The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is considering changes to on-street parking regulations in Wallingford. The neighborhood has two Restricted Parking Zones (RPZs), which set time limits on certain blockfaces for non-RPZ passholders. SDOT conducted a parking utilization study in May for over 300 blockfaces in the neighborhood and found that dozens of blockfaces exceeding targets to consider on-street parking regulation changes.

Wallingford on-street parking utilization study. (City of Seattle)
Wallingford on-street parking utilization study. (City of Seattle)

In the past two years, SDOT has received three separate requests for new or expanded RPZs in Wallingford. The RPZ study area, however, was smaller focusing on blocks north of N 42nd St closer to the N 45th St arterial.

Areas in Wallingford with RPZs and areas where new or expanded ones were requested (denoted by the boxes). (City of Seattle)
Areas in Wallingford with RPZs and areas where new or expanded ones were requested (denoted by the boxes). (City of Seattle)

As a standard rule, SDOT uses the following criteria to determine if an area could qualify as a new RPZ: 20 contiguous blockfaces must be or exceed 75% parking utilization and at least 35% of parked vehicles must be of non-residents. Analysis from the study shows that most blockfaces on weekdays generally met the criteria, particularly during daytime hours. The following map highlights blocks (in red) during the 2pm hour on weekdays that qualified:

Blockfaces with red indicate high demand during the evaluated hour. (City of Seattle)
Blockfaces with red indicate high demand during the evaluated hour. (City of Seattle)

The overall study showed that average parking utilization stayed north of 60% consistently across the neighborhood regardless of time day, though certain blocks in the neighborhood met the RPZ criteria for all hours.

Right now, Wallingford has two separate RPZs: one along Stone Way N (RPZ 22) and another along N 45th St (RPZ 5) east of Burke Ave N. RPZ 22 was initially created in 2005 to partially address parking impacts from Lincoln High School and growing mixed-use nature of Stone Way. RPZ 5 was created much earlier in 1988 to address parking impacts primarily associated with the Guild 45th theater–which is sadly now closed. The parking regulations for both PRZs are generally as follows:

  • RPZ 5 completely restricts non-passholders from parking on designated blockfaces from 5pm to midnight each day. The RPZ is generally only located on one side of a street, but occasionally is located on both sides. Blockfaces located on the commercial corridor of N 45th St and some side streets have general time limits as opposed to the RPZ.
  • RPZ 22 has two sets of restrictions. Near Lincoln High School, parking is limited to two hours between 7am and 4pm during weekdays. Closer to the Stone Way N commercial spine, parking is limited to two hours from 8am to 5pm during weekdays, except holidays. RPZ 22 passholders are exempt from the time limits. Blockfaces located on the commercial corridors of N 45th St and Stone Way N as well as some side streets have general time limits as opposed to the RPZ.

There is a variety of possible changes that could be proposed, including:

  • Changing time restrictions in RPZs (e.g., time limits and hours of restrictions);
  • Placing restrictions on one or both sides of a street; and
  • Expanding, contracting, or creating new RPZs.

One option that isn’t a typical feature of the RPZ program is creating paid parking blocks. Though that could most be effective for controlling parking demand on Stone Way N or N 45th St where commercial districts are located. None of the streets in the neighborhood currently have paid parking requirements.

SDOT will return with a proposal early next year for public feedback.

SDOT Finalizes Columbia City Community Access And Parking Program

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Stephen is an urban planner with a passion for promoting sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He advocates for smart policies, regulations, and implementation programs that enhance urban environments by committing to quality design, accommodating growth, providing a diversity of housing choices, and adequately providing public services. Stephen primarily writes about land use and transportation issues.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Zone 5 always boggle my mind. One block off the commercial strip yet no parking allowed for non-passholders during the dinner hour? I’m all for less parking and more transit, but giving all the parking to residents over businesses seems a little counter productive to the businesses. Wallingford seems like a commercial area that is floundering, and I wonder if this is part of the reason why.

    I am glad to learn the zone is as compact as it is. My perception was that it spanned a much longer strip of 45th.

    • It’s not clear what the relationship between parking use and businesses are for this area specifically (there’s no study to my knowledge). But SDOT’s citywide data suggests that on-street parking access contributes to business patronage far less that most business owners tend to think. In other words, local residents and people taking transit, walking, and biking often contribute to large shares of patronage.

      • Are SDOT’s studies around whether street parking contributes to patronage, or on how free/cheap on-street parking compares to higher cost on-street parking? The latter seems to be the fight business owners seem to be in more frequently, when they’re objecting to SDOT wants to up the meter rates in commercial districts.

        I think the common thread would be that parking availability is better for businesses. It doesn’t really matter why there’s no parking (RPZ restrictions vs full utilization). No parking is no parking.

        I’m not arguing. Genuinely curious.

        I sometimes wonder what Wallingford would be like if it were developed like Broadway is. Seems like it has the location, amenities, and wealth to be a ‘hot neighborhood’, yet the commercial area seems to be decaying. Why?

        Kitaro Sushi Bento (1624 N. 45th St, one house east of Molly Moon’s) burnt down 6 years ago (yesterday, coincidently), yet the burned out shell is still there. Why?
        https://mywallingford.com/2011/12/07/two-alarm-fire-burning-in-wallingford/

  2. I hope that requiring multi unit buildings to include off-street parking will be part of the proposed solution.

    • Participation in the restricted parking zoning program is entirely voluntary. There is ample non-RPZ parking throughout Wallingford. Additionally, the RPZ program allows for reduced fees for qualifying households that are eligible to participate in the program. In short, your assertion doesn’t make sense.

  3. That’s a serious mischaracterisation. First of all, there is ample on-street parking in Wallingford. The study confirms that, but there are blocks where parking could be better managed under the RPZ programme to smooth out utilisation. Residents have requested this in order to have consistent access and priority for themselves over visitors. As described above, not all blockfaces necessarily have an RPZ imposed on it and there are always free periods of time in which to park. One does not have to park in an RPZ or park in one during the applicable restriction times. It is absolutely voluntary to park in an RPZ and/or become a passholder. The idea that is somehow inherently regressive takes a lot of intellectual bending and personal entitlement to arrive at.

    I live in the heart of Wallingford and I, too, can unequivocally confirm that there is ample on-street parking. Personally, I’m agnostic on this proposal but clearly many have expressed a desire to expand/consolidate the RPZs.

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