Rachael Bowker had business in downtown Everett.
She pulled into a parking space on the street. Like many spots in the city’s core, it had a sign noting a 90-minute limit. Her first meeting didn’t take long.
“I was at Bayside Bikes,” Bowker said. From the shop at 2707 Colby Ave., she drove a couple of blocks south. Her next stop was the Historic Everett Theatre at 2911 Colby. Again, she parked on the street.
In short order she returned to her car — and was stunned to see a parking ticket. Luckily, the citation didn’t cost her $20. “This is a warning only,” it said.
A warning for what? She hadn’t spent 90 minutes at either place.
We don’t often write about our co-workers. Bowker, a Herald sales consultant, was downtown that day visiting clients. Her experience is worth sharing to warn other downtown visitors.
How many of us know about Everett Municipal Code 46.28.205? It’s titled “Reparking.”
Bowker was cited for violating part of the code that deals with the “Central Business District Repark Emphasis Area.” She wasn’t guilty, but someone from Everett’s parking enforcement unit believed she was.
The code says no one is allowed to repark within a core area of Everett’s downtown on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. There’s an exception: “It shall not constitute a violation of this subsection if the vehicle is reparked for the primary purpose of immediate shopping or the immediate securing of services within the central business district.” Those “services” don’t include employment or attending classes.
Bowker doesn’t work downtown. The Herald’s home since 2014 is in the Frontier Building at 1800 41st St. in Everett.
She was meeting customers that day. Parking enforcement first marked her car at 10:01 a.m., and then in the other spot at 10:18 a.m.
City engineer Ryan Sass said the reason for the reparking rule is to keep spaces available for customers. The problem is that some downtown workers habitually park for part of the day, then move their cars before 90 minutes have passed.
How does parking enforcement know whether a car belongs to a downtown worker or a customer?
“They would have a hard time knowing that, not easily,” Sass said. “The repark ordinance is universally disliked by everyone — customers, the enforcement folks, the engineers and planners.”
So why have it?
“It’s the tool available for dealing with having employees taking up all the good business parking all day long,” he said. “Parking enforcement folks do a pretty good job. They’re reluctant to give those tickets.”
Customers mistakenly given reparking tickets may go to Everett Municipal Court to get citations dismissed, Sass said. “That’s a small consolation, it’s such a hassle,” he said.
The repark code grew out of a 2008 Everett parking study. It was then that the issue of downtown workers moving cars came to light.
In August, city staff conducted another study. Everett residents, business owners and visitors were asked in the online survey where and how long they park, and their perception of congestion and the effectiveness of rules. Sass said results will be presented to the Everett City Council on March 30.
The repark code is aimed at nudging workers to use paid parking lots. Sass said the Snohomish County Courthouse garage is full on weekdays. Everett’s EverPark Garage on Hoyt Avenue has 495 stalls. Garage manager Joe Dillon said Thursday that the EverPark secured area is full and the roof is “practically full.”
EverPark’s fees range from $55 to $75 per month. Dillon said between 20 and 40 drivers use it on a daily basis. That costs $2 to $8 depending on length of stay.
If the repark rule is maddening, consider the alternative: paid street parking. Is it time for parking meters, Everett? Sass said one reason for the earlier study was to answer that question. But by late 2008, the Great Recession had slowed any need for paid parking on Everett streets.
When the need becomes critical, Sass believes businesses will ask for paid street parking. “The purpose isn’t to drive revenue, but to make sure spots are available,” he said.
And if parking meters come, he said, the repark rule will end. It’s pick your poison.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.