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Community Parking Program
First Hill

Updated November 2, 2010

SDOT is wrapping up installation of the First Hill parking changes. You should be seeing new parking signs and more Zone 21 and Zone 7 blocks throughout the neighborhood.

The diagram below shows how to read the new signs and clarifies when you do and don’t have to pay for parking if you have a Zone 21 permit. The same rules would apply to Zone 7 signs and permits.

If you have any questions, contact Ruth Harper, (206) 684-4103, or Please scroll down the page for more background information on the project.

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Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) Final Decision

The SDOT Traffic Management Division Director has made a final decision regarding the expansion of Zones 7 and 21 in First Hill. SDOT sent out a postcard with a map and information about the days and hours the zone will be in effect. SDOT notified all parties living within 300 feet of the proposed RPZ, and all other interested parties contacted during the parking study and development of the RPZ, by mail, e-mail and on the SDOT website. The final decision was published in the Daily Journal of Commerce.

Residents can download a permit application online, or request one by mail by calling the Traffic Permits Counter at (206) 684-5086.

How did we make a final decision on the RPZ changes?

The comment period regarding proposals to add multiple blocks to two existing RPZs in First Hill closed on June 4, 2010. This followed a public hearing on May 25, where four formal comments were made. SDOT received three additional comments via e-mail. A summary of all of these comments can be found here

Parking changes coming to First Hill

In April 2010, SDOT finalized the First Hill parking plan and sent out   a final plan mailer  to notify project area residents, businesses, and property owners. Elements of the plan include:

  • Improving customer and visitor parking, by changing 1-hour and 2-hour time limit signs to 2-hour paid parking
  • Improving residential access, by making the following changes to RPZs:
    • Change unrestricted parking to new Zone 7 and Zone 21 blocks
    • Add new Zone 21 to several blocks that are currently 2-hour paid parking
    • Add 2-hour paid parking to existing Zone 7 and Zone 21 blocks
    • NOTE: valid permit holders will be exempt from the 2-hour time limit and pay station payment when parked in an RPZ block.

How is this different from the draft plan?

After carefully considering public feedback, SDOT made adjustments to the draft plan. Over forty people took our online survey, and we received phone calls and emails from people with suggestions and thoughts on how the draft proposals would impact them. We also reviewed the plan with the First Hill Improvement Association at several meetings.

Specific changes include:

  • 4-hour paid parking was proposed around the St. James Cathedral area, where there is currently unrestricted parking. After hearing from several area residents and after speaking with St. James staff, SDOT recommends that these blocks become RPZ with 2-hour paid parking. Zone 7 permit holders could park here for longer than 2-hours and without additional payment. Visitors to the church and neighboring uses could still use these spaces for 2 hours or less. These and other changes to First Hill RPZs will be discussed at the public hearing (see meeting notice above).
  • We put together a proposal to limit vehicles with disabled parking placards to 4-hours of parking around Swedish Hospital and Virginia Mason Medical Center. At this time, SDOT will not be implementing this time limit. We will continue to work with area groups and disability advocacy organizations and also plan to work with the newly forming Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities to review the proposal. Learn more about disabled parking in Seattle here .


Q: How will adding paid parking to RPZs help residents?

A: The First Hill parking study found that most RPZ spaces are used by non-residents during the day, and that the 2-hour time limit is often not complied with. Changing from time limit signs to paid parking generally improves compliance. Better compliance means better turnover – which supports access for both residents and visitors.

Learn more about RPZs here .

Q: Why get rid of 1-hour time limit signs?  

A: SDOT is moving toward standardizing short-term time limits to 2-hours. This will help make it more convenient and predictable from a visitor and customer standpoint. It will also improve parking enforcement’s efficiency.

SDOT hosts parking open house

In September 2009, SDOT hosted a First Hill & Capitol Hill parking open house to share ideas with the community on how to improve parking. Attendees provided valuable feedback that has helped shape the draft parking plan above.

Weren’t able to attend? Check out the links below to learn about what was discussed. Materials from September 2009 open house:

First Hill parking study findings

SDOT staff attended the June 13, 2009 First Hill Community Council meeting to share preliminary parking study findings.  

Handout of key findings  

First Hill Parking Study – full report  

Key findings:

  • Parking spaces (on average over the course of the day) are over 80% full
  • 45% of vehicles are staying longer than the posted time limit, which makes it challenging for the next customer or visitor to find a parking space
  • Unrestricted spaces (those without a time limit) are the most full at nearly 100%
  • The average stay of a car in an unrestricted space is about 3 hours
  • Pay station spaces have the highest average compliance rate at 80%
  • Nearly 40% of vehicles parked near Virginia Mason, Swedish, and Harborview displayed a disabled parking permit or license plate (SDOT is looking into whether these permits are being legitimately used)

Project Background

Through the Community Parking Program, SDOT worked with First Hill stakeholders to develop a parking plan that balances neighborhood needs and meets City transportation and environmental goals.

Staff met with First Hill residents, businesses, and institutions to design a parking study and develop parking proposals.

A previous assessment in 2005 resulted in new paid parking blocks, time limit signs, and additional residential parking zone (RPZ) blocks. The work in 2009-2010 followed up on these efforts.


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