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Seattle council committee OKs plan to raise parking rates near Climate Pledge Arena

Street parking signs in downtown Seattle. (SDOT/Flickr)

Headed to Seattle for a concert or a big game? You may have to pay more for parking soon — much more.

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The city’s transportation department asked the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee on Wednesday to increase the cost of on-street paid parking by more than double, up to a whopping $12 an hour near arenas and large venues holding 10,000 people or more during events.

The committee unanimously voted to move the rate increase to the full council, albeit with a new amendment that limits it to the 1-mile area surrounding the new Climate Pledge Arena. Councilmembers supporting the amendment opted to downsize the bill — at least for now — in order to do more outreach to those living and working near other stadiums and large event venues in the Chinatown-International District and Pioneer Square areas.

Under the amended proposal, the increase wouldn’t begin to take effect until October. The full council will next take up the measure in its meeting on July 26 for a final vote.

The basic idea behind the rate increase is to charge around the same as private lots, encourage drivers to use mass transit to cut down on congestion, and ensure locals have adequate parking by their homes and businesses. The Seattle Department of Transportation says the $0.50 to $5 an hour that street spots currently cost simply isn’t enough to ensure that.

SDOT said they’ve been working for a few years to bring the issue to the forefront with residents in the Uptown neighborhood.

“We have mailed plan documents to over 10,000 people on four separate occasions. We’ve left 800 door hangers and a lot of other individual briefing,” said Mike Estey, with Seattle DOT’s Curbside Management, to the committee in a presentation before the vote.

While the cap will be raised to $12 an hour, Estes said when the Climate Pledge Arena opens in October, the intent will not be to charge $12 an hour.

Watch the full city council meeting

“Our plan is to start with a progressive rate structure,” Estes said, adding that they hope it looks more like $3 an hour for the first three hours and then $8 an hour for the third, fourth, and fifth hours.

Additionally, parking rates will remain the $0.50 an hour during non-event days and times. The plan is also specific to the Uptown neighborhood. Estes said they would work with the stadiums and the SoDo neighborhood if this model was to extend to that area of Seattle.

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The most recent street parking rate changes in Seattle came on June 1, though many prices remain relatively low after being reduced early in the COVID-19 pandemic to encourage people to stay home.

Before the pandemic, some of Seattle’s street parking rates varied from $0.50 to as high as $5.00 for 60 minutes, depending on time of day and location in the city. SDOT says other cities have returned to their full pre-COVID rates, but Seattle is adjusting rates slowly based on demand. Parking conditions and data are reviewed on a quarterly basis.

KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott contributed to this report.

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