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Yes, Seattle has a parking problem. There’s way too much of it.

Seattle has some of the world's most stunning car parking spaces.
Seattle has some of the world’s most stunning car parking spaces.

There are half a million on-street parking spaces in Seattle, and almost all of them are completely free to use. That’s 60 million square feet of city land, or 1,378 acres. And that’s not counting all the parking lots, parking garages or home driveways and garages. Sightline estimates that between 10 and 20 percent of the total land in Pacific Northwest cities is dedicated to parking cars.

City land is very valuable, and there is actually no such thing as “free parking.” We all pay to maintain these millions of square feet of city-owned parking space whether we drive cars or not. There are 2.2 parking spaces per car in the region, which means by Sightline’s measures the average value of the space reserved for parking a car (~ $11,000) is thousands of dollars higher than the value of the average car itself (~ $8,000).

Of course, the city does need parking. Short-term parking and loading zones allow many customers to access businesses and for workers to deliver goods. The transit system does not serve all homes in the region well, and Puget Sound cities are not nearly compact enough for everyone to be within an easy walk or bike ride. For a wide variety of reasons (many of them due to purposeful car-centric community planning decisions), driving is simply the mode of transportation that makes the most sense for a lot of people’s lives.

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But Seattle has far too much parking. And contrary to what you may have seen on King 5 or in the Seattle Times this week, even busy downtown has way more parking than people can even use. In addition to all the on-street parking, there are more than 50 parking garages in just the center city area. On a typical day, as many as 40 percent of the spaces in these garages are open.

Don’t believe me? Look for yourself. The city tracks live-updated totals for open spaces in just a small number of these center city parking garages. Here’s how many spaces were open at 10:30 a.m. on a Thursday:

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.28.13 AMScreen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.30.28 AMIf you can’t find a parking space downtown, you aren’t looking very hard. Or, more likely, you don’t want to pay garage prices and prefer the subsidized rates on city streets. I don’t blame you, parking in a garage is expensive.

But here’s a thought experiment: Let’s say tomorrow morning, thousands of people (enough to fill all the garages) wake up and decide to drive downtown instead of walking, biking, carpooling or taking transit. Downtown’s already traffic-choked streets would completely fail due to the increased number of cars trying to get into those downtown garages. Nobody would get anywhere.

My point is, Seattle has already constructed more parking spaces downtown than people can ever use. The streets can only move so many cars during rush hour, and we’re pretty much at that limit already.

Our city does have a parking problem: There’s way too much of it.

Too much parking costs us all a lot of money

Surface parking lots are terrible for cities, especially city centers and dense neighborhoods. They decrease walkability and desirability of an area because there are fewer destinations that are further apart. They also decrease the number of retail lots and homes in an area. We have known for a long time that surface parking lots kill cities, and many surface lots in the city center have been developed into buildings in recent decades.

But too often, those buildings include giant parking garages, often due to building codes that require parking even though, as we discussed above, we know we can’t use it. Building new parking is insanely expensive, and it’s one big reason new housing and retail rents are so damn high.

Sightline’s Alan Durning did a great job explaining how this works in a 2013 series of stories about parking:

City requirements for off-street parking spaces jack up rents. They jack it up a lot at the bottom of the housing ladder. Proportionally speaking, the bigger the quota and the smaller the apartment, the larger the rent hike. For one-bedroom apartments with two parking places, as is required in places including Bothell and Federal Way, Washington, as much as one-third of the rent may actually pay for parking.

Building underground parking is the most expensive option, and construction costs for required parking spaces can sometimes outpace costs for building the apartment unit itself. Why isn’t Seattle’s recent rapid expansion of housing units in the city center bringing down rents? The cost of all those underground parking garages is one big reason.

Garage entrances can also take up valuable retail space on the ground floor, meaning fewer spaces for job-creating businesses and destinations. And since retail spaces also have to foot the bill for the building’s expensive parking, the financial barrier to starting a business rises. And when you shop in one of these businesses, you pay a surcharge to help pay the business’s increased rents.

