Ed! to the Parking Rescue
Downtown Edmonds is a bustling scene year round and with so many businesses and amenities in close proximity, it’s a very walkable city. We’ve even earned a walkability score of 84 from WalkScore.com.
With our blossoming restaurant and retail scene, arts-related events, long-standing service-based businesses and residences, it’s no wonder people are coming to Edmonds in droves. But with more people, we also have more cars.
On the plus side, Edmonds still offers free (unmetered) street parking and several free public lots. This is in contrast to other local cities – like Kirkland, Everett, Mukilteo, and Bothell – that have moved to metered street parking and pay lots in their business districts.
However, even with many free options and a walkable business district, parking is at times a hot commodity. The Edmonds Downtown Alliance advisory board recognized the need to troubleshoot concerns around parking a few years back and got to work finding solutions.
We chatted with advisory board member Pam Stuller, owner of Walnut Street Coffee, to learn more about how Ed! has collaborated to create more readily available parking in downtown Edmonds.
Ed!: Can you tell us how Ed! got started working on the parking issues facing downtown Edmonds?
Pam: The advisory board for Ed! works as committees to get our projects rolling, and the after hours parking program is a great example of how a dedicated group of volunteers sitting around a table brainstorming a problem can come up with some inventive solutions.
Parking has been high on the list of Ed!s member priorities for the last few years. We have a relatively small budget to work with annually, so we knew we needed to find low-cost solutions that could help better utilize our existing parking supply.
Bank of Washington (now Sound Credit Union) at 5th and Dayton was already allowing parking outside their business hours, but we knew they were frustrated with folks abusing their generosity and parking all times of the day. We started strategizing how to improve their signage while using their lot as a test case to expand the concept to other private lots. We worked with a designer to come up with a look and feel that we could use throughout downtown, and approached the bank manager about testing our idea with their lot.
Within months of installing the signage, we had clear feedback from the bank manager and the community that it was working. At that stage, Petra Rousu (former board member and owner of Savvy Traveler) and I went and visited the rest of the downtown banks to see who else might be interested in joining the program. With our successful test case in hand, the response from the banks was really positive and we’ve added the lots at Washington Federal, US Bank and Bank of America in the last 18 months.
All the work Ed! does takes a lot of volunteer effort – and the after hours parking team included fellow committee members Clayton Moss (former board member and owner of Forma) and Mark Von Gunten (board member and owner of Ten Gun Design). We also are grateful to have the expertise of our program manager, Carrie Hulbert, for taking this project to completion.
Ed!: The after hours parking program is such a low-cost creative solution! Currently there are four lots in the program – Are there plans to expand it to more lots?
Pam: With a small budget for design, fabrication and installation, we’ve been able to add over 100 evening and weekend parking spots in downtown Edmonds. We will continue to evaluate additional after hours locations in the future, and we are always brainstorming new ideas to make the most out of the parking that we already have.
Our goal in the near term is to tell people about these available spots, along with the free city parking lots and street parking. We know that sometimes parking can be frustrating, but we’re lucky to have so much free parking in Edmonds—and if you have to walk a bit, our town is extremely walkable and fun to explore.
Ed!: What has the feedback been so far, both from citizens and the businesses?
Pam: Feedback so far has been very positive. The banks are happy that improved signage helps keep their lots available for their customers during business hours, and citizens are glad to know where and when they are allowed to park when the banks are closed. I am very proud to have been part of the team that has and will continue to seek solutions to best maximize the available parking in downtown Edmonds.
Thank you, Pam!
By Kelsey Foster, photos by Matt Hulbert