Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen is considering a proposal for a citizen panel that would examine parking rates and make recommendations to City Hall. At issue, he says, are problems like the mayor and council's decision last fall to raise parking rates, intending to increase turnover. A report out today shows saturation may be less severe than perceived when the city approved the rate hikes as part of last year's budget.

"People are scratching their heads and saying this doesn't look quite right," Rasmussen says, referring to the report's findings. "I have heard people saying that the numbers are incorrect and the rates are not going to achieve the effect we want." As an alternative to the city hastily setting rates, he argues, appointed commissioners with a stake in neighborhoods would want "to really get it right because... their livelihood would be affected by this. I would rather err on the side of taking a little more time to get this right instead of making a mess of it and then realizing it's a mistake and have to do it all over again."

Rasmussen says he's "really serious" about the plan, having already met with bar and restaurant owners about the plan.

But the idea of another volunteer board—with no actual power—may seem onerous, Rasmussen admits. "A lot of people balk at the idea," he says. "I did talk with one [council member], and she did not like the idea of another commission. But I'm trying again—I'm not one to give in."