Perhaps feeling like they haven’t reminded Seattleites how much they loathe drivers, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is in the process of hurting drivers and increasing the cost of living in South Lake Union.
New signs have been posted along Dexter Ave. near Mercer indicating that free parking will be replaced with paid parking because there’s too much demand. The idea is that paid parking will allow for more reliably open spots because it prevents people from camping out in the spots all day long (which, as someone who lives in the area, can tell you doesn’t actually happen, but the dishonest SDOT doesn’t need to prove their contentions).
SDOT’s reasoning is deeply flawed, their moves are hypocritical, and it’s informed by a desire to collect more revenue from people visiting local businesses.
The demand for parking in South Lake Union exists because there’s not much free parking to begin with. In fact, the City just made it worse. Just blocks away from where these signs are posted, the City removed nearly a dozen spots for protected bike lanes, even though bike lanes already existed alongside free parking and were frequently unused.
The people parking on the free street parking aren’t primarily residents of the nearby apartments (there are restrictions on how long you could leave your cars in the spots, making it nearly impossible to leave them there without getting tickets). They are being used by folks visiting local restaurants, like Mollusk and Tacos Chukis. So, the City just made visits to local, small businesses even more expensive.
And for the few people who were using the spots, somehow, so they wouldn’t have to pay insanely high apartment complex parking fees? You just added nearly $200 a month for them to pay to park in their lots; a price that is pushed higher and higher because of lack of supply (that the City takes away) and increased demand (which the City creates).
You and I don’t benefit from these moves. The City does. And for them, it’s the best kind of funding: money they didn’t earn and won’t ever be truly held accountable to.