Dear Editor,

Operation of the Sound Transit light rail system has created a parking demand along Rainier Beach residential streets which was a foreseeable result of operating the rail line. Permits were granted for construction of the light rail stations with no provisions for park and ride lots to accommodate commuters driving to the train stations or mitigations for the subsequent parking impacts.

In the summer of 2009, the City of Seattle’s Department of Transportation established a Residential Parking Zone (RPZ 31) around the Henderson Light Rail Station with no request from or consultation with area residents, in violation of the Department’s own policies which required that residents request the installation of a RPZ. Resident request is needed because there is a fee assessed on every household within the RPZ for the resident parking stickers that allow for extended street parking. The City Council subsequently passed an ordinance that retroactively allowed the City to establish the RPZ’s along the light rail line without resident’s consent or even notification.

The cost of the RPZ’s around rail stations is clearly a Sound Transit operating cost. When rail service started two years ago, existing residents received parking stickers from the City paid for by Sound Transit. The City now sends parking enforcement officers to ticket low-income residents without stickers who are parked in front of their own homes. The City of Seattle has sent notification to households within the RPZ’s about plans to begin charging each household in the Residential Parking Zone 65 dollars for a resident parking sticker and 30 dollars for a guest parking pass, beginning in July 2011.

The bill for the costs of Sound Transit’s Light Rail parking impacts should be paid for by Sound Transit and not the current residents of Rainier Beach. According to recent census data, Rainier Beach has a large API community (over 30%) and a high prevalence of low or very low income levels (about 52%); not to mention a significant retired and senior citizen population. If the City of Seattle allows Sound Transit to send us the bill, its our community that will bear the cost. Please contact the City Council and the Mayor urging them to reverse their decision and make Sound Transit responsible for the cost of operating Light Rail.

Mayor Mike McGinn (206) 684-2489
Tim Burgess: (206) 684-8806
Jean Godden: (206) 684-8807
Tom Rasmussen: (206) 684-8808
Seattle City Council (206) 684-8888

Paul Lee
Rainier Beach Resident
Member of Rainier Beach
Stewardship Council

The Stewardship Council is dedicated to giving residents of Rainier Beach a voice in the community and meets monthly. The Stewardship Council’s monthly meetings are the fourth Wednesday of every month. The next one is coming up on June 22 from 6:30 -8 p.m. at Rainier Beach High School. For more information please contact us at (206) 322-3304 or e-mail [email protected].

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