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Council makes downtown parking mandatory

POULSBO — Before the Poulsbo City Council voted on an interim emergency zoning ordinance on downtown parking requirements Wednesday night, Councilman Ed Stern warned his colleagues about the dangers of unintended consequences.

Stern didn’t have to wait long for his fears to be realized as the council voted 4-3 to require commercial development in the city’s downtown core to meet the offstreet parking requirements for commercial uses under the Poulsbo Municipal Code. A public hearing on the matter is slated for the June 6 council meeting.

After the vote, it appeared the issue was decided, but not so, said City Attorney Scott Snyder.

“An emergency ordinance has to pass with a supermajority,” Snyder advised. “You have a five-day window to reconsider.”

Councilman Mike Regis, who voted for the ordinance, said he hoped the word “emergency” didn’t set off any red lights or bells in his fellow council members’ minds.

“It’s just the way we word it,” Regis said.

The timing of the discussion about downtown parking is appropriate, but an emergency ordinance isn’t needed, Stern said.

“I remain concerned about the unintended consequences of this,” he said. “I think we can do this without an emergency ordinance. That’s all.”

As one of the three council members who voted against the ordinance, Councilman Jeff McGinty said he didn’t like the idea of a five-day window after the vote.

“We can do it or we can’t do it,” McGinty said.

In order to eliminate the five-day window, a member of the majority would have to make a motion to reconsider and then the council would have to vote on the original ordinance again, Snyder said.

By a 5-2 vote, the council reconsidered the issue, but this time only Stern and Councilman Dale Rudolph remained in opposition, allowing the parking requirement to become effective immediately.

“I think we’re putting pressure on the next one or two developers to solve our problem,” Rudolph said. “That bothers me.”

Also the Poulsbo Historical Society’s proposed museum on Jensen Way would be adversely impacted, he said.

“They don’t have enough space to put the required parking there,” Rudolph said.

In changing his original vote, McGinty reiterated his frustration with the five-day window created by the first vote.

“I’m changing my vote, but I want a commitment from the council that we will get through this more expeditiously than our previous moratoriums,” he said, referring to the fact that council enacted moratoriums on development near critical areas and on planned residential developments on Sept. 13, 2006 and they still remain in effect.

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