All these increased costs are happening even though the city center does not need more parking and more and more people are choosing to get around without driving. It’s all backwards.

And yet developers keep building tons of parking. Capitol Hill Seattle recently reported on a proposed 16-story apartment tower on Broadway at the edge of First Hill and Capitol Hill, among the city’s least car-dependent neighborhoods. Planners want to build five stories of underground parking with 374 parking spaces. A proposed office and retail building on N 34th Street in Fremont would include an underground parking garage with 258 parking spots. These are neighborhoods where 78 – 90 percent of customers do not drive there to shop, according to a 2012 customer intercept survey:

From a 2012 customer survey
From a 2012 customer survey

Even our transit agency is building a ton of car parking. While Sound Transit and the City of Seattle struggle to find the money to build the Northgate bike/walk bridge to connect the Northgate light rail station to the neighborhood across I-5, they are planning to build a 700-stall car parking garage even though 92 percent of station users are expected to walk, bike or take a bus to get to the station.

“War on Cars”


Does any of this sound like a “war on cars” to you? Of course not.

But someone over at King 5 decided it was time to dust off the old “war on cars” phrase for a headline on their latest story about parking changes. And that’s sad because Linda Byron’s actual reporting is much more nuanced and thoughtful than this headline (and the “DISAPPEARING PARKING” header) suggests.

The same happened to Mike Lindblom’s reporting in the Seattle Times. The text of his story is nuanced in its approach to changes in the city’s approach to on-street parking. But here’s what editors did to it on the front page:

This terrible infographic is essentially a body count of lost parking spaces, completely devoid of the context that there are still half a million on-street parking spaces in Seattle and that — as we discussed earlier and Lindblom points out in his story — downtown parking garages are 40 percent vacant.

And, of course, both reports point the finger at bike lanes as a culprit for the “vanishing” parking. Most of the city’s bike lanes —including more ambitious protected bike lanes on 2nd Ave and Broadway — actually preserve much of the on-street parking. In the case of Roosevelt, most parking on the west side of the street will be removed. Sometimes it makes sense to remove some on-street parking to increase bike access and safety, and this stretch of Roosevelt has seen a lot of collisions involving people on bikes. But that story doesn’t sell newspapers, I guess.

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55 responses to “Yes, Seattle has a parking problem. There’s way too much of it.”

  1. Cheif

    Increase property taxes for private automobile owners to reflect the potential acreage they’re utilizing at any given time. Any car can use those ~1300 acres, so individual owners of cars should be taxed for the value of 1300 acres per year.

    1. ben

      Good mentality … just all the other liberals, your ideas kill your economy.

      Seattle is going to only have the government and a service based economy which cannot sustain itself for long without your hated industry or automobiles. Put all of your taxes on the cars … tax the hell out of manufacturing and watch it disappears. You are such an idiot to think money grows on trees.

      I hope you enjoy your socialist toilet that Seattle will bloom into.

  2. […] Other people are talking about parking today, too. At the Seattle Bike Blog, there’s a nice article about the excess parking in Seattle, and why that’s not a good […]

  3. Brock

    Nailed it. Thanks Tom.

  4. Joe

    There is a parking problem in Seattle. While I agree that downtown has plenty of parking, this is not the case in many other neighborhoods that enjoy a nightlife – ever try to go to Ballard or Capitol Hill after work?? It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find evening parking in Pioneer Square and just the small area around Columbia City can be a drag to find a spot in the evening. To say that Cap. Hill is least dependent car neighborhood does not take into account that people from OTHER neighborhoods want to go and enjoy its amenities. This is a big plus to the city of Seattle, that there are so many great neighborhoods to go enjoy. The subject matter of this story is pertinent, the focus is a bit short-sighted. This is a much larger issue.

    1. Capitol Hillian

      1) Capitol Hill is well served by transit.
      2) There may not be cheap curbside parking adjacent to your favorite bar, but Capitol Hill has a ample paid parking spots: http://en.parkopedia.com/parking/capitol_hill_seattle_wa_united_states/?ac=1&country=US&lat=47.625305&lng=-122.3221835. Judging by the huge crowds every weekend evening, people seem to find a way to enjoy Capitol Hill just fine.

