VIDEO: RPZ in Junction-area residential neighborhoods? SDOT updates JuNO

The blue-outlined areas of that map are what SDOT is considering for a Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) in West Seattle Junction-area neighborhoods. That’s the upshot of an update that two SDOT reps presented last night to the Junction Neighborhood Organization (JuNO), which had asked the city to study whether parking usage on the residential blocks in The Junction might warrant one – though the eligible areas shown above do not include all the blocks originally requested for study. Creating an PZ requires more than 20 blockfaces where parking use surpasses 75 percent, with 35 percent of it non-resident usage, and that’s what SDOT found in the areas outlined in blue on the map.

SDOT says the RPZ – which would offer permits for sale to residents (no differentiation between owners/renters, longtime residents/new arrivals) – could potentially be proposed for Mondays-Saturdays, 7 am-6 pm, with two-hour limits for parking without a permit. Here’s the full slide deck presented by SDOT’s Jonathan Williams and Ruth Harper:

You can also see the slide deck here (PDF) on the SDOT website. If you weren’t able to go to the meeting but want to hear all the details of what the SDOT team told JuNO, and Q&A with those in attendance, we recorded video:

Next steps for the potential RPZ: More community outreach, and a potential official proposal before the end of the year. Again, this originated with a community request,, ad the SDOT reps made it clear that there would be a public hearing before implementation, and in at least one other neighborhood, that part of the process killed an PRZ proposal. You can find more background on the SDOT website here. (Side note 1: This isn’t the first time an RPZ has been suggested in Junction residential neighborhoods – under different leadership and membership, it was suggested a decade ago. Side note 2: West Seattle currently has only one RPZ, in Fauntleroy neighborhoods near the ferry terminal, affecting only 2 am-5 pm.)

ABOUT COMMERCIAL-AREA PARKING: As you’ll see toward the start of the video, Harper and Williams also recapped what the West Seattle Junction Association merchants were told two months ago (WSB coverage here) – The Junction still doesn’t need metered street parking, but there may be some time-limit changes proposed later this year.

P.S. JuNO also got a light-rail update from Sound Transit last night, and we’ll cover that in a separate report.

53 Replies to "VIDEO: RPZ in Junction-area residential neighborhoods? SDOT updates JuNO"

  • heartless April 27, 2018 (5:02 pm)

    Seems fine?  I don’t live in that area, but the 2-hour guest limit seems generous enough.

    I’m not from this town, and where I’m from neighborhood permits were the norm, so it’s always a bit odd not seeing them here–I imagine we’ll be getting more and more of them as the population grows.

    Quick question for anyone that might know: are the time limits actually enforced?  I see so very little parking enforcement in West Seattle that I wonder if they’d have to bring in more officers to deal with this…

    • WSB April 27, 2018 (5:07 pm)

      There are parking-enforcement officers assigned here and we see them, and hear them dispatched, frequently. Meantime, if any more had to be hired, the cost of the permits supposedly covers the cost of the program, per what the SDOT reps said last night…

  • skeeter April 27, 2018 (5:25 pm)

    $65 for two years just seems way too inexpensive.  Let’s say you live in the RPZ and you have three cars — one in the garage and two parked in the street.  Are we thinking that the RPZ price tag is going to stop the person from purchasing two passes? 

    Or lets look at a new tenant moving into a new apartment.  Option 1:  buy an offstreet parking space for $250/month.  Option 2: buy an RPZ pass for $2.70/month and park on the street.  ($65 divided by 24 months equals $2.70 per month.) 

    My prediction is there will still be severe parking congestion even after the RPZ unless the passes cost enough such that some people will reduce the number of cars they own. 

    But I’m usually wrong.   

    • chemist April 27, 2018 (8:43 pm)

      That’s because the RPZ isn’t actually entitling you to a space the same way, although I have heard of some non-West Seattle buildings that have special methods of overselling parking so you’re not even assigned spaces when you do pay for off-street parking.

      The RPZ is just a mechanism to designate residents in a neighborhood and give them a more favorable shot at parking in their neighborhood compared to outsiders attracted to the demand generator.  The fee is just meant to be a slight hurdle to help  cover some administration costs.

