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Street standards drive to meet final approval

POULSBO — The long road toward implementing new street standards in Little Norway appears to be nearing its end after months of city council discussion.

Balancing street width and the need for solutions to the city’s parking problems drove much of the six-month exploration into the issue as residents, city officials and emergency services personnel sought to find common ground.

Throughout the course of the discussion, Public Works Director Jeff Lincoln continually reminded public works committee members that emergency vehicles need 20 feet of space to respond to calls from residents.

“I’m more inclined to maintain larger widths in the recommendation of safety,” Lincoln told committee members last week as they debated the feasibility of using narrower street widths as a traffic-calming measure.

However, Councilman Dale Rudolph said the idea of allowing residential collector streets to be constructed with 11-feet lanes is not a totally preposterous idea.

“It’s one foot less of pavement and one less foot of pervious surface,” Rudolph said.

Councilwoman Kathryn Quade echoed Rudolph’s assessment, saying that the 11-foot width still allows enough room for vehicle traffic, even if it doesn’t allow for on-street parking.

“People tend to go faster on wider streets and that’s why we want these standards,” Quade said.

Narrower streets could serve as a traffic-calming tool for the city to use in the future, she explained.

“It’s been stalled in committee and let’s at least move it forward, since we’ve been talking about it for four years,” she remarked.

Rudolph agreed, saying that he, too, was ready to move the issue ahead to the entire council.

“I think this is the most thorough and vetted discussed section and I think we could move the entire section forward,” Rudolph said.

For the most part, the new standards don’t mean narrower streets, but could allow for parking on one side of existing residential streets that are 30-feet wide, Rudolph commented.

Parking should be allowed on one side of existing streets that are wide enough to accommodate it, Lincoln said, pointing out that the only question with the issue would be enforcement.

“I think it’s fully appropriate and in my mind, the only question is how to enforce it,” he said. “If people sign it, it’s fine.”

To allow the city to maintain an overall grasp on the issue, Rudolph recommended that residents be required to petition the council for approval before allowing parking on one side of a street.

“It gets neighbors to work together and if you get 51 percent of the neighbors for it, then we’ll take action,” he said. “I think most people would want to get legal.”

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