Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

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Jan 10 2010

Light Rail Parking in South East Seattle

Published by at 9:51 am under Light Rail,Parking,Transportation

I have been hearing from citizens and I have read some recent internet postings regarding the issue of parking lots in the vicinity of light rail stations. Here is the issue: In the early part of the decade, the Seattle City Council passed legislation which established transit overlay zones which prohibits certain types of land uses within quarter mile circles of light rail stations. I am certain this legislation was passed with good intentions. However, the lack of parking lots in the overlay zones are producing unintended consequences for businesses and residents. Case in point: the Safeway store on South Othello and Martin Luther King Jr. Way South sits adjacent to the Othello Station. When the light rail line opened, store management noticed that their parking lot was being filled by light rail riders. Grocery stores do not have the resources to manage their parking lots. In turn, Safeway contracted with Diamond Parking to manage their lot to ensure that the “park and hide” stopped and Safeway customers would have a place to park. Sounds reasonable, correct? Because of Safeway’s location in the transit overlay zone, Diamond Parking was verbally told by the city that they could not operate a “pay lot.” This is a situation where a business is being hampered by city regulation.

I have heard from citizens and businesses in neighborhoods along the light rail line about their disappointment that private parking lots are not permitted in the overlay zones. I have heard that more parking is desired in these areas to help promote economic development. I am looking into a policy change regarding parking lots in transit overlay zones. While the policy to prohibit parking in these zones may have been well intended, it appears as though it was implemented against the will of the people and the discussion needs to be re-introduced.

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