Aalbu Brothers and Everett Hydraulics in the 2900 block of Grand Avenue have reserved parking marked on the street with blue paint. (Sue Misao / Everett Herald)

Aalbu Brothers and Everett Hydraulics in the 2900 block of Grand Avenue have reserved parking marked on the street with blue paint. (Sue Misao / Everett Herald)

Another case of privately claimed parking on a public street

This time, two businesses did so with permission from the city of Everett. It’s consolation of sorts.

Businesses in Everett can’t get reserved on-street parking. Right? Well …

A parking-related topic in a recent Street Smarts column caught reader Micki Hazen’s eye.

In it, a city public works spokeswoman said no on-street spaces can be reserved for a particular business’ purposes.

But Hazen noted that couldn’t be true, citing an example in the 2900 block of Grand Avenue where two adjacent businesses have reserved parking marked off on the street with blue paint, with the city’s permission.

“It is entirely inaccurate for the city of Everett to say that they don’t grant private usage of city street parking to certain ‘favored’ businesses,” Hazen wrote.

It’s not quite so clear-cut.

The reserved parking area stems, in part, from roadway changes after construction of the now-finished Grand Avenue Marketplace and Apartments across the street.

Aalbu Brothers is a metal fabrication and welding company — which has worked on everything from trailer hitches to submersibles exploring the Titanic — and has been on Grand Avenue since 1906.

Everett Hydraulics does hydraulic repair, among other services, working on boats, trucks and more. It’s been there for 20 years.

“We were the only survivors of what had been an industrial area,” said Todd Cudaback, owner of Everett Hydraulics.

The towering apartment complex and accompanying roadway changes took away a lot of elbow room for the two shops, including space for large vehicles to swing in and out, including the occasional fire engine and excavator.

There used to be a jog in the road, for example, that helped through traffic go around work areas. And empty lots where employees would park were long gone.

Changes to the road make sense for those living in a high-rise apartment or popping into a street-side market for a slice of artisanal cheese. But not for the sparks-flying industrial work going on just steps away.

“There were competing uses for the space in front of the two diverse uses on either side of the street,” as public works spokeswoman Kathleen Baxter put it.

The city called in Cudaback and then-Aalbu owner Cal Ferguson to figure out a solution. And the blue striping went down.

“It’s a consolation for what we used to have,” Cudaback said.

Each building owner now pays the city $592.41 per year, including taxes and fees, for a 1,500-square-foot area in front of their respective shops.

For comparison, a vehicle owner would pay from $660 to $900 per year to rent a parking stall at the city-owned Everpark Garage on Hoyt Avenue downtown.

Without the lease, there would be no parking at all in that stretch — for anyone.

Both companies have multiple large, roll-up doors. Each of those doors comes with a driveway. The number of driveways, coupled with city code, mean there typically would be no on-street parking stalls in that stretch.

“Basically we pay a lease for the right to park in our own driveways and the space between them,” said Ferguson, who remains owner of the Aalbu building space and pays the parking lease fee. “The business is not getting special treatment. The business is getting permission to park in its own area that you couldn’t park in anyway.”

Before the changes, there was a white edge line, or “fog line,” in front of the businesses to help northbound traffic stay in their lane, city staff said. Parking was not technically allowed, although property owners did make use of the space for business.

There are two other businesses elsewhere in the city that have similar right-of-way lease agreements for parking in their driveways, Baxter said. Those are for much smaller spaces, of 170 square feet and 400 square feet.

Fees are based on square footage (35 cents per square foot in the Grand Avenue cases, and 45 cents per square foot in the other two cases). Insurance is required. The agreements must be renewed each year.

On Grand Avenue, the blue striping now extends onto a wide walking path adjacent to the buildings to allow adequate room for parking now that the road has shifted east.

There used to be rings in the pavement there, where people would tie up their horses when the Milltown city was young and booming. In those days, Aalbu Brothers built and repaired horse-drawn carriages and wagons — including the vintage fire wagon now on display at a historic fire station off Mukilteo Boulevard.

Things change. And downtown Everett is undergoing another wave of that.

Cudaback said at the time the apartment complex was under construction, he told the city he felt like they were trying to push him out.

He’s looking, but finding another spot to do business isn’t so easy.

“There’s just nothing around,” he said. “It would be funky to have Everett Hydraulics in Arlington or Woodinville. And I grew up in this town. I went to Everett Junior High School and lived here the best part of my life. …


Melissa Slager: streetsmarts@heraldnet; com, 425-339-3432.

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