Downtown Business Parking Pilot Program
The City is revamping its downtown parking permit system for businesses to be more equitable, efficient, and accountable. The City will launch a Pilot Program for these changes starting in December 2023. The pilot includes three phases, which will be launched in 2023 and in 2024. The details of each phase are included in this website page.
As part of the pilot program, downtown businesses will need to renew their parking permits using our new online software.
In 2020, the City hired a consultant, Fehr & Peers, to study our downtown parking. That year, the consultant worked with staff to conduct community outreach and data collection to understand Puyallup’s unique challenges associated with parking. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the data collection had to be modified to understand downtown parking trends accurately.
In June 2021, staff and the consultant presented their initial findings to City Council. In their initial findings, the consultant determined that while on-street and public lot parking were well-utilized, the data suggests that a parking spot is mostly available within a one to two-block walk of most destinations most times. This walking distance from a driver’s vehicle to their destination is similar to or shorter than walking from a busy large retail store parking lot to the store interior.
Based on the findings, the consultant recommended three approaches to managing parking downtown.
Approach One: Status Quo Management – This approach acknowledges that parking is generally available in the downtown area. Strategies under this approach would not focus on increasing parking restrictions or time limits. Instead, strategies would focus on monitoring parking conditions in addition to increasing visibility and awareness of available parking.
Approach Two: Increased Management – This approach acknowledges that parking can be hard to find in some locations of downtown at certain times. Strategies under this approach would focus on increasing parking turnover and availability in hot spots through increased management, such as increasing restrictions or shortening time limits.
Approach Three: Paid Parking – This approach would increase turnover and ensure parking availability. By implementing paid parking in conjunction with time limits and other restrictions, parking occupancy can be better regulated and enforced to ensure parking availability in areas of high demand. However, this approach would require high upfront investment costs to install and manage the system, including installing meters around downtown, maintaining them, and managing collections and regulations.
City Council directed staff to come back with a hybrid option of Approach One and Two. In February 2022, staff and the consultant returned to the Council with the updated strategies and to adopt the final Downtown Parking Study Report. Council approved the Report and directed staff to move ahead with implementing its strategies.
Phase One includes the revamping of the downtown business parking permits. Starting in December 2023, downtown businesses that want a parking pass will need to reapply using the new online software. Under this phase, the following changes would occur.
- Increase the yearly placard fee to $60
- Implement a new online software for applicants.
- Outreach to the downtown business community about the changes
This Phase will be launched starting in January 2024 and includes the following changes.
- Elimination of the 4-hour parking zones
- Change all one and 2-hour parking zones downtown to 3-hour zones for more consistency and flexibility.
- Expand the 15-minute parking zones along Meridian for delivery vehicles and for customers who need to visit a business quickly.
- Retire the Residential Parking Pass Program
The final phase will occur beginning in the summer of 2024, which is the program's data analysis and overall evaluation. Staff will seek feedback from the community, including downtown business owners, to gauge how the Pilot Program is performing and to see if modifications need to be made. This Phase also includes the roll-out of a new electronic parking ticket system. Parking enforcement will be able to issue parking citations electronically and file them with the Municipal Court using our new online system. Parking violators can also pay their fines conveniently online using a QR code on the citation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the City making changes to parking downtown?
The changes are to make downtown parking fair, equitable, and more accountable. In the Downtown Parking Study, it was identified in the document to increase monitoring of the parking through data collection. However, the current system does not track vehicles or the people who have registered them.
What was wrong with the old system?
The current system is mostly paper based with no way of finding out which permit was associated with which vehicle. This has created an accountability issue for enforcement. The new system will resolve this through an online permit software, which allows staff to track which vehicles are registered to whom. This makes us more accountable as well as the placard holder.
Parking is already hard to find. How is this going to make things better?
When we did our Downtown Parking Study, what we found is that there is indeed an adequate amount of parking on most days and times. By revamping our parking permit system, we can keep better track of which parking lots are being utilized and which ones are underutilized. Phase 3 of the Pilot Program will be the data analysis phase, where we can gain a better understanding of parking trends in downtown.
I am a downtown business owner. Why do I need to pay more for parking now?
The increase in the placard fee is to cover the cost of implementing the new online software. We are aware that some business owners may not like the fee increase, but we are confident that they will appreciate the new online system. This software will allow them to easily request as many business placards as they need, and they can pay for them right away using a credit or debit card.
I live in town and have a resident parking permit. How will this affect me?
The City is concentrating on the downtown business permits and revamping that system. However, we will look at the Resident Parking Permits and consider retiring them as part of the Pilot. This includes making changes to the timed zones downtown so that residents can access businesses more conveniently. For example, we will suspend the 4-hour zones, primarily in residential areas downtown. If these changes to the timed zones become successful, then having the resident permits will no longer be needed.
When is the City doing this?
The Pilot Program begins with Phase One in December 2023. During that phase, downtown business owners who want a permit will need to get a new one through the City Clerk’s Office. Phase Two starts in January 2024, and includes several changes to the timed zone lots. Please refer to the Phase tabs here for details.
Will the City be adding parking as part of this program?
The City recently completed an agreement with Sound Transit, which will allow residents to park in the surface lots next to the new parking garage. That is approximately 366 new parking spaces that residents can take advantage of. The City is also looking at purchasing additional properties downtown to create more parking options.