Council poised to tackle downtown parking issue

POULSBO — Any developer entertaining the idea of putting a new face on the heart of Little Norway would be wise to heed the apparent mantra of the Poulsbo City Council: no parking, no permits.

At the May 9 council meeting, Councilwoman Connie Lord proposed an interim emergency zoning ordinance for the downtown core that would prohibit the redevelopment of non-residential properties that do not provide the required amount of parking either on-site or at an off-site location.

“It’s on the books that we allow lot line-to-lot development without parking,” Lord said.

Because there is no parking requirement, Lord said she is concerned about the impacts any redevelopment could have on downtown’s current parking woes.

“I certainly don’t want to add to the crunch,” Lord said. “If they can provide the parking on-site, that’s fine.”

Councilman Dale Rudolph suggested Lord remove the off-site parking provision, because some parcels in downtown participated in the Local Improvement District that created Anderson Parkway and the King Olav parking lot.

“There are some that participated, but haven’t used those spaces,” Rudolph said.

Even so, the LIDs most likely only affected the properties developed during those time periods, Planning Director Barry Berezowsky said.

“I don’t believe assessments were levied for vacant properties,” he said.

With discussion about residential development in the downtown core, the council needs to tackle the parking issue for non-residential development at the same time, Councilman Mike Regis said.

“We need to get ourselves aligned correctly,” he said.

After examining Lord’s proposal, Berezowsky attempted to clarify the issue for the rest of the council.

If a property owner had an existing 1,000-square-foot building that contributed to one of the LIDs, and added an additional 1,000 square feet, the property owner would have to provide parking for that addition, he said.

“My read of non-residential development is business,” said Councilman Ed Stern. “My concern is what constitutes an expanded use.”

For instance, if a property owner remodeled a building to add a new appliance, but it didn’t increase the actual number of customers, would that require more parking, Stern asked.

“It really comes down to what impact are we going to have on the businesses downtown,” Stern said.

As long as the remodeling didn’t create the need for more parking, additional spaces would not be required, Berezowsky said.

As a former downtown business owner, Councilwoman Kimberlee Crowder said she fully understands the parking problems downtown business owners are faced with on a daily basis.

“If you’re going to create more demand, you’re going to have to provide parking,” Crowder said. “I don’t have a problem with that.”

The city isn’t saying property owners can’t expand their properties, it’s just saying parking has to be provided, Berezowsky said.

As the proposal went up for a vote, only Stern opposed it.

“I used non-residential because I wanted it to apply to city hall,” Lord said.

However, a closer examination of all five city proposals showed that each has the requisite 75 parking spaces for the city hall building.

The Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority’s proposal, which included a conference center, hotel and museum along with the city hall building, meets the parking requirements for those additional uses.

The same is true of the other four proposals and their plans for development beyond city hall.

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