New cloud over West Seattle Junction’s ‘free’ parking lots: Big tax jump = big rent jump

(WSB photo: 44th/Oregon lot)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Those four “free” parking lots in The Junction aren’t really free.

As you are probably aware, the West Seattle Junction Association – area merchants and other businesspeople – pays to rent them.

And now that rent is in danger of skyrocketing out of their reach.

Today, representatives of WSJA and the parking lots’ ownership organization, West Seattle Trusteed Properties, met with King County staffers to make their case against a property-tax bill that has doubled – a bill that is entirely passed on to WSJA to pay, by terms of their lease for the lots; a bill that’s now at a sum that would drain the association’s finances quickly.

WSJA executive director Lora Swift brought this up to the merchants at their February 28th meeting at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (the same one at which a different parking issue, the city’s street parking study, was another big topic, as we reported that night). The 2016 taxes for the parking lots – again, entirely factored into the rent WSJA pays – totaled $53,000, she told the merchants. For 2017, that went up more than 50 percent, to ~$80,000. And this year, the tax bill has almost doubled, to $158,000. This isn’t just because of the higher tax rates that have affected so many; it’s also because a mitigating factor called “cost to cure” was applied for 2014, 2015, and 2016, but has expired.

And, Swift noted at the merchants’ meeting, the $158,000 is not the entirety of the rent – which would be “well over $220,000” for the coming year if the higher rate stands.

The 228 spaces offered to visitors for 3 hours of “free” parking represent a “source of civic pride,” as she put it, something unique to the West Seattle Junction. “For us to lose (them) would be tragic.”

That would describe a variety of effects. Lyle Evans, executive director of the Senior Center, said at that point that it would “die if there’s no parking.” The largest of the four “free” lots is behind the center, off 42nd/Oregon; the other three, if you’re not familiar with them, are at 44th/Oregon, 44th/Alaska, and 44th just north of Edmunds.

She asked the merchants to consider the question of what should be done if the new valuation stands. Increase Junction Association dues? Charge for parking (not currently allowed under terms of their lease)?

There were many questions. Could validation or vouchers be used somehow? Could the parking lots be considered nonprofit properties? (No, because while WSJA is, the ownership organization is not.) Could the Junction Association become a different type of Business Improvement Association with wider jurisdiction, more revenue?

The meeting didn’t include much discussion time – for now, it was brought up as an issue to consider, pending what happens with the valuation.

But in the meantime, the Junction Association doesn’t even get to wait until the first due date (first half of the year taxes are due in mid-April). Trusteed Properties is seeking to collect the increased rent immediately, and has served the WSJA with a five-day notice to pay it or “vacate” the lots, Swift says.

The Junction Association has a ten-year lease for the lots, signed one year ago, with potential for two 5-year extensions. The lease terminology has long stipulated that the association is on the hook for whatever the taxes turn out to be. Meantime, research on other parking-lot property in the area suggests no others have seen this kind of valuation/tax increase.

The organization’s assessments from local merchants only covers half the annual costs as it is, and struggling to pay the doubled bill would “effectively cut all our other programs,” Swift said in a followup conversation, from maintenance to events such as West Seattle Summer Fest. The base rent before the tax passthrough is $72,000, and so rent would total almost a quarter-million dollars; the association’s entire annual budget is $320,000.

There is no deadline set for a decision to be reached about whether the bill can/will be lowered; the deadline WSJA faces right now is the one in that rent-due notice from the lot’s owners (an organization with more than three dozen individuals, businesses, and organizations holding varying amounts of what total 1,000 shares).

It should also be noted, this is all separate from ongoing questions about the lots’ long-term future as developable land in the heart of a rapidly densifying city-designated urban village. For now, the lease guarantees their current status for at least another nine years, and includes language about replacing the spaces if any part of the lots were developed.

We’ll be following this situation closely; updates to come.

128 Replies to "New cloud over West Seattle Junction's 'free' parking lots: Big tax jump = big rent jump"

  • Born on Alki59 March 9, 2018 (9:12 pm)

    Tax man cometh and tax man taketh.

    Soon there will be no one left to tax.

    This will be the death of many long time junction merchants. Sad.

    • Mike March 9, 2018 (9:43 pm)

      Many are finding it tough to survive the rising rent cost alone.  This won’t help at all.  It’s going to happen, those with money and influence will always win over the majority of voters.  Most politicians are crooked beyond belief.  Smoke and mirrors all day long and everyone else pays for it, now or years later.

      • Jort March 9, 2018 (11:23 pm)

        Cities, towns and villages all around the world have thrived despite not having parking. The Junction will, also. It already is. 

        • jack March 10, 2018 (5:31 pm)

          The Junction has thrived for a Century with parking, even for horses at one time. I think you would be hard pressed to find a small business that would want to be without it.  Urban villages are cool, if your fine living a small circle and never get out. We like people from other parts of the City visiting and shopping and having the convenience of easy parking.  They will buy more, stuff nobody would carry home with 2 or 3 Bus transfers.

        • Mike March 10, 2018 (9:30 pm)

          “all around the world have thrived”  sure, but they also don’t pay as much to be in their spot. 

          • Joe Szilagyi March 11, 2018 (7:22 am)

            “all around the world have thrived”  sure, but they also don’t pay as much to be in their spot. 

            I’m pretty sure Junction rents can’t touch London, NYC, San Francisco, Paris… 

          • Katie March 12, 2018 (5:20 am)

            Notice how all those cities have efficient public transport systems that render cars unnecessary luxuries?  Rather different than the Junction. 

  • Jethro Marx March 9, 2018 (9:40 pm)

    Yeah, maybe some merchants will go under, but there will always be someone to tax there. However it shakes out, the physical space will be used for something profitable, and the city will collect tax on that profit. That’s just the way it works.

     I’ll tell you, the way it doesn’t work is taxing highly valuable property leads to vacant underutilized property. No one tears down a crappy house to build a ho-hum 900 square foot boeing box, either. That’s just math in the city; the trajectory is towards higher, bigger, not necessarily better, but hey, we live in a city.

