Edmonds Street apartment project with no on-site parking prompts city moratorium

This nine-unit apartment complex being built at 303 Edmonds Street won’t include any off-street parking for its residents. (Photos by Larry Vogel)

News that a nine-unit apartment complex being built at 303 Edmonds Street without any on-site vehicle parking prompted the Edmonds City Council at its Tuesday Aug.21 meeting to place a moratorium on new residential construction without parking in the city’s Business District (BD) zone.

City of Edmonds Development Services Director Shane Hope sad the moratorium will give city officials a chance to initiate an amendment to the city’s code, which currently doesn’t require on-site vehicle parking for new residential construction “if the footprint is less than 4,800 square feet in the BD zone only.”

The action won’t affect the three-story, nine-unit apartment building now under construction on the corner of 3rd Avenue North and Edmonds Street, as the developer was following current city code when on-site parking wasn’t included as part of the building application.

Hope said via email Wednesday that the apartment building application “went through the usual staff review process and, when one of the staff questioned the lack of on-site parking, the applicant pointed out the place in the code that allowed this zone for small buildings in the BD zone.

“At this point, staff were obligated to approve the project as long as the application met the city code at the time it was submitted,” she said.

Soon after, Hope explained, she received word from city councilmembers and Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling “that a neighbor to the property was upset that zero parking was being required.

“At first, I thought they must be mistaken, but after checking on it, I found the project had been approved, based on the existing code requirements,” Hope said.

No other zones in the city have that provision, Hope noted.

Work at the corner of 3rd Avenue North and Edmonds Street.

City staff confirmed they knew of no one else applying to develop a residential project in the BD zone without vehicle parking. However, since it typically takes three months for a code amendment to be made, Hope added, “someone else could theoretically apply and be ‘vested’ before the code got amended. To cover the ‘gap time,’ we proposed a moratorium.”

Hope told the council Tuesday night that “mostly, people have required that parking on site regardless of that code because they generally believe they need it. But this building application came through, and we have to base any decisions on the codes. It’s not a variance, it’s not a conditional use, it’s just plain and simple, it says in the code no on-site parking is required for buildings meeting those conditions,” she said.

Under state law, Hope noted, a project can’t be denied if it meets city code requirements.

Due to required public hearings and other administrative requirements, it takes an estimated three months to implement any code change, Hope said.

“No one knows of any residential units that have ever been approved before without at least some on-site parking,” she said.  “In fact, as far as we know, no one has even proposed multifamily development without on-site parking.”

While the new Edmonds Street project won’t have any on-site parking, the property “does have a bus stop at the corner and several bicycle racks will be on site,” Hope said.

— By Teresa Wippel

  1. And all of the nearby street parking has a 3 hour limit. Many of those spots will likely now be taken up by the residents of this building.

  2. The city has a “Residential and Visitors Parking permit process that will exempt folks from the 3 hour limit. Today ANY down town resident can apply for up to 3 permits for each residence. Each resident can also get 2 “visitors” permits. Here is what is says: “In order to qualify, the applicant must complete a Residential & Visitor Parking Permit application indicating that they do not have off-street parking or do not have enough parking for cars that are owned by the applicant. This application must be notarized.”

    The application goes on to say ….”allow exception to the posted 3-hour limit, providing the permitted vehicle is not parked in any one location for longer than 72 hours.”

    Putting residential permits into perspective is important. We already have over 400 residential permits issued at a cost of $25 per year or less than $.07 per day. Yes cents! The “visitors permits cost $10 per year. So assuming each of the nine units has two cars then that would mean 18 new permits and $450 a year for city revenues. The could also get 18 visitors permits for an added total of $180 per year. That would add to the more than $10,000 the city collects on the existing 400+ permits.

    To further complicate the downtown parking issues we have over 500 employee parking permits at a cost of $50 each that are competing for downtown parking spaces. These permits are away from the DT core but still in the area of the other residential zones.

    While council has increased budgets for enforcement they have authorized only enough enforcement dollars for a fraction of the time when parking limits apply. It is hard to understand why we have allowed parking for a car at 7 cents a day.

    I would hazard a guess that these 9 units will cost less because of the no onsite parking requirement. That will make them more affordable which is emerging as another goal council is considering.

    The background issue is parking. With more folks living here, more folks visiting DT, and more folks working here the current spaces are very valuable. It may well be time to consider the various ways we “allocate and charge” for these spaces. It may also be time to give some serious thought to adding parking near our DT area for the competing uses.

