Astoria is apparently out of compliance with a state traffic law that prohibits on-street parking spots within 20 feet of a crosswalk. But then, many other cities are also ignoring this law rather than give up the parking businesses demand.
The issue came to the city council when a citizen brought a complaint to the city traffic safety committee a couple of months ago about vehicles being allowed to park too close to intersections in the downtown area. The complaint alleged the violation of state statute that results in limiting visibility for drivers and pedestrians.
This was the first thing on the agenda for a city council work session Wednesday morning.
The first question was: How many parking spaces would the city have to give up to be compliant with the state law? The answer from staff: 142 spaces.
This was of immediate concern to the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association (ADHDA), an organization that represents the interests of businesses in the historic district that already feels constricted by parking issues.
City Manager Brett Estes told his council that he would be sitting down with representatives of ADHDA Wednesday afternoon to discuss a proposed parking study with a limited scope that would survey private parking lots to determine if they are being fully utilized in an effort to find additional parking opportunities.
The study would be paid in part using some funding that had been budgeted earlier for a parking enforcement and community outreach officer. That position wasn't filled until recently leaving about $11,000 that could be applied to hiring a firm to track parking lot usage. The city could then pick up the remainder of the expense in fulfilling a city council goal. The full scope of the study was yet to be determined.
Councilor Zetty Nemlowill was concerned about the city being out of compliance with a state law even in the situation where many other cities tend to ignore it and state officials haven't been taking action to enforce the rule. She suggested that since giving up those parking spaces isn't practical that a letter is drafted to legislators representing Astoria to suggest that the law is changed. Mayor LaMear said, in this case, it might be better to just leave it alone. "Let sleeping dogs lie", she said.