     The real question, undoubtedly being frantically typed out by someone right now, will there be PARKING, in whatever gets built there? Will there be pizza?

    • Wtf March 10, 2018 (5:44 am)

      Interpretor..?!

  • Joe March 9, 2018 (10:05 pm)

    Could perhaps the lots be purchased? How much would it be to buy the lots?  I feel that the concept of Rent is insane.  You keep putting money in it and still not a step closer to owning the property. And you do it over and over again.  

    • WSB March 9, 2018 (10:35 pm)

      The concept of rent in general may be “insane” in your view – but this is something of an unusual case of landlord/tenant. For those who haven’t heard it before, the backstory of Trusteed Properties, the lots’ owners, is probably an entire story in itself. It was formed more than half a century ago by local businesses etc. to make free-parking lots happen. The county assessor’s assessed valuation of the parking-lot parcels (which you can see via KC Parcel Viewer) now totals more than $15 million. That would suggest any sort of purchase price would be hefty – TR

  • West Seattle Hipster March 9, 2018 (10:07 pm)

    Of course we have to pay more taxes, how else will we pay for the “homeless crisis”?

  • Canton March 9, 2018 (10:31 pm)

    Could it possibly be, a way to evict the parking for a sound transit station?

    • justadumbguy March 9, 2018 (11:09 pm)

      More like some of the existing owners want to sell them or develop them before they get taken by eminent domain for that purpose but that is just a guess.

    • Jort March 9, 2018 (11:18 pm)

      You guys all seem to alternate drastically between, “the city government is hopelessly ineffective and too stupid to do anything correctly” and “our government agencies are secretly executing on a elaborate conspiracy theory to socially engineer our entire society through Machiavellian taxation schemes.”

      It’s possible that the taxes are going up because these enormous, highly-valuable parcels of land are located adjacent to the most economically thriving part of West Seattle, which also happens to be the only place on the peninsula where enormous, highly-valuable parcels of land can be developed into dense, tall urban housing. 

      The reason I think this might be the possible reason for the higher tax valuations is because it’s the actual reason. 

      • justadumbguy March 9, 2018 (11:32 pm)

        Yep I was referring to the pay up in 5 days part 

      • jack March 10, 2018 (6:00 pm)

        “It’s possible that the taxes are going up because these enormous, highly-valuable parcels of land are located adjacent to the most economically thriving part of West Seattle, which also happens to be the only place on the peninsula where enormous, highly-valuable parcels of land can be developed into dense, tall urban housing.”


        The most economically part of West Seattle.  It is because it’s easy to get to and park, like a mall.  Take that away and you will be solely dependent on the current and new towers.  Never mind the rest of West Seattle.  The Junction has thrived with parking, do you really think it will without?

  • Plf March 9, 2018 (10:34 pm)

    Stopped shopping at the junction couple of years ago can’t find parking free or not. Can’t walk to the junction and the reality is if I can’t get there in a way that makes sense for my life,  I won’t be spending my money , unfortunate this new change will make it more difficult for others, hence business will loose customers.   There are other places to shop, you loose junction thanks to the politicians and we as a community allowing this to happen . Urban village has turned into urban jungle, eating up and spitting out the soul of our community

    • Jort March 9, 2018 (11:21 pm)

      Obviously you don’t know since you no longer go to the Junction, but, um, it’s doing just fine. 

      If the “soul” of West Seattle is parking lots, then that is one boring “soul.”

      • jack March 10, 2018 (6:04 pm)

        It’s what made it what it is.  Not a history fan, huh?

        • Brian March 10, 2018 (10:46 pm)

          Truly the legacy of our neighborhood is painted lines in asphalt where folks parked their cars. 

    • T March 9, 2018 (11:40 pm)

      I don’t care for tge junction anymore. It’s too congested with all forms if transportation with varying adherence to the law. Parking is difficult especially in the evening. On Friday/weekend nights it’s like trying to go to Belltown it’s so busy. I used to love shopping and dining there but it’s been at least 5 years. I tried explaining my concerns to police and the junction association but they fell on deaf ears. 

      • Jon Wright March 10, 2018 (7:26 am)

        You’re absolutely right. Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.

      • Skort March 10, 2018 (4:54 pm)

        Are you saying you discussed the fact that the Junction is too busy now with the cops? And you were surprised that your complaints were ignored? What were you wanting them to do about it, exactly?

    • Junctionbusinessowner March 10, 2018 (6:43 am)

      Your comment does not relate to the conversation. It sounds like your are saying there are too many people to fit into the parking spaces? Nothing has changed about the junction- same amount of parking lots, same amount of parking spaces Lora is saying the merchants will just be paying more for these spaces (as they don’t have a choice and it’s a requirement of city of Seattle of City, even if we don’t utilize the parking for our business.) if you’re TRULY concerned about the “soul” of our community then I suggest you read these articles carefully, without assumptions and actually further support your local merchants so we don’t have to move out because we can support our business’.

  • JCW March 9, 2018 (11:11 pm)

    I’m honestly surprised they still see the value in paying to provide free spots. Free spots encourage people to park all day, whereas hourly metered spots will turn over much more quickly. If the arrangement remains, I’d like to see these turned into pay lots, where individual merchants could validate for <2 hours. That land is worth quite a bit more than just storage for personal cars.

     

    • WSB March 9, 2018 (11:14 pm)

      WSJA pays for monitoring of the lots and enforcing the 3-hour limit.

      • JanS March 10, 2018 (12:13 am)

        thanks for that, WSB. It’s always interesting to see what people think, what they assume (parking all day, etc.)

        • Colleen Hicke March 10, 2018 (7:46 am)

          As a frequent visitor to West Seattle,from Anchorage, I have often admired these lots, and wished our downtown leaders had the foresight and leadership to establish something like this(they do not, nor have they ever.) It would be a shame for your community to lose them. I have NEVER had a problem finding a space, and I have observed that the time limit is enforced! We have the same kind of naysayers who say they quit going to an area etc. You need to concentrate on the folks who actually shop and dine in area regularly, and provide what they need. HOPE YOU CAN SAVE THESE!

