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What's next with parking? l Guest View

 

October 9, 2019



Last week in part 1 of our three-part discussion of parking in Mukilteo’s waterfront/Old Town area, we discussed the current state of parking and how we got to where we are today. In this part 2 of our discussion we’ll be looking at what we might expect in the future. Then next week we’ll finish up with a detailed discussion of the rise and fall of Mukilteo’s (almost) park and ride, and a realistic look at whether a park and ride is in Mukilteo’s future.

What might we expect in the future?

Sometime in 2015, the City engaged in a “Parking Facility Feasibility Study” with partners Sound Transit, Port of South Whidbey, and Island County to identify parking demand at Mukilteo’s waterfront area, unmet capacity, and both near and long term solutions. After three years, in May of 2018, the draft of the final report was released which addressed most of the parking improvements previously discussed.

The report identified a shortage of 518 parking spots as of 2016 although absent from the report was an accounting of the commuter parking rented from residents in the surrounding neighborhoods which would bump that number up significantly. The recommendations from the report are as follows:

Immediate Action: 2018 – 2019

- Create parking zones within LHP with different parking hours in the offseason.

- Share parking in commuter parking lot based on time of day.

- Allow use of Rosehill Community Center’s Third Street lot for downtown parking (non-commuter).

Short Term Considerations: 2018 – 2023

- Redevelop Buzz Inn property with a mixed-use building with paid parking.

- Temporary paid parking on Tulalip parcel.

- Continuation of parking code that allows properties with excess parking to lease spaces.

Long Term Considerations: 2023 and Beyond

- Improved public access facilities over the BNSF railroad tracks.

- Construction of a parking garage at Lighthouse Park.

- Construction of a parking garage on the Rosehill Community Center’s Third Street parking lot.

Remote Lot Serviced By Shuttle: 2025 – Beyond

- Construct or lease a remote lot near SR 525 and the Community Transit 113 bus line

- Requires reliable and timely shuttle service.

- Potential agreement with Island Transit or other transit agency to provide service to lot.

Using the Parking Facility Feasibility Study as a template and recognizing the recommendations included within have gone through the required public process, here’s what’s happening:

Immediate Action: 2018-2019

“Create parking zones within Lighthouse Park with different parking hours in the off season.”

At the Sept. 16 council meeting, the council agreed to a staff proposal for a pilot program that would designate 33 parking spots in Lighthouse Park to be available for parking for up to 12 hours between Oct. 15 and March 15.

“Share parking in commuter parking lot based on time of day.”

Nothing has happened on this item even though it does take advantage of the fact that while commuters are at work during the day, the commuter permit lot (behind Diamond Knot) is mostly empty and could easily provide additional parking revenue and capacity during the day. This was a fundamental concept used when the “Mukilteo Park and Ride Plus” park and ride concept was originally developed in 2012.

“Allow use of Rosehill Community Center’s Third Street lot for downtown parking (non-commuter).”

Nothing has happened on this item either although this lot has been extremely underutilized since it was built. With the widening of the sidewalk on the east side of the SR525 bridge, due to be completed within the next year, this is now a feasible and safer option to provide parking to supplement the demand on the north side of the tracks.

Short Term Considerations: 2018 – 2023

“Redevelop Buzz Inn property with a mixed-use building with paid parking.”

This project was brought to the city a few years ago with the plan that when the ferry moves (in about a year) what’s left of the former holding area will be developed into a mixed use building with a parking garage. This is an ambitious project considering parking garages are expensive and Mukilteo’s 25 percent additional tax on parking at the waterfront but maybe having a private party pull it off will give additional incentive to the city.

“Temporary paid parking on Tulalip parcel.”

I’ll try to keep it short, but there’s a lot to this one. The Port of South Whidbey is a partner in the parking study and their plan all along (and disclosed to the City) was to partner with the Tulalip Tribes to use the 3 acres of their waterfront property on the tank farm (next to Edgewater Beach Park) for a park and ride lot to primarily serve Whidbey Island commuters. Most people in Mukilteo had always been told and believed the Tulalip Tribes would be using their property for something more culturally oriented, essentially anything but another parking lot.

The Tulalip Tribes property is in the Port of Everett’s jurisdiction so the Port of South Whidbey has to get permission to do business (build and run a parking lot) in the POE’s jurisdiction. Surprisingly, the Port of Everett doesn’t seem to have any interest in parking lots either on Mukiteo’s waterfront or at Paine Field, which is a shame because we’d have much better results if they were involved instead of the agencies like the Port of South Whidbey who are trying to come into Mukilteo without communicating with our residents or Community Transit who killed the park and ride at Paine Field.

After a heightened awareness and concern by several residents, a few council members met with the Tulalip Tribes (as reported in a previous Beacon Council Corner) in an effort to get a more beneficial outcome for the Mukilteo community than using that parcel for another parking lot. While I applaud their effort, I have to wonder if it’s too little too late. They were aware of the parking study and its partners.

Enter Sound Transit, another partner. If you haven’t heard, there is $40 million to be split between Mukilteo and Edmonds to improve access and parking for the existing Sounder stations for the primary goal of increasing Sounder ridership. Guess what location shows up on the list for potential additional Sounder commuter parking? The Tulalip Tribes property.

Long Term Considerations: 2023 and Beyond

“Improved public access facilities over the BNSF railroad tracks.”

As it turns out, despite some safety concerns with the new SR525/1st Street intersection, the narrow sidewalk on the east side of the SR525 bridge is going to be widened significantly (from 41 inches to nearly 7 feet) within a year which will greatly help the pedestrian safety issue crossing over the tracks. Regarding a possible garage at Lighthouse Park or at Rosehill Community Center’s Third Street parking lot, these have both been discussed for many years and unless the parking culture of Mukilteo officials changes drastically, I don’t see the city doing anything with parking garages.

“Remote Lot Serviced By Shuttle: 2025 – Beyond.”

The Mukilteo Park and Ride should have been built in 2016 but was killed by Community Transit. Many are wrongly blaming the council for the demise of the park and ride including some current council members as well as one particular council candidate. The “remote lot,” or, as I call it, the “Mukilteo Park and Ride Plus” is still a very viable project to help with Mukilteo’s complex parking issues. But there’s no sense in heading down a path only to repeat the same mistakes that resulted in Community Transit returning a $4.7 million grant because of a $50,000 dispute (that’s about 1 percent).

Next time, we’ll dig deep into what really happened to the park and ride, why what happened happened, and what it’s going to take to make it a reality.

 

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