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The C Is for Crank

KING-5 continues its unending campaign for the poor, beleagured Seattle driver with a piece bemoaning higher parking rates in six neighborhoods (seven, if you count the three months a year parking rates will go up by the Ballard Locks, which has high demand for parking in the summer), noting that "you will pay more" for parking in many places. Specifically, a whole 50 cents an hour more. (We've covered the variable parking program since it was passed, back when Mike McGinn was mayor). 

(Those of us who don't choose to drive to the most crowded areas of the city and park there during the most crowded times of day won't "pay more," and people who don't drive will continue to pay no parking fees at all.)

In the very heart of Pioneer Square, where street parking is already 96 percent full during the middle of the day, parking will be $4 an hour ($3 at other times)—significantly less than Pioneer Square parking garages, such as the Sinking Ship garage at 2nd and Yesler, where an hour will set you back $7, any time of day. 

Nonetheless, KING editorializes that while "It looks good on paper ... from behind the wheel, the view is quite different." They even quote one driver who says people like him will just "stay at home" if they have to pay more to park in peak neighborhoods at peak hours. Private parking garages, which set their own higher rates as they please, don't seem to force people to become shut-ins the way on-street parking rates apparently do. (Nor do buses, which—as usual—go unmentioned as an option for getting downtown without paying to park.)

KING does manage, at the very bottom of the story, to briefly mention the fact that parking rates are actually going down in five neighborhoods (fewer than the six where they're going up, but barely), but they—like KIRO, which quotes two drivers complaining about the rate hikes, including one who says the 50-cent increase "sucks" and "is terrible"—don't seem to be able to locate a single driver who's happy that their parking rates are decreasing. 

Just to be clear: Drivers don't own street parking spaces. The city does. And the city's strategy—to keep about 20 percent of parking spaces per block face clear so that drivers can actually find parking instead of driving around or giving up and using one of those much more expensive private lots—actually helps drivers. Even if it sets them back a whole extra two quarters. 

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