Mukilteo considers charging for parking at Lighthouse Park
MUKILTEO - Mukilteo may start charging people to park at Lighthouse Park next year.
The idea, which city officials first floated many years ago, could be implemented next summer with the go-ahead from the City Council.
The topic was shelved at the council’s July 2 meeting because it needed more discussion, Mayor Joe Marine said. It will come up again at a council workshop Monday, July 30, and a vote could come weeks later.
The proposed fee would be $1.50 an hour to park. Residents could get a $50 annual pass to park four hours free each day; nonresidents would pay $100 for the same right. The city also could offer eight-hour parking passes costing $100 for residents and $200 for nonresidents.
City officials estimate the fee could raise $110,000 toward maintaining Lighthouse Park. Mukilteo spends $175,000 a year maintaining and operating the park, and costs have steadily gone up the past three years.
The city would install three parking meters under the proposal.
The meters would spit out tickets you affix to your window similar to how parking works in downtown Seattle and Portland.
Officials say charging the fee would alleviate the dearth of parking spots. The park’s 337 spots fill up fast; the city already took actions to move Whidbey Island ferry commuters into their own lot behind the Diamond Knot Brewery last year. Commuters pay $140 per month for a space there.
On summer weekends, more than 1,000 cars come to the park. Because of the glut of cars, the city occasionally pays police officers overtime to manage traffic at Lighthouse Park. That’s costing the city money, Marine said.
Marine is not afraid the fee would drive people away. In fact, he hopes it would encourage people to bus and bicycle down to Lighthouse Park.
“I think it’s realistic to encourage them to do that,” Marine said. “Whether they do that, we’ll find out.”
In the waning hours of a sunny day last week, almost everyone the Tribune spoke to wouldn’t want to pay to park, but they gave mixed feelings about whether charging for parking would dissuade them from coming back to Lighthouse Park.
It’s a difficult issue, Michelle Armstrong of Everett said.
Michelle and her son Micah, 17, come to Lighthouse Park up to four times a week.
“What about the people who are economically struggling,” Michelle said. They wouldn’t be able to enjoy the beach, she said.
Her son Micah said he’d like to think Mukilteo has enough money to maintain the park already.
Michelle would still come if the city charged money to park. She lives five miles away but she said she can’t see herself taking the bus to get to Lighthouse Park.
An annual pass would be great, Michelle said. “I don’t know where else we would park,” she said.
“I don’t like (Seattle’s) Alki Beach,” Michelle said. “This is really the best beach of the Puget Sound.”
Ian and Coryn Bollerd from Snohomish said charging money would make them rethink coming.
“We wouldn’t come down here if they were charging,” Ian said.
“They get enough of my money,” said Bollerd’s friend Wes, who declined to give his last name.
“Damn liberals” was Mukiltean Tony Sisco’s immediate response to the fee idea. “It better be made out of diamonds” if the fee is going toward maintaining the park, he said.
If the city can take over the U.S. Air Force tank farm east of the ferry terminal, it will add more parking there. The state Department of Transportation’s newly proposed ferry terminal location would not heavily impact those plans.
The city is still talking with the Air Force and Port of Everett to take control of the tank farm property.
If the fee doesn’t work, the city can yank out the meters and resell them, Marine said.
City Council members challenged an idea floated July 2 to make Wednesday parking free to placate the Wednesday Farmers Market. That idea probably won’t make it through when the idea is discussed July 30, Marine said.