Fairhaven parking soon will be limited to two hours in the busy shopping core of the neighborhood.
Bellingham crews installed 54 signs to inform drivers of the new limits on Wednesday morning, Sept. 9, but enforcement isn’t scheduled to start until Oct. 1.
The city will enforce the two-hour limits between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. every day, including weekends, depending on the availability of parking enforcement employees.
The time limit was identified by the Fairhaven Parking Task Force as a way to help manage parking availability and keep traffic turning over in the commercial heart of the neighborhood.
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Other immediate strategies include reminding people of alternatives to driving, adding bicycle storage, and adding some short-term parking spaces.
The parking plan’s goal, the city reports, is to keep one or two open parking spaces per block at any time.
People who want to park for longer than two hours can still park outside of the core without a time limit.
The two-hour limit and other current strategies are part of “Stage 1” of the task force’s plan.
Other parking management methods could come into play in phased stages if that area continues to have a lack of available spaces.
The next stage will be triggered if parking spaces are still 85 percent full on average or if private development removes spaces where people currently park (e.g. the gravel pit off 11th Street and Mill Avenue). It includes paid street parking, finding a source of money to pay for and build a parking garage, and encouraging businesses to provide bus passes to their employees.
“Parking is a challenge; everyone wants more but no one wants to pay for it,” task force member Robin Robertson said in an announcement about the new time limits. “We’re pleased with the collaborative approach the task force took on a challenging topic, and I believe the recommendations represent a good balance to handling Fairhaven’s parking situation.”
The parking task force included members from the Fairhaven Village Association, the Historic Fairhaven Association, Fairhaven Neighbors and the Transportation Commission.