The city of Washougal has scheduled a public hearing for Monday to discuss a proposal that would increase the parking requirements for residential construction within the city’s Town Center.
Washougal requires residences within its Town Center to provide a minimum of 0.5 parking stall per unit. The proposal would increase the minimum requirements to one stall per studio unit, 1.5 stalls per one-bedroom unit, two stalls per two-bedroom unit and above, and one stall per unit for senior housing.
“At this point, the council is poised to increase the amount of required parking. We will continue to evaluate this issue as we move forward,” City Manager David Scott told the Post-Record. “One of the positives of this change is that the proposed parking requirements for developments in the Town Center will minimize the impacts to neighboring streets and properties. Additionally, the proposed requirements reduce the potential burden on the city to have to provide public parking.”
City staff initially brought up the issue with the council during a workshop in October 2022. The councilors asked staff members to evaluate the situation and compare the city’s requirements with those of other local municipalities.
“This analysis found that Washougal’s requirements are in fact the lowest in the county, except for downtown Vancouver,” Scott said.
Scott said that there are some downsides to the proposal, however.
“I certainly don’t want to speak for everybody, but there are some concerns,” he said during the workshop session. “Parking is not inexpensive, so we’re always trying to find the sweet spot between a portfolio of regulations and exactions and what we’re requiring for a development and not constraining that development.”
Scott later told the Post-Record that his “intent was to express that the desire to mitigate the impact of parking demand upon public streets or other public parking infrastructure potentially competes with the goal of ensuring that positive new development in (the) Town Center is viable.”
The proposal could have a “significant impact” on the Vancouver Housing Authority’s plan to construct a workforce housing complex on two parcels of land in downtown Washougal, city planner Mitch Kneipp said.
“It probably at a minimum would eliminate the commercial portion that we talked about with them that we wanted to see on the first floor,” Kneipp said during a workshop session in October 2022. “If they have to increase their parking for the residential portion, they couldn’t have enough room on the site to provide parking for their commercial portion as well. … Parking is very expensive, so if they’re looking at the difference between 0.5 and one, you’re considering doubling their costs.”
Council member Michelle Wagner said that she would like to see the proposal “disengaged” from the VHA project.
“This isn’t in response to them, really,” she said during the October 2022 workshop session. “We became aware of how low our parking (minimums) were because of them, but I don’t see this as reactionary, necessarily, toward what’s going on (with the VHA project) versus our projected lack of parking in the future. We already (have a) lower (minimum) than comparable cities, and if we don’t do anything to stem it, it’s going to come back on the taxpayer to build some structure which we just can’t afford. To me, it’s an easy decision.”