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Boat/RV parking exemption ready

After a little tweaking from the Port Orchard City Council’s street committee Thursday, the new boat/RV parking exemption resolution is ready to go before the full Council Oct. 13.

The proposed resolution is likely to elicit a lot of interest because it lists the criteria under which a Port Orchard resident may legally park his or her boat, trailer or RV in the public right-of-way. The ordinance banning such vehicles from the right-of-way was approved by the City Council in June and upheld last month after a series of citizen complaints led the Council to consider amending the ordinance with a clause defining exemption guidelines.

The Council ultimately decided to leave the ordinance as-is and tack on the guidelines in resolution form.

So far, the ordinance has not yet been enforced — the city’s parking enforcement department has refused to write tickets until the exemption resolution passes.

The draft ordinance closely resembles the suggested list of criteria delivered to the city staff at the last Council meeting, held Sept. 22. The major changes are all additions: a section outlining the paperwork needed to apply for an exemption, a paragraph requiring a time frame for the exemption and a stipulation that the exempted vehicle be in good working order.

On Thursday, the street committee added yet another requirement. Committee chair Councilman Don Morrison said the committee had concerns that residents living within restricted parking zones — currently residential and mixed-use zones — might finagle an exemption by applying for a parking spot in a less restrictive area elsewhere in the city.

Currently, one of the exemption criteria prohibits any boat or RV parking on streets less than 28 feet wide. A resident on a narrow street could conceivably apply for an exemption to park on a wider street, even though that street was nowhere near his or her home.

The added restriction requires residents to only apply for exemptions on street parking within 25 feet of the vehicle owner’s property line.

“That just prevents people from parking a couple blocks over on a different street,” Morrison said.

The criteria that remained from earlier discussion of the resolution dealt with safety and visibility issues and public support of the exemption. One sentence allowing exemptions for hardship cases did not make it into the final draft.

Morrison said overall the committee was happy with the resolution and plans to recommend it to the city council on the 13th. He isn’t sure, however, whether the public will be as accepting of the document. Morrison said the ordinance shouldn’t cause anyone severe problems and hopes people comply before the city has to ticket them.

“There’s an increasing number of (vehicle) storage facilities in Kitsap and Mason counties,” he said. As for the possibility of public backlash, “the times in the past I’ve expected strong opposition, nobody shows up.”

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