Now Permits for Single Occupant Vehicles
Anyone can now reserve parking at the Issaquah Highlands Park and Ride (P&R) through a new King County Metro parking permit program that allows single occupant vehicles (SOVs) a reserved parking spot P&R for $60 a month. SOV permitted stalls will be held until 10:00am on weekdays, after which it becomes available on a first come, first served basis. To qualify, the permit holder must be a regular rider of transit (12+ days each month).
For income-qualified ORCA Lift card holders, permits only cost $20 per month. (People with household income of less than double the federal poverty level qualify.) 10% of the spaces will be designated for ORCA Lift participants.
But space is limited! Apply online starting November 1, 2019 at Republic Parking Northwest www.rpnw.com and if approved, you will have a guaranteed parking stall at the Issaquah Highlands P&R starting December 1, 2019.
In July, King County Council members voted 5-3 to approve this program which sets aside up to 50% of parking stalls in the Issaquah Highlands P&R for permit holders. The Issaquah Highlands P&R fills up fast. In Q4 2018 its 1010 stalls were recorded at 100% occupancy. The maximum stalls that will be set aside for permit priority is 505. Metro will designate as many parking stalls to permit priority as there are active permits.
The program is part of King County’s 2019-2020 biennial budget. The County expects to gross over $1M a year from this program. However, the Council, and the public, are divided about the program’s value (see comments in sidebar). Besides generating revenue, King County Metro states the program also “was designed to make accessing transit at park and rides equitable and accessible to everyone in King County.”
Ten high demand Park and Ride lots qualified for the program, measured by the lot being “90% or more of the stalls fill on a typical weekday.” Ours is the largest lot qualifying for this program.
Free parking permits have been provided to carpools at the Issaquah Highlands P&R since 2018. These stalls were guaranteed until 8:30am weekdays. With this new program, carpool and single occupant vehicles will be guaranteed until 10:00am. In the 50% parking stall allocation for permits, HOV (carpool) permits and ORCA Lift holders will be given priority.
Republic Parking Northwest will sell the permits through their website and will monitor permitted parking stall use during peak morning hours. Fines for improper parking or invalid permits begin at $20. Repeat violators will have their cars towed. Republic has been running the carpool permit program since 2018.
Monitoring and feedback will be ongoing, but the Council mandated to receive a report every September, and to consider any necessary adjustments.
Only carpool permits are available at the Issaquah Transit Center. ITC is a Sound Transit facility and as such, carpool parking permits are limited to residents of the RTA district. Issaquah and Sammamish city limits constitute the eastern boundary of this district. These carpool parking permits are free.
A waiting list will be employed if demand outpaces supply.
“We collected (thank you) more than 100 responses from constituents to get their input on the King County Metro park and ride permitting plan for the Issaquah Highlands Park and Ride and other busy lots around King County. I voted “no” when the proposal came before the King County Council.
Our major park and rides are getting busier and filling up earlier in the morning, and this permitting plan is not a solution and will only make the problem worse. Rather than asking drivers who use the Issaquah Highlands Park and Ride to pay $60 a month to guarantee a parking spot, King County should be adding more parking stalls and connector busses that help residents get to where they need to go.
King County Metro has explained that they will only reserve enough parking stalls to accommodate active permit holders. If very few people end up purchasing permits, very few parking stalls will be designated. Additionally, I included an amendment in the permitting program plan that requires Metro to report to the King County Council on the status of the program quarterly for the first year, and annually for following years, so that we can keep a close eye on performance.” Kathy Lambert, King County District 3, Councilmember, July 31, 2019
“I don’t think people will pay for reserved spaces and they’ll end up parking at the Safeway lot. For me, even $60 increases my monthly transit costs by 55% for no real benefit since I arrive early and there are plenty of spaces. Add that to the experience on increasingly overcrowded busses and it could be the tipping point. It makes me consider driving again.” IH Resident, Susan Leonelli, August 6, 2019
“Nothing worse is trying to find parking in the morning and you now have the added stress to fight for those few precious parking spots. I see more traffic on the road. More street parking maybe illegal and parking across the street at BevMo or various shopping areas in our Neighborhood.
We should put it to the vote! How soon can we get it on the ballot?” IH Resident, Margaret Laiping, August 6, 2019
“With the new park and ride charges coming, several have said they will just start driving to Seattle now instead of taking the bus. This is very unfortunate. The investment our communities have made in public transportation will be wasted because of this complete misdirection of purpose. I would encourage Metro to refocus on its mission and bring back incentives to use public transportation and not penalize those less fortunate or who are concerned with improving our environment.” Gary Ashby, IH Resident and President, Highlands Council Board of Trustees, August 8, 2019
“The City was aware of the proposed changes by King County. King County has committed to conducting parking studies and monitoring impact as a result of the changes. We know this may affect parking availability in the Highlands and access in general and expect to work with them to assess the program’s impact.” Mary Lou Pauly, Mayor of Issaquah, August 9, 2019
Primary resource for information: A. Metro Parking Facility User Fee Revenue Expenditure Plan and Parking Fee Program Plan, dated July 24, 2019,