CBRA meeting focuses on Reserved Parking Zones in Ballard

Feb. 13 the Central Ballard Residents Association (CBRA) held their monthly meeting to discuss a litany of community issues. Topics for discussion were updates on the land use and the Department of Planning Development ‘s changes to the Low-rise Multi-family code corrections (Jan. 14th meeting); introduction progress toward a public loo in Ballard, and issues and events related to public safety and emergency preparedness. Moreover, representatives of Livable Ballard were in attendance and there was discussion of their online petition for land use and development regulation changes.

Additionally, the feature speakers were Ruth Harper and Jonathan Williams of SDOT who presented results of a Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) eligibility study requested by CBRA in 2013. CBRA requested the study for informational purposes only and does not necessary support RPZ parking but feel it is another potential way to ease building parking density in Ballard.

An RPZ zone is a designated area where drivers need a permit in order to park on the street. RPZ programs started in 1977 around the Mont lake area and have grown to 31 different areas. RPZ’s are designed to provide relief from major institutions affecting parking in neighborhoods. These zones are monitored by SDOT parking enforcement. Currently the cost for RPZ zone permits are $65 and $10 for qualified low-income citizens. Permits do not guarantee a parking space. Moreover, one additional guest pass is issued with every permit for another vehicle. Before implementing a RPZ, SDOT looks at other ways to increase parking before they consider a RPZ.

The study looked at the residential area to the north the of Ballard Urban Hub core (N.W. 57th Street to N.W. 65th Avenue and 15th Avenue NW to 28th Avenue N.W.). SDOT looked to see if the area has the necessary volume of parking and other criteria that qualify the area for designating it as an RPZ zone .
According to SDOT the criteria for designating an RPZ are:

• 75 percent of on-street spaces must be occupied
• At least 35 percent of those spaces are used by non-local
• There must be ten contiguous blocks in the zone (20 block faces,
which are one half blocks)
• There must be an identifiable generator (Large schools, ferry station, large hospitals)

The study took samples during two different days to gauge the volume of parking. They tested on a Friday night at 7p.m. to get a feel for non-residential vehicles parking in Ballard and again at 4 a.m. on Wednesday to gauge actual residential parking.

Williams, a researcher in the study, said that SDOT counted on-street parked cars in the requested area. They only counted and did not factor in whether cars are local or not by looking up license plates, which is a longer more extensive study.

“The findings suggest that on Fridays at 7p.m. it’s a terrible place to find parking,” joked Williams.

Using a detailed map, Williams explained that on Fridays, streets south of N.W. 60th Street are saturated with parked cars with some small pockets here and there. North of N.W. 60th Street the availability for parking is dramatically higher with some streets barely occupied.

The sample collected on Wednesday at 4 a.m. gauging actual resident’s parking volume, determined less than 75 percent occupancy of on-street parking.Looking at the differences of the two samples, SDOT concluded that making the tested areas an RPZ would not be beneficial, and that other options to increase parking should be considered.

“Based on our initial studies there is not an area that fits the criteria for an RPZ. There is certainly high parking occupancy in the residential neighborhoods closest to Market Street and Ballard Avenue, but a very significant part of the evening parking demand on the residential streets appears to be from local residents,” wrote Williams in an email to the Ballard News Tribune.

Potential options to increase parking in this area are to allow parking on narrower streets that currently only allow parking on one side. Harper said that when this happens it not only opens more space for parking, but also slows down traffic on the street making it safer. Another option mentioned was thinning down the number of commercial and load only zones directly in the Urban Core.

The speakers said that the next steps are to explore the area to find streets where adding parking would work, and determine other days and times to study the areas in order to get a better read on parking density.
One concern raised by community members was how RPZ’s are applied to micro and congregate dwellings. Harper said that micro-dwelling residents only have opportunity for up to four parking passes at a first come first serve basis and special considerations are taken for congregate housing residents based on the parking context of where they live.

Moving though the meeting, Ethan Van Eck, CBRA secretary of the board and chair of the Land Use committee, updated the group on Land use issues. He announced that the Jan. 14 DPD regulation changes for Low-rise zones will be ready for overview sometime in March. Moreover, he reported Livable Ballard’s progress in accumulating petition signatures on their website. Representatives of the Livable Ballard said they are seeing over 100 signatures every day. For more information their website is http://livableballard.org/.

According to Livable Ballard’s website, through their petition they “seek corrections to Seattle’s current Low-rise multifamily land use code while requesting a more transparent and resident-inclusive project vetting process. We hope this petition will encourage more community involvement in shaping
Ballard’s future."

Another topic discussed was that SDOT will be allocating funds to facilitate a community discussion about the potential community loo project. Modeled after a loo in Portland, the Central Ballard loo would provide safe access for citizens by using design features that make activity more viewable while still maintaining privacy.

Public safety and emergency preparedness were also on the docket, and CBRA speakers announced the addition of a new Seattle Police Department Community Team Officer, Michael Cruzan, who will replace Officer Wear. They also announced that according to SPD’s Capt. David Emerick, that in the North Precinct, robbery had fallen 48 percent and that in the last three months auto thefts have increase by 38 percent.

Additionally, CBRA announced Ballard’s Common Park Emergency Relief Group (sponsored by CBRA) will host emergency preparedness community drill meetings on March 8th and the morning of May 17th (They are aware of the parade, of course). Look to the CBRA website, http://www.centralballard.org/, for additional information.

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