Chinatown–International District parking rates to drop in March

By Staff
Northwest Asian Weekly

Cheaper street parking is coming back to the International District, including a return to free parking during dinner hours in some areas.

The Chinatown–International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA) and Seattle Chinatown–ID Preservation and Development Authority (SCIpda) announced on Monday, Feb. 11, a deal with the city of Seattle to reduce parking rates in the International District.

The deal will bring rates in the outer areas of the district to free from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. and $2 hourly during daytime hours. Evening rates in the district will drop to $1.50 hourly from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and remain unchanged during daytime hours. The original ID rate was $2.50 per hour and free from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) expects new signs to be displayed by late March.

Seattle has also committed to work with Chinatown–ID stakeholders to measure the impact of the rate changes after six months, in addition to looking at alternative solutions for Seattle Center parking issues.

“Bringing back the free evening parking is the best Chinese New Year present I could have asked for,” said Amy Zhang, owner of the Fortune Garden Restaurant. “I appreciate all of the hard work that went into this—it has been a long effort, but we made it.”

Working with the Mayor’s office and Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED) and SDOT, the CIDBIA, and SCIDpda, they were able to collect substantial data demonstrating a drop in business since the evening parking program had been enacted.

Area restaurants had seen a drop of 20-30 percent in dinner time business since the parking rate changes. In addition, the CIDBIA and SCIDpda communicated the community’s concerns about the loss of the Free Ride Area and the ongoing Streetcar construction that have compounded the sense of urgency in the business community.

“The family-run restaurants of the Chinatown-International District are the life-blood of this community, and we are very much focused on how to make sure they are successful and healthy for years to come,” said Don Blakeney, the executive director of the Chinatown-ID Business Improvement Area. “There are a lot of great opportunities on the horizon for the district, like a booming residential market with thousands of new units landing in the next few years, the waterfront redevelopment, the incoming Streetcar, and light rail expansion to the University of Washington. We are thrilled that the city is working with us to make sure that our current businesses will be here to enjoy these developments when they come on line.”

This effort to examine parking is part of a larger center-city initiative, spearheaded by the Mayor’s office. Over the past six months, representatives from the Chinatown-ID have worked in collaboration with city departments to look at a variety of quality of life issues facing the Chinatown-ID and have identified a comprehensive list of opportunities to affect significant change and improvements in the neighborhood.

Programs range from new directed patrols by SPD in crime hot spots of the district, to additional litter bins on sidewalks and the rolling out of a clear alley program later this spring.  Neighborhood stakeholders participating in this larger center-city initiative include representatives from businesses, family associations, the CIDBIA, SCIDpda, and Interim Community Development Association. (end)

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