When it comes to difficulties finding on-street or lot parking in Capitol Hill, it’s what’s inside multifamily and commercial buildings that could count toward alleviating the well-documented neighborhood issue.

Mayor Tim Burgess in mid-November passed legislation on to the Seattle City Council that would allow property owners with unused parking spaces to rent those stalls out to the public.

“If a building has unused parking stalls, we shouldn't block them from renting those spaces out to someone who needs a place to keep their vehicle,” said Burgess in a news release announcing the legislation. “I hear complaints about the on-street parking crunch in our densest neighborhoods, and I’ve experienced it myself.  It’s the reason I’m advancing this comprehensive package of parking options, ranging from making car share parking more available to changing parking requirements for income-restricted housing.”

Heavily influenced by Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections director Nathan Torgelson’s report and recommendations for neighborhood parking reform, the legislation is expected to go before the council’s Planning, Land Use & Zoning Committee in December.

“We’ve been advocating for a lot of these changes since 2014,” said Capitol Hill Housing senior planner Alex Brennan. “It’s exciting to see ideas you’re advocating for turn into real legislation.”

According to the director’s report, Capitol Hill and other center city neighborhoods have mid-afternoon paid parking usage at 70-93 percent, and hitting capacity regularly at night.

SDOT is expanding evening on-street paid parking to 10 p.m. from 8 p.m. in Capitol Hill-North, Capitol Hill-South and the Pike/Pine corridor.

Shared parking in lowrise, midrise and highrise zones, most commercial and industrial zones and mixed-use development garages in light rail station areas is proposed.

Brennan said parking has a big impact on affordability and climate change, with underground parking estimates at around $33,000 per stall.

“At the same time, we build those spaces and they don’t get used a lot,” Brennan said, adding that doesn’t mean residents in apartments and mixed-use developments aren’t paying for them through their rent.

The 2012 Right Size Parking Study examined five Capitol Hill complexes with a total of 520 units and 627 residential parking spaces. Sixty-six percent were occupied, meaning 212 spaces were unused.

“A similar study by the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict found 66% night-time occupancy of 613 parking spaces in 14 buildings in the Pike Pine neighborhood,” the director’s report states. “These findings point out that many existing buildings have off-street parking that is being significantly underused.”

SDCI is also calling for the unbundling of parking space rentals from multifamily rental and lease agreements in new structures with 10 or more units, and for leases in existing and new commercial structures at 10,000 square feet or more.

Brennan said CHH held a focus group in 2014 that involved developers and property owners, with shared-parking supporters including Dunne & Hobbs, Madrona Real Estate, Gerding Edlen and Hunters Capital.

“We were part of the study, and so Capitol Hill Housing got a grant to look at shared parking in a study,” said Hunters Capital chief operating officer Jill Cronauer, adding the developer’s Broadway building already has a mix of residential and public parking. “I know that in some properties there are more spaces than are being utilized.”

On Broadway and in the Pike/Pine areas there is an issue of vehicle owners moving from one paid parking stall to the next, Cronauer said, which means spots are not being freed up for retail customers.

Brennan said having an increased parking supply in Capitol Hill is good for the environment, as drivers won’t be spending an extended length of time looking for a space.

“As new infill development occurs in Capitol Hill and other neighborhoods, competition for on-street parking will increase, although the degree of

added demand will relate to factors like new residents’ vehicle ownership rates,” the director’s report states, adding on-street parking, metering and restricted parking zones are other influences.

But Capitol Hill is a neighborhood where developments are coming up more often without parking. There were 33 such developments in the Capitol Hill Urban Center from mid-2012 to late 2016, according to the director’s report.

CHH has partnered with the University of Washington to develop less expensive data-collection sensors, which would make it easier to track and report garage parking data. UW CoMotion is working with Amazon Catalyst, which provided it with a $100,000 grant in June to continue work on the technology. Joshua Smith of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and Electrical Engineering is leading that work.

CHH also made recommendations to legislators in June about how changes in policy could make shared parking easier to implement.

A disincentive for property owners to engage in a shared-parking model is a tax on commercial parking, which in a standard service lot is 22.6 cents for every dollar that goes to the lot owner, Brennan said.

State legislation has given the city of Seattle the ability to collect a commercial parking tax, which it does, Brennan said, but the state defines what constitutes commercial parking.

Neighborhood Parking Directors Report by branax2000 on Scribd