I live in Kirkland, so I do understand the problem to a significant degree and do believe it needs to be addressed. How to go about solving this problem? My first thought regarding the free all day parking is folks who aren’t visiting Kirkland to frequent businesses will simply take up most all the spaces, especially at Marina Park and along the main arteries to walk over and sit around Marina Park or elsewhere all day; this will add zero benefit to the businesses in downtown Kirkland.
There simply isn’t enough parking available in what is generally a very small area in downtown Kirkland. It’s not as vast as Bellevue with room for larger parking lots to facilitate free parking. It’s too bad the City of Kirkland hasn’t set aside land for downtown parking that would allow folks who frequent the businesses to park for free and then simply show their receipt to a parking attendant while leaving the lot or prior to entering the lot the drivers would/should be asked if they’re planning to visit a local business. If they aren’t planning to visit a local business, especially a restaurant, then they will simply need to find a paid parking spot somewhere in the very limited downtown Kirkland parking spaces.
The problem isn’t the businesses or where their employees park, it’s not the visitors or residents of Kirkland, instead it’s simply poor planning by the City of Kirkland to allow for either free or very customer/visitor friendly parking rates.
That’s just my two cents.