Finding parking in Capitol Hill, like the endless rain and the Mariners being bad, is one of those things that should only be brought up when someone is trying to contradict what we all know to be true. And so when the Seattle Department of Transportation released a study recently indicating that there were more spots available in Capitol Hill over the past couple of years, it forced me to put on my arguing pants. Has anyone seen my arguing pants?
According to the study, which was probably done by the same people behind the Warren Report, more spaces on Capitol Hill have been opening up as a result of the extension of paid parking hours from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., which was instated to dissuade drivers from parking all evening and enjoying themselves. The study found that spaces opened up around 6 p.m. and were usually filled an hour later. It sounds promising, until you consider that now everyone will purposely look for spots at 6 p.m., rendering any progress moot.
This is one of those studies that may technically be true, but doesn’t feel right, like when people say pizza is bad for you. Where are all these magical spaces? I assume that we’re talking about spaces next to the curb and not space in general. There is certainly plenty of space in Capitol Hill, above the ground and on the roads and to the right of trees, but if we’re talking about gravity-bound spaces in designated parking spots, then I haven’t seen any extra.
I’d be curious to see how this study was conducted. How can we know that all these spaces were truly open? Were the researchers standing in the open spots while conducting their study, deliberately preventing people from parking in them? Maybe there was someone parking right at that very moment, and hadn’t moved into the space yet. Or perhaps a person was standing in the space to temporarily hold it for a friend, a move which should be illegal (if you want to hold a space for a friend, you should have to do it with another car).
For all we know, the city quietly passed a law that makes it legal to park in front of fire hydrants, and counted those spots as part of the study. There’s probably a tiny asterisk at the bottom of the report which says: “The added spaces in this study now include those in front of fire hydrants, driveways, and in Idaho.” You always have to read the fine print.
There’s also the possibility that less people are coming to Capitol Hill at night because of the extension of paid parking hours, and going to some other neighborhood, like Ballard or Wallingford, or the University Village shopping center (I think that’s considered a separate neighborhood now). Hope you people are having fun in those other neighborhoods. What do they have that we don’t, besides barbecue and parking and different grocery stores? Nothing!
Look, spots may have been open, but they’re open the same way a bank is open, with very strict times to get there. In the past year, I’ve circled and parked illegally as much as I ever have. I’ve covered fire hydrants with boxes that say “Not a Fire Hydrant,” had other cars towed, and used those construction vehicles with giant magnets to lift cars enough feet off the ground to fit mine underneath. Sometimes I purposely get into car accidents so I can leave my car in the middle of the road. “We should probably exchange information,” I say, “But let me go see a movie first.”
So you can release as many “studies” as you want, SDOT, it won’t change what I feel to be true. It won’t make me forget the moments that I yelled at spaces that were just a little too small, or circled so many times that I lost consciousness like astronauts who sit in that spinning thing at NASA.
I will complain about the lack of parking until the parking problem is completely fixed, and even then, I’ll still complain a little. It passes the time.