Permit parking coming to Kent neighborhood

Permit parking is coming to the city of Kent for the first time, because of the Kent Events Center. The message? Don’t park in North Park without a permit. It’s the area just east of the city-owned events center.

Free parking permits will be required by the city of Kent to park in the North Park neighborhood once the Kent Events Center opens in January. City officials hope to keep events center attendees from parking in the neighborhood.

Free parking permits will be required by the city of Kent to park in the North Park neighborhood once the Kent Events Center opens in January. City officials hope to keep events center attendees from parking in the neighborhood.

Permit parking is coming to the city of Kent for the first time, because of the Kent Events Center.

The message? Don’t park in North Park without a permit. It’s the area just east of the city-owned events center.

In an effort to keep event-center-bound vehicles from filling up North Park streets, the city will issue free permits to neighborhood residents by the start of next year.

The 6,025-seat arena, touted as a major regional destination, is slated to open Jan. 2. The $84.5 million facility is under construction at West James Street and Fifth Avenue North. The arena will be the new home of the Seattle Thunderbirds minor league hockey team as well as a venue for concerts and other events.

The North Park neighborhood has about 200 homes. In addition to being east of the events center, the facility is west of First Avenue, north of James Street and south of Highway 167.

“The goal of the plan is to prevent event attendees from parking in the neighborhood,” said Marni Heffron, a traffic engineer with Seattle-based Heffron Transportation, the firm hired by the city to oversee parking and traffic at the events center. “If it operates perfectly, there should be no difference (in North Park parking) than today.”

City officials have worked for the last few months with North Park residents to come up with a residential parking zone ordinance, said Toni Azzola, city neighborhood program coordinator.

The proposed ordinance is slated to go to the Public Works Committee for approval Nov. 3 and to the City Council by Nov. 18.

The city will mail free decal window permits to all North Park residents, Azzola said. The reflective decals should be placed in the rear left window of each vehicle.

Each North Park resident will be given temporary “hang card” permits for vehicles of visitors to attach to rear-view mirrors.

The city will require permits seven days a week, 24-hours a day, including holidays. Vehicles without permits can be ticketed.

The city will post signs on North Park streets to let events center attendees know they cannot park in the neighborhood.

The City of Seattle uses similar parking permits in neighborhoods near Husky Stadium at the University of Washington and near KeyArena, Heffron said.

Kent Police will conduct random patrols during events at the center to check for parking permits as well as respond to complaints from residents about vehicles without permits.

“Permits in the vehicles will indicate which vehicles belong in the neighborhood and allow police to ticket those that don’t,” Heffron explained.

Even with the parking permits, drivers in the neighborhood still must follow parking laws, such as not parking too close to a fire hydrant.

The events center will have 850 free parking spots on site, according to city officials. City staff also negotiated with King County to use 793 parking spots at the James Street Park and Ride lot west of the arena and for the use of 300 spots in the evening at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center garage south of the events center.

There also are 109 private parking stalls within 1/4 mile of the arena.

City officials estimate those 2,052 parking spots will provide sufficient parking for most hockey games and events that draw 5,300 fans or fewer.

For larger events, there are 1,332 public and private parking spaces within 1/2 mile of the events center.

Parking for the events center will not be allowed at the Kent Station shopping mall. City officials are working with Kent Station management to post notification signs about the prohibited use, Heffron said.

Learn more

For more information about the permit program, North Park residents can call Toni Azzola, city neighborhood program coordinator, at 253-856-5708 or e-mail her at tazzola@ci.kent.wa.us.


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