FOLLOWUP: Who parks where and why? West Seattle Transportation Coalition’s survey results

Three months ago, we published a link to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s survey about parking – whether you use it, where you use it, do you park on the street even if you have offstreet parking available where you live, and a variety of other questions. WSTC has finally crunched the numbers and published the results, from more than 900 responses. See them here. Among many points of interest, the WSTC reports, “7% of renters [said they] have no cars, compared to 2.6% of home owners,” and a nearly identical percentage of respondents in both categories said they kept their primary vehicle in offstreet parking – 76 percent owners, 74 percent renters. 76 percent of the respondents, meantime, said they live within 10 minutes of a bus stop, though various other responses suggest that proximity alone isn’t enough to make them full-time bus riders.

30 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Who parks where and why? West Seattle Transportation Coalition's survey results"

  • just cuz June 29, 2015 (6:00 am)

    My garage was built in 1943. My small car doesn’t fit so it doesn’t get used as car storage and I think that is very common in cities.

  • Anne June 29, 2015 (7:21 am)

    agree with you -just cuz- many neighborhoods in WS are older homes & garages-just drive down some of those alleys & see how small the garages are.
    Our house for example-built in the 20’s has a garage in back accessed by an alley-but the floor has sunk below the level of the alley so is not usable. Even if it was level unless we owned a mini car of some sort nothing would fit. Several years ago we were able to pour a parking pad in back of the house-but most don’t have the space to do that.
    Just reiterating that there are various reasons for the parking woes in our neighborhoods

  • Bryan t. June 29, 2015 (9:06 am)

    The garages aren’t too small, your cars are too big.

    If you don’t have a parking space of your own, no one owes you a free spot anywhere else.

    From the survey results:

    The RPZ passes last two years and cost $65, for a rate of $5.41 per month.

    Math is hard.

  • Skeptic June 29, 2015 (9:12 am)

    Two point: this was not random polling, and in a city that is majority renters, it captured almost entirely homeowners. Considering these two point, this doesn’t add up to statistical significance, so I don’t believe the results are accurate.

    • WSB June 29, 2015 (9:23 am)

      Please note that in no place does WSTC assert that this is scientific or that it necessarily represents the entirety of the area, nor have I written the story that way. I’m not a fan of polls or surveys myself but at least SOMEONE is trying to investigate an issue that otherwise we all just yap about endlessly without any idea of the big picture. Regarding the homeowner vs. renter issue – WSTC writes toward the start of its post that 80 percent of the respondents identified themselves as owners, 20 percent renters – I spent quite a bit of time overnight trying to find whether there are any geographic breakdowns for the oft-cited stat of Seattle being 51-54 percent renters. I have not found one yet. The city also notes in general that there is a geographic variation. If anyone has found the neighborhood breakdown in the city – certainly it will be more downtown, for example, and maybe or maybe not less here in WS – I’d be interested in including that – TR

  • John June 29, 2015 (9:14 am)

    The small garage excuse is just not true. A small car certainly will fit into a 1940 era garage. Of course the garage must be emptied of all the other stuff to fit in a car.

    Anne’s excuse is that her garage was not maintained, so she just paved over her back yard which requires a permit and is not legally permitted.

    Of most interest is the equality of street parkers whether renters or homeowners not utilizing their garages for cars.

    Charging for all street parking would alleviate the problems and encourage people to garage their vehicles.

  • John June 29, 2015 (9:29 am)

    It captured about 80% homeowners, valid to point out, but hardly “almost entirely homeowners”.

  • Anne June 29, 2015 (9:34 am)

    Love the snarky comments-Bryan t. & John-guess you know me & my home right? First-our garage is 1920’s era-second-it was maintained-but built before alley was paved-third-where did I mention I had paved over my backyard-no such thing & FYI-any work we do that requires a permit-we get- thank you very much.
    Just stating that all neighborhoods are not the same-even here in WS. Some don’t even have the “luxury” of an alley & probably some sort of parking off it. I agree- no one is “owed” a parking spot anywhere & what has been an accepted practice for years has changed. Change is inevitable & good & for some may take a little getting used to since everyone’s circumstances are not the same.