      1. sdv

        Capitol Hill is well connected to some parts of the city. But I’d have to take at least 2 buses to get there. I would never spend that much time getting there.
        But I agree with point 2. I’ve only once really had a hard time finding a place to park, paid or otherwise. And, I’d say half the time I find street parking within a block or two of my destination.

    2. LWC

      If you really think more open street parking is a vital thing for neighborhoods like capitol hill, the logical thing to do is to raise the price of street parking to free up some of the capacity. But in my experience, the people complaining loudest about lack of parking are also the ones who complain loudest about the price of parking going up.

    3. LWC

      Oh, and I go to Ballard or Capitol Hill after work all the time. I just bike or take transit. It’s really not an issue.

      1. Kirk

        The parking issue in Ballard is the lack of bicycle parking. It is beyond time to put in some bike corrals.

      2. Joe

        I think saying that it’s not an issue for you because you bike or take transit is a narrow view in of itself. There are times when that makes sense, but it’s not all the time. People have different needs and life circumstances and choices should be available for all to enjoy different parts of the city. I don’t think it has to be street parking, that was never my intention. There just needs to be parking (lots, garages, meters, etc.). Seattle is growing, people want to go out and eat/drink/shop there should be ample parking and comprehensive transit plan – for example, there is no great option to travel from the south end to Ballard. Or what about folks coming from out of the city – there is no option. Whether you like it or not, cars are not going to go away so how best does the city/community meet everyone’s interest? You can tell my the number of comments how different everyone’s perspective is! I love to bike to work, I struggle with cars (and buses!) everyday. The city and biking community has failed to create a biking consciousness – so it’s still viewed as cars vs. bikes.

      3. Breadbaker

        That’s true only if you look at the choices as either/or: transit to right where you’re going or parking really close to where you’re going. There are plenty of places just north, east and west of central Ballard where free on-street parking is plentiful. If you came in from Everett, all you’d have to do is walk a bit, or take one of the many, frequent bus lines a short distance. That may not be your ideal, but as public policy, it makes more sense for you to do that than to require more on-street parking availability that results in, say, some deaths of cyclists.

  5. Peri Hartman

    Very nice write-up, Tom. From what you cite, it seems there is too much parking for commercial and business activities. You’re right, downtown can’t handle much more traffic during rush hour. I’ll buy your numbers that most people who shop in Fremont do so without a car (that includes me on my bike!).

    However, where to people who own cars to use them outside the city or for evening activities park them at or near their home?

    I suspect, if you find a survey on that, you find that there is excess parking in some neighborhoods and inadequate parking in others. Capitiol hill is inadequate. My neighborhood is marginally adequate. Parts of Fremont are inadequate.

    Ideally, I wouldn’t own any cars. Our family has two. One my wife primarily uses for mid day stuff. (Maybe some day she’ll try an e-bike.) Busses take way too long for non-commute trips. The other sits on the street most of the time a few block from my house. I considered getting rid of it but it’s too difficult: I use it for hiking and other out of town activities. Rental car companies won’t let you take their vehicles on gravel roads. I also use it occasionally for hauling stuff. Same problem with rental companies. We could use just this one vehicle but it’s horribly inefficient to drive in the city.

    1. Kirk

      I would say that those that want to park a car at home should buy or rent a place with off street parking if they find parking on the street in their neighborhood too vexing.

      1. Peri Hartman

        And that may very well be the long term answer. To get there, we need more demand so that people will build or make off street space available. Evidently, the pain isn’t high enough yet :)

    2. Rebecca

      Have you considered using Zipcar instead of having a second car? It covers all the use cases you outlined, and works better than one car, because you can get on awd vehicle for hiking, and a pick up truck for hauling.

