You may be experiencing an unhealthy dose of coronavirus trepidation right now, but for the next month, you can release one form of anxiety from your system. On Friday, mayor Jenny Durkan’s office announced all street parking is free in Seattle until the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order is lifted. Along with the removal of paid parking, hourly time limits will not be enforced outside of restricted parking zones. No more harrowing sprints back to your car. No more flashing glances at your windshield and praying to the ticket gods.
The goal is to not only keep people inside (i.e., not running out to move their cars) but also to make it easier to visit hospitals and restaurants, if necessary. “To improve access to parking for the city’s essential workers, residents remaining at home, or residents visiting essential services, we can provide a small relief for paid parking,” mayor Jenny Durkan said in a press release. “We will continue to evaluate and adjust parking regulations to support community needs until we make it through this pandemic.”
Durkan has made parking a focus since the local outbreak of the novel coronavirus began several weeks ago. In mid-March, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) started converting on-street spots outside of restaurants into curbside pickup zones. (Those zones, and loading zones up to 30 minutes, will continue to be enforced.) And on March 26, the mayor launched a program to provide medical staffers with free permitted parking around their hospitals and testing sites. Those special zones will continue under the new parking rules. “The success of our newly created hospital staff permit program indicated the need to explore additional steps to support people doing essential, front-line duties,” SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe said. “Paid parking relief and time limit relief will effectively and immediately provide access to parking to support these essential workers.”
Alas, paid parking will be phased back in once the "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order is removed, which may very well be right after May 4, as currently planned. Until then, if you do have to go out (but really, only if you need to), you can breathe a little easier knowing your wallet won't take an unnecessary hit.