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Study: There is plenty of parking in Seattle

(KIRO 7)

There are more than two parking spaces per person in Seattle, according to a new report.

The report by the Research Institute for Housing America (a branch of the Mortgage Bankers Association) says there are 29 parking stalls per acre in the city. Far more than the 13 people per acre.

RELATED: Seattle parking trick will expire under new pay-by-plate system

The data for Seattle is part of a parking inventory of five U.S. cities, which also include New York, Philadelphia, Des Moines, Iowa, and Jackson, Wyoming.

“A review of existing parking occupancy studies in each of the five cities revealed ample parking,” the report states of the five cities.

When it comes to Seattle, “Parking utilization has been falling … for at least ten years, with daily occupancy ranging between 43 and 64 percent in the seven Seattle neighborhoods where data were available.”

Additionally, parking inventories “reveal a lavish amount of parking.” There are an estimated 1.6 million parking spaces in Seattle, according to the report.

There are three types of parking split almost evenly in Seattle, according to the report. Though the bulk of Seattle parking is off-street. Of the parking types:

  • 32.2 percent is on-street
  • 32.7 percent is off-street in a structure
  • 35.1 percent is off-street surface parking

Seattle has the most off-street structured parking than the other four cities studied.

Seattle parking

The Seattle Department of Transportation manages approximately 12,000 paid on-street spaces in 20 business districts, according to a recent report.

The number of paid parking spaces in the city is growing. Seattle manages parking using a “performance pricing” model. In short, the city varies parking prices in different areas of town. In theory, drivers will consider parking prices and move their cars, which in turn will free up spaces for other drivers.

In 2017, Seattle decreased or increased parking prices around town to influence this dynamic. The city also upped paid parking times in popular areas such as Ballard or Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill now has the latest paid parking times in the city — to 10 p.m. The popular nightlife hub is short on parking. With later paid parking times, and higher fees, people will be more encouraged to leave the bars, get into their cars, and move them.

The parking study may neglect a few realities that locals are well aware of.

Not all areas of Seattle are created equal when it comes to parking. For example, residents in the neighborhoods around Roosevelt High School know that parking might as well not exist when school is in — students like to drive to class. Areas around popular working hubs experience the same problem.

Also, parking in Seattle isn’t just for residents. Crowds of workers commute taking three freeways, multiple highways, and various ferries to get into Seattle for the day. Not to mention the crowds that drive into the city for nighttime events.

And finally, while there are plenty of residential places to live in Seattle, that doesn’t account for Seattle’s unaffordability problem. With more than half of residents earning less than $50,000 a year, it is not uncommon for people to fill rentals with more tenants that rooms.

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