From Seattle Times, By Mike Lindblom
Seattle Times transportation reporter
Until now, Seattle drivers have known that, if they could wriggle their way to an open curb, parking fees would be relatively inexpensive and straightforward.
But one of city government's New Year's resolutions is to embark on a new age of market-based pricing, ultimately charging more on the busiest blocks at the busiest times, and less at times when extra spaces tend to be available.
Seattle officials hope variable fees will inspire a quicker turnover of precious parking spaces, boosting commerce and reducing carbon burning. In some U.S. urban neighborhoods, as much as 30 percent of all traffic is caused by people who circle the blocks looking for an opening.
"It helps reduce the traffic congestion, of people finding a spot," said Mary Catherine Snyder, parking strategist for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).
Market-based prices largely are based on the work of UCLA professor Donald Shoup, author of "The High Cost of Free Parking," who has earned a cult following among green activists and urban planners. His research suggests an ideal occupancy of 85 percent for curbside spaces, a figure often cited by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.
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