      1. Peri Hartman

        I’m pretty sure I looked at zipcar – I looked at several alternatives. None of them let you take their vehicles on gravel roads, which precludes most trailhead accesses. The pickup would work for some cases – didn’t know zipcar had them. Anyway, we’re set for a while. Next time a “big change” comes along, I’ll look carefully.

      2. Becky

        I have never heard of a rule that precludes gravel roads in a ZipCar.

      3. Peri Hartman

        You may be right. I just read the contract and didn’t directly see anything either. The also advertise that you can rent off road vehicles. It isn’t clear to me if you have to rent such a vehicles to drive on USFS roads or not.

        Car2Go definitely excludes gravel roads. As do most (all?) the major car rental companies, such as Hertz.

      4. Rebecca

        I take Zipcars on gravel roads all the time. Last weekend, we took a Zipcar to Winthrop, and the place we stayed was up a mile long gravel road full of potholes. There are definitely easy alternatives to owning second cars, if you actually want to get rid of the car.

  6. Sean

    Thank you. I was grabbing things for dinner tonight when I saw the front page of today’s Times lurking in the display case at QFC. My immediate reaction when I saw the green bike lane photo next to the headline was, “Wow, I didn’t think it was possible for me to hate the Seattle Times any more than I did, but now I do…”. My second reaction, after the anger wore off, was recalling a trip my partner and I took downtown a couple weeks ago, on the first Sunday after football season ended: it was mid afternoon, about 65 degrees and sunny, and we were heading to the Westlake area. We circled a 10 square block area about 3 times before giving up on curbside parking and finding a spot in a garage. I would guess the thing was 15% full.
    I bike full time, but I borrow cars on occasion for work. And I’ve lived on Capitol Hill for 7 of the last 10 years. Yes, parking here at 9:30pm on a Saturday can be a pain in the ass, and as mentioned above, I believe that many of the people searching for parking in this neighborhood at those times are probably just here to enjoy a night out. If their complaining is the cause of the Times and King 5 “story”, well, I guess I would say that, if they can afford to come here and drink and pay $10 for a vodka tonic, then I would hope that they could afford garage parking, of which there is ALWAYS a spot available around here.
    Thanks again for the blog, and for keeping these mass media tools in check.

  7. Bryan Willman

    You have all drunk the kool aide haven’t you?

    Saying a place has too much parking is like saying it has too many jobs or the people are too rich – it’s non starter.

    Saying some neighborhood is well served by transit is meaningless for the large numbers of people at the other end of the trip are NOT served by transit and never will be.

    Your disdain for cars is NOT shared by the majority of the population, don’t be surprized at their reaction over time….

    1. kpt

      Bryan, don’t be surprised if people balk at paying for it, once they find out the true costs.

      As we see in this article and in the comments – there is ample parking for people willing to pay the market price. There is a shortage of the thing that is subsidized. If you want to go to Capitol Hill, but don’t want to pay to park, perhaps you don’t want to go to Capitol Hill all that badly.

      1. Peri Hartman

        Actually, I’d like to put it differently. At least for myself, I’d prefer if there were good public transit so I didn’t have to drive. It takes one hour by bus to go from Queen Anne to Capitol Hill. And that’s during the day.

      2. kpt

        I think that’s a totally valid concern. But, when people tell their elected officials just how much transit they want, how much it’s going to cost them is a big factor. They shouldn’t be comparing this cost to zero, as there is no zero cost option. There is an option whose cost is hidden.

        I think if people start realizing just how much that cost is, they will tell their elected officials to get busy on the transit solutions (and the car sharing, and the zoning to allow what you want to be closer to home, and the bike lanes and so on.)

        (FWIW, I own a car, and given that my wife doesn’t ride either, probably always will. But, if we had to pay to park, it would sure get used less.)

      3. Bryan Willman

        Point taken. On the other hand the kirkland city council got a recent public scolding over an attempt to charge for one of the downtown lots.
        There’s also the small point that everybody – pedestrian, cyclist, motorist, even equestrian – directly or indirectly pays property and sales taxes in this state. So in some sense, people have *already paid* for what *was already there*

      4. kpt

        I would love it if we discussed this in terms of tax equity. Every spot listed as ‘taken away’ in Lindblom’s article adds up to about 0.2% of the half million on street spots in the city. We people on bikes aren’t anything like a majority, but we’re way more than 0.2% of road users.

