyclists – drivers circling for parking are often distracted
  • Reduces congestion – drivers circling for parking contribute to congestion
  • Improves transit efficiency – less congestion and fewer cars stopping in the bus lane means our public transit is more reliable
  • Decreases greenhouse gas emissions – less circling means fewer emissions

Simplified, SDOT says its goal is to price so that “two parking spaces are available on each block throughout the day.”

It’s not clear how high prices would have to rise across SDOT’s Capitol Hill paid parking regions to hit that “two space” goal at night were capacity is also measured at hitting greater than 100% thanks to creative — and illegal — parking strategies some nightlife visitors deploy. Prices will hit from $4 to $4.50 across most of Capitol Hill at night. Continue reading

After criticism for route that included riding on sidewalk, city rolls out new plan for E Union ‘parking protected bike lanes’

The proposed layout for parking protected bike lanes between 14th Ave and 26th on E Union — the vehicles inside the outer white lanes would provide a buffer between bikes and traffic

Above E Union at 18th Ave

The Seattle Department of Transportation has responded to community feedback and has a new plan for E Union that will create unbroken protected bike lanes from 14th Ave to 23rd Ave. Construction is now on track to begin this summer.

The updated plans were presented at a community open house Wednesday night at the neighborhood’s Liberty Bank Building. An online survey will be collecting feedback on the updated plans through February 7th.

The updates follow plans shaped last year that drew criticism for trying to maintain area parking and existing traffic lanes by routing a portion of the planned bike lanes onto the sidewalk. The E Union bike lane project is being paid for by the Move Seattle levy to create an alternate for bicyclists away from the coming Madison Bus Rapid Transit corridor. CHS reported earlier this month that the future RapidRide G start of service has again been pushed back — this time to 2023.

The newly released plans would remove some street parking, shift a school bus loading zone, and consolidate Metro bus stops to add the “parking protected bike lanes” to both sides of E Union between 14th Ave and 26th Ave, and then transition to an uphill protected bike lane and a downhill sharrow lane from 26th to Martin Luther King Jr Way. Continue reading

City says Capitol Hill Uber and Lyft pickup zone will continue and there could be more to come

The test of a new ride-hail pickup zone is achieving its goals and will continue and could be expanded to other nightlife and rideshare heavy areas of the city, the Seattle’s department of transportation announced Monday.

“We’ve seen improved traffic circulation in the area, and the Seattle Police Department has reported that their ability to patrol and respond in the area has been improved and that crowds are disbursing more quickly with fewer disturbances at the end of the night. Additionally, more riders are catching their rides at the curb and not blocking traffic in the street,” the SDOT announcement reads.

CHS reported in November on the start of the weekend nightlife pilot that carves out four pickup areas from existing Pike/Pine parking where customers looking for a ride with either Uber or Lyft are directed by the apps. The geo-fencing is in effect during the highest demand times for the services: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday between midnight and 3 AM and includes a total of 36 legal parking spaces that change to loading zone restrictions during the program’s hours.

The “ridehail zone” comes amid a continuing boom in the Pike/Pine nightlife economy where huge crowds can gather as last call approaches and revelers head for home. Police have long sought strategies to better manage the 2 AM rush to help cut down on traffic issues as well as assaults and fights that can break out in the crowds. Continue reading

MISSING: This Capitol Hill ‘streatery’

On one hand, the City of Seattle’s dabbling in relatively lightweight experiments in tactical urbanism should be lauded for its ability to test small, relatively inexpensive and unobtrusive concepts on the fly. On the other, it can make it look like nobody gave a shit about the principles behind the experiments in the first place when they are removed — poof — without a trace.

On 15th Ave E, one of those installations meant to reshape and help us rethink city streets has disappeared. Continue reading

Clock is ticking for Pine lot where nightlife crowds like to park — and people keep shooting guns

This parking lot is a goner (Image: King County)

While neighbors around 21st and Union are looking at so-called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design efforts in addition to the mayor’s plan for curbing gun violence in the Central District, an environmental problem spot at the base of Capitol Hill is on its way to a CPTED solution of a different sort.

Key permits have finally been issued for a project to create an eight-story, 70-unit apartment, and office building on the land currently home to the parking lot near Pine and Melrose that is popular with nightlife crowds but has attracted more than its share of assaults and gun play over the years. Continue reading