One of the great things about local government is that eventually pragmatism wins out in almost every instance. We have a great example of this regarding the mayor and city council’s decision to lower parking rates at Pacific Place garage to try and get more people to use it and spend money downtown. I applaud them for looking at the situation as any business owner would — not enough people are buying my product, so lower the price and make it more accessible.
This decision will make the garage an easier choice for people going to see a movie, shopping, having dinner, or hanging out. Although there are many reasons for the struggling business climate, having city government make direct changes to help attract people downtown is welcome.
I would hope that same pragmatic approach can be harnessed to help out struggling Pioneer Square. Street parking in the Square will now be more than the Pacific Place garage and Belltown. While the city hasn’t moved yet on the planned extension of the parking hours from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Square, merchants worry about it still.
The city has gone to great pains to quote studies and show that parking rates are not imposed on a whim. In fact, Mayor Mike McGinn'ss press release on Pacific Place used the word “pragmatic” twice and mentioned that 11 neighborhoods saw their parking meter rates reduced.
The mayor states in his release: “We’re experimenting with lower parking rates at Pacific Place Parking Garage to see if we can bring in more business.” We should all hope that this is a successful strategy and should give the mayor credit for trying to create a welcoming environment for visitors coming downtown by all modes of travel.
Now, let’s see that same energy and pragmatic attitude turned to help Pioneer Square.
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