City Council approves changes to downtown parking limits

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The City Council approved the placement of a 10-minute parking spot in front of Caffe Piccolo on Northeast Birch Street, as the result of a request from its owner Jodi Vaughan. It was among a handful of adjustments, which also included the addition of 35 unrestricted spots on Cedar and Birch streets, between Fifth and Sixth avenues.

The Camas City Council last night approved a series of changes to parking time limits in downtown Camas, and the much debated topic is likely to come up again at the annual planning conference in January.

The ordinance establishes 35 spots on Cedar and Birch streets, between Northeast Fifth and Sixth avenues, that will shift from the current six-hour to a new “unrestricted” 72-hour parking time limit. The intent is to give employees of downtown Camas businesses areas to park other than in front of other businesses.

In addition, three 10-minute spots will be added — one in front of Caffe Piccolo at 309 N.E. Birch St., one in front of Happy Island Restaurant at 419 N.E. Cedar St., and another in front of the apartments at 615 N.E. Sixth Ave., to be used as a C-Tran pick-up spot.

The changes come following the Nov. 4 City Council workshop when the annual review of parking issues and requests from business owners was held.

One request was not acted on and will instead be discussed further at the planning conference.

The Downtown Camas Association had asked to change the parking on Northeast Fifth Avenue from a 2-hour to a three-hour limit. The City Council requested feedback from business owners, which was then gathered by Camas Police Department officers during the past two weeks. The results from inquiries at seven businesses showed that opinions of those surveyed were essentially split down the middle.

Brenda Schallberger, executive director of the DCA, said adding three-hour parking on Fifth Avenue would address complaints she has heard from owners of businesses that attract customers for extended periods of time — like the Liberty Theatre and hair salons.

Councilman Tim Hazen reiterated a suggestion he made at the Nov. 4 workshop that these kinds of issues would be better discussed and handled by a parking commission made up of appointed citizens. Recommendations could then be forwarded to the City Council for a decision.

“It would seem that with some of the data that is coming back already, that it might make sense to appoint a special commission,” Hazen said. “It seems like we are making decisions that are out of our scope.”

Downtown parking and the possibility of forming a parking commission will be on the agenda for the Jan. 24 and 25 planning conference, which will be held at the Lacamas Lake Lodge and Conference Center.