Seattle: Parking Management

Seattle’s parking-management strategy dates back to its first Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 1994 in response to Washington State’s 1990 Growth Management Act. The state mandated city and county comprehensive plans and defined their goals, which included reducing urban sprawl and encouraging in-fill development. Within that political framework, Seattle created a Comprehensive Plan based on an “urban village” development model whose purpose was to direct new development into existing urban centers and villages.  Both the city departments of transportation (SDOT) and planning and development (DPD) created parking policies toward that end.DPD ended parking-minimum standards for downtown and implemented a one-space-per-1,000-square-feet-of-nonresidential- development policy. Parking spaces had to be inside, behind, or beside buildings. Parking requirements could be waived altogether in a development along a designated pedestrian corridor. The plan provides incentives for large development programs, including parking cash out, shared parking, and park-and-ride.  SDOT began by articulating a priority system for curb space depending on district type. Commercial-area curb space was designated to be used first for transit, then loading, short-term parking, shared-vehicle parking, and, lastly, for ordinary private-car parking.  Residential curb space went first to transit, then loading, then local resident and shared-vehicle parking, and finally individual public use. “It helps to have these goals articulated in a plan,” says Margo Polley, Strategic Advisor for SDOT’s Parking Operations and Traffic Permits Section. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cited them when responding to complaints about lack of residential parking in commercial districts. It helps people see the bigger picture.” SDOT then created a Transportation Strategic Plan in response to the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.