City Council approves employee permits within Restricted Parking Zones

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously today to allow the Director of Transportation to grant parking permits to employees working within Restricted Parking Zones (RPZ). The legislation will allow employees, under certain conditions, to have parking privileges similar to residents living near commercial districts and light rail stations.

The legislation was proposed by Transportation Committee Chair Tom Rasmussen after local residents asked the city to give Montlake Elementary School teachers RPZ 1 permits, allowing them all-day access to on-street parking near the school. In recent years, as RPZ 1 has expanded throughout Montlake, school teachers were forced to park farther and farther away, or move their cars every 2 hours. To reduce the burden, some residents donated their guest parking passes to the school. This new legislation could change all of that…

This is where “under certain conditions” come into play. The new rules intend to allow permits for employees without good alternatives for parking, as determined by the director of SDOT. The Council adopted the following guidelines to inform each judgement call:

Among the criteria the Director shall consider in determining whether to grant requests for employee RPZ permits are:

1. Availability of on-street parking on non-RPZ- signed blocks that is within a reasonable walking distance of the employer;

2. Availability of alternate modes of transportation within a reasonable distance;

3. Availability of off-street parking within a reasonable distance;

4. Availability of on-street parking in the RPZ;

5. Time of day that employees work;

6. Number of permits requested by the employer;

7. Existence of other employers within the RPZ that could potentially also request employee permits; and

8. Other hardships that may exist.

For many Montlake residents the call is clear — teachers should be able to park near their school. Whether local businesses should also have the same privileges for their employees is perhaps not as clear. Implementing these new rules is now the pleasure of Seattle’s Director of Transportation.

5 thoughts on “City Council approves employee permits within Restricted Parking Zones

  1. I’m not really sure why teachers need to be special. What about any other employee in Montlake? Nannies? Housekeepers? Librarians? If the RPZ allows employeees to park, why not everyone?

    • First, teachers are special. Montlake Elementary is a special part of this neighborhood; teachers and schools staff have a special relationship to society. The Montlake Elementary School has been there for going on 100 years. They have been neglected in terms of parking even though they occupy a full city block, being given no access to park on that block, while adjacent blocks lock up spots with RPZs. Two of my children have attended, as have many thousands of neighborhood kids. It is of no benefit to me to aid teachers in parking; it has been a multi-year effort that I’ve engaged in because I respect public schools and their teachers.

      Second, every other example you provide has a mechanism to provide parking. All residents in RPZ may obtain a guest pass, which may be used for parking of visitors or employees or contractors when they need to use more than two hours of time in an RPZ zone. Many homes have either a driveway or a parking space in the back. (We have one in the back.) The library built its own parking, and librarians park on the library lot.

      In fact, I and others advocated for in a much smaller part for the merchants of Montlake, who have employees who cannot park nearby during the day when RPZ parking is more or less empty. (My block, after we got RPZ status, on McGraw St between 19th and 20th is about 70%-80% empty during RPZ hours.) These merchants will have the ability to talk to the SDOT about obtaining limited parking permits, too, as well as merchants and schools in other congested parts of town.

      Our merchants are special, too. So is the library.

      The RPZ zones were mostly a way to bump UW parkers, who filled up our neighborhood. Teachers have been parking without complaint for many decades. It is only as UW lost parking lots to construction and increased costs that UW staff and students have filled our unrestricted spots.

      I don’t advocate giving RPZ passes to UW students and staff who park in our neighborhood and don’t live here.

  2. And it only took three years of lobbying! Thanks to all of you who picked up the ball when I had run out of steam on this. I had my first conversations with Seattle DOT in the fall of 2010. Claudia Allen, a SPS governmental rep, and I met with Tom Rasmussen and his staff in January 2011. Then 2 1/2 years of cajoling and follow-up.

  3. The parking zoning in Montlake is indeed an artifact of our relationship with the UW. Montlake, all the way to Calhoun (Elementary School) falls into the Primiary Impact Zone of the UW, while further south and all the way to Montlake, it makes up the Secondary Impact Zone. The UW assumes most of the costs of parking and enforcement for the Primary Impact Zone, while it only pays for Game day enforcement in the Secondary Impact Zone.
    As Glenn explained, UW construction and parking costs are driving many people to park in Montlake. Some park in the evening in the PIZ, especially on Hamlin and Shelby, taking away resident parking and creating some resentment, while others park during the day in the SIZ. This situation has resulted in residents of SIZ closest to the PIZ (which ends at the elementary school) to ask the city to change to Zone 1 (from Zone A). Each block that implements the change dumps its problem on the next southern block.
    Currently, we have a balkanized parking map, which reflects poorly on the neighborhood, and certainly causes an increase in parking costs for all in the SIZ/Zone A. I believe that the UW should pay its fair share which amounts to extending the PIZ to include the entire neighborhood, and that some measures should be put in place to encourage UW (hospital) employees to park on campus or to balance out the parking pressure on Shelby/Hamlin.
    We need the school teachers and other service providers to have access to parking in Montlake. The UW impact zones changes and the employee parking rules are two tools to allow this to happen while preserving parking spaces for the residents.

  4. Glenn you’re actually incorrect — librarians and library staff are NOT allowed to park on library property. There are less than 10 spaces and those spots are reserved for patrons.

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