As we reported would happen, the Seattle Department of Transportation today scaled back its plans for raising on-street parking rates in Seattle neighborhoods. An arguably flawed parking study, released last week, had suggested increasing the hourly parking fees in nine neighborhoods as a means to increase parking turnover.
Now rates will increase in only four neighborhoods (instead of nine) and drop in 11 neighborhoods (instead of four) compared to the rates we have now. For instance, parking fees in in Pioneer Square, which will still increase from last year's level, that were proposed for $4 will only increase to $3.50. Parking in Greenlake will drop from $1.50 an hour to $1.
Here's a map of the new hourly parking rates that will begin kicking in over the next couple months...
"We think this is a fairer, more business-friendly way to establish rates, and frankly, it is more easily understood," says SDOT traffic director Charles Bookman. (A table is after the jump that compares the rates in 2010, proposed rates last week, and the rates the city has finally settled on.)
The proposed rate hikes (to $4 through downtown) spurred protest from business leaders, who also took issue with the city's parking study, and concern form city council members. Bookman says the new rates are intended to promote parking saturation of 71 to 86 percent occupancy (previous rates targeted 58 to 78 percent occupancy, which would require higher hourly fees).
But the change comes at a $3.5 million cost to the city's already-emaciated bank account. When Seattle City Council members approved the 2011 budget last fall, they expected $35 million in parking revenue; with this reduction in fees, that estimate drops to $31.5 million. Bookman says that the city has not calculated where it would find alternative revenue or make cuts—if these estimates hold true. "The good news is that it's January; it's not the mid or late part of the year," he says. "We have 11 months to manage the expenditures to the estimated revenue."