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Truck, van parking limits reduced

Creative truck shuffling has led the Port Orchard City Council to consider chopping the permitted parking time for commercial vehicles from 72 hours to two hours.

In an effort to reduce commercial vehicles in residential and mixed-use areas, the council passed an ordinance saying any vehicle over 10,000 pounds can only park for 72 hours at a time.

The council thought the time limit would allow tour buses and the like some leeway over the weekend, but discourage business owners from stashing their trucks and vans in public view during the week.

In practice, it turned out much differently.

City engineer Larry Curles said as soon as the ordinance went into effect, people started moving their vehicles, but only often enough to comply with the ordinance. Parking enforcement officials can only really track whether cars move — not whether they move around the corner and re-park.

“If you move it every two or three days, it’s legal,” Curles said, explaining the loophole. “It’s hard to enforce that.”

In response, the council proposed knocking the limit back to one hour, but that drew fire from those who frequently drive their commercial vehicles home. Councilman Ron Rider, who uses his tree service truck during the day for both business and personal errands, said the one-hour limit would make him and others unnecessarily vulnerable to overly zealous enforcement officials.

“One hour is not long enough,” he said. “I could be going home for lunch and get tied up on the phone for over an hour.”

Other council members had concerns over how the shorter limit would affect buses in park-and-ride lots and worker-driver vehicles.

Councilwoman Carolyn Powers pointed out the South Kitsap School District bus yard was located in a residential area just outside the city limits. If the property annexed into the city, she theorized, the parking ordinance could make it illegal for any of those buses to be there.

Councilman John Clauson suggested 24 hours would be a more suitable interval and called the council’s attention back to the original tourism question.

“We may want to give some thought to the idea we may at some time have tour buses that want to come downtown and park for more than one hour,” he said.

Nevertheless, Curles said a two-hour limit would be most practical for traffic enforcement purposes. The officials, he explained, do regular circuits of restricted areas that are timed for a two-hour or four-hour parking limit.

Although the new draft of the ordinance, which will be discussed at Monday night’s regular council meeting, calls for 24-hour seven-day-a-week enforcement, Curles said he is willing to make arrangements for overtime coverage if that’s what the city wants.

“Public works is going to enforce whatever rules the city passes,” he said.

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