We’ve been covering the West Seattle Junction parking review since it was first announced a year and a half ago (archived here, newest coverage first). Last month, the city announced pay stations would not be recommended – but the parking review continued, and a committee meeting tonight revealed more of its possible results.
By Jack Mayne
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Even though paid parking kiosks are off the table for The Junction’s business district, a small contingent of the West Seattle Junction Parking Project Committee expressed worries tonight about parking problems once various apartment projects and new business spaces are finished.
Currently, in terms of potential changes to city-controlled parking in The Junction, it appears only some adjustment in the number and placing of “2-Hour Parking” signs is needed, the city says. Dante Taylor, heading the parking review in the Junction area for the Seattle Department of Transportation, told three members of the committee at the meeting at Ginomai that the city could come back and check how things are going in six months and possibly again six months after that.
Taylor said data for the commercial core suggests that current parking is not at capacity and that the two-hour parking restrictions are well respected. For example, Taylor said the city found 262 spaces in the commercial area on California Avenue, that the two-hour parking spots had an average utilization of 62 percent leaving plenty of spaces for additional cars to park. The peak utilization increased to 71 percent, but there was a 90 percent compliance with the two-hour parking limit.
In addition,there was a good supply of parking spaces not regulated by the city (but limited to 3 hours – these spaces are owned by Trustee Properties and overseen by the West Seattle Junction Association). That city study showed the Junction had 289 free spaces, 190 spaces in retail specific lots and 279 paid parking spaces. In all counts by the city these spaces showed utilization rates in the 50 to 68 percent range with the highest usage around lunchtime. The city does not control parking after 6 p.m. so no figures were gathered for the evenings.
“There appears to be plenty of parking in the area and that is why we looked at the date early and found no reason to not tell people right away that paid parking was not warranted,” said Ann Sutphin, Seattle Department of Transportation strategic adviser who accompanied Taylor to the meeting.
But Erica Karlovits, president of the Junction Neighborhood Organization, says the figures do not contemplate the problems when the various apartment unites recently finished or soon to come on line, especially considering the addition of traffic and store employee parking for the new QFC store in the building at 41st and Alaska, which sources tell WSB is set to open in a month.
Karlovits said 125 QFC employees would have to scrounge for parking on the streets, or other lots, noting that not all will be working at the same time. There are spaces for shoppers included in the project.
“I live in the area and a lot of people are “park and hide” parkers,” she said, adding those are people who ride buses downtown or work in the area and park all day. “If I come home at 4:30 there are no places to park, but by 6:30 after the buses bring the riders from downtown, there are plenty of spaces.”
When asked about Restricted (formerly Residential) Parking Zones, Karlovits said the city has told her in the past the area does not qualify for such a zone. Restricted Parking Zone allow residents parking passes to park on the street, but bars others from parking during certain hours. The city used to require a 5-block contiguous are for such a zone, but the rule changes in the works focus on a 10-block contiguous area.
Taylor said the city could come back and check on how the study is working and make adjustments as needed. If the impact of the new residential and commercial developments is causing problems, the city can consider other remedies, he said.
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