SEATTLE — A proposed bill in the Washington state Senate would require regional transit authorities, like Sound Transit, to subsidize zoned residential parking permits in the vicinity of their facilities.
State Sen. Bob Hasegawa, who represents areas in South King County along the Sound Transit route, is one of the bill’s sponsors.
The bill suggests that the construction of Sound Transit facilities has brought commuters to the area, who then park on residential streets near the stops. Residents living around the stations have then had to ask for zoned parking permits to maintain their parking spots, which cost about $60 every two years. Low-income residents may qualify for a discounted permit of $10 every two years.
Hasegawa told KIRO 7 that neighborhood residents came to him for help.
“For me, it’s a social justice issue, because when you have low-income, fixed-income or immigrant families living together in an area who cannot afford to pay $60 per vehicle on top of all the other fees we’re imposing on them now, then they need to make it right,” Hasegawa said.
While the intention was to preserve street parking for residents, neighbors around transit stations told KIRO 7 that commuters still leave their cars in zoned areas.
Dahlia Marr, who lives near the Beacon Hill station, said the situation is “terrible. Especially on a game day, because this is the closest to SODO.”
She also said some of her neighbors have foregone their front lawns in place of gravel, so they can park their cars in front of their houses.
Marr said she often sees people leaving their cars in front of her house for days at a time while they go on trips.
“It’s an extra burden on us to have to pay for parking, in front of our homes," resident Constance Miller said.
But Martin Duke, editor in chief of the Seattle Transit Blog, doesn’t think Sound Transit should foot the bill.
“I really think our transit dollars should be used to buy transit, not to pay me to store my car on public right-of-way,” Duke said.
He said he also lives in an area close to the transit station and buys a permit to park his car on the street.
He said low-income residents get a discount and pay $10 every two years.
“If you can afford a car, you can afford $5 per year to store it,” he said.
A Sound Transit spokesperson told KIRO 7 that transit officials are working with legislators and the city of Seattle to come up with ways to mitigate the parking impact.
The Seattle Department of Transportation issues zoning permits. A spokesperson there said the city has a philosophy not to build massive parking garages in urban areas. The idea is to encourage walking and riding to transit hubs.