City will start charging for parking downtown next spring
MUKILTEO - The city will start charging to park on its waterfront next March.
The City Council voted 3-2 to find a company to manage parking on main downtown streets and at Lighthouse Park.
Lighthouse Park handles more than 1,000 cars a day during peak weekend days, but a large number of them are out-of-towners. The park’s 337 parking stalls fill up fast.
The City Council introduced the idea of putting in meters on Old Town’s main streets because business owners expressed concerns park users would inundate downtown parking and then walk to Lighthouse Park.
The city hopes charging for parking at Lighthouse Park will free up space and encourage people to take public transportation to the park. The parking fees would apply during the months of March to September.
Residents are resisting the idea of having to pay for parking because they already pay taxes for the park, council members said. Councilmen Kevin Stoltz and Steve Schmalz voted against the fee scheme because the city isn’t proposing a system that differentiates Mukilteans’ cars from out-of-towners to let locals park for free.
“If there’s no way to structure this without having residents not have to pay, I’m not interested,” Stoltz said, calling the proposal an “all or nothing” approach.
Schmalz said many residents don’t visit Lighthouse Park because there’s no parking there.
The proposed fee would be $1.50 an hour to park. Residents could get a $35 annual pass to park four hours free each day; nonresidents would pay $70 for the same pass. The city also could offer eight-hour parking passes costing $70 for residents and $140 for nonresidents. The new pass prices are lower than what the city proposed earlier.
City officials estimate meter fees would raise $130,000 at Lighthouse Park, which would make the parking company contract self-sustaining.
The contractor would manage the meters and handle parking tickets. The city is still in discussion over how the meters would operate, but the leading alternative is to have the meters spit out tickets similar to meters in Seattle.
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