Revised boat/RV parking ordinance returns to council

After eight months of debate and revision, the Port Orchard City Council is having another go at passing an ordinance restricting parking and storage of RVs and boats.

The original group of four ordinances addressing a series of parking concerns came under heavy fire from the public when first introduced last July.

Many residents complained about the city targeting recreational vehicles when there were plenty of parking hazards not being addressed — double-wheel trucks, cars too close to intersections and so forth.

Others said because they had nowhere else to put their campers and trailers, the city was effectively restricting their recreational options.

“Out of the whole room of people, there was not one person in favor of the ordinances,” said resident Melode Sapp, who owns a large camper.

The ordinances would have largely prohibited boat and RV street parking — a four-hour grace window was allowed for loading and unloading but after 24 hours, the vehicles could be legally towed.

Residents were also restricted to two vehicles — boats, RVs or a combination — per residential parcel. Vehicles beyond that amount would have to be stored elsewhere or hidden from view in a garage or similar enclosure. Many residents derided the garage option, pointing out the city’s tiny lots that had barely enough room for a house, let alone a large garage.

The ordinances languished for several months before being stricken from the council agenda. Street committee chair Councilman Don Morrison said the ordinances would likely need to be completely rewritten before returning to the council.

To judge from the new ordinance that will appear before the council Monday night, a complete overhaul turned out to be unnecessary.

The latest version of the boat/RV parking ordinances makes only two major changes from earlier drafts.

First, it combines two ordinances — the one restricting street parking and one restricting property storage — under one head.

Second, it bumps the grace period up from four hours to 24 hours.

The ordinance also combats those who might use the 24-hour time limit as a loophole with a clause prohibiting “chain parking.” Chain parking, as defined by the proposed ordinance, occurs when a resident systematically moves his or her vehicle a short distance every 24 hours, thereby complying with the letter of the law — if not the spirit.

The chain parking clause states anyone bypassing the ordinance in this manner can be cited and fined.

No one from the street committee was available to explain the reasons behind the changes, although all three committee members are expected to be present for the discussion Monday night.

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