        This taxpayer would like to see more spots taken away and given to active uses. (On a strategic case-by-case basis, of course. Don’t even want anything like the 3-5% to which we might be entitled as an ownership share. Just want some better separated bike facilities, and the parking strip is a great place to start.)

      5. Kirk Parker

        Bryan, don’t be surprised if people balk at paying for it, once they find out the true costs.

        If that’s going to be your approach, I’m in!

        Just one request: in order to be fair to cars, we can’t just eliminate the subsidies on them, we have to go subsidy-free on literally everything. How will transit fare once it has to price for 100% farebox recovery?

    2. Sean

      It is not a “disdain” for cars. I ride, my girlfriend owns a car. For my life: full time student and intern living and working on and around the hill, I do not need, nor can afford, to own a car. My girlfriend, on the other hand, works full time and has a job that requires a lot of travel; plus, she just never got into riding. I enjoy having the option to take trips with her when we want, and for my work, I rent a zipcar on occasion. That isn’t to say that I DON”T want a car- I hope that someday I will be able to own one to have for emergencies, for road trips, etc. But it isn’t disdain- it is simply choosing a different method of travel, and wanting the right to be able to do this travel in the safest way possible. And that is pretty much only achievable through dedicated bike lanes. People in Seattle CAN NOT DRIVE. I have lived all over this country, and I would take Bay Area or Northern Virginia rush hour over crossing Denny and Stewart at 2pm.

    3. Jeremy

      Flavor Aid is the drink of choice of the car-sitters, given the failure to maintain the roads, while trundling yet more billions into new road expansions.


      $2.2 trillion? Yee-haw! And that’s not even counting parking. Let’s see how this plays out, with a gas tax increase not being on the table. I do wonder where they’ll get all that money from. Future generations? Magic printing presses?

  8. daihard

    This is a great piece, especially after reading the Seattle Times article and all the stupid comments from the car-loving losers. Thank you, Tom!

  9. Will

    There are a number of fallacies in this article. You can’t already have an unsubstantiated opinion and then work backwards to cherry-pick anecdotal evidence to support this opinion.

    Private garages do not want completely full garages. This is not the City mismanaging the market for paid street parking. This is a for-profit company where marginal costs and marginal revenues are important. Moreover, claiming that Seattle has plenty of parking because many private lots have empty spaces during the day is like saying we should cut bus routes because ridesharing services are becoming more and more popular.

    “Building underground parking is the most expensive option, and construction costs for required parking spaces can sometimes outpace costs for building the apartment unit itself. Why isn’t Seattle’s recent rapid expansion of housing units in the city center bringing down rents? The cost of all those underground parking garages is one big reason.”

    You really have to admire someone willing to make these kinds of statements. Underground parking garages in new developments are not a significant cause of rising rents.

    “And yet developers keep building tons of parking. Capitol Hill Seattle recently reported on a proposed 16-story apartment tower on Broadway at the edge of First Hill and Capitol Hill, among the city’s least car-dependent neighborhoods. Planners want to build five stories of underground parking with 374 parking spaces. … These are neighborhoods where 78 – 90 percent of customers do not drive there to shop, according to a 2012 customer intercept survey:”

    Maybe they work an any of the 4 different huge hospitals nearby. Or maybe they live in one of the hundreds of condos nearby. Developers build these things for only one reason.

    1. kpt

      1) You’ve missed the point. It’s irrelevant whether the parking garage owner wants the spots empty – the point is that there are parking spots available for a price. It’s a price people are apparently unwilling to pay. “There are no parking spots” is a different claim from “Parking is too expensive”.

      I have no idea what you’re talking about with your bus/car sharing analogy.

