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Time limits on parking set for Town Center

The City Council approved new two- and four-hour parking limits in the Town Center and a reconfiguration of S.E. 28th Street across from QFC on Jan. 5.

In doing so, the Council aims to help retail businesses by restricting public street parking in most of the Town Center to two hours. At the Dec. 1 Council meeting, city planners explained three options that offered different parking scenarios. All three options retained some current residential permit parking, but much of that would be relegated to two-hour parking.

City planners recommended creating a total of 78 time-limited spaces in the Town Center by opening 11 permit-parking street spaces for two-hour parking on 78th Avenue S.E. The city would also create 15 new parking spots with a two-hour limit by re-striping S.E. 28th Street in front of Maggie Moos and Noah’s Bagels. Planners also recommended putting a two-hour time limit on the 12 new spaces being added by the construction on 7700 Central. The city currently has eight two-hour spaces near the Chamber of Commerce, Robertos and the other retail stores where S.E. 27th Street turns into 76th Avenue S.E. This option also includes 19 spots that would be unrestricted for business employee parking along S.E. 29th between 76th and 77th Avenues that are “under-utilized” parking spots.

One concern brought up by Councilmember Mike Grady was about the illegal use of the center roadway by delivery trucks on S.E. 28th. Lancaster explained that retail managers would rather have customer parking than convenience for delivery drivers.

“There are business owners who rely on those delivery trucks, but they prefer the parking to the loading,” Lancaster said.

The re-striping of S.E. 28th would also cut down on the jaywalkers who frequently park in the QFC lot and jot across the street for coffee or a bagel.

“Having parking in front of those businesses should cut that down somewhat,” Lancaster told the Council. “The more barriers there are to a jaywalking situation, the less it occurs. It will divert more people to intersections if they need to cross.”

In addition to the 78 time-limited spaces, the recommended option would retain 87 permit parking and 91 unrestricted spots for a total of 256 spots. There are currently 218 identified street parking places in the Town Center.

New ordinances require two public hearings before the Council may approve them. The second reading was approved on Jan. 5. The ordinance does not go into effect until 30 days after being approved, and it is not enforced until after 90 days, when an education communication plan is implemented.

The other options had the same number of total spots but retained more permit parking. Lancaster said the other options were designed to encourage potential Island commuters with residential permits for parking in the Town Center to use the overcrowded North Mercer Park and Ride.

As a compromise to the suggestion that the Sunset Highway cul-de-sac near Tully’s be reserved for commuters with Island parking permits, Councilmember Dan Grausz said that the city should consider making the area four-hour parking.

“That would open it up to commuters and those who really don’t have a chance to get parking in the Park and Ride and the Town Center,” Grausz said.

On Jan. 5, four-hour parking on the east end of Sunset Highway was approved.

Mayor Pearman explained that the Council asked city staffers to prioritize shoppers.

“We have an interest in [Island] retail, and in this economy we have to do everything we can to help our retailers attract people to come downtown and support them,” said Mayor Jim Pearman. “We have to stay focused on the health and vitality of our retail.”

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