A funny thing happened in this southern hamlet yesterday. The Seattle Department of Transportation swooped in sometime before noon and changed the signs to add another hour to the parking restriction. Parking is now banned on the west side of Airport Way South from 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. (instead of 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. as was the case before).
Kathy Nyland, who chairs the Georgetown Merchants Association, says the change happened with no notice and no warning. “I’m a pretty easy person to reach. They didn’t call. They didn’t write. The just did it,” she says.
Nyland says she heard about it from a business owner who said a customer glanced at the clock mid-afternoon and made a run for the street. “If you weren't paying attention, you could’ve been ticketed or towed,” she says, adding that the two-hour restriction was already bad enough. “They’re taking away parking during prime time for these new stores.”
Nyland says the sign change covers roughly five blocks and the heart of Georgetown’s burgeoning business district. “I know they want to keep traffic flowing, but let us park on the other side of the street,” she says. (Parking currently isn’t allowed at anytime on the east side of Airport Way South.)
Nyland, who was at city hall this morning testifying before the Economic Development and Neighborhoods Committee about the mayor’s nightlife ordinance, also mentioned yesterday’s shenanigans. Committee chairwoman Sally Clark says she’s got a message into SDOT.
The parking surprise coincided with the first anniversary of the Georgetown Merchants Association, Nyland notes. She says she was busy reading a packet from the economic development office on how to create a thriving business district when the panicked calls from shop owners started coming in.
One of the key components for success? Parking, of course.
“I thought, this is so cruel. The city is trying to kill me,” Nyland says. “I understand why volunteers burn out, merchants close their doors and people move to Portland.”