Langley council committee suggests parking changes

The city may enforce “designated parking areas” for people working or volunteering downtown, and then target those drivers who shuffle their cars around spaces on Second and First streets during the day for more costly parking tickets.

Councilwoman Rene Neff presented the proposed changes to the city council on Monday. The council is expected to more fully review the proposal at an upcoming meeting.

Neff, the chairwoman of the Downtown Parking Committee, an ad hoc group formed in late March to address parking problems in the downtown core, said the committee had met on March 29 and had come up with the options for the council.

The committee includes Neff, Police Chief Randy Heston, Mike and Laurel Davis, plus Fred Lundahl and Sandra Wainwright, who didn’t attend the meeting but gave input via e-mail.

Neff noted the Langley chamber had been working with business owners and their employees to have them park away from downtown, but it didn’t solve the problem. People have avoided getting tickets for violating the city’s four-hour parking time limit by simply moving their cars, sometimes by only one space.

“There’s a glitch in our system,” Neff said.

The options include extending parking hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and adding stickers to signs that read “on this street” after the four-hour limit; changing the city’s parking ordinance so people can’t move their vehicles to another space to circumvent the time limit; extending 15- to 30-minute parking areas from five days a week to seven; and changing parking fines, including “bumping up” the fine to $150 for a third offense.

Neff said the higher fine would be a “big deterrent.”

Other options include giving business owners information packets with a map showing “designated parking areas for employees and businesses” in town when business licenses are issued, and reducing the fee for a business license if the business owner and employees commit to parking in the CMA or Methodist church parking lots outside of downtown.

Neff said Langley police don’t intend to target tourists or regular visitors who do business downtown, but would focus on employees, business owners and volunteers “who refuse to park in the designated parking areas.”

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