Hi and thanks so much for attending this session. I’m Allison Schwartz and I manage the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Community Parking Program. [next slide]
I’m going to start out by giving a brief background on the program, then I’ll go over the timeline we use when working in neighborhoods. I’m going to focus the bulk of the presentation on the variety of outreach tools and methods we use to engage the public. Then I’ll share some of the lessons we’ve learned. I’ve divvyed the learning objectives into TIME, TOOLS, and TEMPTATIONS.
So, what is the CPP all about? We launched the program in February 2008, with the purpose of: engaging communities in comprehensive parking management that balances many competing needs and supports a sustainable transportation network.
We work in neighborhoods throughout the city, and over the next several years, our plan is to cover most neighborhood business districts. Last year we worked in Queen Anne, Pike/Pine, the Denny and Uptown Triangles, and Fremont. This year, we’re in First Hill, Capitol Hill, and West Seattle. Much of our schedule is based on aligning with upcoming transportation investment projects. For example, over the past year and a half, we’ve been working in Seattle’s new light rail station areas and have put in place restricted parking zones to prioritize on-street parking for residents and businesses rather than commuters. The trains just started running last weekend! If you have a chance to head up to Seattle – you should go for a ride.
How do we manage parking? We use a variety of parking management tools: such as load zones, taxi stands, time limit signs, restricted parking zones, and paid parking. We also communicate regularly with parking enforcement staff and they offer critical feedback when we are proposing and designing changes.In addition to these tools, we’re also forging relationships with cyclists and scooter users. Last month, we attended a scooter event in the City’s South Lake Union neighborhood. It provided a good opportunity to reach out to a new crowd, share our program, and get feedback on ways to improve scooter and motorcycle parking accessibility. And earlier this year, SDOT began installing on-street bike racks, and we’re looking to put in more. [next slide – coasters and DP placards]
There are also other ways to get at parking challenges…In Pike/Pine, one of the major concerns we heard from the community was the difficulty of finding a parking space at night. With a vibrant nightlife scene and very high density, parking demand in this neighborhood is MUCH greater than supply. So, SDOT staff partnered to create these coasters that share messages about the impact of driving, the time and money spent looking for a parking space, and then points people toward a website that offers tools on how to get around without a car. We distributed these to several neighborhood bars – a good and fun partnership that gets the message out in a different way to a new crowd.In the nearby First Hill neighborhood, which is home to 3 major hospitals as well as Seattle University, we’ve been particularly interested in disabled parking abuse. We have attended meetings with these major institutions, and recently shared some of our parking study findings with them. Found that 40% of the vehicles parked around the hospitals had disabled placards, and at least 10% of these placards were being used illegitimately. We will continue the discussion on ways to discourage disabled parking abuse through education and other means.
So, I have a question for you. As parking professionals, why do you manage parking?Manage a limited resourceReduce congestionMeet organizational goalsGenerate revenueAnd it’s for all of those reasons that we manage parking in Seattle. And for a long time, our parking management efforts had been reactive; we put the ball in the community’s court when it came to requesting changes. They’d need to fill out a petition for a load zone, time limit sign – just about anything.Now with the CPP, we manage it actively and comprehensively – to support business districts and to keep Seattle moving – two of the top priorities of the Mayor and the City. Sounds great, right? But, to get there, we have to cross over an important hurdle…
And that is that everybody hates parking changes. And that is the challenge of the work we do, whether it’s with a neighborhood, a college campus. The natural response to change is often resistance. So, how do we get over this hurdle?