      • HelperMonkey March 12, 2018 (12:13 pm)

        can confirm. received a ticket for going slightly over 3 hours. they definitely monitor that lot! 

    • SA March 11, 2018 (10:31 am)

      Uh, apparently you haven’t parked there for longer than 3 hours. The parking attendants are on it and will ticket you lickety split. So, you know not what you are talking about, buddy.

      • MHPIMISSWS March 11, 2018 (9:52 pm)

        Tell me about it!!! I have had two tickets being less than five minutes over. Once I was walking to my car on the three hour mark and they had just written the ticket!!! They are psycho!

  • Scott A March 10, 2018 (5:26 am)

    A church or other religious institution needs to buy these lots so they’d be almost free of any property tax. No, I’m just kidding. Car storage is really expensive. Look at University District Parking Associates recently announcing the development of lots with upzones and Link finally arriving.

    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/u-district-upzone-handful-of-landowners-have-most-to-gain/

  • El Jefe' March 10, 2018 (6:06 am)

    Sad. No parking = no patrons. Ballardizing our little nook. 

    • Jort March 10, 2018 (9:18 am)

      Yes. Ballard is a virtual ghost town of economic failure. Nearly every business has shuttered, all because NO PARKING!!

      • sw March 10, 2018 (12:48 pm)

        Yes, and older established businesses are closing and being replaced with chains. Does “progress” mean landing Jimmy John’s and 5 Guys franchises?  Even old Ballard Ave businesses are being pushed out for “boutique” stores. 

        • jack March 10, 2018 (6:18 pm)

          With higher rents and prices. I lived in Ballard back in the day.  Almost all the Scandinavian part is virtually gone.  Good job.

          • JVP March 10, 2018 (8:14 pm)

            I too lived in Ballard back in the day.  It was boring until it got “ruined”.

  • justme March 10, 2018 (6:21 am)

    We’re becoming even more so, a walking community. The increase in local apartment and condo tenants will more than make up for lost parking lot spaces. So, even though our parking options decrease, the revenue made from consumers will increase.  I just hate to see the smaller businesses not be able to afford to stay, which many are saying now. But West Seattle will always be a great community, just more of us coming!

  • K8 March 10, 2018 (6:46 am)

    I always thought that parking structure made more sense than a lot. They could have the first hour free and then have it be paid parking. Something like this worked out really well for everyone where I went to college.

    • Ice March 10, 2018 (11:15 pm)

      While this great idea in theory, building parking garages is expensive in the extreme. A park-and-ride that was recently build cost 100,000 dollars per space. I believe the spaces in the Whitaker cost about 45k per space.

      Parking is very expensive and we all pay both directly (via our taxes) and indirectly (via higher land prices, high rent to off-set the cost of building parking, higher prices at shops that have to pay for parking, etc). Unfortunately, we can’t just magically build more parking and then expect into pay for itself.

  • Huck March 10, 2018 (7:00 am)

    I own a rental home and i can tell you, with the property tax hike, i will be increasing the rent. It’s to large an increase to ignore. 

    • WSMom March 10, 2018 (10:11 am)

      It’s unfortunate that all rents will go up because of the increase in property taxes.  So much for affordable housing. :(  It can’t be helped, the landlord must pass the increase along to the tenant.

  • Anne March 10, 2018 (7:30 am)

    Hopefully all the lots wonts be taken for development & maybe remaining could be pay lots. I love shopping in the Junction- but rarely find a place to park other than the lots- I would welcome pay lots over no lots at all. 

    Last night we were going to a church event it was 5:15 & we got the very last space in the lot on 42nd (for you old timers that’s the old Penny’s parking lot)- the majority of those spots were not filled with cars of folks at our event- not even close-& it was early evening. Where were the folks from those cars-shopping- dining?  If that was a pay lot- quite a bit of money could be made. If there was no lot- maybe the money those folks were spending in the junction would be lost.

    So grateful to have had the luxury of free parking for so many years- but times change & as I stated before- I’d rather pay for parking than have no- or very limited parking in our Junction.

     

  • old timer March 10, 2018 (7:37 am)

    How about a “Go Fund Me” campaign?

    Just this once to get thru the immediate, onerous, rent/tax increase .

    Even I would kick in to that.

    • L. Bui March 10, 2018 (9:17 am)

      Agreed, if we can do it for C&P, we can do it here.

      I go to the junction during the work week mostly and I tend to find parking ok.  I like going to the junction for a long visit when I drop off my car for an oil change at Courtesy  or tire repair at Les Schwab.  

      I like supporting my local businesses but if can’t find parking I probably will go another day.   (Do I really need to get double baked chocolate croissant today?)  And if these free lots become partially/validated pay lots, I’m ok with that, too.  I’ll adapt.  The businesses are vital to WSJunction.  

    • JVP March 10, 2018 (8:18 pm)

      A great way to do a gofundme would be boxes at the parking lots where you could put your credit card in when you park.

  • JayDee March 10, 2018 (7:41 am)

    One of the reasons it is that the parking lots are encouraging visits to the Junction. If these lots get redeveloped then it will really discouraging to folks like me who live 1.5 miles away with only one bus going that way (the 50 and who knows when it will show up?) to visit on a whim or even for the Farmer’s Market.  

  • Steven Lorenza March 10, 2018 (8:35 am)

    Hard to understand how or why drivers always demand someone else pay for their car storage.  Especially when land costs in the millions per acre.  There’s no free lunch.  Cities are nice because they have density that allows walking and transit to be real options. It’s not really fair to demand they also function like sprawled out shopping center.

  • skeeter March 10, 2018 (9:13 am)

     

    I’m surprised the businesses in the junction still provide
    free parking.  Those parking lots are
    sitting on land worth a fortune.  It
    seems like a more efficient use of space to develop them to a better and more
    valuable asset such as housing or retail or commercial.  My prediction – the “free parking” is going
    to dry up by 2020 at the latest.  10
    years ago most customers at the Junction drove there and parking lots made
    sense.  20 years from now I bet 80% of
    Junction customers will walk, bike, or take transit.  People who prefer to drive in cars to stores
    and restaurants will likely be more happy living in a less dense area where
    there is still plenty of room to build parking lots.

