Parking problems at county park

Places to leave your vehicle while you explore Agate Beach or Iceberg Point on the south end of Lopez are few and far between.

Visitors are often forced to park on private property or along the side of the road after the small parking area is filled.

“It has been determined for a number of years that there wasn’t enough parking at Agate Beach,” said Julie Thompson, a San Juan County planner.

On July 13, the county will be holding a public hearing at 10 a.m. in the County Council Hearing Room on San Juan Island to determine how it will be handling the parking situation at Agate Beach.

The meeting will be live-streamed at Until then, you can send comments to the county planning department although the public comment period has already officially concluded.

MacKaye Harbor Road, which currently runs past Agate Beach County Park, is limited to one way traffic 200 feet prior to the park due to the potential of hazardous roadway erosion. Once at the beach, an existing, on-site parking lot can hold 12 to 15 cars, otherwise, drivers are forced to park on private property or along the side of the road.

The limited parking at Agate Beach is just one of the more immediate projects the county is considering in relation to the MacKaye Harbor Road vicinity. Adding parking was one of three goals indicated in the MacKaye Harbor Road Relocation Feasibility Study. The study is currently just a draft but will be finalized soon.

Before any work is done to relocate the road, the county is adding nine individual, off-road parking spaces as an interim measure – that is likely to happen in the fall.

Shannon Wilbur, senior projects engineer for San Juan County, said that there are four concepts suggested in the MacKaye Harbor Road Relocation feasibility study about how to handle the parking situation. The proposals will be long-term solutions to the parking traffic and will be decided over time while the recommended changes that the county will begin working on soon are provisional measures.

That does not mean that any permanent decisions about the area will be made in the near future.

“It’s a very long process … however, in the interim we need to be able to project the erosion and sea level of the road,” said Wilbur, adding that the relocation of Cattle Point Road on San Juan Island took 15 years to complete from start to finish. “We’re doing it as a safety issue because right now the parking lot gets full and people park along the edge of the road. It’s a narrow road anyway – now we do have it blocked off – so we have to get those cars off the road.”

Though this interim solution will discourage cars from parking dangerously or on private property, not everyone is supportive of the plan.

“We have gotten some comments. People are not very excited about the idea,” said Thompson. “I think people are worried there will be tree removal.”

Thompson said that the new stalls were designed to not require removal of any trees.