    • TreeHouse April 28, 2018 (2:54 pm)

      I am a little confused with all the materials here on who is eligible for an RPZ. Are residents located in apartments in the commercial zone, such as 4730 California, eligible for an RPZ? 

      I just want to make sure there isn’t preferential treatment for single family homes over everyone else who is a resident in the junction. 

      • WSB April 28, 2018 (4:45 pm)

        The commercial areas outside the blue lines are not under consideration.

      • chemist April 28, 2018 (7:10 pm)

        It’s kind of unclear from the material about how RPZ pass eligibility is mapped vs where RPZ parking would be implemented when they carved out the center as “commercial zone.”    The presenter stated “you must live on the block with signage to buy the permit” at 22 min.  It sounds like people in the central, commercial areas wouldn’t be able to get a permit for the wider RPZ area because they don’t live in the RPZ (residential) area… ie, they’re in the donut hole.

        I still think, looking at the side-by-side of occupancy and what qualified and was outside the commercial, there might be a decent case for an evening RPZ linked by blockfaces through the commercial zone at 8 PM.

        vs daytime usage of

      • TreeHouse April 28, 2018 (10:57 pm)

        It’s very unsettling to me that residents of single family homes get access to RPZs and that residents of apartment complexes one block over in the heart of the junction do not. This RPZ map is literally gerrymandering parking spots on our publicly owned streets between renters in apartment complexes and those in single family homes. This is not equitable and it’s not right. I will be making my voice heard. 

        • WSB April 29, 2018 (11:42 pm)

          There’s a LOT of multifamily housing on some of those blocks (north of Oregon, for example, and more on the way). Go look around, or check Google Street View.

    • RPZ_Yes April 30, 2018 (1:57 pm)

      Skeeter:  But you aren’t really buying a parking spot. You are buying the right to park there. NO guarantee a spot will be available. It’s only limiting who can park on that street during certain hours. It allows the residents to park on the streets surrounding their house/apartment. Something they already do. 

      This will only disallow business owners from parking in front of my house for 8 hours a day.   And It could alleviate the number of cars in the neighborhood by encouraging business owners to commute to work via public transportation.

  • MJ April 27, 2018 (6:30 pm)

    RPZ’s are unfair assignment of public ROW use.  Time restrictions in commercial areas makes sense, but in residential areas not sure that this equitable to other City residents/taxpayers?   

  • chemist April 27, 2018 (7:37 pm)

    That’s an interesting way to define “non-resident” for the parking study.  Instead of using license plate registration and the address a vehicle is registered at (also paying the Seattle RTA and Sound Transit fees) like I’d always presumed when reading the RPZ requirements, they used vehicles/license plates that were never observed in the 4AM time. 

    I guess that could work for studying park-and-hide rapid-ride commuter parking but that’s not at all what I would think by reading the policy.  I wouldn’t think parking overnight in front of a friend’s house would get a car counted as a resident.

    • KM April 27, 2018 (8:23 pm)

      It does seems incredibly odd.

      • S April 27, 2018 (9:20 pm)

        It’s just a quick and easy way to do the study and get it 95% correct, no big deal.

        • chemist April 28, 2018 (12:05 am)

          It’s only a valid way to do it if it yields the same result as a full address look-up like how they’ll issue RPZs to residents.  I’d bet you $5 this 4AM method underestimates non-resident parking, especially when this potential RPZ zone wraps around a commercial zone. 

          Reading the RPZ requirements, I’m not seeing guidelines on how to handle commercial zones adjacent to the RPZ and many of our new Junction apartments are in those “commercial zones.”   It seems like a wrap-around RPZ zone, if limited to only selling passes to residents of those blockfaces in the RPZ zone, could end up not permitting RPZs for people living in the “commercial zone” between Edmunds and Oregon  and 44th to 42nd.

          • WSB April 28, 2018 (5:51 am)

            If you listen to the video, among other things, they mention that signs for the RPZ do not go up adjacent to buildings with ground-level commercial – only buildings with ground-level residential, whether it’s one story or 7 stories.

          • chemist April 28, 2018 (7:18 am)

            Oh, I’ve listened to it.  That’s a separate issue about where RPZ parking will be. 

