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Two parking proposals, no conclusions

After working its way through several revisions, it appeared the new-and-improved commercial parking ordinance was ripe for adoption Monday night.

That is, until Port Orchard City Councilman John Clauson started questioning the need for the ordinance in the first place.

“I’ve been spending the last few days driving the city, trying to see where the problems are and — I’ll be honest — they don’t jump out at me,” Clauson said.

The ordinance presented to the city council on Monday called for tough restrictions on commercial vehicles parking in residential and mixed-use zones. Under the ordinance, vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds could only park for two hours before being subject to citation.

A restricted vehicle parked for more than 24 hours could be towed at the owner’s expense.

An earlier version of the ordinance, approved last July, allowed commercial vehicles to park for 72 hours. However, that grace period was struck down because parking enforcement officials said vehicle owners were using the longer period as a loophole, making the ordinance ineffective.

Ironically, the potential for loophole abuse was brought up as a concern during discussions over the original ordinance. However, in July most council members felt few residents would go to the trouble of moving a vehicle every three days.

“I think doing that (moving cars) would get old rather quickly,” Clauson said at the time.

The major concerns with the new ordinance largely lay with the practicality of a two-hour limit and possible exemptions for buses — specifically transit vehicles and tour buses.

Technically, because vehicles such as motor coaches, worker-driver buses and school buses are defined as commercial under the ordinance, the two-hour limit would make it impossible for Kitsap Transit, tour companies and school and church organizations to operate normally within city limits. The ordinance attempted to add a specific exemption that would allow desirable buses to park while restricting undesirable vehicles such as converted, privately owned bus-campers.

“There are buses that have been converted to residences,” said street committee chair Councilman Don Morrison. “We are trying to exempt those.”

However, the definition was seen by many as incomplete. For instance, tour buses were not specifically exempted and there was significant debate over whether they were covered under other definitions such as “agricultural uses.”

Clauson also questioned the reasonability of penalizing residents such as his neighbor — who he said owns an attractive customized repair truck — when the city was obviously trying to target a few specific chronic offenders. Vehicle collector Howard Minor, and his array of delivery trucks parked on Melcher Street, was specifically mentioned.

Councilman Ron Rider, the only council member directly affected by the ordinance — Rider owns a large truck that he uses for his tree-trimming business — recused himself from the discussions. In the past, however, he has not opposed the notion of a restriction on commercial vehicles in residential areas.

Councilwoman Carolyn Powers, who rejected the original ordinance because she found it too punitive to normally law-abiding citizens, suggested sending the ordinance back to the street committee for another overhaul.

“I have most answers,” she joked, “but this one I don’t have the answer to.”

The council voted unanimously to table the proposed ordinance.

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