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 email@example.com or
For a glossary of parking terminology, visit http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/parking/parkingterms.htm
ADJUSTING HOW CURB SPACE IS USED
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.
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 http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/parking/parkingload.htm.
IMPROVING SHORT-TERM 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information
on paid parking, parking meters and pay stations, please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/parking/parkingmeters.htm.
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
Example of the types of transportation benefits employers can provide to their
- 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 email@example.com.
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."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For enforcement services for a violation involving a commercial vehicle, call
the Police Department's non-emergency dispatch number at (206) 625-5011.
PARKING VALIDATION PROGRAMS & COMMUNITY-OWNED FACILITIES
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
BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF COMMUNITY-OWNED FACILITIES AND VALIDATION
- 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
- Requires a long-term commitment.
- Does not usually generate profits for the business district.
- Abuse of the system is possible.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
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
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
- 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
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 email@example.com or
visit the parking section of the U-District Chamber website at http://www.udistrictchamber.org/resourcesParking.cfm.
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 http://www.cidbia.org/about-the-cidbia/transportation-programs.
CITY OF SEATTLE
Parking in Seattle portal website
- Abandoned Vehicle Hotline ---------------------------------------
- Carpool Parking Information -------------------------------------
- Disabled Parking in Seattle ---------------------------------------
(WA State program)
- 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 -----------------------
- 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 ---------------------------------------------
NEIGHBORHOOD BUSINESS CONTACTS