UPDATE: West Seattle Junction still doesn’t need paid on-street parking, SDOT says after first study in 9 years

(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.

29 Replies to "UPDATE: West Seattle Junction still doesn't need paid on-street parking, SDOT says after first study in 9 years"

  • KBear February 28, 2018 (9:10 pm)

    Hmmm… Actual data from actual people who frequent the Junction, showing that there’s parking available! Seems to contradict the anecdotal anecdotes from frequent complainers who think the buildings are too tall and haven’t parked in the Junction since they stopped shopping at Feed n Seed when it got too expensive. 

    • Lagartija Nick March 1, 2018 (8:41 am)

      Spot on! Though the naysayers will just move the goal posts from “there is no parking in the junction available” to “we have to preserve what we have”. Just see the post below yours.

  • Great Work February 28, 2018 (9:54 pm)

    It sure is fun to lob told-you-so jabs at people using an anonymous account, but let’s assess what the study shows. First, you’re right. There’s no issue currently and we have our neighbors and local business owners to thank. Second, though, our good parking situation is a fragile resource that we are well-served to defend. 

    It’s a point of pride and a luxury to roll up to the Junction for lunch and not have to troll for a spot or scurry to refeed a meter. At the same time, think of Ballard. Ten years ago, the sleepy streets were similar to ours. Now, Market St. is the same as Queen Anne around the Key Arena. We need to work to retain the character of our awesome area. I have high hopes that the ownership of the next big project, Jack from Husky Deli, will put the neighborhood vibe above profit on his replacement of those decrepit buildings. For what it’s worth (a lot), the passive activism of WSB’s commenters give me hope.  

    • Optimistmuch March 1, 2018 (8:56 am)

      I don’t recall Ballard being park-able or sleepy 10 years ago-

      maybe 20+ years ago…

      • KT March 1, 2018 (9:28 am)

        When I moved here 15 years ago it certainly was.

        • Kara March 1, 2018 (3:00 pm)

          I lived in Ballard for four years from 2005-2009. Parking then was like the junction is now, most of us that lived there walked. But the influx of apartments/condos made that change drastically, I moved back to my home neighborhood West Seattle to get away. 

  • chemist February 28, 2018 (11:39 pm)

    Before the RPZ requirements were stiffened in late 2009, it’s possible that this study would have resulted in one (especially when you consider that privately owned parking like the Junction Merchants lots or the Diamond lots aren’t a part of qualifying for an RPZ).  I look forward to seeing the full report on what they did find for street parking.

    Pre-2009 – To institute an RPZ, there must be at least
    five contiguous block faces of residential
    development, 75% occupancy during problem
    parking times, and at least 25% of those
    vehicles must be non-residents.

    • WSB February 28, 2018 (11:52 pm)

      If I wasn’t clear in my rush to get this out – RPZ is still a possibility, and SDOT expects to bring the next wave of info on that to JuNO next month – there was just a brief mention of it tonight, with the focus on what they found regarding street parking in the business areas. And some changes are likely – more areas with time limits, in particular. – TR

      • chemist March 1, 2018 (12:51 am)

        I understood that they hadn’t formally closed the RPZ study (and there’s still a possibility for SDOT to create an RPZ without meeting the newer requirements) but my reading of the write-up was that it wasn’t looking like an obvious next step based on this study.

        For completeness, the stiffer requirements of the Director’s Rule is for 10 contiguous blocks and 35% non-resident.

        The Director may establish a new or expand an existing RPZ when 75 percent of the curb space
        parking on 10 contiguous blocks (20 block faces) is generally occupied, and when over 35
        percent of those vehicles are used by non-residents. If these conditions are not met, SDOT will
        formally notify the person(s) requesting the RPZ that it did not qualify. Even if these criteria are
        not met, the Director has authority to establish an RPZ when the parking problem would be
        ameliorated and the public interest would be served by creation of an RPZ. 

