July 13, 1998
City plan would curtail street parking around WHS
by Andrew Walgamott
WOODINVILLE--Some Woodinville High School students who drive to school may be walking further from their cars to classes this fall, or have to ride the big yellow taxis if they can't wake up early enough to claim one of the few off-campus spaces that will be available.
Under a plan the Woodinville City Council is considering, parking would be virtually banned on city streets around the school. In addition to those stretches already off limits, eleven new areas would be signed "No Parking 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday except holidays."
The city hopes to alleviate local residents' safety concerns, but admit the plan could have other results.
"It's aimed at getting rid of unsafe driving conditions," said Mayor Don Brocha, "but it will also put pressure on the school to address the issue."
Woodinville officials say the plan would effectively reduce the amount of off-campus parking spaces. The proposal was sparked by residents of Upland View, a development just to the west of the school, who asked the council to do something about student parking on 130th Ave. N.E.
The problem, residents say, is that cars parked near the entrances of their neighborhood block their vision as they try to get onto 130th. Some say they have to pull out to the center-lane of the 35 mph road before they know if it's safe to go. Between 12 and 20 cars are regularly parked on that street this past year, the city said.
Others worried that teens were exposed to traffic when opening car doors along the street.
"Is there going to be another tragedy on 130th?" asked Claire White of Upland View. "It's only a matter of time before a kid is struck." David Pomerville, a WHS student was killed in January, 1991 when he ran into traffic on 136th Ave. N.E. and was hit by a car. Residents also complain that students who use a private open space that leads from their neighborhood to the school sometimes leave litter and horse around.
According to the city, residents around the high school have come to the city four times since 1993 with requests to expand 'no parking' zones. This may be the most comprehensive plan so far.
Under the proposal, street parking wouldn't be allowed on either side of 130th Ave. N.E. or the south side of N.E. 205th St. Already it is banned on the south side of N.E. 195th St. and the east side of 136th Pl. N.E. Those four streets form a box around the high school. Also, parking would not be allowed on part of 130th Pl. N.E. and 136th south of 195th.
The only significant off-campus parking area that would remain open would be along the west side of 136th, and a small space near Woodin Elementary.
Deborah Knight, Woodinville public services assistant, said more than one factor created the problem. She said the high school was built before some nearby properties were developed. She also noted that with increased development there are more drivers. There were 1,308 students at WHS as of October, 1997, according to the Northshore School District. When the school opened in 1983, there were 739 students, though no senior class that year.
Some on the City Council say the plan will only send kids and their cars elsewhere.
"What we're doing," said Councilwoman Marsha Engel, "is shuffling cars from one neighborhood to another." After a bike path was built on N.E. 195th St. south of the school last year, parking shifted from there onto 130th.
District officials say that while there is a need to protect residents, they also have to accommodate kids driving to school. Pamela Steele, communications director, noted that students are encouraged to become involved in off-campus programs as well as visit job sites. Others work after school.
Councilwoman Barbara Solberg suggested lowering the speed limit on 130th to 25 mph, an idea that wasn't well received. Councilman Scott Hageman, who enjoys bike riding, hoped students would consider other modes of transportation such as ride-sharing and busing.
Steele hoped the city and district could work together to find a realistic solution. Knight said the city has spoken with WHS officials such as Sam Jackson, assistant vice principal, on parking, but he couldn't be reached for comment last week, as he was on vacation.
Because some of the proposed 'no parking' zones are larger than 100-feet long, the city must hold a public hearing on the plan, probably in mid-August. It will be announced in this newspaper. Woodinville officials say they hope to have a plan in place before the start of school in September. Copies of the proposed plan are available at City Hall.