  3. Where will the rest of us, who do not live in the bowl, ever be able to park? Adding apartments and condos without internal parking is simply squeezing us out of downtown Edmonds. How often these days I simply drive home, unable to find a place withing practical walking distance of the shop/restaurant I wanted to visit! I’ve lived here since 1961, and I start to feel as if I am being squeezed out of my home town.

  4. Nathaniel you are right. most people do not live in the bowl but would like to go there for movies, dinner, and other things that make Edmonds a great place to live. As we move forward will be adding to the demand for parking with things like the new civic field. We need to be creative and find ways to add to parking or to parking that can be served by self driving shuttles to the down town.

  5. I live close to there. Parking will be obscene. Increase to parking permit price, reduce the property tax. Parking is a function of rents. Let the market choose.

  6. The Civic Park is going to be amazing, only issues I have is why would you not use at least 1/2 acre of the 8 acre space to create at least 30-60 parking spaces? One thought is to remove the Tennis courts and the small grass space to the NW of the current Design. You could build a small two story parking garage (within the 30 ft height restriction) make it attractive grow some Ivy on it or better yet put a Mural on it? I mean having Eight people at time play Tennis randomly is nice, but it seems logical that using that space for parking would help utilize the park more efficiently? It could be financed by a small parking Fee of $2-$5 dollar over time. Further more having events there such as concerts in the future could help pay for the parking garage over time as well, among other events.

      1. Can we publish the conditions of the Grant on my Edmonds News? I’m Curious if there is an ability to parcel out a piece of the Civic Property for more control would be an option? Also You can park on grass fields, draw temp lines with Chalk may be a way to allow parking from time to time. In fact you could at least make the entire NW corner a Grass field and chalk line it later for parking at a minimum to Circumvent the silly control rules of some Grant.

  7. Tracy the answer is no.
    There are and will be too many people competing for the limited number of parking stalls in the DT (Fountain +2/3blocks) and near DT area (Casper to Pine, 8th to water). The is a “price” (I think this is one of Matt’s points?) for a parking stall on the street. Nathanial’s point is Edmond’s folks are finding it difficult to visit DT.
    One of the strategies in the Affordable Housing strategies is to lower the cost per unit by reducing the parking requirement. We did that with Westgate along with giving a property tax break. The 5 corner consultant study suggests and documents how reducing parking requirements can build more AF units.
    There are two fundamental strategies that can address the issues.
    1. Add more parking to DT.
    2. Find ways to park cars away from DT and Near DT and move people to where they want to go.
    Rather than suggest ideas and then have someone shot the messenger let’s all try to be creative to offer solutions and not just complain. What we much do is creatively think about some of these issues at the same time. We have charted a course to increase our population at a rate twice the amount needed for satisfying the GMA. We have charted a course to bring more people and their cars to town: Arts, Whales, Markets, Waterfront, Parks (Civic park is next), Waterfront Community Center, Transportation like Sounder and WSF. More people to live here and more people to visit put a stress on our infrastructure like roads, parking, parks, and water and sewer systems.
    Nine new more affordable housing units with no on site parking can trigger a more intelligent debate about what we the citizens want for our town.

    1. Darrol, keep up the great work. I pay for a parking permit on that corner. It is crazy cheap, practically free. The cost of parking a car there should maybe be $500 per year or better. Increase parking costs (parking is a function of rents), encourage less cars, and pay for that by reducing property tax. There is a bus stop right there too. I’m saying this as a matter of fact, practically no one rides the bus in Edmonds. The average bus has an average of one passenger, and those lumbering vehicles with their one passenger have a tough time making that right turn on 5th and Main. Objectively looking at our parking and transportation goals, Edmonds should be using the short-bus. It’s not a complaint, but there is a particular irony in that our zoning angels failed to properly categorize a site two blocks from City Hall. City Planning is a failed science. You seem remarkable at it, but even if you were the angel it doesn’t work. Market Approach.

