A can of paint has eased a longtime headache for Langley business owners and shoppers. First Street just got more parking.
The city nearly doubled parking on the waterside of First Street by changing the striping from parallel to angle parking. That added 11 parking spots, including one handicapped parking spot, on the premiere shopping street in Langley for a total of 22 spots.
To make it happen, the centerline also had to be adjusted.
“Parking in Langley has been an issue for a long, long time,” said Mayor Paul Samuelson.
Merchants and shoppers alike have complained, he said.
“When I took office, as a part of the economic development piece, I made the commitment that we would look at that,” Samuelson said.
As Langley’s reputation as a destination town grew, the more difficult it got to find parking. Recent efforts to get people to “shop local” only added to the problem.
The new parking stretches from the Anthes Avenue intersection to near Village Pizzeria. Motorcycle parking may be added as well, said Fred Lundahl, president of the Langley Chamber of Commerce.
Lundahl said the business owners in the city are very excited about the additional parking.
However, not all Langleyites are fans. Lundahl said there are people who would love to have cars all but disappear from the Langley core and make First and Second streets walking streets.
But for now, the new parking is a welcome addition.
“Everybody was complaining, ‘Eh, there is no parking,’” Lundahl said. “We’ve been wrestling with the problem for a while on how to increase parking — cheaply.”
Several years ago, the city tried to crack down on people who ignored the parking time limits, and also encouraged downtown business owners to have their employees avoid prime parking locations. But the problem of limited spaces remained.
He said the new parking is actually a throwback to the past. There was slant-parking many years back, but it was changed and ever since parking had been scarce and business owners have been hearing about it.
“I have people constantly coming in my shop saying, ‘Oh my gosh, don’t you have a parking lot around here?’” Lundahl said.
So, somebody recalled the former arrangement of angled parking and the merchants approached the city.
Lundahl said Langley Police Chief Bob Herzberg and Public Works Director Challis Stringer signed off on the changes and the project was underway.
“We were so pleasantly surprised how fast it happened, because the tourist season is coming,” Lundahl said.
That the change was a much needed improvement was shown by the popularity of the new spots.
“Proof is in the fact that they are all filled,” Lundahl said.