Anacortes Downtown Parking

During recent City Council meetings, we have heard a number of public comments from downtown business owners requesting that the City take action in response to sparse parking availability in our downtown business district.  They have express concerns about the inability of some of their customers to find parking near their shops, believing their sales are becoming affected as a result. 

It certainly seems apparent that downtown parking availability is becoming more scarce each year, with increasing congestion along Commercial and the side streets which touch it.  In addition to higher downtown traffic from Anacortes residents and visitors, it appears this is also resulting from downtown employees and others ignoring the two-hour parking limit posted on downtown street signs.

Whereas we want to create a better parking environment, we also want to retain our easy-access and friendly downtown character, meaning specifically that we do not want to initiative a program of ticketing cars, installing meters or any other punitive or restrictive enforcement.

Instead I believe we should begin with 2 initiatives.

First, we can pursue education and awareness for business owners and employees in the downtown area, reminding them that all employees should be parking on backstreets off of Commercial.  This is to everyone’s benefit as it creates more parking for customers, thus higher sales for business, resulting in higher employment, more tips for waitstaff, and a more thriving downtown.

Additionally, the City can both provide additional public parking lot spaces and improve signage for existing public parking so the public can determine which off-street lots are available to them.

Lastly, the City should continue to require new business construction to build-in parking spaces consistent with the incremental expected demand created by the business.

Dom Tor Fleming