By Andrew Rolwes
Vice President of Public Policy & Parking, Downtown Spokane Partnership
Parking in dense urban areas is always a challenging subject. There’s never enough of it, and it’s too expensive to use and even to build.
So how does downtown Spokane intend to solve these problems in the coming years?
First, by adding on-street parking. In addition to the first significant overhaul of the on-street parking system in over a decade, which will expand the ability to pay for parking with credit cards and smartphone apps, the City Parking Services Division will look for areas to add on-street parking, including angle parking. Currently, blocks on Stevens are in consideration for new on-street metered parking, as well as other parts of downtown that have sufficient lane width.
Also, the Downtown Spokane Partnership and the City are working on finding ways to support the construction of off-street parking garages in order to increase supply and reduce the number of asphalt lots in downtown.
Financing mechanisms to help pay for needed public infrastructure will come in to play to add parking at a future North Bank stadium. Same holds true for the downtown core. There’s a pressing need for additional parking to further the growth of a flourishing residential market and what will be an incredibly tight office parking market once downtown workers get back to their offices in large numbers.
Transit options will grow as a result of the completion of the City Line, as will the network of bike lanes in and across downtown. The DSP will support improved access to all modes of transportation while also ensuring that vehicle travel in and through downtown remains convenient.
The Downtown Parking Plan provides a great deal of direction in how parking will be improved over the coming decade, including coordinating availability of monthly parking leases for residential and commercial use with off-street parking operators; improving signage and wayfinding for parking; wider availability and adoption of parking wayfinding apps for on- and off-street parking; and a major update of the on-street parking management system.
Lastly, parking is a vital part of how the DSP and the City furthers economic development in downtown. Every time you park at an on-street meter in downtown, you are fostering its growth and improvement. We have a parking system that directs all on-street system net revenue to the fund, which has paid for an already long list of improvements in downtown, including bigger and better landscaping, vastly improved welcome signage at I-90, and notable public art projects.
Growth in downtown means projects that can be funded with parking will grow in scope and ambition as well. The members of the City’s Parking Advisory Committee, the City Parking Services Division’s management team, and the DSP staff will strive to ensure parking plays a decisive role in fostering economic development downtown in the years to come.
Read more from the 2021 Downtown Spokane Economic Report by clicking here.