    • RayWest March 10, 2018 (10:40 am)

      Those who see West Seattle as being a “walking community” obviously live in or within a few blocks of the Junction or are on a direct bus line to it and the Morgan Street Junction and the Admiral District. The majority of West Seattle residents live further away and cannot easily walk or hop on a bus to get to these core areas.  Has anyone noticed how hilly West Seattle is? That can be a bit daunting for many, even those on bikes. Weather is a factor, too. How many want to hike a few miles to the Junction in the rain?  I like going to the Alaska and Morgan Junctions and the Admiral District, but it’s not just a few blocks away. I have to drive. If all the free parking dries up, then I won’t be shopping there. I can’t see having to spend an extra $10+ to run some errands, do a bit of shopping, or grab a bite to eat. 

    • jack March 11, 2018 (3:14 pm)

      Yeah, I’m going to take 2 buses and bring home a weeks worth of groceries + beer and walk another two blocks from the bus stop.

  • Carmine March 10, 2018 (9:14 am)

    The WS Urban Village is lacking a number of elements that make urban villages urban villages. Apartments and businesses are not enough to qualify for a real UV. We lack a library, a community center, legitimate park space (not the pocket litter box ones or the golf course), sufficient public space for the population. If the parking is going to disappear, as seems the case, then what I suggest to bring this so called urban village into compliance is a town square in its place. The area is right sized and right placed. To fund it there are options of : tax all the new apartments; have the City buy it; enact long needed mitigation fees on the developers who are in reality making a killing in Seattle (or there wouldn’t be so many tower cranes); there must be other ideas out there for those who care to “retain the character and livability” promised by the City in exchange for rampant development. This is the moment.  Oh, and talk about no free lunch for the evil car owners – all you bicyclists and bus riders are actually enjoying the free lunch of MASSIVE public investment and subsidies of tax dollars, car owners $$ included. So drop the holier than though because it just stinks. How can you call yourselves neighbors. Also, the City’s own statistics show that only 8% of renters do not own cars, leaving 82% of renters owning the evil machines. Go figure. 

    • WSB March 10, 2018 (1:23 pm)

      Your ‘town square’ proposal sounds something like JuNO’s proposal for a “central park” over an underground Sound Transit station.
      http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/light-rail-tunnel-talk-west-seattle-transportation-coalition/

      P.S. No mode of transit is getting a “free lunch.” The taxes that pay for transportation projects are by no means paid exclusively by car users.

    • Pat R March 10, 2018 (3:22 pm)

      There are two libraries in West Seattle, and in case you didn’t know we have several outstanding parks, including Lincoln Park.  They are also, FREE

      • WSB March 10, 2018 (3:34 pm)

        Four libraries (Admiral aka West Seattle, Delridge, High Point, Southwest).

        • carole March 11, 2018 (12:01 am)

          Admiral Library being the only one reasonably accessible by bus for those of us west of the Triangle.  I cannot imagine how complicated it would be to get to the others via bus. Take a bus to the junction, then a C to 35th, then a 3rd bus down 35th, for the two on 35th.  Forget getting to Delridge. Downtown library would be easier.  

      • CMT March 10, 2018 (4:00 pm)

        I think Carmine’s point is that none of those amenities are in the West Seattle Junction Hub Urban Village.  They are in the Morgan UV, the Admiral UV, etc..  The trade off to get areas to agree to be “urban villages” in which the majority of the City’s density would be dumped is that they were supposed to be areas in which the City invested resources to serve that same dense population – within the urban village itself – to encourage walkabality, etc.  Yes, Lincoln Park is great, those libraries are great, but that is beside the point.  WS Junction Urban Village has taken on massive growth with no reciprocal infrastructure and amenities as promised.  

    • H March 10, 2018 (10:20 pm)

      I love the town square idea – it’s common in other parts of the world and in my experience they’re pretty great.

    • Ice March 11, 2018 (11:47 am)

      I am a car-owner and I drive to the junction occasionally so I am definitely not coming from a holier-than-thou stance here, but I am aware of the cost of driving. I do not expect the state or the businesses that I patronize to subsidize the fact that I often choose to drive. If you do some research on the cost of driving and (especially) free parking, you will find that they are heavily subsidized by the government and it would almost certainly be cheaper for the tax payers if everyone took public transportation. I don’t think that we should get rid of driving,  but saying that byciclists and bus riders  cost the government as much as a driver does is a bit ignorant and shows that you have not looked into this very deeply. When I discovered how expensive free parking is, I became a lot more amicable to paying for what I actually use.

      • KM March 11, 2018 (12:02 pm)

        Nailed it.

  • Al March 10, 2018 (10:04 am)

    Due to the cost going up for parking. They had to get an attorney I was told and  it cost me my job with the junction for maintenance. This was a few years back.

  • Cindi Barker March 10, 2018 (10:10 am)

    One idea might be to launch a GoFundMe campaign to get through this year. I would gladly donate money to that, to keep these lots free. I know we benefit from not having to pay for parking, but nothing is truly “free”.  I’m willing to do a fair share while this gets sorted out

  • Eric March 10, 2018 (10:24 am)

    Install electronic meters at all spaces. Charge $.50 per hour and be done with it. 

    Alternatively, the city should buy the land,  develop garages there in anticipation of light rail,  and in addition to cheap metered spaces also charge for monthly parking passes.  $100 per month. Do this with a couple of the lots,  and solve the parking issue for a couple generations. Also, enable the light rail to be even more effective at eliminating car trips downtown/airport and elsewhere. 

    • Jort March 10, 2018 (2:22 pm)

      No city in human history has “solved” the parking “problem” for generations, and Seattle won’t be the first. 


      Cities (and public transportation systems) big and small around the world have thrived without spending incredible amounts of money on parking lots. The Junction doesn’t need to, either. 

    • fiz March 10, 2018 (2:24 pm)

      There will be no parking for light rail.  You are expected to walk, bike, or take the bus.  Seattle is doing everything it can to rid you of your car.

