FOLLOWUP: West Seattle Junction parking-lot donation drive update

(WSB photo from December 19)

In the first week-plus of a dozen-plus West Seattle Junction merchants hosting in-store donation boxes to help raise money to keep the four free-to-shoppers parking lots in The Junction, they’ve collected $690, according to Junction Association executive director Lora Radford. More than a third of that ($245) was from Husky Deli customers; other participants reported two-digit tallies from $12 to $70. In a note to participating merchants, Radford says, “It’s heartwarming to see our community helping all of us pay for the parking lots” and reiterates that it’s “one of many ways we’re going to raise funds.” Her note also recaps that the cost of renting and operating the four lots “has skyrocketed from $90,000 (2016) to over $245,000 (2019).” Next update, mid-January.

27 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: West Seattle Junction parking-lot donation drive update"

  • Wonderer December 31, 2018 (3:15 pm)

    Would love to see Junction merchants do a survey with how their customers arrived. What % drove what % walked. What % rode bikes. What % came by bus.  The question I have for them is: if parking goes away do they feel people will still patronize their businesses(and let them stay in business)??

    • M January 1, 2019 (10:23 am)

      I’m just one person but I’d visit the businesses probably 75% less. Especially in the winter months. 

    • Lettuce C. January 1, 2019 (12:11 pm)

      This survey happened a year ago.  Under half of folks came in a car.

      • chemist January 1, 2019 (12:59 pm)

        That survey also says 71% of the visitors to the West Seattle (Junction) arrived in personal vehicles (slide 18) and only 16% responded that they lived in the junction (slide 15).  Also the people who anticipated spending $30 or more were more likely to arrive in a personal vehicle (slide 43).

  • Morgan December 31, 2018 (6:06 pm)

    Why not work with City of Seattle Econ dev department to generate structured parking on the lots that’s financed by low cost meters for the benefit of public and small merchants?

  • Anne December 31, 2018 (6:11 pm)

    Most of the time the parking lots in the junction are pretty full- assuming the folks in those cars are either shopping, dining, patronizing businesses. I have a hard time believing that taking those lots away won’t cause a serious impact. 

  • MrB December 31, 2018 (6:21 pm)

    At some point they merchants won’t be able to afford the taxes and the parking disappears.  Then the merchants go out of business.  Well done City of Seattle. 

    • WSB December 31, 2018 (6:29 pm)

      The county is the taxing authority, not the city.

  • herongrrrl December 31, 2018 (6:33 pm)

    Wow. At that price, would it be more cost-effective in the long term for the chamber of commerce or a collective of Junction merchants to purchase the lots outright?And as for Wonderer’s question…yes, I think if parking goes away, customers go away. It is already hard enough to find parking in the Junction that I don’t shop there often, even though I am committed to supporting local businesses. Not everyone is physically able to walk or bike to do their shopping, and metro decided long ago that my neighborhood only gets bus service for downtown  commuters, six runs/day.  (25 years ago I regularly bussed to the Junction for shopping.)

  • aa December 31, 2018 (9:13 pm)

    I forget the original story. If they can’t pay the lots actually go away? Or does it remain parking and transition to pay-to-park lots?

    • WSB December 31, 2018 (9:40 pm)

      That would b ultimately up to the lots’ owners, Trusteed Properties, as not paying would be a defaulting of the lease, which passes taxes through to the Junction (merchants’) Association.

  • Mensch January 1, 2019 (3:50 am)

    Parking lots are not part of the future of the Alaska Junction. Deal with it.

  • JayDee January 1, 2019 (9:48 am)

    The solution isn’t “no parking” but having a transit system to promote visiting the Junction. There used to be a circulator bus (The 53 I seem to recall) that circled from Alki past West Seattle High, down to the Junction, and back.

  • KM January 1, 2019 (10:03 am)

    Have they posted a total from the actual boxes in the lots?

  • John January 1, 2019 (10:50 am)

    Is there any explanation how or why the rent for the lots has nearly tripled from $90,000 to $245,000 in three years?According to WSTP president , Joe Erickson, “property taxes ($53,781 last year (2016) on a roughly $5 million valuation).  Even with rising rents throughout the city, this appears extreme.Since the properties are ‘locally’ owned, I am confused by such escalation of rent.  Imagine if your rent for an apartment was raised by landlords from $900 in 2016 to $2,450 in 2018! 

    • WSB January 1, 2019 (11:34 am)

      Property taxes. The lease requires WSJA to cover the taxes. Last year they won an appeal but this year the full new amount is due.