  • JoB March 1, 2018 (6:55 am)

    I would be interested to know whether the study looked at availability of handicapped parking in the junction? I personally would stop there far more often if i didn’t have to expend my energy walking the block or two from the lots that generally have space into the junction…  the lack of available parking is the number one reason that i don’t frequent our farmer’s market.

    Not everyone who needs handicapped parking utilizes a mobility device to get around… and for those of us who don’t..  lack of parking is not just an inconvenience. it is  the deciding factor…

  • AN March 1, 2018 (7:54 am)

    The West Seattle Junction did have meters at one time back when you put a dime in, turned a knob and got 30 minutes. After all the complaints they pulled them.

  • Admiral Mom March 1, 2018 (8:29 am)

    I’m so happy they are not going to put in meter parking! I love how quant and simple it is to go to the junction during certain times of the day. Yes, there’s not always a ton of spaces and sometimes you have to drive around for a bit but at least it’s not like Capitol Hill!

  • KT March 1, 2018 (9:28 am)

    “Are you able to put any pressure on Diamond Parking to allocate their spaces better?” asked one attendee…”  To my limited knowledge, Diamond Parking owns nothing.  It is the land owner who gives Diamond Parking the right to charge (I am sure in return for a cut).  For instance, they didn’t just take over the Wells Fargo lot, Wells Fargo had to give them permission to move in and I doubt Wells Fargo did it from the goodness of their heart.  And the excuse “liability” is fake news as far as I am concerned.  It is a $$$ driven decision.   A property owner has the right to do what they want with their asset, Diamond Parking (or whoever) has nothing to do with the discussion.     

  • WSB March 1, 2018 (11:13 am)

    Just added the SDOT slide deck from last night’s meeting.

    • chemist March 1, 2018 (1:17 pm)

      Thanks, that’s the first time I’d actually seen a map of what area the RPZ request was targeting (even if the study was widened).  It wasn’t the area I’d imagined.

  • Mickymse March 1, 2018 (4:13 pm)

    Yes… It seems like when folks complain that they “no longer” shop in the Junction because they can “never” find parking are really long time residents who seem to think that they should just be able to come over any time and find a spot to park in right in front of Husky’s or Northwest Art & Frame. Of course, they seem to forget that the Junction also used to close up at like 7 or 8 pm and there weren’t as many bars and restaurants to go to, much less lots of people actually going to them. We can’t have better places to eat and shop but just hope no one notices them or ever comes to help support them with their business.

  • matt hutchins March 1, 2018 (4:37 pm)

    Good to see data that supports the notion that tons of new parking isn’t critical to a happy, well functioning Junction, and that walking is such a big part how people are getting there.  Lets get that bike number up with some decent protected bike lanes along california, north and south!

    • TreeHouse March 1, 2018 (9:31 pm)

      I agree! It’s my birthday this month so I am finally going to buy a nice all season commuter bike! I have a vintage old canondale I use only in the summer but i think it’s time to start biking into downtown for work. 

      • Matt hutchins March 1, 2018 (10:09 pm)

        Nice, Treehouse!  Enjoy! 

  • zark00 March 1, 2018 (5:29 pm)

    Long time resident – don’t go to the junction much anymore – mostly because parking is a pain.

    You obviously haven’t been here long, or don’t live here at all, or you wouldn’t have said ‘in front of Husky or NWArt’ – nobody tries to park there, ever, we might drive through to see what’s happening, but we don’t park there. 

    See back in the day West Seattle had this crazy little secret – we had abundant free parking at the spot most of us wanted to go for dinner.  I don’t think any other place in the city had the awesome parking situation WSea enjoyed in the late 90’s early 00’s.  We’re not pining for just some parking places, we’re pining for something that really did make West Seattle unique.  I know, it seems especially stupid to e.g. someone from CapHill where folks haven’t been able to park for like 30 years, but it really is something that made West Seattle different.  Long time residents are just bummed that it’s going away, and that little special part of WSea won’t be around any longer.