      • Plf March 11, 2018 (12:00 am)

        And that is what is wrong with our city, cars will be needed by most of the population, ellitiest to think we should all ride bikes or can walk or who are within distance to do so.  Proptery taxes are killing the middle class and our seniors,  wish I could pass on the crippling taxes on to someone else, I haven’t figured out how  the increase in taxes is making this a more livable city and affordable housing.  Wake up and smell the corruption with developers and the politicians. Most likely too late. 

  • Dustin March 10, 2018 (10:28 am)

    Perhaps the parcels could be sold for development, with a stipulation that underground parking garages be included for lease to WSJA under specific terms to replace the existing parking lots. If the proceeds from the sales could then be rolled into the WSJA, this could retain the benefits of free parking for the community while keeping the association financially afloat.

    Alternatively, all but one of the existing parcels could be sold, with the proceeds used to turn the remaining parcel into a multi-level public parking garage structure. I’ve seen these in LA (and used them). This option could reduce the property tax burden on the association to one parcel while increasing the amount of parking those property tax dollars afford.

  • M.B. March 10, 2018 (10:29 am)

    Steven Lorenza – not EVERYONE is able to get out there and walk and bike. As noted, one of the larger lots is by the Senior Center. As someone who, myself, uses a rolling walker, I have found public transit to be a challenge. It’s always fun when it’s overcrowded, people are literally climbing over me and my walker to get by due to the bad layout that doesn’t have a place for my walker to go, or even more fun when the handicapped ramp doesn’t work!

    • Ice March 11, 2018 (11:54 am)

       just fyi, if you have a doctor-issued disability placard, you can park in any metered space for an unlimited amount of time for free. This entire city, and especially West Seattle has a lack of handicap parking spaces, but you can at least take advantage of this in areas where you have to pay the city to park (which the junction could and should be very soon).

      • WSB March 11, 2018 (11:56 am)

        It won’t be any time soon, as we reported on February 28th (linked toward the start of this story too). That decision came 9 years after the previous Junction parking review – I don’t know if they’ll wait another nine years before reviewing it again, but it certainly will be years rather than months. – TR

  • Matt Hutchins March 10, 2018 (11:18 am)

    The high cost of free parking.

    What else could the Chamber do if they weren’t dedicating most of their budget to maintaining these lots? More street festivals, beautification?  

    Meanwhile paid lots are 3/4 empty (according the survey WSB recently reported on). I just pay a couple bucks at nearest lot. Easy. 

  • WS Guy March 10, 2018 (11:32 am)

    The Trustees that own that land want to break the lease and develop the property.  They are well connected with politicians.  I will bet a box of donuts that they engineered this huge tax increase with their politician friends in order to force the WSJA out.

    • CJ March 10, 2018 (2:07 pm)

      The WSJA would know about the “cost to cure” since that’s essentially deducting from rent+property taxes  paid to the junction parking lot trustees/owners the cost of some repairs the WSJA took on.  It’s essentially the same as when you repair something in your apartment and deduct that from rent.

      I hope this begins some bigger conversations about the city’s parking policies (some changes are even going on now).

      CM Herbold is taking a lot of flack for standing up for the fact that few renters in West Seattle are non-car owners compared to areas elsewhere (this map shows some areas the % of car-free renters is below 10%).  She proposes new multi-family homes in areas with insufficient on-street parking have a potential SEPA mitigation measure of reducing the number of RPZs they’re eligible for and other blogs characterize it as “remove RPZs from renters”.  So, developers can build for car-free renters but nobody wants to commit to those renters actually being more car-free?

  • Steven Canas March 10, 2018 (11:43 am)

    Drop the “civic pride” WSJA and charge the folks who use the parking lots. And all the other light rail stations in congested areas don’t have parking, why would this one? Hopefully one of the lots gets taken by eminent domain for the station and makes the already convenient public transportation even more convenient.

  • PW March 10, 2018 (11:44 am)

    We get what we voted for. West Seattle has now lost all charm and character like Ballard. What a struggle for the merchants. And yes we drive and need to park. 

    The result will be all the adjacent neighborhoods  will be full with more parked cars.  If I cannot park quick and run to Husky Deli or get my hair cut at The Forsythe then another customer lost for those folks.

    But rest assured the homeless get to park their cars for free anywhere they want. 

    I doubt a gofund me will solve this one. 

    • Catlady March 10, 2018 (2:51 pm)

      Are you actually suggesting that people who have nowhere to live besides their car somehow have an easier life than you do?

      CHECK. YOUR. PRIVILEGE. 

  • steve March 10, 2018 (12:10 pm)

    It’s nice that the business’s pooled together to make free parking happen,  I love our local business’s, but the taxman cometh,  and they’re taxing according to what that property is worth. I’d suggest the owners sell the property and take their winnings. It’s never been a better time to sell. Let the parking spill over to the neighborhoods the way  city likes, and be done with it. Another unfortunate end of an era.  Squeeze in more people. ….. Hmmm , Maybe our future will be like Russia……rows and rows of empty buildings and no houses.  All taxed out. Sad……My landlord just raised the rent due to the latest,  large,  property tax increase, if this parking lot gets a reduction, shouldn’t my landlord and everyone else? Sorry, I’m all over the place. Go Hawks!

  • Cera March 10, 2018 (12:32 pm)

    I’m not sure any of the existing free lots would be big enough to do this, but making an actual parking garage that could perhaps have free parking on Sundays and during events like West Seattle Summer Fest always seemed like a good idea to me.   There’d be more space and that could encourage people to come to the Farmers Market on a whim because they’d actually be able to find parking.  (I mean, I’d prefer a FREE parking garage, but obviously things are moving in the opposite direction.)    Also–slightly related–I’d happily pay for parking at Alki; I’ve actually had days in the summer when I’ve given up on the beach because there was nowhere to park (and trust me, I don’t mind walking a few blocks).

    • gorillita March 12, 2018 (8:32 am)

      There is a free shuttle bus (Water Taxi shuttle) to Alki.  No need to fight the parking battle.  Park somewhere along the line and take the shuttle to the beach and back – free!

