It’s try, try again for the city of Kent’s new parking restrictions near Kentridge High School and in the Mill Creek neighborhood just east of the Sounder train station.
The City Council approved earlier this month new residential parking zones for the Glencarin Division I, Shadow Run and Jason Lane neighborhoods just south of Kentridge, 12430 SE 208th St., where students who cannot find a spot in the school parking lot often fill up streets. The council also approved a residential parking zone for Mill Creek, where commuters line the roads when they can’t find a place to park at the Kent Station Sounder garage.
Both zones are scheduled to go into effect Sept. 1. Residents in each neighborhood had asked the city to do something to stop drivers from outside the area filling up streets with parked cars.
The council approved as part of the 2019-2020 city budget for the Kent Police 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.
The council had planned to adopt parking bans at a May 2018 meeting but pulled the measure from the agenda because of concerns about paying for parking enforcement after voters turned down a city measure in April 2018 to raise utility taxes to pay for more police officers.
The council pulled the item again from the agenda in February when residents in the Kentridge neighborhoods complained about a restriction that would ban them from parking on the streets outside their homes between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
More changes in the ordinance could be ahead. Two Kentridge area residents voiced concerns on May 7 in front of the council about the planned restrictions in the Shadow Run neighborhood.
“We do not want to move forward with the residential parking zone, we are here to ask you to not move forward with it in Shadow Run,” said Cheryl DeBruler during the public comment period. “I understand for other neighborhoods near Kentridge that may be their desire, it is not the desire of Shadow Run.”
The city plans to spend an estimated $47,000 to install 75 signs in the Kentridge neighborhoods to ban parking between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays during the school year from September through June.
Residents, however, of each home can apply to receive up to four free window decals and 15 hang tag visitor permits from the city so they can park on the streets even during the restricted time.
That worries a few residents who fear neighbors will park too many cars on the streets after years of thinking parking wasn’t allowed because of King County signs that prohibited it. But the city hasn’t enforced the county parking bans because it never adopted the county rules after the 2010 Panther Lake annexation. City staff will remove the county no parking signs that had inconsistent restrictions.
“It was only through this public process that we became aware those signs were unenforceable,” said Kristine Dillon, who has lived in Shadow Run for 18 years. “I have five vehicles, not one of them is parked on the street. I will continue to comply with what I believe was a no parking zone.”
Just as with previous parking issues raised by residents, Councilmember Dennis Higgins, who as chair of the Public Works Committee oversaw the changes, promised he would look into the matter.
“The fact that we are passing this after many, many months of debate and fellow neighbors testifying in favor of it, does not mean we won’t continue to try to improve about what are going to pass and I will be looking into ways to address some of the concerns that you raised tonight,” Higgins said to DeBruler and Dillon.
Kent Mayor Dana Ralph also responded to the two residents.
“As this goes into effect, continue to talk with the council or contact my office or Public Works, we want to make this something that works for the neighborhood,” Ralph said. “We are going to give it a shot and see how it goes. If there are unintended consequences, let us know. We want to make sure it serves the needs of the residents.”
Mill Creek parking zone
City staff changed up the initial plan for the Mill Creek neighborhood. Rather than 24-hour, seven-days-a-week no parking restrictions, bans will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, which is when train commuters park on the streets.
Those hours are also when a second traffic enforcement officer is expected to be on the Kent Police staff to help implement the new rules. City staff recommend commuters use the James Street Park & Ride lot, 902 W. James St., rather than the neighborhood. Mill Creek residents can apply to the city to get window decals and hang tag visitor permits so they can park on the streets.
The city’s cost is about $20,000 for 38 signs in Mill Creek.
West Smith Street change
Kent also will add new parking restrictions Sept. 1 along West Smith Street between 64th Avenue South and Washington Avenue North. Business owners requested the parking limits so spots open up as some vehicles have remained parked for long hours. The city will install signs that limit parking to four hours. That will cost about $10,000 for 20 signs.
A couple of apartment complexes are in the area, but city staff said parking lots for the units have room for those residents.