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The C Is for Crank

Ignore those (frankly, histrionic) news reports about the Seattle City Council's plans to "make things even more challenging -- and expensive -- for drivers and business owners" by "raising parking rates" around the city. 

Today, the city council's transportation committee heard from the Seattle Department of Transportation about its proposal to adjust paid parking rates citywide—reducing rates in 20 areas, extending paid parking hours in others, and increasing rates in 13 areas, based on the city's official goal of having one to two empty parking spaces available in every block where the city charges for parking. 

Generally, for most neighborhoods, the 2013 daytime peak occupancy percentages increased from where they were in 2012.

The new policy would increase parking meter rates to as much as $4 an hour in areas where more than 90 percent of the parking spaces, on average, are occupied; reduce rates to as low as 75 cents an hour in areas where fewer than 65 percent of the parking spaces are being used; and keep rates the same in areas where parking is being utilized at the "target rate," identified as between 70 and 85 percent occupancy.The city council's transportation committee heard from the Seattle Department of Transportation about its proposal to adjust paid parking rates citywide—reducing rates in 20 areas, extending paid parking hours in others, and increasing rates in 13.

The new rules will also allow SDOT to change parking rates by time of day—lowering rates to account for lower demand in the morning and increasing rates to account for higher demand at night. 

Rates would go down in areas like the Ballard Locks (from $1.50 to $1 an hour); north Belltown (from $2 to $1.50 an hour) and the periphery of the U District (from $1.50 to $1 an hour). Rates would go up in the afternoon for Pioneer Square (from $3.50 to $4 an hour) and down in the morning (from $3.50 to $3 an hour).

And SDOT will expand paid parking hours to 8pm in five areas, including 12th Avenue, Fremont, and Greenlake, where occupancy is near or higher than 100 percent. 

The new parking proposal will also replace all the current (and now-obsolete) green solar-powered parking pay stations with "smart meters" that will allow the city to charge different rates based on time of day; the city will lease those meters instead of buying them, saving an estimated $100,000 and avoiding "future large one-time capital expenses" from having to repair city-owned meters and eventually replace them. 

Former mayor Mike McGinn implemented a similar "demand-based" parking pricing policy, but the new plan is more sophisticated and relies on data collected since 2012, when McGinn (whose policies also incited great consternationamong businesses and drivers) put the policy in place.

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