  • JanS March 10, 2018 (12:51 pm)

    I know I’ll get an earful but… M.B. , I so agree. I, too , walk with a rollator. I do not take
    Metro. Period. I also do not have a working car at the moment. I take a
    senior Hyde shuttle to doc appts(am 71 now), and otherwise just stay
    home. Golden years, bedamned. I gave up on the junction (had a business
    there a long time ago), when they put a lovely bike parking area on
    California Ave at the main intersection, but not one parking spot exclusively for
    disabled people – we do exist, you know…. Sure, we get the token 2 or 3 in lots, but that doesn’t
    really work as they’re mostly always taken. Walk a couple of blocks
    like a 30/40 year old? Surely, they jest. Ride a bike? Laughable.And being
    on a fixed income, trying to keep up with ever increasing rent (yeah, we
    all work for tech companies, don’t we, she says sarcastically), it’s
    difficult at times to pay whatever in a pay lot, even if we could walk
    from there. WSJA isn’t the only one to face that.

    I don’t see this as a failing of the Junction
    Association. I see it as a failing of the city, the country, dividing us
    by class, the haves and the have nots. A failing of so many things that
    kowtow to the richer among us, because they can. No one reins them in
    even a little. If you all are happy with that, I suppose that’s fine,
    for you. Lol…waiting now for someone to tell us that if we can’t
    afford it, we should go somewhere else.

    O_o

    • Itsoverman March 11, 2018 (2:43 pm)

      I don’t understand why one would stay here in those circumstances? I know this is your area, and you’re people are here- but if you’re not taking advantage of the urban scene- why not move out to an area where the costs are half, and things are set up to accommodate senior lifestyles, and activities, and needs..? I know it’s not just- but at what point do you gift to yourself by adjusting and moving on? Why continue this unrewarding struggle?
      I ask this respectfully as someone whose ready to leave, and I’m not in nearly as difficult position as you describe..

  • Jissy March 10, 2018 (1:01 pm)

    Matt Hutchins:  just to clarify, the Chamber has nothing to do with these lots, the WSJA (West Seattle Junction Assn) does.  

  • Tamsen Spengler March 10, 2018 (1:51 pm)

    I believe If this parking goes away the junction will die. We saved C n P coffee could we do the same to save these lots? 

  • John H March 10, 2018 (1:58 pm)

    I’d happily pay a fee to park there.  Better to have people pay a parking fee than not shop there at all.

    If those lots go away the businesses will suffer as they can’t stand the year or two delay between closed down parking space and filled up condos/apartments.

    • CJ March 10, 2018 (2:25 pm)

      These are multiple lots that needn’t all be closed at the same time.

  • prayforrain March 10, 2018 (2:44 pm)

    It sucks, but paid parking in the area is going to happen one way or another eventually.  We can try to stave off changes but they are inevitable.  

    If/when it happens, if I really want to go to the junction I’ll just park a few blocks away in the residential area, and I won’t be the only one.  The streets are gonna look like Capitol Hill. 

    But the prospect of having to pay for parking will always loom in my mind when deciding where to eat or shop, and at times it will redirect me somewhere I can park for free.

    • fiz March 10, 2018 (3:28 pm)

      I live in those residential areas, as do other family members.  We already are clogged with commuter and  farmers market parking, can’t accommodate much more.

  • My two cents ... March 10, 2018 (3:46 pm)

    I hope that some sort of solution can be arrived at that will balance the availability of the parking without too much pain on any of the parties.

    It is not a huge amount of parking – but just the fact that there is the possibility of free parking does encourage shopping/dining in the Junction. It does make it convenient to stop in and do quick stops. 

    Not saying that the loss of free parking will result in lost sales, but I feel it will have an impact on the shops/stores/restaurants in at least a small way — and for a typical small business, a small change can easily result in succeeding/failing.

  • Sunuva March 10, 2018 (4:39 pm)

    We’ve had trouble finding parking in the junction multiple times that caused us to go elsewhere for dinner and shopping. We really like the junction so it’s sad to feel like it’s not worth it anymore, especially on the weekends. 

    Maybe they can rethink how to use one of those parcels to  build a parking garage to add more parking and charge for it, but make the price of parking reasonable enough to not prohibit visitors. Like REI’s garage, IIRC it’s free for one hour and then still not even very expensive after that. From my perspective, if we knew we could get a spot and may just have to pay a reasonable bit for it, then we wouldn’t avoid the junction like we do now.

    • jack March 11, 2018 (8:18 pm)

      REI, real expensive inventory, uses the one hour or you pay, to get you hurry up on making a sales decision.  I’ll buy this expensive coat, but I’ll save $5 on parking.  Total Madison Ave.

  • Sea Bee March 10, 2018 (5:17 pm)

    I would hope that this is something that Lisa Herbold would see fit to respond to. The heart of our neighborhood will be significantly impacted, not just businesses, with many clearly struggling to survive, but also the Farmers Market and those frequenting the senior center.  The fact that I don’t see a comment from her here is very telling of how plugged in she really is. This is the West Seattle “paper of record” and it would be great to see her engaged as a reader from time to time. 

  • Marty2 March 10, 2018 (5:58 pm)

    They could develop the lots with apartments or condos with an underground parking garage large enough to accommodate some free parking for Junction businesses.

  • On the other hand... March 10, 2018 (6:21 pm)

    Parking lots are the worst, I’d love for it to be gone.  (Or, failing that, underground or on the roof of a building–some place where it is not so visible and not such a waste of space.)

    And yes, I know this is a hugely unpopular opinion.  But this does seem to be a place where everyone else is speaking their mind, so thought I’d add my two cents.  Please be gentle!

    • jack March 11, 2018 (3:26 pm)

      Ok, let’s do an experiment.  For the whole month of April let’s barricade all the free parking in the Junction, all of it.  Let’s see what happens.

      • Honestly... March 11, 2018 (4:20 pm)

        Jack…

        Yeah, cuz I was arguing for empty parking lots.  Is that really the message you got?  That I would prefer empty parking lots?

        Don’t be silly. 

        The actual experiment would be to replace the parking lots with food truck areas (with covered seating), playgrounds, parks, and dense urban housing with street level storefronts.