            Someone did ask about folks who live a block or two outside the RPZ zone/from where the signs are and was told they wouldn’t be eligible for RPZ permits (22 min).  All these maps indicate the RPZ zone as being a “donut” surrounding the commercial area and I don’t recall the commercial area having the same parking congestion patterns that would trigger RPZ eligibility.

          • S April 28, 2018 (10:00 am)

            Chemist—Might be a greater error rate (5%?), but it’s cheaper. Just a matter of whether the greater expense is worth the incremental bit of extra precision.

          • chemist April 28, 2018 (1:23 pm)

            Maybe it’s a 50% error rate.  I don’t know that SDOT has even done a statistical comparison of this 4 AM method by picking a sample of random vehicles from the license plate reader’s dataset and compared how they were categorized by the study vs actual registration lookup.  The maps get broken down into “qualifying” and “non qualifying” block colors so I can’t even tell you how close some of these things were.

            Considering this RPZ study was initiated in Jan 2017 I don’t have a lot of sympathy about spending an hour or two running the LPR results through an address lookup tool and then plotting the addresses on a map.  Some of those non-qualifying areas might have had high enough occupancy but who knows about residency. 

            Right now, I see some of the last slides in the deck did show some of the commercial area having a high enough occupancy to also qualify for an RPZ during the day (shown in colored, dashed lines), but no data was presented about how many of those folks are residents for the purposes of an RPZ.  I’m also pretty disappointed in those charts being color indexed so they don’t show exactly where 75% is.

            Lastly, if you look at the very last slide in the deck, the amount of red and orange level occupancy (71%+) in the area from Dawson and California to Gennessee and 39th looks like there could be a very different RPZ created for evening parking that would meet the 75% threshold and plenty of contiguous block faces (because both sides of the street don’t have to be over 75%).  The only issue is that just shows a scarcity of parking and not if it’s really being used by non-residents ineligible for RPZs (and I bet a lot of cars parked at 8 PM are parked at 4 AM, automatically getting them marked as residents, perhaps incorrectly).

            Maybe I’m just getting very cynical, but I bet that LPR data wasn’t retained and if our city councilwoman asked for it to be re-analyzed based on registered address, like how they’ll issue RPZs, they’d have to do another study and it would be another year before we’d be able to discuss how the RPZ could get implemented. 

    • Jethro Marx April 27, 2018 (9:17 pm)

      This is totally unfair to the people who register their cars at their vacation home to avoid Seattle car tab fees. Or, perhaps we give them a permit if they can show a piece of mail with a local address on it, huh? Maybe they ought to get a bill for back taxes instead, what? Maybe then we could afford more parking lots!

      • KM April 28, 2018 (10:12 am)

        I used to live in an RPZ in a major city. Out of area plates were not allowed to register, we had to prove we had smogged and registered our car in the city. This should be standard here too. 

        FWIW, we were young and broke and maintaining a car was too expensive and moving it every two hours during the day was not feasible. We didn’t want to pay to register and smog our car. After a few months, we donated it with plenty of life left (Accord at 135k) and went car-free.

  • lookingfor logic April 27, 2018 (9:11 pm)

    Triple my business rent, triple my customer parking rates, gee I wonder what the result will be?  But hey, increases in property taxes and utilities will benefit me also, or maybe another corporate chain for flavor.

  • Wendell April 27, 2018 (9:31 pm)

    We live on the edge of the RPZ, and wish it went a little further from Jefferson Square. We already have to deal with all day parking, abandoned vehicles and folks that leave their cars while out of town.

    • Jethro Marx April 27, 2018 (10:05 pm)

      Whoa, first-world problems, huh?

       Imagine the nerve of some people, leaving their cars parked while they leave town by some other means.

      • S April 28, 2018 (10:02 am)

        Well we live in the first world, so ya most of our problems are first world problems. Not sure your point?

        • Jethro Marx April 28, 2018 (9:19 pm)

          First World is a moving target; does everyone in Seattle have food, water, shelter, and access to healthcare? Because once we check that off the list I’ll hear your complaints about parking, off-leash dogs and what color your neighbor paints their house.  

