The new downtown parking plan that’s earned praise from Puyallup merchants and residents but complaints from commuters could soon change again.
City staffers are recommending some adjustments to address concerns raised by groups including Sounder riders who catch the train at the West Main Street station.
The Puyallup City Council mulled the changes at a Tuesday night study session, and several members seemed to be in favor of enacting them.
Councilman Kent Boyle said he doesn’t want to see the parking management plan altered that much, but “there are some additions and things we can do.”
A couple of his colleagues voiced some opposition, largely to a proposed change that would allow about 50 vehicles to park for longer periods on streets near the station. These spots likely would be filled by commuters.
Deputy Mayor John Knutsen said commuters are treated fairly under the existing parking rules, and “I don’t support going backward into the mess that we had.”
The recommended changes will come back to the council for action, likely next month.
- Modifying on-street parking time limits on some streets by the train station, creating spaces that could be used by commuters. The areas are under-used by downtown visitors, city staff said. They include the north side of Second Avenue Northwest between Fifth and Sixth streets, the north side of West Main between Third and Fifth streets, and the south side of West Stewart between Second and Third streets.
- Switching some two-hour parking zones along West Main and West Meeker to three hours. Some businesses in these areas – such as hair salons – say their customers at times need more than two hours for an appointment.
- Expanding the city’s residential parking permit program to some more neighborhoods. The program, which allows residents with permits to park for longer than the posted time, was designed to prevent commuters displaced by the new parking rules from spilling into neighborhoods.
- Extending the hours of some city-owned parking lots to better accommodate people who live in the downtown core and downtown employees who work late.
The city’s downtown parking landscape has changed significantly in the last few months.
The council last fall approved a parking management plan designed to free up more spaces for downtown merchants and customers, and to shift commuters to a satellite parking lot by the Puyallup fairgrounds. This lot, called the Red Lot, has more than 200 parking spaces for commuters.
But they didn’t use it much. Instead, commuters who couldn’t find spaces in the train station’s main lot used two leased lots nearby or spilled onto city streets.
Meanwhile, downtown merchants said their employees were getting crowded out of parking.
The city owns one of the lots Sound Transit leased for overflow. The council voted last year to end the lease; the lot now is open to the public and businesses.
City officials say the Red Lot has seen greater use since the changes took effect, and that residents and businesses are happy with the new rules.
However, commuters have reported problems. They’ve said the extra step of parking at the Red Lot and catching a bus to the train station adds time to their already lengthy commutes. They also reported crowding on the buses, although Sound Transit has said it added shuttles.
At Tuesday’s study session, Puyallup council members said they’re anxious to hear Sound Transit’s plan for a permanent parking solution for commuters.