Parking ordinance deserves a ticket

By Rebecca Carr | May 09, 2010

Mukilteo city staff headed down the wrong road when it recommended allocating up to 23 parking spots along 1st Street to commuters, essentially wiping out most of the available parking for tenants of the art building on 2nd Street, and those businesses' employees and patrons.

We understand the need to accommodate the commuters. In fact, we've advocated for them more than once in this space.

But at the expense of Mukilteo business owners and their tenants? Wrong move.

The property owner purchased the building with the understanding the commuter parking revenue would be in place. Clearly that factored at least into the price, if not the decision to buy. The tenants leased their business spaces with the same understanding.

Business owners who don't do their homework or are unwilling to provide for their employees and customers don't garner much sympathy from us.

But these people are caught in the middle of a series of events, all out of their control, that negatively impacted the parking situation on the waterfront.

In the past five years, the Sounder train platform opened in Mukilteo, just across the street from that building; Lighthouse Park's first stage of renovations were completed, bringing outsiders in droves; the farmer's market moved down the hill to the park; the diving community's presence has grown 10-fold, the commuter parking at Rosehill was eliminated and the city and citizens' groups are actively planning more events to bring visitors to the waterfront.

Changing the art building's parking arrangement at this stage wouldn't be moving the goal posts - it's more like replacing the field with a basketball court.

And forcing the arts building owner to displace commuters from his property to accommodate his tenants simply moves the problem; it doesn't create additional spots.

We're happy to see the many changes and improvements happening in town, both on the waterfront and at the new community center, although perhaps more foresight to the impact on parking would have made life a lot easier for those impacted.

We support the commuters' needs for local parking, just not at the expense of our own citizens and businesses. While no solution will make everyone happy, there are several options not yet pursued that could certainly please many, including the commuters.

Some councilmembers oppose temporarily using Rosehill, partly out of concern that people will get attached to parking there and continue to do so after the new community center opens.

We're not convinced that will be a problem. While everyone needs, and many want, daily exercise, we're pretty sure that hike up the hill in the morning will be an easy habit to break once the waterfront issue is finally resolved.

And when it's time to move them out, simply enforce the parking laws in place. It won't take many tickets - or bus trips to the towing yard - to reinforce the new system when it's finally ready.

There is also the option of Olympic View Middle School and Mukilteo Elementary, both about a mile up SR-525.  Surely the school district could use several thousand dollars per month of additional revenue in the summer when those lots are mostly empty.

As many noted, no short-term solution is going to please everybody. But virtually displacing business owners who had no part in any of the decisions that have converged to make the parking mess is the worst possible answer.

We commend the city for its ongoing efforts to meet the needs of as many as possible, and we urge staff and electeds to continue aggressively pursuing the tank farm property and the potential hybrid park and ride/commuter lot in Harbour Pointe in the long term, as well as coming up with short-term answers that don't negatively impact those involved.

Let's keep our focus on solutions that don't create additional problems in exchange for the ones they solve.

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