NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Coming Soon: Parking Rates that go up at Busiest Times

January 5, 2011

Seattle plans to embark on a new age of market-based pricing for parking, ultimately charging more on the busiest blocks at the busiest times, and less at times when extra spaces tend to be available, says Mike Lindblom.

  • Seattle officials hope variable fees will inspire a quicker turnover of precious parking spaces, boosting commerce and reducing carbon burning.
  • In some U.S. urban neighborhoods, as much as 30 percent of all traffic is caused by people who circle the blocks looking for an opening.
  • San Francisco, Los Angeles and Redwood City, Calif., as well as Washington, D.C., and New York, already are trying variable pricing in certain neighborhoods.

The top rate in Seattle will increase this spring from $2 to $4, to help a struggling city budget.  

  • Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has suggested some downtown spaces could fetch $6 to $7, if the city demanded full market value.
  • By 2012, the city could customize rates block by block and add the next variable -- changing by time of day.
  • One possibility is to charge fees deep into the night for the entertainment districts -- something Vancouver, B.C., is trying in a theater district until 10 p.m.
  • Another is premium prices for ballgames -- Washington, D.C., charges up to $8 per hour outside Nationals Stadium.

Source: Mike Lindblom, "Coming Soon: Parking Rates that go up at Busiest Times," Seattle Times, December 30, 2010.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues