Gotta love the local free parking

Lots of things make Covington and Maple Valley better cities than such stalwarts as Seattle, Boston, San Francisco and New York City – one of which is that you don’t have to pay to park your car here.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Monday, July 21, 2008 8:47pm
  • Opinion

Lots of things make Covington and Maple Valley better cities than such stalwarts as Seattle, Boston, San Francisco and New York City – one of which is that you don’t have to pay to park your car here.

Seriously, free parking when shopping, at work or doing leisure things like hanging out at Covington Days this weekend shouldn’t be taken for granted. If you’re like me, you’re probably more grateful after trekking into downtown Seattle and spending the equivalent of the price of three or four gallons of gas for the “privilege” to park.

Don’t worry, pay-to-park isn’t looming around the corner for Maple Valley and Covington. But consider this the next time you’re out and about: Parking costs nationwide have risen for the fifth year in a row, and Seattle is one of the most expensive places anywhere in the U.S. to shove cash into a pay-box or swipe a credit card for a parking spot.

According to the results of the eighth annual parking rate survey by Colliers International, a global commercial real estate company that does business in King County, the steady climb in parking fees reflects the bullishness in the paid-parking industry. It’s enough to make you wish you’d been born into a family whose business is owning parking lots.

Colliers reports that parking owners and operators are in a good spot because of the high demand for the spaces between the white lines in many U.S. markets. Three-quarters of the parking garages in the cities where the survey was conducted are full as much as 80 percent of the time. The economy and the labor market are teetering, but people still have to park, and the lot and garage proprietors aren’t cutting any slack.

The “increasingly tight” inventory of parking “and accompanying rise in cost, coupled with skyrocketing fuel prices – all in the face of a stagnating economy – exacerbates the everyday headaches faced by commuters nationwide,” said Ross Moore, director of market and economic research at Colliers.

Pity those who park regularly in Seattle, where the monthly average for unreserved parking spaces is $260. That’s 71 higher than the national median(half the rates higher, half lower).

Free parking? Count your blessings.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at (425) 432-1209 (extension 1050) and pjenkins@reporternewspapers.com




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