On Tuesday, I was correctly admonished for not providing data in an opinion piece where I criticized another opinion piece for not having data. Sorry about that. As penance, here’s some data about the neighborhoods that have recently increased paid parking hours from 6pm to 8pm.
SDOT published a very detailed report (34MB PDF) from two large parking surveys. The first was performed in November 2010, before rates were increased. The second was performed in June of 2011, after rates increased. The report was intended to show the effect of this rate increase, but I’m more interested in the shape of the curves to see if charging for parking after 6pm could be beneficial. Of course the real useful data, comparing parking rates and turnover before and after the longer parking hours were implemented isn’t available yet.
Let’s start with Capitol Hill, the area discussed in the original Times piece:
The peak occupancy clearly starts after 4pm, and continues to grow until 7pm, when all streets surveyed are completely filled*. Why after 4pm? My view: Ticket vending machines have a maximum of 2 hours, so after that point it’s possible to park until 8am for the price of 2 hours of parking. The closer you get to 6pm the cheaper this all-night parking becomes, but it’s also harder to find a place to park. By 7pm all legal street parking is filled, and there is no longer an incentive to move any of these vehicles until 8am. Street parking is effectively unavailable for restaurant customers after 6 pm. I have no data about the turnover of cars at this point, or whether the owners of these cars are at home, at work, or shopping – I’m not sure this data exists. But I will point out how convenient it might be to park after a regular work day for nearly free on the street until 8am if you happen to live nearby.
This is a good place to point out Eric de Place’s excellent work comparing actual gross receipts in these areas, showing that restaurant business went up after the increased paid parking hours.
For completeness, here are the other neighborhoods where paid parking was extended until 8pm. The trend is similar in several but not all neighborhoods. In fact the one notable exception is the downtown commercial district on weekdays, though Saturdays follows this trend and Sundays are completely filled throughout the day.
* Street spaces aren’t marked, so occupancy percentage varies by vehicle size and a value over 100% is possible.