Changes Coming to Parking in Downtown Tacoma

Some changes are coming to parking in downtown Tacoma, and some of you aren't going to like them. We noticed this note this morning on the City's homepage:

Downtown’s popularity, particularly the University of Washington -Tacoma area, generally Pacific and Jefferson avenues from 17th to 21st streets, has exceeded expectations.

Therefore, on Sept. 20, area parking time limits will shorten to 90 minutes and extend until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.  In addition, the “Saturday Special” (which allows visitors to pay $1.50 for all-day parking throughout downtown), will no longer apply in this area.

Exactly three years ago, paid parking came to downtown Tacoma to ensure parking turnover so that even those coming into downtown for a few minutes to visit a business or friend could find a space. It was, and still is, designed to encourage those staying longer to use alternative transportation or off-street parking options.

Rates stay the same - 75 cents per hour.

The City will begin launching a targeted public education effort which echoes the campaign used to launch the program three years ago on Friday, Sept. 13.

Same rates. Shorter parking times. No more all-day-Saturday parking. Can you make that work?

Are you ready for a little change in your parking?

Do you want to help the folks at Exit133 pay our bills and keep up with of all things Tacoma? Do you want to see even more coverage? Exit133 has always been free to read and comment, and it will stay that way. However, over the years, readers have contributed to the bank account to help us keep up our coverage of goings-on around town. Contribute and this message disappears!

Support Exit133


Joel Larson

In talking to several of the shop owners along that stretch, parking becomes an issue during the academic year when students will come and park and continue to feed the meter, or not care and get a ticket. The 90-minute time limit will be interesting since most classes run 125 minutes.

September 13, 2013 at 6:56 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0


To paraphrase Yogi Berra: “nobody goes to that part of town anymore… it’s too crowded”

September 13, 2013 at 8:14 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0

Fred davie

Really surprised that the young people still prefer to drive cars to school. Here we’ve been spending $15K per year per student in public education all the while teaching them about how wonderful public transit is and how evil the auto is. Interesting to see how naturally unappealing socialism is to thoughtful people.

September 13, 2013 at 8:30 am / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 0


I see the need for these changes and know that it won’t be popular. I do think that it is a step in the right direction, especially if one reads and understands the study done by Donald Shoup of UCLA Department of Urban Planning. Since the new meters are easily programmed, the parking time limit can be flexed according to need for change in each area of the city.

More changes to come? Hopefully so.

September 13, 2013 at 9:06 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0


Two proposals are good, the third misguided and although well meaning, ultimately harmful.

The proposals to extend the time charged for parking and increase the price on Saturdays in response to increased demand are sound.

However, the proposal to respond to higher demand for parking with reduced time limits is misguided (wrong), and against the literature on parking management and contrary to the trend of cities.

The goal is to have an 85 percent parking occupancy rate.  If the demand has increased in this area so that there is no longer 15 percent of the spaces open, the proper response is to increase the price a bit until the right vacancy rate is reached.

The proposal to respond with increased demand with lowered time limits is troubling for a number of reasons.  First off, it appears that the city is now abandoning market rate pricing for parking management in Tacoma.  And instead is considering implementing a methodology specifically rejected in best practices for parking management.

Reducing the time allowed is completely contrary to Professor Shoup’s recommendation, who is the undisputed guru of parking in the US which most consultations follow:

MR: What should San Francisco, or any city trying to reform parking policy, do about time limits?

DS: The other thing I think that San Francisco is doing and that Redwood City did and that Ventura has done is eliminate any time limits on the meters.

They removed the time limits and they rely on pricing to create turnover and vacancies they don’t have to worry that they have to get back to their meter in an hour or two hours.


There are other detrimental effects as well.  Reducing time limits to try to solve increased demand creates more cruising and congestion around UWT as people try to find under-priced parking spaces.  Congestion is already a problem there now.

The result of the proposal will be drivers circling the UWT campus more jostling for a prized underpriced parking spot and moving their car more and more causing more pollution and congestion.  Conflicts between drivers parking often occurs when compete (and sometimes fight) for underpriced parking spaces that they often spend a great amount of time looking for.

Also, the proposal to reduce time limits unnecessarily ejects visitors from the area prematurely and because of parking rules against “chain parking.” It makes them leave the area when they might have wanted to shop, have a business meeting or do more than one activity.  Now apparently it will be impossible to both eat and shop in the area.

The city should decline to abandon good parking management methods.  The generally accepted approach for parking management is to charge slightly more in areas of higher demand, not continuing decrease time limits.

This sign is from Redwood City often cited as a city with model parking management:

September 13, 2013 at 11:01 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0


Re: reducing time limits in response to increased demand for parking: Sometimes is seems as though the city is backsliding of it’s knowledge of parking management and is just going to throw best practices and comparative city trends out the window and try to implement another ad hoc solution.

Here is quote from page 267 of Professor Donald Shoup’s authoritative book High Cost of Free Parking (updated 2011) where Shoup goes into detail why cities need to focus on setting the pricing right for a particular parking demand in the area and why reducing time limits is a counterproductive idea.

September 13, 2013 at 11:07 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0

Published Author RR AndersonRegistered

as a small business job creator located on PAC ave in front of a fire hydrant… red curbs don’t mean Aloha Cab pickup/drop off !

September 14, 2013 at 8:42 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0

Published Author RR AndersonRegistered

I’ll miss that Saturday Special,  parking the tinkermobile out front all day.  le sigh

September 14, 2013 at 8:44 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0

Post A New Comment

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Potentially Related Articles