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Drivers prepare for big parking changes in downtown Tacoma near UW

TACOMA, Wash. -- Big parking changes in Tacoma were sure signs of rapid growth for the area. Leaders with the City of Tacoma said they focused on the southern downtown area where parking demands were the highest.

Eric Huseby, parking services manager for the city, said the parking changes would start Monday, Sept. 16. The changes included:

  • 90-minute paid parking changed to two-hour paid parking along Jefferson Avenue between South 17th Street and South 21st Street.
  • Implementing an unpaid three-hour zone from Tacoma Avenue to Market Street from South 17th Street to 21st Street. Stalls already regulated in the area are exempt from changes.

Husbey released the following statement:

“The City will be looking at a new tool that will provide some longer-term parking options on block faces that show lower occupancies and would expect to roll out that tool early next year. The new short-term regulations are in effect from 8a-6p so parking overnight will not be affected with these changes.”

Mark Bader lives in the neighborhood that will be turned into an unpaid three-hour zone. Bader and his family have lived in their home for 27 years. He said the house was built in 1903 without a driveway or garage, so the family parks their cars on the street in front of the house. Bader explained parking was already a challenge because people could leave their cars their all day without having to pay.

“If I leave to go to the store in the afternoon or run an errand, I come back and I have to park two or three blocks away. It’s a very big inconvenience,” said Bader. “Just jockeying my cars and trying not to get a ticket.”

Signs and flyers to alert drivers were plastered in all the areas that would see parking changes. Bader said parking would be even more difficult once the already busy street starts the three-hour rule.

“As long-term urban pioneer residents of downtown we deserve a little more notice than that to prepare for what is going to be a radical change for us,” said Bader. “We got no notice of it, zero, other than the signs going in our front yard.”

Husbey said there were no plans for exemptions for residents. He said the changes were to meet the high demands for parking in the southern downtown area, mostly near the University of Washington Tacoma campus. Students would also have to adjust to the new rules.

“Come here pretty early around 7 to get a parking spot here,” said Dzianis Poliak, a senior at the University of Washington Tacoma. “It’s a little upsetting.”

The new parking changes would be implemented from 8-6 p.m. Husbey said the city was looking at new tools that would provide some longer-term parking options.

Bader said the number of cars in the area was a sure sign that Tacoma was growing. He said he just hoped he could continue growing with it.

“We moved to downtown when it was not a nice place to live. Now it’s a wonderful place to live and we want to stay here and there’s been pressure out on us, it seems, to skedaddle,” said Bader.

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