Little Saigon Parking Study


Stretching north of Downtown Seattle, the Little Sàigòn Neighborhood has become a centralized social, economic, and cultural hub for the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian communities in the greater Puget Sound region. Like other neighborhoods surrounding Downtown Seattle, pressure to substantially redevelop this unique neighborhood persists. Just in the past decade, the Little Sàigòn Neighborhood has dealt with changes associated with rapid residential growth, loss of cultural resources, and greater competition with on street parking. In fact, around 1,145 new housing units were built in the area only in the last four years and the area is rated as having high risk for displacement. This dynamic urged the establishment of a neighborhood preservation organization referred to as the Friends of Little Sài Gòn (FLS) in 2011. The mission of the FLS is to preserve and enhance Little Saigon’s cultural, economic, and historic vitality and they primarily carry this out by facilitating community improvement projects, organizing conversations and events for the community, and through strategic actions/initiatives. 

In an effort to create a gathering space for the community, the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department in partnership with FLS is working to provide a park in the Neighborhood at a site that has been used as short-term parking for local businesses within the area. The prospect of losing this parking raised concerns from local businesses about impacts to their business vitality. A collaborative partnership between three City of Seattle departments – Parks and Recreation, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Office of Economic Development (OED) – and the FLS formed to help meet the local business and community needs. The City hired ECONorthwest to help them work collaboratively with local businesses to better understand the role that parking plays for a range of different small businesses and to identify possible strategies to pursue moving forward. 


This work commenced with research on parking needs and analysis on how parking needs vary for different types of businesses – grocery stores, restaurants/deli, retail, and warehouses. Informed by this background information, the team engaged business stakeholders with two community meetings and interviewed business owners to learn about the range of parking needs for businesses and the associated operational impacts, employee needs, customer needs, and delivery needs. Also, the team interviewed City staff from different departments to understand how the City could help and learn about their concerns and available resources for strategies to help address the loss of parking issues. 


The team learned that many customers travel to Little Sàigòn by automobile from other parts of the Puget Sound region – Little Saigon is a regional destination for Vietnamese and Southeast Asian communities. In addition, we learned about safety concerns with those walking long distances to parking and about the need for the City to consider parking needs differently for Seattle neighborhoods defined as a cultural anchor, particularly those neighborhoods bearing the burden of population growth. The team compiled possible actions, shaped by input, analysis, and background research. These actions are divided into four categories: short-term, medium-term, long-term, and ongoing. In each category, the responsible party (or parties) for delivering the action is identified along with a feasibility rating (low, medium, high), and an estimate of funding needs was provided to help inform prioritization and the implementation of actions. A total of 25 possible actions were identified that the City, business stakeholders, and community groups can take to support business vitality and economic recovery. The menu of actions was shared with business stakeholders and the community to garner additional feedback. People added their thoughts to posters depicting the actions on display at the 2021 Celebrate Little Sàigòn event and for two weeks at Little Saigon Creative (see pictures below). The team is grateful for everyone that provided their input for this project. 

Little Saigon Parking Study Report & Strategies