In the zone

Keeping parking simple for downtown North Bend businesses wasn't exactly simple. City Council members discussed multiple options for an hour Aug. 29 to insure businesses in the downtown commercial district have sufficient on-site parking without unduly burdening small operations.

They were discussing proposed revisions in the city's zoning code at a work session. The final proposed code revisions will be presented at the City Council's Sept. 19 meeting. A public hearing was held Aug. 1.

After circling through doing nothing or basing parking on a variety of factors including the amount of remodeling done to a property, the number of employees, the amount of expected traffic generated and other criteria, they ultimately decided to keep the parking requirements the same as currently proposed for banks (one per 250 square feet) and on-site retail businesses (one per 300 square feet if less than 5,000 square feet total), but raise it to one parking space per 800 square feet for professional service businesses, which typically generate less on-site customer traffic.

"No one's happy, we must be good," quipped Councilmember Chris Garcia. He said he wanted to make sure businesses provided sufficient parking so their residential neighbors wouldn't lose their on-street parking. He said the city was already beginning to see signs of growing parking problems related to businesses in the downtown area.

"I'm scared of putting in a cure for a problem we don't have," Councilmember David Cook said.

He said the city's decision 10 years ago to allow the conversion of houses to small businesses downtown was its most successful economic revitalization program. He said he didn't want to ruin that by requiring parking when parking on the street is a problem on North Bend Way, but not on side streets.

Garcia cautioned that once the city's water moratorium is lifted, many more businesses could begin moving into former residential buildings, increasing downtown parking congestion.

Councilmember Jonathan Rosen suggested the city keep the rules simple for now and revisit the idea in the future if the parking problems worsen.

"If any of our hypothetical [situations] start to happen, we can re-address it immediately," he said.

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