Council could have new parking regs in October
September 13, 2012 · Updated 4:08 PM
POULSBO — Downtown merchants, city employees and customers want to keep the downtown’s core of art galleries, restaurants and unique shops thriving. There’s just one problem: parking.
With dozens of shops and eateries squeezed in an area of a few blocks, downtown Poulsbo has 1,199 parking spaces on streets and in lots. Those studying the parking lots say there isn’t enough circulation, pushing visitors and short-term shoppers to less convenient, outlying lots.
Mayor Becky Erickson drafted a resolution in August outlining several possible steps to better manage parking. The City Council discussed the resolution at Wednesday’s meeting.
Erickson asked the council to focus on management of existing parking, but many council members expressed their desire to see 3rd Avenue be retrofitted for better parking.
“If we aren’t managing what we have, how can we expect the public to trust us to create more parking,” Erickson asked the council. The city is under a deadline. Anderson Parkway, downtown’s biggest lot, is scheduled to be repaved and re-striped in February. Erickson needs to know the council’s ideas on paid parking or other management tools, so infrastructure could be installed during the construction, she said.
During a public workshop June 27, council members were positive about a paid parking policy in the future. However, about half the council expressed reservations about paid parking at Wednesday’s meeting.
The council did come to a consensus on more signage — larger signs, with the words “Free Parking” directing drivers to lots other than Anderson Parkway. The council also said a lot of the circulation blame can be placed on employees of downtown businesses.
Tammy Mattson, owner of Tizley’s Europub and Hare & Hounds Public House, said many employees do park in Anderson Parkway, but the council shouldn’t “demonize” employees.
“If you don’t have employers, if you don’t have employees, you don’t have open shops,” she testified.
An employee parking lot should be “item number one” under discussion, Mattson said. Mattson said the council should consider employee parking “pockets” in each lot. Mattson would never ask an employee who worked a night shift to park a few blocks away, she said.
“We have to keep customer and employee safety first,” she said.
Erickson asked council members to submit their suggestions for a first action item to her in writing, and she will present the resolution again in October for discussion and a possible vote.
The council also adopted an ordinance regarding on-street parking on residential streets. Current city code stipulates motorcycles, motor vehicles, and motor homes capable of self-locomotion can only be stored on a public street for 20 hours.
Police Chief Dennis Swiney called the time limit unreasonable, “especially in neighborhoods with limited off-street parking” or in circumstances where a longer duration would better accommodate residents. The council voted to extend on-street parking and storage to 72 hours.
Council members said some motorists might take advantage of the time frame, but said those rules need to be enforced because this ordinance is more convenient for average residents.