Can we do anything about the parking changes?
March 9, 2011  |  Complaining, PI, Politics

Yesterday, representatives from SDOT, OED, DPD, and City Council sat down with 13 Pioneer Square business owners and 4 residents to talk about one of the newest issues facing our neighborhood: Parking.

Ali from Cherry Street Coffee, Brandi from The Central Saloon, and Sedat from Cafe Paloma listen to concerns by other business members

After reviewing the process that SDOT went through for data collection and setting the rates in our neighborhood, it was opened up for questions from the group. One by one, each person had their chance to state their concerns and attempt to get their questions answered.

Although the questions varied, the concerns were pretty much the same:

From business owners:

  • our businesses are struggling
  • we have more empty storefronts than we can count
  • we have shoppers who say they can’t browse for very long because their parking is expiring
  • our business is nonexistent on game days
  • the only people they’re penalizing by increasing the paid parking hours until 8pm are residents coming home from work, and business owners closing up for the day; the square is empty after 6pm.
  • the city isn’t doing anything to counter the changes in parking or offer incentives for new businesses
  • businesses should have been notified earlier about the changes and there should have been more discussion
  • we’re being treated the same as the downtown/retail core when it’s clear that we’re a collection of mom and pop stores
  • the city’s claims that increasing rates and hours will create more turnover and bring in more business are a joke

From residents:

  • most buildings don’t include parking, so increasing the hours to 8pm makes the neighborhood unlivable for many
  • why won’t the city allow RPZ (resident zoned parking) in Pioneer Square?

And other concerns shared by all:

  • the city didn’t do enough to get the right data (including quantifying it) before moving forward with these changes
  • when the city decided to raise the rates and include the hours, they didn’t take into account the fact that we’re losing parking on 1st Ave due to viaduct construction and will soon be losing even more parking under the viaduct
  • why is the city pretending that this is only data driven and not revenue driven?
  • given all the projects “around” the neighborhood, the large number of human services, the high vacancy rate in retail, and the economy WHY wasn’t our neighborhood given special consideration.
  • if the City really wants Pioneer Square to be a viable neighborhood + commercial district they need to find other ways to support it through these changes.

And the main concern: What, if anything, can we do to stop these changes from happening?

Answered by SDOT, and representatives for Tom Rasmussen and Tim Burgess, the message was received loud and clear: we hear your concerns, but there’s pretty much nothing you can do. The rates will go up in Pioneer Square in the next week or so, and the hours will increase to 8pm in the Spring. The one option was to try and lobby city council and the mayor. Otherwise, their plan is to move forward and then conduct another survey in the springtime to see how the changes have affected the neighborhood.

Business owners, however, say that by the time they reevaluate the parking changes – it will be too late for many of them. So, we’ve received the message loud and clear – how long will it take before the city receives the message?

City Council + Mayor Contact Info:
Richard Conlin – 206 684-8805,
Sally Bagshaw – 206 684-8801,
Tim Burgess – 206 684-8806,
Sally Clark – 206 684-8802,
Jean Godden – 206 684-8807,
Bruce Harrell – 206 684-8804,
Nick Licata – 206 684-8803,

Mayor McGinn – 206 684-4000,

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