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The parking garage Top 10 | Council Corner

 

Last updated 5/6/2015 at Noon



The city of Mukilteo is looking into the feasibility of building a multilevel, multimillion dollar, 500-space parking garage for Sound Transit riders and ferry commuters, either in Old Town or on the waterfront.

Mukilteo accepted funds to lead a study to find a suitable location for the garage, with Sound Transit funding the majority of the study. Sound Transit would also pay half the cost to have a garage built.

The city will be providing staff time to research the following locations: the Tank Farm next to the new ferry terminal, Lighthouse Park (commuter lot), Second Street and Park Avenue (near the Fowler pear tree) and Rosehill Community Center (lower parking lot).

In honor of the great David Letterman, who is retiring later this month, I decide to give the top 10 reasons why a multilevel, multimillion dollar parking garage in Old Town is a bad idea.

10. It’s ugly

A multi-level parking garage is an eyesore. No one likes looking at a parking structure, especially on the waterfront. It’s just plain ugly.

9. There’s no demand

Why does Sound Transit need a 500-space parking garage? It can’t even fill its current 63 spaces at the Sounder Station. Last Thursday, I counted only 58 of 63 spaces in use and, that Friday, only 50 of 63 spaces were filled by train riders.

Also, the Sound Transit’s Citizen Oversight Panel says Sounder North is a losing endeavor.

The panel’s recent report states a concern over the lack of ridership participation, which is costing taxpayers $65 per roundtrip ticket – the most in the state – to operate Sounder North.

In comparison, it costs each passenger $8 per roundtrip to ride the Sounder North from Mukilteo to Seattle.

8. It won’t benefit Mukilteo

The parking garage wouldn’t be much benefit for Mukilteo residents. The city has yet to implement its paid parking program on the waterfront, in which residents will be able to park at no charge.

This will help free up hard-to-come-by parking spaces when demand is high. If Sound Transit gets to add a parking garage, Mukilteo will have to manage and operate the facility – which would be used mostly by train riders and ferry commuters.

7. Mudslides

Sounder North has been plagued by a ongoing problem of mudslides, deeming this commuter service unreliable, thus, the low demand. If a mudslide occurs, service is stopped for at least 48 hours.

I remember a December a couple of years ago, when the Sounder was shut down for three weeks due to multiple mudslides.

6. Limited schedule

Sounder North runs only four trains in the morning to Seattle and four coming back to Mukilteo in the afternoon. Sound Transit has no plans to increase its train schedule because BNSF Railway controls the tracks and won’t allow Sound Transit to do so.

5. Park-and-ride plus

Most agree that the city should study the possibility of turning the proposed park-and-ride off of Bernie Weber Road into a park-and-ride plus – meaning it would also take commuters to the waterfront.

This location is favorable because it would move cars off the waterfront. Unfortunately, the park-and-ride wasn’t recommended by the city as one of the locations to be studied, and the City Council didn’t vote to add it to the study.

Even if the council had passed a motion, I am not sure Sound Transit or Washington State Ferries would endorse this location. They wouldn’t want to pay for shuttles going back and forth all day.

4. Light rail

Sound Transit has committed to bringing light rail to Lynnwood by 2023, and to Everett thereafter. Light rail is a better transportation option, offering more reliable service (no mudslide interruption) and more scheduled trains.

Commuters will most likely opt to ride light rail when it comes to Lynnwood instead of the Sounder North line.

3. The bill

Who will pay the other $10 million to build the parking garage? The 500-space garage would cost about $20 million to build. Sound Transit has committed $10 million to the project, leaving a $10 million tab.

Is Mukilteo going to fund the rest? If it does, how would the city fund it? Would it raise taxes? Issue bonds, just like it did to build the community center? The city still has 15 years left to pay off the Rosehill bonds.

2. City property

The city of Mukilteo might offer to give Sound Transit property, since it doesn’t have the money to help pay for a garage.

The city owns the properties in question, except on the Tank Farm location. I think residents will be upset if the city gives Sound Transit property in lieu of its share of the cost of the garage.

1. We don’t want it

Residents don’t want a multilevel parking garage. Most Mukilteo residents I have talked to are against a parking garage and want the city to open up the waterfront – not close it off with more parking.

Once again, the city isn’t listening to its residents, especially in Old Town. I tried to get the City Council to eliminate the parking garage locations in Old Town and add the park-and-ride to the study in an amendment, but no one else on the council would not even second my motion.

Don’t get me wrong: I am a huge proponent of public transportation. Reducing the number of cars on our roads is vital. However, building a parking garage isn’t the smart thing to do.

Investing in light rail is smart. Mukilteo should tell Sound Transit to take the $10 million it set aside for this parking garage and put into light rail.

Want to talk? Join me for a Council Chat at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 12, in the Rosehill Room at the Rosehill Community Center. Or feel free to contact me at sschmalz@ci.mukilteo.wa.us.

 

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