Commentary: Parking requirements for downtown Edmonds buildings

In light of recent discussions about parking in downtown Edmonds, we offer this commentary from Edmonds resident Darrol Haug, who is a member of the Edmonds Citizens Economic Development Commission but is sharing his views as a private citizen. 

The City of Edmonds approved a nine-unit development in downtown that does not have on-site parking. The original city code was intended to allow for smaller building developments instead of assembling multiple properties to combining into a larger development. Some have complained that such a development is not what Edmonds wants but here are some of the detailed estimates of the impact of nine units with no parking or six units with on-site parking. These estimates were created using Snohomish County tax records and building cost estimates from a recent city study of 5 Corners.

The building cost for a unit will be about $200,000. The land value must be spread across the build units so if the land value is in the $800,000 range then with nine units the land cost for each is about $90,000 making a total unit cost of $290,000. Spreading the $800,000 across six units will make the land cost for each of about $130,000 or a total cost of $330,000. The added $40,000 per unit will add to the rent to make the project pencil out. So, we would get three less units and the cost per unit will be greater. This scenario doesn’t help the affordability issue. If only six units are built, the developer may well charge a renter for parking, further complicating affordability.

Let’s look at parking. We will eventually come to an understanding that we can no longer give away the value of a parking space. It’s free for three hours at a time in downtown Edmonds and we have below-market rates for selected people. Employee permits now number 531 and represent a cost of about 25 cents/day. We have 410 residential parking permits in three zones that represent a cost of about 7 cents a day.

It turns out the area with the nine-unit building has the lowest number of residential parking permits. The blue zone has 178, the yellow zone has 164, and the red zone has 68. Garage parking cost about $40,000 per stall to build. The new apartment project at Westgate is paying $49,000 per stall for their underground stalls. The daily cost of a stall amortized over 20 years is more than $10/day. We give it away for three-hour increments, charge 25 cents for employees, and 7 cents for residents.

When we finally put a price on a parking stall that reflects the cost or the market value, the market will work itself out. A builder would have to charge for parking in some fashion and a Google search showed the range of up to $300/month. That’s about the cost to amortize a parking stall in a garage!

The bottom line is, someday we will have parking fees that reflect the market value or cost, and these rates could be a benefit for city revenues. But in the future when we have set into motion market rate pricing of parking, we would love to have a builder “buy” or “rent” a stall from the city.

— By Darrol Haug

17 Replies to “Commentary: Parking requirements for downtown Edmonds buildings”

  1. Darrol…I appreciate your understanding of this issue. We, as residents of the city, truly need to grasp the impact…on both sides. Thank you for bringing light to this issue.


  2. Fine, you want to build a nine-unit apartment with no on-site parking. Your tenants are not allowed to own any vehicles! Fines will be paid by you at $10 dollars a day for the total time that have owned the vehicle and lived there.

    What, you don’t think you should have to pay the fine? Should have thought about that when you built! Of course, enforcement will require an additional fine…


  3. I would rather talk about the complex on Edmonds Way and 9th. Very limited parking, (almost seems ridiculous )where are they going to park? With such a huge complex, very little parking spots, with the only other parking owned and paid by businesses, off an already extremely busy highway? Let’s wait and see what happens when it’s full…then we will see how the community responds to 9, 12, 100 unit apartments or condos.


    1. I think others can confirm but I believe there is underground parking for all the residents of the new apartments.


      1. I live at this corner. Many new cars are already parking on the street. No longer any room for farmers market cars. Parking is a function of rent. Apportion $2 per day parking permits directly to side walk improvements and street repairs.


  4. I’m with Mike. I appreciate all your efforts and attempts to give us all an understanding of what we are dealing with. You are truly an asset to our town. I know we have to deal with the situation as it is now, but things may be quite different in the not too distant future.

    Self driving cars will probably result in systems where people are just dropped off at their destinations and may, in many cases, not even own cars. Many young folks now shun car ownership and all the expense that entails. They just call Uber or Lyft. Public transit is also going to get better, with more options. Automobile manufactures are already contemplating people not necessarily owning their own cars and how their business models might have to change as a result.

    Slightly changing the subject here, many young people are opting to not own or rent large homes and apartments. Not just because they can’t afford them; which is true; they’ve come to appreciate a more simple life style and don’t need 2000+ square feet per person of inside space.

    Anyway, my over all point here is that we may be trying to solve a problem that is in the process of partially solving itself. It would be ironic if we just got a big parking garage built and we didn’t really need it after a few years.


