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Mayor Durkan Announces Citywide Free Parking to Support Residents Staying Healthy at Home and Essential Workers Who Must Drive

Seattle (April 3, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced that the City of Seattle will temporarily eliminate paid and time-limited street parking rules to support residents and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following Governor Inslee’s extension of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, the City will immediately implement these changes to parking so residents do not have to worry about tickets while they remain at home. Elimination of paid parking will also facilitate easier access to essential businesses for employees and customers.

Beginning tomorrow, April 4, The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle Police Department (SPD) will implement the following temporary changes to parking enforcement in the City of Seattle:

  • No payment will be required on streets with paid parking.
  • Hourly time limits will not be enforced outside of Restricted Parking Zones (RPZ).
  • Loading zones up to 30-minutes, including new food pick-up zones, will continue to be enforced.
  • Other previously announced temporary parking enforcement changes including suspension of the 72-hour parking rule will continue until further notice.
  • Special zones will still be in effect, including new zones for hospital and human services staff as well as existing zones for freight, food trucks, or charter buses. 
  • Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) time limits will be enforced so that people who live in RPZ neighborhoods can still find parking near their homes.

“As we adapt to a new normal, we’ve pioneered new successful strategies to help residents and workers including new food pick up zones and new zones for health care workers and human service providers. To improve access to parking for the City’s essential workers, residents remaining at home, or residents visiting essential services, we can provide a small relief for paid parking,” said Mayor Durkan. “We will continue to evaluate and adjust parking regulations to support community needs until we make it through this pandemic.”

“The success of our newly created hospital staff permit program indicated the need to explore additional steps to support people doing essential, front-line duties,” said Sam Zimbabwe, Director of Seattle Department of Transportation.  “Paid parking relief and time limit relief will effectively and immediately provide access to parking to support these essential workers.”

“For those workers at nonprofits, grocery stores, and others on the frontlines, the last thing they should have to worry about is parking meters and tickets during this pandemic,” said City Councilmember Alex Pedersen, Chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee. “With the need during this public health emergency for social-distancing and reduced transit services, I support the Mayor and our Seattle Department of Transportation to allow free parking on public streets so that frontline and essential workers can be where they need to be to assist Seattle during these trying times.”

“I have heard from restaurateurs and residents alike who have been ticketed while getting food to-go or dropping off family members at essential jobs,” said City Councilmember Dan Strauss, District 6. “My office assisted a resident retrieving their improperly towed vehicle during this emergency and no one should have extraneous and avoidable stress added to their lives. We should not be nickel and diming Seattleites during this emergency.”

“People who are working in our shelters are on the ‘front lines’  in this COVID-19 crisis, too,” said City Councilmember Andrew Lewis, District 7. “Like fire fighters and health care workers, people staffing our shelters are also risking their health every day to take care of those who have no other way to stay home. While we will never repay what we owe them for their service right now, allowing them to maximize their time at home and in our shelters without worrying about parking or parking tickets is an important start.”

“Free parking will help to support pick-up options for our small businesses and alleviate the burden on our essential workers and residents in Pioneer Square,” said Lisa Dixon Howard, Executive Director, Alliance for Pioneer Square. “Unprecedented times call for new and innovative solutions and we appreciate the City of Seattle’s efforts to adjust during this very challenging time.”

All other parking regulations will still be enforced – including no parking zones, peak period parking restrictions for transit and travel lanes, disabled permit parking spaces, commercial and passenger load zones, and temporary no parking areas designated by a-frame signs, including temporary food pick-up zones. The Seattle Police Department will prioritize enforcement of parking restrictions that protect safety and maintain access for transit, freight and emergency vehicles. 

Reinstating paid parking will be phased in after the stay home order is lifted. At that time, SDOT will reinstate a minimum payment of $0.50 per hour in all paid areas for three weeks. SDOT will then begin to adjust rates based on demand as customers return to business districts and need reliable access at the curb.   More information about these temporary parking changes can be found here.