Friday, October 29, 2010

A lot of fuss over parking

I don't know if it's going to get published or not, but I thought I might share with our members a letter I wrote to the Seattle Times in response to their parking rate editorial this week. As always, let us know what you think. - Rob

Regarding the Seattle Times recent editorial about requiring a more thorough analysis of parking rates, I wanted to let you know that parking rate increases like the ones planned for downtown Seattle have already been studied at length.

SDOT has analyzed proposed rate increases and found that the rate increase to $4/hour downtown would reduce parking space occupancy by 9%. This would be a dramatic change from the current situation,where street parking downtown is at 100% occupancy for most of the day.

This would bring along a host of sorely needed benefits: greatly reduced congestion from circling cars, reduced pollution, and yes, greater vehicle turnover. But you don't have to blindly take any one's word for it, because the proposed changes for Seattle have already been implemented in similar pilot programs in other major cities. The results have been uniformly encouraging.

In New York City, the PARK Smart program has already completed two successful pilots in Greenwich Village and Park Slope, Brooklyn. In Greenwich, weekday occupancy was reduced by 6% and the percentage of people parking for more than one hour decreased by 12%. And Park Slop has experienced an astounding 18% increase in the number of unique vehicle parked daily. That's 18% more people who were able to find parking in the area for their business, shopping, and recreational needs.

I understand that tax hikes are hard to stomach. Although $4/hour isn't close to the private market rate of $7.hour for parking, it's still a significant change. But if we can get similar results here as they got in New York - and the city's research suggests that we can - that could only help our businesses or our 'retail ecosystem'. Increased parking vacancies and turnover would make it easier for people to find parking near locations of interest. They would spend less time burning gas in search of a parking spot, and more time doing whatever they came to do. This is a scenario that's beneficial for everyone. Rob Johnson - Executive Director - Transportation Choices Coalition.

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