Downtown parking issue needs to be a city priority | Editorial

Anyone who has driven to Old Bellevue to shop or dine knows that it’s a challenge to find a place to park. Most of the parking is on-street. And what parking lots are available also do duty for such things as the city’s Downtown Park.

That’s why it’s no surprise that the Old Bellevue Merchants Association is asking the city to do something about the situation. Their livelihood is at stake. If parking is seen as a chore, many people will decide to shop or dine elsewhere.

While the city says it understands the frustrations felt by business owners and is working closely with the merchants association, it appears the association thinks otherwise. It recently took the issue to the city’s Downtown Livability Initiative Citizens Advisory Committee and to the City Council.

What the association wants is a large, nearby parking garage to accommodate the people who want to visit or do business in that part of the city. It’s not an unreasonable request.

What the city is doing or proposing is to add 29 new day-time, on-street parking spaces scattered around Old Bellevue. It also has changed parking regulations to allow general parking at the city’s Downtown Park after 6 p.m. daily.

While nice, they’re not nearly enough.

The downtown livability committee has looked at the issue, but it has deferred making recommendations until a comprehensive study for all downtown can be done. We understand the logic of not approaching problems piecemeal, but we believe the parking situation in Old Bellevue goes far beyond that faced by other areas in downtown.

Big, shiny buildings and increased amenities in downtown are wonderful, but not if people can’t find a place to park to enjoy them. Adding a few more parking spots on the street isn’t going to solve the issue — in Old Bellevue or elsewhere.

– Craig Groshart, Bellevue Reporter

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