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Fixing Seattle’s Parking Crisis

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Seattle’s Looming Parking Crisis

With Seattle Metro cuts and transportation project delays, Seattle commuters are about to face a major parking problem.

Across the U.S., the pandemic has caused major revenue deficits for businesses and cities. In Seattle, these deficits will unfortunately directly impact the commuter population. In addition to cuts in bus routes, the new streetcar project, which was anticipated to move 1.3 million passengers a year, was also delayed. And as the city reopens, this is not great news for commuters.

In 2019, nearly half of all commuters chose public transportation as their preferred method of transit. However, with fears of virus transmission and a barebones public transit system, Seattleites may be forced to rely more heavily on cars. Teleworking is a definite possibility in a tech capital like Seattle. Before the pandemic, 14 percent of workers were working remotely at least once a week. But even if this trend continues, where will they park for the remaining days that they are in the office, especially with more cars than before commuting into the city center?

Hotels. Hotels? Yes. Hotels.

With international tourism down and hotels sitting nearly empty across every major city, the hospitality industry could greatly benefit from an alternate revenue stream. Parking could be that new revenue stream. With most hotels in the city being located in busy city centers, their empty parking spaces could serve as an amazing parking lot for commuters.

Think about it: as businesses reopen and the availability of public transit decreases, there will be more commuters looking for parking leases in business districts. There will also continue to be fewer people staying in hotels. By using these empty spaces for commuters and providing flexible leases, both parties can benefit. Flexible leases could allow for space sharing among employees, as commuters may not be in the office full time. It could also include flexibility on the length of the lease, setting up month-to-month options in case of another lockdown. With so many unknowns, flexibility will be key for businesses to attract commuters to their lots.

Maximizing Parking Assets

And it’s not just hotels that can benefit. Office buildings, where the majority of employees are working remotely, could rent out spaces to make up for building maintenance expenses. In fact, around 90 percent of leased office spaces in Seattle are sitting vacant currently. Tourist attractions could also lease their parking spaces to commuters, or to fleets of delivery or rental cars. In 2019, the vacancy rate in the downtown core was at 16 percent and rental prices have dropped 9 percent. This means that multifamily rental buildings could also use a boost. Leveraging parking for an additional source of income can help many businesses stay ahead.

Using parking apps and technology can help to make this a smooth and easy process for businesses. Parking apps can help match supply and demand, informing businesses of how to make the most of their untapped revenue source – parking. They can even provide background checks, ensuring that businesses are choosing trustworthy renters for their spaces. By using apps, businesses are guaranteed a steady source of income without increasing the workload for property or building managers.

Unlocking Revenue and Reducing Stress

In 2017, Seattle drivers were spending an average of 58 hours per year looking for parking spaces. As the availability of, and trust in, public transit decreases, time spent looking for parking will only increase, translating to wasted time, increased stress, and higher levels of pollution. Businesses with unused parking assets can not only help decrease stress, pollution, and wasted time but also tap into a new revenue stream that will help maintain their bottom lines.

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