SEATTLE - Seattle is looking for ways to get out of the red. One idea is to charge a nominal fee for parking spots at some of the city's most popular parks.
Possible implementation sites include Green Lake, Lake Union, and Golden Gardens.
Council member Tom Rasmussen says the council may ask the Parks Department to study the proposal. The paid parking program would raise up to $900,000 a year in revenue for the general fund.
"A lot of people are receptive to the idea of paid parking in the parks. People don't want community center hours cut back. I am hearing people want to keep services in their parks. This option is definitely worth looking into," said Rasmussen.
The idea was proposed by the administration of former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, but it was shot down before it made it to council.
"All hell broke loose when this was proposed years ago, but now it seems people are more open to the idea. It comes with its trade-offs. We have to hear more from the community and research this," said Rasmussen.
One drawback may be more traffic in the already congested Green Lake neighborhoods. Larry Carter worries people will park in his neighborhood to avoid paying the parking fee.
"The congestion here is already way out of hand. We can't find any parking here and we live here! This will hurt homeowners," said Carter. "In the summer it's crazy. There's an altercation with motorists once a week here because parking is so tight."
The city is considering a $1 per hour fee in the lots. Some park goers say the simple things in life should remain free.
"I think a fee is a horrible idea. The city here is so expensive and this is one thing families can do for free and not have to worry about paying for parking," said Denise Maisonpierre.
The city says after the study, it will consider the parking proposal. If it were to pass, the measure would be instituted in 2012.