          I guess it’s debatable if I had a ‘point’ but let’s just encapsulate it as, some people just like to complain.

          • Heathrowbarques April 28, 2018 (11:10 pm)

            Yes, Jethro- some people do like to complain. Speaking of- do you have any skin in this game, or are you just here to belittle someone for discussing how parking affects them- in this parking discussion!?

          • Jethro Marx April 29, 2018 (8:59 am)

            I’m still a little murky on exactly how we’re defining “skin in the game” in this city. I live here. I park. Are there further antes?

             I’m here to offer perspective, Heathrow, as I like to read news, and every once in a while I like to comment on it.

          • HeathroBarques April 29, 2018 (7:07 pm)

            Skin in the game, would speak to a  genuine vestment in this possible RPZ. Do you live on one of these blocks? Will your guests face fines during a 2+ hour visit? How will this impact you?  These are the things being discussed here, not WS Greatest Human Struggles. All I read in your perspective is condescension, and I can’t see any value in it, and it’s certainly not gentlemanly- so, why?

          • Jethro Marx April 30, 2018 (7:01 am)

            I often have opinions that are not solely based on how something will affect me. I was born of a tradesman, so the gentlemanly world of wealthy folks’ problems is, I admit, a little skewed-looking at times.

             If we only see value in opinions similar to ours we are left with a society that values nonsense over nuance. I don’t care that much about this parking situation in and of itself; I think your problems with your dinner guests are small, and to act as if they’re not indicates a myopic view of the world, and also a selfish one. You have gone to the trouble to post several times under a mocking username and don’t seem to have anything to offer except that you don’t understand my point, so, I give up.

          • HeathrowBarques April 30, 2018 (12:44 pm)

            I don’t see an opposing opinion- just an attempt to quash discussion. People come here to talk about the relative merits and issues related to the subject at hand- and you frequently jump into these discussions, without any relevant argument, only to blast others with your self righteous bullhorn, and chide their concerns as invalid. My point is that this bullying does not enrich the discussion, and twisting every conversation back to how awesome you are is tiring. 

          • ex-pat April 30, 2018 (1:44 pm)

            @sillyjokenamebarques

            I wasn’t going to jump in but your last comments really struck the wrong tone with me.

            A couple points:

            You write that you “don’t see an opposing opinion…”.  How is that possible?  Let me replay the discussion for you.  Initial person says parking is bad, etc.  JM says a) there are worse problems and b) don’t complain about people leaving their cars parked when they go on trips (reading between the lines this is a point that alternate modes of transit are good, something I happen to agree with).

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems abundantly clear that JM does have an opinion and, since it seems to matter to you, that opinion opposes the opinion of the initial comments.

            As for the rest of your insults, all I will say is this: I’ve never found JM’s comments to “quash” discussion; I have not found JM to be “self righteous [sic]” (Sorry about the ‘sic,’ I know it was bad I just couldn’t resist); I have not found JM to be bullying or chiding; and I have serious doubts that even JM thinks JM is “awesome” (though I could be wrong on that front, knowing nothing about the person).

            The ponderings of JM might rub you the wrong way, but relax a little, everything will be okay in the end.

    • ex-pat April 30, 2018 (8:17 am)

      Wendell, yes, parking can be tricky, and it will continue to get worse.

      But that’s sorta life in a city, and Seattle is only (at the moment) getting to be more and more of a city.

      I’ve lived in cities nearly all my life, as a renter, and while I haven’t always had a car the times I did parking was a pain!  Circling blocks, never finding a spot within 3 or 4 blocks of where I wanted to go. 

      That’s just the way it is (and it’s not necessarily a bad thing–‘problems’ like this herald a lot of good, and usher in a lot of good changes).

  • TJ April 27, 2018 (11:00 pm)

    Jethro, I am one that registers my 3 vehicles to my property in Spokane. I believe it saves me $1100 a year. I park all 3 in my garage and driveway, plus I am not in this plan anyways. It is a great 1st world problem to have, I agree. Every week literally there is something the city wants that includes more taxes or fees, and lots of people have passed their breaking point

    • KM April 28, 2018 (10:16 am)

      My wallet is too small for my $50s and my diamond shoes are too to tight!

