Langley eases downtown parking requirements to support economic development
September 6, 2012 – The Langley City Council adopted sweeping changes to the parking requirements in the Central Business District to support existing local businesses, promote infill development and ease the way for new and expanded businesses. “Spread out patterns of growth cannot be sustained and should not be pursued. Infill enhances the vitality, diversity and economic health of Langley and maximizes the efficient use of public facilities,” said Mayor Larry Kwarsick.
The proposal eliminates the parking requirement for each business up to 5,000 square feet with the exception of hotels, motels and marinas that require on-site parking to function. The fee in lieu of parking requirement, which required businesses to pay $5,000 to the city for each required parking space that could not be provided on-site has also been eliminated. The new ordinance allows greater flexibility for off-site parking agreements between business and landowners and also allows the city to waive all or part of the parking requirement based on a site specific parking study. “We applaud the efforts of those who have worked hard to bring about this needed change. Under the previous rule, we would have incurred an assessment for a parking offset, that would have caused us to scale back our plans to utilize the basement in the Olympic Club “Dog House” building,” said Charlie Kleiner owner of the “Dog House”.
The precursor to the adoption of the ordinance was a 2011 downtown parking study undertaken by the Planning Department that showed peak parking demand in the downtown to be approximately 67% leaving approximately 180 parking spaces available during peak occupancy. City staff with consultation and support of the Mayor and the Planning Advisory Board developed the ordinance. “These actions demonstrate the City’s commitment to fostering responsible growth while lessening emphasis on automobiles in its urban core,” said Mayor Pro-tem Hal Seligson.
The ordinance is part of a larger effort by the city to support economic development and local businesses including:
- A reduction of building permit fees by 27%
- Reduction in water service connection fees
- Planning and design for the redevelopment of Second Street
- A street café ordinance that allows food service businesses to utilize the public right of way for customer seating
- Continued collaboration and support of the Port of South Whidbey’s marina expansion plans including acquiring agreements for the use of school grounds for off-site marina parking
- Efforts to bring the Shakespeare festival to Langley
- Collaboration with the school district to allow other uses in vacant school facilities such as Island Dance
- Planning and design for an all-season RV park at the fairgrounds
- Exploring opportunities for a light industrial zone to support job growth
- Funding the Langley Main Street Organization that is dedicated to the revitalization of the downtown
- Completion of the CMA park and ride lot
- Planning for public improvement projects that will support existing businesses and attract new investment.