Mill Creek condo’s neighbors protest poor parking

By Jana Hill

For The Herald

MILL CREEK — If there are fewer parking spaces, then more people will use mass transit.

That is the assumption behind a new 139-unit development in north Mill Creek.

The planning commission has approved the Rivendale II project despite objections from Rivendale I residents who say there already isn’t enough parking there, and more condominiums will only make the problem worse.

In a 6-1 vote, the commission recommended the city council next month approve a site plan for the Rivendale II project, to be constructed off Dumas Road next to Rivendale I.

Planning commissioner Chuck Wright voted no because he agrees with current Rivendale residents that parking is insufficient.

Before voting, Robert McElhose, planning commission chairman, discussed the benefits of "transit-friendly parking." The theory is that if fewer parking spaces are available, more people will use transit.

The Rivendale II plan calls for 283 parking stalls, but five of those are for Rivendale I residents, said Cari Hornbein, senior planner in Mill Creek. That’s an average of two stalls per unit, which is below Mill Creek’s standard of 2.2 per unit, Hornbein said.

Neighbors say they already deal with parking problems and Dumas Road is too dangerous for residents to park elsewhere and walk home.

They fear that if Rivendale II is constructed with too few parking stalls, new residents will use their parking lot, increasing the parking problem there. Residents say they cannot have visitors because there’s nowhere for them to park. And even those who live there struggle finding a place to put their vehicles.

Hornbein said Dumas Road will undergo improvements, including a sidewalk that will provide safer pedestrian travel to nearby transit access.

Council action expected April 9 could be delayed by a challenge to the city’s environmental review, filed by Adopt-a-Stream, a local environmental group located downstream of the project. The organization contends that upcoming developments, including Rivendale II, will harm rearing habitat for threatened Chinook salmon.

The planning commission also has rejected a challenge by Adopt-a-Stream that asked that the Rivendale II plan be scrapped and replaced with one that decreases impervious surface by up to 60 percent.

Jana Hill writes for the Enterprise Newspapers. She can be reached at janahill@heraldnet.com or 455-673-6533.

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