  • Domino Phillips April 28, 2018 (7:57 am)

    Has anyone ever challenged the legality of Restricted Parking Zones? If the streets are public property, shouldn’t all taxpayers have equal access? Either do away with RPZs, or give everyone the opportunity to purchase a permit-residents and non residents alike.

    • ex-pat April 30, 2018 (8:30 am)

      Domino,

      Interesting question–but I wonder if your argument wouldn’t also eliminate driveways that face the street (as opposed to alley).  

      If the point is that streets are public property and anyone should be allowed to park there then putting in a driveway eliminates a public space (or two, given in Seattle how far from the driveway people have to park) in favor of a designated private space.

      In this comparison an RPZ sticker would actually be less annoying than a driveway since with driveways even if they are not used to take a car off the street they still eliminate a (as you put it) previously public parking spot.

      We obviously don’t get to pick either RPZ or driveway, clearly not an either/or in this case, but it pertains to your thoughts.

      (Although maybe that should change, maybe it should be an either/or choice between street-facing driveway or an RPZ.  If you are already taking away a public street space by having that driveway you get one less RPZ?  I think there’d be an uproar, but it kinda makes sense, at least given your interesting initial question.)

      • KM April 30, 2018 (9:43 am)

        This is something I have never thought of, and I find this interesting, and it’s a good point about it taking away 2 spots. ( I find the 5 ft rule is excessive and unnecessary, and more crowded cities are fine without it.)

        Does the alleyway have similar public rights as a roadway? For those without alley access, maybe it’s a different set of rules. I assume the city also can’t prohibit you from accessing your property for car storage (driveway/garage) safely, and that’s an issue for those without alley access (which in my case, was due to rezoning allowed by the city). 

        I also think both of these arguments assume the the public roadway’s highest and best use for its shoulders are private automobile parking, which there would be strong arguments against. Also, how is equal access determined for different parts of the roadway differently?

        Obviously these aren’t points of contention for RPZs now, but it’s interesting to think about for sure.

        • BJG May 2, 2018 (5:27 pm)

          Harrd to find any parked cars in my neighborhood observant of five foot driveway clearance. Any in yours? Yellow paint or not, it seems to be an almost totally ignored ordinance.

      • chemist April 30, 2018 (5:07 pm)

        I’m pretty sure that recent development guidelines in the city are for driveways not to enter at arterial streets unless some other site considerations make alley-based driveways unfeasible.  It seems to be a common theme in Design Review Board discussions.

        These residential zones have many homes built in a time when parking was so plentiful that street parking was just the norm.  The majority of RPZ streets are in very old areas of the city (like East of I-5/First Hill stretching towards Capitol Hill) or areas grappling with transit’s draw (near stations though Columbia City).  It’s a very urbanist problem to have and this is the city’s best solution.

        Besides, if someone lives in the center of the junction and really values having a car, despite being well served by transit, they’ll pay for a garage spot at true market rate.

  • Junction jacked April 28, 2018 (9:04 am)

    We are a just out of this zone and  all this says to me is that our block is going to have even more new cars parked on it. We have already seen a big increase of people that arrive on our block, to park at about 7:30am and they walk to the junction buses then come back at about 5 or 6pm to drive their cars back to their house. Yuck.

    • chemist April 28, 2018 (11:22 am)

      Once an RPZ is created, it can be expanded a block or more at a time, at least under the current rules.  

      The RPZ “policy review” website shows that, as the video stated, there is a review of the program going on.  During the land use/zoning parking regulations changes, I believe Mike O’Brien said he was working on legislation related to RPZs.  If people are interested in getting an RPZ created, I think you might want to act now because RPZs have gotten more difficult to create over the years.

      Prior to 2009, the policy was 75%, 25% nonresident and 5 contiguous blocks, then it became 75% , 35% nonresident and 10 contiguous blocks.  The way the city council handled the parking reforms and Herbold’s proposed amendment to permit SDCI to adjust RPZs to address parking shortages, I wouldn’t expect the current council to make RPZs any easier to create.