        And that would be awesome.

        • jack March 11, 2018 (8:37 pm)

          Wrong, barracading the current parking lots would be like imagining they are now Condos, the future, if you will.  Then we will see how it affects local Junction business right away without this difference of opinions based on what I want to see compared to leave It alone.

          • The times... March 11, 2018 (8:58 pm)

            So your experiment is to cordon off the parking lots (but keep them as parking lots) and start “imagining” there are condos there?

            That’s a dumb experiment.  A better one would be…  Was the Junction more busy and vibrant before the Farmers Market took over one of the parking lots?  I’m willing to bet that the arrival of the market, even though it *gasp* took away a parking lot, didn’t hurt businesses one bit.  I’d wager it even brought more people and business to the neighborhood.

            Get rid of the parking lots.  Like I said, I’d prefer places for food trucks and music, parks and playgrounds (wouldn’t a small bandstand be great?), but, honestly, would I prefer even ugly condos to a parking lot?  Hell yeah.

          • jack March 11, 2018 (9:03 pm)

            Food Trucks and the like would take up the same space.  

          • The Times... March 12, 2018 (9:32 am)

            @Jack

            I feel like you missed my point, intentionally or otherwise.  It’s not how much space they take up, it’s how much nicer and more vibrant they are compared to a parking lot.  

            “You know how Alki gets crowded during those hot summer days?  Do you know how it can be awfully hard to park there?  The lack of parking must really be hurting businesses.  But here’s a solution–there’s an awful lot of beach down there…  We should just add a parking lot on the beach & problem solved.” 

            Nobody thinks like that,  because the beach is wonderful and parking lots are ugly and dumb.  The junction would be improved with fewer parking lots, especially if those concrete wastelands became parks or playgrounds or neighborhood gathering spaces.

  • ZoéF March 10, 2018 (7:51 pm)

    It’s obvious something is going to change for the Junction and for those of us who love it.  I agree with the person who suggested developing one of the lots with a parking structure, having free parking on Sundays and special évent days, and evenings.  

    We love and want to support the small businesses.  I will gladly pay a reasonable fee for parking rather than lose the character of the Junction.

    I drive to Capitol Hill , Ballard , Georgetown,  and the U. District and pay for parking. I’ve come to expect it.  

  • Matt Hutchins March 10, 2018 (8:57 pm)

    Walking to dinner Friday night @ 6:45 we passed 4 open on street spaces between Ma’Ono and West 5. I guess so many people have given up on the Junction because it is too crowded that it isn’t anymore….

  • Flimflam March 10, 2018 (9:06 pm)

    Larger issue here is the rapid rise in property taxes. We need to start saying “no” to some of these levies – it also didn’t help that the states solution to the mccleary stuff was. ” oh well, make property owners pay for it”

    • SaveOurSeattle March 12, 2018 (8:57 pm)

      I’m amazed it took me scrolling down dozens of posts before I got to one that got at the root of the problem, which is property taxes keep going up unabated.  It will force different use of property, and a free parking lot has an immensely low ROI.  If we like it as a feature, then keep the taxes from going up.   It’s a choice, and it does have ramifications.  Don’t think that it’s the “other guy” that pays for Free Orca Cards, Free College, or Free Injection sites.  There’s a limit, and this is what happens.  I’d just settle for enough police and prosecutors to handle misdemeanors….

      • Jethro Marx March 12, 2018 (11:40 pm)

        People can be a bit funny about decriminalized injection sites, and I’m not sure about them either, but the point of having them is that some lives will be saved, perhaps, and there is real strong data that suggests they will ultimately save money. It’s a little complicated, but if you really object on the basis of cost, you should look into it. I don’t think anyone seriously believes they will increase drug use, it’s more of a moral objection, I think.

         As to property taxes, yes, they’ll keep going up, despite our whining. Of course, average single family home property values seem to increase about $500 a day too in this city, so I guess everyone complaining about taxes can go out on top, if they’ve really had enough.

         As for me, I’m kind of tired of all the whinging, especially from landlords who simultaneously assure us that they’ll pass on all increased costs to their tenants. First world problems, what?

  • Mike March 10, 2018 (9:31 pm)

    This will get interesting as there’s no current plan for a park and ride to support the 2030 West Seattle to Everett light rail.

  • H March 10, 2018 (10:14 pm)

    I haven’t yet read every reply so my comment may have been suggested already. I have been carless for about a year (by choice). I shop at the Junction weekly, I get there by walking over a mile, bus or uber. I really enjoy the Junction and truthfully wish there were more stores (and I’m just an average, non tech, employed person). The free parking is a really nice neighborhood convenience that I used when driving even though it was frequently full. If it goes away people will still shop there as I do. If the merchants want to continue to offer it I think a $.50-$1 “Junction service charge” per transaction might be a way to make that possible. I’d be willing to pay that. But I do wonder if we were all paying a buck towards a “Junction service charge” would our community elect to have something else, like a super cool play area or food truck outdoor space, instead of free parking?

    • Steven Lorenza March 11, 2018 (8:58 am)

      You’re already paying a junction surcharge.  Even if you walk 3 miles or ride the bus for a half hour, you are paying for the ‘free’ parking the businesses give away to drivers. I’m going to ask if they’ll be willing to pay for my bus fare.  Seems only fair.  Yet, when modern reality sets in, with reduced driving subsidies, someone will chime in with ‘war on cars’.

  • Dreamers March 11, 2018 (12:36 am)

    I do not believe most of these lots are big enough to benefit from building multilevel parking garages. Given all the interior space required for spiraling up and down ramps (without using the adjacent streets to move from row to row), so many spaces would be lost as to make the transformation a wash at best. More levels of many less spaces..? 

    • Steven Lorenza March 11, 2018 (9:00 am)

      If they can’t afford costs now, how are they going to build, operate, and maintain a $10 million plus parking garage?

  • Rick March 11, 2018 (6:09 am)

    The Junction will turn into a community for the folks that live in dorm room size apartments. Goodbye to character and soul. Sad,but I enjoyed my time there.

