Council: Paid parking should benefit residents
It’s looking like paid parking at Lighthouse Park may come into effect as early as next spring.
In a work session on Monday, Mukilteo City Council discussed options for paid parking at Lighthouse Park. Councilmembers were concerned with finding a fair solution that is a benefit to residents.
With the park’s surge in popularity in recent years, due to several renovations and the promotion of the city as one of the best places to live, traffic congestion at the park is causing conflict.
“I do like the idea of supporting the residents,” said Councilmember Randy Lord. “I don’t want to make it prohibitive, but I want to give them a fighting chance to get down there in the park.”
In order to get that fighting chance, the council thinks charging a fee is a possible solution.
“When you have something that’s popular, you should be charging for parking,” said Mayor Joe Marine. He called Lighthouse Park the city’s “jewel.”
One idea proposed was that the parking fee would only be enforced from May to September, or around the time of the Lighthouse Festival, when the park is used the most in sunny summer weather.
The mayor also liked another option: Visitors would only have to pay on weekends and after a certain hour on weekdays, the peak times for the park. Hourly parking would be $1.50, or visitors could buy an annual pass good for four hours a day.
Although maintenance and operation of the park have been projected to cost $175,000 annually, the mayor said that covering those costs was not the goal of having a parking fee.
Rather, the city wants to make sure that local residents are able to use that area of their own town.
“We should keep the cost as low as possible,” said Council President Richard Emery said. “If we’re working for the benefit of out residents, we want to make this convenient.”
He pointed out that the council has been discussing this topic for two or three years. “What would we like to achieve? One of [the goals] is to manage public parking. It shouldn’t be an Olympic event.”
Paid parking at the park raises another issue: Instead of paying, visitors may search for free parking on surrounding streets and take spaces meant for local businesses.
Local photographer Vicki Derks expressed concern for her business, located on 724 First St. near the waterfront.
“I already get complaints from customers saying they can’t find a place to park,” Derks said.
For her, it’s not a question of how much parking would cost—it’s whether there would be any spaces available for her clients.
“I would pay – I don’t have a problem with that,” she said. “But I’ve got to have a place for them to park. If you’re charging parking in the park and not in my area, I would have to move.”
The issue is expected to come back to the council for action within the next month, and is on the council agenda for the Aug. 6 meeting at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 11930 Cyrus Way, Mukilteo.
Kristine Kim is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communications News Laboratory.