  • owner June 29, 2015 (9:39 am)

    I assure you doubters that many older garages are indeed too small to accommodate a modern car. My attached garage was built in the 1920s and I would have to fold in the side mirrors of my compact car to get it inside. Then I would need to exit the car through a sunroof as there would be no room to open the doors inside the garage.

  • Gina June 29, 2015 (9:59 am)

    I’ve noticed that a single family that owns 2 oversize trucks, owns a boat, a trailer, a camping trailer, and a SUV has to use street parking for all the vehicles. The back yard is taken up by all the “toys” and trailers. And oversize double garage is full of more “toys”. A single family ends up using the street parking of 3 homes. Say there are 5 households on the block that do the same. (In theory, of course, just in theory) Adds up quickly.

  • John June 29, 2015 (10:20 am)

    Anne, My apologies. I frequently see homeowners parking in their yards often paving parking slabs that are not allowed in required yards. The paving raises other concerns such as hard surface runoff and reduction of permeable soils.

    “where did I mention I had paved over my backyard? – “Several years ago we were able to pour a parking pad in back of the house.” Anne

    The Ford Model T manufactured from 1908 to 1927 was 66″ wide.
    Current Prius width 68.7″.
    Volkswagen Rabbits vary from 66 to 68″.
    The facts just do not support garages built too small to house a Model T or other small modern cars.
    ‘Owner’ and others please post your garage dimensions to shut up this doubter.

  • debra June 29, 2015 (12:38 pm)

    I would be thrilled to have paid parking on my street however you must live on the street to get a permitt for overnight parking,,,,if you don’t live lets say on 50th Ave SW but live on 48th park on 48th
    Anne I understand your comments, be not concerned about the historically folks who dont want you to own a car, their narrative is old and most comments over the years have dismissed it as silly

  • pagefive June 29, 2015 (1:20 pm)

    TR, according to the Census Bureau’s QuickFacts website, the “owner-occupied housing unit rate 2009-13” is 46.8% in Seattle (compared to 63.2% in Washington and 64.9% nationally).

    • WSB June 29, 2015 (1:25 pm)

      Hi, thanks, the **citywide** stats are clear, and I found them in various spots – even DPD has separate cites (ranging from 51% to 54% renting, whatever the case, definitely a majority). What I was looking for help with was *geographic* breakout WITHIN the city limits – what the West Seattle renter/owner split is. Have not found that yet. (I would have to think it would be available SOMEWHERE by census tracts if not zip … It would be zips 98106, 116, 126, 136, and part of 146.) – TR

  • westseattledood June 29, 2015 (1:36 pm)

    The city, (Edit: or, wait, maybe it is the County?) is about to kick in a new rental registration process, is it not, for rental properties’ owners across the board for compliance to new requirements/ codes? I can’t recall the start date. Probably more for future reference then, but you might want to peek at it though there won’t be any data from that for a good while I don’t think. And how will they make available the data. And there’s another question which just occurs – will the rental registration be enforceable. How so? Inspections? Etc.? Single family or multi? Different requirements? Which of Mr. Mayor’s new departments will this land in?

  • westseattledood June 29, 2015 (1:48 pm)

    Ok, well they are just revving up with training inspectors in August, it seems. Interesting.

    Well, I don’t know, but I know this city and all neighborhoods have beaucoup unregistered, unpermitted mother-in-laws or similar….that’s more behind what I am wondering how to account for that kind of thing aside from neighbors or disgruntled tenants reporting on each other. Kind of a new thing around these parts. Life in the big city.

  • ChefJoe June 29, 2015 (1:49 pm)
    Owner occupied in west seattle ranges from 90% in Roxbury/Endolyne area to 40% in the heart of california junction.

    • WSB June 29, 2015 (1:57 pm)

      Thanks, ResearcherJoe, for the CensusExplorer link.

  • ChefJoe June 29, 2015 (1:52 pm)

    However, if you really have neighbors parking a battalion of vehicles you can always just keep hounding away at that practice by reporting to the SPD about parked vehicles not moving within 72 hr (when that occurs). Eventually they’ll get tired of paying fines (or you’ll tire of reporting it).