      2) Since we clearly don’t understand the relation between the costs of building something and the rent charged to use it, perhaps you could enlighten us.

      3) Nobody is suggesting developers not be allowed to build parking. People have repeatedly suggested they not be *required* to. The difference is subtle.

      1. Eli

        On #3 – exactly. Not having a parking space basically means a cap on the rent you can charge for a unit. I had to drop my rent on one unit by a few hundred bucks to get awesome tenants, because everyone who could afford those rents also wanted a car for weekends.

        You really can’t get over $2,500-$2,600 on Cap Hill (no matter how amazing the unit is) unless you have a parking space available. I don’t think it’s really needed for the <$2000 range (more of a nice-to-have).

        So if a developer wants to target higher-end residents, it's a cost of doing business.

        Personally I would only expand my building's parking if the monthly rate reached $300-$350/month over a multiyear period – that's the point where it's economically worthwhile to reconstruct our garage.

        — (owner of a small multifamily apartment building in Cap Hill)

    2. Sean

      I was one of the first people to live in the Apodments on 13th and John, back when there was a controversy about building these units in residential neighborhoods. Many of the NIMBY’s were up in arms over the fact that these were being built in neighborhoods with already limited on-street parking, and home owners were fearful that they would lose their precious spots. If I remember correctly, they were even successful in persuading City Hall to halt new construction of such units- units that we are in DIRE need of (low cost–under $800/month–single occupancy units).
      The problem with their argument was that it was completely invalid. I couldn’t name 3 people out of the 60 or so who lived in that complex who drove a car. THAT’S WHOLE POINT OF LIVING IN SUCH A DEVELOPMENT!!! No one there could AFFORD a car. Yet, due to Seattle’s ass backwards zoning laws regarding parking and building height, we are doomed to build $2000 mid rise studios with ground floor retail stores until we are West Bellevue. When you add $200-$300 a month to already sky high rents, due to the inclusion of a parking spot that may or may not be needed, well, have fun Seattle. I’m heading to Thurston County, and I’ll see you all in 10 years when, like myself, you can’t afford it here anymore.
      Thanks again, Tom. This is the best blog in town.

      1. Peri Hartman

        One option, which I don’t know if currently allowed, would be to require building the parking spaces (in some locations) but not including them in the rental agreement. They would be rented separately, as needed. Those not rented would be available to the general public at market rates.

      2. Gary

        Way back when dinosaurs roamed Capital Hill and I lived there. I paid for an off street parking spot at my apartment. It seemed entirely reasonable to have to pay extra for something I needed, but my neighbors did not. Owning a car has been “nice” but it is a huge cost. Owning one then was required for me to live in the city and work in the burbs. Transit being worse then than it is now.

        So I’m in total agreement, the developer should not be required to supply parking, but rather if it pays, build it. That generally means, on street parking is metered which is again fair, but a heavier burden on the working poor who are not as well served by transit.

  10. LWC

    Real question for all the folks saying we need more parking in neighborhoods like Capitol Hill. What are you suggesting the city do? Close down lanes on arterials to devote more space to parking? Tear down businesses or single family homes to build city-subsidized parking garages? Raise street parking rates to the point where supply and demand match and all the empty garages don’t look so bad any more?

    Have you thought about the fact that if we provide even more parking than there already is, it will lead to even worse traffic on our already overtaxed roads?

    Before you say “rip out the bike lanes!” consider the fact that (as Tom points out) the number of street spaces removed for bicycles is relatively inconsequential, regardless of the irresponsible reporting of the Seattle Times and King 5.

    Honestly, I wonder if you’re even thinking about what you’re saying, or if you just like to hear the sound of your own voice complaining?

  11. The proper term for free parking on public property, whether streets or city-owned lots is “taxpayer subsidized car storage.” In the case of door zone bike lanes, it is even worse, since it is storage at the expense, not only of treasure, but blood as well.

    1. ChefJoe

      Do you honestly think even 0.1% of the cars in the city that use street parking have “doored” a bicyclist ? Your bias is repugnant.

