Park Lane

About Park Lane

Park Lane is one of Kirkland’s vibrant commercial centers, a bustling oasis for shoppers and diners set between Marina Park on Lake Washington and Peter Kirk Park in the central downtown core. Park Lane was originally designed to be a "flexible street" and has previously been closed to vehicles during select special events. Consideration of Park Lane as a pedestrian corridor closed to vehicular traffic dates to 2008. Park Lane provides a pedestrian pathway between Kirkland’s downtown waterfront to the transit center, Peter Kirk Park, and Kirkland Urban. In recent years, “Evenings on Park Lane” has been a collaboration between the City of Kirkland, community members, and neighborhood associations to provide accessibility, mobility and a strong sense of place for people, while enhancing the volume of shopping and other business activities. The program has continued as a valuable support for businesses and restaurants, providing outdoor space for restaurant seating and retail and room for greater social distancing for pedestrians.

park lane night bike banner  

Future of Park Lane Consultant Study 2023

As the “Evenings on Park Lane” program was ending at the end of summer 2022, the Kirkland City Council at its August 3, 2022, meeting approved a staff request for funding to evaluate the Future of Park Lane as it pertains to vehicular traffic including:

  1. Full year-round closure to traffic;
  2. Full summer seasonal closure to traffic such as from May to October;
  3. Summer evening closure to traffic such as from May to October, 6PM to 11PM (i.e., “Evenings on Park Lane”);
  4. Other closure options as may be recommended by the consultant

A final report and decision by City Council on Park Lane’s future is expected in Q3 of 2023. The option to take no further action on Park Lane remains an option for the Council.

Upcoming Meetings Related to Park Lane

City Staff will be sharing the background, purpose, and scope of the Future of Park Lane Study at upcoming Transportation and Planning Commission meetings. Visit the commission webpages to view meeting agendas and materials prepared in advance of the meeting dates listed below. Public comments will be accepted during the Requests From the Audience portion of each meeting. More information on the procedure for public testimony can be found on the Public Comments Procedures page.

Transportation Commission Public Meeting

Date: Wednesday, January 25 at 6:00 PM

Location: City Hall Council Chambers and Virtual, Zoom Link

Transportation Commission Website

Planning Commission Public Meeting

Date: Thursday, January 26 at 7:00 PM

Location: City Hall Council Chambers and Virtual, Zoom Link

Planning Commission Website

Historical Background

The chronological tabs below provide a historical overview of actions and decisions concerning Park Lane, temporary closure to vehicular traffic on Park Lane, interventions during the COVID-19 pandemic, a summary of community engagement to date, and the commitment to study permanent solutions moving forward.  

2023

Future of Park Lane Study Begins

The City is engaged in a study to inform a City Council decision on the future of Park Lane as it pertains to vehicular traffic on the street. The study and decision are expected to conclude in Q3 2023. After reviewing consultant proposals submitted through a competitive process for the Future of Park Lane Study, a selection committee comprised of city staff and Kirkland downtown stakeholders chose to hire the consulting firm MIG to conduct this work. The purpose of the study is to develop, evaluate and present to the City Council options for street closure to vehicle traffic on Park Lane related to the following operational scenarios:

  1. Full year-round closure to vehicle traffic;
  2. Full summer seasonal closure to vehicle traffic such as from May to October;
  3. Summer evening closure to vehicle traffic such as from May to October, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. (i.e., “Evenings on Park Lane”);
  4. Other closure option as may be recommended by the consultant

The option to take no further action on Park Lane is always one that the City Council has at its disposal.

Consultant work began in early January 2023 and is expected to continue through the spring of 2023, with final report and presentation to City Council expected in Q3 2023. 

2022

“Evenings” Continues & Study of Park Lane Future Approved

In 2022, “Evenings on Park Lane” resumed on May 26 with closure to vehicular traffic on the west end of Park Lane between Lake Street and Main Street every evening from 6 p.m. to approximately 11 p.m. In coordination with the downtown community, the City started "Evenings on Park Lane" in 2019, opening the street to people walking and wheeling only during evening hours. The program continued as a valuable support for businesses, restaurants, residents and visitors providing outdoor space for restaurant seating and retail and room for greater social distancing for pedestrians during pandemic times. The 2022 “Evenings” initiative did not permit ‘Parklets’ and ‘Streateries’ to allow tables and stalls to be set up in parking spaces in the right of way. ‘Parklets’ and  ‘Streateries’ were permitted under the City Manager’s COVID 19 emergency order in 2021 ['Evenings on Park Lane' Press Release].

At its August 3 meeting, the City Council received a request from staff to consider options for the future of Park Lane either as a) an open street with parking or b) a street closed seasonally or permanently to vehicle traffic. The Council gave direction to evaluate Park Lane as a street closed seasonally or permanently to vehicle traffic, and authorized “Option 2” as presented to them in the Memo and reprinted here:

Option 2: Evaluate seasonal or full closure of Park Lane with a final decision in 2023.

