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Comprehensive Neighborhood Parking Study (1999)

View the Comprehensive Neighborhood Parking Study
(you will need Acrobat PDF Reader to view this document)

View the Parking Study Data User Information Guide
(you will need MS Excel to view these files)

About the Study

In 1998 and 1999, the City of Seattle conducted a Comprehensive Neighborhood Parking Study to develop transit-oriented parking management strategies. Expert parking management consultants collected on- and off-street parking data in 26 Seattle neighborhoods to learn more about parking conditions. The consultants also investigated what tools other cities use to manage parking and how those tools can be used to make the parking system work better in Seattle. SDOT provides both the Parking Study Report and the Data on this page. The raw data may be useful to transportation consultants and developers who often need to conduct parking studies when applying for development permits.

Goals for Making Parking Work

Since the completion of the Study, City staff have been working directly with key stakeholders in many Seattle neighborhoods to implement quick, cost-effective, and straight-forward parking management tools. Recommendations from the Comprehensive Neighborhood Parking Study are helping the City respond quickly and creatively to the varied parking issues in Seattle's neighborhoods. Results from the Study will help implement Neighborhood Plans, Light Rail Station Areas, and the Transportation Strategic Plan, as well as the City's goals for transportation, affordable housing, the environment, and economic development for neighborhood business districts.

The following three parking-related goals were developed based on the Study results, and they are incorporated into the Making the Parking Work program and other SDOT projects and efforts:

  1. Combine a mix of parking solutions including managing on- and off-street parking, making better use of the parking we already have, and introducing more flexibility for meeting code requirements.
  2. Work directly with neighborhoods to tailor parking solutions that achieve the right mix of residential and retail customer parking, while discouraging long-term commuter parking.
  3. Implement effective and low-cost recommendations to provide more efficient use of existing parking supply before pursuing more expensive options.

Lessons Learned

The following five points are lessons learned from the Comprehensive Neighborhood Parking Study:

  1. The parking problem depends on who you are.
    Residents want long-term spaces to "store their car," while businesses want short-term spaces in front of their store for customers. The parking study showed the majority of neighborhoods do have parking available within three blocks at no or little cost. City staff will work with residents and businesses to create the right mix of different kinds of parking, and manage parking to serve the City's and neighborhood's desired goals, especially in providing short-term customer and long-term residential parking.

  2. Strive to make better use of existing on-street parking.
    More parking capacity can be added quickly and cost-effectively by using the existing parking supply in most neighborhoods. In many business districts, twice as many customers could park if turnover of on-street spaces was created through stronger enforcement and discouraging employees from parking in spaces that customers could be using. Even more spaces would be available through marketing existing off-street parking by creating better signage and parking validation programs.

  3. Manage the cost of parking to achieve desirable goals.
    The price of parking is critical to how it is used. Low cost parking is transit's greatest threat and the number one reason people drive. Cheap on-street unrestricted or un-enforced parking coupled with high transit service can attract commuters to use a neighborhood as a "park and ride" into downtown. In Seattle, short-term parking is often more expensive than all day commuter parking, discouraging retail shoppers and encouraging commuters.

  4. Improve the Land Use Code to better support parking goals.
    The Land Use Code should allow the right kind of parking to be built at the right time. The current code needs to be more targeted to adapt to the variety of parking needs of different users in different types of neighborhoods. We need to be able to better specify whether new parking is used for short-term or long-term parking.

  5. Be strategic in managing off-street parking.
    There is a high cost to building structured parking that makes it less financially feasible. The parking consultants put together a financial feasibility analysis for prototypical neighborhood public parking garages and found that a 250-space garage might cost between $4.8 to 13.5 million (above-ground, below-ground). Free on-street parking needs to be managed before new facilities can "pencil out". New off-street parking should be managed to serve the City's and neighborhood's desired goals, especially to provide short-term customer and residential parking - not necessarily commuter "park and ride" parking.

For more information, please contact Mary Catherine Snyder at (206) 684-8110 or

Related Links

Station Area Planning

Transportation Strategic Plan

Parking Study Data User Information Guide

The data from the Comprehensive Neighborhood Parking Study is provided in several parts:

  1. Study Area Maps in PDF format show the areas (blockfaces) in each neighborhood that were studied. See the "Parking Study Areas" table below and click on a neighborhood name to view the respective map of that area (you will need Acrobat PDF Reader to view these documents).

  2. Study Data Spreadsheets in MS Excel format provide four types of parking data for each area studied (you will need a program on your computer able to open Microsoft Excel files):
    Average On-street Utilization (AVONUTIL.XLS)
    Peak On-street Utilization (PKONUTIL2.XLS)
    Average Off-street (AVOFUTIL2.XLS)
    Peak Off-street Utilization (PKOFUTIL2.XLS)

  3. Peak and Average Utilization Chart is a handy stand-alone chart that shows the overall Average Parking Utilization, the Peak On-street Utilization, and the Peak Time Period for each neighborhood in the Study. View the Peak and Average Utilization Chart (in PDF format).

Study Area Maps

Identify the study area(s) that you are interested in and click on the study area name to open the corresponding PDF file.

