Higher Parking Rates Not Actually Murdering Restaurants

Records Request Debunks Seattle Times Hysteria

Higher Parking Rates Not Actually Murdering Restaurants
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If parking rates go up, downtown businesses will perish. That was the cry from the Seattle Times editorial board two years ago, when the mayor and Seattle City Council considered raising the rates by one or two dollars an hour and extending evening meters by two hours. The daily paper warned that drivers "won't want to come back to Seattle." That was the cry again in February on the Seattle Times front page, which claimed "the longer parking-meter hours that started in August have cut business by as much as 50 percent." That was also the cry last week in a Seattle Times guest editorial from the Washington Restaurant Association, which said requiring "customers to pay for on-street parking until 8 p.m. hits them where it hurts our businesses the most: their wallets."

One problem: Now that the new parking rates are in effect, restaurant revenue isn't down. It's up.

Eric de Place at the nonprofit Sightline Institute recently filed a public-records request for tax receipts from restaurants in every downtown zip code, and the information shows that restaurant revenue has increased along with the parking rates.

"After paid parking hours were extended in mid-2011, gross receipts for downtown restaurants climbed by 5.4 percent," de Place writes at (where you can see the complete report). Sales rose for restaurants in all three downtown zip codes.

That may be a bitter pill to swallow for certain business associations and our conservative daily paper, which reflexively pretend that every auto regulation or new bike lane is tantamount to a war on capitalism.

But why the parking paradox?

The leading theory—how higher and longer rates can correlate with more business—is exactly what the city predicted when it raised the rates: Eliminating free parking during prime evening dining hours may discourage drivers from abandoning their cars in parking spaces all night, thereby promoting parking-space turnover and helping customers find parking.

While the data doesn't necessarily prove the new parking scheme is helping businesses (perhaps sales receipts would be even higher under the old rates), it shows claims about declining revenues are unfounded. Reached by phone, de Place says: "They need to stop saying that business is down unless they produce some justification." recommended


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slade 1
That area went flat before 2008 and its already going underwater for the third time. even the coffee shops are feeling the pinch and it dont take a Dick Tracy to know anything about the economie in down town Seattle?………

"They need to stop saying that business is down unless they produce some justification."

Posted by slade on April 4, 2012 at 12:53 PM · Report this
slade 2
1. What is Sightline Institute?
Sightline Institute (formerly Northwest Environment Watch) is a not-for-profit research and communication center --a think tank --based in Seattle. Our mission is to make the Northwest a global model of sustainability—strong communities, a green economy, and a healthy environment. We provide tools--research, graphics, stories, and language--to help you build a better Northwest. See About Sightline for more.…

god this Financial statement says it all…

you can report the closing of restaurants and you feel the need to report sightline crap and consider it relevant or even truthful?

you may as well tell the truth and say the economy has has killed more sandwich shops since Democrats took the white house and Seattle was to stupid to ask its citizens what was happening and even after it happened all Seattle wants is more money for a NBA/NHL team so the rich can watch rich play games and have one big Bacchanalia party on your dollars?

Why the hell are you asking Sightline when you have a Food section that pertains to the Food places in the City of Seattle?????

Its like asking the Republican what good is a condom?
Posted by slade on April 4, 2012 at 1:26 PM · Report this
That's some champion word salad there Slade
Posted by Reader01 on April 4, 2012 at 2:02 PM · Report this
Underlying the Times' (and others') simplistic correlation of free parking with restaurant success is the utterly false assumption that each restaurant patron is equal to every other. It should be obvious that a person who places a very high value on free street parking will probably also enforce strict limits on his spending whilst in the restaurant, while a person willing to pay for off-street parking will show less restraint on spending inside the restaurant. Put more plainly, having the city subsidize cheapskates wasn't helping the restaurant owners, and may have been annoying their staffs, too. Eliminating that public subsidy thus caused a rise in total receipts, even though the number of tables and operating hours of the restaurants remained constant.
Posted by tensor on April 5, 2012 at 2:06 AM · Report this
It doesn't work that way, tensor.