    2. Matt, I never said I was against market approach. The market is the best way to allocate scarce resources. Read carefully, even between the lines, then type. The streets belong to the citizens of Edmonds. My property taxes and my local car tab taxes go to Edmonds infrastructure. So I am paying for these assets. If someone visits here and gets to use these services for free then that is not market based. We make the argument that visitors generate economic activity in the form of buying things in our stores and restaurants. Nice, but very very little of those purchases go to paying for these infrastructures. That 20x7ft piece of road has a cost. The current revenue to the city is $25/year if you live here and $50/year if you work here and zero if you visit DT and don’t park longer than 3 hours when enforcement is active. But if you live outside the bowl and are unable to walk very far then we drive to the bowl, drive around the block a few times increasing co2 and increasing our blood pressure in hopes of finding a space. What is the market rate for that space?

      1. I understood what you were saying, that you’re not against market approaches. Like Rose is saying below, the price to rent a parking space can be determined. Street parking could be in parity with private lots, at least. I am really just enjoying the irony of zoning foibles so close to the city hall. I love that there’s a bus stop immediately in front of the site, and practically no one rides the bus here. I also appreciate your point about how parking stimulates business activity, but business activity doesn’t pay for the entirety of parking infrastructure. Tragedy of the Commons isn’t an argument that advocates more Commons, but it’s taught to us that way. Let’s all just admit we’re jealous that someone “got away” with this, and is going have all those tenants. I’m jealous. I was going to buy that lot and open a straw making company.

  8. We moved to Edmonds about two months ago from North Seattle. Several reasons motivated us to go north including family connections. We downsized to a townhouse half the space of our house. We reduced our vehicles to one Prius. If friends or family come to visit,the street parking has been taken up on the public street with the neighboring condominium residences. One of the reasons we looked forward to Edmonds was less density of traffic and the lack of huge dominate highrises. Our location also provides us with access to buses and I have used the transit system to go into town rather than driving.
    Solution: All residences that are privately owned must use their garage for their car. If they don’t use a car, then they can make it an extra room, or storage area. I would like to believe that the reduction of no garages provides opportunity for lower cost housing, I have no way of checking that out. Taxes are based on location, sq. footage and use of space. This particular developments should be followed to see what the final costs are; is it condos or apartments?. What are the sq.ft. costs. All persons using public streets for overnight parking should be required to pay a nightly fee minimum $10.00 and if the car remains for 24 hours it is $20 dollars. These numbers are arbitrary.
    All concerned residence of Edmonds should attend counsel meetings. I have no idea about their schedules or issues to be addressed and I assume that those serving are doing the best job they can. Trying to keep the attributes that attract so many to this area, it is a time of change, and it is important at this time to not loose sight of development construction and providing a sustainable community.

    1. Welcome to Edmonds. City council meetings are Tuesdays at 7 p.m. You can always track the agendas here, as we report on them every Sunday night prior to the Tuesday meeting.

  9. Required parking for residential properties doesn’t have to be onsite. Other cities permit developers to contract with existing parking facilities to provide tenant parking. Works fine if it’s near enough to the residence.

    Edmonds civic leaders should be more aggressive in getting parking lot owners to open up their lots after business hours. A few have begun doing that, but it should spread throughout the Bowl business district. Mixed-use parking facilities are a good thing ~ for business employees and customers during the day, and off-hours for shoppers, diners, and residents.

    1. Good idea on the after hour sharing. ED the DT business district folks are aggressively working to have business open up their lots after hours. One issue to solve is to not have the business liable for issues in their parking lot after hours. Progress is being made. There is a lot that was for private parking south of Chantrelle’s which has now been converted to 3 hour parking. That adds to the inventory. Moe tick marks would also help as it has increased the density of parking where the tick marks have been installed.

      The issue with having the developer pay for parking with none is provided is a good one. Today’s rate is $25 a year or $.07/day. Probably below Matt’s idea a market rate. Using Matt’s suggestion of $500/yr would make it less than $1.40 a day.

  10. Easy solution. Buy Space, or use some of the existing space in the downtown area (that the city owns) and BUILD a minimum 2 story parking garage. Or government.

