Sounder train commuters and Kentridge High students, who park on neighborhood streets because of full parking lots, could see those spots disappear.
In response to complaints from residents tired of seeing streets filled up with vehicles, Kent city leaders plan to establish a new residential parking zone to ban train commuters from the Mill Creek neighborhood and limited parking times to stop student commuters from parking in neighborhoods south of Kentridge.
The City Council’s Public Works Committee voted 3-0 on Monday to recommend that the full council on May 15 approve posting signs to restrict parking to neighborhood residents and their visitors in specific parts of Kent.
The new ordinance, if approved by the full council, also would limit parking to one side of the street in the Ceder Point, Lauren Springs and Shadowbrook neighborhoods in the Panther Lake area where residents contacted the city about congested streets.
”I’m in favor of all of this,” said Councilman Dennis Higgins, chair of the Public Safety Committee. “There is minor budgetary impact, but we are a big city and should be able to handle things like this. Some people in some neighborhoods may initially react negatively, but in balance with concerns of folks who contacted us and asked for the changes with safety concerns, I feel we ought to move this forward.”
It will cost the city an estimated $88,500 to install signs in the neighborhoods, according to city documents. Costs are $45,000 for installation of about 75 signs and removal of old King County signs in the Kentridge area; $25,000 for about 38 signs and issuance of parking permits in Mill Creek; $12,000 for about 24 signs in Shadowbrook Ridge; $4,500 for nine signs in Ceder Point; and $2,000 for four signs in Lauren Springs.
Each weekday morning in Mill Creek, drivers park in front of homes and walk to catch the train because the Sounder parking garage at Kent Station fills up or drivers want to get home faster when they return in the evening from their jobs in Seattle. Sound Transit plans to build a second parking garage with as many as 550 spots, but that isn’t expected to be ready until 2023.
The new residential parking zone signs would go up on State, Woodford, Kennebeck, Clark and Jason avenues as well as George, Cedar and Temperance streets. Permits, which neighborhood residents will be able to get for free from the city, will be required to park on the streets seven days a week. Violators would face a $50 ticket and may be towed.
City staff talked with Kent Police about enforcement if the new signs go up.
“They have a lot of work to do,” said Kelly Peterson, city transportation engineering manager, about concerns of officers spending time writing parking tickets. “They have one parking enforcement officer for the city, and he does canvass the city and there will be enforcement emphasis.”
Mill Creek streets near the Les Schwab store will be restricted to four hours and a street near Grandma Thai Cuisine will have two-hour limits.
Right now, Kent’s only residential parking zone exists in North Park, to keep people attending events at the accesso ShoWare Center from parking in that neighborhood, just east of the arena.
City staff plans to get signs up in the Kentridge neighborhoods by the start of the 2018-2019 school year, Peterson said. He said signs in the other neighborhoods would be installed later in the year.
Kentridge students who can’t find spots in the school parking lot use residential streets south of Southeast 208th Street. King County installed parking restriction signs many years ago but apparently never passed any ordinance to enforce the restrictions, according to city staff. Panther Lake residents annexed to Kent in 2010.
“It was a surprise to me to find signs out there that were not enforceable,” Higgins said.
Students park on streets from 124th Avenue Southeast to 127th Avenue Southeast. That won’t be allowed under a new ordinance, which will restrict parking from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays September through June.
“I know a lot of residents that will be anxious to see this,” said Councilwoman Toni Troutner in response to parking complaints she has received.
The narrow streets in Ceder Point, Lauren Springs and Shawdowbrook neighborhoods make it difficult to drive the roads and actually would block a fire engine from making it down the street, according to city documents. The city requires streets to be 32 feet wide in most new neighborhoods in order to park on each side of the road. The streets in the three Panther Lake neighborhoods are 23 to 28 feet wide.