Students drive Wallingford residents to apply for parking zone - Businesses claim to not be affected, but Roosevelt principal says students will look farther out for parking

A group of Wallingford residents has formally requested that a Residential Parking Zone (RPZ) be created around the Lincoln High School building, currently occupied by Roosevelt High School.

RPZs are created by the city to help ensure that residents can find parking on the streets where they live. Roosevelt High School drivers compete with neighbors for parking spaces, and like Garfield High School after them, will almost certainly have to comply with a new parking zone.

Fighting over parking spots

Upon approval, the RPZ will limit street parking to two hours for vehicles without permit stickers on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Boundaries for the proposed area are North 42nd to North 47th streets and Densmore to Interlake avenues North. The city will issue stickers to residents living inside this parking zone.

The RPZ would only affect one side of each street, allowing some school parking near the building but spreading more of it throughout the neighborhood, said Greg Flood, Wallingford Community Council representative to the Lincoln Liaison Group.

There is overwhelming support for an RPZ among neighbors, Flood said. The group of residents responsible for the proposal surveyed homes within a three-block radius of the school, and about 75 percent of these households supported the idea of an RPZ, he explained.

In addition to the survey, the city requires that an RPZ application include a petition to be signed by 60 percent of residents on each block within the zone. The group obtained the necessary signatures and have filed all required petitions, according to Julie Erickson, Seattle Department of Transportation project manager.

The school district and Lincoln Liaison Group projected that Roosevelt staff and students would add about 450 cars to the neighborhood every day, Flood said. These cars compete with local residents for parking, as some of the homes in the area do not have off-street parking.

Older residents and people with small children prefer to park closer to home, he added.

A public meeting will take place in early December for public comment, and city officials do not foresee any objections.

The Wallingford Chamber of Commerce had asked for an opportunity to comment, but chamber administrator Karen Buschow said local businesses are not concerned with the effect the RPZ will have on their traffic since customers and patrons deal with parking limits in most commercial districts in Seattle.

Roosevelt High School staff and students, however, are not pleased. "We are generally in disfavor of the proposal," Roosevelt principal Chuck Chinn said. "It will limit the amount of parking directly adjacent to the school and restrict our ability to park."

An increased need

If the application process continues without setbacks, RPZ signs will be posted in late winter or early spring. Current Roosevelt students and staff will need to find parking farther from the school or move their vehicles every two hours.

"The RPZs don't preclude students from parking around the school," Chinn said. "They will gravitate to other residential streets and end up being late for school or leaving to move their cars."

Tardies will not be excused, he said.

Several students said there is no problem with parking as it is now. When classes begin at 7:45 a.m. there are empty spaces outside the school and a few more down the block. The building has its own parking lot, which is open to staff and students.

"I really think it's not that bad," said Roosevelt senior Laura Mohler. "There's enough parking in front of the school. Some people don't want to use the side lot because it's hard to get out of [it] at the end of the day with all the school buses, but it's really not a big deal."

When Ballard High School recently occupied the Lincoln building, parking was not an issue, according to Chinn, who was Ballard's principal at the time. He credits Roosevelt's bigger student population for the current situation.

More evaluating to be done

The Lincoln Liaison Group - formed to unite interested parties while the Lincoln building is being used by the Seattle School District - has been unable to mediate the problem. It has not officially taken a position on the issue because there were several perspectives represented at meetings, said Tom Veith, chairperson of the Lincoln Liaison Group.

In September 2006 Garfield will take Roosevelt's place at Lincoln. The application is for a temporary RPZ, which will automatically be removed in June 2008, when Garfield returns to its original campus and yields the Lincoln building to Hamilton Middle School.

At that time the city will conduct a final evaluation before removing the zone, but there is no anticipated parking problem with the middle school.[[In-content Ad]]