Port Angeles City Council eyes code change for downtown district

Properties near Parking and Business Improvement Area could join

PORT ANGELES — Properties within 500 feet of the Port Angeles Parking and Business Improvement Area, or PBIA, will be allowed to join the downtown district if the City Council approves a proposed code amendment today.

The change would allow the payment of PBIA assessments for compliance with parking for new developments within 500 feet of the PBIA boundary.

“The amendment creates an additional opportunity for property owners to assure adequate provisions for parking are considered in the establishment of new residences, businesses and in the change of existing buildings,” City Manager Nathan West said in a council memo.

“The city recognizes that each property owner or business can have a variety of transportation strategies and solutions that may include off-street parking supply.”

The council will consider approving the amendment when it meets at 6 p.m. today at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St.

More than 150 downtown business owners pay a square-footage fee averaging about $200 a year to fund the PBIA, which supports the Port Angeles Downtown Association.

If the code amendment is approved, a property owner or business owner with 500 feet of the PBIA could opt into the district and make PBIA payments to the city to satisfy off-street parking requirements.

At a first reading of the code amendment Sept. 3, council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin suggested that the boundary be expanded.

“We expect people to walk more than 500 feet in that downtown area,” Schromen-Wawrin said.

“What’s the harm with going further out?”

City staff recommended the 500-foot distance for PBIA eligibility to be consistent with other elements of municipal code, according to a memo from West, Community and Economic Development Director Allyson Brekke and City Attorney Bill Bloor.

A proposal to eliminate off-street parking requirements throughout the city failed in a 4-3 council vote Sept. 3.

Council member Mike French, who proposed the measure, voted yes with Schromen-Wawrin and Mayor Sissi Bruch.

The proponents said the city’s archaic parking code was raising the cost of new housing construction and making it difficult for businesses to expand.

Council members Cherie Kidd, Michael Merideth, Jim Moran and Deputy Mayor Kate Dexter voted no, citing a staff recommendation.

French added the proposal to eliminate off-street parking requirements as a late item at the Aug. 20 council meeting, drawing objections from some of his colleagues.

The existing code requires new homes and businesses to have a certain number of off-street parking spaces based on square footage, the number of bedrooms for residences or specific types of business activity.

In an Aug. 22 email to Schromen-Wawrin, Storm King Athletic Club owner Sean Johnson said parking requirements had forced him to purchase a vacant lot that no one wanted to see developed into parking.

Storm King, which is moving its downtown crossfit gym into a renovated space at 224 E. First St., would be eligible for the PBIA if the proposed code amendment is approved.

“I think it’s really important, though, when we change code, we’re changing it for the entire community, not changing it for one specific business,” West told the council Sept. 3.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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