City slaps moratorium on units with no parking

Move may amend ordinance clarifying construction in business district
By Brian Soergel | Aug 23, 2018
Photo by: Brian Soergel A new apartment complex in Edmonds hasn't planned parking for residents.

The City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 14, unanimously approved a six-month emergency moratorium on the development of residential units without on-site vehicle parking in the downtown business district.

It comes shortly after an Edmonds Beacon story uncovered plans for a new apartment complex on the corner of Edmonds Street and Third Avenue North, formerly a private parking lot, which will emerge as a three-story, nine-tenant apartment building with no off-street parking.

“Parking has always been an issue there,” Jeff Phillips, a homeowner in the area, said in a story Aug. 9 in the Beacon. “We’ve had cars towed and certainly a lot of tickets, and as property owners ourselves we’ve been ticketed many times.”

While the complex plans to provide a bike rack and is near a bus stop, all vehicle parking will be forced onto the streets.

“I was shocked when I got the email on this,” Councilmember Diane Buckshnis said. “You would think that a residential facility would have to have on-site parking.”

As a result of its location within the city, the apartment site falls under a unique code within the downtown business zoning district of Edmonds that allows for the apartment development.

Edmonds Municipal Code 16.43.030.D.3 states that “no parking is required for any floor area in any building with a total building footprint of less than 4,800 square feet.”

Development Services Director Shane Hope told The Beacon two weeks ago that while the code, which dates back at least 10 years, makes sense for small businesses in the building district, a residential building like an apartment complex normally should have on-site parking.

She added that everywhere else in the city it is expected that a residential building have parking.

Because the nine units include three units on each floor, and the building footprint is less than 4,800 square feet, no parking was required. The City approved the project based on the existing code at the time of application submittal.

According to Hope, amending a city code related to development or zoning typically takes at least three months to be prepared and brought through a required public process. The required process includes public hearings by both the Planning Board and City Council.

In this case, the need for a code amendment – and the possibility that more development would proceed under a problematic part of the existing code – is strong enough Edmonds temporarily intervened by adopting a limited moratorium on that type of development.

State law authorizes the legislative bodies of city and county governments to establish and continue a moratorium in increments of no more than six months, while a more permanent solution is sought.

Hope said the nine-unit apartment building might be an anomaly. This is the first time the on-site parking exemption has been used, she added, and no new applications have been submitted for development of housing without parking in the business district zone.

The ordinance prevents approval of applications for new housing in the zone that does not have one or more on-site parking spaces per unit, and sets a public hearing for Sept. 25 to consider whether to continue the moratorium.

“It might be the case that this building will force added use of the bus service and discourage nine new families from buying cars,” Phillips said this week.

“But that would be completely by accident. And those families and neighbors will still have to deal with the safety nightmare of every U-Haul truck, fire department inspection truck, ambulance, police car, pizza delivery, UPS, USPS, Uber/Lyft, flex rental car blocking stops signs, the bus stop, my driveway or even double parked in the middle of the street now, instead of the gravel parking lot that previously existed.”

Meanwhile, there’s not much that can be done about the planned apartment complex on Edmonds Street and Third Avenue North unless the developer decides to somehow add parking to the already-approved project.








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