City considers paid parking, enforcement downtown

The city may begin charging for downtown parking in order to make spaces more available.                    - Megan Stephenson / Herald
The city may begin charging for downtown parking in order to make spaces more available.
— image credit: Megan Stephenson / Herald

POULSBO —  Several downtown business owners and City Council members are in favor of a paid parking system for Anderson Parkway as a way to enforce parking time limits.

Wednesday, council members agreed with The Loft restaurant owner Sandy Kolbeins, who said downtown’s parking problem is turnover. The problem is not lack of space, he said, it’s that parking spots aren’t cycling because of long-term users such as employees or boaters.

The report from city planning staff concurred. Planner Alyse Nelson said there are 1,199 parking spaces in the downtown core — from Martha & Mary and the Post Office to the north, down Front Street to the intersection of Hostmark, Front and Fjord streets.

The report, conducted by a consultant in Oregon, stated the availability of parking is disproportionate — the compact downtown is often full, while parking on the outskirts is available but unattractive because the spots are considered by motorists to be too far away. The report also found that long-term users — those staying longer than four hours — are using 25 to 60 percent of key parking spaces.

Before business owners and residents gave their input, Andre Kasiniak, assistant public works director, explained the cost of making changes to downtown parking.

Public works staff studied several alternatives, from redeveloping or redesigning existing spaces, to building a parking garage. Building a new surface parking lot, or above ground, would cost $10,500 per stall. A parking structure ranged from $4.4 million for an above-ground garage to more than $9 million for a below-ground garage.

Staff members also looked at paid parking. Installing four to eight electronic pay systems would cost $40,000 to $80,000. Including maintenance and operation, Kasiniak determined each stall would need to generate $2.50 to $3.75 a day, at an average turnover of three cars per day. Just to break even, Kasiniak priced the spots at 50 cents an hour.

While a few spoke against paid parking and called for better enforcement of current time limits, several downtown business owners said they would support paid parking during peak hours — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 4-6 p.m.

“It doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be 24/7,” said Jeff Bauman, a former City Council member. “I view paid parking not as an all-or-nothing kind of thing, I see it as a parking management [tool].”

Kolbeins was joined by other business owners in his support because their employees contribute to a large part of the parking problem. The city discussed creating a parking lot for employees that could be shared with customers.

The city also discussed ticketing violators of existing time limits. Users of Anderson Parkway have a three-hour maximum, Front Street one hour. A parking ticket is $30.

The city is planning to repave 3rd Avenue and Anderson Parkway next year. Another ideas considered: 3rd Avenue becomes an employee-permitted parking lot and Anderson Parkway becomes a paid lot. Mayor Becky Erickson said the council needs to make the decisions soon as the next budget cycle is approaching.

The idea that Anderson Parkway could become part of the waterfront park is now far in the future, but one Erickson would like to see happen. More parking options will need to be  explored.

Councilman David Musgrove, who is also the owner of Hot Shots Java on Front Street, said there needs to be this discussion because businesses serve three different types of customers — the five-minute, in-and-out customer; the one-hour lunch break customer; and the four-hour shopper. He said most small businesses want the four-hour customer — “the longer you stay, the more you spend,” he said. The council will need to reconcile all the different needs of different types of parking users.


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