Thursday, September 24, 2020
Sept. 24, 2020

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Local View: Heights District Plan parking too tight


The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Heights District Plan was released July 10 under the Heights District Plan on the city of Vancouver website.

The community has expressed its concerns on the number of units, parking, homelessness, future policing, etc. The city has mandated some of our concerns such as extending the comment period and not rezoning outlying churches, which we appreciate.

It appears the authors or the driving forces behind the FEIS have determined that certain items in the Heights District Plan must be done to make it feasible, regardless of the impacts to the neighborhoods.

The FEIS states that they are going to reduce the number of residential units from 1,800 to 1,340 units, but that may not hold true in the future. The FEIS did not address the planned one parking space per housing unit. The neighborhoods feel that limited parking ratio will encroach upon them.

The plan calls for “shared” parking. Generally, most people have two or more vehicles, depending on the size of their family. People also like to visit other people. People like to park close to the business they plan to shop or dine in.

It is not possible for two cars to share the same space, so they will go to the neighborhoods for additional parking. But parking is not “cost effective” for them, so the plan minimizes it and the neighborhoods will eventually suffer, especially during special events. Just look at the parking problems Portland has when a neighborhood has a special event.

Unfortunately, the one solution the plan provided is parking on the south side of Mill Plain Boulevard, a main east-west thoroughfare.

This is a problem that would affect anyone who travels Mill Plain Boulevard and is a potential hazard for people coming out of their cars. It is fine for buses, which only load and unload on the right side.

Though it may not be “cost effective,” maybe another parking structure could be added instead of a housing unit? A 1.5:1 parking-to-housing unit ratio, removing parking from Mill Plain, would be better for the project, consumers, traffic, and the neighborhoods. This additional parking could be charged to create revenue. More parking and fewer units mean fewer impacts on the established neighborhoods. 

Since we cannot be at the Vancouver City Council meetings in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we must communicate virtually and in writing. If you have concerns about the safety of parking on Mill Plain Boulevard or any other concerns about the Heights District Plan, please send an email to cmo@cityofvancouver today to be included in the city’s Monday meeting.

The city council can still mandate decisions on the Heights District Plan if we can provide reasoning. Also remember to vote before Aug. 4 for people to represent your views.

Janice Ritter is co-chair of the Heights District Neighborhood Coalition.