    And, it’s not Husky’s Deli – it’s The Husky Deli or The Husky – doesn’t belong to a guy named Husky – it’s an institution and Jack is sort of just an amazing person – they deserve the effort to get it right.

    Not sure why you gotta dump on the local businesses that have been here forever, but Husky opened in 1932 I think, Mashiko opened in 1994, Easy Street opened in what ’88? – we’ve had amazing places for decades – this has nothing to do with trading parking for ‘good’ places.   These so called ‘better places’ you mention came here to capitalize on how awesome we are – not to gift us with their ‘betterness’.  

    • Matt Hutchins March 2, 2018 (6:30 am)

      When I tell people about what I love about the neighborhood, I’m more likely to mention the Sunday farmers market where there are a whole lot of west Seattleites out enjoying the scene (with cars are relegated to the outskirts, and parking is difficult).

      Abundant free parking doesn’t define a neighborhood downtown’s character as special-it’s a feature of thousands of small downtowns that were gradually stripped of their character by designing the city for the automobile and the wrongheaded axiom the free parking is key to commercial success. Those downtowns feel empty, not like my Junction today. 

      So keep driving thru Zark, and you’ll see your neighbors on the sidewalks, patronizing the businesses, enjoying all the new energy the Junction has since the late 90s. You are missing out. 

      • zark00 March 2, 2018 (12:39 pm)

        Thru is not a word.

        It’s not ‘your’ junction – it’s ours.

        Farmers Market started in 1999.

        I’ve spent A LOT more time in the junction than you have – trust me.

        Nobody said free parking defined the junction – just trying to explain to a newbie why the “Junction parking thing” is a thing – it’s a nostalgia thing – you may not like it but you seem baffled by people saying they don’t frequent the junction as much because of parking, so, I’m explaining it to you.

        Good on you, tell folks about the farmers market.  We’ve all been doing the same for almost 20 years now.   Welcome to West Seattle – be cool.

        • Matt Hutchins March 2, 2018 (10:43 pm)

          Each West Seattleite should feel at home in the Junction, regardless when they moved here. They also should be feel pretty good about contributing to the discourse about the future of our Junction, without having to establish their bona fides as a resident in order to be treated with respect. There are a lot of people moving here and they should have as much say in the neighborhood as us long time residents.

          So in the end I’ll just agree— Welcome to West Seattle! 

  • Chad N March 1, 2018 (8:34 pm)

    This parking study gently elides whether metered parking is needed on California Avenue in the heart of the Junction.  City policy is to maintain less than 85% occupancy, and the slide deck only shows % occupancy as a neighborhood-wide average (which is below 85%).  Another slide compares occupancy on an unnamed street with part time-restricted and part unrestricted parking, with occupancies on both above 90% in the evening.  It seems that some blocks in the West Seattle Junction exceed 85% occupancy, and those blocks should have paid meters, perhaps only on evenings and weekends.

  • CAM March 1, 2018 (9:37 pm)

    WSB – Did the presenters mention anything about polling Junction residents in any other way than attending a JuNO meeting? It appears that JuNO has already indicated their desire to have an RPZ and it would be nice if Junction residents who oppose such a move would have an opportunity to have an equal voice. 

  • Jort March 1, 2018 (10:28 pm)

    Every. Single. Time. with these threads (including the Sleepers in Seattle National Historical Heritage Monument article earlier):

    NOBODY goes to the Junction anymore. It’s too crowded!”

    I will echo some of these comments by saying I do not believe that ever — not ever once in the entire recorded history of the West Seattle Junction — has there ever been a complete, 100 percent utilization of every available public parking space within three blocks of the Junction.

    Granted, sometimes people have to walk those three blocks, and sometimes people have to (gasp!) PAY for parking, but, and again I may not have the math completely right on this — not ever once in the entire recorded history of the West Seattle Junction has every single available public parking space been completely filled.

Sorry, comment time is over.