  • Chris March 11, 2018 (1:15 pm)

    Regarding the one parking lot, it is not only used by the Senior Center seniors but by those visiting at the Dakota House.   The only parking at the Dakota House is for residents exclusively.     Parking is quite a challenge especially at certain times of the day.  We would hope that something can be worked out to somehow keep parking lots.      It would seem losing them would be a major impact to the businesses there.   Attempting to park on the street is nigh to impossible anytime after 9AM in the main core of the junction.   On market day, even less parking.

  • Jennifer Scarlett March 11, 2018 (1:19 pm)

    The real issue here is who are you excluding by losing these parking spots.  Small independent businesses?  Long time members of the community, seniors?

    The senior center is an important asset to the community as as whole, as are seniors themselves!

    Not everyone can walk/cycle and transit is not friendly in a lot of ways.  Seattle has a long ways to go if they want us all to use it.

    Do you want to be a neighborhood of chain stores and single people?  

    Short term parking is a huge help for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons!

    • Itsoverman March 11, 2018 (2:34 pm)

      It IS happening. Unfortunately, Alaska junction is well on it’s way to becoming an inhospitable area for families, and seniors. Too bad we could not all coexist- the hipsters and the famsters and the oldsters- but that is not meant to be..

      • Jon Wright March 12, 2018 (1:21 pm)

        Not sure on what you base your “inhospitable area for families” claim…my family (3 young kids) loves the neighborhood and whenever we are there, we see plenty of other families, too. Just because YOU do not like the dynamism and growth and non-car-centric nature of the Junction doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same way.

        • Itsoverman March 12, 2018 (3:34 pm)

          I said it’s on it’s way to becoming inhospitable to families and elderly- because it is. You can take your kids strolling down Aurora Ave at midnight, but that does not make it (what most people consider) family friendly. 

          • I, too, have opinions March 12, 2018 (5:08 pm)

            Actually it’s wonderfully hospitable to families and the elderly, and it’s even more family friendly than before (case in point–the expansion of the farmers market after its move to California Ave).  

            I have a 3 year old and a 78 year old.  We all have a blast walking (or busing, if we’re feeling lazy) down to the Junction.

            I think what you actually might mean is that you now like driving there less than before. 

            Don’t conflate driving with families and the elderly.  What percent of people using the parking lots do you really think simply cannot take a bus or walk?   

          • Itsoverman March 14, 2018 (2:52 am)

            I will conflate driving with family and the elderly! I put them all in my conflation crock pot, and conflate them into a big conflation stew! 

            Im not taking my grandma and my kids on a bus! When we are food shopping and recreating, we have multiple destinations. I’m not dragging my kids around on buses for 5 hours on a sat for a 2 hour trip!  Screw that! Therefore, I will avoid the junction, as it will have become inhospitable. 

          • Jon Wright March 12, 2018 (7:53 pm)

            Aurora at midnight and the Alaska Junction. Trying to understand how that is a meaningful comparison.

          • Itsoverman March 14, 2018 (2:56 am)

            It is not a comparison. You see, the sequencing of words in a sentence determines it’s meaning. 

  • Mindy March 11, 2018 (7:34 pm)

    So… IF we loose all the free parking lots the businesses will rapidly start closing. Really. Shop local? That will end. Most mommas I see have multiple kiddos and parking 4 blocks away getting them out and trecking in the rain to get to the stores. Hmm. Most will just not shop in the junction anymore. It’s sad. (Amazon is already becoming a fast part of mom’s everyday lives now instead of shopping themselves. This will just seal the deal for the small business owners). I have lived here all my life. We are being pushed out so they can see how many 200+ units can be squeezed into a lot. This needs to stop. NOT Friendly West Seattle anymore.

  • Vintage98116 March 12, 2018 (4:42 pm)

    I’m surprised no one has really commented on what WS GUY said.  Trusteed Properties absolutely wants to develop it.  This has been an open secret in WS for years.  One of the Governors of Trusteed Properties is Charlie Connor, the developer who wanted to tear down the historic mansion on Beach Drive and build the townhomes. The same Charlie Connor who owned the corner of California & Alaska and east to 42nd where Starbucks is.  When he sold the property, he retained his voting shares of Trusteed.  It will be developed as soon as they can squeeze Junction Associates out.  You can take that to the bank.  And it makes me sick. 

    • WSB March 12, 2018 (8:14 pm)

      Charlie Conner is not “the developer who wanted to tear down the historic mansion on Beach Drive” etc. His father William Conner owned it. He wasn’t seeking to tear down the landmarked house – he wanted to build three single-family houses on what is considered its lawn (but is platted as separate lots). Can’t believe it, but it’s been 10 years since we were in the Hearing Examiner’s chambers downtown covering his appeal of the city’s ruling …this story was from March 2008!

      http://westseattleblog.com/2008/03/first-round-in-painted-lady-front-lawn-development-fight/

  • artsea March 13, 2018 (6:42 am)

    Thanks WSB for correcting erroneous or “fake news” comments that appear here now and then.

  • Tyler March 13, 2018 (11:46 am)

    Giant asphalt lots make the Junction really quite ugly in spots. A hundred 3hr parking spots provide way fewer customers than the thousand homes that will hopefully one day replace them. And any housing project would include underground parking of even greater numbers of spots. The soul of the Junction is Husky Deli, Easy Street Records, Mashiko, Pegasus Books, Seattle Fish Co, and even the Post Office, not the existence of asphalt and concrete blocks. Those institutions should absolutely be protected, and more homes will bring more people to enjoy them, especially as West Seattle bus routes get more and more frequent and reliable, bike share’s become a viable form of transportation, and Lyft/Uber lines are down to $2.50/~3 mile ride.  A parking lot is the exact place that housing can be built while causing zero displacement of existing housing and small businesses. Paid street parking works in almost every other neighborhood commercial center.

  • 1994 March 13, 2018 (9:19 pm)

    Seattle is starting to lose that Seattle feel.   

    • Itsoverman March 14, 2018 (3:02 am)

      Tacoma is awesome! It feels like Seattle, back when Seattle was really great..

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