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Additional Information

Create a Thriving Business District


There are a variety of ways you can manage parking availability in your district. Some of the ways include:


The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has a Parking in Seattle website where all topics related to parking are presented. Please contact Mary Catherine Snyder in SDOT at or 206-684-8110.

For a glossary of parking terminology, visit


SDOT regulates the use of curb space to address competing needs, to assist in moving people and goods more efficiently, to support the vitality of business districts, and to create livable neighborhoods. In business districts, including blocks with mixed-use buildings containing residential units, the City of Seattle prioritizes the use of curb space as followings:

  • Transit - bus stops, bus layover zones, etc.
  • Load zones - for passengers and deliveries.
  • Short-Term Parking - for customers of nearby businesses (typically 2-hour or 1-hour time limits).

Free long-term commuter and employee on-street parking are actively discouraged in business districts.

As changes occur in a business district over time, the way the available curb space is used may need to be adjusted. Sometimes new developments and buildings are built that require the use of the curb space to be changed. Sometimes an adjustment to the use of the curb space is needed for something as simple as the needs of a new business, differing from those of the previous business at the same location.

Load Zones:
A common item to consider in the use of available curb space is a load zone. Sometimes a load zone that served a previous business is not necessary for a new business at the same location and could be removed to provide additional parking spaces. Or a new business may need a load zone, or a different type of load zone, than the previous business. Nearby businesses may wish to look for ways to consolidate and share load zones as a way to increase the on-street parking supply for customers.

Requests for load zones to be installed or removed may be made to SDOT at (206) 684-ROAD (684-7623). The Department will evaluate all requests in light of the curb space uses nearby. Before calling, please review the load zones for at least one block on either side, and talk with other businesses on your block to identify the best mix of load zones and parking spaces for customers that may be possible. For more information on load zones, please refer to SDOT's webpage at

Angled Parking:
In some cases a street may be a good candidate for converting from parallel parking to angled parking. Converting to angled parking can increase the available number of parking space, sometimes as much as 50%, sometimes less. Not every street or block is a good candidate for angled parking and SDOT has standard minimum criteria that must be met. Converting to angled parking may also have less desirable effects for pedestrians and wheelchair users because of cars overhanging the sidewalks and making it narrower. It can also affect visibility for residents and businesses.

Requests for installing angled parking can be made by calling SDOT at (206) 684-ROAD or 7623. All requests are reviewed for safety and other considerations.


In general, short-term parking availability for customers may be improved by adjusting the time limits or the regulation mechanisms (signs or pay stations) on a particular block. By decreasing the length of time each vehicle is parked in a space, the "turnover rate" for the space is increased. The higher the turnover rate, the more times that space is used by different customers, each staying for a short period of time.

Install time restrictions:
If the parking area is currently unrestricted (e.g. with no parking time limits), then installing parking time restrictions (such as 2-hour time limits) may be needed to create the short-term turnover that benefits customers and nearby businesses. If the parking area currently has parking time restrictions (such as 2-hour time limits), then one of the following options may be needed to improve short-term turnover:

  • Install paid parking (pay stations)
  • Decrease employee parking on-street through transit, transportation and marketing measures
  • Enhance parking enforcement

Install paid parking
Paid parking (with pay stations) can increase visitor compliance with the time limit. The City of Seattle uses on-street paid parking to:

  • Promote parking turnover;
  • Effectively manage a limited amount of on-street spaces (mainly in commercial areas) where demand exceeds supply;
  • Provide short-term parking spaces for shopping or personal errands (this in contrast to long-term parking for commuters);
  • Improve traffic circulation and economic viability of downtown commercial areas by maximizing the number of patron visits by car; and
  • Generate revenue for the City.

The issues and opportunities of installing paid parking will need to be considered by the larger business district in addition to the businesses on a specific block. To explore the installation of paid parking, please contact Mary Catherine Snyder at (206) 684-8110 or For more information on paid parking, parking meters and pay stations, please visit:

Decrease employee parking on-street:
In many business districts, especially those that have no parking time limits on nearby blocks, employees of area businesses parking on-street may use spaces that could be used by customers. The City prioritizes curb space use in business districts for bus zones, load zones, and short-term customer parking. Long-term commuter and employee parking on-street are actively discouraged in business districts.

Although an employer cannot require his or her employees to park off-street, he/she can encourage employees to do so or to use other means of transportation for some or all of their commute trips to and from work. An employer could arrange to provide parking for employees at a nearby off-street lot, or could participate with other businesses in the area to develop a small business "Access Package" featuring commute trip benefits and services similar to what businesses affected by the WA State Commute Trip Reduction Law are required to provide.

Example of the types of transportation benefits employers can provide to their employees include:

  • Reduced-fare bus passes or tickets
  • Home-Free Guarantee program so that bus-riding employees can get a ride home by taxi if an unforeseen emergency arises
  • Car sharing club membership (such as Zipcar) so that employees can run errands at lunch
  • RideShare services to match carpool drivers and riders
  • Paid carpool parking spaces in an off-street lot or structure
  • Secure bike-parking

Employers can also direct their employees to the City of Seattle "Way to Go" programs, which provide incentives for reducing driving.

For more information on providing transportation benefits to your employees, please contact Ann Sutphin at (206) 684-8374 or

Enhance parking enforcement:
A business district may wish to work with the Parking Enforcement Unit of the Seattle Police Department to develop a more comprehensive enforcement strategy for the district. Contact the Parking Enforcement Unit directly at (206) 386-9012, but to request enforcement services please call the non-emergency police number at (206) 625-5011. Also please see the section below on "Learning How Enforcement Works."


Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs) help maintain parking availability by working to ensure proper turnover of parking spaces in your district. There are several types of illegal parking spaces in your districts: meter feeding (e.g. staying in the same paid parking space longer than the maximum time limit), parking in restricted spaces (such as load zones), and over-staying time limits. Additionally, sometimes a vehicle is abandoned on the street, or a commercial delivery truck or forklift use affects parking availability or pedestrian safety and access.

To request enforcement services for an illegally parked vehicle or commercial delivery vehicle, call the Police Department's non-emergency dispatch number (206) 625-0511. Some businesses keep this number handy and educate their employees on when and how to call.

To report an abandoned vehicle, call the Abandoned Vehicle Hotline (206) 684-8763. Abandoned cars are handled on a complaint basis. If there is a constant problem with unused vehicles in your area, you can keep a "log" and submit it once a week to the Seattle Police Department Parking Enforcement Unit by faxing it to (206) 684-5101. Please call the Unit in advance at (206) 386-9012 the first time so they understand the nature of the problem and who to contact with questions abut the log you are submitting.

For general information on commercial vehicle enforcement or regulations, contact Don Smith at (206) 684-5125 or For enforcement services for a violation involving a commercial vehicle, call the Police Department's non-emergency dispatch number at (206) 625-5011.


In 1944 some foresighted business people created an innovative public company owned by and for the business community in the University District. The company's sole purpose was to ensure automobile parking for the district's shopping area. They created the "University District Parking Associates," which purchased several parking lots, affording local merchants some control over the supply of parking in the area. They currently hold 12 parking lots and offer a parking validation program.

Now that parking is at a premium, several business districts around the city have validation programs. Parking operators, merchants and transit authorities can partner to provide rolls of tokens to merchants at a set price. Merchants give the tokens to their customers, who can use them to offset the cost of parking or transportation.



  • Provides permanent customer parking for the district.
  • Gives control over parking policies to neighborhood businesses.
  • Offers options to improve the appearance of parking lots with murals or landscaping.


  • Requires a long-term commitment.
  • Does not usually generate profits for the business district.
  • Abuse of the system is possible.

What are the benefits of a validation?

Validation programs, through the use of signs and marketing materials, improve the ability of shoppers, diners and visitors to easily locate parking. Additionally, the process of creating the programs is a great way for neighborhood parking facility operators and businesses to discuss their shared goals. The materials associated with validation programs, such as maps, fliers, tokens, window decals and advertisements, are great ways to market the business district.

How does a parking validation program work?

A successful validation program requires four important participants:

  • Parking lot operators willing to sell tokens or tickets for use in their facilities. Often these operators will sell the tokens at a discount to the participating businesses or administering organization. They will also display signs and/or brochures showing participating businesses.
  • An administering organization, such as a BIA, Chamber or Merchants Association, willing to order and sell tokens, keep merchants involved and use the difference between the value and the cost of the tokens to maintain an ongoing marketing program.
  • Merchants willing to purchase the tokens and offer them to their patrons in exchange for minimum purchases. The businesses must also display window decals or brochures announcing their participation in the validation program.
  • Customers willing to park in participating facilities in exchange for tokens. They must be able to easily find the facilities and the participating businesses.

How is a district parking association structured?

The University District Parking Association (UDPA) is a public company with stockholders and a board of directors. The original sale of stock gave the company capital to purchase land for parking lots. Another way to raise capital is to form a Business Improvement Area (BIA) -- (see Forming a BIA in the Funding section). In 2001, UDPA added directional signs to their parking facilities and fliers announcing participating businesses. For more information on U-District parking resources contact Teresa Lord Hugel at (206) 547-4417 or or visit the parking section of the U-District Chamber website at

What are other examples of validation programs in the city?

The Chinatown-International District has a validated parking arrangement between local parking lot operators and participating businesses called the "Save-A-Lot" program. This is administered by the Chinatown-International District BIA. For more information, review the "Parking" section at




Parking in Seattle portal website site:



  • Abandoned Vehicle Hotline ---------------------------------------


  • Carpool Parking Information -------------------------------------


  • Disabled Parking in Seattle ---------------------------------------
    (WA State program)

option 5

  • Land Use Code related to parking--------------------------- 206-684-8850
    (Department of Planning and Development)
  • Parking Enforcement Unit – to report illegal parking
    Seattle Police Department General Information---------------------

    To report a violation---------------------------------------------------



  • Parking Meters
    To report a broken meter---------------------------------------------


  • Parking Regulations
    To change the regulations along the street--------------------------- 206-684-ROAD (7623)
  • Parking Signs
    To report a damaged parking or traffic sign ------------------------- 206-684-ROAD (7623)
  • Parking Tickets
    To pay or protest (Seattle Municipal Court)-------------------------- 206-684-5600
  • Residential Parking Zone (RZP) Program ----------------------- 206-684-5086
  • Temporary No Parking Zone
    Application (for moving vans, etc.) ----------------------------------- 206-684-5086
  • Tow-Away Zone – to determine if your vehicle has been towed
    Seattle Police Department --------------------------------------------- 206-684-5444
  • Zoning Enforcement
    Report a land use code violation for parking on private property
    Seattle Police Department --------------------------------------------- 206-684-7899