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City will test new parking limits

POULSBO — The City Council approved the mayor’s Parking Pilot Program on Wednesday, hoping to free up parking spaces in downtown’s Anderson Park-way for shoppers and other short-term visitors.

The pilot program comes after years of discussion and a $50,000 parking study in 2008.

Mayor Becky Erickson drafted a downtown parking strategy this summer. The gist of the problem, the council discovered, was lack of turnover — too many long-term parkers, such as boaters and downtown employees, were using spots closest to shops and restaurants.

While the council disagreed on the most effective way to change parking habits, they passed the mayor’s plan unanimously to begin time-limit enforcement.

“This is just a first step,” Erickson said Wednesday. “We’ve got to start somewhere.”

The pilot program goes into effect in November and sunsets March 31. It includes February, when space in Anderson Parkway will be limited while the lot is resurfaced.

Front Street and Anderson Parkway will be the only parking areas enforced — the council wants to push long-term parking to outlying lots, such as City Hall, King Olaf, 3rd Avenue, the former Police Department building and Jensen Way.

Parking on Anderson Parkway will remain limited to three hours; parking on Front Street will be limited to two hours, up from one. Overstaying those limits will yield a $25 fine. A community service police officer will be dedicated to enforcement Monday through Saturday, between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. There will be no enforcement on Sundays.

More signs directing drivers to outlying parking lots will be added, while  signs in lots other than Anderson Parkway and Front Street will be taken down.

Erickson said she and public works staff believe the problem isn’t educating downtown visitors more on where to park, it is educating employees and other long-term users where not to park.

Councilman Ed Stern said this program isn’t about raising revenue for the city.

“I hope I never see a single ticket” issued, he said.

The council will receive updates on how effective the endorsement program is, whether 15 percent of spaces are open at any given time, or if there is an effect on retail sales. The council will also continue discussions on other options, such as an employee parking lot or installing pay stations.

The Port of Poulsbo has recently started charging for parking on its lot on Jensen Way. Motorists pay $2 for three hours of parking, and $5 for the whole day. Longer-term rates for boaters and overnight parking are available. There will be no charge for port tenants, who will have 12 dedicated spaces.

 

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