(UPDATED THURSDAY 11:11 AM with SDOT slide deck shown at meeting)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Street parking usage and turnover rates in the West Seattle Junction business district are close to what the city considers optimal, so pay stations are not in The Junction’s future.
That was the biggest headline as SDOT debuted its Junction parking study results at the annual West Seattle Junction Association merchants meeting tonight. (Added Thursday morning – here’s the slide deck:)
It was the first time in almost a decade that the city studied Junction parking, as was noted by WSJA executive director Lora Swift and then by SDOT’s Jonathan Williams, who presented the study’s toplines. (The last study, in 2008-2009, also resulted in a decision that paid street parking wasn’t warranted.)
Williams recapped that the study was initiated after the Junction Neighborhood Organization asking that an area toward the northeast of be considered for a Restricted Parking Zone. The city decided to look at a wider area – “Dakota to Dawson,” as previewed at a JuNO meeting last fall. They also took a look at what was going on in the offstreet lots – both free and paid. They had 903 responses to an online survey and 490 responses to an “intercept” (in-person) survey in The Junction.
They looked at three groupings, including, on weekdays, 53 blockfaces with 700 parking spaces.
The results revealed who’s coming to The Junction, when, and why, as well as parking-usage stats.
In the intercept survey, Williams said, just over half arrived via a private vehicle, just under half walked. The ones most likely to walk were West Seattle residents living within a mile, those visiting from elsewhere were more likely to drive, and area workers who don’t live in WS were most likely to have gotten here via transit. That was a surprisingly high “mode share,” Williams said.
Those who walk and bike are the people who visit The Junction most often – 65 percent said they visited most days. Drivers were the people who visited least frequently “26 percent visit most days.” Those visiting from outside WS most often came (30 percent) for dining; 28 percent came to visiting family/friends, 17 percent for shopping. Visitors from outside WS planned to spend the most ($48) followed by WS residents ($43). 60 percent of the intercept responders lived in West Seattle, followed by elsewhere in Seattle and then South King County.
As for where the drivers are parking – it’s not hard to get a space most of the time, the survey showed.
For drivers, “slightly more than half reported parking 0-1 blocks from their destination.” Visitors from outside West Seattle heavily use the 3-hour free Junction lots.
Results: In the commercial area, parking is readily available before 5 pm; occupancy peaks 6-7 pm.
In the larger residential areas, occupancy hovers around 50 percent, with some higher usage on blocks closest to junction – some streets might qualify, he said, so there will be more conversations with JuNO.
Public paid offstreet parking peaks at around 50 percent utilized. The Junction’s free lots approach full in evenings. Weekday on-street parking occupancy commercial areas is close to the city’s definition of ideal – 70 to 85 percent occupancy, 1 to 2 spaces open on average. Specifically, for example, they examined the duration for weekday on-street parking – almost all the spaces were time-limited: “Turnover frankly was really great … we counted 3,271 vehicles in 706 spaces, almost 60 percent under 1 hour, 80 percent under 2 hours.”
He said short-term parking becomes more important as more residents move into the area, so parking is available for businesses.
Wednesday evenings were the peak for the offstreet lots, more than even a Saturday night. At that time, the lots west of California are basically full – the paid lots, though, seldom fill up.
“Are you able to put any pressure on Diamond Parking to allocate their spaces better?” asked one attendee at that point.
“Probably not,” Williams replied.
So here’s what happens next (tentative timeline), he said:
*In April, they’ll discuss the potential RPZ with JuNO
*In July, they’ll come up with a proposal for some changes, for community discussion
*Possibilities include some time limits for commercial streets close to The Junction, adding more loading zone and disabled spaces
This wasn’t the only topic at the merchants’ meeting – we’ll have a separate report tomorrow.