Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"Business leaders worried about parking plan; Business owner says plan will negatively affect downtown"

We talked about this a little at today's Palunchitics. It seems that local developers are intent on building more condos downtown and see the proposed parking requirement as an impediment. The general consensus among our lunch group was that having dense residential development downtown would definitely change its character.

Considering that most residents of any downtown housing development would likely be students, and that most students are from somewhere other than here, they are going to have cars. And those cars are going to have be parked somewhere, even if the student uses public transportation to get around Pullman. I agree with Ann Heath that more people downtown is good for business, but that there is an upper limit of how many people can live there simply because of geography. Some desire a "downtown style" living and they should be accomodated, but with respect to existing businesses and surrounding neighborhoods. The residents of Sunnyside Hill and Pioneer Hill no doubt fear their neighborhoods becoming like College Hill.

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
John Yates told the Pullman City Council on Tuesday that he and 27 other downtown business leaders believe the city's proposed parking plan will impede growth.

Yates, who owns about 10 properties downtown, provided a letter he said represented several business owners and managers to council members Tuesday afternoon. Council members said they quickly read the letter before their evening meeting began.

The letter detailed "firm opposition to any legislation and code changes (requiring additional parking or otherwise) that could potentially discourage or restrict new businesses and residential growth in Pullman's Downtown District."

The business owners also want the city to provide incentives to encourage new business growth.

Yates said the plan approved by the city planning commission will negatively affect residential growth.

The commission recommended in February that the city require developers to include one parking stall per unit for developments with 10 or more dwelling units. The commission also recommended city off-street parking lots be reviewed in regard to time limits and accessibility. Research regarding the feasibility of a parking structure, the possible creation of a permit process for downtown employees and consistent enforcement of parking time limits also were recommended.

"Don't make business owners shoulder the responsibility for parking," Yates said, adding that downtown needs more people living in it to improve its vitality.

"You're saying, 'Let's facilitate the cars,' " Yates said. "That's what we're seeing all over the country."

Councilwoman Ann Heath agreed with Yates about the need for more downtown residences.

"I am very much for having people live downtown. It's good for business, but you can't have as many as you want down there because it's too small," she said. "I'm willing to pay the price in parking congestion because it will encourage downtown development."

Heath said developers should be required to provide parking for dwellings with more than 10 units. She also told Yates she was frustrated to hear his opposition so late in the process.

"Giving you this at the last moment was not a strategy," Yates said. "Don't reprimand a community member for spending hours polling businesses."

Councilman Keith Bloom reiterated his suggestion the city enforce laws already in place, such as ticketing cars parked downtown beyond the two-hour limit and policing those using service areas and temporary loading spots.

Mayor Glenn Johnson suggested limiting parking near the Spot Shop on NE Kamiaken, where many commuters park their cars to take the bus.


April E. Coggins said...

It does not benefit any business (or the city tax coffers) if available customer parking is being taken up by tenants cars while they are in class, on break or home watching television.

And I'm sorry, but when the Yates fenced off their property to protect their parking, forcing all traffic to now travel over my property and potentially putting their neighbors safety at a disadvantage, they have shown a total disregard for the their own block, let alone the town.

April E. Coggins said...

I should have made it clear that I am referring to all rear traffic. This block has always shared a rear access that went all the way through the block. Now that the Yates are blocking the access, all rear traffic requires my property to travel in and out. If I blocked access like the Yates, the buildings in between would be land locked. It's not right and I am surprised and disappointed that the city doesn't require that fire and police have complete through access, let alone garbage and utility services.