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Seattle’s New Free Street Parking Rules May Help Restaurants Still Open for Takeout and Delivery

Starting April 4, residents won’t have to pay for street parking, at least during the current stay-at-home period

A tree-lined street in Seattle with lines of cars parked
For the time being, there’s no need to worry about paid parking or hourly time limits on the streets in Seattle, outside of Restricted Parking Zones.

On Friday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced some new parking rules that may help small businesses, including restaurants, as the stay-at-home order continues. Starting April 4, no payment will be required on streets with paid parking — and hourly time limits will not be enforced outside of Restricted Parking Zones (RPZ). The mayor’s office said these measures are meant to “support residents and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“I have heard from restaurateurs and residents alike who have been ticketed while getting food to-go or dropping off family members at essential jobs,” said City Councilmember Dan Strauss, District 6. “We should not be nickel and diming Seattleites during this emergency.”

Indeed, chef Eric Rivera of Addo in Ballard recently complained that the city was ticketing his delivery vehicles, and Pho Bac Sup Shop in Little Saigon gave a sly wink to the issue by converting a former parking enforcement vehicle into a mobile soup truck. Meanwhile, Seattle residents have been calling out the city on social media for weeks for continuing to dole out parking tickets.

The new free parking is in addition to some rules that were already announced in March, including the suspension of enforcement for 72-hour parking limits. The city had also started to convert some on-street parking spaces into temporary loading zones, specifically in neighborhoods with a high concentration of restaurants. Restaurants can request a loading zone near their establishment by calling (206) 684-ROAD.

But there isn’t a complete elimination of parking rules. Special zones will still be in effect, including new zones for hospital and human services staff, as well as existing zones for delivery vehicles, food trucks, or charter buses. And RPZ time limits will be enforced to help people living in those neighborhoods find parking near their homes.