  12. Josh

    Higher-end residential developments definitely need significant on-site parking, even though the argument about daily commuter traffic is spot-on. Many tenants of these developments use transit or bikes for daily commuting but have personal vehicles for occasional use.

    Infrequent drivers have a high desire for on-site parking in part because of the infrequent use — nobody wants to park a car on the street if they only use it once or twice a week, that forces them to go move it around just to avoid parking tickets, and it leaves the car much more vulnerable to break-ins and vandalism.

    But these private developments building on-site parking are clearly another reason we don’t need to subsidize as much on-street parking.

  13. ws bizzy

    “If you can’t find a parking space downtown, you aren’t looking very hard. Or, more likely, you don’t want to pay garage prices and prefer the subsidized rates on city streets. I don’t blame you, parking in a garage is expensive.”

    Except multiple garages (1st and Columbia and that one behind the Market at least) are $3/hour. That’s cheaper than the meters, I think.

    This whole discussion is really important to not dismiss if we want to keep moving bicycle projects forward.

  14. […] – Yes, Seattle has a parking problem. There’s way too much of it. […]

  15. LeonK

    Yes, take away parking, or charge more for it … Coercion is a very bad sales tool.

    The way to get people out of cars is not make them harder and harder to use, but to make other forms of transportation easier and easier to use.

    If Seattle were a serious city, there would be a completely revamped bus system and light rail running from SeaTac to Northgate and downtown to the east side by this time next year.

    But, Seattle is not a serious city, and your weak rationales and thinly veiled hatreds are not making this city better for the populace as a whole.

    1. kpt

      Leon, what are you talking about? Given that 99.8% of on street spots remain intact, to a reasonable degree of precision, *no* parking has been taken away.

      Creating an in-street protected bike lane is making other forms of transportation easier to use. Isn’t that what you’re demanding? Isn’t that what’s happening?

      As far as the light rail, yeah, it would be great if it were already done. But, the system you describe will be operational in 2021. Will we be a serious city then?

  16. Great article, Tom. Would be nice as an opp ed piece in Seattle Times.

    In West Seattle at the Junction, street parking is “free”. Not really. All the businesses pay into a fund for the city street parking and off street lots. They pass that cost on to all customers by building it into their prices. That means that everyone who arrives on foot or by bike or bus is subsidizing all who use the “free” parking.

    1. datamuse

      And people constantly complain about how hard parking is to find there, yet the pay garage under Jefferson Square is all but empty every time I use it. What they mean is how hard it is to find free (to them) parking less than a block from their destination, which isn’t the same thing.

  17. […] Too much parking: Despite the sensationalist stories on parking in Seattle media this week, the city has way too much parking, and that’s a problem. […]

  18. ESD

    One of the things that hurts neighborhoods like Capitol Hill and Ballard is that many residents of older buildings do not have parking and they keep their cars on the street. Meters do help prevent them from camping on commercial-focused streets and the permits protect them from not being able to find parking near their homes. A compromise… None the less, these two meighborhoods (and Belltown and Fremont to some extent) draw much of their commercial shopping and entertainment business from the suburbs and no one from Kirkland wants to take a bus home from Ballard at midnight after a night out. The point is that the more cars that residents leave on the streets, the less spaces there are for visitors who spend money. Many residents only use their cars occassionally and do not really contribute to traffic like commuters and tourists do. Secondly, most building charge for parking spaces, so it is incorrect to characterize it as lost revenue. Thirdly, it is greedy and selfish on the part of devlopers to not want to build parking purely for the benefit of their margins. Should we have no parks, no setbacks, no landscaping, no public spaces etc…? BTW…how many of the construction workers working on all these new buildings take public transit to work? Most do not live in Seattle and anytime a new project launches, parking becomes incredibly scarce.

    1. kpt

      Yes, those neighborhoods are really held back – you can tell by the highest rents in the region and everyone wanting to live there.

      Do you really think that a large chunk of the money spent in those neighborhoods comes from the burbs? Or are you just trolling?

