South Lake Union monthly parking is pushing $400 per month. Seattle street spots are so scarce that Car2Go and Reach Now reserve drop off spots for customers. Parking scarcity prohibits a lot of people from visiting Seattle, even those who live here. No one benefits from a monocultural city of wealthy people.
European cultural capitals have a similar congestion problem and draconian solutions. London has a congestion tax of about $15 to enter the city center in a car. Italian capitals have limitation zones around city centers that prohibit everyone except locals from entering these areas. Scofflaws pay $100.
Let’s avoid punishment. Seattle already charges a fee to enter the city on the 520 bridge. Street parking fees increased to a high of $4.50 per hour in 2017. And Seattle hasn’t embedded parking sensors that update Google Maps with your nearest available spot.
Here are three suggestions to keep Seattle accessible.
- Free parking on Sunday. Street meters are already free. Let’s add tens of thousands of city-owned and private lots. At a minimum offer highly discounted parking, like 75 cents per hour so people feel they can safely find affordable parking.
- Free mass transit on Sunday. Offer free Metro and Sound Transit access from periphery to the city center. Do this from Park and Rides or selected collection points. It takes huge incentives to get people out of their cars.
- Improved, free access to Park & Rides. Sound Transit says it costs $100,000 per spot to build new garages. Get over it. That’s cheaper than adding a lane to I-5 from Federal Way. Build more garages.
These recommendations may seem radical and costly. They pale in comparison to the audacity and cost of ST3. Peel off a half billion from that white elephant project and we can offer free parking and access for decades. Long enough for ST3 to complete the line extensions.