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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words

September 30, 2010 at 4:01 PM

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Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn proposes $4 parking price

Posted by Letters editor

Parking hikes will hurt downtown businesses,

force many into inadequate transit system

Editor, The Times:

Mayor Mike McGinn’s proposal to jack up parking rates and increase the hours and days that parking is metered in downtown Seattle is misguided at best [“Seattle mayor to drivers: Pay up,” page one, Sept. 29]. The same day I read that Metro is reducing and eliminating routes in many parts of the city, our mayor is proposing changes to further reduce Seattleites’ options for patronizing downtown establishments.

Like most of us, I am all for protecting the environment and reducing our carbon footprint. We traded in a fuel-inefficient SUV for a small car for running errands. Our household walks, bikes and takes the bus when we can. I voted, and paid more than a thousand dollars in incremental car-tab fees, for a monorail that was never built.

I enjoy going downtown for shopping, dinner and occasional trips to the office; however, I already limit these trips due to the hassle of getting downtown, and these recent proposals only exacerbate the situation. I am frustrated that the travel time by bus is triple the time by car, unless it’s during the very limited hours when express buses run (and are typically “standing-room only”).

Parking is already expensive downtown, yet there are no efficient alternatives to get there. I chose my neighborhood in large part for its proximity to downtown, but a check of the Metro route planner shows I could take a bus from Southcenter to downtown in 25 percent less time than it takes to travel the five to six miles by bus from my home in Green Lake. The reality is we’re not “there” with our mass-transit options, and the mayor’s untimely proposals only encourage sprawl by driving folks away from the core at a time when we are trying to increase density.

With proposed meter rates higher than New York City or San Francisco (where there are convenient mass transit options), and no efficient alternatives, it appears McGinn is not just anti-cars, but anti-“anything but bikes.” Many of us can’t, or don’t wish to, go to work or dinner in reflective safety vests, disheveled helmet-hair and sweaty or wrinkled clothing. Retailers and restaurateurs pay a premium for downtown locations and aren’t going to stick around if sales continue to slump — do we really want to be like L.A. was 10 years ago?

Bring back the car-tab premiums if you must (so long as we actually get something to show for them this time), but please don’t penalize downtown with these exorbitant parking hikes.

— Mary Muller, Seattle

Bicyclists must pay

Dear Mayor McGinn,

Your proposed parking increases for Seattle are outrageous. I work at Harborview Hospital, carpool during the week and work weekends.

Because I do not have convenient transit for my weekend shift, I must drive. You have taken away 99 percent of the neighborhood parking. Now you want to eliminate Sundays?

How about registering your beloved bicycles — and having bike riders subsidize all the perks you have given them? A $20 per year registration or license for bicyclists would go a long way to placate Seattle residents.

— Joyce Rafferty, Seattle

Utility cuts are real problem, not parking

I am puzzled why The Seattle Times has a large, front-page alarmist story about downtown parking rate increases in the mayor’s proposed budget. What deserves attention in the mayor’s budget proposal is the increases in utility rates.

Just looking at electricity rates: the City Council recently increased City Light rates by 14 percent over two years and now with additional increases of more than 4 percent per year we are looking at compounded increases of about 23 percent in two years.

In case the politicians have not noticed, it is not just public-sector employees who are dealing with a recession. People in the private sector who are lucky enough to still be employed have at best had zero percent wage increases for the past three years; in fact, most who are still working are on reduced hours and wages.

Massive cost increases in basic essentials (water, power, heat, garbage and sewer) are grossly unfair and hit the poor the hardest. People can live just fine without parking downtown if the prices are too high. Living without water and power is a lot more challenging.

I am hoping The Times will investigate and report on this issue, rather than carrying the torch for the Downtown Public Association and whining about parking prices downtown.

— Nic Rossouw, Seattle

Not everyone lives within biking distance

I think it’s safe to say no one is happy about Mike McGinn’s new parking legislation. The mayor’s new budget proposals will raise the hourly rate of parking in downtown from $2.50 to $4, in hopes of saving Seattle’s transportation fund.

Our current rate of $2.50 puts us about in the middle of the average in the nation’s biggest cities, but with this recent increase it will put us at the highest end of the spectrum, equaling the cost of parking in L.A. and nearing that of Chicago. This new change will only cause citizens to be discouraged to go downtown because of the inconvenience of parking.

McGinn’s hope is that people will choose a greener means of transportation such as bicycling or taking the bus, but a lot of people who commute to downtown live in the far north or south regions where getting to downtown just isn’t that easy. I know the mayor is trying to solve a rather important issue, but he made a poor decision in how to go about it.

— David Chapman, Seattle

‘I’d walk a mile, or three, to avoid a parking fee!’

I don’t understand this proposed increase in parking fee, but then, I didn’t understand the parking fees when they first went into effect.

My taxes paid for the streets, they pay for their upkeep, so why should I pay again for something I’ve already paid for?

I take the bus rather than pay for parking and I’d walk a mile, or three, to avoid a parking fee!

Raising the fares in private parking lots also might be counterproductive because it might all of a sudden make shopping on line a lot more attractive, cheaper and easier.

— Annette Brigham, Seattle

‘Abusive’ bicyclists endanger pedestrians, must be held accountable

Daily we read about the budget shortfalls and proposed new taxes, especially on cars and parking, and yet daily we read about Seattle streets being “dieted,” redesigned for bicycle safety, including new “bike boxes” at stop lights.

Where did Mayor Mike McGinn find the funds for these projects, prioritized for a small, special group? Why no delay on these activities, rethink the use of these funds?

It is time to enact “user fees” for bikes — if they want special lanes, “bike boxes,” they need to pay fees, taxes! With licensing of bicycles should come a mandatory safety course as many do not understand their position on the streets.

As an “endangered species,” the pedestrian, I daily see the abusive bike rider who feels empowered by Seattle’s mayor and uses Seattle streets, sidewalks, bike trails in any manner he chooses, regardless of danger to walkers, strollers, other bikers, cars or themselves.

The time has come to demand that this privileged group be held accountable for its actions, its use of public arenas.

License them, tax them — hold them accountable when they endanger others.

— Sylvia Hubbert, Seattle

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