The Longview City Council Tuesday approved two changes to downtown parking, including cutting some free on-street parking times by an hour.
The affected areas are part of the city’s Downtown Commerce District and includes Commerce Avenue from Florida Street to Vandercook Way.
Councilmembers unanimously voted for an ordinance to shorten the time limits for on-street parking spaces from three hours to two hours and move the role of selling permits for city-owned parking lots from the Longview Police Department to other city staff.
The new ordinance also ends the practice of issuing warning tickets for drivers who overstay posted times before they receive a ticket. Last year, the city’s parking enforcement officer issued significantly more warning tickets to drivers in the downtown area than actual tickets.
The slate of parking changes will take effect in 30 days, which city staff said should provide time to post new parking signs for the Commerce Avenue spaces and advertise the new policies to the public.
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Developing parking lots
The City Council also passed an amended recommendation for city staff look into selling or leasing city-owned downtown parking lots for mixed-use housing developments.
The idea was brought up by councilmembers Hillary Strobel and Spencer Boudreau. Strobel said the review follows up on an offer the city received in late 2020 from a developer interested in purchasing the lot at Maple Street and 14th Avenue. The development did not go through but the general approach to encourage downtown housing by developing city parking lots has stuck around.
“What this really gives us the opportunity to do, as a local government, is look at options to create more opportunities for housing,” Boudreau said. “The No. 1 way to keep rents lower is to increase housing stock.”
The staff’s review of parking lots will partially rely on a study the city commissioned last year about downtown development to identify which lots would be the most beneficial to convert into mixed-use development.
Staff findings about the potential alternate uses of the lots will be sent back to the council, most likely later this year. The review process doesn’t lock the city into a final decision about the sale or future use of any particular lots.