Parking Study Areas
Study Area Parking Study ID#
Ballard 9
Belltown 21
Broadview/Haller Lake/Bitter Lake 7
Capitol Hill (Pike/Pine, West Residential and East Residential) 6, 13, 14, 15
Columbia City 23a and 23b
Crown Hill 8
Denny Triangle, South Lake Union (Cascade and Mercer) 17, 35, 36
Eastlake 27
First Hill 16
Fremont (North and South of Ship Canal) 32, 33
Greenlake and Roosevelt 26, 28
Lake City 34
Lower Queen Anne and Uptown/West Residential 4, 5
MLK@Holly 24
North Beacon Hill (S. Atlantic) 22a
North Rainier (McClellan area) 31
Northgate 10
Rainier Beach, Henderson Station Area 18, 25
South Beacon Hill (S. Lander) 22b
University District (University Way, Greek Row and West Residential) 1, 2, 3
Upper Queen Anne 29
Wallingford 30
West Seattle Junction 37

Study Data Spreadsheets

Determine what parking data that you need. Identify the type of data that you are interested in and click on the file name to open the corresponding Excel file. Once open you may print or save the file. We recommend saving these spreadsheet files and opening them while offline. The Excel files are quite large (up to 267KB). Clicking the Excel files below will launch MSExcel, either integrated into your IE browser or separate from your Netscape browser. In both cases once the file is open, simply go to the File menu, choose Save As, and save the document onto your computer or network, with whatever file name you wish. Then you may read and print the document while offline.

There are four types of parking data available (click on file name below to open):

On-Street Data

  • AVONUTIL.XLS: Average utilization of on-street parking for each blockface.
  • PKONUTIL2.XLS: Peak utilization of on-street parking for each blockface.

    Data categories within the spreadsheets:
    • UN = unrestricted parking
    • P4HR = restricted 4-hour parking
    • P3HR = restricted 3-hour parking (same system for P2HR, P1HR, P30MIN, P15MIN)
    • D = demand, S = supply
    • UTIL = calculated parking utilization based on supply and demand for each parking type

Off-Street Data

  • AVOFUTIL2.XLS: Average utilization of off-street parking for each blockface.
  • PKOFUTIL2.XLS: Peak utilization of off-street parking for each blockface.

    Off-street data is generally categorized as:

    • Public
    • Private
    • Residential
    • Non-residential
    • Institutional

    Supply (S) and demand (D) abbreviations also apply as well as parking utilization calculations. Private parking is made up of residential, non-residential and institutional.

Use the information in the Parking Study Areas table above to "decode" the Study Data Spreadsheets. For every study area, the on-street parking utilization was recorded for each blockface as a separate row in the Spreadsheet files, and the off-street parking utilization was recorded for every block as a separate row.

Here is an example:

  • Go to the "Parking Study Areas" table for list of study area maps. Click on the "Ballard" name. Once the PDF file showing the Parking Study Area for Ballard opens, either Print or Save the document onto your computer or network.

  • Then go to the Spreadsheet file named "AVONUTIL.XLS." Click on it, and once it is open, Save the document onto your computer or network. Then you may read and print the document while offline.

  • Now open the AVONUTIL.XLS file (that you just saved) using the Microsoft Excel program, and look for the rows in the spreadsheet for the Ballard parking data (the names of the neighborhood are in Column A). By looking at both the Map PDF file for Ballard and the rows in the spreadsheet for Ballard, you will notice that the blocks studied in the Ballard neighborhood all have "Unique Block Ids" that start with the numbers "09".

  • For instance, the block 0901 is bounded by NW 56th St, NW 14th Ave NW, NW Market St, and 15th Ave NW. Since this is on-street parking, there is an Excel row for each of the four blockfaces of the block named 0901. They are: 090101, 090102, 090103, and 090104 like this:

Note: unlike the image above, each of the four sides (blockfaces) of each Unique Block (01, 02, 03, 04) is NOT labeled on the Map PDF files. The top block face of each Unique Block is always 01, the next one to the right is always 02, and so on moving clockwise around the Unique Block.

  • Look up blockface 090101 under the "Unique ID" column in the spreadsheet to see the parking supply (S) and parking demand (D) data for the seven on-street parking types (the utilization data represents the supply divided by the demand).

About the Data Collection Process

  • The parking study consultants collected parking data in 35 study areas in 26 Seattle neighborhoods in September and October, 1999.
  • Data was collected mid-week (Tuesday-Thursday) from 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. in most study areas and some evening counts from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Because of a limited budget, we were not able to collect parking data from an entire neighborhood. The study areas are samples representing typical land uses in a particular neighborhood as well as city-wide.
  • For every study area on-street parking along each blockface was recorded separately, as was public, private or residential off-street parking on each block. A blockface is one side of a street block. Each blockface is given a unique ID based on its study area, block and position on the block. The number system moves clockwise; that is, the north side of the blockface is block 1, the east side is 2, the south side is 3 and the west side is 4.
  • Both average and peak utilization was recorded. The peak period varies for each neighborhood studied based on observed utilization and does not necessarily coincide with a.m. or p.m. commuter peak times.

For more information, please contact Mary Catherine Snyder at (206) 684-8110 or

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