Everett considers slashing parking requirements for new developers

by: Joanna Small Updated:

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A fast-growing North Sound city has a new strategy to attract developers that has existing businesses concerned it will drive their customers away.

The city of Everett is considering slashing parking requirements for new housing and businesses in what’s called the “downtown core,” where some say parking is already a major problem.

There’s usually a place to park yourself for a meal or just a cup of coffee inside Everett’s Vintage Cafe, but outside -- not so much.

“When people park the way they are supposed to, we have four (spaces).”

Owner Jim Staniford has watched Everett’s population slowly climb over the 40 years he’s been in business, and with each passing decade he says the problem only gets worse.

 “It’s a terrible situation,” Staniford said.

When we told him the city of Everett is considering slashing parking requirements for new developments in the downtown core, he was frustrated.

“Quite a few studies have determined that we are really building more parking than is required,” said David Stalheim, an Everett city planner.

Stalheim says lifestyles are changing, and one-car families are more and more common.

“Getting down below one parking space per unit,” for apartment buildings, Stalheim says, is a real possibility.

The thought is commercial businesses -- near Everett Station in particular -- will encourage the use of public transportation and eventually light rail.

“I don’t go to Seattle except to work because there’s nowhere to park,” said Chrissie Goldstein, a longtime Vintage Cafe customer.

The concern is that the same will happen in Everett.

“I think if they reduce any parking for new businesses it will absolutely have a negative effect. Other businesses are already established here and eventually people will just not go downtown because they can’t park,” said Staniford.

Public input on the new parking requirements, new building height restrictions and zoning changes to the downtown core were discussed Tuesday 6 p.m.

No decisions have been made.