  • dsa January 1, 2019 (11:35 am)

    This won’t resolve unless the lot owners let the Junction Association charge for parking.  I suspect in the beginning the owners did not want the JA to profit.  That could be eliminated if all excess (if any) parking fees are earmarked for the owners.

    • chemist January 1, 2019 (2:15 pm)

      I think  Seattle’s commercial parking tax of 12.5%  would apply if they charge.  My recollection from stories around the historical society parking lots was that even if they switched to a system of validation by shops, if it were charged then there’d be tax owed for “free parking” (on the theoretical parking price). I also recall some comments on prior stories suggesting that the organization of owners of the parking lots haven’t exactly been of a unified view on retaining lots vs developing them.Some points from the prior stories were that they’d had a “cost to cure” reduction in rent in years prior (which is like deducting repairs from rent owed).

  • John January 1, 2019 (11:49 am)

    From the County Records, it appears that they appeal the property taxes every year.But, even with with one denied appeal, there is a huge discrepancy that property taxes do not even approach to coverThere must be something else that has resulted in such an increase.  Did Lora Radford’s recap breakdown some of the costs?

  • WS Guy January 1, 2019 (3:34 pm)

    The Trustees that own the lots were originally land/business owners.  Over time the shares of the trustees has shifted, and now a majority have no direct interest in the Junction businesses.  In fact a real estate developer owns a big share.  He wants to sell the lots to developers, maybe himself, for new 7-story apartments  He can’t because of a 10-year lease to the WSJ businesses.  But that’s conditional on them paying the taxes.He tried but could not break the lease, so the next best thing is to get the taxes hiked way up so the businesses can’t afford it.  Our cool small businesses will die because developers want those parcels.

    • John January 1, 2019 (8:18 pm)

      WS Guy,Interesting story, if accurate, but how does anyone “get the property taxes hiked way up”?This would imply that filing appeals for property taxes would  do just the opposite of the appeal, especially  since the worst result of an appeal is the appeal being denied.  And there is no penalty for filing an appeal.Something does not make sense, or fully explained.

      • WSB January 1, 2019 (8:59 pm)

        This was our original detailed story from last March. Already shared upthread but if you missed it:

        Meantime, the jumps in appraised values (which in turn result in tax-bill jumps) are all chronicled on the King County Assessor’s website. For two examples, the southernmost lot section (one of 3 parcels shown as comprising that lot, the one behind Husky, NW Art/Frame, etc.), street address 4730 44th SW
        Valued for this tax year ($1.3 million) at more than double two years ago ($634,900).

        The east lot (south of Oregon, between 42nd and the alley to its west) also is made up of four parcels. The largest parcel’s appraised value is shown at 1,489,800 two years ago, 2,850,625 for this tax year.

      • WS Guy January 2, 2019 (1:12 am)

        One uses his political connections to get the county assessor to double the appraised value of the parcels.  No, I can’t prove it.  But the puzzle fits together.  It would make a good project for an up-and-coming investigative journalist. 

      • WS Guy January 2, 2019 (1:32 am)

        To be more specific, Charlie Conner is an Eastside developer that acquired and flipped the Junction mega project that currently hosts the Starbucks and (now closed) Vine & Spoon.  He got a bunch of shares in Trusteed through that flip, and kept them with this land play in mind.  He got himself voted in as a Director at Trusteed, just a hair too late to block the new lease mentioned above.  He and his buddies have been trying to get out of it ever since.I once met our new Mayor and said I was from the Junction.  She didn’t know anything about the Junction, but she DID ask about the parking lots.  And we know our Mayor likes developers, having met Vulcan the first thing after announcing her candidacy.  And she likes to communicate outside official channels; and she likes to connect her buddies.  The smoke is all there.  If the Mayor knows, the county does too, after all, Dow lives here. What I don’t get (yet) is why Dow and Joe M are pushing so hard for the light rail station to be sited on two of those lots, against every recommendation.

  • nonsense on stilts January 1, 2019 (8:32 pm)

    Please remind me – is there a go fund me site for WSJA overtaxed Parking Lots?

    • WSB January 1, 2019 (8:34 pm)

      You can donate to the WSJA, which is a nonprofit. See the Network for Good button toward the end of this page on the Junction website

  • Steve January 2, 2019 (11:04 am)

    I’m confused. Why aren’t they charging for parking on these lots? Do the businesses also give out free products and free gasoline?

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