City Council to limit employee parking near retail core; OKs return to committee structure

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    Parking is tight on a typical weekday in downtown Edmonds.(Photo by Larry Vogel)

The Edmonds City Council agreed at its Tuesday night study session to move to next week’s consent agenda an ordinance aimed at opening up more public parking in downtown Edmonds.

The council also approved, as part of its consent agenda, extending for another six months the ban on installing crumb rubber turf on public play fields in the city of Edmonds.

The parking ordinance will amend the city’s current On-Street Employee Parking Permit Program to eliminate certain areas from the list of exempt places where employees downtown can park. The changes cover segments of Dayton Street, Walnut Street, Maple Street and Alder Street.

The city currently charges $50 per year for employee parking permits that are available to Edmonds businesses. They exempt a vehicle from the three-hour parking limit in specified areas, if the parking is part of a work commute.

The change in employee parking availability was among several recommendations made by an ad hoc committee convened last winter by Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling, with the goal of opening up more parking spaces to shoppers and visitors.

City of Edmonds Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty told the council that removing exempted employee parking from the identified street segments would free up 35 additional on-street parking spaces during business hours.

To avoid inefficient use of parking spaces, the city will add parking designations like the one seen in the right photo.

An additional five to 10 on-street parking spaces may be added from another proposal the ad hoc committee recommended, and that will be implemented as a pilot program in 2017: To physically designate 20-foot parking places on 5th Avenue North between Main and Bell Streets and on Main Street between 5th and 6th Avenue.

“Of course we will revisit the condition of parking in a year or so to see if any of these changes have helped,” Doherty said.

Doherty also said he would like to work with downtown businesses to make unused parking spaces — such as those in bank parking lots, for example — available to shoppers on evenings and weekends.

A half-time parking enforcement person approved as part of the city’s 2017 budget has yet to be hired but even so, Doherty said, parking enforcement has stepped up, with 347 parking citations issued this year.

(For more information on the parking situation and potential solutions, read the December, 2016 My Edmonds News feature article “Downtown Edmonds parking: Relief in sight?”.)

The council also agreed during its meeting to place an ordinance on next week’s consent agenda that returns the council to a committee meeting structure, holding those meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month. Regular council business will be conducted if needed prior to the committee meetings on those days, but the focus will be on committees, which will include the following:

Finance: overseeing city revenues and expenditures.
Parks, Planning, and Public Works: open space conservation and access to recreational facilities and opportunities,
Public Safety and Personnel: adequate delivery of police and fire protection to the city.

Still to be decided is where exactly each of the committees will meet, but presumably they will be in different locations in the Public Safety Complex. Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas noted that there were citizen complaints about the room sizes when one of the committee meetings, under the old structure, was held in the jury meeting room.

Councilmember Kristiana Johnson — who ended up voting against the measure –raised the question about public transparency, commenting that it will be impossible for members of the public or the news media to watch all three committee meetings since they are happening at the same time in different locations. No public comment will be allowed during committee meetings, as they are meant to give councilmembers an opportunity to dive deeper into issues.

Also on Tuesday night, the council:

– Heard a presentation on the second annual Creative Age Festival, set for April 29 at the Edmonds Senior Center.

– Received from City Development Director Shane Hope a review of performance for the city’s 2016 Comprehensive Plan. You can see that report here.

– Agreed to move to next week’s consent agenda acceptance of the report on final construction costs for the 238th Street Southwest walkway and drainage improvements project.

– Heard a response from Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan to concerns expressed by two residents during the audience comments portion of the March 28 council meeting. The issues raised related to the police department’s recent court settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by one of its female officers, and questioned whether there are ongoing issues of sexual harassment within the department. We’ll have a story on Compaan’s response Wednesday.

— By Teresa Wippel

 

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