  • Al April 28, 2018 (11:02 am)

    A couple comments –  1) The Fauntleroy RPZ was put in place to discourage a couple hundred ferry commuters (yes, SDOT counted) from parking their cars overnight on the Fauntleroy side.  Over the years, the commuters would park one block past the RPZ line until neighbors would complain and the RPZ was expanded.  It is now at 35th.   The lines drawn for the Junction just pass the problem to the nearby blocks. The proposed Junction RPZ needs to be expanded if it is to be successful in discouraging extended parking and regularly turn the spots over.     

    2)  If the City Council votes in MHA for West Seattle this summer, the Junction and its surrounding blocks will be rezoned such that new development is not required to accommodate off street parking.   Even if the structure includes parking,  new rules allow renters to opt out for a rent reduction and then park in the neighborhood.   In addition, single family homes around the Junction will be rezoned to accommodate two homes with zero parking.   Over time,  off street parking in this area will be a competitive sport.

  • BJG April 28, 2018 (12:59 pm)

    I was happy to see this. Our neighborhood is the C line commuter daily parking lot. If there isn’t a spot, some of these rude car owners will make one…in our driveways, up to stop signs, butting up to others’ bumpers, hanging out into traffic, on the No-Parking side of our little street. On those days nobody can come or go, not garbage trucks, nor emergency vehicles, nor city workers nor residents. We have a meter maid on a first name basis.

    At least with an RPZ we can eliminate the cut-and-run morning parade of who-cares-about-you bozos that seem to populate West Seattle these days. At least they can only misbehave for two hours or get a ticket. Maybe.

    My apologies to the other drivers who do a nice job of parking. I notice you too. Thanks.

  • Scofflawsrus April 29, 2018 (3:50 pm)

    Will vehicles with an rpz sticker be exempt from the 72 hour law? I hope not.

    • Anonymous April 30, 2018 (8:48 am)

      Vehicles with RPZ decals and guest zone permits are not exempt from 72-hour ordinance. They will need to move their vehicle from block before 72-hour time limit is up.

  • Elizh April 30, 2018 (8:13 am)

    Steps should be taken to maximize the parking we HAVE by marking curb lines into individual spaces. It is frustrating to not be able to park in the Junction because a space is too small or half sized because of someone else’s misalignment.

    • KM April 30, 2018 (9:18 am)

      This would be a great idea in the Junction proper. Often time it’s not misalignment, it’s different size cars coming and going at different times. Sometimes I’ll pull into a spot a “half-spot” too big and try to figure out which car I should be closer to in order to maximize space for the next car to park. These lines would be really helpful I think, assuming they get used.

      I can’t imagine this happening in other parts of the RPZ, nor can I recall seeing that in a bigger city with RPZs in use?

  • schwaggy May 1, 2018 (8:27 am)

    Once again the city got something wrong. They didn’t factor in the bowling alley and its associated parking nightmare for people living north of Oregon on 39th and 40th. It’s my opinion that this zone should be expanded to include  39th and 40th north or Oregon to Genesee

    • chemist May 1, 2018 (11:25 am)

      My comment from earlier with the 8 PM graphic of % parking usage side-by-side with “qualifying” looks an awful lot like an evening RPZ centered around that area, evaluating the commercial zone usage, might qualify if it has enough non-residents parking there.

      While it’s a program designed to protect residential parking patterns, there is no carve-out for “commercial” in the statute.  Not evaluating parking saturation close to the commercial area doesn’t really make sense, considering the commercial area is part of the draw that’s over-filling available parking.

      I took a browse through the RPZ changes website and couldn’t really see any carve-outs for commercial zones in their RPZ studies, so I’m really unsure why SDOT decided to do it this way in West Seattle.  It seems like a way to artificially require even more blocks be affected before they’ll implement an RPZ.

  • ScottAmick May 1, 2018 (1:08 pm)

    Hide-and-ride parkers are mentioned in comments above where they leave their cars all day and take the C line but also note the RPZ should really help push Junction business employees further into residential areas for all day parking or be somewhat more likely to find other transport.  Residents and short term day-time customer parking are given higher priority to find parking than all-day staff between free time limited parking and the RPZ areas.  This is a mixed bag as it would make parking harder for staff but easier for most customers.

    Also, note that vehicles with handicapped parking placards don’t need to observe RPZ time limits.

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