Planning commission extends public hearing on downtown parking reductions


Blaine Planning Commission voted during its April 11 meeting to continue a public hearing on a proposal that would give developers the option of reduced residential parking requirements. The commission will continue accepting testimony until its next hearing on Thursday, May 9.

In exchange for reducing parking to a minimum amount set by the city, developers would be required to pay a fee funding downtown transportation improvements.

The changes to parking requirements would apply to the entire downtown. Under the proposal, residential parking could be reduced to .5 stalls for a studio, .75 stalls for a one-bedroom unit, one stall for two- and three-bedroom units, and .5 additional stalls for each bedroom over a three-bedroom unit.

Developers in the waterview district, which is the west side of Peace Portal Drive in the downtown core, could opt for an additional 50 percent reduction in residential parking in addition to overall reductions. Nine people attended the planning commission’s public hearing April 11 at city hall.

Salishan resident Kathleen Capson said she was against relaxing the parking requirements, saying she doesn’t visit White Rock or Fairhaven because parking is difficult.

“At a time when fun, local recreational getaways are greatly cherished by the six million people living to the north and south of us, the proposed text amendments are unsuitable,” she said. “Let’s please not shut out downtown shoppers, merchants, residents, visitors, and tourists from downtown Blaine.”

Ray Leone said Blaine is a community that doesn’t have a reliable transit system and requires residents to depend on cars. 

Scott Meaker, a builder and business owner who was on an ad hoc committee that drafted the original recommendations to planning commission, said downtown buildings would be affordable if the city gave developers relief on parking.

Christopher Andruscavage, who owns Blaine Chiropractic and Massage on H Street, said his clients already had difficulty finding parking.

Paul Schissler is leading the Kulshan Community Land Trust project that is looking into the feasibility of two affordable and market-rate condominiums buildings, with one of those buildings housing a new Blaine library and commercial space. Schissler said the project is planning for both current and prospective parking requirements. To meet just the proposed requirements, one of the buildings would need a surface-level parking garage underneath it, Schissler said. 

“Even with this reduced parking, a lot of the site still has to be given over to cars,” he said.

Planning commissioner Colin Hawkins told the commission that they could change the rules later if parking becomes a bigger problem  in the future.

Planning director Alex Wenger said he didn’t necessarily disagree with anyone during the public hearing.

“We were just trying to spur growth downtown with this proposal,” he said. “I’m not sure how much we’ll really change things. I think this will make it a little easier to develop downtown.”

Blaine City Council would set the one-time fee for the reduced parking and could adjust annually based on demand.

The planning commission supported ending the parking reductions when 120 parking stalls were transferred from private property into the public right-of-way. The first batch of stalls would be less expensive than the last batch to incentivize developers to participate earlier in downtown development.

Planning commission is also reviewing a proposal that would increase the building heights by 12 feet in downtown, excluding an area near the Salishan neighborhood, in exchange for agreeing to build affordable housing or paying a public improvement fee. 

The commission had asked Wenger to bring them renderings of what the proposed building heights would look like on the west side of Peace Portal Drive. Wenger said the city was still working on the renderings.

City staff began looking at increasing building height restrictions and decreasing parking requirements in 2022, after developers began telling city officials current zoning was impacting their ability to earn a return on investment.

People can submit testimony on the parking proposal to planning commission by emailing


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