Instead, potential downtown diners think about the hassles vs. the benefits. In the hassles column, there are things like $4 an hour to park, and the fact that downtown is increasingly full of drugged out zombies as it gets later.

On the benefit side, there's this or that restaurant to visit. But there are plenty of restaurants outside of downtown, so there are inevitably some people who say, "Screw it, I'm not going to go downtown."

The other issue is parking for restaurant employees. At some point, this will bleed over into wages, which bleeds over into menu prices, which means that expensive parking costs not just at the meter but on the menu.

The gross receipts graph is a joke. For one thing, did Sightline compare it to restaurant receipt trends elsewhere in the city? Secondly, comparing 2011 to 2008 through 2010 is a comparison of a mild economic recovery to a steep recession.

Downtown is in trouble. Not just from high parking rates, but McGinn's encouragement of crime, vagrancy, and drug dealing is driving people away. It won't happen all at once. Nothing ever does. It's cumulative, and over time you'll see the results.
Posted by Mister G on April 5, 2012 at 11:39 AM · Report this
slade 6
Oh they are trying to make it so "new" sky scrapers do not need to put parking in the new skyscrapers as they are are "trying to choke the shit out of parking money as its free and clear with 99% gross profits. and they are not trying to hide it as they are just paying lip service and con jobs to a numb public.

Once more they hope Downtown gos under as they have friends with bank who will cash out and buy it all at a discount when it gets "dirt cheap".

Make no Mistake of a feeding frenzy that is going on with Bank Sharks and prime real estate.

Sightline is the evidence of not so cleaver ploys the Bank Sharks are using to avoid detection and make everything look so comfy and milk and honey honky dory.

Everyone of these Ignorant ploys like Mono-Rail goodness is a total ploy to give the rich free real estate that they will tax the public for 3 times over.
Controlled Demolition, Inc. demolished the Kingdome by implosion on March 26, 2000 (one day before the 24th anniversary of the Kingdome's opening), setting a record recognized by Guinness World Records for the largest building, by volume, ever demolished by implosion.[19] The Kingdome was the first large, domed stadium to be demolished in the United States and the demolition of the Kingdome was the first live event covered by ESPN Classic.[20][21] The Kingdome was demolished before the debt issued to finance its construction was fully paid and as of September 2010, residents of King County are still responsible for more than $80 million in debt on the demolished stadium.

Paul Allen, Bill Gates,and all the super class are spending on high return investments that are helped by Pollitypiggys that want some kickback green money love. People pay taxes pay for tickets pay for parking and pay for stadiums building and up keep to the point the clowns are now trying to build on top of each other as per the Seattle Puck Suckers Hockey team.
Posted by slade on April 6, 2012 at 8:42 AM · Report this
The modern conservative seems to be incapable of comprehending any experience remotely different than their own. They drive everywhere. Therefore everyone drives everywhere. They assume cheap street parking should and will exist. Therefore everyone does.

Myself and my group of friends and acquaintances are taking the train to go out downtown, capital hill, and in the ID. When we don't want to walk or wait, we call a cab. We are not alone in this. Lots of people do it. And more all the time. We could care less about parking rates. And even when we do pay, it's still cheaper on the street than it is at any free market-governed lot.
Posted by nullbull on April 9, 2012 at 11:53 PM · Report this
Brandon Arkell 8
Well a lot of Seattle Times staff are conservative, gas-guzzling suburbanites, aren't they? They're really a bunch of obsolescent dinosaurs. Read this article from The Atlantic about the decreasing importance of cars for younger Americans:….

Young Americans just *don't want* to drive everywhere as much as old fogeys want to think they do. They're more interested in walking, cycling, riding the bus, or living in-town. And that's a huge paradigm shift for boomers, who practically drink and bathe in gasoline.
Posted by Brandon Arkell on April 10, 2012 at 7:45 PM · Report this

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