Morning Fizz

My Guerrilla Shared Parking Pilot Project

Let's take (shared) parking into our own hands.

By Josh Feit April 29, 2016

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1. Of all the share economy ideas to emerge in the last several years, one that unfortunately remains in the Beta phase, is shared parking. The idea of converting personal parking spaces—off-street spots reserved for building residents or on-street parking claimed by having a neighborhood RPZ sticker—into a shared asset has come before the city council a few times now. The Seattle Department of Transportation’s transit division director and the Office of Planning and Community Development director presented a list of parking reforms to council exactly a year ago that included “shared parking.” Capitol Hill Housing, the housing nonprofit that has been working to meld housing policy with green urban planning policy to create an “eco district,” presented a white paper on the idea a few months later. Meanwhile, among the 65 recommendations in last year’s mayoral Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda report (which remains arguably the most transgressive document ever formally published on the city’s dime), there was a parking "cap and trade" project to share parking spots (see page 40.)

The basic idea, when it comes to sharing off-street parking, is that report after report show parking spaces are going unused in both residential and commercial buildings. Using those spots as a shared neighborhood resource for both residents and shoppers can alleviate the on-street parking crunch and undo the unfair embedded housing costs for residents who aren’t using the spots.  According to a King County study, 30 percent of off-street parking in residential buildings “was not being utilized” in the evenings—and about 70 percent during the day. And CHH found about 30 percent vacancy in the evenings and more than 50 percent during the day in the mixed-use residential and commercial buildings it surveyed. (The King County study only looked at residential buildings.)

Here’s what my study, in my Capitol Hill apartment building this week, found: Consistently night and day, there’s about a 54 percent vacancy rate. In a neighborhood where there’s a 92 percent on-street parking occupancy rate during peak hours, which is well above SDOT’s 70 to 85 percent target for efficiency, my building—evidently like most—can be part of the solution.

It's tactical urbanism Friday: With the city still hung up studying the idea, I feel it's time to take city planning into our own hands.

I've got some spots available.

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With only 23 out of 50 spots getting regularly used around here day and night—and one spot being misused for construction storage—I'm willing to work out a deal. If you're heading over to the 15th Ave. E. neighborhood in Capitol Hill and need some parking, feel free to contact me, and I'll try and facilitate some shared parking.

2. In other news: The housing levy campaign has hired former city council candidate and Democratic activist turned media pundit Michael Maddux to run the $290 million property tax measure. Maddux has a track record as an advocate for major city measures. As a parks oversight committee member Maddux emerged as a default spokesman during the 2014 parks district campaign.

The housing levy is a centerpiece of mayor Ed Murray's housing affordability agenda—it will be responsible for creating about 2,100 of the 20,000 affordable housing units that Murray has proposed putting on the ground in the next decade. It's worth noting that during his council bid last year, Maddux was seen as part of the Kshama Sawant slate and appeared at press conferences organized by Sawant that criticized Murray's housing affordability plan. 

Maddux, whose populist charisma runs progressive rather than NIMBY, is a get for the Murray camp.

3. In case you missed yesterday's Jolt: With its new legislative report card, pro-choice advocacy group NARAL has officially ended the era of grade inflation for status quo Democrats.

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