Charlier: Parking key
June 9, 2008 · Updated 5:50 PM
Expert favors more parking spots, variety and better circulation.
Where parking is concerned, Winslow Today may be hampering Winslow Tomorrow.
(Current) parking ordinances seem set to prevent Winslow Tomorrow from happening, transportation consultant Jim Charlier said this week. You do need to retool the system.
In a Tuesday workshop at City Hall, Charlier suggested strategies and policies for transportation to keep the downtowns character.
Park once, walk everywhere: More off-street parking i.e., spaces not on streets with retail frontage will be needed, Charlier said, and in parking structures, not lots, to accommodate employees and owners. Also, all existing on-street parking must be kept, he said.
If stores cant have storefront parking, you cant have storefront retail, Charlier said.
The successful application of additional off-street parking, however needs to be coupled with more diverse parking choices and increased parking enforcement which Charlier tested and found to be leaky to crack down on chronic violators.
Charlier suggested a variety of parking limits from 15 minutes for spots needing high rotation, such as pick-up at a takeout location, and then two-, three- or eight-hour parking to satisfy customers with multiple stops.
A graduated fine system, he said, would make enforcement gentle on infrequent offenders or visitors, but painful to scofflaws.
The first offense in a given period say, 90 days would get a warning, but the second and succeeding violations in the time period would increase to hefty fines for multiple offenses.
Contrary to popular belief, Charlier said, Winslow currently has an adequate parking supply, but to meet the Winslow Tomorrow vision, the city needs to add spaces to maintain the right number.
Based on Winslow Tomorrows projected increase in retail space, current ordinances would require an additional 1,400 off-street spaces by 2025. Those spots would cover 11 acres of surface parking, or less than three acres of four-story parking structures. And, 41 percent of Winslow is already taken up by parking today, Charlier said.
We need to agree 1,400 is too many. It is more than you need, he said. We need to revise the parking standard to be relevant to the downtown. We need to put in off-street parking structures.
Charlier also recommended creating a non-political parking management entity that would eventually become self-financing.
Better connectivity: Improved circulation downtown will be better for all modes of transportation, and keep the downtown healthy, Charlier said.
People will spend slightly more money if an environment is more pleasant, he said. In downtown, non-motorized modes (of transportation) become more important.
For ferry commuters, the introduction of water shuttles could help commuters get to the south end, or an overpass could connect the east and west side of 305 on Winslow Way.
Policies that encourage developers and owners to preserve pedestrian connections on private property, such as the alley between Esthers and Custom Printing, encourages people to park once and walk everywhere, Charlier said.
Downtown blocks between 250 and 330 feet are easy distances for walkers and bikers. While the downtown conforms to this pedestrian scale, Charlier said, Madison to the north does not, thus walkers are less frequently seen there.
Better circulation would also facilitate making the downtown another hub for public transit.
At the same time, Charlier cautioned that these suggestions would not relieve traffic congestion. Widening the highway would relieve congestion temporarily, but it would fill to capacity again within 10 years.
You cant build yourself out of the 305 issue. Its not really possible to spend money to alleviate congestion to a significant degree for any degree of time, Charlier said. Theres no solution at all because theres a lot of latent demand for travel.
People in Poulsbo would be more likely to commute to Seattle if traffic seemed improved.
You can do a lot to protect the character (of Winslow), but you cant make traffic go away, Charlier said.
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The final Winslow Tomorrow parking and circulation workshop in August will prioritize action items. In October, transportation consultant Jim Charlier will solicit views from Winslow businesses and owners then give the City Council a package of recommendations.