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In late 2009, the Tacoma City Council authorized the implementation of a paid on-street parking program in the downtown core. In 2010, a Downtown Parking Advisory Task Force – a 12-member citizen panel – was formed to advise Tacoma’s City Manager and the City Council on key features of the paid parking system. The City of Tacoma is currently taking steps to begin a paid on-street parking in the downtown core. The electronic pay stations will be installed offering several payment options for parkers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to a few frequent questions asked by downtown parkers. This site will be updated with more answers to questions the City receives.
Will there be changes to parking for people with disabilities?
There will be no changes in parking for persons with disabilities.
Washington State Legislature RCW 46.61.582
Any person who meets the criteria for special parking privileges under RCW 46.16.381 shall be allowed free of charge to park a vehicle being used to transport that person for unlimited periods of time in parking zones or areas including zones or areas with parking meters which are otherwise restricted as to the length of time parking is permitted. This section does not apply to those zones or areas in which the stopping, parking, or standing of all vehicles is prohibited or which are reserved for special types of vehicles. The person shall obtain and display a special placard or license plate under RCW 46.16.381 to be eligible for the privileges under this section.
With the new parking system, how does the city define “chain parking” and is it still illegal, even if I live downtown?
Under the new program chain parking is defined as parking in the same spot for the maximun allowable time, then moving your car down the same block to continue parking. Chain parking is, and will continue to be, illegal. The city strongly encourages residents against chain parking, and instead encourages off street parking as a more convenient and less expensive alternative. As with the downtown core in most cities, on street parking is designed for use by customers, visitors and clients and a vibrant downtown will make for a better residential experience.
What are the fines if I get a ticket?
Parking fines are listed in Tacoma Municipal Code Title 11: http://cms.cityoftacoma.org/cityclerk/Files/MunicipalCode/Title11-Traffic.PDF
What are the boundaries for paid parking? Boundaries in the downtown core for paid on-street parking are: 7th Street (both sides), Market Street (both sides), 21st Street and Dock Street (both sides). A total of about 1,500 parking spaces will be metered. (View a map of the paid parking boundaries at tacomaparking.com).
How much will on-street parking cost?
During an initial period, Tacoma will offer a reduced rate of only 75¢ per hour. The rate will be reviewed periodically by the Parking Advisory Task Force and will be subject to change. This will be the lowest hourly rate in the Puget Sound area – and significantly below major northwest cities rates in Seattle ($2.50 per hour) and Portland ($1.60).
How will parking revenues be used?
City Council has dedicated all meter revenues to the City’s Parking Enterprise Fund which will be used to operate and enhance the parking system and to pay off existing debt.
Why install paystations (rather than traditional parking meters?)
Electronic paystations have become the U.S. and global parking standard, replacing the old “single/double head” meters in most cities. The primary advantage of pay stations is their ability to accept both coins and credit/debit cards for payment. In cities where paystations are used most parkers prefer to pay with cards. Paystations are also more reliable, cost less to maintain, and are less susceptible to theft. Many Tacoma parkers already have gained experience over the past decade using paystations in other northwest cities.
On what days/hours will paid parking (and time limits) be enforced?
Tacoma currently enforces parking time limits from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday – except holidays.
Holidays recognized by the City of Tacoma include:
January: New Years Day [January 1st]
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day [3rd Monday]
February: Presidents Day [3rd Monday]
May: Memorial Day [Last Monday]
July: Independence Day [July 4th]
September: Labor Day [1st Monday]
November: Veterans Day [November 11th]
Thanksgiving Day [4th Thursday]
Day After Thanksgiving
December: Christmas Day [December 25th]
***When an above listed holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is a free parking day.
I parked today and paid for a full hour, but only stayed 15 minutes at my first stop. Can I still park elsewhere downtown as long as I’m still within the allotted time printed on my sticker?
Yes, you can. If you have a handful of errands to run downtown and buy an hour’s worth of parking, you can move parking spots and use the same sticker as long as you stay within the allotted time printed on it.
Will parking be regulated outside the paid parking area?
For the blocks closest to the metered area will need to be controlled to discourage downtown employees from moving just outside the metered zone to avoid paying for on-street or off-street parking. This will also help keep on-street spaces there open for downtown customers and visitors.
Are residential parking permits available for those who live downtown?
Tacoma is divided in to three zones for residential parking permits:
1. Within the downtown core (from 7th St. to 21st St. and from Market St. to Dock St.) residential parking permits are not available.
2. Within the buffer zone (from Tacoma Avenue to S. 4th St. to Dock St. and to S. 21st St.) existing permits will be honored, but no new permits will be issued.
3. For the remainder of Tacoma call (253) 591-5500 for more information.
The current residential permit system is under review and public input will be a major component in crafting a new system. There is no guarantee that any existing permit would be valid after this review has been completed.
If I have to walk down the block to a pay station and then walk back to put the sticker on my car, do I risk getting a ticket during that period?No, if you are in the act of securing a sticker for your car, you don’t risk getting a ticket. Intent is key. And, when you pay for parking you actually get two extra minutes on your ticket to account for the time it may take to put the sticker on your car before heading to your destination. However, If you are ducking in to get coffee or running into the post office, you risk getting a ticket, since your intent was never to pay for parking
Why return to paid on-street parking?
In recent years, on-street parking in Tacoma’s downtown core has become congested for long periods of time. That’s a sign of success – but also a problem for customers who can’t find a space. Studies show that many on-street spaces are taken by downtown employees who should be using available off-street parking or alternate travel options (transit, bike, walk, etc.). Paid on-street parking will facilitate a “Customers First” need and it will increase parking turnover to the benefit of the short stay customers.
Will there be new time limits?
Current parking time limits range from 15 minutes to 2 hours across most of Tacoma’s downtown with most on-street parking spaces limited to one hour. A customer survey of parking utilization shows that most stays are around 90 minutes.
Where will downtown employees find parking?
Tacoma’s downtown has many public and private off-street parking lots and garages distributed throughout the area. Cost saving alternatives are also available such as public transit, carpools, biking and walking. (You can get more information from Downtown on the Go! at (www.downtownonthego.org). Additional information and links to travel options are being developed and will be posted in the coming weeks.
How can I find out more or get involved with this process?
The Parking Advisory Task Force currently meets weekly through April 2010 and then will meet every other week or as needed. The meeting schedule, agendas, locations, and minutes are posted on this website. Each month the public will have an opportunity to address the Task Force members. You are encouraged to attend any of the open and public meetings.
When did paid parking begin?
Sept. 20, 2010
How will my posted comments be addressed?
City staff will track the comments received through this website and then provide them to the task force. A member of the task force or City staff will then provide a timely response.
Send your comments and questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email contact for this Web page: Public Works