About 12 percent of the apartments built in Seattle since 2012 have been built without parking. They’re being built in neighborhoods like Ballard, Capitol Hill and the University District, where there’s heavy competition for parking and where special zoning allows them.
There’s this ritual on Capitol Hill. It’s called: "The dinner party starts in 5 minutes, but it’s going to take me 30 minutes to find a parking space."
Vicki Lopez lives here. She has to talk people into visiting her.
Lopez: “People don’t like coming to Capitol Hill because they have to drive around 20 minutes, a half hour to find adequate parking space.”
We’re near a project that’s going to be built soon at 15th Avenue and East Howell Street. The sign says there will be 57 apartment units – and no parking.
Apartments like this are built for people like Martin Bosley. He doesn’t need a car – he walks to work, or takes the bus if he’s feeling lazy.
Bosley: “But that’s not everybody. And when my friends come over here from wherever and they need to park – it’s like 'Where’s Waldo?'. You have to look and look just to find a little piece of street parking.”
We don’t know if it’s the residents of these buildings or their friends who are bringing cars to the neighborhood. But complaints from neighbors who find themselves having to compete for parking have Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen concerned.
Rasmussen says eliminating parking from Seattle’s densest neighborhoods saves a lot of money, and helps keep rents from rising even more. Parking stalls cost $30 – 40,000 each to build. But Rasmussen says we have to be careful.
Rasmussen: “As we reduce the requirement for parking in buildings, we don’t want to impact the surrounding neighborhoods. But the surrounding neighborhoods are saying the impact is happening.”
This week, the mayor responded to Rasmussen’s concerns by suggesting we tap into an underutilized resource.
Back in the 1980s and 90s, every new building came with at least one parking unit per apartment. Now, people are driving less. And about a third of those old parking spaces in Seattle’s densest neighborhoods go unused.
The mayor wants to open those unused stalls up to the public. That way, when people drive into the neighborhood for dinner they’ll have a place to park. They’ll just have to pay for it.