More parking: 75 additional spaces coming to downtown

Kitsap County commuters hogging parking space on 4th
By Brian Soergel | May 03, 2018
Courtesy of: City of Edmonds The parking lot on Fourth Avenue South in Edmonds.

Parking: Everybody talks about it, and Edmonds is trying to do something about it.

Following changes to on-street parking made downtown last spring, the city has embarked on a new set of changes that will free up even more parking for shoppers and visitors.

Last year, the city reconfigured the on-street employee parking permit area to make more three-hour parking available for shoppers and visitors. The exemption for employee parking permit-holders from the regular three-hour limit for on-street parking was no longer provided on the short segments of four key downtown streets.

It also started a pilot program by demarcating 20-foot, individual, on-street parking spaces on Fourth and Fifth avenues north between Main and Bell streets and Main Street between Fifth and Sixth.

The same group that worked on these issues last year, consisting of several city department leaders and a representative each from both the Economic Development Commission and Edmonds Downtown Alliance, was reconvened to explore what additional enhancements could be made.

First up was a discussion of the effectiveness of the demarcation of individual on-street parking spaces. After a year of observing, it became clear to the group that more efficient use of the curbside space available for on-street parking had resulted in the areas where individual parking spaces were marked.

For this reason, the group recommended it to Mayor Dave Earling, who agreed that the tick marks be permanent and expanded to cover Fifth Avenue from Walnut to Bell streets, and Main Street from Third to Sixth avenues.

City workers installed the new tick marks last week.

“I wasn’t sure at first that the marked spaces would make a difference,” Public Works Director Phil Williams said, “but last week when I saw several blocks of neatly parked cars after we laid down the permanent tick marks, I’m a believer now.”

This small change should free up two to three parking spaces per block, resulting in 16 to 24 additional spaces over the eight-block area.

Another small project that the group identified involves the 25-space city parking lot on Fourth Avenue just south of Main Street that for years has offered 11 three-hour parking spaces and 14 spaces for monthly parking.

The group questioned the benefit to downtown Edmonds of offering monthly parking spaces. And, after a review of leases, the group determined that all of the monthly spaces were used by commuters from Kitsap County.

Some of those commuters may at times shop, dine or otherwise do business downtown while traveling through Edmonds. However, the group concluded that providing hourly parking to meet increasing demand for short-term parking to serve retailers, restaurants and personal service establishments would be of greater benefit to downtown Edmonds.

Earling agreed, and the monthly parking leaseholders were given a 90-day notice of termination, effective June 30, as well as information about three commercial parking lots in the vicinity that offer monthly parking.

As of July 1, an additional 14 spaces will be available for short-term parking to serve shoppers and visitors. Signage at the location will be updated accordingly.

“While these changes may be small when viewed individually, between what we put in place last year and these new enhancements, we’re going to see over 75 additional spaces throughout downtown to meet the increasing demand for on-street parking,” Earling said.

In tandem with the city’s efforts, the Edmonds Downtown Alliance has successfully inaugurated an after-hours parking program with the Bank of Washington on Fifth Avenue South, where the parking lot there is available for free public parking after business hours.

Signage has been designed and installed at the site indicating the availability of the parking, using a standardized parking symbol that can be used elsewhere. And to that point, the Alliance has begun discussions with the owners of other private parking lots with hopes to expand the program.

“All in all, between the city and the Downtown Alliance, we’re taking strides to meet some of the increasing demand for parking in downtown Edmonds,” Director of Economic Development and Community Services Patrick Doherty said.

“Convenient and available parking is a key component to a successful downtown, and we will continue to keep our collective eye on opportunities for even more parking enhancements in the future.”

One of those enhancement may help, but not in the near future – a much-needed parking garage.

“There has been discussion of a parking garage over and over throughout the years, but it all boils down to a very costly proposition,” Doherty said.

“Parking garages cost on the order of $35,000-plus per space, so a 200-space garage would likely cost more than $7 million. And then there’s also the question of where it would be placed, plus ongoing maintenance and operations costs.

“It would probably also beg the issue of financial contribution from the downtown business community and/or paid parking for customers – both of which would be foreign territory for Edmonds businesses and customers. So, for now, such a solution is still in a distant corner of the radar screen, but not entirely off it.”

 

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