  • ChefJoe June 29, 2015 (2:40 pm)

    John, there’s lots of homes with this (below) type of “garage in basement” design or where an off-street garage was built into a retaining wall structure (all around greenlake you’ll see those). I suspect building codes may have called for a garage but nobody required a size to store and exit a car (maybe a lawnmower and other stuff you might have in a garden shed).

    It’s probably like how all those apartments are built with sliding glass doors opening onto a railed, 6″ deep juliet balcony.

  • Question Mark June 29, 2015 (2:55 pm)

    Based on the 2010 Census, Seattle provides a census-block-to-neighborhood breakdown for the Southwest Neighborhood District [1] and the Delridge Neighborhood District [2].

    Basic home-ownership breakdown is 64% in the Southwest District (23,025 occupied housing units) and 55% in the Delridge District (14,415 occupied housing units).

    Combined, this works out to almost 61% home ownership rate in the West Seattle area.

    Happy reading,



    • WSB June 29, 2015 (3:39 pm)

      Thanks, Mark!

    • WSB June 29, 2015 (11:41 pm)

      Also, belated thanks to Michael TJ upthread for more stats – I just found that comment in the spam filter, probably automatically sent there because it was two links and no text; not that we have the parameters set that way, but Akismet has a mind of its own. Now unspammed.

  • Tracy White June 29, 2015 (7:06 pm)

    The Ford Model T manufactured from 1908 to 1927 was 66″ wide.
    Current Prius width 68.7″.
    Volkswagen Rabbits vary from 66 to 68″.

    Hey John, you’re making an apples to oranges comparison. Modern cars have their doors at the edges whereas the cars of the 1910s and 20s had running boards and smaller cabins. The Model T’s passenger compartment is just 50 inches wide at the broadest point:

    You’re talking about eight inches more room to open doors that are themselves not as long (17 to 19 inches versus maybe three feet for a Prius door? My 2013 Ford Focus’ doors are 42 inches long).

  • John June 29, 2015 (8:12 pm)

    I agree.
    There are hundreds of homes such as the one you describe in Seattle.
    I grew up in one such house in Fauntleroy.
    Garages back then were not as wide, tall, or large, as we now expect them to be.
    Nevertheless generations of people utilized these small garages to house their cars. Those were the days before so much other stuff was stored in the garage. Our family garage at 280 square feet with the washing machine and clothes dryer in the back always housed a Ford Station Wagon.

    The particular house cited shows a garage whose door is clearly large enough for cars and listed at 210 square feet likely is about 10 feet wide by 21 feet long with a seven foot wide door.

    The Juliet balcony is something we have used as essentially huge operating windows. They do not intrude into the air space but provide the most effective way to naturally ventilate. They also bring the outdoors in like nothing else. They benefit from lack of maintenance and avoid the safety issues of decks (no history of collapses).

  • Kimmy June 30, 2015 (8:59 am)

    Amidst shrinking space Seattle favors big cars:

  • Skeptic June 30, 2015 (10:29 am)

    I think the survey’s main finding is that around 31% of West Seattle homeowners with cars would rather park on the street for free because it’s their God given right as homeowners than pay a small fee to ensure that renters are forced into paying for off-street parking. And of course, these folks are probably the first people to complain about the lack of street parking whenever they have an opportunity to anonymously rant about it.

  • ChefJoe July 1, 2015 (7:18 am)

    Skeptic, I’m not sure where you get that number, as only 24% (stated as 23 in text, but actually 23.8% of valid responses) of homeowners park their primary vehicle on street and in a different question 9.7% of the homeowners said they had no off-street parking to use, so that covers a large proportion of those homeowners.
    They also flubbed/number flipped in the multi-vehicle analysis where they compared homeowners and renters and where that extra vehicle goes. According to the numbers in the pie charts, 63% of renters park their non-primary vehicle on street vs 47% of homeowners.
    I found the last question most interesting, though, as 74% were a “yes” or “maybe” on increased parking enforcement in populous areas vs 26% “no”.

Sorry, comment time is over.