Apartment Blockers

Editor’s Note 8/19/2015: We are bringing this popular and relevant post back to explain how parking rules raise your rent. Two years later, Sightline’s executive director Alan Durning is still exposing the hidden reason behind skyrocketing housing costs in this recent Stranger article. Read below to learn how ending parking quotas can bring down rent costs.

Have you ever watched the excavation that precedes a tall building? It seems to take forever. Then, when the digging is finally done, construction rockets upward in no time. For the past few months, I’ve been watching a crew excavate the site of a new condo tower on Seattle’s First Hill. It’s on a route I walk three times a week, so I’ve had a ring-side seat. And here’s the thing that finally dawned on me, after years of not really thinking about these holes in the urban ground: what’s all the excavation for? It’s for parking. Underground parking. In most cities and in most soil conditions, the giant holes are only there to satisfy off-street parking rules, and to do that, you need a deep, deep hole. A hole like this one.