…by spending time, and building trust with the neighborhood. We intentionally designed the program as a public engagement effort; we spend about 1 year in each neighborhood.We kick-off projects by sending out a community-wide postcard, organizing walking tours to get out in the neighborhoods and walk and talk about parking challenges, we attend meetings, and we go door-to-door in business districts to talk to business owners about their needs. Then we conduct a parking study that collects utilization and compliance data. Community input is critical here – they have a feel for when are where parking is a problem – this input can help design a parking study, and it gives the community an active role to play early on. Our consultants collect the data and compile it into a report. We analyze the findings and take them to the next round of community meetings where we share the data and explain what all the numbers mean. After sharing the findings, we work with the community to generate ideas to improve parking, and we send out a proposal plan mailing And give several weeks for the community to respond with feedback via online surveys, email, or phone Then we review and respond to comments and consider them when pulling together a final plan that is sent via a 3rd mailing And install the parking changes – new parking signage, pay stations Last is the monitoring phase where we evaluate and may tweak plans based on additional feedback or study. Since the program is still relatively new, we are just now heading into this phase with our first round of neighborhoods, so I anticipate that we’ll learn a lot.
Over the course of the year, we use a variety of outreach tools that can be categorized into print, person, and pc
First is the mailer – we send out 3 mailings and have learned quite a bit about streamlining the look, feel, and content. Let me take you through our evolutionary process:Here’s an example of a proposal mailing we sent out – pretty dense and a little plain in black and whiteClearly, the next step was to put it in colorBut, perhaps it was still too dense and cluttered by policy wonk language, so we streamlined it to a smaller piece with less text, more graphics. This end product provides a cleaner piece for the public to process. Rather than overwhelm readers with too much text, we point people toward our website, phone, and email for more information. In the end, it saves us print and postage costs.
When working on mailings, mainly in the new light rail station neighborhoods, we’ve translated information into a variety of languages. This takes a lot of preplanning, but is an essential part in getting messages across to all language groups.Translating mailers is a good thing, at the end of the day, it’s not the only thing that people need. For example, in our light rail outreach, we found that many members of the Somali community could not read – what they needed was in-person translation, so we used other tools, like the community meeting.
Some of you may have experienced something like the following when preparing for a public meeting:
So, while public meetings can often be challenging, they provide opportunities for public feedback (sometimes helpful, sometimes not). It’s also a place to make contact with people. But, not everyone can come to meetings, so we’ve been building up our web presence…
Why use the web? Engage with different audience; it’s cheap and cost effective; and it allows for information to be very accessible.I’m going to take you through a number of the web tools we’re using:Our webpageSlideshareFacebookNeighborhood blogsGoogle maps
So that rounds out the tools, on to temptations and the lessons we’ve learned:As we started the program, we stuck with the status quo of sending out fairly dense mailings. Tempting, because you might think that more information is better, but over time we’ve learned to keep them concise, clean, and graphically appealing. Better for us, and better for the public.Temptation #2 – stay away from difficult neighborhoods and that ever-present angry guy in the back of the room at the public meeting. Very tempting, but not the right thing to do. We have met some resistance and challenge, but we recognize that difficulty is part of the process. The best thing to do is to take the time to acknowledge and respond to people’s concerns and questions.But I’ve been to a community meeting – only 3 people showed up, it’s time to throw in the towel. Not quite. Set up another meeting, send out an email blast, put up some doorhangers or windshield flyers. There’s always something new to try.And lastly, which seems more and more appropriate with today’s economy – we have no budget. Find low-cost, but effective ways to reach your audience. Set up a facebook page, go door-to-door – get out and talk to people. Don’t forget that we are often our own best outreach tools.
PIPTA - Community Parking Program
Community Parking Program<br />engaging communities in comprehensive parking management<br />27 July 2009 PIPTA Conference Tacoma, WA<br />
thank you!<br />comments/questions?<br />For more info:<br />http://seattle.gov/transportation/parking/communityparking.htm <br />Allison Schwartz<br /> Seattle Department of Transportation<br />firstname.lastname@example.org<br /> (206) 386-4654<br />
real life scenario!<br />You are heading up a parking plan in x neighborhood. You have 1 year to assess conditions, develop a plan, and implement it. Here are a few key aspects of the community:<br />average age = 35<br />dense, mixed-use neighborhood<br />semi-active community groups<br />busy nightlife scene<br />active biking community<br />car ownership is low, but parking is in high demand<br />What outreach tools would you use and why?<br />