It’s not uncommon for people to leave their cars on the curb and never return.
But when it comes to parking lots in places like Seattle, you may not be able to do that.
That’s because Seattle has long been one of the most active cities in America for abandoned parking lots.
This month, the city is hosting its first-ever Parking Lot Week event.
The goal is to bring together car owners, neighborhood advocates, city officials, and businesses to find and fix vacant parking lots—often for a fraction of what they might cost to repair or restore.
It’s a complicated task that requires a lot of expertise and experience, and it’s been a frustrating one for people like Michael Kortes.
“It’s kind of scary to think about,” he says.
“If you’re a regular person who works in the garage, you’re probably not even aware that there are parking lots out there that are completely unused.
The only way I know of is to be on the phone with the city or go and look around.”
For decades, Korte has worked as a parking lot manager for the city of Seattle.
“I’ve always been very concerned about abandoned parking,” he explains.
“But I guess I never thought I’d be doing this in the Seattle of 2017.”
And yet, in the past few years, Seattle has had a spate of car-related fatalities.
Kortese says he has been surprised by how quickly the city has responded to the problem.
“The city has been really responsive,” he said.
“They’ve been very proactive in their response to these problems.
I think it’s very important to note that we’ve had more than a dozen collisions where a vehicle has crashed into a car and killed someone or seriously injured someone since April 1.”
A lot of these collisions were not just the result of poor decisions made by drivers but also the result, in part, of the city’s ongoing efforts to reduce the number of parking lots on the streets.
Kors has been working on this problem since 2013.
He’s seen first-hand how the city works to reduce and replace parking lots and how it’s frustrating for people who have spent years trying to find parking.
For example, in January of last year, Kors was working with the mayor to redesign the city-owned lot in downtown Seattle, where a lot had been empty for a decade.
“There was a lot to do there,” he recalls.
“We had to change the sign from the old one to the new one.
There were a lot changes that needed to be made.
We also had to replace the old signs that were up.
And we had to add signage on the outside to make it easier to find.
But we also had a lot more work that needed done to get it all ready.”
After the design and construction were complete, the signs were replaced with stickers.
That was the first step, though, and Kors says he was surprised by the response from the city.
“People were very open and willing to take the time to look at the problem,” he tells Ars.
“And it wasn’t just a simple fix like adding a new sign or replacing the signs.
There was a whole process to do it.”
In August of this year, he was able to see a parking spot where a parking garage had been torn down and left in place.
“When I saw that spot, I just couldn’t believe it,” he remembers.
“Because it was completely vacant.
There’s a lot there that’s empty, but there’s no sign.
And so I was very relieved when the city was willing to work with me to actually get that spot fixed.”
A couple weeks later, a second vacant lot had appeared on the street.
“My heart sank when I saw it,” Kors said.
But he says he’s been able to work to get some of these spaces repaired.
“A lot of the time when we come up with a new plan, it doesn’t go through,” he explained.
“So I just had to come up to the table with the plan and tell them what I think is necessary to get this spot fixed, and they would fix it.
And it was actually very helpful.
But they were filled up by the time I had to leave.” “
Some of these spots were totally empty when we were working with them.
But they were filled up by the time I had to leave.”
A few days later, the City of Seattle approved an amendment to the city charter that would allow the city to take over these vacant lots.
Korts says he hopes to get that done by the end of the month.
“Hopefully we can make some good progress,” he told Ars.
For now, he says, the plan is to make the spaces available for people with disabilities and people with a limited income.
“At this point, the only