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Yakima looking to solve downtown parking dilemma

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(The Center Square) – Yakima city officials are exploring ways to better enforce on-street parking as downtown businesses are being negatively impacted by nearby parking spaces being taken up all day.

The Yakima City Council approved a motion to direct city staff to create legislation that would reduce parking infraction fines from $50 to $20, lower the monthly parking permit fee from $50 per month to $20 per month for parking lots, and reduce the number of monthly permits from 60% of the total spaces to 40% and monitor for adequacy.

Enforcement of parking in Yakima has been considered spotty since the COVID-19 pandemic. This means parking space turnover in downtown Yakima has been minimal.

Parking space turnover is vital to nearby businesses because there can be a loss of customers due to a lack of convenient spaces for customer use.

According to a memorandum from Yakima Interim City Manager Dave Zabell, businesses near the downtown area’s public lots have felt the effect of fewer lot spaces available due to an increased number of vehicles utilizing the lots for all-day parking.

“We know now that the spaces in front are being taken up by all day parking without enforcement,” Zabell said at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

Any legislation that adjusts parking in the downtown area will not include making changes to free two-hour parking. Instead, the city will work to more efficiently enforce the parking limits to ensure there is improved parking space turnover.

Yakima City Councilmember Matt Brown said he wants to allow local businesses to be eligible for the proposed parking permits. This would mean changing the city’s parking permit law to allow businesses to pay $20 per month for a parking permit outside of their establishment.

“If they have a parking lot, they should be using their parking lot,” Brown said.

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