Parking violation crackdown looms

Boat and RV owners beware — ticket-writers will soon be bearing down on your vehicles.

After the Port Orchard City Council on Monday night opted not to amend the ever-controversial boat and RV parking ordinance, the city’s traffic enforcement division was given the go-ahead to start ticketing boats, trailers and campers parked in the city’s rights of way. The ordinance has technically been part of the city code since June, but previously the enforcement officials had been asked to hold off on enforcement.

Nevertheless, City Engineer Larry Curles — who oversees the city’s parking enforcement — is not quite ready to begin handing out citations.

“I’m not going to tell them to start enforcing until I know what happens after they write the ticket,” he said.

The problem is, Curles pointed out, the city has not yet approved criteria for approving out exemptions to the ordinance.

Although the council’s street committee has discussed the matter and forwarded a rough list of guidelines to be turned into a resolution, even street committee chair Councilman Don Morrison said he doesn’t know when that resolution will end up on a council agenda.At the moment, he said he expects to see it before the council before the end of October.

“It depends on how busy (staff) are,” Morrison explained.

The ordinance, which endured a year of debate and rewrites before being unanimously approved by the council, prohibits any boat, RV or trailer from parking in the road in a residential or mixed-use zone.

Some allowances are made for loading and unloading — affected vehicles can park in the public right-of-way for 24 hours during the week and as long as they want on weekends. The city will respond quickly to remove any offenders, however. Under the ordinance, tow trucks can be called in after only 48 hours. A chain parking clause also combats reparking loopholes by requiring owners who wish their vehicles to remain nearby for long stretches to move their vehicles at least two blocks away from their previous locations in order to avoid citation.

The exemption resolution in question now tentatively includes the following criteria (although future revisions are possible and even likely):

n The street on which the vehicle owner wants to park must be at least 28 feet wide.

n A petition of support must be obtained from all affected neighbors.

n The parked vehicle must not interfere with traffic safety, including driveway and mailbox access and lines of sight.

n The vehicle must not disrupt the aesthetics of the neighborhood.

n There must be extenuating circumstances which necessitate street parking.

Morrison said anyone who gets ticketed is welcome to appeal the citation to the city council. Curles said parking enforcement, when it is finally called into action in this matter, has been instructed to hand out warnings first, giving people time to comply and/or request exemptions. However, he added, those with affected vehicles should probably not wait for enforcement to descend.

“People who park their boats or RVs on streets should be looking for alternatives,” Curles said.

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