Everett could cut off-street parking regulations for new construction

EVERETT, Wash. – It could be harder to find a place to park if you visit downtown Everett in the coming years.

The largest city in Snohomish County is working on ways to absorb tens of thousands of new people expected to move into Everett.

City planners say that could mean reducing the number of off-street parking spaces required to be built by developers. Once the new light rail line reaches Everett, there could be even more changes coming.

City officials say the 20-year Metro Everett Plan is designed to promote a more pedestrian friendly environment.

Not only are planners considering reducing the number of required off-street parking spaces in some neighborhoods, they’re also looking to make changes in more congested areas like downtown.

“If we’re going to grow by another 60,000 people where do we want that to happen,” said city planning manager David Stalheim.

That’s the big question for city officials – how do they shoehorn thousands of new people into an already busy city?

For starters, that could mean the city’s skyline could change dramatically – allowing more parts of the city’s core to allow new buildings to be constructed even taller.

“We’re encouraging that growth in the center and towards the light rail station in the future,” said Stalheim.

Light rail is just part of the plan – officials believe new comers to Everett might be more inclined to walk, ride bikes or take transit to and from work.

“When I have to come to the courthouse downtown, it can be miserable,” said Elizabeth Berman Lovell, who commutes from Seattle to Everett for work.

She worries on-street parking around the courthouse already seems to be in short supply.

“There aren’t that many pay lots in downtown Everett and so you’ve got people who are squatting in the 90-minute spaces parking all day,” she said.

But is the plan really a war on cars?

The draft plan would require new developers to include at least some off-street parking spaces and the city says there are many on-street parking spaces that still go unused.

The plan also envisions a more urban downtown Everett where newcomers may no longer need to own a car where they live and work.

“It starts reducing the parking demand for that and so we’re trying to be prepared in advance of that,” said Stalheim.

The Metro Everett Plan is not yet set in stone. The city council still has time to consider the recommendations and hold public hearings before it goes into effect.