  11. Darrol, you have done a lot for our community it’s appreciated. Does anyone happen to know how much the Grant with the parking lot stipulation total was? It was brought to my attention today from a local Edmond’s person, that the park cost is around $10 Million total?, just curious the recent Article in my Edmond’s news had the Mayor securing $54,676,498 in Grants (nice work Mayor), $14,485,000 was ear marked for the Parks department. The Rumor going around town is the Grant with the parking stipulation for Civic Field was for around $2 million, be curious to find out exact amount, my vote and it’s 1 of 42,000 citizens would be to send that money back and use some of the $14,485,000 recently secured Rec money and add Parking to Civic Field that could also be used for general parking for Downtown do to it’s close proximity, since the Park is going to be around for the next 100 years be nice to do it right? If it’s a deed issue that may be pretty difficult, and bizarre if that was the case. The same local person also mentioned lack of night time lighting, that park has always had night time lighting and activities? If that’s the case what a missed opportunity not only for security purposes, but for maximizing utilization of the Park and lost $$$ for the Town. If anyone knows these answers please post. Thanks

    1. The purchase price from the School District was around $1.9m. Edmonds got a grant from the Hazel Miller foundation for $1.5 and the city put up the other $400k. The total cost for the remodeling and improvements is estimated to be about $12m and grants have been obtained for some of it but not sure if it is fully funded yet. Checking the web site is not real easy to get all the facts and conditions. Just go to the city web site and search civic field any you will see the plan and a bunch of the details.

      The Economic Development Commission recently recommended the city review all its real-estate assets in the DT area to see if some properties are being used for the best interest of the city. That would include city hall and the public safety complex. The police are over crowded and most of their work is not in the bowl. One idea was to move the police to a new location and then to use that entire site for underground parking, a year round public market and other amenities to enhance the area near the park. One could even consider a hotel in the area that would be near DT.

      Did not jump up and down about all the ideas in the recommendation but time will tell if any of the ideas relating to the public safety complex gain any traction.

      On a recient trip to Savanna GA and Charleston SC I was amazed how both cities had parking away from town with free on and off bus service to shuttle folks around. We could do the same thing but upgrade the shuttle with the emerging technology of self driving vans. This is a technology that would be great for the low speed routes we could make in Edmonds. We could even consider removing all vehicle traffic from some key streets in town and make it like some of the plazas in Europe. All we need it the location for parking and one of the self driving companies to use Edmonds as a show case.

      If we put on our creative thinking caps we may be able to combine some of the needs of our community and do some exciting things.

  12. Thanks Darrol for insight into purchase of the Civic Property to the City. Also budget of 12 Million for Renovation is helpful info on project. I am all for converting city assets to awesome public spaces and creating totally unique experiences and ample parking for our community, Great Long Term vision and Ideas. The present time is what I am concerned about, as renovations on Civic Field are already underway. I want to be directed to the public detailed information on the specific Grants and funding for this Project and there restrictions, so I can see for myself why we can not include parking on nearly 8 Acre piece of raw open space in the Heart of our Downtown? I as a Citizen would like to review the funding for this project and it’s restrictions. I feel it’s a reasonable request I don’t expect Darrol to have all the answers, I give Darrol a lot of credit for sharing what he know’s and reaching out on this platform. If anyone knows the actual details of the Civic Field project funding and/or where I can go to look at the restrictions would be most helpful. Cheers

  13. The homeowner has every right to complain and complain loudly. Added cars on the sreeet, car doors slamming, noise etc. I totally symphathize with anyone having to endure this. Seemingly lost in the bowl anymore is caring and impact on people directly in the path of some of these projects.

  14. Thanks for the link, I am aware of the PDF Master plan on the city website, park looks great, unless I’m mistaken there is no specific Grant and funding breakdown on this PDF showing restriction of parking?, In fact the PDF Master Plan shows the 2 acres Exempt from Deed restrictions along most of 6th ave. This Deed restriction would allow a logical parking area North of the planned Promenade with Alley access. So if anyone can direct me to the GRANT(s) showing the parking restriction would like to take a look. The City did a great job involving the community, one of reason why the park looks awesome in my opinion. I suspect people get excited and motivated to ask for various offerings, parking was lost in the shuffle. The City has a responsibility to add things such as drainage and other support functions, like Parking. “Humming bird” park on Spruce Street is about 1% the size of Civic field and has more parking spaces than this plan.
    My Question to the city and the people is it logical to have a park that will have tens of thousands of people on annual visits not have designated parking area? I realize times are changing and there is uber and driverless cars, but this is not downtown NY, I don’t need to park up on 99 and shuttle into Downtown Edmonds to take my kids to soccer practice or go to dinner at Salt & Iron. There is plenty of space to add some parking, if its restricted on Grant(s) would like to see the details. If the Restricted Grant is 2 million of the 12 million why are we allowing 15% of the funding to dictate 100% of the outcome? Just my two cents.

