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SDOT switches free Capitol Hill parking to paid, other changes

As rate changes are being implemented the Seattle DOT is making adjustments to where drivers will have to pay to park. (SDOT)

“More demand than ever” for Capitol Hill parking has led the Seattle Department of Transportation to expand paid parking areas, turning free stretches of road into paid zones.

“To improve parking availability and turnover, we are expanding the existing paid parking along Pike-Pine east to 15th Avenue,” SDOT wrote on its blog Thursday.

Report: Seattle can’t handle more vehicles, SDOT director says

“Expanding,” as SDOT puts it, means turning currently free stretches of parking along Pike and Pine Streets into paid parking that matches neighboring parking hours and rates. It’s not just Pike and Pine. There are also blocks of Madison Street and 11th through 15th Avenues that will also be converted to paid parking. A map of the changes can be found here.

Parking on the affected streets is currently free and limited to two hours. However, studies by SDOT found that parking is full by 9 a.m. and remains more than 90 percent full for “most of the day.” Plus, “most vehicles stay longer than the posted time limit.”

“This makes it extremely challenging for customers and visitors to find available on-street parking,” SDOT wrote. “These study results contrast with the adjacent paid parking area which, while well utilized, generally has parking available until 6 p.m.”

SDOT is also relocating the Restricted Parking Zone 4 parking from commercial blocks to residential blocks. There are also a couple portions of Union Street that will remain free, but will now have a 2-hour time limit posted.

The department is also adding on-street bike parking to corners that are currently designated as no parking.

Capitol Hill parking and other changes

This is all separate from another recent change to Capitol Hill parking — paid hours were raised to 11 p.m. And the changes on Capitol Hill are just part of many parking adjustments being made in Seattle. The city also adjusted parking rates for 2016-17.

In the approved city budget, the city council raised the upper limit for Seattle parking rates from $4 to $5. Starting this year, the Seattle Department of Transportation will make use of that new higher limit and raise rates in some areas to $4.50 — mostly in areas already known for being the most expensive to park on the street. This map helps break down the cost of parking during various times of the day.

The major changes to parking rates include:

• Parking south of Mercer Street will rise from $2 to $2.50/hour.
• Starting in Feb. 2017, parking north of Mercer Street will rise to $1.50/hour in the morning; $2/hour in the afternoon.
• Paid parking will be started along Dexter Avenue North, Eastlake Avenue East, and Denny Lower Roadway.
• Starting in 2017, SDOT will lower some rates for parts of the day in Roosevelt, Ballard, the International District, Green Lake and at the Ballard Locks.
• Rates will rise — beyond the former high limit — to $4.50/hour for parts of the day in the Commercial Core, Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill and First Hill.

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