  5. Until/unless public transit becomes as convenient as a personal vehicle, people will still need cars. We are decades away from that no car public transit fantasy despite what the anti-auto faction would want you to believe. It may be the future but the future is not now. Yes, “build it and they will come” but you still have to build it first. Currently public transit is almost always much less convenient and takes 2-3 times longer that driving. Your time is valuable too. Once the public transit infrastructure actually exists then there will be no shortage of new uses for all those parking spaces and garages. For at least a few more decades, we still need convenient parking and if our downtown is to thrive we need that parking to continue to be free.
    If at all possible, I personally avoid downtown Seattle and go to Bellevue instead just because of the cost and hassle of parking. I base my choice of doctors, accountants and any other services on where they are located, and avoid any service in downtown Seattle. One of the reasons I left the Ballard area for Edmonds was because of the rampant condo/apartment growth with little or no parking. I would not have purchased my condo here in Edmonds if it had not included a designated off street parking spot. If we want people to come and spend their money here, we need to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Please don’t Ballardize Edmonds.


  6. I understand there are:
    35 underground stalls and 71 surface stalls, for 106 total.
    I also read there is 91 apartments. The 106 total is also for the businesses that are suppose to rent the entire bottom level. So, with business they have many people driving cars. Most people that live in a unit have 2 cars. (Room mates) Bartell’s and QFC is almost impossible to get in and out now.


  7. Agreed that Edmonds needs more parking. Parking at Civic Field would help – and a park without parking doesn’t get used very much.


  8. Maybe if we make people pay for parking and line the parking spots it will help! I always see people parked taking up 2+ spots–this type of example can be seen all over town. Maybe more locals would opt to walk if it was metered parking?!

    Civic field is not an option since this wasn’t raised while the master plan was open so its redundant to keep bringing it up and it wont happen. Can you imagine that can of worms if the city would re-open every single plan to change it after it closed to the public? Nothing would ever get accomplished! 🙂

    Population growth will not stop–Edmond’s residents need to understand that. They also need to understand that millennial’s *cough, like myself, cough* will not pay a monthly amount for a parking spot when their trying to afford to live with a roof over their head working more then one job! Maybe those who complain constantly about the lack of parking can buy or rent a spot? If you don’t want to deal with parking issues maybe its time to move to the rural parts of Washington where the population density is low? Any urban city setting is going to keep growing and will continue to have parking issues! I just budget extra time to find parking just like I take budget extra time for traffic.

    Everyone just needs to leave more time to find parking and be prepared to walk a few blocks–its healthy to get those steps in! We are all sharing this space in this lovely city together. Lets stop attacking all the sides and do better…the city officials already are aware this is a hot topic and will work on improving parking…nothing happens immediately in government so we all need to be patient while we figure out solutions.


  9. “Everyone just needs to leave more time to find parking and be prepared to walk a few blocks–its healthy to get those steps in!”. I could not agree more that except those in poor health, this the most practical solution to most of the parking woes. Buck up.


  10. Hi All, Thanks for your comments. The whole point of the commentary was to show the conflicting impact of alternative ideas, in this case affordable units and parking. Their are trade offs with two ideas are in conflict. It is no surprise that no one talked about the trade offs but used the commentary to “trigger” other opinions and concerns. First some updated information provided by the city:

    Residential permits now exceed 800 and Employee permits will soon exceed 700. These numbers are greater than reported above.

    Here are a couple of point to provide added information to some of the commenters above.

    “Lets fine them $10 a day for each car.” If we go down that path we would logically start charging all residential permit holders a fee closer to market value. For example charging both residential and employees a fee closer to the market value could produce a significant cash flow that could fund additional parking in DT.

    Westgate and available parking. Thanks for the updated numbers Joy, The developer has already stated that the final number of parking spaces will be greater than city code. In the case of Westgate the developer is connected with Bartells, also will be renting commercial space and renting rental units. If they have errored in their analysis of supply and demand they will be shooting themselves in the foot. Time will tell how this will all work out but likely it will be ok.

    The units discussed are already being occupied and checking the general area for available parking spaces both day and evening has always shown 20 or more available parking spaces with in a block or two of the development.

    Finally an appeal for all of us to be prepared to provide input and suggestions to the upcoming parking study that the city will be conducting this year. We should then have more up to date information with which to figure out a balanced approach to manage the supply and demand for parking in DT.

    Thanks again for your comments.


  11. I had to laugh today when I went to QFC, They said QFC parking only.. NOT GOODWILL..That indicated there are some parking problems..wait until the apartment building opens by Bartells. I heard Bartells owns it.. Anyone know when that is?


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