August 10, 1998
City hears testimony on WHS parking plan
by Andrew Walgamott
WOODINVILLE--Northshore School District officials laid out a proposal that could solve student parking problems at Woodinville High School in the near future, but neighborhood residents said they wanted something done there ASAP.
The two sides came together at a public hearing in a small, hot room last Tuesday afternoon to give their opinions on a City of Woodinville proposal that would severely limit parking around the high school.
The city is expected to release its final plan tonight, Aug. 10, after press time.
If there are two things that are more clear, and more at loggerheads, it's this: there isn't enough parking for all students driving to school, and area residents don't want overflow parking in their neighborhoods.
Residents from the Upland View neighborhood west of the school gave testimony that they want student parking banned on 130th Ave. N.E.
"Our view [up and down the street] is completely obstructed when kids park there," said resident Claire White. She said she's forced to pull out to the middle of the road to judge whether it's safe to exit her development.
The city's traffic engineer, Roger Mason of CH2M Hill, said motorists use the street as a way around congestion on State Route 9 and Interstate 405 in the morning and evenings.
But several residents who live off of the north end of 136th Ave. N.E. said the parking plan would merely shift parking from 130th to their street, something they don't want either.
Still, they are just the latest of a series of neighborhood groups who have come to the city since incorporation asking that parking be curtailed around them. Each move seems to just shift student parking somewhere else.
Nowhere is that more evident than in the words of the sole WHS student who attended the hearing, senior Kari Solberg. "If you move us from this area, we'll find somewhere else to park," said Solberg, a city council member's granddaughter.
But it's not just residents who are shuffling kids. When the city built a bike lane off the west side of N.E. 195th St., students were forced to park elsewhere, finding space along 130th.
Under last July's city proposal, parking would be banned on 130th, N.E. 205th St., parts of 136th Ave. N.E. and 130th Pl. N.E. In addition parking would be banned within all developments between 130th and 136th from N.E. 192nd St..
School officials agreed with parts, but not all of the proposal. Vicki Puckett, the new WHS principal, supported banning parking around Upland View, but said that wouldn't answer the question of where students would go. She urged the city to allow parking on 136th south of N.E. 195th St.
Perhaps the best solution offered to date came from Dan Vaught, district director of Capital Facilities; he proposed developing additional parking on a portion of a 20-acre parcel Northshore owns adjacent to school grounds.
"Yes!" said Councilwoman Marsha Engel when she heard of the plan, "with three exclamation marks, underlined and bolded."
In the design phase now, Vaught said the plan would be subject to neighborhood review and approval by the City of Woodinville. While he said it was too soon to tell when it could be built, he did allow it would contain "an appropriate amount of parking to relieve neighbors' concerns."
"We want to be good neighbors and act responsibly in terms of addressing the problem in a comprehensive way," Vaught said.
In the interim, the district is encouraging car-pooling, and there has also been some talk of utilizing the Woodinville Metro Park-and-Ride for student parking with a shuttle running from there to the school.
Last Thursday Mason, who had the job of weighing public testimony and coming up with the final plan, suggested a more creative use of space on campus now, like aisle parking, could accommodate 30 more vehicles in the lower student lot. But it would also require coordination between those who leave school early and those who stay all day, he said.
In addition it could be a logistical nightmare if a student, blocked in on all sides, has a family emergency and needs to leave immediately.
According to Deborah Knight, Woodinville Interim Public Works director, the City Council will be presented a finalized plan this Monday night (Aug. 10) after press time. She said the city hopes to have signage up by Aug. 31 before school starts.