    1. Short answer is some of the details you would like to know are not easy to find. One of the reasons the city managed to get the land for such a low price was that their was still a street on the deed running east and west that divided the property. That made the value to the school district less and the deal was cut to buy the property. The city worked to “trade” its street property to now be at the edge of the total plot. The was a map showing this but have not been able to find it. But the grant $ helped buy the rest of the property and the design elements account for the where we could have building an where it was not allowed to have buildings. So that is why you see the plan to have structures only along the edge and no structures on the “grant” purchased part. The parking issue was brought up numberous times including creating an underground lot. All these suggests were dismissed and the likely reason was cost. If it is planned to do $12m of improvements just for the plan as submitted then adding underground parking would add a bunch to the overall project. The rule of thumb for parking is 30-35,000 per stall. So adding 100 stalls in some sort of structure would be $3-3.5m. The total cost for the park including parking would be $15m and we do not have that money and would have to rely on grant money. My guess is folks willing to grant money are more inclined to want nice things like grass, walkways and open space and not likely to want to fund a parking garage or lot.

      You other point of needing parking near DT is valid. See my response above on ideas that have been discussed in the Economic Development Commission.

  15. Besides saving on parking the developer missed a revenue generator that would have added about $20,000 per year to the bottom line. It is not known if these are planned as condos or apartments. Assuming they are apartments one of the tools that may have been available it the Multi Family Tax Exemption. This was first used at Westgate and if it were available for these 9 units it would have been a revenue generator for the development. The MFTE allows a developer to get 100% property tax relief on the housing units if 20% of the units (2 in this case) are rented at 20% below market value. Guess at construction costs of $350k per unit and a rent of $3000 per month the tax bill reduction would be near $35k per year and the rent reduction would be under $15k for the year. A “cash flow” of plus $20,000.

    Everyone who is interested in the kind of tools being considered in the Affordable Housing Strategy should go to the open house on Monday night. You will learn what tools are being considered and be able to judge when a tool creates a loss of revenue to government how that loss will be made up.

  16. I think it can be helpful to see what other cities do to open our minds to ways to have more affordable housing . In Pennsylvania, for instance I have seen duplexes mixed in with single family houses. They are limited and blend in with the single family housing. *ADUs are allowed in Edmonds. They are another way to add less expensive space to rent.
    *Accessory Dwelling Units (also known as Mother-in-law apartments) have restrictions of course.
    As for parking, maybe we can add parking on the street that goes between the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the building owned by the city. How about a parking structure on top or beside the WT plant

  17. Thanks Darrol a lot of info. I still would like to see the Grant(s) that stipulate parking restriction on the Civic Field project, should not be hard to find and it should be public info and I realize it’s not your responsibility to direct me to the info. Regarding cost for parking garage I get that, my previous comments stated simply paved flat half acre parking lot would supply at least 30-50 parking spots, carving that out now would help alleviate some parking demands immediately and create parking zone/foot print for garage in the future when dollars perhaps will be available down the road. The cost is a paved lot on existing flat Tennis Courts, guessing net reduction to the current budget. Let me know if anyone out there can show me the Grant Details…. Thanks

    1. One source of the details of grants and other legal issues may be the city council packets that were presented to council as this was being put together. You may want to check out council packets. The city search engine may help but I have had difficulty finding things with the search capabilities.

  18. Edmonds City Council and Dept. of Development Services : Don’t Ballardize Edmonds! Please control growth, stop developers from removing all of the trees when they build a structure and don’t allow apartments and condo w/o sufficient parking for the tenants.

  19. Parking in Edmonds has long been an issue. As a disabled driver, I am frequently forced to miss out on events or avoid shopping in downtown because there is no close-in parking. The City has made many improvements, placing single disabled spaces throughout the DT corridor, but then allows special events to block off those spaces. In fact, on the 4th of July, all of the streets close to the parade route were coned off, including disabled spaces, preventing any disabled people from parking close in to view the parade. I have lived in Edmonds since 1958, and as a small child, used to sit on the curb in front of the bakery with my family to watch the parade. I have seen many changes, some good, some not so good. I still believe that Edmonds is a wonderful small community with much to offer residents and visitors.

    1. I can only echo April Cook’s letter: as a disabled person I have often come into Edmonds to shop or eat, only to find no disabled place to park (or any other kind), and so have simply given up and gone elsewhere. As observed, any street closure swallows up a significant number of our few spaces, and makes it even worse. Having lived here since 1961, I now sometimes feel shut out of my home town,

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