City council passes sweeping parking reforms in the hopes of reducing Seattle traffic

The Seattle City Council on Monday passed a sweep of parking reforms – all in an effort to reduce the number of cars on the road. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - The Seattle City Council on Monday passed a sweep of parking reforms – all in an effort to reduce the number of cars on the road.

Councilmember Rob Johnson, who has worked on the reforms for two years, said there are more than five million parking spots available for some 700,000 cars. He said the city needs to discourage people from driving.

“We have a lot of supply, but we’re not doing a good job managing the demand,” Johnson said in council chambers.

In a 7-1 vote, the council supported the proposal.

The proposal, among other things, will no longer require developers to build a certain number of parking stalls in new construction. In neighborhoods well-served by mass transit councilmembers say developers might not have to build any off-street parking at all.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold was the sole dissenter. She’s concerned the move will disproportionately impact low-income residents who work at Uber, Lyft or Instacart drivers.

She said the council needed to weigh “the social justice impacts on low-income folks who need their vehicles.”

Councilmember Mike O’Brien praised the proposal and said it’s another indicator that Seattle is serious about reducing carbon emissions.

“You all have elected a council that is committed to doing climate work,” he said.

Councilmember heard a mix of testimony on the proposal during the public comment period.

People held up signs condemning parking, another woman wore a turtleneck shirt that read that driving is “immoral and immature.” Another person informed the council she can get where she wants easily on mass transit.

“If you built it they will come,” the woman said. “That means if you build parking you encourage cars.”

A man, who said he has owned an apartment building in Eastlake for 30 years, told the council many of his tenants need to drive as far as Bellevue for work. He said the parking reforms will punish them.

“The idea that they’ll give up their cars when you restrict street parking I don’t believe is realistic,” he said.

Henrique Romero, who works at Amazon and walks to work from his South Lake Union apartment, said he pays $200 month for parking.

“I already had a car when I moved here if I didn’t have a car I’d be thinking twice about buying a new car,” Romero.

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