Authorize staff to hire a consultant to identify investments necessary to close Park Lane to vehicle traffic and successfully activate a pedestrian retail, service, and dining area in the downtown core. Closure options evaluated would be full yearround closure or a full seasonal closure such as from May to October. Staff estimates the cost of this assessment to be up to $50,000 and would include at least the following considerations: 

  1. Parking mitigation options and strategies if applicable.
  2. Programming and street activation recommendations, including during winter months if applicable.
  3. Infrastructure recommendations and requirements, including but not limited to shelter, seating, parklets, vehicle access and barriers.
  4. Public safety considerations and planning.
  5. Preliminary cost and budget plan for capital and ongoing expense

As directed by Council at the August 3 meeting, staff returned to Council at on October 18 with a fiscal note authorizing funding from the Council Special Projects Reserve to fund the assessment.  While the original proposed budget for the study was $50,000, Council directed staff to consider a larger budget should market research indicate the need, and the fiscal note approved at the October 18 meeting to fund the study that was for $75,000.

A Request for Proposals for a consultant to conduct a Future of Park Lane Study was issues on October 3, 2022 and closed on October 31, 2022. 

2021

2021 Extending Evenings on Park Lane

Approaching summer 2021, restrictions on business capacity and operations were still in place and health officials continued to recommend social distancing and outdoor rather than indoor activities (expected to continue throughout the summer). At its April 6, 2021, meeting, the Council discussed closure of Park Lane to vehicles for summer 2021 to expand outdoor capacity for businesses and patrons in the downtown core under its newly established Legislative Request Memoranda process as outlined in the Council Policies and Procedures document.  Four options were presented:

  • Option 1: “Similar to last year.” Close Park Lane from early May to October only during evenings (beginning at 6 p.m.) and all day during permitted special events downtown.
  • Option 2: Close Park Lane from early May through October on weekday evenings (beginning at 6 p.m.) AND full-day closures on weekends and holidays.
  • Option 3: Close Park Lane all day and evening every day from early May to October.
  • Option 4: No action.

At the April 16, 2021 meeting, the Council directed staff to return to Council with additional information including directing staff to conduct an extensive public outreach to gather feedback and comments from City community members and affected businesses relating to various options for Park Lane.

At the Council's May 4, 2021 meeting, staff presented detailed results of the outreach. From this input, Council directed staff to proceed with Option 1 “Evenings on Park Lane”, closing Park Lane to vehicular traffic and parking from early May to October only during evenings and all-day during permitted special events, with the intent to maintain it for the next two years, through summer 2022. Council also directed for the regular evening closures, the street be reopened in the evenings after the last restaurant closes. 

2020

2020 COVID Response / Evenings on Park Lane

In response to restrictions and capacity limits mandated by WA State due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with input from the ‘Outside the Walls’ task force, a community group formed in response to the pandemic, staff presented the CARES Act Funding Plan at the June 16, 2020 Council meeting. This included recommendations for Park Lane:

  • Close the west half of Park Lane (between Main and Lake St) to be used as  streeteries or parklets, either permanently or for ‘Evenings on Park Lane’;
  • Provide picnic benches and/ or tables and chairs;
  • Install canopy or rain shelter;
  • Create attractive entrance celebrating the public space (using bollards, banners and flags);
  • Provide hand washing/ sanitizing stations and public restrooms;
  • Provide assistance with getting permits from the Liquor Control Board

At the June 16, 2020 meeting, the City Council supported “Evenings on Park Lane” to close the west end of Park Lane to vehicles each evening between Lake Street and Main Street from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. seven days a week, from July 2 through November 17, 2020.  An interdepartmental team of City staff implemented various strategies to implement this, including developing an application process for temporary Sidewalk Cafés; temporary allowance for restaurants to expand outdoor seating into adjoining on-street parking stalls (i.e. “parklets”); and processes for expanded outdoor café seating or outdoor retail space.  This additional programming to allow for sidewalk cafés and parklets attracted more people to Park Lane than Summer Sundays.

2019

Summer Sundays

Park Lane closures were first initiated in 2019 through a program called Summer Sundays on Park Lane. This pilot program began in June and continued through September. Opening Park Lane to people walking or wheeling was inspired by residents hoping to create an atmosphere where community members could gather, shop, stroll, and dine in a casual car-free environment. During Summer Sundays, Park Lane was closed to vehicles from 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Kirkland guests and community members were invited to come and check it out. 

April - City Council Agenda clarifying "Car-Free Sundays on Park Lane" 

May - Summer Sundays News Release

Pre-2019

2008 ‘Flexible Street’ Concept – Adopted February 2, 2010

In 2008, the City Council approved funds as part of the Capital Improvement Program for a study to explore and develop a corridor design for pedestrian enhancements on Park Lane between Lake Street and 3rd Street. The study was driven by considerations relating to sidewalks and infrastructure along Park Lane, as well as a number of redevelopment activities including the Kirkland Transit Center and King County’s replacement of the sanitary sewer pump station at 3rd St and Park Lane.  The results of the 2010 Park Lane Pedestrian Corridor Enhancement Study and the public input process identified the concept of a “Flexible Street” for Park Lane to serve as a pedestrian corridor with infrastructure developed to support flexible use.

2015 Renovated Design

Park Lane was renovated and reopened in 2015 to be a pedestrian-friendly, festival space with built-in bollards to enable regular closure of the street to vehicles for community events.