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City Council proposes reducing parking in Seattle to increase public transit use

A Seattle City Council committee is proposing reducing parking city-wide. The proposal, made during Wednesday’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee meeting, would limit the number of parking spaces required for residential buildings; reduce parking in areas well-served by mass transit; prohibit parking on some streets and in certain neighborhoods; and limit parking in city parks. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - A Seattle City Council committee is proposing reducing parking city-wide.

The proposal, made during Wednesday’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee meeting, would limit the number of parking spaces required for residential buildings; reduce parking in areas well-served by mass transit; prohibit parking on some streets and in certain neighborhoods; and limit parking in city parks.

Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson, who chairs the committee, said that by curtailing parking people might be more inclined to take mass transit.

“If we put transit on the streets people are going to use it, conversely if we build big parking garages people are going to drive there,” Johnson said in an interview after the committee meeting.

A report drafted by the departments of transportation and construction and inspections said that “transit, walking, biking and rideshare now represent about 70 percent of the person trips taken by commuters to/from Downtown and nearby “City Center” vicinities.”

But, the report added, that on any given day there are some 700,000 cars in the city.

When asked about the most congested neighborhoods, like South Lake Union, where Amazon is headquartered, Johnson said councilmembers would like to see less of those big business workers driving to work.

“You build a whole lot of parking underneath those buildings in South Lake Union you get a whole lot of folks who are driving to work,” he said.

But for Taylor Bowen, who lives a few blocks away from the heart of the Amazon buildings, taking the bus, street car or light rail aren’t always an option.

“It’s never on time, ever,” Bowen said about the bus.” You can never catch the 8 on time. So, again, I think if you’re going to try and encourage people to take the bus you need to focus on encouraging Metro to really step their game up.”

Standing outside her car, where she managed to quickly find a parking space in South Lake Union Wednesday, Bowen said there need to be more complete transit options. She said she’d take light rail, but the routes are nowhere near complete and she said the street car doesn’t go the places she wants to go.

“Infrastructure is something that is in dire need in this city and I don’t think the City Council has done much to try and navigate through what people should do if they are commuting or if they do have vehicles,” Bowen said.

Until there are better options, Bowen said she’ll keep her car. She said her building, on Capitol Hill, is small and more than 100 years old – it doesn’t have a parking garage.

“All day I circle [in search of parking],” she said. “No, I mean it can take 20 minutes to park.”

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