      “… it is greedy and selfish on the part of developers to not want to build parking purely for the benefit of their margins.” That’s also why they include every other amenity – for the benefit of their margins. They judge what the market wants, and if they’re right, they make money. Let’s let them make that judgement. If the market really does want more parking, as you assert, the developers will build it. We live in a market economy, after all.

  19. […] measures. The Seattle Bike Blog called him “out of touch” and pointed folks to their own article demonstrating Seattle has too much parking. It’s a great piece with some jaw-dropping […]

  20. […] same space via bus. So Seattle has removed over 1000 parking spaces for bus and bike lanes, and downtown parking garages are still only at 60% capacity. In San Diego, Hillcrest’s parking facilities are also not at capacity, yet the Hillcrest […]

  21. […] (and, therefore, home and retail rents) while also adding to the city’s traffic problems. We have written previously about how parking requirements make housing unaffordable. In fact, Alan Durning, who wrote a […]

  22. […] Despite the popular assertion from tech fanatics, self driving cars are not the simple solution here. They may even reduce the average operating occupancy in vehicles from the currently abysmal 1.2 to below one human. Even with smarter algorithms than human error offers, the sheer number of cars and inefficiency of maintaining single occupancy commutes makes no systemic change to our economic and environmental sustainability issues. Remember, with two narrow lanes of traffic, Link can carry 24,000 people an hour in each direction, never facing any congestion. Wider highway lanes can do 1,800 at best. Self driving electric cars likely only get more efficient than public means at the levels of sparse density we don’t see even basic bus services offered, which means an overall still far less sustainable system, even if better than a human-driven gas car in the same neighborhood. Mass transit will also go fully electric a lot faster than personal cars, always having a clearer incentive than individuals to upgrade for fuel savings. King County Metro’s 48 line is being electrified, and that alone will save six Olympic swimming pools of diesel a year. The per passenger mile per gallon equivalent of electric public transit can easily make it into the thousands in a well-used system, compared to the under 100MPGe figure electric cars get. They do, however, put into question the $1b spent on 2040s parking in ST3, as self driving, taxi-like cars will likely spend very little time parked, and their affordability will quickly trump ownership. The proposition that cities will get to reclaim 10-20% of their land, already underutilitized, is ce… […]

  23. ben

    People of Seattle, you just don’t realize it yet, but Seattle is about to lose about 40% of it’s taxable income in the short term from business … what are you going to do then?

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6:00 pm South Seattle Safe Streets Coali… @ Virtual via Zoom
South Seattle Safe Streets Coali… @ Virtual via Zoom
Jun 18 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Joint meeting between Rainier Valley Greenways & Beacon Hill Safe Streets.ShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
7:15 pm Point83 @ Westlake Park
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Jun 20 @ 7:15 pm
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Meet up in the center of the park at 7ish. Leave at 730. Every Thursday from now until forever rain or shine. Bikes, beers, illegal firepits, nachos, bottlerockets, timetraveling, lollygagging, mechanicals, good times.ShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
1:00 pm Redmond History Ride @ Marymoor Park Velodrome Parking Lot
Redmond History Ride @ Marymoor Park Velodrome Parking Lot
Jun 23 @ 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Redmond History Ride @ Marymoor Park Velodrome Parking Lot | Redmond | Washington | United States
Join this 13 mile bike ride around Redmond at a Leisurely pace. We’ll visit various sites both old and new as I tell stories about the city that was once known as Salmonberg.ShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
5:30 pm Downtown Greenways monthly meeting
Downtown Greenways monthly meeting
Jun 24 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Last Monday of the month.  Join us! https://seattlegreenways.org/downtowngreenwaysShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
6:00 pm Ballard-Fremont Greenways Meeting
Ballard-Fremont Greenways Meeting
Jun 26 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Ballard-Fremont Greenways meets monthly on the 4th Wednesday of the month. Join the google group for monthly meeting information: https://groups.google.com/g/ballard-greenwaysBring your enthusiasm and ideas to share with the group or just stop in to say hello[…]
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