City leaders will reconsider Kent’s proposed parking restrictions in neighborhoods near Kentridge High School after several residents told the City Council they want permits to park on streets by their homes.
The council took a rare action to remove the proposed parking ordinance from its agenda at its Feb. 19 meeting after hearing from about six residents. The proposal will go back to the council’s Public Works Committee to consider allowing permits.
The residents, who live along 125th Avenue Southeast, told the council they agreed with the four-hour no parking restriction to keep students from parking on the streets because those drivers block driveways and leave trash in the neighborhoods just south of Kentridge, 12430 SE 208th St. Students use the streets because the parking lots at the school fill up early in the morning.
But the residents of the Glencarin Division I, Shadow Run and Jason Lane neighborhoods want the city to issue permits to allow them to park between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the city plans to start the restrictions in the fall.
“The vast majority of people want the residents to be able to park in front of their own homes,” Mark Kaelin told the council during the Feb. 19 public comment period.
Kaelin and two other residents said they conducted a door-to-door survey after reading a Feb. 15 Kent Reporter article that described the new parking ordinance because they opposed the all-out ban against parking written in the measure.
“When we got our paper, we went to neighbors to find out whether they wanted a restriction to approve all residents not being able to park on the road,” Kaelin said. “Even (Councilman) Dennis Higgins said in the article he thought it would be an option to have a permit.”
According to the survey by the residents, 52 people favored restrictions but with permits for residents; 18 wanted no restrictions; and three agreed with the city plan for restrictions to all drivers.
The council had been scheduled to approve the parking ordinance that night after its Public Works Committee on Feb. 4 recommended approval of the ordinance by the full council on Feb. 19.
But after hearing the comments and statistics, Higgins took action to remove the item from the agenda. The rest of the council agreed.
Higgins, who chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee, said he would bring the measure back to the committee – most likely on March 4 – to consider to allow permits to residents.
“I was surprised as I said in the paper that there wasn’t going to be a permit option,” Higgins said. “If I were in the neighborhood, I would want that option.”
Kaelin told the council he read in the same article that the new ordinance would allow Mill Creek neighborhood residents to get permits. People from that neighborhood also approached the city about getting parking restrictions because so many Sounder train commuters park on the streets since the Sound Transit Kent Station parking garage near First Avenue and West Smith Street fills up so early.
“I should be able to park in front of my house,” said Helen Owens, who lives near Kentridge. “I am continuously picking up garbage from the kids. My kids went to Kentridge, so I’m not against Kentridge, but they park in front of my driveway which makes getting in and out very difficult. I have put notes on kids’ cars – they read it and toss it and it’s another piece of garbage I have to pick up.”
City staff said it will cost about $45,000 for 75 new signs in the Kentridge neighborhoods. The signs will cost about $80 each. The rest of the cost is for removing existing wooden posts from the old King County signs and replacing them with galvanized steel posts. The neighborhoods were part of unincorporated King County before Panther Lake annexed to Kent in 2010.
Details about how the permit process would work will be discussed when the Public Works Committee considers a revised ordinance.
The cost to install 35 signs in the Mill Creek neighborhood will cost about $25,000, according to city staff. The parking restrictions in Mill Creek were part of the same ordinance as the Kentridge neighborhoods, so that plan has been delayed.
City leaders initially approved parking restrictions in both neighborhoods last May, but the council removed the ordinance from the agenda because of concerns about parking enforcement after voters turned down a city measure in April to raise utility taxes to pay for more Kent Police officers.
But the council approved as part of the 2019-2020 city budget for the city to hire a second parking enforcement officer at a cost of $94,550 for salary and benefits. The council figures the $50 fine for parking violators will help pay for the second officer.
Kent based its restrictions for Mill Creek after a residential parking zone in North Park, to help keep people attending events at the accesso ShoWare Center from parking in that neighborhood, just east of the arena.